Commemorating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

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Lance
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Commemorating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Lance » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:49 pm

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Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor/pianist, 1896-1960

I have just completed creating the inserts and inlays for three new compact editions to the Nickson catalogue of conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos's live recordings. There will be five CDs in all in three volumes.

All are “In Memoriam” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Mitropoulos - 1960-2010. All are with the NYPO. Mitropoulos collapsed and died during a rehearsal of Mahler's Third Symphony at Milan's Teatro alla Scala on November 2, 1960.

VOLUME 1 [single CD] [68:26]

•José Iturbi: Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra *
•George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue for Piano and Orchestra *
•Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 {Scotch}
*José Iturbi, piano
Live broadcast, December 27, 1942

VOLUME 2 [2 CDs]

CD 1 [73:00]
•JS Bach/G Darmstadt: The Art of the Fugue (3 Fugues)
•Frederick Woltmann: The Coliseum at Night from Two Impressions of Rom
•Richard Strauss: Symphonia Domestica, Op. 53
Live broadcast, December 22, 1940

CD 2 [75:31]
•Albert Roussel: Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 42
•Gustav Mahler: Symphony #1 in D Major {Titan}
Live broadcast, January 12, 1941

VOLUME 3 [2 CDs]

CD 1 [75:24]
•Hermann Hans Wetzler: Adagio and Fugue
•David Diamond: Symphony No. 1 (1940)
•Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 44
Live broadcast, December 21, 1941

CD 2 [58:15]
•Henry Purcell/Mitropoulos: Prelude and Death of Dido from Dido and Aeneas
•Johannes Brahms: Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor,
Op. 102 {Double Concerto} with Michel Piastro, violin; Joseph Schuster, cello
•Anis Fuleihan: Symphony No. 1 {Pastorale}
•Zoltán Kürthy: Scherzo for Orchestra
Live broadcast, January 11, 1942

Nick Nickson, who will be 86 years young in December, has made a life-long work of locating and issuing on highly limited editions the live recordings of Greek conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos. Nick has also issued most (if not all) of Mitropoulos's 78-rpm recordings, most of which have never been reissued by either Columbia Records of RCA Victor. It has been my pleasure to know Nick and work with him for approximately 45 years. He also introduced me to the game of hockey since his son is an announcer for hockey games.

If you are interested in learning more about these recordings of which we have now produced (I believe) around 135 CDs, please contact me directly. My participation is the preparation and printing of the inserts and inlays while sometimes also writing the insert notes. ♪
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Heck148
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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Heck148 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:10 pm

Mitropoulos was a great conductor, abit inconsistent perhaps, and maybe too nice on the podium - but when he's on, it's really dynamite -

the NYPO loved him, tho they probably took unfair advantage of his gentle nature - but they respected his musicianship and could really put out for him when motivated.

some of my Mitropoulos favorites:

Prokofieff - Excerpts from Romeo & Juliet - NYPO - still the best of the selections discs I've ever heard...

Symphonie Fantastique - wonderfully creepy, and deliberate...still one of the best.

a sizzling Shostakovich #10, Hary Janos Suite, Tchaik #6. I know I forgot a few -

and - I wish somebody would re-issue his marveloius "Petrushka" from 1951 - Mitropoulos really gets into the pathos, the humor, the tongue-in-cheek, the sarcasm....wonderful solo playing by the NYPO, with some deliciously quacky, honky 2ble reed work [wonderfully flatulent contrabassoon :lol: ] which fits in just perfectly - from Mssrs Gomberg, Polisi, Nazzi, Brenner, etc...

stenka razin
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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by stenka razin » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:32 pm

The great Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas wrote a fabulous and totally uncharacterisic set of 36 Greek Dances. Mitropoulos made a selection from these invigorating dances and recorded them for Columbia in the 1950's. Dimitri's performance of these colorful dances was electric.
I saw Mitropoulos conduct in the 50's and when he was good, he was supurb. His Mahler renditions are legendary and he was a great contributor to the resurgence of interest in Mahler that Leonard Bernstein continued magnificently with the New York Philharmonic.
Lance, these Nickson recordings are a treasure trove for a truly great maestro. 8)
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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Wallingford » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:43 pm

Well, as a fellow fan I find my fondest impressions are:

Bach's Brandenburg #5, w/Mitropoulos at the piano & conducting the NBC Symphony;

A Sorcerer's Apprentice with the Minnesotans, a nine-minute performance that performs the absolute miracle of not sounding strained or rushed like Toscanini's NYP disc of equal length;

Morton Gould's Minstrel Show, hardly ever performed in the last half century for obvious reasons;

Chabrier's Marche joyeuse;

The Met recordings of Madama Butterfly, Tosca and I Pagliacci;

The disc of all four Saint-Saens tonepoems, an affectionate look at the conductor's Greek roots;

Massenet's Scenes alsaciennes;

Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique;

And his first Borodin Second, again in Minneapolis.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

ChrisBrewster
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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by ChrisBrewster » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:11 am

Perhaps Minnesota could get a mention for being Mitrolpoulos's stepping-stone to New York. The Minneapolis Symphony was also Ormandy's boost to Philadelphia. (Living in a second-tier city, one accepts the role of a farm team. Osmo Vänskä is getting some similar exposure here.)

