Sibelius Finlandia – Hidemaro Konoye(近衛秀麿) conducts

Hidemaro Konoye and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra

Hidemaro Konoye (近衛 秀麿, Konoe Hidemaro, 18 November 1898 – 2 June 1973)

Konoye co-founded the Japan Symphonic Association in 1925, and the following year became conductor of the orchestra. Konoe later founded the New Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo (the present day NHK Symphony Orchestra), and helped mold the orchestra over a 10-year period into an ensemble that was praised as competitive with many of the better orchestras in Europe.

Today he is remembered for making the première recording of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, done in May 1930. It was also, aside from a cut in the third movement, the first electrical recording of any complete Mahler symphony.

Additionally, Konoye made numerous guest appearances in Europe and America, conducting some 90 different orchestras in the course of his career including the orchestra of La Scala, Milan and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He created friendships with Erich Kleiber, Leopold Stokowski, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss. He went to Germany and conducted Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in the second half of the 1930s. In the early days of the NBC Symphony, he planned an American tour under the supervision of Stokowski, but the project was cancelled due to World War II.