This great conductor was born on 18 April 1882 and died on 13 September 1977…Stokowski began his conducting career at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909, at the young age of 27….After a few years in Cincinnati, however, Stokowski moved on to the Philadelphia Orchestra and molded it into one of the finest orchestras in the world. In fact, Rachmaninoff claimed that the Philadelphia WAS the finest orchestra in the world.
Stokowski arrived in Los Angeles January 2, 1938 to record the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with a hand-picked orchestra of 85 Hollywood session musicians…Disney had decided that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice short film needed to be expanded to a full-length movie, in order to be financially viable. Fantasia was issued in 1941 and 1942, and was released again many times over the years, and continues even today to play in some theaters.
Stokowski sought to combat Nazi propaganda touting the wonders of Hitler youth
with an artistic statement from young emissaries of the free world.
But his goal was not entirely selfless, as he seized the opportunity to vent his frustration with RCA, his record company, which had refused to sponsor a Stokowski tour but then launched one with Toscanini, its other star conductor. While his Philadelphia Orchestra remained under exclusive contract to RCA, Stokowski would face no such constraints with an entirely new ensemble. And so he created one, arranged a contract with rival Columbia and then proceeded to cut with his new orchestra many of the works that RCA had wanted him to record.
Leopold Stokowski was a frequent visitor to the [New York] Philharmonic over the years, appearing with the Orchestra on nearly 200 occasions…In his last appearance with the Philharmonic, on February 8, 1969, he led a program of music by Bach and two modern works inspired by him: Lukas Foss’s Phorion, and Rock Variations and Fantasy on a Brandenburg Concerto, written and performed by the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble.