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Definition: Stokowski from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

Leopold (Antoni Stanislaw Boleslawawicz) Stokowski 1882–1977 Am. (Eng.-born) conductor


Summary Article: Stokowski, Leopold Antoni Stanisław
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US conductor. An outstanding innovator, he promoted contemporary music with enthusiasm, was an ardent popularist, and introduced changes in orchestral seating. He cooperated with Bell Telephone Laboratories in early stereophonic recording experiments in the mid-1930s. He was also a major collaborator with Walt Disney in the programming and development of ‘Fantasound’ optical surround-sound recording technology for the animated film Fantasia 1940.

Stokowski was born in London, the son of a Polish father and an Irish mother. He studied at the Royal College of Music and took a degree in music at Oxford University. In 1900 he became organist at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London, and later studied in Paris and Munich. From 1905 to 1908 he was an organist in New York, and in 1908 a conductor in London; in 1909 he became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. As conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra he introduced much modern music: he gave the 1926 first performance of Amériques, by Varèse, and in 1931 conducted the US premiere of Berg's Wozzeck. He also gave the first US performances of Mahler's eighth symphony, The Rite of Spring, and the Gurrelieder. He was a champion of Rakhmaninov, and led the first performances of the 3rd symphony, 4th piano concerto, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. From 1942 to 1944 he conducted the National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) Symphony Orchestra with Toscanini, giving the 1944 first performance of Schoenberg's piano concerto: the NBC terminated his contract after the concert. In 1945 he became music director of the Hollywood Bowl and 1949–50 of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1955. In 1962 he formed the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, and in 1965 they gave the first performance of Ives' fourth symphony. In 1940 he won wider fame when he appeared in the cartoon film Fantasia.

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