The Midwest Experience

Main content

The Midwest Experience

Ormandy in Minnesota
Curated by Richard Griscom

Beginnings

Beginnings

Minneapolis Appointment

Minneapolis Appointment

On Tour

On Tour

In Concert

In Concert

Guest Artists

Guest Artists

1934 Recording Sessions

1934 Recording Sessions

1935 Recording Sessions

1935 Recording Sessions

The Move to Philadelphia

The Move to Philadelphia

poster_home2

Introduction

Although conductor Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985) is best remembered for his forty-four years at the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he made his first lasting mark in Minnesota, where he was conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra) for five years in the early 1930s. Ormandy quickly improved the musicianship of the orchestra, and through tours of the South and Midwest, frequent nationwide radio broadcasts, and recordings for Victor, he established an enthusiastic following and positioned himself for his appointment as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
 

mahler_disk2



This exhibit was on display through March 2012, commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Ormandy's recording sessions with the Minneapolis Symphony in 1934 and 1935 and his appointment as co-conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in January 1936.

Beginnings

Early Days in New York

Ormandy was born in Budapest in 1899 and entered the Budapest Conservatory as a violinist at the age of five. After graduating in his midteens, he was poised for a career as a soloist and embarked on a series of European tours. The promise of a $30,000 fee for an extended American tour of three hundred concerts led Ormandy to immigrate to the United States in 1921. Upon his arrival, the tour did not materialize, and he was left to take whatever playing job he could find. He settled for a $60-per-week position playing violin in the back row of the orchestra of the Capitol Theater, a Broadway movie house. The eighty-five-piece ensemble accompanied silent films and played classical music between screenings. His skills as a violinist were recognized quickly, and within a week he had been promoted to concertmaster. The orchestra played four shows a day, seven days a week, and Ormandy had few days off.

In September 1924, he arrived at the theater one day for a matinée show and was told he would need to fill in for the regular conductor. With fifteen minutes' notice, he conducted from memory a performance of an abridged version of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4. Two years later, when one of the Capitol's two associate conductors moved to another theater, Ormandy was appointed as his replacement, and from that point he shifted his focus to conducting. His work became known outside the movie house through broadcasts of the Capitol Theater Orchestra on the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network.

Fig. 1: This publicity photograph was taken two years after Ormandy's emigration from Hungary

Fig. 2: During his first decade in the United States, Ormandy was active as a violin soloist and was frequently heard in recitals and radio broadcasts.

Fig. 3: The movie advertised on the marquee, "Single Standard," was released in July 1929, close to the time Ormandy left the Capitol Theater to pursue his conducting career. He left just as sound films-"talkies," with music included on the soundtrack-were growing in popularity, and movie houses were disbanding their house orchestras. The Capitol Theater was demolished in 1969.

Beginnings

Early Days in New York

Ormandy was born in Budapest in 1899 and entered the Budapest Conservatory as a violinist at the age of five. After graduating in his midteens, he was poised for a career as a soloist and embarked on a series of European tours. The promise of a $30,000 fee for an extended American tour of three hundred concerts led Ormandy to immigrate to the United States in 1921. Upon his arrival, the tour did not materialize, and he was left to take whatever playing job he could find. He settled for a $60-per-week position playing violin in the back row of the orchestra of the Capitol Theater, a Broadway movie house. The eighty-five-piece ensemble accompanied silent films and played classical music between screenings. His skills as a violinist were recognized quickly, and within a week he had been promoted to concertmaster. The orchestra played four shows a day, seven days a week, and Ormandy had few days off.

In September 1924, he arrived at the theater one day for a matinée show and was told he would need to fill in for the regular conductor. With fifteen minutes' notice, he conducted from memory a performance of an abridged version of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4. Two years later, when one of the Capitol's two associate conductors moved to another theater, Ormandy was appointed as his replacement, and from that point he shifted his focus to conducting. His work became known outside the movie house through broadcasts of the Capitol Theater Orchestra on the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network.

Fig. 1: This publicity photograph was taken two years after Ormandy's emigration from Hungary

Fig. 2: During his first decade in the United States, Ormandy was active as a violin soloist and was frequently heard in recitals and radio broadcasts.

Fig. 3: The movie advertised on the marquee, "Single Standard," was released in July 1929, close to the time Ormandy left the Capitol Theater to pursue his conducting career. He left just as sound films-"talkies," with music included on the soundtrack-were growing in popularity, and movie houses were disbanding their house orchestras. The Capitol Theater was demolished in 1969.

Beginnings

Early Days in New York

Ormandy was born in Budapest in 1899 and entered the Budapest Conservatory as a violinist at the age of five. After graduating in his midteens, he was poised for a career as a soloist and embarked on a series of European tours. The promise of a $30,000 fee for an extended American tour of three hundred concerts led Ormandy to immigrate to the United States in 1921. Upon his arrival, the tour did not materialize, and he was left to take whatever playing job he could find. He settled for a $60-per-week position playing violin in the back row of the orchestra of the Capitol Theater, a Broadway movie house. The eighty-five-piece ensemble accompanied silent films and played classical music between screenings. His skills as a violinist were recognized quickly, and within a week he had been promoted to concertmaster. The orchestra played four shows a day, seven days a week, and Ormandy had few days off.

In September 1924, he arrived at the theater one day for a matinée show and was told he would need to fill in for the regular conductor. With fifteen minutes' notice, he conducted from memory a performance of an abridged version of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4. Two years later, when one of the Capitol's two associate conductors moved to another theater, Ormandy was appointed as his replacement, and from that point he shifted his focus to conducting. His work became known outside the movie house through broadcasts of the Capitol Theater Orchestra on the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network.

Fig. 1: This publicity photograph was taken two years after Ormandy's emigration from Hungary

Fig. 2: During his first decade in the United States, Ormandy was active as a violin soloist and was frequently heard in recitals and radio broadcasts.

Fig. 3: The movie advertised on the marquee, "Single Standard," was released in July 1929, close to the time Ormandy left the Capitol Theater to pursue his conducting career. He left just as sound films-"talkies," with music included on the soundtrack-were growing in popularity, and movie houses were disbanding their house orchestras. The Capitol Theater was demolished in 1969.

Minneapolis Appointment

Henri Verbrugghen

Henri Verbrugghen (1873-1934), a Belgian violinist and conductor, established his career in Scotland, where he was a member of the Scottish Orchestra beginning in 1893 and taught violin at the Athenaeum in Glasgow. In 1915, he was appointed director of a music conservatory in Sydney, Australia, and spent six years building its music program and establishing an orchestra. He moved to the United States in 1921 for health reasons. He made a successful guest appearance with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and was appointed conductor in 1923.

In fall 1931, Verbrugghen had a stroke while conducting, and when it became clear he was facing a long recuperation, Verna Golden Scott, manager of the Minneapolis Symphony, called Arthur Judson for help in finding someone to take over temporarily for Verbrugghen. Scott had already learned of Ormandy through the reviews of his concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was substituting for Toscanini. Judson and Scott quickly arranged a trial period for him with the orchestra.

