Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Schumann: Second Symphony (Mitropoulos)

The Second Symphony of Robert Schumann has always been my favorite of his four, as it was, apparently, for Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein's "passionate identification" with the work (the quote is from Richard Burton's 1994 biography of Lenny) dated from the time he was an 18-year old student at Harvard, where, in January, 1937, he was part of a reception welcoming Dimitri Mitropoulos, who was in town to conduct two concerts with the Boston Symphony. Mitropoulos would became Bernstein's first mentor, in fact the first person to encourage him to become a conductor. The Greek maestro straightaway invited the young undergraduate to attend not only his concerts but all rehearsals as well, which Bernstein did, despite imminent mid-term exams. The second of these 1937 Boston programs featured a Mitropoulos specialty, Schumann's Second Symphony:

Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos
Recorded December 3, 1940
Columbia Masterworks set M-503, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 90.88 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 64.19 MB)

Mitropoulos' recording of this symphony was only the second to be made in America, and only the fourth worldwide - after acoustic and electric versions by Hans Pfitzner (both for Polydor), and this 1936 version by Ormandy (for Victor) which was its chief competitor during the 1940s.


  1. Many thanks! It looks astonishing, how fast he begins the introduction and how magically and smart he slowed the tempo down when the first cheerful theme of Allegro appears. When I heard this item right after the Schumann's First with Leinsdorf, it was great to feel such a contrast in the same situation.