Leopold Stokowski’s “sound-scores”

Original article  .

Author: Tatiana A. Tsvetkovskaya

Radio Orpheus, Moscow, Russia, tskoblik@mail.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8395-9820


The article analyzes technical and artistic experiments of the American conductor Leopold Stokowski. According to the author, the term “sound-score”, which Stokowski used in the context of musical themes, implies synthesis of the auditory images of a composition emerging in the minds of the composer, the performer, and the listener. The performer’s task is to embody his or her own auditory image, connected with the auditory image of the composer through a musical score, and at the same time to pronounce interpretative features, creating a general auditory experience. Acoustic techniques, timbre solutions, and visual effects are eventually aimed at creating an image close to his or her own in the minds of the public. A network of connections between the auditory images of all participants in a musical act through auditory experiences reflects the continuous formation of a musical composition in its sound essence.

Attempts to capture auditory images in a textual form are observed in symphonic transcriptions, arrangements and original orchestrations of Stokowski. The analysis of the conductor’s techniques allows us to better understand his personality, the key characteristics of which are freedom of self-expression, emphasis on the aesthetics of sound, constant communication with the orchestra musicians, bright staginess of his performing manner. The ability to trace the dynamics of the formation of Stokowski’s auditory images complements his creative portrait. Important information is provided by the reconstruction of the details of his Soviet Union tour in 1958.

Development of sound recording and formation of new media was an impetus for a further search for means that could more accurately express the auditory image and enhance the auditory impression. Skillfully using the possibilities of maintaining, reproducing, and transmitting sound over a distance, Stokowski not only became a pioneer of the industry, but completely subordinated the technology to creative tasks, “creating in sound” a valuable and independent musical work.

Keywords: Leopold Stokowski, Philadelphia Orchestra, sound recording, Andreyev State Russian Orchestra

For citation: Tsvetkovskaya T. A. Leopold Stokowski’s “sound-scores”. Opera musicologica. 2022. Vol. 14, no. 2. Р. 82–100. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.26156/OM.2022.14.2.003.

The article was submitted 02.02.2022; approved after reviewing 18.02.2022; accepted for publication 15.03.2022.


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