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After Toscanini

December 02, 1990

Allow me to add to Herbert Glass' revealing article, "Toscanini's Philadelphia Story a Revelatory One" (Nov. 11). After Toscanini's death, the Symphony of the Air (also known as the NBC Symphony) appeared at Carnegie Hall without a conductor; such was the lasting memory of Toscanini's musical inculcations.

The manager of the orchestra, Jerry Toobin, pleaded with David Beals Aldrich to find a new "magnificent conductor" and Aldrich asked me to take on the task, which I did.

To the disbelief of the cognoscenti, I persuaded Leopold Stokowski to come out of retirement. The orchestra was renamed the American Symphony and became the orchestra in residence at Carnegie Hall, where Stokowski was to conduct until he was 96.

Stokowski, I believe, accepted my offer for three reasons: (1) as Glass reports, he shared its podium with Toscanini in the early 1940s but Toscanini obtained exclusivity, forcing Stokowski out--and now vindication was offered; (2) he had labored at the Philadelphia Orchestra under the corset of an opinionated symphony board of directors and here he was guaranteed an absolute free hand in all matters musical, and (3) he was restless in retirement, being only in his youthful 80s.

GARY FAIRMONT FILOSA II

Beverly Hills

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