Eugene Ormandy: A Centennial Celebration

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Eugene Ormandy: A Centennial Celebration

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From Prodigy to the Podium

From Prodigy to the Podium

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

The Philadelphia Sound

The Philadelphia Sound

Virtuosity on Tour

Virtuosity on Tour

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborator Par Excellence

The Recorded Legacy

The Recorded Legacy

Orchestral Premieres

Orchestral Premieres

Guest Engagements

Guest Engagements

black and white caricature illustration of Eugene Ormandy and orchestra

Drawing by Alfred Bendiner, ca. 1952
Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives

Introduction

Eugene Ormandy dedicated his life to music, from the age of three, when he first picked up a violin, to shortly after his 84th birthday, when he conducted his last concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is with this orchestra that Ormandy's name will forever be associated, by virtue of his serving as its Music Director for 42 years.

full color caricature of Eugene Ormandy in concert dress

Caricature of Eugene Ormandy by Al Hirschfeld, ca. 1970

 

Diminutive in stature, energetic yet graceful on the podium, Ormandy was known for his infallible ear and prodigious memory. He rarely conducted with a score and was widely recognized as an unsurpassed accompanist to the many soloists with whom he and the Philadelphia Orchestra performed. His training as a violinist governed much of his conducting technique and his frequent gesture of the bent left arm, bent fingers shaking, emulating a violinist's vibrato, was a familiar sight to musicians and audiences alike. The richness of tone he elicited from the Philadelphia Orchestra, in fact, was legend, known variously as the "Ormandy" or "Philadelphia" sound.

black and white photo of Ormandy at rehearsal miming playing cello

ca. 1950

 

This exhibition celebrates the centennial of Eugene Ormandy's birth and pays tribute to his extraordinary 64-year career. The materials on display are a part of the Eugene Ormandy Archive, which includes the Maestro's personal and professional papers, music scores, and sound recordings. Donated to the University Library in 1987 by Mrs. Margaret Ormandy, the collection is housed in the Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

two black and white photos of Ormandy rehearsing, quieting the orhcestra, and conducting

Photographer: Adrian Siegel, ca. 1965

 

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Gustav Holst's& The Planets--"Jupiter" (opening)--recorded June 1977 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

 

Ormandy in white tie

ca. 1960

From Prodigy to the Podium

 

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy discussing practicing the violin as a child and his prodigious memory, originally broadcast on KMIR TV, Palm Springs, California, 4 March 1980

Virtuosity on Tour

Wherever it has traveled, in the United States or abroad, it has become known as Philadelphia's most successful envoy to the world since Benjamin Franklin, and its most universally admired export of the twentieth century.
--Herbert Kupferberg in Those Fabulous Philadelphians

In 1900, under the baton of its founding conductor Fritz Scheel, the Philadelphia Orchestra performed one concert in Reading, Pennsylvania during its inaugural seven-concert season. Each subsequent year saw an increase in the number of visits to regional concert halls, eventually leading to week-long tours along the Eastern seaboard and into the Midwest. It was Leopold Stokowski, however, who led the Philadelphians on their first transcontinental tour in 1936: thirty-three concerts in twenty-seven cities in the United States and Canada over a thirty-five day period. Stokowski believed that "Philadelphia must share its orchestra with the whole world," and this tour set his plan in motion.

Under the baton of Eugene Ormandy the Orchestra realized its long-time goal of traveling beyond North America's boundaries with its first transatlantic trip to Great Britain in 1949. Tours to Europe, South America, Japan, China, and Korea followed, each drawing praise from critics and ovations from concert-goers. As cultural ambassadors, as well as musicians, the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra gained world-wide recognition as a result of these trips abroad.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

Guest Engagements

Ormandy is generally associated only with the Philadelphia Orchestra; however, while he remained in the city throughout the better part of each concert season, he typically accepted guest conducting engagements during the summer months. In the course of his career he led most of the major American and European orchestras, conducted in Australia and South America, appeared at numerous music festivals, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950, conducting Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

The Recorded Legacy

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording with Leopold Stokowski in 1917 for the Victor Talking Machine Company, but it was not until the 1940s, with Ormandy on the podium, that revenue from the medium supplied a major portion of the Orchestra's income. Between 1944 and 1968 Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra served as the foundation of Columbia Records' orchestral catalog, producing more than three hundred different recordings and establishing the Orchestra's long-standing international reputation. Ormandy enjoyed recording, and as Herbert Kupferberg remarked in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, his "versatility and adaptability, along with his ability to work at high speed with no impairment of his musicianship, combined to produce recordings unmatched by any other conductor in their range and variety."

A move to the RCA label in 1968 did not diminish the pace with which Ormandy and the Orchestra recorded. Instead, it offered the opportunity to work with those soloists who were exclusive RCA artists--including Van Cliburn and Artur Rubinstein. His first release with RCA was Tchaikovsky'sSymphony no. 6. Ormandy chose this piece for "sentimental reasons," as it was the first work that he recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra as co-conductor in 1936

The late 1970s saw a move to the Angel label, and in 1979 brought Ormandy--at the age of 80--the last of his numerous Grammy nominations for his recording of Jean Sibelius' Kalevala.

Fig. 5: Stern is standing in his bare feet, having removed his shoes at the request of the recording engineers: they were squeaking as he played.

 

Fig. 6 - Fig. 7: Philippe Entremont was not only a frequent soloist with the Orchestra but a favorite recording artist as well. Among the recordings he made with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are the piano concertos of Ravel, Liszt, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, and, Rachmaninoff.

 

Collaborator Par Excellence

Ormandy was unsurpassed as an accompanist to the many soloists with whom he and the Orchestra performed. Along with his prodigious memory and his legendary intonation, the conductor's sensitivity to the nuances of a soloist's interpretation was incomparable. He has been described as an intuitive conductor who possessed the ability to anticipate the inner-most thoughts of a soloist and, in the words of the pianist Van Cliburn, "a collaborator par excellence."

The inscription reads: "To a wonderful director and friend, Eugene Ormandy, the first colleague of my concertwork in America, 8 October 1955."

Philadelphia was the initial stop for Emil Gilels on his first American tour in 1955. He played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto on 3 October and repeated the program the following evening at Carnegie Hall. Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times that "one would have thought that soloist and conductor had played the work together at least 50 times."

Collaborator Par Excellence

Ormandy was unsurpassed as an accompanist to the many soloists with whom he and the Orchestra performed. Along with his prodigious memory and his legendary intonation, the conductor's sensitivity to the nuances of a soloist's interpretation was incomparable. He has been described as an intuitive conductor who possessed the ability to anticipate the inner-most thoughts of a soloist and, in the words of the pianist Van Cliburn, "a collaborator par excellence."

The inscription reads: "To a wonderful director and friend, Eugene Ormandy, the first colleague of my concertwork in America, 8 October 1955."

Philadelphia was the initial stop for Emil Gilels on his first American tour in 1955. He played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto on 3 October and repeated the program the following evening at Carnegie Hall. Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times that "one would have thought that soloist and conductor had played the work together at least 50 times."