1935 Recording Sessions

The 1934 Victor recordings were a commercial and critical success, and the Minneapolis Symphony and Ormandy became respected names in classical music. O'Connell eagerly returned with his Victor crew in January 1935 for another concentrated period of recording.

The Victor sessions of 1934 and 1935, spread across twenty days - nine the first year, and eleven the second - committed 54 works to disc (including premiere recordings of VerklC$rte Nacht and the Háry János Suite) and spanned 169 disc sides. In his 1948 autobiography, O'Connell claimed that the Minneapolis recording project was "the most important and effective contribution to the resuscitation of recorded music" in the mid-1930s. Selected recordings from the Victor sessions have been reissued on compact disc on The Art of Eugene Ormandy (1999) and The Minnesota Orchestra at One Hundred (2003).

Nothing did more to advance the reputation of Ormandy and the Minneapolis Symphony than this series of recordings. According to Ormandy, "it was wonderful for the Orchestra. . . . I was told within two or three years they had a million dollars revenue. Of course, I got nothing out of it, neither did the orchestra. It was in my contract. So it wasn't a financial matter for me; it was an artistic and, of course, reputation-wise, it helped the orchestra tremendously." The recordings not only sold well, they were also broadcast widely in the United States and Europe. Through the recordings, Ormandy forged his international reputation, and his successful recording sessions in Northrop Hall made him an attractive prospect for the appointment in Philadelphia.

When Ormandy left for Philadelphia in 1936, the musicians' union in Minneapolis insisted on changes to the orchestra contract to bring it in line with the major orchestras of the east. Although the orchestra had become a successful brand name for Victor, O'Connell was not allowed to return to Minneapolis for further sessions because of the increased expense resulting from the new contract. The success of the Minneapolis recordings, however, allowed him to proceed with recording sessions in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Rochester, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.

1934 Recording Sessions

By the early 1930s, most record companies had stopped recording orchestras because the discs sold poorly. Victor had contracts with several classical artists that also were not selling well, and the executives of RCA, Victor's parent company, had concluded that the future of classical music lay in broadcasting, not recorded sound.

Charles O'Connell, the music director of Victor, was not ready to give up on recordings. He was convinced that a shrewd selection of artists and repertory would turn a profit for the company. He took his ideas to Arthur Judson, the man who had played a key part in securing the Minneapolis job for Ormandy. Through Judson, O'Connell learned that the Minneapolis Symphony's labor contract specified a certain number of service hours each week, and those hours could be spent however management pleased. Orchestra members were paid at the same rate for a recording session that would earn the orchestra tens of thousands of dollars as they were for a pops concert rehearsal.

In January 1934, O'Connell took a recording crew to Minneapolis and over the course of eleven days recorded the orchestra performing repertory of his choosing - a mix of popular warhorses and new repertory. Through the careful selection of repertory and the strength of the performances, the recordings proved a success for Victor and brought the work of Ormandy and the orchestra international acclaim. While the performers did not profit from the recordings, the strong sales did secure the orchestra's financial health for years to come.

On Tour

Each winter, the Minneapolis Symphony toured the Midwest and South. In January 1932, two months after his appointment as conductor, Ormandy led the orchestra on the longest of its midwinter tours. Over the course of thirty-four days (18 January - 20 February), the orchestra performed in twenty-eight cities in thirteen states, traversing 7,248 miles by train. The largest single audience was 6,200 in Birmingham, Alabama. The effects of the depression led the orchestra's management to scale back the tours in successive years, but these performances built a following for the orchestra outside Minnesota that would boost sales of its recordings a few years later.

On Tour

Each winter, the Minneapolis Symphony toured the Midwest and South. In January 1932, two months after his appointment as conductor, Ormandy led the orchestra on the longest of its midwinter tours. Over the course of thirty-four days (18 January - 20 February), the orchestra performed in twenty-eight cities in thirteen states, traversing 7,248 miles by train. The largest single audience was 6,200 in Birmingham, Alabama. The effects of the depression led the orchestra's management to scale back the tours in successive years, but these performances built a following for the orchestra outside Minnesota that would boost sales of its recordings a few years later.

On Tour

Each winter, the Minneapolis Symphony toured the Midwest and South. In January 1932, two months after his appointment as conductor, Ormandy led the orchestra on the longest of its midwinter tours. Over the course of thirty-four days (18 January - 20 February), the orchestra performed in twenty-eight cities in thirteen states, traversing 7,248 miles by train. The largest single audience was 6,200 in Birmingham, Alabama. The effects of the depression led the orchestra's management to scale back the tours in successive years, but these performances built a following for the orchestra outside Minnesota that would boost sales of its recordings a few years later.

On Tour

Each winter, the Minneapolis Symphony toured the Midwest and South. In January 1932, two months after his appointment as conductor, Ormandy led the orchestra on the longest of its midwinter tours. Over the course of thirty-four days (18 January - 20 February), the orchestra performed in twenty-eight cities in thirteen states, traversing 7,248 miles by train. The largest single audience was 6,200 in Birmingham, Alabama. The effects of the depression led the orchestra's management to scale back the tours in successive years, but these performances built a following for the orchestra outside Minnesota that would boost sales of its recordings a few years later.

On Tour

Each winter, the Minneapolis Symphony toured the Midwest and South. In January 1932, two months after his appointment as conductor, Ormandy led the orchestra on the longest of its midwinter tours. Over the course of thirty-four days (18 January - 20 February), the orchestra performed in twenty-eight cities in thirteen states, traversing 7,248 miles by train. The largest single audience was 6,200 in Birmingham, Alabama. The effects of the depression led the orchestra's management to scale back the tours in successive years, but these performances built a following for the orchestra outside Minnesota that would boost sales of its recordings a few years later.

In Concert

Ormandy came to Minneapolis during the Depression, and he recognized the need to program familiar repertory to draw audiences into the concert hall. His new series of "Viennese afternoons," featuring Strauss waltzes, was particularly popular. Yet Ormandy's programming was generally more challenging than what Minneapolis audiences had grown accustomed to under Verbrugghen. A few works outside the usual comfort zone were Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, Sibelius's Symphony no. 5, and Aaron Copland's Statements. Ormandy also introduced compositions by several central European composers, including Eugene Zádor, Simon Zemachson, Pancho Vladigerov, Zoltan Kodály, and Ernst von Dohnányi

Ormandy brought several large works to the Minneapolis stage. The 1933 - 34 season saw Verdi's Requiem, Bruckner's Symphony no. 7, and Beethoven's Symphony no. 9, and the following season featured the Minneapolis premiere of Mahler's Symphony no. 2. The Bruckner and Mahler are now staples of the orchestral repertory, but at that time they were considered long, overblown works of interest only to enthusiasts. According to Robert K. Sherman, Ormandy felt the need to address the audience before the performance of the Bruckner and made "an engaging plea for understanding of a neglected artist."

