Eugene Ormandy papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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In 1976 conductor Eugene Ormandy, who was often badgered by would-be biographers, replied to one with the declaration, "I don't believe that a performing artists' [sic] biography should be written by himself or anyone else." Ormandy was, in fact, remarkably reticent about discussing details of his past or his personal life. Though by all accounts he possessed a raconteur's easy affability, his stories, like the interviews he gave, tended to cover familiar ground . A very public man, Ormandy nevertheless kept his private life carefully protected from public scrutiny. If what follows, then, seems less a biographic account than a record of professional achievements, that fact reflects the paucity of biographic materials available on Ormandy.
Eugene Ormandy, born in Budapest in 1899, grew up Jenö Blau, first son of Benjamin Blau, who began training his son on the violin at an early age. A musical prodigy with perfect pitch, he studied as a child at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of his namesake, Jenö Hubay. By the age of 17 Ormandy had not only graduated (three years prior) but was teaching at this same academy, and soon thereafter he began touring Europe as a soloist. In 1920, after a concert in Vienna, two American entrepreneurs, who claimed to be concert agents, persuaded Ormandy to come and concertize in America, where they promised to procure for him 300 performing venues and to pay him a total of $30,000 in fees. Ormandy accepted the offer, anxious to go to the United States, where opportunities for musicians seemed to abound.
Upon his arrival in New York in December, 1921, however, the promised contract evaporated. In need of money, Ormandy found a job with the orchestra of the Capitol Theater, a movie house that featured musical concerts as well as silent movies with live musical accompaniment. Ormandy rose in the ranks quickly, becoming concertmaster within a week of taking the job. By 1926, having occasionally substituted for the conductor Erno Rapee, Ormandy had become the Capitol Orchestra's associate music director. In that capacity he was eventually discovered by the manager, Arthur Judson, who, taking the young conductor into his stable of performers, began to employ him in the Dutch Master Hour and other radio programs. Judson also began booking important live performances for him. In 1929 Ormandy appeared at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York, conducting the New York Philharmonic-Symphony, and in 1930 he made his conductorial debut in Philadelphia, where he conducted the city's orchestra at the Robin Hood Dell. Over the next year several subsequent Philadelphia appearances included a successful two week guest engagement substituting for Arturo Toscanini, who had been suddenly taken ill at the start of the fall season. As a result, the Philadelphia Orchestra's administrators, who had begun thinking about a successor to Leopold Stokowski, invited Ormandy back as guest conductor many more times over the next few years.
Ormandy had, in the meantime, become engaged by the Minneapolis Symphony as its conductor. From 1931 to 1936 Ormandy did what he could to improve the orchestra and to bring it into more national prominence. Ormandy, with the help of Judson, obtained a recording contract with RCA Victor, and soon this Midwestern orchestra was the most recorded orchestra in the country. Though neither Ormandy nor the players received extra compensation for their recordings, the orchestra and perhaps particularly Ormandy profited from the increased publicity produced by their popular recordings. Ormandy and the Minneapolis Symphony were the first in the United States to record Mahler's Symphony No. 4, Rachmaninoff's No. 2, and Sibelius' No. 1.
When Ormandy's five-year contract with Minneapolis ended, the Philadelphia Orchestra invited him to become its co-conductor, an invitation Ormandy readily accepted. For the next four years Ormandy shared the podium with Leopold Stokowski, an arrangement that apparently went smoothly enough, even after Ormandy was made music director in 1938. When Stokowski finally left, at the end of the 1940-1941 season, Ormandy made no big adjustments in programming or in the management of the Orchestra.
But these years, however successful professionally, were decades of personal challenge and even upheaval for the maestro. He had married professional harpist Stephanie Goldner in 1922, who gave up a position with the New York Philharmonic in 1931 to join her husband in the Midwest. The couple twice had babies that subsequently died of RH complications. Furthermore, with the advent of World War II and then, later, the Soviet occupation, Ormandy expended no small effort and money assisting family, friends, and friends of friends out of Europe, many of whom he put up at his own home (at one time the Ormandy's lived in a house in Wynnewood that they called "Journey's End," where they accommodated some of the emigrés). Among those he helped were members of his wife's own family, emigrating from Austria. Yet despite all the couple had been through together in these decades, or perhaps because of it, Ormandy and his wife Stephanie divorced in 1947. In 1950 he married Margaret (Gretel) Frances Hitsch.