Collaborator Par Excellence

Ormandy was unsurpassed as an accompanist to the many soloists with whom he and the Orchestra performed. Along with his prodigious memory and his legendary intonation, the conductor's sensitivity to the nuances of a soloist's interpretation was incomparable. He has been described as an intuitive conductor who possessed the ability to anticipate the inner-most thoughts of a soloist and, in the words of the pianist Van Cliburn, "a collaborator par excellence."

The inscription reads: "To a wonderful director and friend, Eugene Ormandy, the first colleague of my concertwork in America, 8 October 1955."

Philadelphia was the initial stop for Emil Gilels on his first American tour in 1955. He played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto on 3 October and repeated the program the following evening at Carnegie Hall. Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times that "one would have thought that soloist and conductor had played the work together at least 50 times."

Collaborator Par Excellence

Ormandy was unsurpassed as an accompanist to the many soloists with whom he and the Orchestra performed. Along with his prodigious memory and his legendary intonation, the conductor's sensitivity to the nuances of a soloist's interpretation was incomparable. He has been described as an intuitive conductor who possessed the ability to anticipate the inner-most thoughts of a soloist and, in the words of the pianist Van Cliburn, "a collaborator par excellence."

The inscription reads: "To a wonderful director and friend, Eugene Ormandy, the first colleague of my concertwork in America, 8 October 1955."

Philadelphia was the initial stop for Emil Gilels on his first American tour in 1955. He played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto on 3 October and repeated the program the following evening at Carnegie Hall. Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times that "one would have thought that soloist and conductor had played the work together at least 50 times."

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Audio excerpt of 1991 interview with William Smith, keyboard player and Associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1952-1992), speaking about Ormandy's conducting style

During his tenure in Minneapolis, Ormandy appeared as guest conductor in both Europe and the United States, most notably in Philadelphia beginning in the 1932-33 concert season. In December 1934 Leopold Stokowski made public his intention to resign as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra with an announcement that he would appear during only half of future concert seasons. During the following two years, Ormandy contributed to the steady stream of guest conductors at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then, in the spring of 1936, Ormandy was formally appointed co-conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and released from his Minneapolis contract, which had one more year to run. For the next five concert seasons Ormandy and Stokowski shared the Philadelphia podium while maintaining a cordial, albeit distant, relationship. In 1938 Ormandy advanced one step closer to sole proprietorship of the Orchestra when the Board named him Music Director "in recognition of his splendid musical achievements that have made the last three years a succession of triumphs for conductor and orchestra alike." It was not until 1941, however, when Stokowski finally severed his ties to Philadelphia, that the "Ormandy Era" officially began.

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Audio excerpt of 1991 interview with William Smith, keyboard player and Associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1952-1992), speaking about Ormandy's conducting style

During his tenure in Minneapolis, Ormandy appeared as guest conductor in both Europe and the United States, most notably in Philadelphia beginning in the 1932-33 concert season. In December 1934 Leopold Stokowski made public his intention to resign as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra with an announcement that he would appear during only half of future concert seasons. During the following two years, Ormandy contributed to the steady stream of guest conductors at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then, in the spring of 1936, Ormandy was formally appointed co-conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and released from his Minneapolis contract, which had one more year to run. For the next five concert seasons Ormandy and Stokowski shared the Philadelphia podium while maintaining a cordial, albeit distant, relationship. In 1938 Ormandy advanced one step closer to sole proprietorship of the Orchestra when the Board named him Music Director "in recognition of his splendid musical achievements that have made the last three years a succession of triumphs for conductor and orchestra alike." It was not until 1941, however, when Stokowski finally severed his ties to Philadelphia, that the "Ormandy Era" officially began.

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Audio excerpt of 1991 interview with William Smith, keyboard player and Associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1952-1992), speaking about Ormandy's conducting style

During his tenure in Minneapolis, Ormandy appeared as guest conductor in both Europe and the United States, most notably in Philadelphia beginning in the 1932-33 concert season. In December 1934 Leopold Stokowski made public his intention to resign as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra with an announcement that he would appear during only half of future concert seasons. During the following two years, Ormandy contributed to the steady stream of guest conductors at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Then, in the spring of 1936, Ormandy was formally appointed co-conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and released from his Minneapolis contract, which had one more year to run. For the next five concert seasons Ormandy and Stokowski shared the Philadelphia podium while maintaining a cordial, albeit distant, relationship. In 1938 Ormandy advanced one step closer to sole proprietorship of the Orchestra when the Board named him Music Director "in recognition of his splendid musical achievements that have made the last three years a succession of triumphs for conductor and orchestra alike." It was not until 1941, however, when Stokowski finally severed his ties to Philadelphia, that the "Ormandy Era" officially began.

Orchestral Premieres

For most concertgoers the name of Eugene Ormandy tends to be associated primarily with nineteenth-century repertory, but the conductor's record with the Philadelphia Orchestra demonstrates that he did not simply program works that were familiar to audiences. In 1936, during his first weeks on the Philadelphia podium, in fact, his choice of William Walton's 1st Symphony resulted in the exodus of over 200 women during a performance--a typical audience display during Leopold Stokowski's tenure at the Academy.

Ormandy was responsible for bringing many new works to Philadelphia, including a number of important premieres. From his early years in the city through the 1960s and 1970s, the conductor continued to program the familiar along with the unknown. The result is a lengthy and impressive list of works by composers from both sides of the Atlantic, among them Samuel Barber, Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten, David Del Tredici, David Diamond, Gottfried von Einem, Ernst Krenek, Bohuslav Martinu, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Darius Milhaud, Krzysztof Penderecki, Vincent Persichetti, Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Rochberg, Ned Rorem, William Schuman, Roger Sessions, Dmitrii Shostakovich, and Virgil Thomson.

Fig. 1: National Music Council Award Presented to Eugene Ormandy For the Season of 1946-47 Ormandy

The Philadelphia Sound

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition--"Promenade" and "Tuileries" (opening)--recorded July 1978 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Ormandy inherited a virtuosic ensemble from Stokowski and continued to maintain a high artistic level throughout his tenure in Philadelphia. The changes he did make were accomplished over time and included a move from "free bowing" in the strings, which was favored by Stokowski, to the more traditional "uniform bowing"--with all strings simultaneously bowing in the same direction--while still preserving a seamless sound. Gradual changes in orchestra personnel also contributed to Ormandy's molding of his own orchestral sound, but an additional consideration is Ormandy's distinctive interpretations of the works he conducted. In this matter his influence extended beyond dynamics, phrasing, and tempi to the recomposition of the score itself.

Although not unique to Ormandy, the role of conductor as editor and arranger was clearly one that he adopted during his forty-two years as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Contributing to the rich texture he achieved in performance was his practice of altering orchestrations by doubling one instrumental part by another. He also made cuts to works and often reworked the composer's conception of a particular rhythmic or melodic passage. While his critics complained loudly about the latitude he took in altering the compositions he conducted, Ormandy regularly employed this battery of techniques to achieve the sound ideal that earned him and the Philadelphia considerable distinction.

