Dumbarton Oaks Concerto
James N. Carder (May 2012)
In 1937, Mildred Barnes Bliss commissioned Igor Stravinsky to compose a chamber concerto in celebration of the Blisses’ thirtieth wedding anniversary in 1938. The result was the Concerto in E-flat, which Mrs. Bliss requested be subtitled Dumbarton Oaks 8-v-38 in honor of the place and date of its premier. On April 25, 1947, Stravinsky conducted the concerto in the Dumbarton Oaks Music Room as part of the Friends of Music series and in honor of the tenth anniversary of the concerto’s composition. Three days later he and the chamber orchestra recorded the concerto for the first time at the Reeves Beaux Arts Studios in New York City for the Keynote label. A copy of the two-disc 78-rpm recording (the cover is illustrated above) is preserved in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives. The instrumentalists on the recording are: Alexander Schneider, violin; David Sackman, violin; Edwin Bachmann, violin; Bernard Milofsky, viola; Frank Brieff, viola; Conrad Held, viola; Bernard Greenhouse, cello; Anthony Saphos, cello; Harry Grossman, bass; Albert Whistler, bass; Samuel Baron, flute; Harold Freeman, clarinet; James Dickie, bassoon; Arthur Holmes, horn; and Ralph Brown, horn. In making the recording, a single microphone was placed approximately thirty feet from the orchestra.