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Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra has been called the Rolls Royce of orchestras. Its many partisans assert that it is, and has been for nearly a century, the finest orchestra in the world.

The Philadelphia Orchestra was founded in 1900. Fritz Scheel was appointed the ensemble's first music director and served until his 1907 death. In its earliest years, the orchestra could not boast the exalted reputation it would develop just two decades later, but it did manage to attract some notable figures, including Richard Strauss who guest-conducted, and Artur Rubinstein who appeared as soloist in 1906. Scheel was succeeded by Carl Pohlig, a Mahler protégée.

In 1912, the orchestra management appointed the young and then-obscure conductor, Leopold Stokowski, to be music director. By 1920, the orchestra had become widely recognized as the finest on American shores and among the greatest in the world. Stokowski had transformed a merely talented ensemble into a world-class orchestra in less than a decade. He attracted the leading artists of the day and regularly conducted transcriptions of his own devising (often with the aid of Lucien Caillet) of works by Bach and others. More importantly, he led the Philadelphians in numerous recordings in the 1920s and 1930s for RCA, far outpacing most other conductors and orchestras of that period in this endeavor. Also under Stokowski, the orchestra became the first to have its own radio broadcast underwritten by commercial sponsors and to perform on a movie soundtrack, The Big Broadcast of 1937. Among Stokowski's innovations in the playing style of the orchestra was the introduction of "free bowing" for the string players, which resulted in a lusher, fuller sound.

In 1938, the management appointed a new music director, Eugene Ormandy, who had become assistant conductor in 1936. Stokowski still led performances and made recordings with the orchestra until 1940. Ormandy dispensed with Stokowski's "free bowing," and, many have claimed, fashioned an even greater collective virtuosity from his players. The leading musicians of the mid-20th century regularly played and recorded with the Philadelphians, including Rachmaninov (who died in 1943), Horowitz, Van Cliburn, Szigeti, and Oistrakh. Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra continued to make recordings with RCA in the beginning of his tenure, but switched to Columbia in the 1940s. They would return to RCA, however, in 1968. For both labels they made recordings mainly from the standard repertory and its fringes, but paying particular attention to the works of Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev. They also played and recorded a fair amount of American music, including works by Copland, Harris, Piston, and Gershwin.

Ormandy selected his successor, Riccardo Muti, who became music director in 1980. Muti also made a large number of recordings during his 10 years in Philadelphia, including a well-received cycle of Beethoven symphonies for EMI. Some view the Muti years negatively, but overall the orchestra maintained its generally high reputation.

Wolfgang Sawallisch was appointed music director in 1990 and served in that capacity until 2003. He was succeeded by Christoph Eschenbach, and then by Charles Dutoit.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Bach: Build Your Baby's Brain 4

Title: Cantata No. 147, "Herz Und Mund Und Tat Und Leben," Bwv 147 (Bc A174)
Title: Cantata No. 208, "Was Mir Behagt," (Hunt Cantata), Bwv 208 (Bc G1, G3)
Title: Cantata No. 140, "Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme," Bwv 140 (Bc A166)
Title: Orchestral Suite No. 3 In D Major, Bwv 1068
Title: Bist Du Bei Mir, Aria Arranged For Voice & Continuo (after Gottfried Stölzel), BWV 508
Title: Suite for lute in E minor, BWV 996 (BC L166)
Title: Concerto For Oboe (Or Violin), Strings & Continuo In G Minor (Reconstruction), Bwv 1056r
Title: Suite For Solo Cello No. 1 In G Major, Bwv 1007
Title: Two-part Invention, For Keyboard No. 1 In C Major, Bwv 772 (Bc L42)
Title: Two-part Invention, For Keyboard No. 4 In D Minor, Bwv 775 (Bc L45)
Title: Two-part Invention, For Keyboard No. 8 In F Major, Bwv 779 (Bc L49)
Title: Fugue For Organ In G Minor ("Little"), Bwv 578 (Bc J66)
Title: Fantasia and Fugue, for organ in G minor ("Great"), BWV 542 (BC J42, 57, 67)
Title: Goldberg Variations, For Keyboard (Clavier-übung IV), Bwv 988 (Bc L9)
Title: Orchestral Suite No. 2 In B Minor, Bwv 1067
Title: Cantata No. 156, "Ich Steh Mit Einem Fuss Im Grabe," Bwv 156 (Bc A38)
Title: Cantata No. 34, "O Ewiges Feuer, O Ursprung Der Liebe," BWV 34 (BC A84)
Title: Cantata No. 51, "Jauchzet Gott In Allen Landen," BWV 51 (BC A134)
Title: Cantata No. 207, "Vereinigte Zwietracht Der Wechselnden Saiten," BWV 207 (BC G37)
Title: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major, Bwv 1048
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Track List: Chopin: Les Sylphides/ Delibes: Sylvia - Coppelia/ Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker

Composer: Fryderyk Chopin
Title: Les Sylphides, Ballet (Arrangement)

1. Les Sylphides, Ballet (Arrangement): Les Sylphides

Composer: Léo Delibes
Title: Sylvia, Ou La Nymphe De Diane, Ballet

2. Sylvia, Ou La Nymphe De Diane, Ballet: Sylvia, Ou La Nymphe De Diane (Ballet Suite)

Title: Coppélia, Ou La Fille Aux Yeux D'émail, Ballet

3. Coppélia, Ou La Fille Aux Yeux D'émail, Ballet: Coppelia, Ou La Fille Aux Yeux D'email

Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Title: Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71

4. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Overture

5. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: March

6. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Act 1. No. 14, Var. 2 (Danse De La Fee Dragee)

7. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Act 2. No. 12d (Trepak)

8. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Coffee: Arabian Dance

9. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Tea: Chinese Dance

10. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Act 2. No. 12 E (Danse Des Mirlitons)

