When Leopold Stokowski established the American Symphony Orchestra 46 years ago, he broke new ground with a mission to showcase the talents of American musicians through “concerts of great music within the means of everyone.” Since then we have expanded our mandate again to serve as innovators in our field by rebuilding audiences for orchestral music and ensuring the survival of classical music art forms.
In the context of the ASO’s thematic concerts, rare and under-performed works have attracted deserved attention, earning audience approval as well as fresh performances by orchestras and opera companies around the world. Our performances reintroduce masterworks into the symphonic canon and allow them to become available to other orchestras for future presentations.
As part of the Carnegie Hall series described on this site, the ASO strives to present as many US and New York premieres as we can program each season. No other orchestra in New York offers such extensive exposure to works of historical significance. In the context of the ASO’s thematic concerts, such rare and under-performed works have attracted deserved attention, earning audience approval as well as fresh performances by orchestras and opera companies around the world. The ASO’s premiere of Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue during the 1998-1999 season resulted in the opera’s staging by New York City Opera in 2005, and then its recording by the BBC Symphony. Similarly, the revivals of Strauss’ Die ägyptische Helena and Die Liebe der Danäe on the stage of American opera houses were influenced by the initial championing of the American Symphony Orchestra during its 1998 and 2000 seasons. The ASO’s performance of Gavriil Popov’s Symphony No. 1 during its 2002-2003 season led to a recording by the London Symphony that received a Grammy nomination. The Bern Symphony has performed the violin concerto of Switzerland’s Paul Kletzki, whose works were thought destroyed by the Nazis until the ASO resurrected his concerto. While some rare works are available with complete parts and a score in useable condition, others required extensive restoration and even creation to render them performable. No orchestral parts existed for Johann Strauss Sr.’s Four Temperaments Waltz, for example; the ASO’s extensive efforts to create these parts mean that the work is now available for performance by other orchestras.