Fig. 2: The program for the eighth subscription concert during his Ormandy's first season featured popular works by Weber, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Wagner, and arias sung by tenor Tito Schipa in both halves of the concert.

In Concert

Ormandy came to Minneapolis during the Depression, and he recognized the need to program familiar repertory to draw audiences into the concert hall. His new series of "Viennese afternoons," featuring Strauss waltzes, was particularly popular. Yet Ormandy's programming was generally more challenging than what Minneapolis audiences had grown accustomed to under Verbrugghen. A few works outside the usual comfort zone were Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, Sibelius's Symphony no. 5, and Aaron Copland's Statements. Ormandy also introduced compositions by several central European composers, including Eugene Zádor, Simon Zemachson, Pancho Vladigerov, Zoltan Kodály, and Ernst von Dohnányi

Ormandy brought several large works to the Minneapolis stage. The 1933 - 34 season saw Verdi's Requiem, Bruckner's Symphony no. 7, and Beethoven's Symphony no. 9, and the following season featured the Minneapolis premiere of Mahler's Symphony no. 2. The Bruckner and Mahler are now staples of the orchestral repertory, but at that time they were considered long, overblown works of interest only to enthusiasts. According to Robert K. Sherman, Ormandy felt the need to address the audience before the performance of the Bruckner and made "an engaging plea for understanding of a neglected artist."

Fig. 2: The program for the eighth subscription concert during his Ormandy's first season featured popular works by Weber, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Wagner, and arias sung by tenor Tito Schipa in both halves of the concert.

Guest Artists

Although Minneapolis in the 1930s was relatively isolated - a two-day train trip from the East Coast and eight hours from Chicago - the orchestra was able to attract a steady stream of distinguished soloists for its concerts, including Vladimir Horowitz (performing the Minneapolis premiere of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto), Paul Wittgenstein, Kirsten Flagstad, Gregor Piatigorsky, Nathan Milstein, Artur Schnabel, Walter Gieseking, Myra Hess, Joseph Szigeti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Lotte Lehmann, and "ten-year-old Ruth Slenczynski, who played the Mendelssohn G minor concerto in a half-standing position and had to jump for her fortes and sforzandos."

Fig. 1: Lehmann performed a set of Richard Strauss songs with the orchestra in 1934. The inscription reads, "Dem grossen Künstler Eugene Ormandi zur Erinnerung an erstes gemeinsames Wirken" (to the great artist Eugene Ormandy in remembrance of our first collaboration).

Fig. 2: Rachmaninoff was a favorite of Minneapolis audiences. He performed the Minneapolis premiere of his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in November 1935.

Guest Artists

Although Minneapolis in the 1930s was relatively isolated - a two-day train trip from the East Coast and eight hours from Chicago - the orchestra was able to attract a steady stream of distinguished soloists for its concerts, including Vladimir Horowitz (performing the Minneapolis premiere of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto), Paul Wittgenstein, Kirsten Flagstad, Gregor Piatigorsky, Nathan Milstein, Artur Schnabel, Walter Gieseking, Myra Hess, Joseph Szigeti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Lotte Lehmann, and "ten-year-old Ruth Slenczynski, who played the Mendelssohn G minor concerto in a half-standing position and had to jump for her fortes and sforzandos."

Fig. 1: Lehmann performed a set of Richard Strauss songs with the orchestra in 1934. The inscription reads, "Dem grossen Künstler Eugene Ormandi zur Erinnerung an erstes gemeinsames Wirken" (to the great artist Eugene Ormandy in remembrance of our first collaboration).

Fig. 2: Rachmaninoff was a favorite of Minneapolis audiences. He performed the Minneapolis premiere of his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in November 1935.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

The Move to Philadelphia

In 1934, Leopold Stokowski's relationship with the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra had become strained over a decision by the board to mount operas as part of the orchestra's regular season. Stokowski was completely opposed to the idea. Arthur Judson, a supporter of the opera proposal, submitted his resignation in October 1934 (effective May 1935) after twenty-two years as manager of the orchestra. A few months later, in December 1934, Curtis Bok - a strong advocate of Stokowski's - resigned as president of the orchestra's board when members refused to approve his plans to reorganize the group.

It was then only a matter of time before Stokowski left. In response to Stokowski's prior threats not to renew his contract, the board had rallied to meet Stokowski's wishes, but in December 1935, when he once again said he could not agree to the terms of his contract renewal, the board accepted his decision, and the search for his successor was underway. The board quickly assembled a short list of conductors that met Stokowski's approval, and on 2 January 1936 Ormandy was named co-conductor with a three-year contract. At the time of the appointment, Ormandy still had one year left on his contract with Minneapolis, but the orchestra's management released him without challenge. Ormandy finished out the 1935-36 season in Minneapolis and returned for several guest appearances during the 1936-37 season.

Although the papers described Stokowski's decision not to renew his contract as "quitting" and "resigning," he had no intention to stop conducting the orchestra, and as Herbert Kupferberg writes in Those Fabulous Philadelphians, "the arrangement he made with the directors enabled him pretty much to have his orchestra and leave it, too." Just three months after the announcement, he led the orchestra on a thirty-one-day transcontinental tour of the United States, and during the first two years of Ormandy's appointment, he shared the podium with the new conductor. In 1938, Ormandy finally took over as music director of the orchestra, a position he held for forty-two years.

He had left Minneapolis almost as suddenly as he had come. No one had expected Ormandy, clearly a rising star, to remain in Minneapolis for the remainder of his career. During his five years at Minneapolis, he had returned regularly to the East Coast to conduct, and once a post became available with a major orchestra, he did not hesitate to take it.

Although Ormandy's tenure with the Minneapolis Symphony was the shortest of any of its chief conductors, over five years he was able to transform a talented regional orchestra into a highly disciplined ensemble that ranked among the best orchestras in the country. Ormandy brought the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra into the national spotlight, much as Leonard Slatkin would do for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s and Michael Tilson Thomas for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. Under these conductors, orchestras that had been second-tier ensembles gained a level of respect that rivaled that of the country's recognized major orchestras. By the time Ormandy left, the orchestra was one of four major orchestras heard regularly on the radio, and one of only two making recordings - the other being the orchestra that hired him, the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Fig. 1-3: Although Samaroff spent most of her time in New York City after her divorce from Stokowski in 1923, she remained involved in the Philadelphia music scene. When Stokowski threatened to leave the orchestra in 1934, she wrote this letter to Curtis Bok, president of the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to argue the case for Ormandy's appointment. A few days later, Bok would resign when the board refused to approve his reorganization plans.

Fig. 4: Although Judson resigned as manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra effective May 1935, he remained a man of extraordinary influence in the world of classical music, and as Ormandy's personal manager, he negotiated Ormandy's contract with the orchestra. There was little reason for Ormandy to take the negotiations too seriously, since each time Stokowski had threatened to leave the orchestra in the past, the matter had been resolved. This letter from Judson was the first indication that the appointment might actually go through. Within a week, the contract had been signed, and the news was announced to the press.