11. Nutcracker, Ballet, Op. 71: Waltz Of The Flowers

x

Track List: Fantasia

Disc 1
Composer: Leopold Stokowski
Title: Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, Transcription For Orchestra (after Bach, BWV 565)

1. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, Transcription For Orchestra (after Bach, BWV 565): Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,BWV 565

Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Title: Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a

2. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

3. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Chinese Dance

4. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Dance of the Reed Flutes

5. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Arabian Dance

6. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Russian Dance

7. Nutcracker, Suite From The Ballet, Op. 71a: Waltz of the Flowers

Composer: Paul Dukas
Title: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (L'apprenti Sorcier), Symphonic Scherzo For Orchestra

8. The Sorcerer's Apprentice (L'apprenti Sorcier), Symphonic Scherzo For Orchestra: Sorcerer's Apprentice

Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite Of Spring), Ballet In 2 Parts For Orchestra

9. Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite Of Spring), Ballet In 2 Parts For Orchestra: Rite of Spring

Disc 2

14. A Night On Bald Mountain

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Track List: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibiton; Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Title: Pictures At An Exhibition (Kartinki S Vïstavski), For Orchestra, Orchestrated By Ravel
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite Of Spring), Ballet In 2 Parts For Orchestra
x

Track List: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3; Symphonic Dances

Title: Symphony No. 3 In A Minor, Op. 44

1. Symphony No. 3 In A Minor, Op. 44: I. Lento - Allegro Molto

2. Symphony No. 3 In A Minor, Op. 44: II. Adagio Ma Non Troppo - Allegro Vivace

3. Symphony No. 3 In A Minor, Op. 44: III. Allegro

Title: Symphonic Dances, For Orchestra (Or 2 Pianos), Op. 45

4. Symphonic Dances, For Orchestra (Or 2 Pianos), Op. 45: I. Non Allegro

5. Symphonic Dances, For Orchestra (Or 2 Pianos), Op. 45: II. Andante Con Moto (Tempo Di Valse)

6. Symphonic Dances, For Orchestra (Or 2 Pianos), Op. 45: III. Lento Assai - Allegro Vivace

x

Track List: Russian Orchestral Works

Composer: Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov
Title: Le Coq D'or (The Golden Cockerel; Zolotoy Petushok), Concert Suite For Orchestra
Title: The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka), Suite For Orchestra
Title: Mlada, Suite For Orchestra
Title: The Tale Of Tsar Saltan (Skazka O Tsare Saltane), Musical Pictures (Suite) For Orchestra, Op. 57
Title: Christmas Eve Suite (Noch' Pered Rozhdestvom), For Orchestra (With Optional Chorus Ad Lib)
Title: The Tale Of Tsar Saltan (Skazka O Tsare Saltane), Musical Pictures (Suite) For Orchestra, Op. 57
Title: The Maid Of Pskov (Pskovityanka), Incidental Music For Orchestra
Composer: Mily Balakirev
Title: Islamey, Oriental Fantasy For Piano
Composer: Reinhold Glière
Title: The Red Poppy, Ballet, Op. 70
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Title: Gopak (Hopak), For Orchestra, Transcribed By Liadov From The Opera Sorochintsï Fair
Composer: Aram Khachaturian
Title: Masquerada, Suite From The Incidental Music For Orchestra (Or Piano)
Title: Gayane, Ballet In 4 Acts
Composer: Dmitry Kabalevsky
Title: The Comedians, Suite For Small Orchestra, Op. 26
Composer: Mikhail Mikhaylovich Ippolitov-Ivanov
Title: Caucasian Sketches, Suite For Orchestra, Op. 10
x

Track List: Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture

Title: 1812 -- Festival Overture, For Orchestra In E Flat Major, Op. 49

1. 1812 -- Festival Overture, For Orchestra In E Flat Major, Op. 49: 1812 Overture

Title: Capriccio Italien, for orchestra (or piano, 4 hands), Op. 45

2. Capriccio Italien, for orchestra (or piano, 4 hands), Op. 45: Capriccio Italien, for Orchestra (Or Piano, 4 Hands), Op. 45

Title: Slavonic March, For Orchestra, Op. 31

3. Slavonic March, For Orchestra, Op. 31: Slavonic March, for Orchestra, Op. 31

Title: Francesca Da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy For Orchestra In E Minor, Op. 32

4. Francesca Da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy For Orchestra In E Minor, Op. 32: I. Andante Lugubre

5. Francesca Da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy For Orchestra In E Minor, Op. 32: II. Allegro Vivo

6. Francesca Da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy For Orchestra In E Minor, Op. 32: III. Andante Cantabile

7. Francesca Da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy For Orchestra In E Minor, Op. 32: IV. Allegro Vivo

x

Track List: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake; Adam: Giselle; Meyerbeer: The Skaters

Title: The Swan Lake, Ballet, Op. 20
Composer: Adolphe Adam
Title: Giselle, Ballet
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
Title: Les Patineurs, Ballet (arranged By Constant Lambert; Music From "Le Prophète," Act 3)
x

Track List: Vaughan William - Delius: Works For Orchestra

Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Title: Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis, For 2 String Orchestras
Title: Fantasia On Greensleeves, For Harp, Flute & Strings (Arranged By R. Greaves; From The Opera "Sir John In Love")
Title: The Lark Ascending, Romance For Violin & Orchestra
Composer: Frederick Delius
Title: Brigg Fair (An English Rhapsody), For Orchestra, RT Vi/16
Title: A Dance Rhapsody (No. 2), For Orchestra, RT Vi/22
Title: Pieces (2) For Small Orchestra, RT Vi/19
Title: In A Summer Garden, Rhapsody For Orchestra, Rt Vi/17

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