Artur Rodzinski

The New York Philharmonic

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Biography
Artur Rodzinski

1943–47

b. Spalato [later Split, Yugoslavia], January 1, 1892
d. Boston, November 27, 1958

Artur Rodzinski knew how to build great orchestras. In the 1930s, he had shaped the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, and prepared the NBC Symphony for Toscanini. When Rodzinski assumed the leadership of the New York Philharmonic in 1943 (after two seasons of guest conductors), he was given the newly created title of Musical Director, which underscored his responsibility for season programming and for the overall structure of the Orchestra. He promptly dismissed 14 players, including the concertmaster. This increased tension between him and Arthur Judson, the Philharmonic's manager (their relationship during Rodzinski's four-year tenure was often stormy) but resulted in an orchestra that played with renewed brilliance.

Rodzinski favored a clean sound and his conductorial gestures reflected this by being straightforward, streamlined, and modern. This suited his choice of repertoire, and Rodzinski often championed new American music. During his brief tenure, 19 American compositions were given their world premieres, including works by Roy Harris, Walter Piston, William Grant Still, and Lukas Foss. Rodzinski also had a fondness for American popular music. He conducted the premiere of the Violin Concerto by Vladimir Dukelsky (aka Vernon Duke) and commissioned and premiered Jerome Kern's Scenario for Orchestra on Themes from "Show Boat."

During Rodzinski's term, the New York Philharmonic's budget first topped the million-dollar mark. The orchestra also expanded its CBS radio broadcasts to include the summer months, making them a household event every Sunday afternoon of the year.

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