While the new Mrs. Ormandy devoted herself to her husband, he devoted himself to the Orchestra. This is not to say that he did not care about the people in his life. Indeed he dedicated himself to the welfare of his brother, Martin, whom he assisted financially and professionally (Ormandy was estranged from his other brother Laszlo). He kept in touch with family back in Hungary, telephoning and sending money whenever he could, and he also continued to assist his first wife and her family. In 1952 Mrs. Ormandy and he also unofficially "adopted" a young Austrian woman from Czechoslovakia named Renata Huebscher (later Harrison); the Ormandys helped put her through Bryn Mawr College and remained close to her after she married. Thus in many respects, Ormandy's familial relationships seem to have been fairly simply defined; though his work generally came first, he used his earnings and his position to help anyone for whom he cared. The only return he apparently expected was loyalty. And he had need for family loyalty and affection during two difficult occasions in the 1960s. The first one involved an automobile accident in which both Ormandy and his wife were terribly injured, and from which it took them months to recover. The second incident was the death of Stephanie Ormandy in 1962 from cancer. In these instances, family and friends, including members of his first wife's family, rallied to lend their support.
In contrast with these relationships, his relationship to the Orchestra, his other "family," was more complex. He liked to view himself as a kind of father or uncle to the Orchestra members, to whom he was often quite loyal, personally. He helped individuals through illness and personal problems, assisted players with obtaining loans, raises or bonuses from management, and threw the Orchestra lavish parties once a year. In general, however, he aligned himself with the Orchestra Association or Board when it came to general employment policy; he, for instance, asked all the Orchestra members to go back to work during the strike of 1966 and refused otherwise to get involved. Many say that in this instance and others, Ormandy could not, in any case, have had much influence with the Board and therefore had no choice but to take a neutral, middle ground. Yet one can easily believe--and there is evidence that some players did--that because for Ormandy work and the business of orchestra management were so important, he would not have sided with players even if he had had more ability to affect Board policies. Likewise there are those who, in remembering Ormandy, have described him as a kind of factory foreman, particularly with regard to the production and sales of orchestra recordings. Certainly it can be said that he put the Orchestra's financial well-being and reputation above all other considerations, a priority that sometimes brought him into conflict with the instrumentalists.
Ormandy was known for his business acumen, practicality, and efficiency, traits perhaps developed in his early days as movie-house maestro and radio performer. In the 44 years of his Philadelphia tenure, he and the Orchestra made many recordings with RCA (1936-1943, 1968-1985) and with Columbia Records (1944 and 1968), a great number of which sold quite well. Ormandy readily accommodated these companies' technical and economic needs, helping to make recordings in "record" time, and going along with whatever plans they had for producing a best-seller, however, gimmicky. The Orchestra also frequently went touring, in part to sell records, in part just for the added exposure, and many of their tours were historically quite significant. For instance, in making the 1949 tour to Great Britain, the Philadelphia Orchestra was the first American orchestra to play overseas since before the war. Other important tours included those to Finland in 1955 (when they met with Jean Sibelius), to Latin America (1966), to Japan (1967), and, perhaps most famously, to China (1973). While increasing the ranks of the Orchestra's overseas listeners, Ormandy also labored to obtain new audiences through the media of radio and television. In fact, the Philadelphia Orchestra was the first orchestra to appear in a televised broadcast, when on March 20, 1948, the CBS television network aired a live performance. In these and other areas Ormandy's efforts to keep the Orchestra in the public eye paid off, making the Philadelphia Orchestra one of the best known of the American orchestras.
Ormandy made such efforts not simply for profits, however, but also for the sake of music and the Orchestra's music-making capability. Keeping the Orchestra financially healthy enabled Ormandy to hire topnotch, even well-known players for the Orchestra and made possible the Orchestra Association's practice (which Ormandy established) of lending money to players, interest free, for the purchase of high quality instruments. And though he had a reputation for performing only conservative, crowd-pleasing (i.e., money-making) programs, the record shows something different. Indeed, Ormandy frequently played 20th-century composers and premiered works by such American composers as Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, and Richard Yardumian, to name a few. In addition to helping composers by performing their works, Ormandy frequently aided young performing artists. He ran conductors' workshops in the 1950s, worked directly with the Curtis Institute of Music student orchestra in the 1960s and 1970s while arranging to have other professional conductors do the same, and generally promoted any individual musician that he felt had promise. In fact, in 1972 Ormandy brought the then little known Riccardo Muti to Philadelphia to make his American debut; one of many young artists Ormandy assisted, Muti, of course, was to become the maestro's own successor.