The Philadelphia Sound

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition--"Promenade" and "Tuileries" (opening)--recorded July 1978 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Ormandy inherited a virtuosic ensemble from Stokowski and continued to maintain a high artistic level throughout his tenure in Philadelphia. The changes he did make were accomplished over time and included a move from "free bowing" in the strings, which was favored by Stokowski, to the more traditional "uniform bowing"--with all strings simultaneously bowing in the same direction--while still preserving a seamless sound. Gradual changes in orchestra personnel also contributed to Ormandy's molding of his own orchestral sound, but an additional consideration is Ormandy's distinctive interpretations of the works he conducted. In this matter his influence extended beyond dynamics, phrasing, and tempi to the recomposition of the score itself.

Although not unique to Ormandy, the role of conductor as editor and arranger was clearly one that he adopted during his forty-two years as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Contributing to the rich texture he achieved in performance was his practice of altering orchestrations by doubling one instrumental part by another. He also made cuts to works and often reworked the composer's conception of a particular rhythmic or melodic passage. While his critics complained loudly about the latitude he took in altering the compositions he conducted, Ormandy regularly employed this battery of techniques to achieve the sound ideal that earned him and the Philadelphia considerable distinction.

The Philadelphia Sound

Bach by Ormandy

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue, recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Ormandy's arrangements of works for orchestra number close to thirty-five, and while several were published in his lifetime, most exist only in manuscript in the Eugene Ormandy Collection of Scores. The arrangements offer insight into both Ormandy's concept of orchestral sound and the process he followed in creating his transcriptions. The latter is, in fact, well-documented in his collection, which includes scores of works in their original form that bear Ormandy's markings, as well as his completed arrangements, often in multiple versions.

 

The Philadelphia Sound

Bach by Ormandy

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue, recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Ormandy's arrangements of works for orchestra number close to thirty-five, and while several were published in his lifetime, most exist only in manuscript in the Eugene Ormandy Collection of Scores. The arrangements offer insight into both Ormandy's concept of orchestral sound and the process he followed in creating his transcriptions. The latter is, in fact, well-documented in his collection, which includes scores of works in their original form that bear Ormandy's markings, as well as his completed arrangements, often in multiple versions.

 

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Van Cliburn

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra with Cliburn at the piano in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert no. 2, recorded 3 August 1967 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Van Cliburn first performed with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in June 1958, only two months following the young pianist's triumph at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The close relationship Cliburn and Ormandy developed in the ensuing years, and the mentoring role the elder conductor played is evident in this letter, where Cliburn thanks Ormandy for his kindness, patience, and time.

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Van Cliburn

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra with Cliburn at the piano in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert no. 2, recorded 3 August 1967 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Van Cliburn first performed with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in June 1958, only two months following the young pianist's triumph at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The close relationship Cliburn and Ormandy developed in the ensuing years, and the mentoring role the elder conductor played is evident in this letter, where Cliburn thanks Ormandy for his kindness, patience, and time.

From Prodigy to the Podium

Early Photographs of Eugene Ormandy

Born Jenõ Blau in Budapest on 18 November 1899, Eugene Ormandy was a child prodigy who received his early musical training from his father, an amateur musician. Ormandy began playing violin at age three, and at age five was the youngest member ever admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. When he was nine, Ormandy began violin studies with the virtuoso Jenõ Hubay (for whom he had been named), music composition with Zoltán Kodály, and harmony and counterpoint with Leó Weiner. He graduated at age fourteen and earned a diploma three years later that carried the title "artist violinist."

From Prodigy to the Podium

Early Photographs of Eugene Ormandy

Born Jenõ Blau in Budapest on 18 November 1899, Eugene Ormandy was a child prodigy who received his early musical training from his father, an amateur musician. Ormandy began playing violin at age three, and at age five was the youngest member ever admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. When he was nine, Ormandy began violin studies with the virtuoso Jenõ Hubay (for whom he had been named), music composition with Zoltán Kodály, and harmony and counterpoint with Leó Weiner. He graduated at age fourteen and earned a diploma three years later that carried the title "artist violinist."

From Prodigy to the Podium

Early Photographs of Eugene Ormandy

Born Jenõ Blau in Budapest on 18 November 1899, Eugene Ormandy was a child prodigy who received his early musical training from his father, an amateur musician. Ormandy began playing violin at age three, and at age five was the youngest member ever admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. When he was nine, Ormandy began violin studies with the virtuoso Jenõ Hubay (for whom he had been named), music composition with Zoltán Kodály, and harmony and counterpoint with Leó Weiner. He graduated at age fourteen and earned a diploma three years later that carried the title "artist violinist."

From Prodigy to the Podium

Early Photographs of Eugene Ormandy

Born Jenõ Blau in Budapest on 18 November 1899, Eugene Ormandy was a child prodigy who received his early musical training from his father, an amateur musician. Ormandy began playing violin at age three, and at age five was the youngest member ever admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. When he was nine, Ormandy began violin studies with the virtuoso Jenõ Hubay (for whom he had been named), music composition with Zoltán Kodály, and harmony and counterpoint with Leó Weiner. He graduated at age fourteen and earned a diploma three years later that carried the title "artist violinist."

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Olga Samaroff Stokowski's Letter to Curtis Bok, 8 December 1934

Leopold Stokowski announced his intention to resign as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra on 6 December 1934. Two days following, the pianist and pedagogue Olga Samaroff Stokowski penned her recommendation for Stokowski's replacement to then Orchestra Board President Curtis Bok. Samaroff, by this time many years divorced from Stokowski, was a respected member of the Philadelphia music community and a long-time friend of the Bok family. Her emphatic endorsement of Ormandy is indicative of the impression the young conductor had made on many of Philadelphia's musical elite during his early appearances with the Orchestra.

Orchestral Premieres

Samuel Barber's The Lovers

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 22 September 1971 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924, at age fourteen, as a member of its first class. Following eight years of study, he traveled to Europe, returning to the Institute from 1939-42 as a member of the faculty.

With the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy conducted several world premiere performances of Barber's works, among them his Violin Concerto (1941), Medea Ballet Suite (1947), and Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra (1960). In 1971, Ormandy gave the premiere ofThe Lovers, with Finnish baritone Tom Krause and the Temple University Chorus under the direction of Robert Page. Based on selections from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the work was composed with a commission from the Girard Bank of Philadelphia. Neruda's erotic poetry and the nude drawings that appeared on the concert program cover raised eyebrows, both among bank officials and a portion of the concert-going public.

Orchestral Premieres

Samuel Barber's The Lovers

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 22 September 1971 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924, at age fourteen, as a member of its first class. Following eight years of study, he traveled to Europe, returning to the Institute from 1939-42 as a member of the faculty.

With the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy conducted several world premiere performances of Barber's works, among them his Violin Concerto (1941), Medea Ballet Suite (1947), and Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra (1960). In 1971, Ormandy gave the premiere ofThe Lovers, with Finnish baritone Tom Krause and the Temple University Chorus under the direction of Robert Page. Based on selections from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the work was composed with a commission from the Girard Bank of Philadelphia. Neruda's erotic poetry and the nude drawings that appeared on the concert program cover raised eyebrows, both among bank officials and a portion of the concert-going public.

