Friday, July 1, 2016

Haydn: "Farewell" Symphony (Leinsdorf, 1946)

Haydn and Leinsdorf notwithstanding, a large part of the reason for this post is to pay tribute to Deems Taylor, who died fifty years ago this Sunday (July 3, 1966). Composer, author, journalist, and broadcaster, he had the gift of explaining classical music in layman's terms, similar to that of Leonard Bernstein a generation later. As intermission commentator for the New York Philharmonic broadcasts during the 1930s and early 1940s, heard throughout the USA, he exercised this gift, drawing countless listeners into what must have seemed to many of them a rarefied world. In 1946, the Pilot Radio Corporation hit on the idea of marketing symphonic albums with recorded introductory commentary, and it must have seemed natural for them to approach Deems Taylor for the job. In the event, however, only two sets appeared - Grieg's "Holberg Suite" (conducted by Rudolph Ganz) and this one:

Haydn: Symphony No. 45 in F-Sharp Minor ("Farewell")
Erich Leinsdorf conducting the "Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra"
(with introductory commentary by Deems Taylor)
Recorded c. 1946
Pilotone set DA-302, four 10" vinylite 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 67.08 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 42.70 MB)

This recording must have been made between Leinsdorf's appointments with the Cleveland Orchestra (which ended in 1946) and the Rochester Philharmonic (which began in 1947). It, and the Grieg set, were in the shops in time for Christmas 1946. That there were no further sets in the rather grandiosely named "Pilotone Academy of Music" series is perhaps explained by a lawsuit brought by the Metropolitan Opera Association against Pilot for their use of the word "Metropolitan" in the name of their pseudonymous orchestra.


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  2. Hi Bryan - another interesting entry! Thanks for the information regarding this short lived Pilot series.
    FWIW - I transferred the Ganz Grieg set as an addendum to the Ganz/St. Louis Victor 78s project a few years back. It can be downloaded here:

    1. Thanks Bill - I remembered your doing the Grieg set, since I have it downloaded from years ago, but wasn't sure if it was still up.

  3. Thank you so much! I enjoyed both the commentary (including the piano-playing - presumably his?) and the performance - really excellent and fresh, not just of historical interest. As ever, what you do is so valuable and generous! All the best, Nick

  4. I think that Deems Taylor was also the narrator in Disney's Fantasia, so we have all seen him at least once!