#dailydocument from the Archives

In support of our audience, researchers, and online community of music lovers during the current public health crisis, the archivists will post a #dailydocument for those who would like to dive deeper into the Digital Archives collections. While it is heartbreaking not to be able to share music in person, there is so much to learn from the history of this great orchestra. Join us!

May 26, 2020

Happy birthday to composer/conductor Eugene Goossens, born on this day in 1893! Goossens conducted the New York Philharmonic and the New York Symphony Society many times, and his compositions were performed by our Orchestra under direction of Arturo Toscanini, Ernest Schelling, and John Barbirolli.

Here is an advertisement for the 1941 Stadium Concert Season, where Goossens conducted four concerts.

A blue posted advertising the 1941 Stadium Concerts
Explore these programs in the Digital Archives

May 22, 2020

Bert Bial was a man of many talents. A musician by trade, he joined the New York Philharmonic in 1957 and performed with us for 38 years on two instruments, bassoon and contrabassoon. While his musical talent got him a seat in the Orchestra, his love of photography granted him another position as official photographer. In New York and on tour around the world, Bert brought his bassoon, his contrabassoon, and his camera to rehearsals and concerts, documenting both everyday moments and historic milestones. We are deeply sorry to hear of Bert's passing — he will live on in the archives through his beautiful photographs.

View highlights from Bert's photographs here.

Bert Bial, right, snaps a shot of his string-playing colleagues before rehearsal starts.
Bert Bial, right, snaps a shot of his string-playing colleagues before rehearsal starts.

May 21, 2020

One of the cities we planned to tour this month was Amsterdam, home of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as New York Philharmonic Music Director Jaap van Zweden and his wife Aaltje, who are both living there during the pandemic. The Philharmonic has compiled a Love Letter to Amsterdam which highlights some of our history in this city.

Explore this autographed portrait of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and other treasures from Amsterdam here.

A portrait of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, autographed by the musicians and conductor Eduard van Beinum

May 20, 2020

If you're feeling some wanderlust today, make room in your schedule for a quick jaunt through Europe with the New York Philharmonic! No plane ticket necessary — just check out our digital exhibit on Google Arts & Culture. We're celebrating the Philharmonic's touring history in the six cities we would have visited this month, if not for the pandemic.

Narrations in the exhibit delivered by — who else? — musicians of the New York Philharmonic themselves!

Map of Europe from the early 20th century
Explore on Google Arts & Culture

May 19, 2020

Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic Premiere of his Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) on July 15, 1965, with violinist Zino Francescatti, as part of the Orchestra’s 1965 French-American Festival. The concert featured all works by Bernstein, including The Age of Anxiety and the World Premiere of Chichester Psalms.

The program notes for this performance featured Bernstein’s commentary on the work, from a summary of Plato’s dialogue, as well as a brief analysis of his own music. You can enjoy reading them while listening to a 2002 Philharmonic performance of this work, with then Music Director Kurt Masur and then Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, added this week to NY Phil Plays On.

Program notes for Bernstein's Serenade
See the full program in the Digital Archives

May 15, 2020

This video was filmed on a home-movie camera by Harry Glantz, New York Philharmonic Principal Trumpet (1919-1942) during the Orchestra’s first tour to Europe in 1930. The historic tour brought America’s first orchestra to Paris, Zurich, Milan, Turin, Rome, Florence, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin, Brussels, and London. See programs from the tour here.

The 16mm black-and-white films show Toscanini, his family, the musicians, and their families aboard ships and trains. Below is just an image taken from the video, but you can watch the entire video in the Digital Archives here.

Toscanini, right, smirks and reaches out the window of a train to pat a woman's head. Other Philharmonic musicians and staff smile.
Toscanini, right, goofs off in front of the camera before their train departs to Brussels. Watch the full video in the Digital Archives.

May 13, 2020

Planes, trains, and automobiles — the New York Philharmonic has learned the costs and benefits of every mode of transportation on tours. This 1949 feature from The Saturday Evening Post details some shenanigans and blunders that happen on tour with the Orchestra, from simple miscalculations (the trains run on standard time but the concerts and rehearsals are on local time) to the ridiculous (some musicians blow the fuses on a train with their electric kettles and coffee pots).