Six years later Ormandy announced that he would retire at the end of the 1979-1980 season. By some accounts he had become somewhat sharper or more bitter in these years, and a shift in feelings towards his work seemed evidenced by such statements as th e following, written in a letter to his friend Earl Vincent Moore: "If we could steal a day between concerts we would fly down to see all of you but concert managers nowadays are cold blooded business men who have to fill in every day and the old horse has to keep on plugging" (December 2, 1976). There is some evidence that Ormandy had been running up against an increasingly u ncooperative management, but he must also have been discouraged by growing friction between himself and Orchestra members hoping for his retirement. At the same time the late 1970s saw a decrease of recording sessions with RCA, which, while it continued to make records with the Orchestra and its guest conductors, produced fewer new recordings with the aging maestro and tended instead to release previous Ormandy recordings from its archives, to his disappointment. Most of all, Ormandy was impeded by his own growing frailty. He had hip replacement surgery in 1970, which had sufficiently relieved the pain under which he had been operating to enable him to walk and to continue his work but did not eradicate that pain. There were other problems as well, such as an impairment of his vision, his hearing, and his once legendary memory. Yet Ormandy went on conducting even after his official 1980 retirement. He frequently appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra as conductor laureate and guest conducted all over th e U.S. and in Europe, recreating the famed "Philadelphia Sound" wherever he went. Ormandy gave his final concert at Carnegie Hall on January 10, 1984. Despite the onset during intermission of an illness that would put an end to his public appe arances, he completed the concert leading the Orchestra in a faultless performance of Béla Bártok's Concerto for Orchestra, which he conducted from memory.
Ormandy's last ten to fifteen years were filled with honors, awards, and achievements. In 1970 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom; in 1973 he made the historic trip to China with the Orchestra; he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth during a cel ebration of America's bicentennial; and he received the Golden Baton Award in 1979, the same year that both he and the Philadelphia Orchestra commemorated their 80th birthdays. The City of Philadelphia awarded him its Medal of Freedom in 1980, and he received Kennedy Center Honors in 1982. His life was one filled with such distinctions, and whatever the value of his accomplishment, there can be no denial that he worked hard for these honors. For 44 years he made the Philadelphia Orchestra his life, and he had little or no outside activities or pastimes. He had friendships, but many of his friends were musicians with whom he worked in some capacity. Socializing with non-musician friends often took the form of their driving Ormandy to a concert or sharing a box with his wife. Mrs. Ormandy herself, even in that most private and personal of relationships, had in a sense become a business partner to her husband. Her own early comments on this matter are telling: upon marriage she thought she might teach her new husband "how to play," but instead, she said, "he taught me how to work" (Newsweek, March 2, 1953, p.55). It is no exaggeration to say work was truly his life. Thus there is something quite fitting ab out the fact that so few biographic details are known about Ormandy outside of the professional arena, for he clearly made no distinctions between the personal and professional aspects of his existence.
The correspondence, administrative papers, and memorabilia of Eugene Ormandy contained in this collection were given to the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 by Mrs. Ormandy after her husband's death. Also included in this donation were commercial sound recordings of Ormandy conducting. The University received Ormandy's photographs from Mrs. Ormandy at the same time, while it also acquired his collection of musical scores from the Philadelphia Orchestra library and broadcast recordings of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1960-1981) from the radio station WFLN. Scholars studying Ormandy should be made aware, moreover, of the Eugene Ormandy Oral History Collection, which is located, along with the Ormandy Papers, in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Library. Additional contributors to the collection of Ormandy papers include Charles P. Balant, Mrs. C. Wanton Balis, Nadia Koutzen, George and Lucile Lynn, Vivian Perlis, Joseph and Joyce Stein, and Isaac Stern.
The bulk of this collection comprises the correspondence of Eugene Ormandy, whose daily routine included the writing of both personal and orchestra-related correspondence. There are also letters written on Ormandy's behalf by his secretaries, particularly Mary Krouse, and by Orchestra management, and, of course, letters from Ormandy's correspondents. Ormandy preserved much of his outgoing correspondence in the form of carbons and saved originals and at times also photocopies of incoming correspondence. Most of the General Correspondence dates from the 1950s through the 1980s, though an occasional letter from previous decades may be found. Some notable correspondents of the 1930s and 1940s include Ormandy's mentor, Jenö Hubay; Leopold Stokowski, whose letters suggest something of the nature of his working relationship with Ormandy; Stokowski's wife, Olga Samaroff Stokowski, who championed Ormandy as successor to the conductorship; Alma Mahler-Werfel, with whom Ormandy consulted regarding Mahler's work; Albert Einstein, who asked Ormandy to help violinist Boris Schwarz obtain his entry visa to the U.S.; composers such as Sergei Prokofiev, Percy Grainger, Sergei Rachmaninoff; and soloists such as Fritz Kreisler, Lotte Lehmann, and Lauritz Melchior.
