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Josef Stransky

b. Humpolec, Czech Republic, September 9, 1872
d. New York, March 6, 1936

Josef Stransky succeeded Mahler at the New York Philharmonic in 1911. Perceived as a fiery Bohemian by German audiences, New Yorkers thought him sedately Germanic. Stransky had the widest repertoire of any of the Philharmonic's previous conductors. As expected, audiences heard substantial amounts of Wagner, Liszt, and Dvorák, as well as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, but during the First World War, his programs shifted subtly to favor English, Russian, and French composers. Stransky also included more Americans than all of his predecessors combined, programming George Chadwick, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and John Philip Sousa. Nor was Stransky averse to "contemporary" music: he played Respighi, Sibelius and Mahler, and conducted the American premiere of Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande.

Under Stransky's baton, audiences experienced more types of concerts than ever before, including four distinct series of subscription concerts, two series in Brooklyn, and the Philharmonic's first Young People's concert in January 1914. Stransky increased the scope of the Orchestra's tours and conducted their first recordings (for Columbia Records). Although Stransky virtually doubled ticket sales, the Orchestra's increased administrative expenses weighed heavy in the balance. (Relief came in the form of a bequest from Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper publisher who died in 1911, leaving over half a million dollars as a permanent endowment to the Philharmonic.) Stransky was also a composer of songs, orchestral and other instrumental music, including an operetta, Der General. He resigned from the Philharmonic in 1923; the following year, he gave up music and became an art dealer.

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