Orchestral Premieres

Samuel Barber's The Lovers

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 22 September 1971 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924, at age fourteen, as a member of its first class. Following eight years of study, he traveled to Europe, returning to the Institute from 1939-42 as a member of the faculty.

With the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy conducted several world premiere performances of Barber's works, among them his Violin Concerto (1941), Medea Ballet Suite (1947), and Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra (1960). In 1971, Ormandy gave the premiere ofThe Lovers, with Finnish baritone Tom Krause and the Temple University Chorus under the direction of Robert Page. Based on selections from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the work was composed with a commission from the Girard Bank of Philadelphia. Neruda's erotic poetry and the nude drawings that appeared on the concert program cover raised eyebrows, both among bank officials and a portion of the concert-going public.

Orchestral Premieres

Samuel Barber's The Lovers

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 22 September 1971 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Samuel Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924, at age fourteen, as a member of its first class. Following eight years of study, he traveled to Europe, returning to the Institute from 1939-42 as a member of the faculty.

With the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ormandy conducted several world premiere performances of Barber's works, among them his Violin Concerto (1941), Medea Ballet Suite (1947), and Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra (1960). In 1971, Ormandy gave the premiere ofThe Lovers, with Finnish baritone Tom Krause and the Temple University Chorus under the direction of Robert Page. Based on selections from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the work was composed with a commission from the Girard Bank of Philadelphia. Neruda's erotic poetry and the nude drawings that appeared on the concert program cover raised eyebrows, both among bank officials and a portion of the concert-going public.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring the United States and Latin America

A great symphony orchestra is a national, not merely a local asset. We regard it as a duty to travel to other cities, for although our recordings distribute our music to millions everywhere, it is still important to the life of an orchestra that it be seen and heard "living."
--Eugene Ormandy

Since its founding in 1900 the Philadelphia Orchestra has been a traveling orchestra. Initially playing in nearby towns, both the distances between concert halls and the number of engagements scheduled away from Philadelphia each season quickly grew. Train travel gradually gave way to air travel as the preferred mode of transportation for longer distances, but each offers its own difficulties in transporting both the musicians and their instruments (for many years the Orchestra maintained its own specially-constructed baggage car, with regulated temperature and elaborate paddings and cushions to protect the instruments).

Annual appearances in New York and Washington began in 1902 and continue today, as do regional tours--the first held in 1911. Eugene Ormandy led the Orchestra on five transcontinental tours between 1937 and 1962 and was responsible for the musician's participation in several annual music festivals, most notably the May Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Orchestra appeared for 49 years from 1936-1984.

In June of 1966 the Orchestra embarked on State Department-sponsored ten-nation tour of Latin America. Audience response was staggering and the demand for tickets consistently exceeded availability. At one point, in fact, public demand was so great that Argentine Television agreed to broadcast one of the Orchestra's concerts.

The Orchestra included five world premieres and one western hemisphere premiere among its tour repertory, representing composers from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, and Brazil. The overwhelming success of the tour prompted then president Lyndon Johnson to write to Ormandy that "you and the Philadelphia Orchestra have reinforced our continuing effort to promote friendship and understanding between the United States and its Latin-American neighbors. For this outstanding service, I extend my sincere thanks."

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring the United States and Latin America

A great symphony orchestra is a national, not merely a local asset. We regard it as a duty to travel to other cities, for although our recordings distribute our music to millions everywhere, it is still important to the life of an orchestra that it be seen and heard "living."
--Eugene Ormandy

Since its founding in 1900 the Philadelphia Orchestra has been a traveling orchestra. Initially playing in nearby towns, both the distances between concert halls and the number of engagements scheduled away from Philadelphia each season quickly grew. Train travel gradually gave way to air travel as the preferred mode of transportation for longer distances, but each offers its own difficulties in transporting both the musicians and their instruments (for many years the Orchestra maintained its own specially-constructed baggage car, with regulated temperature and elaborate paddings and cushions to protect the instruments).

Annual appearances in New York and Washington began in 1902 and continue today, as do regional tours--the first held in 1911. Eugene Ormandy led the Orchestra on five transcontinental tours between 1937 and 1962 and was responsible for the musician's participation in several annual music festivals, most notably the May Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Orchestra appeared for 49 years from 1936-1984.

In June of 1966 the Orchestra embarked on State Department-sponsored ten-nation tour of Latin America. Audience response was staggering and the demand for tickets consistently exceeded availability. At one point, in fact, public demand was so great that Argentine Television agreed to broadcast one of the Orchestra's concerts.

The Orchestra included five world premieres and one western hemisphere premiere among its tour repertory, representing composers from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, and Brazil. The overwhelming success of the tour prompted then president Lyndon Johnson to write to Ormandy that "you and the Philadelphia Orchestra have reinforced our continuing effort to promote friendship and understanding between the United States and its Latin-American neighbors. For this outstanding service, I extend my sincere thanks."

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring the United States and Latin America

A great symphony orchestra is a national, not merely a local asset. We regard it as a duty to travel to other cities, for although our recordings distribute our music to millions everywhere, it is still important to the life of an orchestra that it be seen and heard "living."
--Eugene Ormandy

Since its founding in 1900 the Philadelphia Orchestra has been a traveling orchestra. Initially playing in nearby towns, both the distances between concert halls and the number of engagements scheduled away from Philadelphia each season quickly grew. Train travel gradually gave way to air travel as the preferred mode of transportation for longer distances, but each offers its own difficulties in transporting both the musicians and their instruments (for many years the Orchestra maintained its own specially-constructed baggage car, with regulated temperature and elaborate paddings and cushions to protect the instruments).

Annual appearances in New York and Washington began in 1902 and continue today, as do regional tours--the first held in 1911. Eugene Ormandy led the Orchestra on five transcontinental tours between 1937 and 1962 and was responsible for the musician's participation in several annual music festivals, most notably the May Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Orchestra appeared for 49 years from 1936-1984.

In June of 1966 the Orchestra embarked on State Department-sponsored ten-nation tour of Latin America. Audience response was staggering and the demand for tickets consistently exceeded availability. At one point, in fact, public demand was so great that Argentine Television agreed to broadcast one of the Orchestra's concerts.

The Orchestra included five world premieres and one western hemisphere premiere among its tour repertory, representing composers from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, and Brazil. The overwhelming success of the tour prompted then president Lyndon Johnson to write to Ormandy that "you and the Philadelphia Orchestra have reinforced our continuing effort to promote friendship and understanding between the United States and its Latin-American neighbors. For this outstanding service, I extend my sincere thanks."

The Philadelphia Sound

"Doublings"

Ormandy's reorchestration of the final measures of Dvorák's 7th Symphony provides an example of Ormandy's use of doublings that is clearly audible on the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of the work. In this case, his manipulation of the orchestration (visible in the score) serves to heighten the dramatic effect of the symphony's cadence.

In this letter to then Orchestra Librarian Jesse Taynton, Ormandy lists all of the inserts that were to be made for the instrumental parts of Dvorák's 7th Symphony.

