Los Angeles Philharmonic
Infobox musical artist
Name = Los Angeles Philharmonic
Background = classical_ensemble
Alias = LA Phil; LAP; LAPO
Origin = flagicon|United States Los Angeles,
Genre = Classical
Years_active = 1919–"present"
Label = Decca,
Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, London, Sony, others
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
URL = [http://www.laphil.com www.LAPhil.com]
Current_members = Music Director
Music Director Designate
Principal Guest Conductor
at the Hollywood Bowl
for New Music
Past_members = Founder
William Andrews Clark, Jr. Walter Henry Rothwell
Notable_instruments = Concert Organ
Glatter-Gotz / Rosales / Gehry Pipe Organ
"Benny" 1729 Stradivari
"Perkins" 1728 Stradivari
"Earl of Plymouth" 1711 Stradivari
"General Kyd" 1684 Stradivari
The Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil, LAP, or LAPO) is an American
orchestrabased in Los Angeles, California, United States. It has a regular season of concerts from October through June at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and a summer season at the Hollywood Bowlfrom July through September. Esa-Pekka Salonenis the current music director.
The orchestra is widely regarded as the most "contemporary minded" cite news|work=The New Yorker|first=Alex|last=Ross|title=The Anti-maestro; How Esa-Pekka Salonen transformed the Los Angeles Philharmonic |date=April 30, 2007] , "forward thinking" cite news|work=The New Yorker|first=Alex|last=Ross|title=Maestra; Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony. |date=January 7, 2008] , "talked about and innovative" [ cite news|work=Chicago Sun-Times|first=Andrew|last=Patner|title='Say it ain't so,' music fans lament; Triumphant CSO debut makes pain of losing him worse |date=April 10, 2007] , "venturesome and admired" [ cite news|work=The Washington Post|first=Tim|last=Page|title=Dudamel, 26, to Lead L.A. Orchestra |date=April 10, 2007] orchestra in America. As Salonen himself described it, "We are interested in the future. We are not trying to re-create the glories of the past, like so many other symphony orchestras."
1919-1933: Founding the Philharmonic
The orchestra was founded and single-handedly financed in
1919by William Andrews Clark, Jr., a copper baron, arts enthusiast, and part-time violinist. He originally asked Sergei Rachmaninoffto be the Philharmonic's first music director; however, Rachmaninoff had only recently moved to New York, and he did not wish to move again. Clark then selected Walter Henry Rothwell, former assistant to Gustav Mahler, as music director, and hired away several principal musicians from East Coast orchestras and others from the competing and soon-to-be defunct Los Angeles Symphony. The orchestra played its first concert in the same year, eleven days after its first rehearsal. Clark himself would sometimes sit and play with the second violin section.cite news | first=Mark | last=Swed | title=The Salonen-Gehry Axis | work=The Los Angeles Times Magazine | url=http://www.calendarlive.com/music/swed/cl-tm-philharmonic35aug31,0,1343085.story?coll=cl-swed | date=31 August 2003 | accessdate=2008-05-03]
After Rothwell's death, subsequent Music Directors through the 1920s included
Georg Schnéevoigtand Artur Rodziński.
1933-1950: Harvey Mudd rescues orchestra
Otto Klempererbecame Music Director in 1933, part of the large group of German emigrants fleeing Nazi Germany. He conducted many LA Phil premieres, and introduced Los Angeles audiences to important new works by Igor Stravinskyand Arnold Schoenberg. The orchestra responded well to his leadership, but Klemperer had a difficult time adjusting to Southern California, a situation exacerbated by repeated manic-depressive episodes.
Things were further complicated when founder William Andrews Clark died without leaving the orchestra an endowment. The newly formed Southern California Symphony Association was created with the goal to stabilize the orchestra's funding, with the association's president, Harvey Mudd, stepping up to personally guarantee Klemperer's salary. The Philharmonic's concerts at the
Hollywood Bowlalso brought in much needed revenue.cite web | url=http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/shows/disneyhall/essay1.html | title=Los Angeles Philharmonic Story | first=Alan | last=Rich |work=The Los Angeles Philharmonic Inaugurates Walt Disney Concert Hall | publisher=Public Broadcasting Service | accessdate=2008-05-03] With that, the orchestra managed to make it through the worst of the Great Depressionyears still intact.