Philharmonic musicians playing chess, preparing for tour
Read the full article in the Digital Archives

May 12, 2020

Every part is important in an orchestra: New York Philharmonic musicians work hard to perform each passage not only with the correct notes and rhythms, but also the right tone, color and je ne sais quoi that the conductor requests. Check out the marked part for Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande suite from one of our dedicated harpists, Myor Rosen, who used this music for performances led by George Szell, Charles Munch, Lorin Maazel, and Aaron Copland.

A happy birthday to the composer Gabriel Urbain Fauré, born on this day in 1845.

Marked harp part Marked harp part
View the full harp part in the Digital Archives

May 11, 2020

Newly released today on NY Phil Plays On, enjoy the New York Philharmonic and then Music Director Alan Gilbert in a 2015 performance of Stravinsky's Petrushka!

In 1925, with his music already familiar to New York audiences, Stravinsky began his first tour of the US, which included his American debut with the Philharmonic. Orchestra management spearheaded the tour, organizing his appearances around the country, with stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Chicago. Stravinsky first conducted concerts with the Philharmonic in January featuring all his own works, including Petrushka.

Igor Stravinsky, a New York Philharmonic program, and Stravinsky's signed contract from 1925
Explore the Digital Archives for more documents and Stravinsky's signed contract

May 8, 2020

#OTD in 1901 Andrew Carnegie was elected President of the New York Philharmonic.

Take a look at today’s #dailydocument: the minutes from the Philharmonic’s annual meeting when the election took place. Nobody has penmanship like this anymore!

Lined paper with neat cursive writing on it
Read more in the Digital Archives. Once in the book reader, click the button in the bottom right corner to view a transcript.

May 7, 2020

The New York Philharmonic hosted Richard Strauss in his first conducting appearances in the United States in 1904. He led two programs of mostly his own works, including several songs performed by baritone David Bispham, as well as Death and Transfiguration.

Reviews of this concert were mixed; one critic said it was a commendable performance while others found the program uninteresting. Those who were bored with the love scene from Feuersnot may have felt some irony — a small fire broke out in a storage room during the concert and smoke began sifting into the auditorium!

Articles cut out from 1904 newspapers
Read more reviews in the Digital Archives

Join us on Facebook tonight at 7:30 pm EDT to watch Renée Fleming join the Philharmonic and then Music Director Kurt Masur in songs by Strauss, from a 1997 Live from Lincoln Center broadcast.

May 5, 2020

Check out the "incoming class" of 1964 which included our longest-serving and beloved principal cellist, Lorne Munroe. Leonard Bernstein lured Munroe up from Philadelphia where he performed for 13 years with Eugene Ormandy. Munroe went on to perform with the Philharmonic for 32 seasons, delighting our audiences in over 150 solo appearances.

We are sorry to hear of his passing this week — many in our orchestra family remember him fondly.

Playbill article
Read more in the Digital Archives

May 4, 2020

#OTD in 1920 (100 years ago!) Walter Damrosch and the New York Symphony (which merged with the New York Philharmonic in 1928) began their tour of Europe at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra in Paris. This was the first European tour EVER undertaken by any American symphony orchestra.

Two years earlier, Damrosch traveled to France to lead an orchestra of elderly and unemployed French musicians at American Army camps. To thank him for his services, the French government personally invited Damrosch to bring his orchestra to France.

New York Symphony program from 1920
Read more in the Digital Archives

May 1, 2020

Today is the last day of the New York Philharmonic’s Mahler in New York Digital Festival, so we hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have! We’re going to finish it up with one more Mahler #dailydocument: Leonard Bernstein’s score for Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.

Bernstein wrote many wonderful and interesting annotations in his score; it reveals not only his interpretation of the music but also indications of what he believes Mahler was trying to achieve intellectually. You can explore this score while enjoying Alan Gilbert's interpretation on Soundcloud.

The first page of Leonard Bernstein's Mahler Symphony No. 9 score.
See the entire score in the Digital Archives

April 30, 2020

News of President John F. Kennedy's assassination reached the New York Philharmonic during a Friday matinee concert led by George Szell. Following Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3, Orchestra Manager Carlos Moseley broke the news to the audience and canceled the rest of the program. The remaining concerts that weekend replaced the overture with the funeral march from Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica, performed without applause.

