Leopold Stokowski

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Stokowski, Leopold

(stəkŏf`skē), 1882–1977, American conductor, b. London. Stokowski studied in England and at the Paris Conservatory. He was organist and choirmaster at St. Bartholomew's Church, New York City (1905–8), and was conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony (1909–12). As conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1912–36) he became known for brilliant interpretation and performance; he introduced unknown contemporary works and, with his own controversial transcriptions, popularized much of Bach's music. Stokowski continued to conduct for part of each season until 1941. In 1940 he organized the All-American Youth Orchestra. He was co-conductor, with Toscanini, of the NBC Symphony Orchestra (1942–43). Stokowski was musical supervisor of Walt Disney's film Fantasia (1940), in which he also appeared. He was conductor of many renowned orchestras for brief periods. Stokowski was influential in the improvement of music-recording techniques. In 1962 he founded the American Symphony Orchestra, New York City, a forum for young performers. His first wife was the pianist and teacher Olga Samaroff.


See his Music for All of Us (1943).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stokowski, Leopold


Born Apr. 18, 1882, in London; died Sept. 13, 1977, in Nether Wallop, England. American conductor.

Stokowski graduated from the Royal College of Music in London and took advanced training in Paris and Berlin. He made his conducting debut in London in 1908. From 1912 to 1936 he conducted and toured with the Philadelphia Orchestra, to which he brought world renown. Stokowski also conducted other major American orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic. He founded the American Symphony Orchestra in New York in 1962.

Stokowski was one of the prominent representatives of American music in the world. He attracted large audiences through his inventiveness, and introduced the public to the newest complex works of American composers. He rearranged the seating of orchestra members on stage and used lighting effects in the concert hall. Stokowski became popular as a result of his radio broadcasts, films, and early phonograph recordings. In the 1940’s, some of his recordings were the standard against which the quality of recordings was measured. He played an important role in popularizing music, conducting a series of concerts for children and young people and establishing the All-American Youth Orchestra and other orchestras, including those whose members were amateur musicians; some amateur orchestras later became professional.

Stokowski wrote the book Music for All of Us (1943) and composed musical works. He toured the USSR in 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Stokowski, Leopold (b. Antoni Stanislaw Boleslawowicz)

(1882–1977) conductor; born in London, England. After musical studies in London, Paris, and Germany, Stokowski came to the U.S.A. in 1905 and four years later was named conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony. He left that post in 1912 for a long and celebrated tenure as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, in which he cultivated a popular but later dated creaminess of sound. Stokowski became the great matinee idol of conductors—that despite his bold championing of advanced composers including Varèse, Berg, and Schoenberg—and was for awhile linked with Greta Garbo. Resigning from Philadelphia in 1938, he went on to conduct for shorter periods orchestras including the NBC Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony (1955–62), and American Symphony (1962–73), the latter of which he founded. His popularity is reflected in the fact that he appeared in several movies, notably One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) and Fantasia (1940).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.