Fig. 5: In official announcements, Stokowski cited "research" as the reason for not accepting a contract renewal, but he refused to discuss his plans in any detail. A few weeks after the announcement of Ormandy's appointment, a headline in the New York Times read "Stokowski Visions Rebirth of Classics. Says Science, through 'Plastic Modeling' of Sound, Will Add Beauty Even to Beethoven. Gives Aims of Research. Hopes to Bring out Untapped 'Profundities' of Music - Not through as Conductor." Stokowski's research was not mentioned again in the Times, however, and Stokowski continued to conduct.

Fig. 6: Stokowski's resignation fueled many rumors, including one that he was leaving Philadelphia to take over the New York Philharmonic as Toscanini's successor.

Fig. 7: Ormandy kept close ties with the Minneapolis Symphony during his first year in Philadelphia. He returned several times during the 1936-37 season, conducting four Friday concerts and one pop concert, and he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Twin Cities during their spring tour. The rest of the season was filled by a succession of six guest conductors, including Dmitri Mitropoulos, who was appointed Ormandy's successor.

On Tour

Cities Visited during Ormandy's Winter Tours

In his history of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, John K. Sherman writes,

"The tours trod familiar itineraries through the South and Midwest, but did not chance New York. The one hundred and eighty pieces of baggage, the $100,000 worth of instruments, the eight trunks bulging with scores were trundled from city to city and town to town: Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans were the big spots (sometimes the tough ones as regards critics), while Georgia and Florida offered balmier climes for the musical troupers who for a time had left behind their bills and families and Minnesota's subzero blasts."

Fig 3: By early 1936, Ormandy was looking ahead to his move to Philadelphia, but he was still obligated to finish out the season with Minneapolis, including the annual midwinter tour. His wife, Stephanie Goldner Ormandy, was an accomplished harpist and in 1924 had been appointed the first female member of the New York Philharmonic. This photograph, staged by the newspaper photographer, is a good example of how gender roles were depicted in the popular press during this era.

On Tour

Cities Visited during Ormandy's Winter Tours

In his history of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, John K. Sherman writes,

"The tours trod familiar itineraries through the South and Midwest, but did not chance New York. The one hundred and eighty pieces of baggage, the $100,000 worth of instruments, the eight trunks bulging with scores were trundled from city to city and town to town: Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans were the big spots (sometimes the tough ones as regards critics), while Georgia and Florida offered balmier climes for the musical troupers who for a time had left behind their bills and families and Minnesota's subzero blasts."

Fig 3: By early 1936, Ormandy was looking ahead to his move to Philadelphia, but he was still obligated to finish out the season with Minneapolis, including the annual midwinter tour. His wife, Stephanie Goldner Ormandy, was an accomplished harpist and in 1924 had been appointed the first female member of the New York Philharmonic. This photograph, staged by the newspaper photographer, is a good example of how gender roles were depicted in the popular press during this era.

On Tour

Cities Visited during Ormandy's Winter Tours

In his history of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, John K. Sherman writes,

"The tours trod familiar itineraries through the South and Midwest, but did not chance New York. The one hundred and eighty pieces of baggage, the $100,000 worth of instruments, the eight trunks bulging with scores were trundled from city to city and town to town: Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans were the big spots (sometimes the tough ones as regards critics), while Georgia and Florida offered balmier climes for the musical troupers who for a time had left behind their bills and families and Minnesota's subzero blasts."

Fig 3: By early 1936, Ormandy was looking ahead to his move to Philadelphia, but he was still obligated to finish out the season with Minneapolis, including the annual midwinter tour. His wife, Stephanie Goldner Ormandy, was an accomplished harpist and in 1924 had been appointed the first female member of the New York Philharmonic. This photograph, staged by the newspaper photographer, is a good example of how gender roles were depicted in the popular press during this era.

Beginnings

From Movie House to Concert Hall

Ormandy's reputation grew through radio broadcasts and occasional performances with New York orchestras. In January 1929, he was hired to conduct an orchestra to accompany a dance recital by Anna Duncan, daughter of Isadora Duncan. In the audience was Arthur Judson, one of the most powerful men in American classical music. Judson was manager of both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra and a large stockholder in CBS. As founder and president of Columbia Concerts Corporation (now Columbia Artists Management), he was also the artistic manager of most of the prominent conductors of the era.

Judson was Anna Duncan's manager, and he had attended the recital to see her perform, but as he said later, "I came to see a dance, but instead I heard a conductor." Ormandy was soon under his management, and he arranged summer engagements for Ormandy with the New York Philharmonic beginning in 1929 and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930.

1934 Recording Sessions

Recordings made by Victor in January 1934

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

Fig. 2: The Victor engineers recorded the sessions using two microphones, seen here suspended behind Ormandy's head. The staff did what they could to improve the acoustics of the auditorium by placing sound-absorbing fabric around the stage. In a history of the orchestra's music directors, Roy Close writes, "Years later, on a rare return visit to Minnesota, [Ormandy] was asked by a reporter if he had any suggestion for improving Northrop Auditorium's acoustics. 'Dynamite,' he replied."

1934 Recording Sessions

Recordings made by Victor in January 1934

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

Fig. 2: The Victor engineers recorded the sessions using two microphones, seen here suspended behind Ormandy's head. The staff did what they could to improve the acoustics of the auditorium by placing sound-absorbing fabric around the stage. In a history of the orchestra's music directors, Roy Close writes, "Years later, on a rare return visit to Minnesota, [Ormandy] was asked by a reporter if he had any suggestion for improving Northrop Auditorium's acoustics. 'Dynamite,' he replied."

1934 Recording Sessions

Recordings made by Victor in January 1934

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

Fig. 2: The Victor engineers recorded the sessions using two microphones, seen here suspended behind Ormandy's head. The staff did what they could to improve the acoustics of the auditorium by placing sound-absorbing fabric around the stage. In a history of the orchestra's music directors, Roy Close writes, "Years later, on a rare return visit to Minnesota, [Ormandy] was asked by a reporter if he had any suggestion for improving Northrop Auditorium's acoustics. 'Dynamite,' he replied."

1934 Recording Sessions

Recordings made by Victor in January 1934

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

Fig. 2: The Victor engineers recorded the sessions using two microphones, seen here suspended behind Ormandy's head. The staff did what they could to improve the acoustics of the auditorium by placing sound-absorbing fabric around the stage. In a history of the orchestra's music directors, Roy Close writes, "Years later, on a rare return visit to Minnesota, [Ormandy] was asked by a reporter if he had any suggestion for improving Northrop Auditorium's acoustics. 'Dynamite,' he replied."

1935 Recording Sessions

Recordings made in January 1935

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

1935 Recording Sessions

Recordings made in January 1935

Ormandy came to the project with experience in the studio - as a violinist playing light classical pieces, as a conductor of his own salon orchestra, and as a soloist with the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Ormandy later said, "We gave them every single day, including Sundays, six hours of recording and anything they chose. This we did for two years, and we made hundreds of records through those four weeks of recordings, because I record very fast. I always did."

