C1753. SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY Cond. Boston S.O.: Suite in F (Roussel); 'Deliciae Basiliensi' Symphony #4 (Honegger); Symphony #3 (Roy Harris); w. LOUIS SPEYER: Music for English Horn & Orchestra (Edward Burlingame Hill). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-846, Live Performances, 1949, all Symphony Hall. [A brilliant tour-de-force, primarily of Americana when indeed the American spirit blossomed!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Sergey Aleksandrovich Kusevitskii (known in the West by the French spelling of his name, Serge Koussevitzky) one of the great conductors of the twentieth century American orchestral scene and a champion of newer music, closely studied the great conductors he encountered as an orchestra player and at concerts, particularly Arthur Nikisch.
During the difficult years after the 1917 Bolshevik coup and the subsequent civil war, he continued to conduct in Moscow through 1920, when he permanently left for the West. He presented a series of concerts called Concerts Koussevitzky in Paris, again featuring new music: Ravel, Honegger, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev. These concerts included the world premiere of the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION; it soon became a concert staple in both Europe and America.
In 1924, Koussevitsky was chosen as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. With the BSO, he continued his tradition of championing the new music he found around him, thus giving vital exposure to great American composers, such as Copland, Barber, Bernstein, Carter, Hanson, Harris, and a host of others over the years. During the 1931 season, he commissioned a series of commemorative works for the orchestra's fiftieth anniversary, yielding a treasury that included Stravinsky's SYMPHONY OF PSALMS and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. Beginning in 1935, he annually brought the orchestra to the summer Berkshire Festival, organized by Henry Hadley in 1934, becoming its music director and making it part of the BSO's operation. Koussevitzky established the Berkshire Music Center (now Tanglewood Music Center) in conjunction with the festival in 1940, making it into one of the premier American educational institutions where young musicians could polish their craft and network. After his wife died in 1941, Koussevitsky set up a foundation to commission works in her memory. Britten's opera PETER GRIMES was one of the first works that resulted.
Until his death in 1951, he continued to direct both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Berkshire Festival, recording frequently.
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Louis-Marius Speyer (2 May 1890, France - 8 January 1980, Norfolk, Massachusetts) was a French-born American oboist best known for playing solo English horn in the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1918 to 1964. Speyer studied oboe at the Paris Conservatoire under Georges Gillet. At the annual Paris Conservatoire Concours he won a second Accessit in 1909, a first Accessit in 1910, followed by a Premier prix in 1911. Speyer became an extra oboist for the Orchestre Colonne, which accompanied the Ballets Russes in France, and in that way participated in several premieres of works by Ravel and Stravinsky. In early 1913 he joined the newly formed Orchestre du Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, conducted by Pierre Monteux, which gave its first performance on 2 April 1913. Two months later, he played in this orchestra in one of the most famous concerts of all time: the program included LES SYLPHIDES, LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE and the POLOVTSIAN DANCES, but is remembered for the raucous premiere of Stravinsky's RITE OF SPRING.
Speyer came to America in the summer of 1918 with a French military band for a three-week good-will tour, but stayed, as he had been invited to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for which he was hired by Henri Rabaud. During his exceptionally long career, he played under the conductors Pierre Monteux, Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Münch and Erich Leinsdorf. Münch was under pressure to ease the 72-year-old Speyer into retirement, but failed to do so and Speyer outlasted Münch by 2 years. Speyer also played in the Boston Symphony Ensemble, a summer concert chamber orchestra conducted by Daniel Kuntz.”