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The AAYO (All-American Youth Orchestra) was a concept born of great ideals and personal pique. Stokowski believed very much in the artistic capabilities of young people, and felt equally strongly that an orchestra made up of them would serve as a goodwill ambassador of the highest order. As music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra (which he had conducted since 1912) he was frustrated with his board’s refusal to fund a tour with that ensemble, and was only too happy to show what a great opportunity had been missed.
With some help from the National Youth Administration, the audition cycle was completed. RCA, which then featured Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, was approached to fund the project costs but declined – only to turn around and set up an almost identical tour with its in-house band, the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini.
Finally rival Columbia was convinced to dig into its pockets and for its “largess” obtained the exclusive recording rights to the group under its famous conductor. This CD includes the very first recording made by the ensemble on the eve of the tour to Rio de Janeiro, along with three shorter works recorded after their return from South America. Originally released in association with the Leopold Stokowski Society of America, this album contains some of Stokowski’s rarest 78 rpm recordings.
THE STOKOWSKI EDITION, XII. BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4 in e, Op. 98 (New York, 26 July 1940); BACH-STOKOWSKI: Andante Sostenuto from Violin Sonata No. 2 in a, BWV 1003 (3-4 July 1941); MENDELSSOHN: Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3-4 July 1941); STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 (3-4 July 1941). All with the All-American Youth Orchestra.