On Sunday, November 24, 1963, Leonard Bernstein conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, in a televised tribute to President Kennedy. Not only was it the first time the complete symphony was televised, but performing Mahler for an event of this nature was unprecedented. At the United Jewish Appeal Benefit the next day, Bernstein explained his novel decision to program this work rather than the expected Eroica or a requiem.

Yellow lined notebook paper with Leonard Bernstein's handwritten speech draft on it
Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Read Bernstein's full speech here.

April 29, 2020

The reason Mahler came to America? One woman — and her name was Mary Sheldon.

Read more about Mrs. Sheldon's role in bringing Mahler to the New York Philharmonic, as well as the other important women in Mahler's life, including his wife, Alma.

Alma Mahler
View the exhibit Mahler and Women on Google Arts & Culture

April 24, 2020

Join us for a trip to Vienna to celebrate the beautiful interpretation by Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry of selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn. This was performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, as a 125th birthday present to our collegues at the Vienna Philharmonic, who share the same founding year as us: 1842.

Go to the New York Philharmonic's Facebook page tomorrow (Saturday) at 2:00 pm EDT, where we will be streaming Young People's Concert: A Toast to Vienna in 3/4 Time with Leonard Bernstein. You can see the full program in the Digital Archives here.

Photo of Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig.
Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry. See more photos in the Digital Archives

April 23, 2020

This manuscript is one of the last or latest drafts of the fourth movement from Symphony No. 10 left behind after Mahler's death.

On the last page of the Scherzo, Mahler wrote a note to his wife Alma: Du allein weisst was es bedeutet (You alone know what it means). Alma recalled years later that Mahler was referring to the drumbeats of a funeral procession they observed from their window on Central Park West in New York which inspired this passage.

Tune in tonight on Facebook to see musicians from the New York Philharmonic perform Mahler excerpts from home, including this funeral march from Symphony No. 10.

Handwritten music manuscript with German writing on it.
See more of Mahler's manuscripts on IMSLP

April 22, 2020

Take a walk with musicians from the New York Philharmonic and learn about the New York City that Mahler knew. You might be surprised by what's changed and what's stayed the same!

Gustav Mahler superimposed over an old map of New York City.
Explore on Google Arts & Culture

April 21, 2020

Dive into this collection of artifacts belonging to the Reiff family. The Reiff patriach, Anton (b. 1803, d. 1880), was a native of Mainz, Germany and was one of the founding members of the New York Philharmonic. He played first bassoon from 1842–64 and also served as Society Vice President (1861) and Treasurer (1862). Both his sons were also musicians; Ambrose (b. 1846, d. unknown) taught music lessons in Brooklyn and was also the family historian, and Anthony (b. 1830, d. 1916) played violin and viola in the Philharmonic from 1847–84.

This assortment of family memorabilia and miscellany is a time capsule of what it was like to be a musician in the late 19th century, containing everything from a personal prayer book to clarinet reeds and playing cards.

A large strongbox filled with tuning forks, clarinet reeds, family portraits, and other miscellany.
Explore the Reiff family history in the Digital Archives

April 20, 2020

For today’s #dailydocument, here is the program from the first Mahler symphony heard in America: November 6, 1909, with Walter Damrosch and the New York Symphony performing the Fourth.

Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony (which later merged with the New York Philharmonic) was one of America’s most progressive new-music performers. In addition to introducing Mahler he championed Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Gershwin.

Program from 1904
See it in the Digital Archives

April 17, 2020

From a time when Gustav Mahler wasn't a household name, tune in to see our very own Leonard Bernsstein introduce one of his favorite composers to children, and adults of all ages!

Tomorrow at 2 pm, the New York Philharmonic will broadcast a Young People's Concert with Leonard Bernstein: Who is Gustav Mahler? The script, along with contracts and planning materials, can be found in the Digital Archives. You can also read the program from the original concert on January 23, 1960.

A script printed on blue paper.
Read more in the Digital Archives

April 15, 2020

Although we're very disappointed that our Mahler in New York Festival has been canceled due to COVID-19, that's no reason we can't celebrate Gustav Mahler from home! We have partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring Mahler and his New York experience to you.