Then, after completing the 1939 summer season at the Hollywood Bowl, Klemperer was visiting Boston and was incorrectly diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the subsequent brain surgery left him partially paralyzed. He went into a depressive state and was placed in institution; when he escaped, "
The New York Times" ran a cover story declaring him missing, and after being found in New Jersey, a picture of him behind bars was printed in the " New York Herald Tribune". He subsequently lost the post of Music Director, though he would occasionally conduct the Philharmonic after that, even leading some important concerts such as the orchestra's premiere performance of Stravinsky's " [cite web ">url=http://www.laphil.com/music/piece_detail.cfm?id=2458&bc=1 |title=About the Piece: Symphony in Three Movements |first=Herbert |last=Glass |publisher=Los Angeles Philharmonic |accessdate=2008-05-20]
Four years later,
Alfred Wallensteinwas chosen by Mudd to lead the orchestra. The former principal cellist of the New York Philharmonichad been the youngest member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic when it was founded in 1919, and had turned to conducting at the suggestion of Arturo Toscanini. He had conducted the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl on a number of occasions, and in 1943, took over as Music Director. [cite journal | url=http://www.american-music.org/publications/bullarchive/Meckna.html | first=Michael | last=Meckna | title=Alfred Wallenstein: An American Conductor at 100 | journal=Sonneck Society for American Music Bulletin | volume=XXIV | issue=3 | year=1998 | accessdate=2008-05-03] Among the highlights of Wallenstein's tenure were recordings of concertos with fellow Angelenos, Jascha Heifetzand Arthur Rubinstein.
1951-1968: Dorothy Buffum Chandler's influence
By the mid-1950s, department store heiress and wife of the publisher of the "
Los Angeles Times", Dorothy Buffum Chandlerbecame the de facto leader of the orchestra's board of directors. Besides leading efforts to create a performing arts center for city that would serve as the Philharmonic's new home, and would eventually lead to the Los Angeles Music Center, she and others wanted a more prominent conductor to lead the orchestra; after Wallenstein's departure, Chandler led efforts to hire then Concertgebouw Orchestraprincipal conductor, Eduard van Beinumas the LAPO music director. The Philharmonic's musicians, management and audience all loved van Beinum, but in 1959, he suffered a massive heart attack while on the podium during a rehearsal of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and died.
In 1960, the orchestra, led again by Chandler, signed
Georg Soltito a three-year contract to be music director after he had guest conducted the orchestra in winter concerts downtown, at the Hollywood Bowl, and in other Southern California locations including CAMA concerts in Santa Barbara. [cite web | title=Los Angeles Philharmonic Concert Listings, 1950-1960 | work=CAMA Archives | url=http://www.camasb.org/archives/1950-60.shtml | publisher=Santa Barbara Community Arts Music Association | accessdate=2008-05-03] Solti was to officially begin his tenure in 1962, and the Philharmonic had hoped that he would lead the orchestra when it moved into its new home at the then yet-to-be-completed Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; he even began to appoint musicians to the orchestra. [cite news | first=Jeff | last=Leeds | title=Sir George Solti: Led Chicago Symphony to World Renown | work=The Los Angeles Times | date=6 September 1997 | accessdate= ] However, Solti abruptly resigned the position in 1961 without officially taking the post after learning that the Philharmonic board of directors failed to consult him before naming then 26 year-old Zubin Mehtato be assistant conductor of the orchestra. [cite news | author=Time writers | title=Buffie & the Baton | url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,872266,00.html | work=Time | date=14 April 1961 | accessdate=2007-11-08] Mehta was subsequently named to replace Solti.