Personal correspondence with family members such as Ormandy's brother Martin, along with the Elbogens, Mariedi Anders, and the Forresters (all relatives of Ormandy's first wife, Stephanie) reveal Ormandy's deep involvement with his family as well as his willingness to help them, particularly with their careers when music was involved. The correspondence also includes letters exchanged with close friends in and outside of Philadelphia, many of whom were musicians. Deeply personal exchanges between Orman dy and such artists as Antal Dorati, Nadia Koutzen, Zoltán Kodály, David Oistrahk (and his wife), Sviatoslav Richter (as well as his mother Anna Richter), Rudolf Serkin, and Isaac Stern may be found in this series, as well as letters with friends just as important to Ormandy if somewhat less famous.
Also of important for the light it sheds on Ormandy's personal life and relationships is his correspondence with his attorneys, R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Harold Stern, and J. Barton Harrison. These reflect such events as Ormandy's divorce from his first wi fe in 1947, an automobile accident in 1960 in which both he and Mrs. Ormandy were seriously injured, and the death of Stephanie Ormandy from cancer in 1962. This correspondence also contains information about the handling of contracts (including a change in Ormandy's business arrangements with Arthur Judson in 1962), taxes, royalty compensations, insurance arrangements, wills and the like. Ormandy's correspondence with his doctors gives some idea of the physical obstacles with which he had to cope over the course of his career as well as the concern he displayed towards friends and associates, whom he frequently referred to his own physicians and specialists.
In addition, this general series includes occasional administrative correspondence with Board members and Academy of Music management, particularly when the import of that correspondence is more personal than business-related (the bulk of the administr ative correspondence, however, is contained within the Interoffice Correspondence series). For example, correspondence with David Eastburn, who became president of the Board in 1978, has been retained in general correspondence, in part because some of it dates from before his presidency and also because some of it is personal. Letters between Ormandy and Stuart Loucheim, manager of the Academy of Music in the 1950s, has also been left in general correspondence. Occasional notes between Ormandy and his staff, which would normally be filed with interoffice material, remain with general correspondence when they concern attached letters from an outside correspondent and would lose their meaning when separated from the context created by these letters.
While correspondence with the Orchestra's management has been largely separated from the general correspondence, Ormandy or the Orchestra Association's letters to and from individual Orchestra members, the Orchestra Members' Committee (or the Orchestra as a whole), members' attorneys and their union representatives are filed with general correspondence. These letters often reflect the shifting nature of the relationship between Orchestra management and Orchestra players, particularly letters dated from the 1960s, when the discontentment of the players led twice to strikes. Complex new dynamics resulted from certain contractual changes made in this decade, changes that included increasing the Orchestra's performance season to 52 weeks and requiring play ers to give up most moonlighting or extra-Orchestra performing activities. Such activities, once a source of supplemental income when players worked fewer weeks, now came to be seen as competition with the Orchestra. Some sense of these dynamics can be ap prehended in correspondences with such Orchestra members as Anshel Brusilow or Henry Charles Smith, both of whom became interested in conducting their own orchestras, or with the members of the Philadelphia String Quartet--Charles Brennand, Irwin Eisenberg, Alan Iglitzin, Veda Reynolds, Orchestra members who suddenly resigned in order to pursue their ensemble playing elsewhere. Also of interest might be letters to and pertaining to Schima Kaufman, a violinist whose firing in 1962 stirred up some hard feelings among Orchestra members. Files related to the Kaufman matter include those containing the correspondence of Orchestra Committee members Michael Bookspan, Leonard Hale, Gilbert Eney, and Alan Iglitzin, who each wrote on behalf of Kaufman. Correspondence with Morgan, Lewis and Bockius (the Orchestra Association's attorneys) and with the American Federation of Musicians, Local 77 (Philadelphia) sheds additional light on this situation.
As conductor, Ormandy not only had a hand in firing of Orchestra members but also in the hiring, as well as planning the season programming and guest artists. The collection, therefore, contains correspondence both with instrumentalists (or often their agents and mentors) who hoped for the possibility of joining the Orchestra and also with young soloists who wrote to him seeking advice and/or auditions. Correspondence from the 1950s includes correspondence with amateur or inexperienced conductors who participated in the Conductors' Symposia led by Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and organized by the American Symphony Orchestra League (with whose staff he also communicated by letter). In addition Ormandy corresponded with established solo instrumentalists and vocalists, choir directors, and other conductors whom he had engaged or sought to engage for performances, as well as the agents handling su ch artists. (In general, correspondence with artists' agents or legal representatives may be found under the particular artists' names rather than that of the agent, although there are materials filed under Columbia Artists Management, Thea Dispeker, Hurok Attractions, and other agents where the letters do not concern simply a single artist.)
