The Philadelphia Orchestra, known for its “Philadelphia Sound,” was founded in 1900, with Fritz Scheel conducting its first concert at the Academy of Music. Under the direction of Fritz, Leandro Campanari, Carl Pohlig, and Conductor Leopold Stokowski's almost 30-year reign, the orchestra became known for its warm and refined sound. Stokowski was at the helm of the orchestra when it initiated concerts for children, broadcast over the radio in 1929, and performed the soundtrack to the movie Fantasia.
While Stokowski brought the orchestra national acclaim, Conductor Eugene Ormandy helped maintain its popularity throughout much of the 20th century. In an historic move in 1973, he brought the Philadelphia Orchestra to China. It was the first time an American orchestra had visited China since the country was taken over by the Communist Party in 1949. The Philadelphia Orchestra played at the Academy of Music for more than a century. Since 2001, the orchestra's regular venue has been the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, with some performances held at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
In HSP's Academy of Music collection (#3150) contains Philadelphia Orchestra programs dating up to the 1970s. Additional images of the orchestra can be found in the Philadelphia Record photograph morgue (#V7). Additional resources on the history of the orchestra are in our library, such as The Philadelphia Orchestra: A Century of Music (call number UPA/Ph ML421.P55 P55 1999 FOLIO) and Twenty-five Years of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1900-1925 (call number ML200.8.P5 W8).
Image: Eugene Ormandy directing the Philadelphia Orchestra during rehearsal, photograph (1944)