Orchestras, like people, lead lives, and the histories of orchestras inevitably become the histories of a series of lives. In the confined world of the American symphony orchestra, the lives of its putatively top members have therefore a resonance that goes beyond the music played or the people involved.
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra has always held a position of preeminence among American orchestras, not so much because of any marked artistic and performing superiority as because of its position in the media capital of the United States.Added to that, in its long history has been the conductorial fame of two of its music directors: Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein.
Most commentators would point to another American orchestra—Philadelphia under Stokowski and Ormandy, Boston under Koussevitsky, Cleveland under Szell, or Chicago under Reiner and Solti—as having been “better,” in one sense or another, than t ...
Patrick J. Smith is
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