Gustav Mahler
Explore the first installment of our virtual exhibit here

April 14, 2020

We love looking at the markings of our Music Directors and guest conductors — their scores reveal a wealth of knowledge about the composition and different interpretations! But sometimes a score is just whatever paper happened to be laying around, as is the case with Leonard Bernstein's score for Mozart's Requiem. Flipping to the end pages reveals a rather unusual list...

As Craig Urquhart, Bernstein's former assistant, told the story: “LB and I were flying the Concorde to London and Johnny Carson sat in front of us. LB asked after Joanna Carson (they were recently divorced). So we played a little game of trying to think of everyone with the initials JC — starting with Jesus Christ.”

List of people whose initials are JC.
See the full list in the Digital Archives

April 13, 2020

#OTD in 1950, Music Director Dimitri Mitropoulos led the New York Philharmonic in the World Premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw. Mitropoulos instructed the men's chorus to stand up gradually as the narrator described prisoners in the Warsaw ghetto slowing getting to their feet to sing the Shema Yisrael. The New York Times music critic Olin Downes called this choreography “hammy” and said the music was “poor and empty.”

The audience, however, was so enthralled with the performance that when Mitropoulos asked if they would like to hear the piece again, they said, “Encore!”

News articles reviewing the 1949-50 concert season.
Read more in the Digital Archives

April 9, 2020

Tune in tonight on Facebook at 7:30 p.m. to hear two of the Philharmonic’s closest family members — Emanuel Ax and Kurt Masur — in their first NY Phil collaboration: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, from 1994. They would go on to perform all five Beethoven concertos together with the Orchestra during the Lincoln Center Festival in July 1999. Enjoy!

Music Director Kurt Masur and pianist Emanuel Ax greet each other.
Manny Ax and Kurt Masur in Tokyo, 2002. Photo by Chris Lee. See more on the Digital Archives.

April 8, 2020

This week the New York Philharmonic mourns the passing of Albert K. “Nick” Webster, former Philharmonic Managing Director who had a long career with the Orchestra from 1962-1991.

Webster began just as the orchestra moved to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in 1962. He served with Music Directors Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, and he was instrumental in hiring Kurt Masur. It was also under Nick’s direction that the Archives was officially established in 1984. He will be sorely missed.

Pierre Boulez, Nick Webster, and Carlos Moseley stand next to each other smiling. Nick Webster sits at a picnic table with New York Philharmonic musicians and Assistant Conductor Seiji Ozawa.
Left: Nick with Music Director Pierre Boulez and Philharmonic President Carlos Moseley, 1970s. Photo by Mary Hilliard. Right: Nick, top, to the right of Assistant Conductor Seiji Ozawa with Philharmonic orchestra and staff on tour in California, 1963. Photo by Rey Ruppel.

April 7, 2020

Noted newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer wrote the New York Philharmonic into his will, promising $1 million if the Orchestra became a membership corporation. After his death in 1911 management hurriedly complied, reorganizing into the structure we know today. Today’s #dailydocument is our first membership request, asking for donors to support the Philharmonic in a new way.

Aged brown envelope labeled “Pulitzer Bequest” in handwritten ink, next to two small printed cards.
See more on the Digital Archives

The Philharmonic has been able to thrive, thanks to Pulitzer’s bequest and to the many members and donors who have supported our Orchestra since. In the spirit of Pulitzer, please help this American cultural icon survive and continue to serve our community with a gift to the NY Phil Plays On Emergency Fund.

April 3, 2020

Be sure to check out the recent virtual performance of Ravel’s Boléro by New York Philharmonic musicians!

Did you know the New York Philharmonic performed the world premiere of the concert-version of Boléro? Until 2018 the performance — Toscanini conducting the Philharmonic on November 14, 1929 — was thought to be the American premiere but musicologists working on a critical edition of the work for XXI Music Publishing determined it was actually the world premiere. It's always exciting to see these types of new discoveries!

Concert program for the world premiere of Boléro in concert-version by the Philharmonic and Toscanini, November 14, 1929.
See the full program on the Digital Archives

April 2, 2020

Tune in at 7:30 EDT on Facebook to watch our rebroadcast of Act I from Wagner’s Die Walküre, conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Follow along on the Digital Archives with Zubin Mehta’s score or one of our musicians’ parts.