In Concert

Reviews of the Eighth Symphony Concert, 1931

The Twin Cities were home to four daily newspapers during the 1930s, and each covered Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts. On the day following a subscription concert, reviews would appear in all four papers - something unimaginable today.

In Concert

Reviews of the Eighth Symphony Concert, 1931

The Twin Cities were home to four daily newspapers during the 1930s, and each covered Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts. On the day following a subscription concert, reviews would appear in all four papers - something unimaginable today.

In Concert

Reviews of the Eighth Symphony Concert, 1931

The Twin Cities were home to four daily newspapers during the 1930s, and each covered Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts. On the day following a subscription concert, reviews would appear in all four papers - something unimaginable today.

In Concert

Reviews of the Eighth Symphony Concert, 1931

The Twin Cities were home to four daily newspapers during the 1930s, and each covered Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts. On the day following a subscription concert, reviews would appear in all four papers - something unimaginable today.

Guest Artists

Stephanie Goldner

Ormandy met harpist Stephanie ("Steffy") Goldner when he joined the Capitol Theater Orchestra in 1921, and they married in August 1922. Two years later, she joined the New York Philharmonic - a notable event, as it marked the first appointment of a woman to the orchestra. When Ormandy moved to Minneapolis, she remained in her position with the Philharmonic, but in March 1932, near the end of Ormandy's first season in Minneapolis, she resigned. During the early 1930s, she gave birth to two children who died in their infancy.

In 1946, ten years after their move to Philadelphia, the Ormandys separated and eventually divorced in August 1947. Three years later, Ormandy married Margaret Frances (Gretel) Hitsch, a native of Vienna who had immigrated to the United States some years earlier, and they were together for the remainder of Ormandy's life. Stephanie Ormandy moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she lived until 1953, when she moved to New York City, where she played in pit orchestras on Broadway. (She played harp on the 1956 original Broadway cast recording of My Fair Lady.) She died of pancreatic cancer in 1962 in California, where her older sister Julia Goldner Elbogen was living.

Fig. 2: A review of Steffy Ormandy's debut as a soloist with the Minneapolis Symphony in Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299. She had resigned her position with the New York Philharmonic a few weeks earlier.

Fig. 3: Steffy Ormandy returned for a repeat performance of the concerto during the 1932-33 season.

Guest Artists

Stephanie Goldner

Ormandy met harpist Stephanie ("Steffy") Goldner when he joined the Capitol Theater Orchestra in 1921, and they married in August 1922. Two years later, she joined the New York Philharmonic - a notable event, as it marked the first appointment of a woman to the orchestra. When Ormandy moved to Minneapolis, she remained in her position with the Philharmonic, but in March 1932, near the end of Ormandy's first season in Minneapolis, she resigned. During the early 1930s, she gave birth to two children who died in their infancy.

In 1946, ten years after their move to Philadelphia, the Ormandys separated and eventually divorced in August 1947. Three years later, Ormandy married Margaret Frances (Gretel) Hitsch, a native of Vienna who had immigrated to the United States some years earlier, and they were together for the remainder of Ormandy's life. Stephanie Ormandy moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she lived until 1953, when she moved to New York City, where she played in pit orchestras on Broadway. (She played harp on the 1956 original Broadway cast recording of My Fair Lady.) She died of pancreatic cancer in 1962 in California, where her older sister Julia Goldner Elbogen was living.

Fig. 2: A review of Steffy Ormandy's debut as a soloist with the Minneapolis Symphony in Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299. She had resigned her position with the New York Philharmonic a few weeks earlier.

Fig. 3: Steffy Ormandy returned for a repeat performance of the concerto during the 1932-33 season.

Guest Artists

Stephanie Goldner

Ormandy met harpist Stephanie ("Steffy") Goldner when he joined the Capitol Theater Orchestra in 1921, and they married in August 1922. Two years later, she joined the New York Philharmonic - a notable event, as it marked the first appointment of a woman to the orchestra. When Ormandy moved to Minneapolis, she remained in her position with the Philharmonic, but in March 1932, near the end of Ormandy's first season in Minneapolis, she resigned. During the early 1930s, she gave birth to two children who died in their infancy.

In 1946, ten years after their move to Philadelphia, the Ormandys separated and eventually divorced in August 1947. Three years later, Ormandy married Margaret Frances (Gretel) Hitsch, a native of Vienna who had immigrated to the United States some years earlier, and they were together for the remainder of Ormandy's life. Stephanie Ormandy moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she lived until 1953, when she moved to New York City, where she played in pit orchestras on Broadway. (She played harp on the 1956 original Broadway cast recording of My Fair Lady.) She died of pancreatic cancer in 1962 in California, where her older sister Julia Goldner Elbogen was living.

Fig. 2: A review of Steffy Ormandy's debut as a soloist with the Minneapolis Symphony in Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299. She had resigned her position with the New York Philharmonic a few weeks earlier.

Fig. 3: Steffy Ormandy returned for a repeat performance of the concerto during the 1932-33 season.

Minneapolis Appointment

Trip West

On Friday and Saturday, 6-7 November 1931, Ormandy concluded his two weeks substituting for Toscanini by conducting the orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony no. 7, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, and Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Immediately following the Saturday concert, Ormandy took a train west. According to a 1969 interview with Ormandy, "On the Saturday train I went to Chicago, from there the following day to Minneapolis, and Monday morning arrived at seven o'clock, and at ten o'clock I was on the stage conducting the Minneapolis Symphony." Four days later, on Friday, 13 November 1931, he conducted the orchestra in a program including the Egmont Overture, Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4, songs by Mozart and Richard Strauss with guest artist Elizabeth Schumann, and the piece that would become Ormandy's signature work in Minneapolis, the "Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper, which he had introduced to his Philadelphia audience two weeks earlier.

Minneapolis Appointment

Appointment

Between the first and second concerts, Ormandy was offered a one-year contract as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony with an annual salary of $20,000. (Because Verbrugghen was still on contract with the orchestra, the board had to mount a quick fundraising campaign to cover Ormandy's salary.) He was 32 years old. Once it was clear Verbrugghen would be unable to return, Ormandy's contract was extended, and he remained with the orchestra five years, through the 1935-36 season.

In a 1969 interview, Ormandy said that Verbrugghen "was one of those elderly conductors who enjoyed going to parties perhaps a little more than learning new scores. So Beethoven programs almost followed each other. For them, they didn't have to do much rehearsing, so the orchestra became a little careless. . . . [T]here was a first bassoon player, a Welshman named Cunningham. . . . [D]uring intermission [of the first rehearsal] he walked around. He had quite an influence with the orchestra, because he was very outspoken. He said, 'Well, boys, you can send your armchairs home. You won't need them anymore.'"

