February 12, 1921
Page 1

Growing Debt and Abundance of Concerts are Causes Given for Merger of Two New York Forces—Philharmonic Personnel—to be Maintained with Few Additions from National Forces—Stransky and Mengelberg to Conduct—Bodanzky to Lead Some Concerts—Philharmonic May Combine with Metropolitan Opera in Spring Festival—Kahn and Krech Added to New Board of Directors—Rumor of Merger Between New York Symphony and Boston Symphony Denied by Engles

A CONSTANTLY growing deficit which threatened to engulf the National Symphony, and the plethora of orchestral concerts far beyond the demand of the city, are said to have been the causes for the merger of the National Symphony and the Philharmonic Orchestras, which was announced exclusively in MUSICAL AMERICA last week.
Last summer the National Symphony, under Artur Bodanzky, reorganized its forces, recruiting many first musicians from the leading orchestras, increasing its schedule for the coming season, and engaging Willem Mengelberg as guest conductor. The season, however, has not materialized as expected, and the orchestra, facing what seemed a losing struggle against the older Philharmonic and New York Symphony Orchestras, early was threatened with financial difficulty.
It is understood that meetings between various factions of the two organizations were held as early as last year for the purpose of bringing about amalgamation, but it was said at that time that the directors of the Philharmonic would not accede to the demands of the other faction that the name of the Philharmonic be discontinued and that Mr. Stransky be eliminated from the conductorship of the orchestra. Failing in their desire to bring about any change in the policy of the Philharmonic, it is said the new organization was launched in the hope of eventually securing the patronage of the older society and to make a place for Mr. Bodanzky to reveal his powers as an orchestral leader.
Deficit of $250,000
There is no doubt that those interested in the National Symphony at that time could have made a better bargain with the Philharmonic Society than the present one. It is estimated that the directors of the former are facing a deficit of almost a quarter of a million dollars which will probably be increased to more than $300,000 before the close of the season. There has been a rumor to the effect that the National Symphony would not complete its subscription, a rumor which has been given credence in some quarters because of the fact that the announcement of the merger was made in the middle of the season. This, however, does not coincide with the announcement by the directors that all obligations covering the remainder of the season, would be met.
Philharmonic Personnel to Continue
According to statements made from various quarters, the new personnel will be, in fact, a continuation of that of the Philharmonic Orchestra, with the addition of the men lost last year to the newer organization, amounting to some ten or twelve players. The Philharmonic, which is the oldest symphony in this country and enters its eightieth season next year, is to retain its name and its own organization. Mr. Stransky is to continue as conductor; Mr. Mengelberg as guest conductor for some three months, as he is this season for the National Symphony. Mr. Bodanzky is to ·conduct several concerts, and it is probable that several conductors will be engaged for guest performances during the season.
The question of an assistant conductorship has not been discussed as yet. Hence, the position of Henry Hadley, assistant conductor this season with the Stransky body, is problematical. On this subject, it was stated by one gentleman whose words carry considerable weight in the councils’ of the “mighty,” that “too many cooks spoil the broth,” but he otherwise refused to state his definite opinion in the matter.
On the other hand, it is said that Mr. Hadley has received overtures to conduct orchestral concerts in London and in two other European cities, but this he refused to discuss. Mr. Hadley said all he knew of the situation was gleaned from the newspapers, and there was no statement to make.
Maintain Old Policy
The policy of the orchestra, artistically and otherwise, is to be maintained as before, with little change, according to present statements. Additions have been made to the directorship of the new Philharmonic, which indicated a complete transference of the chief financial support of the National Symphony to the Philharmonic. The new Board of Directors is now Henry E. Cooper, President of the Philharmonic, who retains his position with the organization; Clarence H. Mackay, former president of the National Symphony, as Chairman of the new Board; Arthur Curtis James, Vice-President; Otto H. Kahn, Vice-President, Charles Triller, Treasurer; Alvin W. Krech, Honorary Secretary, and Felix F. Leifels, Executive Secretary, and it was said others would be added.
Co-operation with Metropolitan
The addition of Mr. Kahn and Mr. Krech, both directors of the Metropolitan Opera Company, to the Board, and the presence there of Mr. Mackay, another Metropolitan director, was said to indicate that there would result a close affiliation between the opera forces and the symphonic organization, and from various sources it was learned that plans were being made for a spring festival between the two institutions. Nothing definite on this matter, it was said, had been planned, but as the same persons are now influential in both organizations, it was thought that such a festival could be easily arranged.
In discussing the merger of the two orchestras, Henry E. Cooper, who is recovering from an illness at Atlantic City, when visited by a representative of MUSICAL AMERICA, said:
No merger has, as such, taken place. An arrangement has been made whereby certain interests, identified with the National Symphony will come upon the Philharmonic board; also some of the parties interested will become officers in the Philharmonic.
“The new board will be determined by a committee of six composed of Arthur Curtis James, Charles Triller, Clarence H. Mackay, Otto H. Kahn and Alvin W. Krech. Others will be announced as the above committee selects them.
The officers under the reconstructed Philharmonic Board will be Henry E. Cooper, President; Clarence H. Mackay, Chairman; Arthur Curtis James, Vice-President; Charles Tnller, Treasurer; Alvm W. Krech,.Honorary Secretary, and Felix F. Leifels, Executive Secretary and Manager.
“Josef. Stransky will continue as conductor with Willem Mengelberg as· guest conductor. It is planned that Artur Bodanzky will also conduct a few concerts and it is probable that other eminent conductors will be invited to conduct concerts from time to time.
“Through the presence upon the Philharmonic Board of persons influential in Metropolitan Opera House affairs, probable that the close co-operation will exist between these two institutions, whereby the scope of the Philharmonic activities may be still further increased.
“The illustrious name of Mr. Mengelberg will increase the circle of patrons of the Philharmonic, who now so enthusiastically support Josef Stransky.
“The number of orchestras, together w1th the excessive number of concerts, often overlapping each other, to the extent of two, and even three upon the same day, make not only for a lack of artistic merit but also for a dissipation of energy and a useless expenditure of money required to meet the combined annual deficits. The elimination of one orchestra and the concentration of interests in the Philharmonic will remove these difficulties.
“It has long been the ambition of the Philharmonic to increase its sphere of usefulness as an educational and cultural influence. With The presence upon its Board of such public-spirited citizens as the above named gentlemen, together with others to be named later, the Philharmonic believes that it can easily be made, not only the leading orchestra of the country, but of the world.”


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