Since its founding in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra as been at the center of the musical life of the city, and the papers of Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy, the conductors responsibile for building and sustaining the reputation of the orchestra over the course of seven decades, are preserved in the Penn Library.
Stokowski was also a prolific arranger, and his orchestral arrangements and transcriptions form the core of the Stokowski Collection at Penn. Although he was most famous for his transcriptions of organ music by J.S. Bach--such as the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor featured in Walt Disney's "Fantasia"--only thirty-six of the over two hundred arrangements that survive are of music by Bach. Some of the other composers receiving Stokowski's distinctive treatment are Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner.
The Eugene Ormandy Collection encompasses a broad range of materials, including correspondence, marked scores, photographs, and broadcast recordings. Ormandy's daily routine included writing both personal and professional correspondence, and these letters make up the largest part of the collection. There are also letters written on Ormandy's behalf by his secretaries and by orchestra management and replies received from Ormandy's correspondents. Some notable correspondents of the 1930s and 1940s include Ormandy's mentor, Jenö Hubay; Leopold Stokowski, whose letters offer insight into his working relationship with Ormandy; Stokowski's wife, Olga Samaroff Stokowski, who championed the appointment of Ormandy as Stokowski's successor; Alma Mahler-Werfel, with whom Ormandy consulted regarding Mahler's work; Albert Einstein, who asked Ormandy to help violinist Boris Schwarz obtain his entry visa to the United States; composers such as Sergei Prokofiev, Percy Grainger, Sergei Rachmaninoff; and soloists such as Fritz Kreisler, Lotte Lehmann, and Lauritz Melchior. Personal correspondence with family members shows that Ormandy was deeply involved with his family and was willing to help them, particularly when they were pursuing careers in music.
Ormandy's official correspondence related to the Philadelphia Orchestra often reflects the shifting nature of the relationship between management and players, particularly letters dating from the 1960s, when the discontent of the players led twice to strikes. The collection also contains correspondence with instrumentalists (or often their agents and mentors) who hoped to join the orchestra and with young soloists who wrote seeking advice. In addition, Ormandy corresponded with established solo artists, choir directors, and other conductors whom he sought to engage for performances.
Ormandy often commissioned works from composers, and there is correspondence concerning these commissions as well as two specific commissioning projects. The earlier project was funded by Reverend Theodore Pitcairn of Philadelphia and resulted in commissions awarded to one composer each year for five years, starting in 1960. The other was a commissioning project that was planned for the 1976 Bicentennial year and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Ormandy Collection includes an oral history collection consisting of the transcripts of ninety-three interviews conducted between 1969 and 1996. Four of the interviews were with Ormandy, and the rest were with conductors, soloists, composers, Philadelphia Orchestra members and administrative staff, other professional colleagues, family, and friends. The original tape recordings are also a part of the collection.
The Stokowski and Ormandy collections include over 2,000 scores and and sets of parts marked by the conductors for rehearsals and performances with the Philadelphia orchestra. Stokowski treated his scores as scrapbooks and often pasted in postcards, photos, related texts, and letters.