In planning his season programs, Ormandy would also often commission works from composers, and there is correspondence concerning these commissions and particularly two specific commissioning projects. The earlier project involved money donated by Reverend Theodore Pitcairn of Philadelphia and anonymously given to one composer each year for five years, starting in 1960. The first of the Pitcairn commissions was accepted by Walter Piston, who wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning Seventh Symphony as a result. Other commissioned composers for whom there are correspondence files include Aaron Copland (who several years after accepting the commission changed his mind), Peter Mennin, William Schuman, Roger Sessions, and Richard Yardumian. Copland also initially participated in another big commissioning project that was planned for the 1976 Bicentennial year and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. When Copland backed out of this commission, Ormandy asked Leslie Bassett to take his place. Along with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic helped to coordinate the Bicentennial project. Composers involved in the project besides Bassett included John Cage, Elliott Carter, David Del Tredici, Jacob Druckman, and Morton Subotnick. Independent of the NEA's sponsorship, Ormandy also sought to obtain for the Philadelphia Orchestra's 75th anniversary and its Bicentennial celebration commissioned works from Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Pierre Boulez, Norman Dello Joio, David Del Tredici, and Alberto Ginastera. With these and other commissions Ormandy often experienced frustration in trying to get composers to finish their work in a timely manner, and his correspondence with Copland, Ginastera, and Bernstein, among others, offers a revealing glimpse into the difficulties of both the conductor and composer in accomplishing their respective jobs.
Also complicating the picture for Ormandy when attempting to plan a season's performances was a consideration of the possibility of recording these works. The maestro's correspondence first with Columbia, starting in the 1950s, and later with RCA (and still later, upon his retirement, with Angel/EMI, Delos and the Franklin Mint Record Society) reflects the behind-the-scenes scheduling arrangement and negotiations about which Orchestra performances of any given season might be recorded. The letters also provide information about record sales and royalties, as well as insights into Ormandy's relations with some of the biggest names in the recording business: David Oppenheim, Goddard Lieberson, Thomas Frost, Leonard Burkat, John McClure, Jay David Saks, a nd Thomas Shepard.
If the 1950s found the Philadelphia Orchestra producing more and more records, it was a decade when Ormandy also labored to gain radio and television exposure for the Orchestra. Of course, the Orchestra's relationship with Philadelphia radio station WFLN is well known, and it was through this association that in 1979 Ormandy received that year's Broadcast Pioneer of the Year Award; the collection holds a letter from Raymond Green, president of WFLN, regarding this award. As such a "pioneer," Ormandy was keenly interested in making the Orchestra visible on public or educational television, and his correspondence in this series with the National Educational Television and Radio Center as well as with Philadelphia's own WHYY suggests how hard he worked to find the Orchestra an appropriate television showcase. These letters also provide an interesting record of public television's early organization and broadcast strategies. Also pertaining to broadcasting is additional correspondence with the big three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), individual television stations such as WCAU, WRCV, WFIL, and WGBH, and international television companies such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Österreichischer Rundfunk, the International Educational Broadcasting Corporation and the International Television Trading Corporation (or Unitel, with which Ormandy produced several programs). Ormandy or his secretaries kept this correspondence together with letters written to many te levision agents, producer-writers and production companies: Julius Seebach and Ralph Mann (both of whom acted as the Orchestra's television agents), Bob Banner Associates, Ross-McElroy Productions, Curtis Davis, Film House Company, Ted Mills, Theodore de Rittberg, Edwin Schloss, David Susskind's Talent Associates, Teleprompter Corporation, Triangle Publications, Trident Films, the William Morris Agency, and Young and Rubicam. Further correspondence relating to broadcast media may be found in the folders f or Victor Borge, Carnegie Hall, Ted Cott, Roger Englander, the Franz Liszt Sesquicentennial Committee, Martyn Green, Danny Kaye, Morris Kinnan, Michael David Lies, Nora Maloney, Abraham Marcus, Earl V. Moore, Cyril Pitts, Rudolph Polk, Proctor and Gamble, Bill Snyder, Ed Sullivan, Howard Taubman, the University of Southern California, and James C. Weaver.
In order to perform any music, whether it was in the recording and broadcast studios or the concert hall, scores had to be obtained from such music presses as Associated Music Publishers, Belwin Mills, Boosey and Hawkes, Carl Fischer, and Theodore Pres ser when the Orchestra's own library did not have the music. Much correspondence took place between Ormandy and these companies regarding both the acquisition of music and Ormandy's royalty income from rentals of his musical transcriptions that these pres ses owned. In 1961 Ormandy decided to give to the Philadelphia Orchestra his personal music library, which contained his transcriptions, printed scores with Ormandy's markings for performance, and unedited printed works. Because the staff of Carl Fischer, Inc. assisted with the arrangements for having the collection appraised for tax purposes, correspondence regarding this appraisal, as well as the appraisal itself, may be found in the Carl Fischer folder. Additional correspondence relating to this matter is located in the folder of Theodore Seder, curator of the Free Library's Edwin Fleisher Music Collection, who served as one of the appraisers.
