C1413. ARTUR RODZINSKI Cond. NYPO: Escales (Ibert), recorded 27 Feb., 1945; Nutcracker - Suite (Tschaikowsky), recorded 20 Feb., 1946; RODZINSKI Cond. Cleveland Orch. & LOUIS KRASNER: Violin Concerto 'To the memory of an Angel' (Berg), recorded 15 Dec., 1940 (CREATOR Recording). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-282. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
[Krasners] performances and recordings of the works of Berg and Schönberg had a special significance in music history, enabling these pieces - especially the Berg Violin Concerto, an especially beguiling and appealing work (perhaps the only piece of 12-tone music ever to find a relatively wide audience) - to reach the audiences they deserved.
- Bruce Eder
Louis Krasner, the Russian-born American violinist who gave the premieres of the Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg Violin Concerti and was a champion of 20th-century music, had a career as a virtuoso recitalist when he was young, and in his later years he taught at Syracuse University, the New England Conservatory and at Tanglewood. But he has always been best known for having persuaded Alban Berg to compose the exquisitely lyrical concerto that has become a centerpiece of the modern violin repertory.
Mr. Krasner was born in Cherkassy, Ukraine, on 21 June, 1903, and moved to Providence, R.I., with his family in 1908. In the mid-1920's, Mr. Krasner continued his studies with Lucien Capet in Paris, Otakar Sevcik in Pesek, Czechoslovakia, and Carl Flesch in Berlin, and began his concert career in Europe. By then he had become an advocate of 20th- century composers, most notably Joseph Achron and Alfredo Casella, whose concerti he performed throughout Europe in 1928.
In 1930, he met Berg, Anton Webern and other Schönberg students in Vienna, and was immediately taken with Schönberg's 12-tone technique, a way of organizing themes that avoided conventional tonality. After hearing a performance of Berg's opera WOZZECK, he resolved to commission a violin concerto from the composer. It was Mr. Krasner's belief, when he broached the subject to Berg during a visit to Vienna in 1935, that the sort of songful, emotionally rich concerto that he knew Berg could write might break down the concert world's opposition to the 12-tone style.
Berg first resisted, telling Mr. Krasner that a young violinist would do better to play showpieces by Wieniawski or Vieuxtemps. But Mr. Krasner persisted and within six months - inspired partly by the death of Manon Gropius, the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler and the architect Walter Gropius - Berg completed the work. Mr. Krasner gave its premiere in Barcelona on 19 April, 1936, performed it in several European and American cities, and made the first recording of the work [above].
While touring Europe and the United States with the Berg work, Mr. Krasner was in touch with Schönberg, who had already moved to the United States and had completed a violin concerto around the same time as Berg. The work had been composed for Rudolf Kolish, but Kolish was touring with his quartet and had not had time to perform it, so Mr. Krasner agreed to give the premiere with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra on 6 Dec., 1940.
The Schönberg was not as successful as the Berg, but Mr. Krasner continued to perform it. Composers admired his technical fluidity and the persuasive warmth that Mr. Krasner brought to their music, and he gave the premieres of works by several American composers, among them Roger Sessions, Henry Cowell and Roy Harris.
Mr. Krasner curtailed his solo career in 1944, when he became concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He left the post in 1949 to join the faculty of Syracuse, where he taught violin and chamber music until 1972. He was also concertmaster of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra from 1960 to 1968. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the New England Conservatory and the Berkshire Music Center. Although he was unable to perform in his last year, he never retired from teaching.
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 May, 1995
Artur Rodzinski was born in Split, the capital of Dalmatia on 1 January, 1892. In Vienna, his teachers included Josef Marx and Franz Schreker (composition), Franz Schalk (conducting), and Emil von Sauer and Jerzy Lalewicz (piano). He returned to Lwów where he was engaged as chorus master at the Opera House, making his début as a conductor in 1920 with Verdi's ERNANI. The following year saw him conducting the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Warsaw Opera House. While visiting Poland, Leopold Stokowski heard Rodzinski leading a performance of Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG and exclaimed I have found that rare thing, a born conductor! and invited him to conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Between 1925 and 1929 he served as Stokowski's assistant, conducted for the Philadelphia Grand Opera and directed the opera and orchestral departments at the Curtis Institute of Music. From 1929 to 1933, Rodzinski became the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, garnering praise not only for his interpretations but for his innovative programming. From 1933 to 1943, he was music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, developing it into one of the foremost orchestras in America. He engaged new musicians and raised the playing standards to a very high level. His programs were innovative, offering works such as the first performance in America of Shostakovich's opera LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT, which gained the orchestra national attention. Between December 1939 and February 1942, Rodzinski and the Cleveland Orchestra made an extensive series of recordings for the Columbia Records label.
During this time he appeared with the New York Philharmonic in 1934 and 1937, when his concert performance of Richard Strauss' ELEKTRA aroused great enthusiasm. Rodzinski was also active in Europe, becoming the first naturalized American citizen to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival in 1936 and 1937. At Arturo Toscanini's recommendation, Rodzinski was engaged by NBC to select the musicians for the new NBC Symphony Orchestra. He rigorously trained the orchestra and conducted its first concerts in 1937, before the arrival of Toscanini.
Rodzinski was appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1943. Though his four-year tenure was marked by considerable acrimony with Arthur Judson, the powerful manager of the orchestra, Rodzinski achieved high standards of performance. The renowned music critic and composer Virgil Thomson wrote about Rodzinski's tenure at the Philharmonic: We now have an orchestra that is a joy to hear...and we owe it all to Artur Rodzinski." During Rodzinski's time on the podium the Philharmonic recorded extensively, again for Columbia, performed weekly live broadcasts on CBS Radio, and appeared in the feature film CARNEGIE HALL.
Despite, however, the quality of the orchestra's performances, numerous artistic matters such as the prerogative of the music director to dismiss musicians, select soloists and determine repertoire were persistent grounds of contention. Not willing to compromise on these matters, Rodzinski resigned in 1947. His reputation as a conductor was so prominent at this time that his resignation was the subject of a cover story in TIME MAGAZINE in February 1947.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra had been wooing Rodzinski for some time and now he decided to immediately accept the leadership of that orchestra starting with the 1947-1948 season. Here again, an inability to work with the board resulted in his swift departure after only one season. His short tenure still had a significant impact upon the orchestra and local audiences through performances such as a legendary account of Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Kirsten Flagstad.
After his departure from Chicago, Rodzinski's health began to deteriorate. There was little recording activity available to him in the U.S. and he settled in Europe once more. Here, his status as a major musician was recognized and he was invited to lead significant productions, such as the 1953 first performance of Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, as well as traditional repertoire works. He conducted at La Scala and also worked extensively for Italian radio, conducting well received readings of Wagner's TANNHÄUSER and TRISTAN, and Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV and KHOVANSHCHINA. He re-established his presence as a recording artist through a contract with Westminster Records, for whom he recorded extensively with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London from 1955. His final recordings were for EMI in 1958.
By this time Rodzinski's health was fragile. He was warned by his Italian doctor that further conducting activity would put his life at risk. However, he returned to Chicago in 1958 to conduct TRISTAN once again, this time with the Chicago Lyric Opera and soprano Birgit Nilsson. His return was a triumph, but these were his last performances and he died shortly afterwards.
Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent
[feature] St Laurent's natural transfer made without filtering, like all his dubbings it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011