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In the world of the conductor a series of programs in which leading conductors of today speak about symphonic music in the 20th century. The world of the conductor is produced and recorded at station w h y y in Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The musician in the 20th century has at his disposal a form of musical expression unique to his time. The performance medium of the phonograph. Since this medium provides for the first time in the history of music a means of preserving indefinitely the interpretive ideas of both composer and performer. It has brought with it a whole new philosophy of expression. The performing musician now most consider not only the audience which gathers in a concert hall for a
performance which is by the very nature of music a transitory thing. But he must also consider that far larger audience which ever changing listens to recordings which in the course of time remain constant absolute and unchanged in themselves. And this is James Taylor inviting you to join us for this the first of two programs subtitled The conductor as a recording artist. In this program we'll be speaking with Leopold Stokowski about the art of recording and its meaning to the conductor. Lamppost the coffee has had a prolific recording career encompassing a period dating from the very infancy of the media and culminating in today's advanced stereophonic techniques level to the GOP's ardent interest in both the musical and technical aspects of the recording medium. Let us to open this conversation with him by asking what he feels a recording should represent. Should it be a musician's performance in an idealized form.
No I think quite differently from that matter you are what I think. First of all we have to. Think about clearly what is a recording and what is a concert performance. And in my opinion it is. To claim Smit from day come Paul is that the composer's ideas musical ideas and his inspiration to transmit that to the listener and and there are several ways of doing that one of course is that the concert hall performance. Another is by recording another is by radio and another to another that is by the wonderful medium television though 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 all Wagner or Debussy out of bed to convey their ideas. In fullest most eloquent expression to the listener. Now when the listener is in concert hall he hears one version so to speak that music whatever it is. And I depends 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. And that is a thing known to the science of sound. And it is quite understood that certain frequencies. 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 last. The dynamic range in a concert hall can be. About a hundred and ten density boards whereas in the room in a neat living room it's about 35 35 decibels something quite different. Well 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. That 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 they 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 the 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 decibels. 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 are. 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. Now of course today the interest in the so-called stereophonic recording is very great. Actually this is not a brand new recording Are we were
doing not long to get all. That started. Interestingly it started in Philadelphia 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 was not willing to make records and so distort the music. For about two years 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 I went to 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
that I said Of course I will but we have to have the consent of the musical Union and also of the Academy music CONUS. He gained that consent. He made there is a large laboratory. He made all that research down in the so to speak of the academy and that's where it began. The idea of spatial. Recording and spatial transmission of music. Late. Walt Disney made his great picture hundreds a year. And as you know that was recorded in Philadelphia where 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 they said channels were. Put together in what's called a composite.
And naturally the. Sound was not so good. Then it was not so subtle. 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 silence under the kind of music in Philadelphia. At this point we remarked on Dr Stokowski's very active recording career. Yeah we're recording all the time now. And it's very very interesting work. And it's interesting to me to notice that 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 a speaker in 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 that 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. We've been speaking with lamppost the cops again. In this the first of two programs subtitled The conductor as a recording artist in the series the world of the conductor. This is James Keeler inviting you to join us again next week when for the second of these two programs our guests will be Igor Markovitch every Leinsdorf and nest also me. In the world of the conductor is produced and recorded at station W.H. y y in 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 end AB 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.
Broadcast Date
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: 00:14:20
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Chicago: “The world of the conductor; Conductor as recording artist, part 1,” 1962-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “The world of the conductor; Conductor as recording artist, part 1.” 1962-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
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