Ormandy's efforts to perform and record Deryck Cooke's arrangement of Mahler's unfinished Symphony No. 10 took place under an unusually complicated set of circumstances involving both a music press (Associated Music Publishers) and recording company (C olumbia). In this situation, Cooke, with Mrs. Werfel's apparent blessing, promised Ormandy the American premiere of the symphony without consulting Associated Music Publishers (AMP), which held the rights to the score. Columbia Records expressed interest in recording the piece with Ormandy, but only if he performed the premiere. AMP meanwhile had other ideas about the matter of first performance, and only after a great deal of lengthy negotiation was Ormandy able to have his premiere, which took place Nov ember 5, 1965. This history, as well as information about the eventual performance and reception of the work, can be pieced together and fleshed out by looking at correspondence with not only Cooke, AMP, and Columbia, but also Alma Mahler Werfel, music critic Jerry Bruck, and musicologists C. A. Carpenter, Jack Diether, W. Parks Grant, and William Malloch.
Mahler's works were frequently performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, beginning as far back as 1916, when Stokowski conducted the U.S. premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, the Symphony of a Thousand. Over the course of his long career, Ormandy tried three times to pull together a performance of Mahler's 8th, once in 1947, later in the early 1960s and then in the early 1970s. Correspondence relating to these efforts, and the challenges involved in staging such a production , may be found in the following files: Bach Festival Society, Anabelle Bernard, Marian Boyer, Columbia Records, Columbus Boychoir, Clyde Dengler, Jack Diether, Henry Drinker, Mignon Dunn, Rosalind Elias, Eileen Farrell, W. Parks Grant, Janice Harsanyi, John Herrick, Ruth Hesse, Jerome Hines, Richard Lewis, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, George London, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Leontyne Price, Judith Raskin, Gertrude Ribla, Sylvan Richter, St. Peter's Choir School, Singing City, Temple Universi ty Choir, Giorgio Tozzi, University of Pennsylvania Choral Society, Valley Forge Military Academy, Westminster Choir College, and William Penn Charter School.
Planning even ordinary seasonal performances required that Ormandy coordinate not just performers, composers, recording companies, and music publishers, but also other musical organizations, symphony associations, and concert halls in order to plan the Orchestra's out-of-town appearances and Ormandy's own guest engagements. This collection includes correspondence with the management of performing arts centers or performance events at which the Orchestra regularly appeared each season, such as Carnegie Hall, the annual Ann Arbor May Festival (sponsored by the University of Michigan's University Musical Society) and Saratoga Summer Festival (at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center). Ormandy also worked closely with the Curtis Institute of Music, particularly during the years of Rudolph Serkin's tenure as director (1968-1976), and his correspondence with the Institute's administrators, teachers and students, and with outside conductors and soloists whom he persuaded to rehearse or concertize with the student orchestra, indicates the extent of his service to this music academy.
Part of keeping the Orchestra running included the purchase and upkeep of instruments. In addition to correspondence with Orchestra players relating to loans for instruments, there is also correspondence with makers of fine instruments, as well as appraisers, tuners, and movers or shipping companies. A great deal of correspondence exists concerning the acquisition and installation of an organ in the Academy. Files pertaining to this matter include correspondence with Stuart Loucheim, organist E. Power Biggs, and Curtis founder, Mary Louise Zimbalist (previously Mary Louise Curtis Bok), who provided the funds for the purchase of the organ. In addition, there is correspondence with different makers of organs, including Baldwin Piano and Organ, M.P. Möller Company, and Aeolian-Skinner, which made the Academy's organ. Letters exchanged with Aeolian-Skinner are particularly interesting in that they provide in detail the organ's specifications and discuss the Academy of Music's problematic acoustics. Th e Academy's new organ made its debut with some fanfare on October 7, 1960. A similar flurry of activity and correspondence surrounds the acquisition of a harpsichord (see Bannister Harpsichord, Carl Fudge, Harry Madway, Robert Taylor, Caleb Warner, Wallac e Zuckerman) and a celesta (see Carroll Instruments, Kettner and Duwaer's Pianohandel, Plaza Sound Studios, and Schiedmayer Pianofortefabrik). Also see B. Eijbouts, J.C. Deagan, Inc., Herman Waage, and the Orchestre de Paris for information about Ormandy's attempts to get a particular kind of bell plates for the performance of Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique.