This score provides a clear example of Ormandy's instrumental additions: he has added two horns, three trombones, and tuba, all of which double existing lines of the work.

 

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony no. 8, recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Sound

"Doublings"

Ormandy's reorchestration of the final measures of Dvorák's 7th Symphony provides an example of Ormandy's use of doublings that is clearly audible on the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of the work. In this case, his manipulation of the orchestration (visible in the score) serves to heighten the dramatic effect of the symphony's cadence.

In this letter to then Orchestra Librarian Jesse Taynton, Ormandy lists all of the inserts that were to be made for the instrumental parts of Dvorák's 7th Symphony.

This score provides a clear example of Ormandy's instrumental additions: he has added two horns, three trombones, and tuba, all of which double existing lines of the work.

 

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony no. 8, recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Sound

"Doublings"

Ormandy's reorchestration of the final measures of Dvorák's 7th Symphony provides an example of Ormandy's use of doublings that is clearly audible on the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of the work. In this case, his manipulation of the orchestration (visible in the score) serves to heighten the dramatic effect of the symphony's cadence.

In this letter to then Orchestra Librarian Jesse Taynton, Ormandy lists all of the inserts that were to be made for the instrumental parts of Dvorák's 7th Symphony.

This score provides a clear example of Ormandy's instrumental additions: he has added two horns, three trombones, and tuba, all of which double existing lines of the work.

 

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony no. 8, recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

Orchestral Premieres

Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto no. 3

Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the world premiere of Bartók's 3rd Piano Concerto with pianist Gyõrgy Sándor on 8 February 1946, subsequently recording the work for Columbia Records.

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Arthur Rubinstein

Rubinstein was a favorite soloist of Ormandy's and performed regularly with the Orchestra from 1938 through the mid 1970s. In this letter Rubinstein confirms the repertory--Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto and Brahms' 1st Piano Concerto--he will perform during the coming season. Ormandy has indicated the timings of these works in pencil.

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Arthur Rubinstein

Rubinstein was a favorite soloist of Ormandy's and performed regularly with the Orchestra from 1938 through the mid 1970s. In this letter Rubinstein confirms the repertory--Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto and Brahms' 1st Piano Concerto--he will perform during the coming season. Ormandy has indicated the timings of these works in pencil.

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ushering in the Ormandy Era

Eugene Ormandy's Beginnings at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ormandy made his first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December of 1936 on the RCA Victor label. The following spring RCA sponsored the Orchestra's second transcontinental tour, which was to be the first of many such undertakings for Ormandy. With conducting duties shared by Josi Iturbi (who also appeared as piano soloist), Ormandy and the Orchestra traveled to seventeen cities in a three-week period, offering twenty-three concerts.

Fig. 1: Philadelphia Orchestra program schedule for the 1936-37 concert season,
Ormandy's first as co-conductor of the Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski

Fig. 2: Review of Ormandy's first concert as co-coductor of the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 3: Jose Iturbi, Ormandy, and RCA District Manager Dean Lewis
at an RCA display highlighting Ormandy's first recordings with the Philadlephia Orchestra

Fig. 6: Program for the first concert of the 1941-42 season Ormandy's first as sole conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra

From Prodigy to the Podium

The Early European Career of Eugene Ormandy

He toured Germany and Hungary in 1917 as soloist with the Blüthner Orchestra, and in 1919, when Hubay was named director of the Budapest Academy, Ormandy was appointed head of the violin department. During that time he also studied philosophy at Budapest University, receiving his degree in 1920. Later that year he left the Academy for a recital tour of France and Austria, and while in Vienna in 1921, he met two concert promoters. A promised United States tour of 300 concerts for $30,000 enticed Ormandy to New York, where he arrived on 2 December 1921. Unfortunately, the promoters proved to be insolvent; the expected contract did not materialize; and within two weeks the 22-year-old violinist was virtually penniless.

Fig. 2: Ormandy's 1920-21 tour to Austria and France appears to have occasioned the surname change from "Blau." He later dropped the Hungarian "Jenõ" for its English equivalent, "Eugene." Ormandy was reticent to discuss the origin of his adopted surname, although it is interesting to note the existence of a town in the western region of Hungary called "Ormánd," with which there may have been a family connection. Furthermore, in the Hungarian language, the appended "y" to the word "Ormánd" would translate in English to "from Ormánd."

Fig. 3: The inscription on this card, which reads in translation: "To the dear Zádor family with lots of love, Jenõk Ormándy, Vienna, 31 March 1921," likely refers to the family of the Hungarian-born composer Eugene Zádor. Ormandy later conducted Zádor's works in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, among them several world premieres.

From Prodigy to the Podium

The Early European Career of Eugene Ormandy

He toured Germany and Hungary in 1917 as soloist with the Blüthner Orchestra, and in 1919, when Hubay was named director of the Budapest Academy, Ormandy was appointed head of the violin department. During that time he also studied philosophy at Budapest University, receiving his degree in 1920. Later that year he left the Academy for a recital tour of France and Austria, and while in Vienna in 1921, he met two concert promoters. A promised United States tour of 300 concerts for $30,000 enticed Ormandy to New York, where he arrived on 2 December 1921. Unfortunately, the promoters proved to be insolvent; the expected contract did not materialize; and within two weeks the 22-year-old violinist was virtually penniless.

Fig. 2: Ormandy's 1920-21 tour to Austria and France appears to have occasioned the surname change from "Blau." He later dropped the Hungarian "Jenõ" for its English equivalent, "Eugene." Ormandy was reticent to discuss the origin of his adopted surname, although it is interesting to note the existence of a town in the western region of Hungary called "Ormánd," with which there may have been a family connection. Furthermore, in the Hungarian language, the appended "y" to the word "Ormánd" would translate in English to "from Ormánd."

Fig. 3: The inscription on this card, which reads in translation: "To the dear Zádor family with lots of love, Jenõk Ormándy, Vienna, 31 March 1921," likely refers to the family of the Hungarian-born composer Eugene Zádor. Ormandy later conducted Zádor's works in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, among them several world premieres.

From Prodigy to the Podium

The Early European Career of Eugene Ormandy

He toured Germany and Hungary in 1917 as soloist with the Blüthner Orchestra, and in 1919, when Hubay was named director of the Budapest Academy, Ormandy was appointed head of the violin department. During that time he also studied philosophy at Budapest University, receiving his degree in 1920. Later that year he left the Academy for a recital tour of France and Austria, and while in Vienna in 1921, he met two concert promoters. A promised United States tour of 300 concerts for $30,000 enticed Ormandy to New York, where he arrived on 2 December 1921. Unfortunately, the promoters proved to be insolvent; the expected contract did not materialize; and within two weeks the 22-year-old violinist was virtually penniless.

Fig. 2: Ormandy's 1920-21 tour to Austria and France appears to have occasioned the surname change from "Blau." He later dropped the Hungarian "Jenõ" for its English equivalent, "Eugene." Ormandy was reticent to discuss the origin of his adopted surname, although it is interesting to note the existence of a town in the western region of Hungary called "Ormánd," with which there may have been a family connection. Furthermore, in the Hungarian language, the appended "y" to the word "Ormánd" would translate in English to "from Ormánd."

