Nikolai Sokoloff Is Appointed Orchestra’s First Music Director

Nikolai Sokoloff holds the distinction of being the first music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, a position he held for fifteen seasons. Sokoloff, charged with building a permanent orchestra for the city of Cleveland, spent several weeks in New York City auditioning additional players for the newly formed orchestra. Under his leadership, the initial ensemble of fifty-four members grew to seventy-eight in just one season.

Under Sokoloff, the Orchestra’s seasons eventually grew to twenty pairs of subscription concerts, fourteen children’s matinees, six twilight concerts, special Community Chest performances, and a touring schedule of approximately fifty concerts throughout the East Coast and Midwest. The Orchestra’s first recording, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, was produced with Sokoloff in 1924 on the Brunswick label.

Many activities undertaken during Sokoloff’s tenure with the Orchestra – including tours, educational programs, radio broadcasts, community concerts, and commercial recordings – continue to this day. In the fifteen years that Sokoloff was at the helm, the Orchestra gained national recognition and put Cleveland on the musical map.

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