Friday, May 13, 2016

Hindemith: Mathis der Maler (Ormandy, 1940)

Matthias Grünewald: Temptation of St. Anthony
This week I present Eugene Ormandy's first recording of the Hindemith work that he recorded more than any other (three times, in 1940, 1952 and 1962) - the celebrated symphony extracted from the 1934 opera Mathis der Maler, its movements inspired by three of the panels that Matthias Grünewald contributed to the Isenheim Altarpiece 500 years ago. For all intents and purposes, this recording represented the general American record-buyer's introduction to this piece; an earlier one had been made by Telefunken in 1934, with Hindemith himself conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (his conducting debut on records), but one imagines that it did not receive much currency at the time because of Hindemith's position as persona non grata with the Nazi regime. In any case, the Telefunken set didn't receive widespread distribution in the USA until 1949, when Capitol repressed it in its new Captol-Telefunken series. Meanwhile, Ormandy's version had appeared on the US market seven years previously:

Hindemith: Mathis der Maler, symphony (1934)
Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recorded October 20, 1940
Victor Musical Masterpiece set DM-854, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 58.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 40,62 MB)

The same session also produced this recording of a symphony by Harl McDonald, in addition to works by Sibelius, Barber and three sides featuring soprano Dorothy Maynor - 23 sides in all! It was to be Ormandy's only Philadelphia session in the 1940-41 season not shared with another conductor, so he must have been inclined to make the most of it. (Stokowski's last two regular Philadelphia sessions, incidentally, occurred in December that season. The first of these produced the world première recording of Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony.)


  1. Alternate links:



  2. Thanks, Bryan - I haven't come across this version before!

  3. Once again, the early recordings under Ormandy are captivating. Excellent mono sound and transfer. THX a lot.

  4. Bryan - thank you for posting this recording. In over 50 years of collecting I can only recall ever seeing one set of these records which were issued in the UK in the mysterious HMV "Special List" and which presumably never had a wide circulation.
    Eugene Ormandy obviously loved this work - the stereo LP/CD version is terrific.

    Eddie S
    Suffolk U.K.