Andre Kostelanetz

Last updated
Andre and Sara Kostelanetz (1963) Andre Kostelanetz (1963).jpg
Andre and Sara Kostelanetz (1963)

Andre Kostelanetz (Russian : Абрам Наумович Костелянец; December 22, 1901 – January 13, 1980) was a Russian-born American popular orchestral music conductor and arranger who was one of the major exponents of popular orchestra music.



Abram Naumovich Kostelyanetz was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia to a prominent Jewish family. He was a cousin of physicist Lew Kowarski. [1] [2] [3]

His father, Nachman Yokhelevich (Naum Ignatyevich) Kostelyanetz, was active on the St. Petersburg stock exchange; his maternal grandfather, Aizik Yevelevich Dymshitz, was a wealthy merchant and industrialist, engaged in timber production. He began playing the piano at four and a half years old. He studied composition and orchestration at the Petrograd Conservatory of Music. When he was 19, the Grand Petrograd Opera Company held a competition to select a chorusmaster and assistant conductor, in which he was selected despite being the youngest applicant. [4] Kostelanetz continued there until leaving Russia in March 1922 after the Russian Revolution, [5] when he stayed in Paris for a time before moving on to the United States.

He arrived in the United States that year, and in the 1920s, conducted concerts for radio. In the 1930s, he began his own weekly show on CBS, Andre Kostelanetz Presents. Kostelanetz was known for arranging and recording light classical music pieces for mass audiences, as well as orchestral versions of songs and Broadway show tunes. He made numerous recordings over the course of his career, which had sales of over 50 million. For many years, he conducted the New York Philharmonic in pops concerts and recordings, in which they were billed as Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra.[ citation needed ]

Kostelanetz may be best known to modern audiences for a series of easy listening instrumental albums on Columbia Records from the 1940s until 1980. Kostelanetz actually started making this music before there was a genre called "easy listening". He continued until after some of his contemporaries, including Mantovani, had stopped recording. Outside the United States, one of his best known works was an orchestral arrangement of the tune "With a Song in my Heart", which was the signature tune of a long-running BBC radio program, at first called Forces Favourites, then Family Favourites , and finally Two Way Family Favourites.[ citation needed ]

He commissioned many works, including Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait , Jerome Kern's Portrait of Mark Twain , William Schuman's New England Triptych , Paul Creston's Frontiers, Ferde Grofé's Hudson River Suite, Virgil Thomson's musical portraits of Fiorello La Guardia and Dorothy Thompson, Alan Hovhaness's Floating World, and Ezra Laderman's Magic Prison. William Walton dedicated his Capriccio burlesco to Kostelanetz, who conducted the first performance and made the first recording, both with the New York Philharmonic. [6]

His last concert was A Night in Old Vienna with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at that city's War Memorial Opera House on December 31, 1979. [7] [8] [5]

Personal life

His first wife was actress/singer Sarah Loy; they were married from 1923 to 1937, when the marriage was dissolved. He was then married to soprano Lily Pons from 1938 to 1958, when they divorced. They owned a home in Palm Springs, California which was built in 1955. [9] In 1960 he married Sara Gene Orcutt; the marriage lasted several years. [5] All three unions were childless. [10] [5]

His brother, Boris Kostelanetz (1911–2006), was a prominent tax defense lawyer. [11]


After the December 31, 1979 concert with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Kostelanetz left for a vacation in Haiti. While in Haiti, Kostelanetz contracted pneumonia and died on January 13, 1980, aged 78. [12] [5] [13]

Discography (partial)

Many of the early LP releases were actually re-releases of albums released earlier on 78 rpm records. Musical Comedy Favorites, for example, was released as Volume 1 (album M-430) in late 1940 for songs 1 through 8, and Volume 2 (M-502) in 1941 for the remaining 8 songs on the second side of the LP.

Four of Kostelanetz's albums made the Billboard Hot 200, no match for his Columbia easy listening rivals Ray Conniff and Percy Faith but typical of many of popular instrumental easy listening artists of the day whose audience did not buy their albums immediately upon release but bought them over the years.

Related Research Articles

Columbia Records American record label owned by Sony

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1991, its recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

Karl-Birger Blomdahl Swedish composer

Karl-Birger Blomdahl was a Swedish composer and conductor born in Växjö. He was educated in biochemistry, but was primarily active in music and by his experimental compositions he became one of the big names in Swedish modernism. His teachers included Hilding Rosenberg. He died in Kungsängen, Stockholm.

Bill Doggett Musical artist

William Ballard Doggett was an American jazz and rhythm and blues pianist and organist. Best known for his instrumental rock compositions "Honky Tonk" and "Hippy Dippy", he worked with the Ink Spots, Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Jordan.

