An urban crisis in August 1940

Naked natives shock the establishment,
and other legends.

Daniella Thompson

5 March 2002

Stoki & AAYO rehearsing in South America

Another addendum to Stalking Stokowski, this time from Abram Chasins’ book Leopold Stokowski, a Profile (New York, Hawthorn Books, 1982):

Stokowski was fascinated by some Indian music he heard played on traditional instruments. At his request, 150 native musicians were taken by bus to participate in the Rio de Janeiro concert. An urban crisis arose when they appeared for the concert mother-naked. A hasty conference resulted in orchestra members rustling up some extra clothes.

The performance supplied a sizable portion of the three hundred recordings of native music that Stokowski supervised and brought home.

What performance could Mr. Chasins be talking about?
Was it the All-American Youth Orchestra’s concert conducted by Stoki at the Teatro Municipal? Or would it have been the recordings on board the S.S. Uruguay that resulted in the Native Brazilian Music Columbia record albums?

And who would those buck-naked musicians be? Perchance the always impeccably attired Pixinguinha and Donga? Or the Orfećo Villa-Lobos teachers who recorded the Indian chants? Given that the AAYO membership numbered just a little over 100 musicians, those youngsters would have been hard-pressed to dress 150 savages from scratch.

Three hundred recordings of native music?
We should live so long!


Copyright © 2002–2015 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.