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As described elsewhere in this website - first Victor Acoustic recordings of Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra , in , the Boston Symphony Orchestra was the first major orchestra to record for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Victor then was the leading phonograph and phonograph recording company in the U. Described elsewhere on this website: Until , Victor had not successfully recorded a full symphony orchestra, nor did they have the recording location to do so.
Then, with the construction of the Eighth Floor Auditorium of the Victor headquarters, the "Victor New Office Building no 2" in , Victor finally had a suitable recording location for a full symphony orchestra.
Read about this by clicking on - First Victor Acoustic Recordings. These recordings were followed on October 22, by the first recordings of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. From the surviving recordings and contemporary comment, it is clear that Karl Muck was one of the great conductors of the Boston Symphony. His career in Boston unfortunately came to a sad end, as described below. Before the arrest, there had been something of an ongoing furor in the press during the previous six months as to whether or not Muck and the Boston Symphony Orchestra would play the Star-Spangled Banner prior to certain concerts which they did not.
This seemingly trivial incident needs to be considered in the context of war fever, and the anti-German sentiments in the US at that time in World War 1. In any case, Karl Muck was arrested on March 26, , and Ernst Schmidt was selected to become the temporary conductor for the remainder of the season.
Ernst Schmidt was a first violin of the Boston Symphony for four seasons and he was conductor of the Boston Pops in the summer Pops season. He was also an active composer whose chamber works were somewhat popular in the early twentieth century.
Ernst Schmidt left the Boston Symphony at the end of the season to return to Europe. Max Fiedler studied piano and conducting at Leipzig and then beginning in at the Hamburg Conservatory.
Max Fiedler made his first appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic in He conducted the Hamburg Philharmonic He made his U.
This led to his invitation to conduct the Boston Symphony, it was widely said at the recommendation of Karl Muck. In Boston, Fiedler programmed contemporary music, such as Richard Strauss , Alexander Glazunov , Claude Debussy , Jean Sibelius and Frederick Delius , as well as the austro-germanic core repertoire. However, not all critics were favorable to Fiedler in Boston. Fiedler was selected because of his warm personal friendship with Dr. Friendship, however, is no mark of merit Observers said that Fiedler introduced marked accelerations and extremes of tempo in a way, some critics felt, not as called for by the score.
This may have resemblances to what some feel to be the mannered interpretations of Willem Mengelberg. Fiedler, according to more than one source also had the reputation as being something of a "martinet" with orchestras. Max Fiedler also continued to teach, including in Cologne, and among his students was Einar Hansen , future first violin with the BSO Max Fiedler continued to conduct a number of German Orchestras and make recordings well into the period of the Third Reich.
Max Fiedler died in Stockholm, Sweden December 1, Rabaud came from a family of musicians. With the removal of Karl Muck in March, , Boston scrambled to find a new conductor. Only in September, could Henri Rabaud be announced. Nor could Rabaud arrive in time for the opening concerts in October , which were led by Pierre Monteux at that time conducting at the Metropolitan Opera , with piano soloist Josef Hofmann 55, as shown in the announcement photograph, below.
Henri Rabaud was principal conductor of the Boston Symphony for one season, , and was not reengaged for the following season. Rabaud returned to France in the summer of In and , although not required by the authorities 1, Rabaud asked political guidance from the German ambassador. Rabaud then excluded, first the Jewish background professors from the Conservatoire, and later, the Jewish musical students.
After the withdrawal of the Nazis from France in , Rabaud took actions to insulate himself from charges of collaboration, and nothing further was said.
Henri Rabaud died in suburban Paris Neuilly on September 11, at age He studied violin from youth, and gained admittance to the Paris Conservatoire in at the age of nine. Monteux then took up the viola, studying with Theophile Laforge , professor of viola at the Paris Conservatoire. This Summer experience was perhaps something like the conducting training experienced gained in regional theaters by beginning conductors in Germany.
In , Monteux became conductor of the Sergei Diaghilev Ballets russes ballet company, which gained Monteux his first wider conducting recognition.
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This latter was the performance which has gone down in concert legend for its riot by some parts of an angry Paris audience.
Quite a string of premieres of the first rank, thanks in part to the discernment and commissioning of these works by Sergei Diaghilev. Then, in the spring of , Monteux was allowed to travel to the U. It was consequent to this tour that, from , Monteux was appointed a staff conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, specializing in the French repertoire. French opera appreciation had grown in New York during the war, as the German operas began to fall out of favor.
In fact, Monteux had conducted the Boston Symphony during the initial weeks of the season, because Henri Rabaud had been delayed in his arrival in Boston.
