Leopold Stokowski

British conductor Leopold Stokowski was born in London on 18 April 1882 and studied at the Royal College of Music from the age of thirteen, and by sixteen he was a member of the Royal College of Organists. Later he studied at The Queen's College Oxford, and was also organist and choir director of St James's Church, Piccadilly in London.

His famous orchestral conducting career began when he became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909, but he made his official conducting debuts in Paris and London during the same year. He introduced the concept of 'pops concerts' in Cincinnati, to great success, but soon he moved on to the Philadelphia Orchestra and greater success.

He was known for his broad repertoire (including much contemporary music), grand theatrical gestures, experiments with lighting and 'free bowing' and 'free breathing' amongst his players. He also modified the orchestration of some of the works he conducted, to the annoyance of many music critics.

In his eighties, failing health caused him to concentrate on recordings rather than public performances. He died from a heart attack in Nether Wallop, Hampshire, UK on 13 September 1977, aged ninety-five, leaving many famous recordings.


A selection of articles about Leopold Stokowski

Spotlight. An Original Voice - Geoff Pearce listens to Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache conducting Franck and Debussy. '... something very special indeed.'

Spotlight. A Complete Triumph - Gerald Fenech is exhilarated by the Philadelphia Orchestra's recording of symphonies by Florence Price and William Dawson. '... a vibrant energy that makes the music sound as fresh and exciting as when it was first heard.'

Ensemble. 'Fantasia' Around The World - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the big screen in Rome

CD Spotlight. Enduring Legacy - Sibelius symphonies, recommended by Howard Smith. '... an important enterprise ...'

Malcolm Smith (1932-2011) - A celebration, not an obituary, by Bill Newman

CD Spotlight. Sterling Playing - Wendy Warner's interpretations of Popper and Piatigorsky, heard by Howard Smith. '... sovereign music-making deserving of the highest accolades.'

CD Spotlight. Sensuality and Freedom - Stokowski conducts Schubert and Dvorák, heard by Béla Hartmann. '... one is never left in any doubt as to the force of the conductor ...'

Profile. Rich Musical Experiences - American conductor Joel Revzen talks to Maria Nockin

Record Box. Richness of Colour - Stokowski conducts Wagner, Enescu, Debussy and Stravinsky, enjoyed by Robert Anderson

Record Box. Great Entertainment - Stokowski conducts ballet music, heard by Patric Standford

CD Spotlight. Stylish and Pointed - Stokowski conducts Bizet and Debussy, enjoyed by Robert Anderson. '... a rhythmic élan and masterly sense of line ...'

CD Spotlight. Enjoyable Colours - Russian music from Stokowski, reviewed by Patric Standford. 'The recordings do not show half a century of wear ...'

CD Spotlight. Fine Indeed - Stokowski symphonic transcriptions, recommended by Howard Smith. '... an unqualified testament to Stokowski's magic.'

CD Spotlight. A Fascinating Set - Opera recordings conducted by Stokowski, reviewed by Robert Hugill. 'It leaves one wishing that they'd recorded more.'

CD Spotlight. Infectious delight - Stokowski conducts Vivaldi and Handel, reviewed by Patric Standford. 'His approach was clearly monumental.'

CD Spotlight. Valued archives - Stokowski and the classic Columbias, reviewed by Patric Standford. '... a powerful performance ...'

A star is reborn - BBC Legends, passing its one hundredth release, is appreciated by John Bell Young

CD Spotlight. The Maestro - Stokowski conducts Schumann and Haydn, and David Thompson listens. '... he delivers in spades.'

CD Spotlight - Resplendent performance. Stokowski conducts Mendelssohn and Brahms, with David Thompson. 'They were clearly devoted to the old wizard, and they play their hearts out for him.'