Fig. 3: The inscription on this card, which reads in translation: "To the dear Zádor family with lots of love, Jenõk Ormándy, Vienna, 31 March 1921," likely refers to the family of the Hungarian-born composer Eugene Zádor. Ormandy later conducted Zádor's works in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, among them several world premieres.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring England and Europe

Audio-visual excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England

Although Leopold Stokowski had first announced plans for a British tour in 1924, financial problems, transportation difficulties, and a world war all conspired to keep the Orchestra at home until 13 May 1949, when it sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia for a twenty-seven day tour of England and Scotland. The tour was sponsored by the British impresario Harold Fielding, who underwrote the entire trip. A huge artistic success, the tour was financially unrewarding, and it was not until nine years later that the Orchestra returned to Great Britain during its eight-week traverse of Europe in 1958.

Conducting without the score and without a baton, Ormandy carves the music in space and every gesture is immediately met with an extension sometimes apparently with still more meaning than he had asked for. This is a phenomenon of total fusion of the conductor's intentions and the orchestra's execution.
--Het Parool, Amsterdam, 20 May 1955

Another in the series of "firsts" for which Eugene Ormandy was known was his 1955 European tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time a Symphony orchestra traveled abroad as official emissaries of the United States. Sponsored by the International Exchange Program of the American National Theatre and Academy and the U.S. Information Agency, the thirty-five-day tour included twenty-eight concerts in twelve countries. The group flew directly to Brussels from Philadelphia in three chartered planes (appropriately christened "The Music Box," "The Ormandy Special," and "The Philadelphia"), transporting ten tons of instruments and 1,700 pounds of music.

In keeping with the Orchestra's role as musical ambassadors, an American composition was programmed in sixteen of the seventeen cities in which the orchestra performed. The exception was Helsinki, where the last two concerts of the tour were devoted exclusively to the works of Jean Sibelius. And it was during its stay in Helsinki that the entire Orchestra was driven twenty-five miles into the country to Ainola, Sibelius' villa, for a meeting with the ninety-year-old composer, whose Symphony no. 1 had been recorded by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941

Sibelius greeted the 108-member group from the porch of his house and thanked the musicians for "a perfect performance" of his music, which he had heard broadcast the previous evening.

This historic trip was to be the first of four European tours led by Ormandy. Preceded in its visits by its prodigious recordings catalogue, the Orchestra was already well-known in European music circles. However, on the evidence of the critical reception, each of these tours served to solidify the international reputation the Orchestra had attained via the recording studio.

The execution of the whole program can be described with one word: masterful. The playing was characterized by freedom and naturalness, and at the same time, by technical perfection and an exceptional degree of cultural presentation. The sonority of the ensemble is like a noble monolith, full of clarity, light and warmth, ideally balanced, as if created by one hand out of one magic keyboard.

--Trybuna Robotnicza, Katowice, 16 June 1958

The Orchestra's 1958 traverse of Europe, which included a performance at the Brussels World's Fair, was the lengthiest tour then to have been undertaken. Over an eight-week period the Orchestra performed in twenty-seven cities, only seven of which they had visited previously. Particularly significant were the concerts in Rumania, Poland, and the Soviet Union, the only occasion the Orchestra has visited these countries. Audience response was so overwhelming throughout the East European portion of the tour that the musicians were frequently mobbed by music-lovers and autograph-seekers as they attempted to leave the concert hall.

From Prodigy to the Podium

Bach-Gounod Ave Maria

Audio excerpt of Ormandy's violin performance of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria

While in New York, Ormandy auditioned for Ernõ Rapée, conductor of the orchestra at New York's Capitol Theater movie palace. He was accepted and assigned a seat at the back of the second violin section but was moved to the concertmaster chair within the week. He made his conducting debut at the Capitol Theater in September 1924 with portions of Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony, when the orchestra's conductor fell ill. In 1926, when Rapée left the Capitol, Ormandy was appointed associate director.

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Fritz Kreisler

Fritz Kreisler first performed with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1936. In this letter Kreisler discusses his upcoming performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and the Bach E-major Violin Concerto, which he played with the Orchestra in New York, Baltimore, and Washington in October, 1937.

Collaborator Par Excellence

Collaborating with Fritz Kreisler

Fritz Kreisler first performed with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1936. In this letter Kreisler discusses his upcoming performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and the Bach E-major Violin Concerto, which he played with the Orchestra in New York, Baltimore, and Washington in October, 1937.

Orchestral Premieres

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances

Sergei Rachmaninoff began his long relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1909, when--at the invitation of then conductor Carl Pohlig--he appeared for the first time on an American podium to conduct his 2nd Symphony. Later, under Leopold Stokowski's baton, the Orchestra offered several Rachmaninoff world premiere performances, including his 4th Piano Concerto (1927), Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (1934), and 3rd Symphony (1936).

 

Audio excerpt, recorded circa 1973, of Ormandy discussing an early encounter with Rachmaninoff

Ormandy continued to foster this relationship and conducted numerous performance of Rachmaninoff's works in his early years in Philadelphia, on several occasions (1938, 1939, and 1941), with the composer at the piano. When, in 1940, Rachmaninoff completed his Symphonic Dances, he offered the world premiere to Ormandy. Dedicated to "Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra" and first performed in January 1941, the work would be Rachmaninoff's last orchestral composition, written just two years before his death.

Orchestral Premieres

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances

Sergei Rachmaninoff began his long relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1909, when--at the invitation of then conductor Carl Pohlig--he appeared for the first time on an American podium to conduct his 2nd Symphony. Later, under Leopold Stokowski's baton, the Orchestra offered several Rachmaninoff world premiere performances, including his 4th Piano Concerto (1927), Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (1934), and 3rd Symphony (1936).

 

Audio excerpt, recorded circa 1973, of Ormandy discussing an early encounter with Rachmaninoff

Ormandy continued to foster this relationship and conducted numerous performance of Rachmaninoff's works in his early years in Philadelphia, on several occasions (1938, 1939, and 1941), with the composer at the piano. When, in 1940, Rachmaninoff completed his Symphonic Dances, he offered the world premiere to Ormandy. Dedicated to "Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra" and first performed in January 1941, the work would be Rachmaninoff's last orchestral composition, written just two years before his death.

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

Virtuosity on Tour

Touring Japan and China

It was a thoroughly inspired performance, in which the complete unity of mind reached between the conductor and the orchestra was felt almost immediately.
--Ashai Evening News, Tokyo, 4 May 1967

The Philadelphia Orchestra first traveled to Japan in the spring of 1967, performing for capacity audiences in Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagoya, and Tokyo. Unlike earlier trips abroad, this tour was not State-Department sponsored; instead all of the arrangements were made directly with Japanese impresarios. The highlight of the trip was arguably the Orchestra's participation in the tenth Osaka International Festival, where they performed the Japanese composer Ikuma Dan's Symphony No. 4, shown below.