Fig. 2: Ormandy's interesting back story - young virtuoso violinist rises through the ranks of New York movie-house orchestra to conduct major symphony orchestra in Midwest - was picked up by the local papers, which published human-interest stories with headlines such as: "Ormandy happy 'beyond words' over new post: but he has his troubles - he didn't bring shirts enough with him." and "Ormandy now 'at home' - his violin's here." His ability to rely on his memory when conducting also made the news: a review in the 12 November 1931 Minneapolis Star bore the headline "Eugene Ormandy Discards Score in Concert Here."

Fig. 4: After the signing of a three-year contract following his first year, Ormandy began making major changes. Robert K. Sherman writes, "A new platform was installed on Northrop's cement-bottomed stage, raising the orchestra a few inches from the floor and giving better resonance to its tone. Ormandy retained the new orchestra pattern he had established the year before, the so-called Stokowski arrangement, which put the cellos to the right of the conductor and massed the second violins with the firsts at the left front." Rather than placing the winds on risers, he seated the entire orchestra flat on the platform, which helped improve the balance between the strings and brass.

Fig. 5: During Ormandy's five years in Minneapolis, he was careful to maintain a presence on the East Coast, setting his sights on larger and more prestigious appointments. Each year, he made several trips to New York and Philadelphia for guest conducting appearances, and he spent his summers conducting in Europe.

Minneapolis Appointment

Appointment

Between the first and second concerts, Ormandy was offered a one-year contract as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony with an annual salary of $20,000. (Because Verbrugghen was still on contract with the orchestra, the board had to mount a quick fundraising campaign to cover Ormandy's salary.) He was 32 years old. Once it was clear Verbrugghen would be unable to return, Ormandy's contract was extended, and he remained with the orchestra five years, through the 1935-36 season.

In a 1969 interview, Ormandy said that Verbrugghen "was one of those elderly conductors who enjoyed going to parties perhaps a little more than learning new scores. So Beethoven programs almost followed each other. For them, they didn't have to do much rehearsing, so the orchestra became a little careless. . . . [T]here was a first bassoon player, a Welshman named Cunningham. . . . [D]uring intermission [of the first rehearsal] he walked around. He had quite an influence with the orchestra, because he was very outspoken. He said, 'Well, boys, you can send your armchairs home. You won't need them anymore.'"

Fig. 2: Ormandy's interesting back story - young virtuoso violinist rises through the ranks of New York movie-house orchestra to conduct major symphony orchestra in Midwest - was picked up by the local papers, which published human-interest stories with headlines such as: "Ormandy happy 'beyond words' over new post: but he has his troubles - he didn't bring shirts enough with him." and "Ormandy now 'at home' - his violin's here." His ability to rely on his memory when conducting also made the news: a review in the 12 November 1931 Minneapolis Star bore the headline "Eugene Ormandy Discards Score in Concert Here."

Fig. 4: After the signing of a three-year contract following his first year, Ormandy began making major changes. Robert K. Sherman writes, "A new platform was installed on Northrop's cement-bottomed stage, raising the orchestra a few inches from the floor and giving better resonance to its tone. Ormandy retained the new orchestra pattern he had established the year before, the so-called Stokowski arrangement, which put the cellos to the right of the conductor and massed the second violins with the firsts at the left front." Rather than placing the winds on risers, he seated the entire orchestra flat on the platform, which helped improve the balance between the strings and brass.

Fig. 5: During Ormandy's five years in Minneapolis, he was careful to maintain a presence on the East Coast, setting his sights on larger and more prestigious appointments. Each year, he made several trips to New York and Philadelphia for guest conducting appearances, and he spent his summers conducting in Europe.

Minneapolis Appointment

Appointment

Between the first and second concerts, Ormandy was offered a one-year contract as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony with an annual salary of $20,000. (Because Verbrugghen was still on contract with the orchestra, the board had to mount a quick fundraising campaign to cover Ormandy's salary.) He was 32 years old. Once it was clear Verbrugghen would be unable to return, Ormandy's contract was extended, and he remained with the orchestra five years, through the 1935-36 season.

In a 1969 interview, Ormandy said that Verbrugghen "was one of those elderly conductors who enjoyed going to parties perhaps a little more than learning new scores. So Beethoven programs almost followed each other. For them, they didn't have to do much rehearsing, so the orchestra became a little careless. . . . [T]here was a first bassoon player, a Welshman named Cunningham. . . . [D]uring intermission [of the first rehearsal] he walked around. He had quite an influence with the orchestra, because he was very outspoken. He said, 'Well, boys, you can send your armchairs home. You won't need them anymore.'"

Fig. 2: Ormandy's interesting back story - young virtuoso violinist rises through the ranks of New York movie-house orchestra to conduct major symphony orchestra in Midwest - was picked up by the local papers, which published human-interest stories with headlines such as: "Ormandy happy 'beyond words' over new post: but he has his troubles - he didn't bring shirts enough with him." and "Ormandy now 'at home' - his violin's here." His ability to rely on his memory when conducting also made the news: a review in the 12 November 1931 Minneapolis Star bore the headline "Eugene Ormandy Discards Score in Concert Here."

Fig. 4: After the signing of a three-year contract following his first year, Ormandy began making major changes. Robert K. Sherman writes, "A new platform was installed on Northrop's cement-bottomed stage, raising the orchestra a few inches from the floor and giving better resonance to its tone. Ormandy retained the new orchestra pattern he had established the year before, the so-called Stokowski arrangement, which put the cellos to the right of the conductor and massed the second violins with the firsts at the left front." Rather than placing the winds on risers, he seated the entire orchestra flat on the platform, which helped improve the balance between the strings and brass.

Fig. 5: During Ormandy's five years in Minneapolis, he was careful to maintain a presence on the East Coast, setting his sights on larger and more prestigious appointments. Each year, he made several trips to New York and Philadelphia for guest conducting appearances, and he spent his summers conducting in Europe.

Minneapolis Appointment

Appointment

Between the first and second concerts, Ormandy was offered a one-year contract as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony with an annual salary of $20,000. (Because Verbrugghen was still on contract with the orchestra, the board had to mount a quick fundraising campaign to cover Ormandy's salary.) He was 32 years old. Once it was clear Verbrugghen would be unable to return, Ormandy's contract was extended, and he remained with the orchestra five years, through the 1935-36 season.

In a 1969 interview, Ormandy said that Verbrugghen "was one of those elderly conductors who enjoyed going to parties perhaps a little more than learning new scores. So Beethoven programs almost followed each other. For them, they didn't have to do much rehearsing, so the orchestra became a little careless. . . . [T]here was a first bassoon player, a Welshman named Cunningham. . . . [D]uring intermission [of the first rehearsal] he walked around. He had quite an influence with the orchestra, because he was very outspoken. He said, 'Well, boys, you can send your armchairs home. You won't need them anymore.'"

Fig. 2: Ormandy's interesting back story - young virtuoso violinist rises through the ranks of New York movie-house orchestra to conduct major symphony orchestra in Midwest - was picked up by the local papers, which published human-interest stories with headlines such as: "Ormandy happy 'beyond words' over new post: but he has his troubles - he didn't bring shirts enough with him." and "Ormandy now 'at home' - his violin's here." His ability to rely on his memory when conducting also made the news: a review in the 12 November 1931 Minneapolis Star bore the headline "Eugene Ormandy Discards Score in Concert Here."

