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Album Review

Leopold Strokowski's 1940 recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the movie Fantasia were landmarks on several counts. Apart from attempting to bring classical music to the masses in the theater, the soundtrack album — which came out on LP in the 1950s — was one of the earliest stereo recordings, featuring some of the most enjoyable high-fidelity sound of the period and boasting impeccable performances (even if the pieces were mostly re-edited and shortened). Apart from his reputation as a fiercely independent musical personality, Stokowski was also a showman with very few peers, and his careful yet extroverted performances of these pieces (including Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and the summary of Beethoven's "Pastorale Symphony") introduced many listeners not blessed with classical music educations to these pieces for the first time. (As the film wasn't a success on its initial release, there weren't millions of such listeners, but at least many tens of thousands.) The performances on Fantasia retain their luster in the modern era, with sound clean enough that they do not need to be considered "historical" recordings. The recordings are also infinitely preferable to the mid-'80s attempt to re-score Fantasia with a modern orchestra and modern sound — not only did the latter fall considerably short of what people expected, but the interpretations were flaccid and dull by comparison with the originals.

Customer Reviews


Why is it that the best songs are always the ones that are Album Only? Isn't the whole point of putting songs on iTunes to let us download individual songs as opposed to going out to the store and buying the whole album? What's the deal here?

What the heck?

As much as I love this movie and its soundtrack, are you seriously so greedy that you're only gonna put two parts of the Pastoral Symphony, the entire Nutcracker Suite and Ave Maria up for individual purchase? If it was just The Sorcerer's Apprentice, I'd be a bit peeved, but I'd understand. But for the love of God, don't make it so that you have to buy the entire album to get the majority of the songs from the movie.

Huh, the music without the images?

Uh, much as I love the soundtrack from this film I must ask something- is there any way that the original Fantasia could be uploaded onto iTunes? It is one of the best films ever made. Thanks.


Born: April 18, 1882 in London, England

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Leopold Stokowski was among the most important and influential conductors of the 20th century -- famed for the richly seductive sound of his ensembles, he was also a tireless promoter of new music, premiering key works from composers including Mahler, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff. Born April 18, 1882 in London, Stokowski later studied at the Paris Conservatory, and upon relocating to the U.S. in 1905 signed on as organist and choirmaster at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City. Four years later...
Full Bio

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