Penn Library

Leopold Stokowski:
Making Music Matter

Curated by Marjorie Hassen

Otto E. Albrecht Music Library
University of Pennsylvania

Stokowski and Scriabin's Le poème de l'extase

In 1922 Stokowski wrote that "it is useless to speak to many people of Scriabin's Poème d'Extase. . . as they dismiss this remarkable work with a contemptuous muttering of 'decadent' or 'immoral'. It is one of the most highly organized and complex pieces of orchestral polyphony which exists." These comments are likely related to his experience in Philadelphia three years earlier, when the work was first programmed. During one of the evening performances a noticeable number of concert-goers made their exit from the Academy of Music before the conductor gave the downbeat. At the conclusion of the work, Stokowski addressed the audience from the stage, sharing his disappointment with their behavior and complaining of the impossibility "for any orchestra to do its best work in such an atmosphere of hostility."

Musical America
22 February 1919

Aleksandr Scriabin (1872-1915)
Le poème de l'extase, op. 54
Leipzig: Belaieff, 1908
Conducting score, marked for performance by Leopold Stokowski

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