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The world of the conductor a series of programs produced and recorded by station W.H. y y Philadelphia. Under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center. And distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is James Keeler inviting you to join us for this the first in a two part program titled The conductor as a recording artist. The career of Les uphold Stokowski in the recording studio and on the concert platform. Has spanned an era which began with the primitive acoustic technique. And has culminated in the development of the stereo funny recording system. We asked Dr. Stokowski what he believes a recording should represent. Should it be conceived as an idealisation of a musician's work. No I think quite differently from that matter do what I think.
First of all we have to. Think clearly what is the recording and want is a concert performance. And in my opinion it is to transmit throng they composed the composers ideas musical ideas and his inspiration to transmit that to the listener. And there are several ways of doing that one of course is the concert hall performance. Another is via recording another is by radio and another and still another that is by the wonderful medium television. Those are the ways in which it can be done and. I think it is relatively unimportant how it is done. But the big thing the main basic idea is to kind of a from the composer from particularly from
great masses like Bach or Beethoven or Brahms old Wagner or Debussy out of Barrow to convey their ideas in its fullest most eloquent expression to the listener. Now when the listener is in concert hall he hears one. Version so to speak of that music whatever it is. And that depends of where he is sitting because he's sitting in different parts of the hall he has different impressions. Even. One can notice if one is listening to it in a concert hall. If one moves one's head about six inches to the right or to the left there's a different impression that is a thing known to the science of sound. And it is quite understood that certain frequencies are stronger in one position of the
ears of the listener than in others. Now the listening by records or by radio or by television in the home is a totally different thing because in a concert hall the sound waves can develop in that very large space of vibration in one way and in the living room at home. Naturally the space is much much smaller. The dynamic range of the music must be less. The dynamic range in the cons of the hall can be. About a hundred and ten days he boards whereas in the room in a court in the living room it's about 35 to be 35 decibels with a dynamic range. Of listening to music in the home in the. Living room
of any house or apartment. Is not limited so much by recording techniques as by watching our ears willing to receive. If the music becomes so soft that we cannot hear it clearly because of this but particularly in cities there are always street noises that come through the window somehow. If it's too soft then that is of course not good. Then at the other end if the loudest parts are so loud that they begin to be painful to the ears then we find a limit there that will always be unless our ears. Over centuries of time evolve in new ways which perhaps they will do almost certainly will do because the process of evolution is going on all the time all over the world and with people with human beings and all over space all over
the vast universe. A process of evolution is going on all the time. But at present there's a certain limit to the dynamic range which is roughly 25 diciples. So the idea that a regular kind sound in the home. Exactly the way it does in a concert hall is a self-delusion. It never can sound the same but the ideas of the composer can be conveyed equally well in a concert hall and equally well in the home buying records or radio or television. If the recording is well done. The unparalleled opportunity afforded the musician by the development of stereophonic recording. Has captured the imagination of a musician and layman alike. Leopold's to come ski has long been a recognized leader in the science of recording.
And has been admiring for his experimentation in an. Unending search for his musical ideal. As this conversation continued we observed today that the interest in the so-called stereophonic recording is very great. Actually this is not a brand new record you know we were doing not long ago. That started you know that interestingly its not did in Philadelphia. Yes a long time ago I was asked to make records and I refused because in those days recording was quite primitive. And the music was very distorted and I did. I was not willing to make records and so distort the music for about two years and I refused. And then suddenly in the middle of the night once I saw clearly.
That I was doing a very stupid thing. I was a fool. I should instead of refusing to make records and distort the music. I should try to understand why the music was Detroit is distorted by records and trying to understand how to avoid such distortion. So with that idea in mind I began studying electronic subjects and finally our way into the bell Laboratory in New York and I studied with Harvey Fletcher he was at that time the head of it and is a very brilliant physicist and. I've been studying with him for a time. He said to me one day would you be willing if three. Oh he came often to Philadelphia and listened to the orchestra. He said Would you be willing if we could make
a research laboratory underneath the academy of music to listen to every one of your rehearsal zone concerts and to make research whereby we could record and transmit by radio music without distortion or with less distortion. And I of course was delighted. I said Of course I will but we had to have the consent of the musical Union and also of the Academy music bonus he gained that consent. He made the results laboratory. He made all that research down in the sort of speaks to a lot of the academy and that's where it began. The idea of spatial. Recording and spatial transmission of music later. Walt Disney made his great picture funders ear. And as you know that was recorded in Philadelphia with
the Philadelphia Orchestra and it was recorded on 18 channels. And then they were blended in certain ways and in the early days when that picture was shown. There were speakers all around the theater so that the 18 channels could be heard separately later. Bass channels were. Put together in what's called a composite and naturally the sound was not so good. There was not so subtle. It was more condensed and I just the way I believe the picture is now shown all over the world I've seen it many countries. But that's when the idea of spatial recording and spatial transmission began really began in the Bell laboratory and in the cellar under the kind of music in Philadelphia. At this point we took note of doctors to cough skis exceedingly
heavy recording schedule. Yeah we're recording all the time now and it's very very interesting work and it's interesting to me to notice the different methods of different recording engineers for different companies. And out of all that you see we have to find and I don't think we yet kind of found the true possibilities of stereophonic a long time ago I made some research in Holland. In stereophonic recording. In which. We recorded on four channels and we played the music from the speaker into the four corners of a room. That gives an entirely new impression of music. It's an entirely new way of listening because from each speaker. Comes a soft sound of the music
which blends in the middle of the room and the total of the four becomes a dynamic range of what we're accustomed to up to about 35 decibels. But from each speaker comes out a small output and the amplifiers are not used to their maximum output. And I found that a new way and I think an ideal way of listening to music. But it may be a long time. Before that can be available to all music lovers all over the world. I noticed many records where the low tones the low frequencies as the engineers say are weak in relation to the upper tones. It's not in balance and balance in music is very important like violence is very important in the personality of each one of us. Otherwise people lose their balance then they become. Well how to say neurotic
there. And they become their own enemy finally. That is in a personality but is equally important in the particularly in the modern all custom because the modern orchestra is a modest thing very complex. You have their 100 instruments the back of the hundred instruments and a hundred artists sensitive men and women. And inside of them is a sensitive personality a nervous system a mind a response. What do you get the understanding of the feeling of the music at that moment how to phrase it all and it is extremely complex seen particularly as very often you know no customer would be players from all nations. They all have their different and history and their different attitude toward life and toward music and to fuse all that into one scene is not easy
but it must be done so that the listener receives a unified impression of the composer's musical ideas. We have been speaking with Layo poled Stokowski on this the first of a two part program. The conductor as a recording artist in the series the world of the conductor. This is James Keeler inviting you to join us next week for part 2 and our guests must also Mae and Igor Markovitch as we continue to explore the world of the conductor. This program is produced and recorded at station w h y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the any radio network.
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The world of the conductor
Conductor as recording artist, part 1
Producing Organization
WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, explores the concept of the conductor as a recording artist, with Leopold Stokowski.
Series Description
A series of interviews with leading symphonic conductors about aspects of symphonic music and their profession.
Media type
Host: Keeler, James
Interviewee: Stokowski, Leopold, 1882-1977
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 62-3-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:30
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Chicago: “The world of the conductor; Conductor as recording artist, part 1,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
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APA: The world of the conductor; Conductor as recording artist, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from