Fig. 4: After the signing of a three-year contract following his first year, Ormandy began making major changes. Robert K. Sherman writes, "A new platform was installed on Northrop's cement-bottomed stage, raising the orchestra a few inches from the floor and giving better resonance to its tone. Ormandy retained the new orchestra pattern he had established the year before, the so-called Stokowski arrangement, which put the cellos to the right of the conductor and massed the second violins with the firsts at the left front." Rather than placing the winds on risers, he seated the entire orchestra flat on the platform, which helped improve the balance between the strings and brass.

Fig. 5: During Ormandy's five years in Minneapolis, he was careful to maintain a presence on the East Coast, setting his sights on larger and more prestigious appointments. Each year, he made several trips to New York and Philadelphia for guest conducting appearances, and he spent his summers conducting in Europe.

Minneapolis Appointment

Appointment

Between the first and second concerts, Ormandy was offered a one-year contract as conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony with an annual salary of $20,000. (Because Verbrugghen was still on contract with the orchestra, the board had to mount a quick fundraising campaign to cover Ormandy's salary.) He was 32 years old. Once it was clear Verbrugghen would be unable to return, Ormandy's contract was extended, and he remained with the orchestra five years, through the 1935-36 season.

In a 1969 interview, Ormandy said that Verbrugghen "was one of those elderly conductors who enjoyed going to parties perhaps a little more than learning new scores. So Beethoven programs almost followed each other. For them, they didn't have to do much rehearsing, so the orchestra became a little careless. . . . [T]here was a first bassoon player, a Welshman named Cunningham. . . . [D]uring intermission [of the first rehearsal] he walked around. He had quite an influence with the orchestra, because he was very outspoken. He said, 'Well, boys, you can send your armchairs home. You won't need them anymore.'"

Fig. 2: Ormandy's interesting back story - young virtuoso violinist rises through the ranks of New York movie-house orchestra to conduct major symphony orchestra in Midwest - was picked up by the local papers, which published human-interest stories with headlines such as: "Ormandy happy 'beyond words' over new post: but he has his troubles - he didn't bring shirts enough with him." and "Ormandy now 'at home' - his violin's here." His ability to rely on his memory when conducting also made the news: a review in the 12 November 1931 Minneapolis Star bore the headline "Eugene Ormandy Discards Score in Concert Here."

Fig. 4: After the signing of a three-year contract following his first year, Ormandy began making major changes. Robert K. Sherman writes, "A new platform was installed on Northrop's cement-bottomed stage, raising the orchestra a few inches from the floor and giving better resonance to its tone. Ormandy retained the new orchestra pattern he had established the year before, the so-called Stokowski arrangement, which put the cellos to the right of the conductor and massed the second violins with the firsts at the left front." Rather than placing the winds on risers, he seated the entire orchestra flat on the platform, which helped improve the balance between the strings and brass.

Fig. 5: During Ormandy's five years in Minneapolis, he was careful to maintain a presence on the East Coast, setting his sights on larger and more prestigious appointments. Each year, he made several trips to New York and Philadelphia for guest conducting appearances, and he spent his summers conducting in Europe.

1935 Recording Sessions

Mahler's Second

The one recording that secured Ormandy's legacy in Minneapolis was the first American recording of Mahler's Symphony no. 2, issued on eleven two-sided 78-rpm discs. One month after a December 1934 concert performance of the work, the 350 singers and augmented orchestra reassembled for a second performance for the Victor engineers before a "pop" concert audience. The symphony was recorded over two days, 6-7 January, at the beginning of the eleven days of recording in 1935. (The recording was reissued by Biddulph on compact disc in 1997.)

Fig. 1: Mahler's symphony requires an offstage ensemble of brass and percussion, and the configuration of Northrop Auditorium made it impossible for the offstage performers to have a clear view of the conductor. The stage crew devised a system of lights activated by a button placed under the foot of the second concertmaster. As he tapped the button in sync with Ormandy's beat, nine lights blinked on and off backstage to guide the players.

Fig. 2: In the last movement of the symphony, Mahler calls for three "deep unpitched" bells. The orchestra management located five bells from the old St. Paul courthouse in a storage garage and had three transferred to Northrop Auditorium. The percussionists struck the bells with sledgehammers.

1935 Recording Sessions

Mahler's Second

The one recording that secured Ormandy's legacy in Minneapolis was the first American recording of Mahler's Symphony no. 2, issued on eleven two-sided 78-rpm discs. One month after a December 1934 concert performance of the work, the 350 singers and augmented orchestra reassembled for a second performance for the Victor engineers before a "pop" concert audience. The symphony was recorded over two days, 6-7 January, at the beginning of the eleven days of recording in 1935. (The recording was reissued by Biddulph on compact disc in 1997.)

Fig. 1: Mahler's symphony requires an offstage ensemble of brass and percussion, and the configuration of Northrop Auditorium made it impossible for the offstage performers to have a clear view of the conductor. The stage crew devised a system of lights activated by a button placed under the foot of the second concertmaster. As he tapped the button in sync with Ormandy's beat, nine lights blinked on and off backstage to guide the players.

Fig. 2: In the last movement of the symphony, Mahler calls for three "deep unpitched" bells. The orchestra management located five bells from the old St. Paul courthouse in a storage garage and had three transferred to Northrop Auditorium. The percussionists struck the bells with sledgehammers.

1934 Recording Sessions

Percy Grainger and Ormandy

Among the works recorded in 1934 were four pieces by Percy Grainger, who wrote Ormandy in April 1935 praising the recordings and exclaiming that they were "a new milestone in my life as a composer." In the letter, Grainger proposes that they record some of his compositions for piano and orchestra. That was not to happen, since O'Connell was in complete control of the selection of repertory, but the correspondence did lead to guest appearances by Grainger with the Minneapolis Symphony in 1936.

Fig. 1 and Fig. 2: On the second page of the letter, Grainger writes, "Yesterday (before hearing your recordings) I was a composer without a perfect orchestra record of my compositions. Today (after hearing your records) I know the privilege of seeing that I too can be perfectly interpreted, when a genius & a master band starts to record me."

Fig. 3 and Fig. 4: Grainger's correspondence with Ormandy led to a trip to Minnesota and a guest appearance with the Minneapolis Symphony. Three Grainger works were on the program: two for piano and orchestra and one for harmonium and orchestra, with Grainger at the keyboard for all three.

1934 Recording Sessions

Percy Grainger and Ormandy

Among the works recorded in 1934 were four pieces by Percy Grainger, who wrote Ormandy in April 1935 praising the recordings and exclaiming that they were "a new milestone in my life as a composer." In the letter, Grainger proposes that they record some of his compositions for piano and orchestra. That was not to happen, since O'Connell was in complete control of the selection of repertory, but the correspondence did lead to guest appearances by Grainger with the Minneapolis Symphony in 1936.

