In 1979, the conductor Leonard Slatkin began a 17-year tenure as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. During those years, Slatkin and that orchestra issued a series of recordings that raised the St. Louis ensemble to the ranks of one of the ten best orchestras in the U.S. Due to the decline in classical recording, that feat may not be duplicated in a very long time. We'll sample some of their recordings.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
Two conductors who recorded much of the standard repertory in early days of the LP were Igor Markevich and Hermann Scherchen. Markevich recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon label, and Scherchen became famous recording for Westminster. Once, their records were widely available, but few of their performances have been transferred to CDs. We will look at their recording careers.
The 1930s were a great era for the revival of Mozart's music. Sir Thomas Beecham's recordings of Mozart's music with the London Philharmonic set a enviably high standard. The recording of Mozart's operas at the Glyndebourne festival began the revival of these works on international stages. Pianists such as Arthur Schnabel and Edwin Fischer made famous recordings of Mozart's concertos and chamber works. We will sample some of the great recordings.
A vast amount of music from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, especially from the Baroque era, is now available on recordings. It was not always so. The attempts of pioneers in recording old music in authentic performances began only in the 1930s. In the next 20 years, ambitious collections were put on discs, such as the Anthologie Sonore from France. Famous teachers, such as Nadia Boulanger, made pioneering recordings of Monteverdi madrigals. We'll listen to some of these trail-blazing recordings.
The Utah Symphony Orchestra has been an anomaly among American orchestras. A regional orchestra, far from traditional centers of classical music, it long enjoyed the dynamic direction of a world famous conductor, Maurice Abravanel. And their fame was generated by the loyal support of Vanguard records, which supported this organization in daring ventures, such as one of the first recordings of the complete Mahler Symphonies. We'll sample some of their recordings.
Morton Gould was an enormously gifted musician and successful composer. Yet his works seem to fall in that gray area between light and serious classical music. Conductors of symphonic bands love his music, but those who program classical orchestral concerts tend to avoid Gould's music. We will sample the range of Gould's compositions.
Igor Stravinsky, in the last decades of his long career, engaged with Columbia Records in a large-scale project to record his entire works. But, much earlier, in the 1930s, Stravinsky had recorded some of his works in Europe, and these were the recorded versions that gave his music a wide reach in the musical world. I will play portions of these earlier recordings.
Many famous conductors have given concerts here at the University of Illinois. In 1956, during the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Mozart's birth in 1756, Sir Thomas Beecham came here and gave two concerts with the University Symphony Orchestra in April, 1956. The music was, of course, Mozart, and Sir Thomas also gave a lecture. We will hear some of these festivities.
Two famous female pianists of the first half of the 20th century were Ania Dorfmann and Yvonne Lefebure. Dorfmann made a memorable broadcast appearance with Toscanini in the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, and Lefebure played the Mozart Concerto No. 20 with Furtwaengler in the last year of his life. We will hear some of these recordings.
Constantin Silvestri was best known in England for raising the reputation of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to one of the best in the British Isles. Since his death in 1969, he has acquired a cult reputation, and in recent years many of his recorded performances have been reissued on CD. We'll sample some of Silvestri's most praised performances.