1969-1997: Ernest Fleischmann's tenure
In 1969, the orchestra hired
Ernest Fleischmannto be Executive Vice President and General Manager. During his tenure, the Philharmonic instituted a number of then-revolutionary ideas, including the creation of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and its "Green Umbrella" concerts; both of these adjunct groups were composed of the orchestra's musicians but offered performance series which were separate and distinct from traditional Philharmonic concerts. They were eventually imitated by other orchestras throughout the world. This concept was ahead of its time, and was an outgrowth of Fleischmann's philosophy, most famously laid out in his 16 May 1987 commencement address at the Cleveland Institute of Musicentitled, "The Orchestra is Dead. Long Live the Community of Musicians."
When Zubin Mehta left for the
New York Philharmonicin 1978, Fleischmann convinced Carlo Maria Giulinito take over as Music Director. Giulini's time with the orchestra was well regarded, however, he resigned the position after his wife became ill, and returned to Italy.
Fleischmann then turned to
André Previnwith the hopes that his conducting credentials and time spent at Hollywood Studios would add a local flair and enhance the connection between conductor, orchestra, and city. While Previn's tenure was musically satisfactory, other conductors including Kurt Sanderling, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, fared better at the box office. Previn clashed frequently with Fleischmann, most notably when Fleischmann failed to consult him over the decision to name Salonen as "Principal Guest Conductor", a move mirroring the prior Solti/Mehta controversy. Because of Previn's objections, the position and Japan tour offer made to Salonen were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter in April 1989, Previn resigned, and four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate, officially taking the post in October 1992. [cite news | title=The Tyrant of Philharmonic | work=Los Angeles Times | first=Martin | last=Bernheimer | date=8 October 1989] Salonen's U.S. conducting debut with the orchestra was in 1984, and has conducted every season since.
Salonen's tenure with the orchestra first began with a residency at the 1992
Salzburg Festivalin concert performances and as the pit orchestra in a production of the opera " Saint-François d'Assise" by Olivier Messian; it was the first time an American orchestra was given that opportunity. Salonen later took the orchestra on many other tours of the United States, Europe, and Asia, and residencies at the Lucerne Festivalin Switzerland, The Promsin London, in Colognefor a festival of Salonen's own works, and perhaps most notably, in 1996 at the Théâtre du Châteletin Paris for a Stravinskyfestival conducted by Salonen and Pierre Boulez; it was during this Paris residency that key Philharmonic board members heard the orchestra perform in improved acoustics and were re-invigorated to lead fundraising efforts for the soon-to-be built Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Under Salonen's leadership, the Philharmonic has become an extremely progressive and well-regarded orchestra. Alex Ross of "The New Yorker" said this:
The Salonen era in L.A. may mark a turning point in the recent history of classical music in America. It is a story not of an individual magically imprinting his personality on an institution-what Salonen has called the "empty hype" of conductor worship-but of an individual and an institution bringing out unforeseen capabilities in each other, and thereby proving how much life remains in the orchestra itself, at once the most conservative and the most powerful of musical organisms.
... no American orchestra matches the L.A. Philharmonic in its ability to assimilate a huge range of music on a moment's notice. [Thomas Adès| [Thomas] Adès] , who first conducted his own music in L.A. [in 2005] and has become an annual visitor, told me, "They always seem to begin by finding exactly the right playing style for each piece of music-the kind of sound, the kind of phrasing, breathing, attacks, colors, the indefinable whole. That shouldn't be unusual, but it is." [John Adams (composer)| [John] Adams] calls the Philharmonic "the most "Amurrican" [sic] of orchestras. They don't hold back and they don't put on airs. If you met them in twos or threes, you'd have no idea they were playing in an orchestra, that they were classical-music people."