The Orchestra's tours also required a great deal of coordination, much of which was done by mail. Correspondence concerning tour arrangements might involve letters to or from hotels, travel or booking agents, and even government officials. For example, in the case of the 1958 tour to the Soviet Union, Ormandy corresponded with Thomas Llewellyn, the ambassador to the U.S.S.R. at that time, and before the 1973 tour to China, there were letters exchanged between Ormandy or his staff and the U.S. Information Agency, the U.S. Public Liaison Office, China's Liaison Office and its Ministry of Public Affairs.
This collection contains additional correspondence with city, state and federal government officials--mayors, congress members, presidents--as well as foreign ambassadors and heads of state, with whom Ormandy corresponded for a variety of reasons--from Ormandy's being enlisted to help in a cause to his receiving an award or recognition of some sort. Thus in this series there are letters to or from such personages as King Frederick IX of Denmark, King Olav V of Norway, Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Irene of Greece, several U.S. Presidents--including Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, and Reagan, plus Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Secretary of State George Schultz, Senators Hugh Scott and John Tunney, Congressman Fred Richmond, and Philadelphia Mayors Rizzo and Green.
Included as well in this correspondence series are letters to or from colleges and universities relating to the hiring of (usually former) Orchestra members as faculty, the organization of special commemorative or musical events and festivals, and the awarding to Ormandy of honorary degrees. There are also letters from a variety of social, political, educational and arts organizations requesting that Ormandy serve on their boards or otherwise seeking his support. With his extremely high public profile and his self-consciousness about his height and build, Ormandy frequently wore clothing that was custom-made for him; correspondence with clothiers or relating to his wardrobe includes letters to Austin Reed Ltd.; Albion House Ltd.; Bath & Closet Shoppe; George Straith Ltd.; Hogg, Sons &; J. B. Johnstone; James Lock & Co.; Kilgour, French and Stansbury; Anna Lohwieser; The London Shop; Renauld; William Schmidt; Scotts Ltd.; Simpson Clothes, Inc.; T. Hodgkinson, Ltd.; and Witlin and Gallagher. Finally, there is a great deal of fan mail represented in the collection, mail from both famous and unknown music lovers who wrote in praise of performances, broadcasts, and records; wrote to congratulate Ormandy on his achievements; and sent requests for autographs and souvenirs.
Interoffice Correspondence includes letters, memos, and notes between Ormandy and the Orchestra Association's staff--especially his secretary and Orchestra managers--as well as important Board members. Here too are memos exch anged between staff members. This correspondence concerns the management of the Orchestra in all of its aspects: the processing of Orchestra members' requests, complaints, union activity, contracts, and decisions about their future employment; the arrangement of performances, recording sessions, broadcasts, tours, soloist engagements; program proposals, publicity arrangements; the acquisition of new instruments; and the retrieval of scores needed by Ormandy from the Orchestra library. There are also memos exchanged with the staff of the Academy of Music. At the end of this series may be found a folder containing miscellaneous administrative paperwork having to do, for the most part, with Orchestra members' terms of employment. This paperwork includes lists noting Orchestra members' passport information, tour participants (includes board members), salary scales, raises, bonus adjustments, and retirement ages.
Besides correspondence and memos, many other kinds of paperwork were generated in the administration of the Orchestra. Some of these papers had to do with various kinds of Programming, including proposed programs for the Orchestra season and post-season, along with its tours and Ormandy's guest engagements. Such programs usually include the duration of the various musical works, as calculated by Ormandy. Suggested programs and schedules for recordings, broadcasts, Curtis rehe arsals and performances, as well as for the meetings of the Conductors' Symposia, may be found here. The series also includes entire television scripts, as well as proposed album cover designs. (N.B. At times proposed schedules and programs were typed in the form of a memo to the Orchestra staff, or to particular performers, agents, etc. In these cases, this material has been filed in the appropriate correspondence file.)
Much of this programming material seems to have been typed from handwritten notes made by Ormandy. The Notes series includes all manner of general notes written or kept by Ormandy or his secretary, Mary Krouse (or occasionally some other staff person) on the subjects of programs, soloists, responses to correspondence, travel and appointments, as well as Ormandy's written observations on the playing of every Conductors' Symposium participant, for each year (N.B. Handwritten no tes that Ormandy or Ms. Krouse had attached to correspondence were generally left with that correspondence, to provide context.) Then too there are important notes or records that Ormandy kept as to the durations or playing times of every major piece in his orchestral repertoire. These typed notes, originally bound in a looseleaf binder and showing signs of having been regularly consulted, also contain Ormandy's handwritten revisions and calculations. In addition to keeping this notebook of durations as a n aid in constructing time-limited programs, Ormandy retained notes having to do with rehearsals of certain large choral pieces, such as Bach's Johannespassion, Matthäuspassion, and the B minor mass; Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Haydn's Creation, Mendelssohn's Elijah and his Erste Walpurgisnacht , and Verdi's Requiem. These notes include metronomic markings as well as notations on performance dynamics.
