Video: Video Finds: Music — Stokowski and the Faun |
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Video Finds: Music — Stokowski and the Faun

It isn’t true that Leopold Stokowski’s real name was Leo Stokes, but it is true that almost everything else he ever said about his origins was false. Among European emigrants to the US early in the twentieth century, Stokowski was not alone in reworking his background to make it more marketable. In his case, such embroidery became a lifelong habit, and his account of anything could never be relied on even in his old age. Some of it was true: he probably did have a love affair with Greta Garbo, even though he said so. But at the centre of his myth-making was a musicianship that places him high among the great conductors: a sure sign of a tin-eared pundit is to denigrate Stokowski. Qualified musicians recognized his outstanding abilities of interpretation straight away. Rachmaninov said that Stokowski’s Philadelphia orchestra was the best he had ever heard. In later years, Stokowski conducted other orchestras to equal effect. There are several good examples of Stokowski in action on YouTube, but for immediate appeal nothing beats the two clips of him conducting the complete Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The maestro was an old man by then, but the sexy languor of Debussy’s score was still in his blood.

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune conducted by Stokowski