Ormandy and the Orchestra returned to Japan on two occasions--in 1972 and 1978--each tour a triumph in terms of both audience response and critical acclaim. Japanese interest in the Orchestra has in fact persisted, and both of Ormandy's successors to the Philadelphia podium, Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, have led the musicians on tours to the Far East.

Your incomparable music has thrilled capacity audiences in the two largest communities of this nation. You have communicated the universal language with consummate skill and beauty, significantly furthering the President's objectives of better understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
--David Bruce, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Peking

In a 1971 letter to President Richard Nixon, Eugene Ormandy suggested a Philadelphia Orchestra tour to China. Two years of negotiations led by Henry Kissinger finally produced an invitation from the Chinese government, and in September 1973 the Philadelphia Orchestra became the first United States Orchestra to visit the People's Republic of China. This State-Department-arranged tour took the musicians to Peking and Shanghai and, while housing and food were provided by the Chinese for the entire entourage during the group's two-week visit, the Orchestra received no fees for its six concerts.

The carefully-chosen repertory for the tour included several works by American composers as well as the Yellow River Concerto, with Chinese pianist Yin Cheng-Chung as soloist. Originally created as a cantata by the Chinese composer Hsien Hsing-hai in the 1940s, the work was later rewritten as a piano concerto by a committee of composers from the Central Philharmonic Society of the People's Republic of China. The concerto had received its Western Hemisphere premiere the previous month at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer home.

By all accounts the tour was both a musical and political success: Madame Mao Tse-tung, in a rare public appearance, attended a Peking performance and shook the hand of each member of the orchestra following the concert; Maestro Ormandy was invited to conduct the Central Philharmonic Society during a rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony--a recent addition to the orchestra's repertory, previously limited to works of the Chinese musical heritage; the gifts of instruments, books, music, and recordings presented by the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to their Chinese counterparts were warmly received and were exchanged for a number of Chinese instruments; and the crowds that followed the Orchestra's motorcade in Shanghai were extraordinary, numbering in the thousands.

Fig. 1: Conducting score, inscribed to Eugene Ormandy by the composer - "With thanks and best wishes, 1 hour before your performance of this symphony in Osaka, 5th May 1967."

Fig. 3: Gretel Ormandy (far left), Eugene Ormandy (third from left), and Wanton Balis, Chairman of the Orchestra Board (far right)

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy in New York

The following year Ormandy met the celebrated and influential manager Arthur Judson while conducting the orchestra for an Anna Duncan dance recital. Judson was impressed with Ormandy--it is said he commented, "I came to see a dancer and instead I heard a conductor"--and offered his managerial services. Ormandy remained at the Capitol until 1929, but from the time he met Judson he began to work in the expanding radio field on such programs as the "Dutch Masters Hour" and "Jack Frost Melody Moments." Judson also engaged Ormandy to conduct summer orchestral concerts and arranged appearances with the Philharmonic Symphony at New York's Lewisohn Stadium and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Fairmount Park's Robin Hood Dell.

Fig. 1: Translated, the inscription reads: "To my dear good parents, their loving, grateful son, Jenõk, New York, 1923, October 21."

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy in New York

The following year Ormandy met the celebrated and influential manager Arthur Judson while conducting the orchestra for an Anna Duncan dance recital. Judson was impressed with Ormandy--it is said he commented, "I came to see a dancer and instead I heard a conductor"--and offered his managerial services. Ormandy remained at the Capitol until 1929, but from the time he met Judson he began to work in the expanding radio field on such programs as the "Dutch Masters Hour" and "Jack Frost Melody Moments." Judson also engaged Ormandy to conduct summer orchestral concerts and arranged appearances with the Philharmonic Symphony at New York's Lewisohn Stadium and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Fairmount Park's Robin Hood Dell.

Fig. 1: Translated, the inscription reads: "To my dear good parents, their loving, grateful son, Jenõk, New York, 1923, October 21."

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy in New York

The following year Ormandy met the celebrated and influential manager Arthur Judson while conducting the orchestra for an Anna Duncan dance recital. Judson was impressed with Ormandy--it is said he commented, "I came to see a dancer and instead I heard a conductor"--and offered his managerial services. Ormandy remained at the Capitol until 1929, but from the time he met Judson he began to work in the expanding radio field on such programs as the "Dutch Masters Hour" and "Jack Frost Melody Moments." Judson also engaged Ormandy to conduct summer orchestral concerts and arranged appearances with the Philharmonic Symphony at New York's Lewisohn Stadium and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Fairmount Park's Robin Hood Dell.

Fig. 1: Translated, the inscription reads: "To my dear good parents, their loving, grateful son, Jenõk, New York, 1923, October 21."

Orchestral Premieres

Roger Sessions' 5th Symphony

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 7 February 1964, at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

At Eugene Ormandy's request, the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned an orchestral composition from the esteemed American composer Roger Sessions in October 1960, to be delivered by April 1963 for performance in early 1964. However, Sessions' work on the piece, which would be his 5th Symphony, was continually delayed and was not completed until the following December. Ormandy's mounting frustration with the composer is evident in a series of letters between the two, culminating in his last correspondence before the February 7th premiere, when he learned that Sessions would not be able to attend the performance. This, he notes, will make Sessions "the first living composer who has not attended his premiere" with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The letter above is one that Sessions enclosed along with the first installment of his score, which he sent to Ormandy in December 1963. With the remainder of the score and all of the orchestral parts yet to follow, Sessions writes, "I am not in any way trying to persuade you to perform the work this season. I only want to get it to you as quickly as possible, and I will absolutely accept this, as I would always have done. You have indeed been more than patient . . . for after all, it is written for you, and whether you perform it or not, or when, it carries with it my feelings of warm friendship."

Orchestral Premieres

Roger Sessions' 5th Symphony

Audio excerpt of Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere, recorded 7 February 1964, at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia

At Eugene Ormandy's request, the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned an orchestral composition from the esteemed American composer Roger Sessions in October 1960, to be delivered by April 1963 for performance in early 1964. However, Sessions' work on the piece, which would be his 5th Symphony, was continually delayed and was not completed until the following December. Ormandy's mounting frustration with the composer is evident in a series of letters between the two, culminating in his last correspondence before the February 7th premiere, when he learned that Sessions would not be able to attend the performance. This, he notes, will make Sessions "the first living composer who has not attended his premiere" with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The letter above is one that Sessions enclosed along with the first installment of his score, which he sent to Ormandy in December 1963. With the remainder of the score and all of the orchestral parts yet to follow, Sessions writes, "I am not in any way trying to persuade you to perform the work this season. I only want to get it to you as quickly as possible, and I will absolutely accept this, as I would always have done. You have indeed been more than patient . . . for after all, it is written for you, and whether you perform it or not, or when, it carries with it my feelings of warm friendship."

Orchestral Premieres

Dmitrii Shostakovich's Cello Concerto

One month following the initial Moscow performance of Dmitrii Shostakovich's Cello Concerto in October 1959, both the composer and soloist Mstislav Rostropovich arrived in Philadelphia for the United States premiere on 6 November. The concerto was part of a program that included works by the Russian composers Dmitri Kabalevsky and Tikhon Khrennikov and Americans Henry Cowell and Roger Sessions, all of whom were present in the Academy of Music that afternoon.

