We offer music publicist Alix B. Williamson’s client file for Leopold Stokowski, 1944-1945.
Fiorello Laguardia suggested in 1944 to Leopold Stokowski that he should form a publicly accessible orchestra in Manhattan in the mold of the New York City Opera, thus The New York City Symphony was born and also performed in the City Center Theatre. Stoki built an orchestra, offered budget prices and the mission was highly successful for a year. At the end of 1945, he left after differences with the board over cost cuts. The young Leonard Bernstein would go on to lead the orchestra after Stoki departed.
The conductor hired Alix Williamson, one of three important classical music publicists at the time to handle his publicity for his work with the new orchestra. The short relationship between Williamson and the legendary conductor began in early September, 1944 and lasted a few months when she was summarily fired on November 15, 1944 and that caused the lawsuit associated with this archive. The archive are the publicist’s retained papers purchased from her estate, which includes the following:
1. 1 page typed letter signed by Leopold Stokowski, October 30, 1944, My attorney Mr. Austrian has been ill...he has made some changes…...
2. 1 page typed letter signed by Leopold Stokowski, November 9, 1944, My attorneys have remade the contract. I hope that it is agreeable to you...
3. 1 page typed letter signed by Leopold Stokowski, November 10, 1944, ...two things are of fundamental importance to me -- One thing is to have all released approved by me personally…..I would rather have no releases go out at all than any that have inaccuracies or even some slight misunderstandings between you and me expressed as definite statements before the public…...the second is for me to have a copy mailed to me of all releases you send…..Your suggestion that we should have a “genetlemen’s agreement” is agreeable to me……
4. 2 page typed letter signed from Alix B. Williamson on letterhead, January 10th, 1944 (misdated on page 1, page 2 has the correct date of January 10th, 1945.) to her attorney Raphael Rhodes regarding Stokowski, You will not that the original contract which I sent up to him on October third called for “work commencing October 15, 1944, and terminating April 14th, 1945. This was my suggestion as we agreed on a six months campaign ands I wanted to make the actual contract cover the full period of his activity with the New York Symphony……. She then goes into the details of the reasons for the lawsuit.
5 & 6. Two 3 page typed signed contracts by Stokowski and witnessed by Alfreda Walsh, November 1944, between Alix B. Williamson and Leopold Stokowski for Williamson to supply, publicity promotion and public relations.
7. 3 page typed signed contract, same as above, though this one is in a Austrian and Lance folder and signed as states in items 5&6.
8. 2 page mimeographed Alix B. Williamson press release dated in pencil October 2, 1944 on legal paper, NO ONE PLAYS SECOND FIDDLE TO STOKOWSKI, Nineteen First Violinists in New York City Symphony Beginning Rehearsals Today - Post of Concertmaster Also Dropped as One of Maestro’s Several Innovations
9. 2 page mimeographed Alix B. Williamson press release dated in pencil October 3, 1944 on legal paper, EQUALIZED LISTENING ASSURED BY NEW STOKOWSKI ACOUSTICAL REFLECTOR “Midnight Blue” Best color for Symphonic Enjoyment, Maestro Finds
10. 2 page mimeographed Alix B. Williamson press release undated, BIOGRAPHICAL DATA ON LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI
11. Two 7 page lawsuits filed by Alix B. Williamson against Leopold Stokoswki dated February 20, 1945 and February 23, 1945 with slight changes between the two with the filing date of February 27, 1945. There is an eight point complaint essentially stating the defendant engaged the plaintiff initially via an oral contract, all of his requests were performed and she was summarily dismissed on November 15th, 1944 without agreed compensation forthcoming.
12. 6 page final version of the lawsuit between Williamson and Stokowski dated February 27, 1945, filed by Raphael Rhodes on behalf of his client Williamson. This contract is stapled with the printed lawsuit cover attached in blue.
13. Typed court demand before trial is granted with specific changes demanded by Justice Louis L. Kahn and signed by the New York County Clerk’s office, March 1, 1945.
14. 30 page deposition of the defendant dated April 13th, 1945. Also a cover letter from Stokowski’s attorney Austrian & Lance and signed by litigator E. Robert Marks to Williamson’s attorney Raphael H. Rhodes.
The New York City Symphony, like the City Opera was a highly successful musical operation. Stokowski’s big name brought in an audience and he recorded three records with the group in his one year with the orchestra. It would seem based upon everything in the archive, Williamson and Stokowski did not mix will together, as she would not give into all of his demands. That said, he did have a financial obligation for her for the six month term and whilst he paid the $500 hiring retainer, he did not pay the 4 additional bills listed in the contract schedule of $500 per month. He sat for a long intrusive deposition, however it does not appear the case made it to court as there is no record in the New York State legal year books for 1945. There is no judgement, nor record of dismissal, so likely Stokowski settled with Williamson. That said, there is no record of this incident in any of his biographies.
Unusual for a legal archive of this sort of a major musical luminary to make it to the open market.
LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI - CONDUCTOR