Eugene Ormandy (November 18, 1899 – March 12, 1985) was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist who became internationally famous as the music director and conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The maestro's 44-year-long association with the Philadelphia is one of the longest enjoyed by any conductor with a single orchestra. Under his baton, the Philadelphia had three gold records and won two Grammy Awards.
David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is a classical music album containing David Bowie's narration of Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 composition Peter and the Wolf. The music is performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy. The album was released in May 1978 on RCA Records. It reached number 136 on the US Pop Albums chart. Bowie was RCA's third choice to undertake the narration for Peter and the Wolf behind Alec Guinness and Peter Ustinov, who had both turned the album down. Bowie has since said that it was a Christmas present for his son, Duncan Jones, then at 7 years old.
There are several reasons why the popularity of Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra has declined so steeply since their glory days in the '50s and '60s. For one thing, Ormandy hung on to his post in Philadelphia a tad too long, and recordings from the later '70s and '80s are for the most part marked by audible fatigue. For another, Columbia and RCA, now Song/BMG, have been reluctant to reissue Ormandy's classic recordings on CD and nearly as reluctant to keep them in print after the first few press runs.
Eugene Ormandy's disc of Nutcracker excerpts, including the entire "suite" plus a good bit of additional music (Act 1's journey through the snow and Waltz of the Snowflakes, along with some more Act 2 dances, including the Final Waltz and Apotheosis) must be one of the biggest selling records of all time… Sounding better than ever, and at a budget price, this disc deserves to sell another few million copies. [11/8/2003] –David Hurwitz
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the American premiere of Shostakovich's valedictory symphony in 1972, followed by its first recording outside the Soviet Union. Collectors may remember its shrill, emasculated sonics, due in part to those notorious matzoh-like dynaflex LP pressings that made RCA infamous in the 1970s. Appearing now for the first time on CD in RCA's High Performance series, the Ormandy Shostakovich 15th blooms with vivacity and life, filling the room with the fabled Philadelphia sound… A major release. [2/10/2000]–Jed Distler, classicstoday.com
Eugene Ormandy's disc of Nutcracker excerpts, including the entire "suite" plus a good bit of additional music (Act 1's journey through the snow and Waltz of the Snowflakes, along with some more Act 2 dances, including the Final Waltz and Apotheosis) must be one of the biggest selling records of all time… Sounding better than ever, and at a budget price, this disc deserves to sell another few million copies. [11/8/2003]
P. I. Tchaikovsky is considered to be Russia’s great symphonic composer. In his music he achieved a synthesis of the national musical language of Russia and the compositional forms of the western European Romantics. His most famous ballets enjoy a position of honor in the Classical Ballet repertoire on account of their melodic intensity and instrumental brilliance. In the fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the King of the Mice” written by the German Romantic E. T. A. Hoffmann and published in 1814, on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet is based, Christmas provides the realistic setting for a fantastic plot. Fiction and reality are woven together by means of strange and wondrous occurrences to produce a fascinating and unfathomable labyrinth. Both Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky, who began to compose the ballet in his fiftieth year, could identify with the literary figure of the watchmaker Drosselmeier, who gives order to his life through his work. In 1999, exactly 107 years – to the day – after the first performance in St. Petersburg, Patrice Bart’s choreography of Tchaikovsky’s worldwide success The Nutcracker was premiered at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Bart placed a prologue before the ballet in which Marie is abducted as a child and in which everything is placed in a modern context.