Rehearsal conditions must be suitable

Strengthened by his initial triumph and by daily evidences of the ever-mounting appreciation and support of the Philadelphia’s new claim to artistic fame, Stokowski tried once again to convince the board that first-class musical results were impossible unless the orchestra rehearsed exactly where they performed.  The men engrossed in the financial problems of balancing budgets were still not enormously interested in the musical problems of balancing sounds.

Nevertheless, the impression created by Stokowski had sufficiently established his box-office value to effect a compromise whereby most of the rehearsals could be held in the accoustically perfect Academy.  This enabled him to attain almost immediately a vastly improved sonority and instrumental variety.  The Academy authorities, however, had managed to keep the agreement loose enough so that they could shut the orchestra out if the hall was requested for a lecture or a practicing group.  But this occurred so often that Stokowski decided to challenge the administration.  One Saturday evening, at a backstage reception after a concert, he called the manager of the Academy aside and once more angrily explained that excellence in orchestral playing could never be obtained without proper rehearsing conditions.  “I understand, Mr. Stokowski,” the manager said, “but I am powerless to help you.”

Stokowski listened a moment, then, tense and cold with fury, in a voice that all could hear, calmly proclaimed, “I must know whether we can rehearse in the Academy before the next concert. If not, I shall resign.”

At that moment, a gentleman tapped Stokowski on the shoulder: “I have heard your conversation, and I understand you are having trouble.  What’s the matter?”

Stokowski briefly explained the cause of his desparation.  The man answered, “I know nothing about music, but I think I see.  You want to do a certain piece of work; you need to have the right tools to work with.  Am I right? If that is what you ask, you shall have it?”

No sooner said than done, for the gentleman was Edward Bok, and the occassion marked the beginning of his deep concern with the destiny of the Philadelphia Orchestra and a close relationship with its conductor.

Source: Chasins, Abram (1979) Leopold Stokowski: A Profile.  London: Robert Hale, p.74-75.