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The Great Orchestrator

The Great Orchestrator: Arthur Judson and American Arts Management

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Great Orchestrator
    Book Description:

    This biography charts the career and legacy of the pioneering American music manager Arthur Judson (1881 - 1975), who rose to prominence in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. A violinist by training, Judson became manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1915 under the iconic conductor Leopold Stokowski. Within a few years, Judson also took on management of the New York Philharmonic as well as several individual artists and most of the important conductors working in America. In addition to his colorful career behind the scenes at two preeminent American orchestras, Judson founded a nationwide network of local managers and later became involved in the relatively unexplored medium of radio, working first with WEAF in New York City and then later forming his own national radio network in 1927. Providing valuable insight into the workings of these orchestras and the formative years of arts management, The Great Orchestrator: Arthur Judson and American Arts Management is a valuable portrait of one of the most powerful managers in American musical history.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09459-0
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Timeline of Major Events
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Introduction: Confronting the Silent Giant
    (pp. 1-12)

    In late April 1956, Howard Taubman, music critic for the New York Times, wrote one of the most influential articles of his career. Taubman, who had assumed the chief critic position just nine months earlier, was deeply dismayed by the health of the New York Philharmonic. As he later recalled:

    I took over the number one spot in September 1955, [and] I began to go to all the main events of the Philharmonic. . . . I found what was happening deplorable. [The conductor] was struggling; the orchestra was shot; the entire enterprise was in grave trouble.¹

    In a special...

  6. Part I: Discovering the Audience, 1900–1921

    • 1 The Young Educator
      (pp. 15-28)

      Little is known about Arthur Judson’s earliest years. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, on February 22, 1881, the second of Francis and Mary (née Myers) Judson’s two sons. His mother was a native Ohioan, and his father, a Civil War veteran, came originally from New York. His father worked for the postal service in Dayton, and young Arthur grew up in a modest working-class home. Exactly what role music played in the household is not known. Judson’s only recorded statement about his musical youth came in a rare 1950 interview, when he commented, “For some unknown reason I became...

    • 2 The Lessons of Musical America
      (pp. 29-43)

      In 1907, New York was arguably America’s most vibrant city. Fueled by massive immigration and robust economic growth during the nineteenth century, it was the world’s second largest metropolitan center. The city exuded optimism, and people from all walks of life were drawn to the opportunities it offered. This was particularly true for musicians. All the large music booking agencies had their main offices in New York, as did the major music periodicals and music publishing firms. The city also had numerous well-respected concert organizations. For an aspiring violinist, New York City was the only logical destination.

      Before completing his...

    • 3 Fertile Ground in Philadelphia, 1915–1921
      (pp. 44-62)

      Judson arrived in Philadelphia in July 1915 and immediately immersed himself in the orchestra’s ongoing projects. His principal partner in these endeavors was Stokowski, and the two men corresponded regularly that summer and into the fall. In an early letter to Stokowski, Judson worried about badgering the conductor with so many details:

      I hope you will pardon the great number of letters I am writing you. I have tried to save the various matters and put them all in one letter, but it does not seem practicable, and so I suppose that I shall have to write you with alarming...

  7. Part II: Cooperation and Cultivation, 1921–1942

    • 4 New Alliances, New Media, New York
      (pp. 65-92)

      In less than five years, Judson had transformed his professional life. No longer a musical jack-of-all-trades, he was now a professional music manager, solidly established in the Philadelphia community. His success was tied to the Philadelphia Orchestra, which had become one of the most vibrant young orchestras in America, but also to his chamber music experiments and his newly minted artist management agency. By 1920, Judson was Philadelphia’s premiere music manager, and news of his achievements spread quickly beyond the city limits.

      In the fall of 1920, Judson received an intriguing proposition from two prominent New York music patrons, Adolph...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 5 Managing a Renewal, 1922–1930
      (pp. 93-119)

      When Judson became manager of the New York Philharmonic in 1922, he joined an orchestra struggling to find its way—a sharp contrast to the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was on a momentous upswing. The Philharmonic was floundering due to organizational instability and perceived reductions in artistic standards. At the center was Josef Stransky (1872–1936), the conductor who had come to the Philharmonic in 1911 as Gustav Mahler’s replacement. Although Stransky was highly qualified, he had the unenviable job of following a conductor-composer of world renown. The critics naturally put him under the microscope. Stransky met the challenge head-on and...

