Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Night Philadelphia Met Mahler

When the wild-haired Leopold Stokowski took command of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1912, his theatricality was greatly at odds with his proper Philadelphia patrons.  Tall, dapper, charming with the ladies, and more than a little vain, he was the epitome of European cosmopolitanism.  The London-born son of a Polish father and an Irish mother, Stokowski […]
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What Deserves Preservation Awards? [Hint: It’s not about buildings; it’s about community.]

It’s more than fair to say that, once again, the Royal Theater is not in line for a Preservation Achievement Award. (Nominations for 2013 are due this week to the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.) At this stage of the game, after languishing for 43 years, pretty much only wreckage remains behind the façade of the South Street institution […]
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The Rise of Balloon Photography in Philadelphia

Jean-Pierre Blanchard wanted to make a splash, figuratively, not literally. He arrived  from France, 220 years ago, planning a display of showmanship that would, if successful, be the first balloon ascension in America—and his 45th. On January 9, 1793, the French aeronaut and inventor readied his balloon in the prison yard at 6th and Walnut […]
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Before the Academy: Classical Music in the Quaker City

During the late eighteenth century, Philadelphia’s Quaker elite had a dim view of the performing arts.  For a sect that prized plainness, industry, and silence, European high culture represented frivolity and unnecessary “fanciness.”  Having a harpsichord or fortepiano in one’s house could mean being “read out” of meeting, and Friends schools forbade keyboard instruments until […]
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