Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leopold Stokowski

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  
                                                                                               ~Leopold Stokowski

This quote appeared in my concert programs the last few years I lived in Illinois. A not so subtle way of encouraging audiences to be quiet while the students were performing. It was starting to work when I left there. I saw the quote and wanted to explore a little about the man who said it.


Leopold Stokowski (nicknamed "Stoki") was an English-born American orchestral conductor for nearly 60 years during the twentieth century. He spent a good deal of his career in Philadelphia, PA.  He conducted many recordings of classical music and was responsible for making this music available to many people in the first half of the century.


A relentless innovator, Stokowski experimented with orchestral seating. He also had spotlights directed on his hands and his impressively prominent hair to make concerts more theatrical. He gave up the use of the baton, instead employing graceful, almost hypnotic, hand gestures when he conducted.

Stokowski was the first conductor to become a true superstar. He was the conductor in Disney's Fantasia movie.


Stokowski was noted for his advocacy of new music. Records show he conducted the music of Stravinsky, Mahler, and other noted 20th century composers.  He was a pioneer in the use of hi-fi sound and bringing music to the silver screen.


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