    • 6 The List, the Old Man, and the English Replacement
      (pp. 120-145)

      For Judson, the Toscanini years began with great optimism. Not only had the Philharmonic hired one of the world’s most revered conductors, it had done so at a time when its finances were in good shape. It had a small savings and a flush of new resources from the New York Symphony merger, including a small endowment fund. These factors, combined with Toscanini’s drawing power and the orchestra’s improved quality, made Toscanini’s first full season as principal conductor (1929–30) an enormous success. The surplus topped $31,000. But unfortunately, Toscanini’s first season coincided with the stock market crash in October...

    • 7 Competition and Indecision
      (pp. 146-166)

      Barbirolli’s concerts went well in the fall of 1936, and the conductor returned to England in mid-January 1937 to a hero’s welcome. But within days, the situation in New York changed dramatically. The National Broadcasting Company announced that Toscanini was returning to New York to conduct a new orchestra designed specifically for him. The new orchestra would broadcast weekly concerts on NBC. The news caught the Philharmonic completely off guard. Judson cabled Barbirolli immediately and urged him not to make any public statements.¹

      Ironically, Toscanini’s alliance with NBC had been a by-product of Philharmonic negotiations a few months earlier. Although...

  8. Part III: The Empire of Diminishing Returns, 1942–1956

    • 8 The War Years and a Shift to a New Era
      (pp. 169-193)

      In the 1940s, Judson’s management empire began to plateau. The Depression had rattled music’s funding structures. Technology had spawned greater competition for live musical experiences. Jazz had supplanted classical music on the pages of many newspapers and trade magazines. But particularly relevant for Judson was an emerging concern about the connection between music and big business.

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first raised this issue in 1938, when it launched an investigation into the chain-broadcasting practices of the NBC, CBS, and Mutual radio networks. The FCC’s specific concern rested in the networks’ contractual arrangements with their affiliates and the extent...

    • 9 Troubled Waters
      (pp. 194-218)

      Rodzinski had presented a real dilemma for the Philharmonic. On the one hand, he had been the source of nearly continuous internal tension. Yet during his tenure, the critical perception of the Philharmonic was remarkably positive. Not only had Rodzinski rebuilt the orchestra and restored the precision of the Toscanini era, he had also made significant strides in terms of programming. No longer was the Philharmonic considered enemy territory for American and contemporary composers. During Rodzinski’s four years, he conducted nineteen world premieres, several of which were important contributions to the literature, including Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl...

  9. Conclusion: Lessons from AJ
    (pp. 219-230)

    Judson was a towering figure in American concert music in the twentieth century. He managed the leading orchestras and artists of his time, built the most successful music management company in American history, and pioneered ideas that still inform the music industry today. James Buswell characterized it best, calling Judson “an elephant.”¹ No manager before or since acquired the portfolio or the power that Judson amassed during his sixty-year career.

    In 1947, music publisher Hans Heinsheimer captured Judson at the height of his power in this colorful description of a fictitious young conductor’s arrival in America. According to Heinsheimer, the...

  10. Epilogue: The Final Years
    (pp. 231-240)

    Judson’s power waned after his resignation from the New York Philharmonic, but he was not ready to retire in 1956. He continued to work in music management for another twelve years, postponing retirement until 1968, at age eighty-seven. Even then Judson had a hard time removing himself from the concert scene. Until his death in 1975, he maintained relationships with musicians, managers, and board members who were active in the field.

    His professional milieu in these final years testifies to his unyielding perseverance. Judson simply could not imagine his life without involvement in concert music. In 1961, for example, he...

  11. Appendix: Leaders of the New York Philharmonic Board of Directors, 1921–1970
    (pp. 241-242)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 243-266)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 267-268)
  14. Index
    (pp. 269-274)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-287)