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Leopold Stokowski Papers


Leopold Stokowski Papers
Stokowski, Leopold
Collection number:
1.75 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Special Collections in Performing Arts
Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contact the curator:

Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) was an American conductor, who led the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, American Youth Orchestra, New York City Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, NBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and American Symphony Orchestra. His career began with studies at the Royal College of Music in 1896 when Stokowski was just 13. He performed as an organist and choral director for several years in England, Europe and the U.S. before becoming director of the Cincinnati Orchestra in 1909. During his career, Stokowski promoted Modern and late Romantic music aggressively, combining an avant-garde approach with a traditional glamour that drew audiences of all sorts to his performances. Today he is perhaps most well known for his collaboration with Walt Disney on the movie Fantasia.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Leopold Stokowski Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Publication rights:

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Leopold Stokowski was born in London 18 April 1882. After completing studies at the Royal College of Music in 1900 at the age of 18, he formed a choir at St. Mary's, Charing Cross Road (1900-1901). The next year he received an appointment as organist and choir director at St. James, Piccadilly. From 1905 to 1908 he was the choirmaster at St. Bartholomew's, New York and in 1908 he made his debut in Paris. His first appointment as conductor of a symphony orchestra came in 1909, when he became the director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Despite his lack of experience, the organization improved immensely over the next three years under Stokowski's leadership. As a result he won an appointment as the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912.

Stokowski led the Philadelphia Orchestra for 24 years, from 1912 until 1936, remaining associated with the organization until 1941. Because of his interest in new music the Philadelphia Orchestra gave several U.S. premieres during his tenure including Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony. Stokowski also became affiliated with modernist chamber music societies in New York City. It was through one of these, the International Composers' Guild, that he offered the U.S. premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Stokowski's musical showmanship and high public profile also earned him the spot of conductor for the Walt Disney film Fantasia (1940).

After leaving the Philadelphia Orchestra, Stokowski had a series of brief appointments with orchestras of his own creation, including the All-American Youth Orchestra (1940-41), the New York City Symphony (1944), and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra (1945). In 1941-42, Stokowski served as conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The next season Arturo Toscanini, Stokowskis sometime-rival, joined him as co-conductor; they worked together two years. Several years of work with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra followed. His last major appointments were with the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1955-60) and the American Symphony Orchestra (1962-72). Toward the end of his life, Stokowski returned to London where he remained until his death in 1977.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Leopold Stokowski collection covers the period from 1908 to 1982; the bulk dates are 1910 to 1920. The collection consists of letters, programs, clippings, and memorabilia, most dating from the first few years of Stokowskis tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra..

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased in 1998 from a manuscript dealer then affiliated with the University Libraries. One accession of additions was included soon after. How the material came to be gathered by the dealer is unknown, but it is not believed to have been accomplished under any suspicious circumstances. It is worth noting that the papers of both Olga Samaroff and Josef Hoffman are held by the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM), also located in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Christina Taylor Gibson

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Mary Crauderueff, December 2008.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection has been divided into three series: loose correspondence; scrapbook, clippings, and programs; and memorabilia.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1915-1972 (0.50 linear feet)

This series contains loose correspondence, most of it from Stokowski, dating from 1908 to 1979; and a discrete box of correspondence between Stokowski and Arthur Judson, dating from 1915-1916. The loose correspondence includes letters to Otto Klemperer, Douglas Moore, Olga Samaroff Stokowski, Mary Curtis Bok, and Josef Hofmann. It is organized alphabetically by correspondent and then by date. The boxed correspondence has been left in its original state.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Adams to Gates. Includes letters to Edward Bok, a major donor to the Philadelphia Orchestra and the husband of Mary Louis Curtis Bok., 1919-1966 series 1box 1folder 1
Havemeyer to Lineweaver. Includes extensive correspondence with Josef Hofmann., 1915-1967 series 1box 1folder 2
Moore to Short. Includes letters from Olga Samaroff Stokowki, and to Betty Short and others., 1908-1969 series 1box 1folder 3
Speiser to Unknown. Includes letters to Deems Taylor and William Van den Burg., 1916-1972 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence 1915-1916: Arthur Judson and Stokowski; Other correspondents include: -- Ruth M. O'Neill, Mr. Julison, Mr. Louis A. Mattson, Andrew Wheeler, Alexander van Rennselaer and the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, Max Smith, Helen A. Seyffert, Anne Moran, 1915-1916 series 1box 2folder 1

Series 2: Scrapbooks, Programs, Clippings, 1909-1982 (0.75 linear feet)

This series contains a variety of documents related to Stokowski's conducting career. A scrapbook compiled by Olga Samaroff records Stokowski's early years in Philadelphia. Programs, magazines, and clippings date form various performances throughout Stokowski's career. A photograph of a young Stokowski with choir is undated. These items are organized by type and date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Scrapbook labeled 1912-1917 contains one program for Metropolitan Opera, several programs for the Philadelphia Orchestra, form letters welcoming new members to Women's Auxiliary Committee, subscription cards, clippings, data of ticket sales, -- booklets about Gustav Mahler, programs from Philadelphia recitals managed by Judson., 1912-1917 series 2box 3folder 1
Curtis Institute Leopold Stokowski Centennial Concerts, undated series 2box 4folder 1
Programs and magazines includes souvenir program for Wozzeck,and programs for performances with: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center. -- Magazines include: Toccata: The Journal of the Leopold Stokowski Society (undated), Maestrino (Fall 1986), Bravo: Carnegie Hall (1969). Organized by date., 1909-1974 series 2box 4folder 2
Clippings. Profile articles and reviews of performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Organized by date., 1918-1982 series 2box 4folder 3
Photograph. Young Leopold Stokowski with choir., undated series 2box 4folder 4

Series 3: Memorabilia, 1963, 1973 (0.50 linear feet)

This series contains a book on Stokowski; and material related to Stokowskis honorary degree from Combs College of Music.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Stokowski: Essays in Analysis of His Art edited by Edward Johnson (London: Triad Press, 1973). Inscription to Gregor Benko from Edward Johnson., 18 May 1973 series 3box 5folder 1
Honorary Doctor of Music from Combs College of Music. Commencement program, letter, and tribute enclosed., 1963 series 3box 5folder 2

Series 4: Orchestral Parts, undated (1 folder)

This series contains two facsimiles of violin parts for Schumanns Symphonie No. 2 Op. 61 and Symphonie No. 4 Op. 120.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Two facsimiles of Violin 1 parts for Schumanns Symphonie No. 2 Op. 61 and Symphonie No. 4 Op. 120., undated series 4box 6folder 1

Related Material

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