Friday, March 2, 2012

Ormandy: Three American Symphonies

Eugene Ormandy may not have been as visible a supporter of contemporary American music as, say, Serge Koussevitzky in Boston or Leonard Bernstein almost everywhere, but he certainly did his part in keeping it before the public.  Here are three American symphonies performed and recorded by him in the 1950s - I believe all three were once offered as an Albany Records CD, which is now out-of-print:

William Schuman: Symphony No. 6 (1948)
Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded November 15, 1953
Side 1 of Columbia Masterworks ML-4992, one vinyl LP record
Link (FLAC file, 66.37 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 37.01 MB)

Walter Piston: Symphony No. 4 (1950)
Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded April 15, 1954, under the auspices of the
Walter W. Naumberg Foundation
Side 2 of Columbia Masterworks ML-4992, one vinyl LP record
Link (FLAC files, 69.2 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 39.98 MB)

Roy Harris: Symphony No. 7 (1952)
Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded October 23, 1955
Side 1 of Columbia Special Products CML-5095, one vinyl LP record
Link (FLAC file, 56.24 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 24.57)

About the works themselves, I can say little beyond that the Piston symphony is one of his most accessible scores, the Schuman one of his thornier ones.  The Harris, a one-movement work like his famous Third, seems to me one of his finest (of course, I've only heard two others - the Third and the "Symphony 1933"), a variation form based on a long, passacaglia-like theme similar to that in the Piano Quintet uploaded earlier.  I don't have original liner notes for this record, as it came in a generic Columbia Special Products sleeve, so I offer with the download an extract from Dan Stehman's 1984 monograph on the composer, analyzing the symphony.


  1. Great post Bryan! I think many folks forget that Ormandy had a significant role in introducing scores of new American music to audiences.



  2. These are precious documents of Ormandy's service to American music, indeed!

    Many thanks for offering FLAC copies, too!

    If your Ormandy collection includes his 1940s recording of Myaskovsky's 21-st symphony, perhaps some day you'll make that gem available too?

    P.S. The transfers are excellent, to say the least.

  3. Ormandy was a fine conductor but had little interest in recent music as such. I once asked him whether he'd record more of Piston's symphonies. His response: "We recorded one of them --- which was it? --- that was enough."

  4. Many thanks for these 3 Ormandy performances.

    Has anyone else had difficulty downloading the FLAC file for the Schuman - everytime I try to un-zip I keep getting the message:

    (Error 1 - Operation not permitted.)

    Both of the other FLACs un-zip fine ?????


  5. is it possible to reuplod Roy Harris: Symphony No. 7 (1952) ?

  6. The link above should still be good. Keep trying - Mediafire gets cranky sometimes.

  7. Dear Bryan, long time no speak!! I wonder if you could re-upload the Roy Harris in Flac? Thanks in advance!!

  8. Have tried multiple times to download Piston 4 with no luck. I seem to be stuck in the download.exe loop. Any suggestions? Using Google Chrome browser.