When Fleischmann decided to retire in 1998 after 28-years at the helm, the orchestra named Willem Wijnbergen as its new Executive Director. Wijnbergen, a Dutch pianist and arts administrator, was the managing director of the
Concertgebouw Orchestrain Amsterdam. Initially, his appointment was hailed as a major coup for the orchestra; however, after only one controversy-filled year, Wijnbergen left the orchestra in 1999, and it is unclear whether he resigned or was fired by the Philharmonic's board of directors. [cite news | title=Off-the-Podium Intrigue Surrounds Two Leading Jobs| work=The New York Times | first=Bernard|last=Holland | date=22 August 1999 | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9503E0DC1F39F931A1575BC0A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 | accessdate=2008-05-03]
Later that same year,
Deborah Borda, then the Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic, was hired to take over executive management of the orchestra. She began her tenure in January 2000, and was later given the title of President and Chief Executive Officer. After financial problems experienced during Wijnbergen's short tenure, Borda -- "a formidable executive who runs the orchestra like a lean company, not like a flabby non-profit" -- "put the organization on solid financial footing." She is widely credited (along with Salonen, Frank Gehry, and Yasuhisa Toyota) for the orchestra's very successful move to Walt Disney Concert Hall, and for wholeheartedly supporting and complementing Salonen's artistic vision. One example cited by Alex Ross:
Perhaps Borda's boldest notion is to give visiting composers such as [John Adams (composer)| [John] Adams] and
Thomas Adèsthe same royal treatment that is extended to the likes of Yo-Yo Maand Joshua Bell; Borda talks about "hero composers." A recent performance of Adams's monumental California symphony "Naïve and Sentimental Music" in the orchestra's Casual Fridays series ... drew a nearly full house. Borda's big-guns approach has invigorated the orchestra's long-running new-music series, called Green Umbrella, which Fleischmann established in 1982. In the early days, it drew modest audiences, but in recent years attendance has risen to the point where as many as sixteen hundred people show up for a concert that in other cities might draw thirty or forty. The Australian composer Brett Deanrecently walked onstage for a Green Umbrella concert and did a double take, saying that it was the largest new-music audience he'd ever seen.
In April 2007, it was announced that
Esa-Pekka Salonenwill step down as the LAP's music director at the end of the 2008-2009 season. With the 2009-2010 season, Gustavo Dudamelwill be his successor. [cite news | url=http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-phil8apr08,0,3153725.story | title=Maestro will pass baton to up-and-comer in '09 | work=Los Angeles Times | first=Mark | last=Swed | date=8 April 2007 | accessdate=2008-05-03] [cite news | url=http://www.playbillarts.com/news/article/6286.html | title=Gustavo Dudamel to Replace Esa-Pekka Salonen at LA Philharmonic in 2009 | work=Playbill Arts | first=Matthew | last=Westphal | date=8 April 2007 | accessdate=2008-05-03] [cite news | url=http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/09/entertainment/et-phil9 | title=L.A. Phil is getting the vibe | work=Los Angeles Times | first=Diane | last=Haithman | date=9 April 2007 | accessdate=2008-08-22]
The orchestra played its first season at Trinity Auditorium at Grand Ave and Ninth Street. In 1920, it moved to Fifth Street and Olive Ave, in a venue that had previously been known as Clune's Auditorium, but was renamed Philharmonic Auditorium. [cite web | url=http://www.laphil.com/about/history.cfm | title=History of the Los Angeles Philharmonic | publisher=Los Angeles Philharmonic | accessdate=2008-01-18] From 1964 to 2003, the orchestra played its main subscription concerts in the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilionof the Los Angeles Music Center. In 2003, a move was made to the new Walt Disney Concert Hallnext door designed by Frank Gehry. Its current "winter season" runs from October through late May or early June.
Since 1922, the orchestra has played outdoor concerts during the summer at the
Hollywood Bowl, with the official "summer season" running from July through September.
The LA Philharmonic has played at least one concert a year in its sister city, Santa Barbara, presented by the
Community Arts Music Association(CAMA), along with other regular concerts throughout various Southern California cities such as Costa Mesaas part of the Orange County Philharmonic Society's series, San Diego, Palm Springs, among many others. In addition, the orchestra plays a number of free community concerts throughout Los Angeles County.