Monteux remained in Boston for five seasons, In the season, the Boston musicians sought to unionize the orchestra and gain wage increases. The life of an orchestra musician, even of the Boston Symphony, was precarious with a short season, facing difficult summer employment and also being low-paid in that era.
The deadlock between the orchestra musicians and the Board on salary and unionization reached an impasse by March, This caused a sensation, and that evening Fradkin was summarily dismissed by the Board.
This led to 32 other musicians leaving the orchestra Although Monteux avoided involvement in the strike confrontation, he emerged with his his authority and rapport with the orchestra partially compromised.
Although he continued four more seasons, continuing to rebuild the orchestra, by the end of the season, the Board felt a new organizing force was needed. The Boston Symphony did join the musicians union on December 4, Monteux then returned to France where in , he again conducted the Ballets russes.
At that time, he also began a long relationship with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, sharing conducting seasons with long-time Music Director Willem Mengelberg. This led to the hiring of Pierre Monteux in the autumn of to resuscitate the remnants of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. After conducting the first four weeks of the Los Angeles Symphony season Klemperer was conducting the New York Philharmonic 31, Pierre Monteux came to San Francisco the week of September 9, to organize his orchestra.
He had conducted at the Hollywood Bowl during the summer of , to be followed by concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in December.
During the latter part of , Monteux was auditioning and selecting musicians to reconstitute the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
This was two days after his final concert of the season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic From the ten subscription concert pairs of the season, by , the San Francisco Symphony season had expanded to twelve concert pairs of subscription concerts Toscanini, for example always drove himself and his musicians to seek the best at every concert.
Monteux was thought by some sometimes to accept less. Monteux became a U. His later life was centered in guest conducting, including the Boston Symphony after Koussevitzky had retired , and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra.
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Monteux died July 1, in Hancock, Maine at age Koussevitzky in Serge Koussevitzky sometimes transliterated as Sergei Koussevitski was born in Vyshny Volochyok, km northwest of Moscow on July 26, His poor Jewish parents were both musicians, and Koussevitzky learned violin and cello from an early age. In , Koussevitzky won a full scholarship to the Music and Drama Institute run by the Moscow Philharmonic to study double bass.
Koussevitzky was a virtuoso bass player and joined the Bolshoi Theater orchestra in , where he stayed until , moving to Principal bass of the Bolshoi in He married his first wife, Nadezhda Galat, a Bolshoi ballerina, in In , Koussevitzky divorced Galat in order to marry Natalya Ushkov, daughter of a wealthy Russian tea merchant. For his wedding present, Natalie asked her father to to buy Serge an orchestra Somewhat like the wealthy Sir Thomas Beecham in the early years of learning conducting, Koussevitzky used his great wealth to hire complete orchestras.
In , Koussevitzky made his conducting debut by hiring the Berlin Philharmonic! In , Koussevitzky formed his own orchestra in Moscow. During , Koussevitzky toured as a bass virtuoso and also conducted his orchestra. Koussevitzky had a flair for publicity and became famous across Europe. Following the Russian Revolution in , Koussevitzky was appointed conductor of what became in , the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Petrograd, predecessor of the Leningrad Philharmonic and now the St.
In , Koussevitzky left Russia for Paris, where he began a new orchestral series called Concerts Koussevitzky. In , the Boston Symphony, searching for a successor to Pierre Monteux, offered Koussevitzky a three year contract, beginning with the Boston season. Koussevitzky accepted, moving to Boston, where he would live the rest of his life. Ruth Orkin Beginning with the season, Koussevitzky was director of the Boston Symphony for 25 seasons, , and brought the Boston Symphony Orchestra to a new level of international fame, with consistent excellence.
Koussevitzky also provided the musicians with a new level of income security by expanding the season. The Tanglewood Music Festival had its beginnings in when Koussevitzky brought the orchestra to the Tanglewood estate for a series of concerts. In , Koussevitzky started what became known as the Tanglewood Music Center, an educational experience held each summer for promising young musicians, with master classes and multiple performance opportunities.
During his tenure in Boston, Koussevitzky was a leading advocate of new music, commissioning a long list of now-famous works. Koussevitzky founded the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in to commission and promote new music. Most other conductors study the scores directly, but a facility to hear the music from reading the score was apparently was not a gift granted Koussevitzky but of course he could read a symphonic score. Yet, Koussevitzky was an inspired performer, one of the greats of a great age, as still shown by his recorded legacy.
Koussevitzky also had a broad repertoire, including an open attitude to contemporary music. Serge Koussevitzky made a long-lasting impact on the Boston Symphony. It is now more than twenty-five years since Serge Koussevitzky retired as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, after having served for a quarter of a century.