Rostropovich's performance of the work, which was written for and dedicated to him, was a critical success. As Edwin H. Scholoss wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer the following day, "his technical equipment is nothing less than astounding . . . and his taste and musicianship were in evidence at all times." The concerto was recorded the following week for release by Columbia Records, along with the composer's 1st Symphony.

Orchestral Premieres

Dmitrii Shostakovich's Cello Concerto

One month following the initial Moscow performance of Dmitrii Shostakovich's Cello Concerto in October 1959, both the composer and soloist Mstislav Rostropovich arrived in Philadelphia for the United States premiere on 6 November. The concerto was part of a program that included works by the Russian composers Dmitri Kabalevsky and Tikhon Khrennikov and Americans Henry Cowell and Roger Sessions, all of whom were present in the Academy of Music that afternoon.

Rostropovich's performance of the work, which was written for and dedicated to him, was a critical success. As Edwin H. Scholoss wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer the following day, "his technical equipment is nothing less than astounding . . . and his taste and musicianship were in evidence at all times." The concerto was recorded the following week for release by Columbia Records, along with the composer's 1st Symphony.

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

The turning point in Ormandy's career came in October 1931, when, owing to illness, Arturo Toscanini withdrew from his guest conducting commitment in Philadelphia. Ormandy was approached after several established conductors, who did not want to risk their careers by substituting for the revered Maestro, refused the engagement. Despite Judson's warning that it might mean "suicide," the young conductor accepted since, as he later recalled, he believed he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ormandy's daring paid off and the concerts were a success. Word quickly traveled across the country, catching the attention of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, whose conductor Henri Verbrugghen had suffered a stroke. At the end of his week-long Philadelphia engagement on November 7th, Ormandy headed directly for Minneapolis for what would be a five-year commitment.

While in Minneapolis, Ormandy revitalized the Orchestra by vastly improving the quality of its playing, and expanding its repertory. He was also largely responsible for arranging its 1934 recording contract with RCA Victor, the results of which propelled Minneapolis from a provincial ensemble to international standing and elevated Ormandy to national prominence.

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

The turning point in Ormandy's career came in October 1931, when, owing to illness, Arturo Toscanini withdrew from his guest conducting commitment in Philadelphia. Ormandy was approached after several established conductors, who did not want to risk their careers by substituting for the revered Maestro, refused the engagement. Despite Judson's warning that it might mean "suicide," the young conductor accepted since, as he later recalled, he believed he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ormandy's daring paid off and the concerts were a success. Word quickly traveled across the country, catching the attention of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, whose conductor Henri Verbrugghen had suffered a stroke. At the end of his week-long Philadelphia engagement on November 7th, Ormandy headed directly for Minneapolis for what would be a five-year commitment.

While in Minneapolis, Ormandy revitalized the Orchestra by vastly improving the quality of its playing, and expanding its repertory. He was also largely responsible for arranging its 1934 recording contract with RCA Victor, the results of which propelled Minneapolis from a provincial ensemble to international standing and elevated Ormandy to national prominence.

From Prodigy to the Podium

Eugene Ormandy with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

The turning point in Ormandy's career came in October 1931, when, owing to illness, Arturo Toscanini withdrew from his guest conducting commitment in Philadelphia. Ormandy was approached after several established conductors, who did not want to risk their careers by substituting for the revered Maestro, refused the engagement. Despite Judson's warning that it might mean "suicide," the young conductor accepted since, as he later recalled, he believed he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ormandy's daring paid off and the concerts were a success. Word quickly traveled across the country, catching the attention of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, whose conductor Henri Verbrugghen had suffered a stroke. At the end of his week-long Philadelphia engagement on November 7th, Ormandy headed directly for Minneapolis for what would be a five-year commitment.

While in Minneapolis, Ormandy revitalized the Orchestra by vastly improving the quality of its playing, and expanding its repertory. He was also largely responsible for arranging its 1934 recording contract with RCA Victor, the results of which propelled Minneapolis from a provincial ensemble to international standing and elevated Ormandy to national prominence.

Selected bibliography

Contributors

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Collaborating with V
Collaborating with A
Collaborating with F
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Olga Samaroff Stokow
Eugene Ormandy's Beg
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Samuel Barber's The
Béla Bartók's Piano
Sergei Rachmaninoff'
Roger Sessions' 5th
Dmitrii Shostakovich
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Touring the United S
Touring Japan and Ch
Touring England and
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Early Photographs of
The Early European C
Bach-Gounod Ave Mari
Eugene Ormandy in Ne
Eugene Ormandy with
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Bach by Ormandy
"Doublings"

black and white photo of Ormandy with arms folded
1940s

Interview with Eugene Ormandy conducted by Morris Henken, ca. 1973

Ormandy discusses an early experience with Sergei Rachmaninoff--a 1930s performance of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Minneapolis Symphony.

Interview with Eugene Ormandy conducted by John Conte on "Town Talk," originally broadcast on KMIR TV, Palm Springs, Calif., 4 March 1980

Ormandy discusses his "prodigious memory."

Interview with William Smith, recorded for the Eugene Ormandy Memorial Oral History, 18 July 1991

Smith, keyboard player and Associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1952 to 1992, discusses Ormandy's conducting style.

black and white photo of Ormandy leaning in to converse

1950s

 

Bach-Gounod
Ave Maria

Eugene Ormandy, violin; Carl Schuetze, harp
Recorded in New York City, ca. 1922
Issued on Cameo Records 611

Bach-Ormandy
Passacaglia and Fugue, C minor (opening)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, for broadcast on local radio station WFLN
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Samuel Barber
The Lovers (opening)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere performance
Recorded on 22 September 1971 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, for broadcast on local radio station WFLN
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 8, op. 93, F major (conclusion)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded in 1961 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, for broadcast on local radio station WFLN
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Johannes Brahms
2nd Symphony (excerpts)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal of the last movement
Filmed in May 1949 in Birmingham, England, during the Orchestra's first European tour

Gustav Holst
"Jupiter" from The Planets (opening)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded in June 1977 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia
Philips laser disc 070 226-1
Courtesy of Unitel

Modest Moussorgsky
"Promenade" and "Tuileries" (opening) from Pictures at an Exhibition

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded in July 1978 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia
Philips laser disc 070 226-1
Courtesy of Unitel

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto no. 2, op. 18, C minor (opening)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra; Van Cliburn, piano
Recorded on 3 August 1967 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York, for broadcast on local radio station WFLN 
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Roger Sessions
Symphony no. 5 (opening)

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere performance
Recorded on 7 February 1964 at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, for broadcast on local radio station WFLN
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Jean Sibelius
Symphony no. 1, op. 39, E minor. 3rd movement

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded on 25 October 1941
First issued on Victor 18499/502
Biddulph 062
Courtesy of Biddulph Records

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
Symphony no. 6 ("Pathetique"). 4th movement

Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded on 13 December 1936 and 9 January 1937
First issued on Victor 14264/8
Biddulph WHL 046
Courtesy of Biddulph Records