Georg Soltiwas offered and accepted the post in 1960, but subsequently resigned in 1961 without officially beginning his tenure. Gustavo Dudamelofficially became Music Director Designate in the Fall of 2008, and will take over on 21 September 2009. [cite web | url=http://www.laphil.com/behind/dudamel.cfm | title=Behind the Scenes: Gustavo Dudamel | publisher=Los Angeles Philharmonic | date=9 April 2007 | accessdate=2008-05-03]
Principal Guest Conductors
Rattle and Tilson Thomas were named Principal Guest Conductor concurrently under
Carlo Maria Giulini, though Tilson Thomas's tenure ended much earlier. They are the only two conductors to officially hold the title. as such (though as stated above, Esa-Pekka Salonenwas initially offered the position under Previn before having the offer withdrawn).
Beginning in the Summer of 2005, the Philharmonic created the new position of "Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl".
Leonard Slatkinwas initially given a two year contract, and in 2007 he was given a one-year extension. In March 2008, Bramwell Toveywas named to the post for an initial two-year contract beginning Summer of 2008. [cite press release | url=http://www.laphil.com/press/press_detail.cfm?id=2004 | publisher=Los Angeles Philharmonic Association | title=Conductor Leonard Slatkin Opens Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2007 Season at Hollywood Bowl with Fireworks | date=10 July 2007 | accessdate=2007-07-10] [ cite news | first=Chris | last=Pasles | title=New conductors at Bowl Unveiled | work=The Los Angeles Times | url=http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/18/entertainment/et-bowl18 | date=18 March 2008 | accessdate=2008-06-22]
Other notable conductors
Other conductors with whom the orchestra has had close ties include
Sir John Barbirolli, Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Albert Coates, Fritz Reiner, and Erich Leinsdorf; [cite journal | first=Donald | last=Muggeridge | url=http://www.idrs.org/publications/TWOboist/TWO.V5.2/LA.html | title=A History of the Los Angeles Philharmonic | journal=To The World's Oboists | publisher=The International Double Reed Society | volume=5 | issue=2 | date=1977 | accessdate=2008-06-18] more recently, others have incuded Kurt Sanderling, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Christoph Eschenbach.
Many composers have conducted the Philharmonic in concerts and/or world premieres of their works, including
Igor Stravinsky, William Kraft, John Harbison, Witold Lutosławski, Pierre Boulez, Steven Stucky, John Williams, John Adams, Thomas Adès, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
A number of the Philharmonic's Assistant/Associate Conductors have gone on to have notable careers in their own rights. These include
Lawrence Foster, Calvin Simmons, and William Kraftunder Mehta, Heiichiro Ohyamaand David Alan Millerunder Previn, and Grant Gershon, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Kristjan Jarviunder Salonen.
The orchestra occasionally made 78-rpm recordings and LPs in the early years with
Alfred Wallensteinand Leopold Stokowskifor Capitol Records, and began recording regularly in the 1960s, for London/Decca, during the tenure of Zubin Mehta as music director. A healthy discography continued to grow with Carlo Maria Giulinion Deutsche Grammaphon and André Previnon both Philips and Telarc Records. Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Bernstein, and Sir Simon Rattlealso made several recordings with the orchestra in the 1980s, adding to their rising international profile. In recent years, Esa-Pekka Salonen has led recording sessions for Sonyand Deutsche Grammophon. A recording of the "Concerto for Orchestra" by Bela Bartokreleased by Deutsche Grammophonin 2007 was the first recording by Gustavo Dudamelconducting the LA Phil.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed the music in the pilot film to "Battlestar Galactica", composed by Stu Phillips and
Glen A. Larson. The LA Philharmonic also performed the first North American concert for the popular " Final Fantasy" franchise game music, "" by Nobuo Uematsu.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
* [http://www.laphil.com/orchestra/laphilharmonic.cfm Los Angeles Philharmonic official website]
* [http://www.laphil.com/home.cfm Los Angeles Philharmonic Association official website]
* [http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/ Hollywood Bowl official website]
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