One point: I think you should say "commemorating" the death of Mitropoulos. This is the conventional word to use to avoid the implication that his death itself was something to celebrate, as they might have done for, say, Stalin's death.

maestrob
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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by maestrob » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:57 am

ChrisBrewster wrote:Perhaps Minnesota could get a mention for being Mitrolpoulos's stepping-stone to New York. The Minneapolis Symphony was also Ormandy's boost to Philadelphia. (Living in a second-tier city, one accepts the role of a farm team. Osmo Vänskä is getting some similar exposure here.)

One point: I think you should say "commemorating" the death of Mitropoulos. This is the conventional word to use to avoid the implication that his death itself was something to celebrate, as they might have done for, say, Stalin's death.
Good point.

Minnesota (formerly the Minneapolis Symphony) has, IMHO, been a very fine orchestra for a very long time: Many fine recordings have been made there with the likes of Ormandy, Mitropoulos, Skrowaczewski, Vanska, etc. One of my treasured rarities is Rachmaninov II w/Ormandy, redone beautifully for CD but never commercially issued. Skrowaczewski made a series of excellent Ravel, Stravinsky and Bartok recordings for Vox that were originally issued on DBX vinyl, then on budget CDs in superb sound.

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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by John F » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:12 pm

The first Mitropoulos recording I heard, and owned, is with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony, reissued on Columbia's budget Entré LP label. A really dashing performance. Later I picked up the New York Philharmonic recording of Mendelssohn's Scottish and Reformation symphonies, which were well reviewed; didn't know either piece except the scherzo of the Scottish, so I had no basis for comparison, but I liked the record then and I still like it now. Never set out to collect Mitropoulos complete or anything near it, but he was often the conductor of works I wanted to have - Mahler's 1st symphony in the Minneapolis Symphony's studio recording, and the New York Philharmonic's live "Wozzeck," for example - and I was never disappointed.

The contents of those CDs are almost all music he never recorded commercially in the studio, and some was never recorded by anyone else either. I can't say, though, that I'm greatly attracted. But maybe some of Nick Nickson's earlier Mitropoulos CDs might be more in my line. Where can I find out about them? Just on Amazon?
John Francis

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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:19 am

His Mendelssohn 3rd and 5th as well as Schostakowitsch's 5th were my introduction to these beautiful works---and I still consider these first-rate recordings (by any standard).

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Lance » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:35 pm

Very good point, Chris - acknowledged, and changed in the primary post heading. Celebration of the death of someone is not a good choice of words, and shame on me for not thinking clearly. We could celebrate the death of Adolf Hitler, however, in contrast to Maestro Mitropoulos.
ChrisBrewster wrote:Perhaps Minnesota could get a mention for being Mitrolpoulos's stepping-stone to New York. The Minneapolis Symphony was also Ormandy's boost to Philadelphia. (Living in a second-tier city, one accepts the role of a farm team. Osmo Vänskä is getting some similar exposure here.)

One point: I think you should say "commemorating" the death of Mitropoulos. This is the conventional word to use to avoid the implication that his death itself was something to celebrate, as they might have done for, say, Stalin's death.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Celebrating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:27 pm

Lance wrote:Very good point, Chris - acknowledged, and changed in the primary post heading. Celebration of the death of someone is not a good choice of words, and shame on me for not thinking clearly. We could celebrate the death of Adolf Hitler, however, in contrast to Maestro Mitropoulos.
Celebrating the memory of Dmitri Mitropoulos 50 years after his death...that might be a better way of putting it... :wink:
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

val
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Re: Commemorating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by val » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:04 am

Not one of my favorite conductors. His Don Giovanni has great singers but the direction is very far from the best (Busch, Giulini, Rosbaud, Fricsay or even Haitink).

The best I heard from him was his version of La Fanciulla del West, with a superb Mario del Monaco and E. Steber. But the sound is really bad.

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Re: Commemorating 50 years of the death of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Post by John F » Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:18 am

Dimitri Mitropoulos was asked to take over "Don Giovanni" at the 1956 Salzburg Festival, the bicentennial of Mozart's birth in that city, because Wilhelm Furtwängler, who was to have conducted it, died in 1954. (The opera wasn't given there in 1955.) Why he was chosen for this high profile event when he had never previously conducted the opera or any other by Mozart and had a rather poor reputation as a Mozart conductor generally, and there were plenty of pedigreed Mozart conductors such as Josef Krips who weren't invited to Salzburg at all that summer, I've never been able to find out. Austrian cultural politics, I suspect.

Daniel Trotter's useful but often disappointing biography says nothing about it and gives only two sentences to the whole episode. Trotter, not himself a writer about music and musicians, was asked to complete the project begun by Oliver Daniel, author of a Stokowski biography, whose research into Mitropoulos's American career was evidently broader and deeper than Mitropoulos's activities abroad.

Haven't heard the "Don Giovanni" recording myself, but I'm curious about it. The performances were successful enough that Mitropoulos was invited to the Vienna State Opera that fall, and was a well-loved conductor there (almost entirely in Italian opera - no Mozart!) until the end of his life.
John Francis

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