If notes on durations and metronome markings help one to imagine how Ormandy constructed programs and conducted rehearsals, various kinds of Philadelphia Orchestra Season Calendars make possible the reconstruction of Ormandy' s schedule and whereasbouts from day to day, and month to month (particularly when supplemented by the papers of the previously-mentioned Programming series). Every year the Orchestra issued small date books that ran from September through August and showed each month's anticipated schedule of seasonal and post-seasonal performances, guest performers, out-of-town concerts, and vacation dates. In addition to this typed information are Ormandy's own pencilled-in notations about specific concerts, soloists, appointments, rehearsals, and meetings. The 1998 donation of Ormandy papers included Gretel Ormandy's date books, which are filed after Eugene Ormandy's. Besides these date books, there are small, looseleaf engagement notebooks, each page of which shows a particular program, with every page arranged in order of date. Also typed on these pages are specific concert dates and locations for each program, the durations, who conducted and who played, and on which recording label any of the program selections were offered. There are also large date sheets for the 1952-53, and 1953-54 seasons that show the entire year's events at a glance, events both typed and pencilled in.
Printed Programs and Itineraries, issued at performances or before tours, give further information about Ormandy's and the Orchestra's schedules. Of special interest is the earliest program in the series, a 1921 flyer pasted into a scrapbook page that notes the time, place, and pieces to be performed by the young violinist, "Jenö B. Ormandy"; though it is generally unknown how Ormandy came to change his name from Blau, this program flyer suggests that he made the change before he came to the United States. Detailed information about tours help us to track the precise movement of the Orchestra during a give tour season. Also included in this series are programs or playbills from performances and events by groups other than the Philadelphia Orchestra. Some of these events were attended by Ormandy, such as Pablo Casals 1961 White House concert, the ground breaking ceremonies of the Saratoga Performing Art Center, and various performances in China. Mention of Orm andy is made in a handful of programs; of particular interest might be programs for the centennial celebrations of Ann Arbor's University Musical Society and of Carnegie Hall (the latter contains a message written by Mrs. Ormandy after her husband's death about his fondness for Carnegie Hall). Finally, among the remaining programs not related to Ormandy's own performances there are a number that may have been used by Ormandy in thinking about his own performances, as his notes on some of the playbills suggest.
Ormandy was frequently interviewed by magazines and music critics, and these interviews, along with articles he produced on such topics as the art of conducting, and music in America, are included in a series entitled Articles, Biog raphical Writings, and Promotional Material. This series also comprises promotional pamphlets, booklets and articles--both in published and in draft form--celebrating Orchestra anniversaries or relating information about important tours, such as the 1973 trip to China. Of special interest in these writings might be Nadia Koutzen's remembrances of Ormandy, which not only give a first-hand account of one of Ormandy's friendships, but also suggest something of his views on women's roles in the profess ional music world. There is a small collection of press releases included here announcing such events as tours, special performances, and honorary degrees conferred upon Ormandy. Located at the end of this series is a small collection of other printed bio graphical and promotional literature not related to the Orchestra, though some of it concerns composers who worked with Ormandy or other acquaintances of his.
Ormandy saved a great deal of memorabilia, such as newspaper and magazine Clippings related to his career, including a scrapbook that he put together in 1931 and 1932 recording his early years in Minneapolis. There is also Miscellaneous Pictorial material where one may find sketches of Ormandy and photographic postcards that he used to send to fans, as well as a framed picture of Rossini that probably hung in his office. Other memorabilia include di plomas, doctoral hoods, certificates, plaques, medals, city keys and souvenirs that mark the many Awards and Honors that Ormandy was given over the years, from the Doctor of Music degree he received from Hamline University in 1935 to the honors awarded him at the Kennedy Center in 1982. Finally, included with the oversize material are two of Ormandy's batons and other batons presented to him.
In processing the papers of Eugene Ormandy, extensive use was made of Herbert Kupferberg's Those Fabulous Philadelphians (1969). Also helpful were Roger Dettmer's article, "Eugene Ormandy: in Memoriam" in volume IX, issue 1 of Fanfare (1985, pages 54-70); Kupferberg's article on Ormandy in the February 1984 issue of Ovation magazine (both in this collection); and John K. Sherman's history of the Minneapolis Symphony entitled Music and Maestros (1952).
Gift of Mrs. Eugene Ormandy with additional donations from Charles P. Balant, Mrs. C. Wanton Balis, Nadia Koutzen, George and Lucile Lynn, Karen Mannes, Vivian Perlis, Joseph and Joyce Stein, Diana Steiner, and Isaac Stern, 1987-1998.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Leslie J. Delauter and Isabel Boston
- Finding Aid Date
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