The Barnes/Stokwoski Festival: Music, Art, and Theater Events Spotlight Two Local Arts Titans

16 hours ago

In the early 20th century, Leopold Stokowski was transforming The Philadelphia Orchestra into a major force in classical music, while roughly 6 ½ miles away in the nearby suburbs, Albert Barnes was amassing his now world-famous art collection.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is now combining music, theater, and art in innovative concerts that provide historical context to the music from October 11th to 21st.

Check out The Philadelphia Orchestra's blog posts about Barnes and Stokowski here.

Chemist and businessman Albert Barnes made his fortune creating and marketing a silver nitrate antiseptic called Argyrol used to treat eye infections. In 1911, he gave his old high school friend, artist William Glackens, $20,000 to go to Paris to buy paintings to launch his now world famous art collection. English conductor Leopold Stokowski made his debut as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912. 

Both men, pioneers in bringing new art and music to their respective institutions, were aware of the larger cultural milleau in which they played their parts. Barnes hosted small private musicales and attended Orchestra concerts conducted by Stokowski. Stokowski spoke at the dedication of the Barnes Foundation in 1925.

The orchestra brings this relationship to life along with music of Debussy, Chuasson, Paletrina, Stravinsky, Poulence and Milhaud.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Peter Dobrin wrote about the relationship between Barnes and Stokowski.

  • Orchestra concerts at Verizon Hall conducted by Stéphane Deneve feature theatrical vignettes by playwright and director Didi Balle, presented in between the pieces, with actors playing Barnes, Stokowski, and Glackens.  visually Scenic elements and projections of art from the Barnes collection frame the stage.
  • Correspondence between Stokowski and Barnes, on display along with photos and programs in the Kimmel Center lobby during the Festival run, reveal polite invitations to each other's events as well as debates about how to make the arts accessible to more people.
  • In the pioneering spirit of these two arts leaders, chamber concerts October 16 at the American Philosophical Society and October 18 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral will present premieres of works by living composers, performed by SoundLAB, a contemporary music ensemble.
  • A panel discussion at the Barnes on October 13 at 3 pm, "Stowkowski, Barnes, and Matisse" will explore the history and legacy of these arts titans.