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Music and Maestros

Music and Maestros: The Story of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra

Copyright Date: 1952
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 404
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  • Book Info
    Music and Maestros
    Book Description:

    Music lovers all over the United States as well as in other countries have heard the music of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of such noted conductors as Dimitri Mitropoulos and Eugene Ormandy. Now they can enjoy the story behind those concerts, records, and radio broadcasts through this intimate history of the men and music that have made the orchestra famous._x000B_The story begins with the lively musical activities of a frontier town, the antecedents of the symphony orchestra that took shape at the turn of the century. From the early years of the organization under the batons of Emil Oberhoffer and Henri Verbrugghen, the chronicle rises to the period of the great contemporaries, Ormandy, Mitropoulos, and Antal Dorati. There is a wealth of detail on the career of Mitropoulos, the renowned New York Philharmonic conductor who reached his present stature during his leadership of the Minneapolis orchestra._x000B_The extensive concert tours that have earned for the Minneapolis symphony the nickname of “orchestra on wheels” are recalled in anecdotes that will evoke many a chuckle and plenty of amazement. Accounts of early recording sessions offer fascinating sidelights on this aspect of musical history. A complete list of the works performed by the orchestra during the past fifty years provides a significant record of changing trends in musical tastes. A roster of al the players who have been members of the orchestra is given, and the reference section also includes a complete list of out-of-town engagements and a list of the orchestra’s recordings which are available.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6445-0
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. Home-Grown Beginnings
    (pp. 3-36)

    The first promenade concert of the Minneapolis Musical Society was a fiasco, and no one knew exactly why. The cause of failure was hard to explain, for strawberries and ice cream had been served. Nothing in the annals Minneapolis from earliest times had indicated that its residents disdained strawberries and ice cream, or failed to show the most zealous civic spirit when those delicacies adorned worthy public undertakings.

    Yet on Wednesday evening, June 19, 1872, only a few hardy souls climbed the two flights of creaking stairs of the Pence Opera House for the debut of the eighteen-piece orchestra that...

  4. Emil Oberhoffer

    • “We Want an Orchestra”
      (pp. 37-65)

      In the beginning the membership of the Filharmonix, starting at twenty, was entirely male and amateur, and its purpose was social-musical fun in the homes of its members. In hardly any time at all it spawned the Filharmonix Glee Club, the Filharmonix Mandolin Club, the Filharmonix String Orchestra, a male quartet, and a corps of eager banjo players. Its first two concerts were invitation affairs and attracted many listeners a new type of musical variety program. Impressed by their success, the members strengthened their organization, made associate memberships available to those interested, and in a few months’ time augmented the...

    • Musician and Lumberman
      (pp. 66-89)

      Neither audience nor orchestra could be satisfied for long with the awkward makeshifts that were all the city could offer for use as concert halls. From the time of the orchestra’s birth there had been brewing a novel and daring scheme to create a fitting domicile for the new musical organization. W. F. Bechtel, president of the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company, had been approached with a proposal to build a downtown music and assembly hall, and in collaboration with a committee headed by Fred G. Smith had hatched a most unconventional plan for financing the project.

      Mr. Bechtel’s company...

    • Orchestra-on-Wheels
      (pp. 90-116)

      One more important step had been taken in the fourth season. Packing up its fiddles and clarinets, the orchestra for the time went calling on the neighbors. It visited Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Duluth on its maiden tour in the spring of 1907. The group did not then, or for some time afterward, travel strength, but was cut down to a skeletonized, easily transported edition of the home ensemble.

      This brief junket established a precedent and a part-time way life for the Minneapolis Symphony, starting it on a 200,000-mile journey that has taken it to every state of the Union...

    • Reign of the Pathétique
      (pp. 117-150)

      The Minneapolis Symphony’s music-on-the-road was a projection and repetition of its music at home, and the concerts on Eleventh Street were taking on a glory of their own. The second decade of the century, as Oberhoffer gained greater control of instrument and power over it, was a period of rich fruition in orchestral art in the Twin Cities.

      The formation of the Orchestral Association in 1907-8 had initiated a season headlined by the idolized Ignace Paderewski the BeethovenEmperorconcerto, Teresa Carrefio in the Tschaikowsky B flat minor, and Maud Powell, greatest violinist her sex, in the Bruch G minor....

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  5. Henri Verbrugghen

    • Orchestral Craftsman
      (pp. 151-194)

      Our next hero is a spry and genial Belgian who “looked like a Frenchman, spoke like an Englishman, and acted like an American.” Henri Verbrugghen, second conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, was diminutive in stature and aquiline of feature. He sported a pair of fiercely waxed mustaches, loved Beethoven, chamber music, and horses, collected old musical instruments, and smoked vile French tobacco in a meerschaum pipe.

      The engagement of Verbrugghen in 1922 marked a shift in policy in harmony with the Symphony’s hard-won standing in the major league of American orchestras. Oberhoffer had grown up with the community and...

  6. Eugene Ormandy

    • Whistling in the Dark
      (pp. 195-226)

      Eugene ormandy’s first concert in Minneapolis could be compared to an explosion, but an explosion that operated in reverse, consolidating rather than shattering, like one seen in a motion picture film run backward. The pieces not only fell in place but were pulled and magnetized into the tightest, most effective and dynamic entity the orchestra, its backers, and hearers had so far known.

      There was no mistaking what had happened that November evening in 1931, although how it happened and just who this young and blond bundle of energy was, were mysteries not to be solved till later. For a...

  7. Dimitri Mitropoulos

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • On the Mountain Top
      (pp. 227-263)

      Oberhoffer was the poet, Verbrugghen the scholar, Ormandy the dramatist. Dimitri Mitropoulos was the mystic and missionary. More than any other conductor before him, he regarded a concert performance as an act of faith and a spiritual necessity, a high and holy rite whereby the public was not so much to be entertained as led to the mountain top.

      And while some of the public, as time went on, did not always want to climb to the peak, being of shorter wind than Mitropoulos and less eager for the heights he had charted, they were acutely aware of musical experiences...

    • Wartime and Leave-Taking
      (pp. 264-288)

      World War II, with its tensions and dislocations, was the major external and overshadowing fact of Mitropoulos’ mid-term in Minneapolis. In numerous ways it affected orchestral policies and arrangements, most seriously perhaps in its damage to the ensemble stability of the orchestra, whose shifting membership created new problems for the conductor and management.

      The personnel of the Mitropoulos orchestra had what might be called three different phases, or complexions, each influenced in varying degree by the personalities and gifts of the men who occupied the positions of concertmaster and cello principal.

      The three seasons from 1936 to 1939 constituted the...

  8. Antal Dorati

    • Today and Tomorrow
      (pp. 289-300)

      When he arrived in the fall of 1949, Antal Dorati brought down the high blood pressure of the Minneapolis Symphony’s interpretations, which became temperate, with normal urgency of feeling and less strain. What was lost in throbbing tension and excitement was gained in a compelling but orderly unfolding of the music’s thought and emotion.

      The contrast with the style of his predecessor seemed that of reason, of ardent but clearheaded persuasion, as against an over riding eloquence, ecstasy, and occasional frenzy. In a curious way, the interest shifted from the interpretation of the music to the music itself, which seemed...

  9. Listings for Reference

      (pp. 303-310)
    • Out–of–Town Engagements
      (pp. 311-316)
    • Repertoire (abridged)
      (pp. 317-339)
    • Recordings
      (pp. 340-340)
  10. Index
    (pp. 341-357)