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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Conductor's Remarks on L.A.'s Music Touch off Sound and Fury

  Feb. 24, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 27, 1941, Beecham  

Feb. 24-March 4, 1941: British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham comes to town to conduct two programs by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and my doesn’t he get people furious with his comments about classical music in the U.S. generally and especially in Los Angeles.

The women’s committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic had never been so insulted! The “ladies” actually hissed Sir Thomas’ comments on politics, such as the proposed Lend-Lease program, which he said wouldn't make "tuppence of difference." 

The Times barely covered his luncheon speech at the Biltmore but wrote to great length on the furor it caused when he noted that Los Angeles rarely performed choral music and had no opera company, no opera house or symphony hall. (Recall that in his era, the orchestra performed at Philharmonic Auditorium and visiting companies performed operas at Shrine Auditorium).

Unfortunately for the music historian, it is difficult to discern the actual caliber of the performance from Isabel Morse Jones’ review.

This is what passed for music criticism at The Times in the pre-Martin Bernheimer era: "His conducting is photogenic to a degree that it should be called to the attention of Walt Disney. His back may not be as effective as Stokowski's but his heel and toe work and especially his arm gyrations tell a music story that is fascinating to watch." But she duly recorded when the audience applauded and was otherwise moved – the music critic as applause meter. 
The Philharmonic performed Beecham's suite from Handel's "The Faithful Shepherd," Frederick Delius' "Summer Night on the River," Mozart's Symphony No. 36 and Sibelius' Symphony No. 1.

  Feb. 24, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 26, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 27, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 28, 1941, Tom Treanor  

  Feb. 28, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 28, 1941, Beecham  

  Feb. 28, 1941, Beecham  

  March 4, 1941, Beecham  

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