Letter to the Editor
Yale Alumni Magazine
Stokowski enjoys a legendary celluloid immortality bestowed upon him by his co-conductor Mickey Mouse in the Walt Disney film " Fantasia” Mr. Jacobs might aver that the Stokowski orchestrations of Bach’s organ music deserve that Disney moniker too.
I had the privilege of witnessing Stokowski at age 88 rehearse a choir he would conduct at Carnegie Hall and there was nothing mickey mouse about him. He halted the music with a single clap of his hands: "You must learn to concentrate; it is the secret to everything" he oraculated, expecting immediate comprehension and obedience.
Concentration seems to be Paul Jacobs' insight too as he performed the entire Bach organ repertoire from memory in a grueling dawn to dusk marathon. But Stokowski knew that the modern egalitarian audience needed more than concentration to stay in their seats for Bach.
They needed to be seduced by the sound -- not so much a Wagnerian "wall of sound" but an orchestral ocean of sound whose tides rise and fall with waves whipped up from Stokey’s glorious strings and brass.
I suspect the Juilliard organist might say Stokowski stooped to conquer. The maestro’s famous hands would direct him to his epitaph: “Music is the Voice of the All,” a philosophy which Paul Jacobs might just need to use in mounting his crusade to save the civilization of the All.
Paul D. Keane