1950s Gallery
Hovhaness on Leopold Stokowski

Below is an undated later (c.1956) from Hovhaness to his friend Oliver Daniel, a musicologist and CBS executive, who often secured Hovhaness performances and later wrote an exhaustive biography of Leopold Stokowski. In the letter, Hovhaness praises Stokowski's generosity toward composers working outside of the musical mainstream. Stokowski initally conducted Hovhaness' Symphony No.1 in 1942 (possibly on a recommendation from conductor Leslie Heward), but then seemed to have forgotten about him until the duo-recitalists Maro and Anahid Ajemian created a New York buzz about Hovhaness in the early 1950s. Stokowski may not have commercially recorded any Hovhaness, but he frequently billed his works and undoubtedly admired many of his scores.

The 2-page letter below is reproduced at www.hovhaness.com by kind permission of the University of Pennsylvania's Special Collections Department. A typed transcript appears beneath.

Dear Oliver,

This is my real feeling about the matter we spoke of. Leopold Stokowski, more than any other conductor, represents the new age in music - unencumbered by musical prejudice, and unlimited by narrow groups, he has championed the entire breadth of the pathway of new music - all types of innovations, all types of originality, from the most avant guard [sic] to the conservative (but worthy and of high merit). Stokowski has given every type of composer a chance to be heard - he has not limited himself to those who were already famous, but has brought to the fore composers who were entirely unknown or who had few and far between performances. I know no other great conductor to whom we all owe so much - who is so much the spirit of the age we live in and the age which is being born.

Alan Hovhaness