Fig. 1 and Fig. 2: On the second page of the letter, Grainger writes, "Yesterday (before hearing your recordings) I was a composer without a perfect orchestra record of my compositions. Today (after hearing your records) I know the privilege of seeing that I too can be perfectly interpreted, when a genius & a master band starts to record me."

Fig. 3 and Fig. 4: Grainger's correspondence with Ormandy led to a trip to Minnesota and a guest appearance with the Minneapolis Symphony. Three Grainger works were on the program: two for piano and orchestra and one for harmonium and orchestra, with Grainger at the keyboard for all three.

1934 Recording Sessions

Percy Grainger and Ormandy

Among the works recorded in 1934 were four pieces by Percy Grainger, who wrote Ormandy in April 1935 praising the recordings and exclaiming that they were "a new milestone in my life as a composer." In the letter, Grainger proposes that they record some of his compositions for piano and orchestra. That was not to happen, since O'Connell was in complete control of the selection of repertory, but the correspondence did lead to guest appearances by Grainger with the Minneapolis Symphony in 1936.

Fig. 1 and Fig. 2: On the second page of the letter, Grainger writes, "Yesterday (before hearing your recordings) I was a composer without a perfect orchestra record of my compositions. Today (after hearing your records) I know the privilege of seeing that I too can be perfectly interpreted, when a genius & a master band starts to record me."

Fig. 3 and Fig. 4: Grainger's correspondence with Ormandy led to a trip to Minnesota and a guest appearance with the Minneapolis Symphony. Three Grainger works were on the program: two for piano and orchestra and one for harmonium and orchestra, with Grainger at the keyboard for all three.

1934 Recording Sessions

Percy Grainger and Ormandy

Among the works recorded in 1934 were four pieces by Percy Grainger, who wrote Ormandy in April 1935 praising the recordings and exclaiming that they were "a new milestone in my life as a composer." In the letter, Grainger proposes that they record some of his compositions for piano and orchestra. That was not to happen, since O'Connell was in complete control of the selection of repertory, but the correspondence did lead to guest appearances by Grainger with the Minneapolis Symphony in 1936.

Fig. 1 and Fig. 2: On the second page of the letter, Grainger writes, "Yesterday (before hearing your recordings) I was a composer without a perfect orchestra record of my compositions. Today (after hearing your records) I know the privilege of seeing that I too can be perfectly interpreted, when a genius & a master band starts to record me."

Fig. 3 and Fig. 4: Grainger's correspondence with Ormandy led to a trip to Minnesota and a guest appearance with the Minneapolis Symphony. Three Grainger works were on the program: two for piano and orchestra and one for harmonium and orchestra, with Grainger at the keyboard for all three.

Beginnings

Substituting for Toscanini

In fall 1931, Arturo Toscanini was forced to cancel a two-week engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra because of a joint ailment. Judson contacted a number of prominent conductors to fill in for Toscanini, but according to a 1969 interview with Ormandy, "They were to follow Leopold Stokowski and replace Toscanini. You could not be in a worse position, and they were not going to take that chance." Although Ormandy had conducted both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was still best known for his weekly performances on CBS radio. As Ormandy put it, he was a "radio conductor." "I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, . . . even though my manager [Judson] said, 'If you listen to me, I wouldn't do it, but you are the only one left, and here's your chance if you want it.' . . . Luckily, in three days' time I had to prepare a program that Stokowski made me learn." Since he was still relatively untested, Judson engaged him for only the first week.

For his first concert, Ormandy conducted the Brahms Symphony no. 4, Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche and Rosenkavalier Suite, and the "Polka and Fugue" from Jaromír Weinberger's operetta Schwanda the Bagpiper, "a new work not previously heard in regular concerts of the Orchestra." During the intermission of the first concert, Judson, pleased by what he had heard and reassured by the audience's enthusiastic reception, invited Ormandy to continue with the orchestra through what would have been Toscanini's second week. At the end of this second week, a review published in the 8 November 1931 Philadelphia Record bore the headline, "Will Phila. Jilt the Stokowski for Ormandy?"

Beginnings

Substituting for Toscanini

In fall 1931, Arturo Toscanini was forced to cancel a two-week engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra because of a joint ailment. Judson contacted a number of prominent conductors to fill in for Toscanini, but according to a 1969 interview with Ormandy, "They were to follow Leopold Stokowski and replace Toscanini. You could not be in a worse position, and they were not going to take that chance." Although Ormandy had conducted both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was still best known for his weekly performances on CBS radio. As Ormandy put it, he was a "radio conductor." "I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, . . . even though my manager [Judson] said, 'If you listen to me, I wouldn't do it, but you are the only one left, and here's your chance if you want it.' . . . Luckily, in three days' time I had to prepare a program that Stokowski made me learn." Since he was still relatively untested, Judson engaged him for only the first week.

For his first concert, Ormandy conducted the Brahms Symphony no. 4, Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche and Rosenkavalier Suite, and the "Polka and Fugue" from Jaromír Weinberger's operetta Schwanda the Bagpiper, "a new work not previously heard in regular concerts of the Orchestra." During the intermission of the first concert, Judson, pleased by what he had heard and reassured by the audience's enthusiastic reception, invited Ormandy to continue with the orchestra through what would have been Toscanini's second week. At the end of this second week, a review published in the 8 November 1931 Philadelphia Record bore the headline, "Will Phila. Jilt the Stokowski for Ormandy?"

1934 Recording Sessions

"Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper

Ormandy often programmed the "Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper as an encore, and it became his signature piece early in his directorship of the Minneapolis Symphony.

1934 Recording Sessions

"Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper

Ormandy often programmed the "Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper as an encore, and it became his signature piece early in his directorship of the Minneapolis Symphony.

1934 Recording Sessions

"Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper

Ormandy often programmed the "Polka and Fugue" from Schwanda the Bagpiper as an encore, and it became his signature piece early in his directorship of the Minneapolis Symphony.

1935 Recording Sessions

Bruckner's Seventh

The Minneapolis Symphony also made the first American recording of Bruckner's Symphony no. 7. In recognition of the recording, the Bruckner Society of America presented Ormandy with its medal of honor in 1936.

1935 Recording Sessions

Bruckner's Seventh

The Minneapolis Symphony also made the first American recording of Bruckner's Symphony no. 7. In recognition of the recording, the Bruckner Society of America presented Ormandy with its medal of honor in 1936.

1935 Recording Sessions

Bruckner's Seventh

The Minneapolis Symphony also made the first American recording of Bruckner's Symphony no. 7. In recognition of the recording, the Bruckner Society of America presented Ormandy with its medal of honor in 1936.

Selected bibliography

Contributors

early days
From Movie House to
Substituting for Tos
Henri Verbrugghen
Trip West
Appointment
intro
Cities Visited durin
intro
Reviews of the Eight
intro
Stephanie Goldner
intro
Recordings made by V
Percy Grainger and O
"Polka and Fugue" fr
intro
Recordings made in J
Mahler's Second
Bruckner's Seventh
intro