Cover and first page of Zubin Mehta’s score to Wagner Die Walküre
Read more in the Digital Archives

Today’s #dailydocument comes from a previous time of need — this time World War II. The New York Philharmonic and NBC Symphony banded together in a benefit concert for the Red Cross conducted by Arturo Toscanini. At least 18,000 people attended sold out Madison Square Garden to hear selections by Wagner and Verdi. Over $100,000 was raised for the Red Cross — “the symbol under which charity may cross enemy lines, the symbol upon which all but the most barbaric refuse to fire.”

This souvenir program, one of 100 given to first donors, contains pictures of Toscanini as well as accompanying illustrations for each work on the program. To show further support for the war effort, the drawing accompanying Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries shows not the Valkyrie sisters transporting fallen heroes to Valhalla but American B-17s.

Program cover illustration of Arturo Toscanini’s hands conducting. Text printed ontop of the hands says “Toscanini directs for the Red Cross”.
See the whole program on the Digital Archives

April 1, 2020

In 1969, after Leonard Bernstein announced that he would step down as Music Director, the New York Philharmonic decided to offer the post to Pierre Boulez at the end of a three-week guest engagement that spring. What better way to do it than at an intimate luncheon with a few key board members? Schedules being tricky with in-demand artists, Managing Director Carlos Moseley set up the meeting without thinking of the date — April 1.

Though Moseley was perfectly serious, sharp-witted Boulez, never one to be fooled, assumed the whole thing was a joke. He always remembered the moment with a laugh.

Here is a memo from Moseley’s records documenting the luncheon invites, and later press clippings from when Boulez was announced as the new Music Director.

Office memo detailing invited guests to a luncheon on April 1, 1969.
Various news clippings announcing Pierre Boulez’s appointment as Music Director of the Philharmonic, June 1969.
Read more in the Digital Archives

March 30, 2020

Krzysztof Penderecki had a rich relationship with the New York Philharmonic dating back to the early 1970s. Today we mourn the passing of the great composer at the age of 86.

In May 1980 then-Music Director Zubin Mehta and the Philharmonic performed the world premiere of his Christmas Symphony (No. 2) at Avery Fisher Hall before bringing it to the Concerts in the Parks and on tour to Edinburgh, Lucerne, and Salzburg later that summer.

Below, Zubin Mehta brings Krzysztof Penderecki onstage after the European premiere of the symphony in Edinburgh, August 24, 1980.

Zubin Mehta and Krzysztof Penderecki onstage for the European premiere of the Symphony in Edinburgh, August 24, 1980.
View in the Digital Archives. Photo by Bert Bial.

Listen to the Philharmonic's tribute to Penderecki here.

March 27, 2020

On this day in 1941, violinist Erica Morini performed Louis Spohr’s Violin Concerto No. 9 in D minor with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Music Director John Barbirolli.

The New York Post wrote: “To say that Erica Morini is the greatest woman violinist is not to do her complete justice, for her talents as instrumentalist and musician, particularly the former, place her among those who are considered tops in the trade, regardless of sex.”

Advertisement for Erica Morini's March 1941 performances with the New York Philharmonic. Concert program for Erica Morini's March 1941 performances with the New York Philharmonic.
View the advertisement and the program in the Digital Archives

March 25, 2020

Feel free to indulge yourself while listening to Philharmonic recordings at home...

But don’t commit these deadly sins in the concert hall!

“The Seven Deadly Concert Sinners.” Cartoon by Whitney Darrow Jr.

The Seven Deadly Concert Sinners cartoon by Whitney Darrow Jr.
Read more in the Digital Archives

March 24, 2020

Are you tuning in tonight for The Metropolitan Opera streaming of Das Rheingold?

Well for today’s #dailydocument, and in anticipation of warmer and brighter times ahead, read about the New York Philharmonic’s 1937 concert operas (including Das Rheingold) performed at our previous summer home, Lewisohn Stadium.

Section of an August 1937 review in the publication Musical America.
Read more in the Digital Archives

March 23, 2020

In past times of difficulty and distance, New York Philharmonic listeners gathered to share in music on the radio. Here’s a letter from an American prisoner of War in Germany during WWII asking for program notes to go along with the broadcasts.

Section of a letter from an American prisoner of War in Germany during WWII asking for program notes.
Read more in the Digital Archives