<i>The Nutcracker</i> 1892 ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker is an 1892 two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's 1816 short story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".

E. Power Biggs British-born American concert organist and recording artist

Edward George Power Biggs was a British-born American concert organist and recording artist.

Les Baxter Musical artist

Leslie Thompson "Les" Baxter was an American musician and composer. After working as an arranger and composer for swing bands, he developed his own style of easy listening music, known as exotica.

Percy Faith Musical artist

Percy Faith was a Canadian bandleader, orchestrator, composer and conductor, known for his lush arrangements of pop and Christmas standards. He is often credited with popularizing the "easy listening" or "mood music" format. He became a staple of American popular music in the 1950s and continued well into the 1960s. Though his professional orchestra-leading career began at the height of the Swing Era, he refined and rethought orchestration techniques, including use of large string sections, to soften and fill out the brass-dominated popular music of the 1940s.

Jimmy Giuffre American musician

James Peter Giuffre was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He is known for developing forms of jazz which allowed for free interplay between the musicians, anticipating forms of free improvisation.

Morton Gould American composer and pianist (1913–1996)

Morton Gould was an American composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist.

Columbia Masterworks Records was a record label started in 1924 by Columbia Records. In 1980, it was separated from the Columbia label and renamed CBS Masterworks Records. In 1990, it was renamed Sony Classical Records after its sale to the Sony Corporation.

Frankie Carle Musical artist

Frankie Carle was an American pianist and bandleader. As a very popular bandleader in the 1940s and 1950s, Carle was nicknamed "The Wizard of the Keyboard". "Sunrise Serenade" was Carle's best-known composition, rising to No. 1 in the US in 1938 and selling more than one million copies.

101 Strings Musical artist

101 Strings Orchestra was a brand for a highly successful easy listening symphonic music organization, with a discography exceeding 150 albums and a creative lifetime of around 30 years beginning in 1957. 101 Strings had a trademark sound, focusing on melody with a laid-back ambiance most often featuring strings. Their LPs were individualized by the slogan "The Sound of Magnificence", a puffy cloud logo and sepia-toned photo of the orchestra. The 101 Strings orchestra included 124 string instruments, and was conducted by Wilhelm Stephan. The orchestra's famous official photograph was taken in the Musikhalle Hamburg.

Georgy Sviridov Russian composer

Georgy Vasilyevich Sviridov was a Soviet and Russian neoromantic composer. He is most widely known for his choral music, strongly influenced by the traditional chant of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as his orchestral works which often celebrate elements of Russian culture. Sviridov employed, in his choral music especially, rich and dense harmonic textures, embracing a romantic-era tonality; his works would come to incorporate not only sacred elements of Russian church music, including vocal work for the basso profundo, but also the influence of Eastern European folk music, 19th-century European romantic composers, and neoromantic contemporaries outside of Russia. He wrote musical settings of Russian Romantic poetry by poets such as Lermontov, Tyutchev and Blok. Sviridov enjoyed critical acclaim for much of his career in the USSR.

Sweet Leilani 1937 single by Bing Crosby with Lani McIntyre and His Hawaiians

"Sweet Leilani" is a song featured in the 1937 film, Waikiki Wedding. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and Bing Crosby's record became one of the biggest hits of 1937.

Richard Yardumian was an Armenian-American classical music composer.

Joe Wilder American trumpeter

Joseph Benjamin Wilder was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.

Anshel Brusilow was an American violinist, conductor, and music educator at the collegiate level.

Charles Albertine was an American musician, composer, and arranger of the space-age pop era. He is best known as an arranger for Les and Larry Elgart, Sammy Kaye, and The Three Suns, and as the composer of Bandstand Boogie. He also composed music for many television shows.

<i>Concert in Rhythm</i> 1958 studio album by Ray Conniff and His Orchestra

Concert in Rhythm is an album by Ray Conniff and His Orchestra. It was released in 1958 on the Columbia label.

James F. Burke (musician) American musician (1923-1981)

James Francis Burke was an American cornet soloist. He was the principal cornet soloist with the Goldman Band from 1943 to 1974. He was also the principal trumpet with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1943 to 1949. Mr. Burke, who had the use of only one arm, was considered the greatest virtuoso of his time on the instrument, according to Ainslee Cox, conductor of the Guggenheim Memorial Band.


  1. Евгений К (2013-12-14). "Tonkosti zhizni-Письмо от Коварской Евгении Львовны". Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  2. "Oral History Transcript — Dr. Lew Kowarski". Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  3. "Robert Farnon Society". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  4. So You Want to Be... Cbs Radio And Young America News Weekly. April 12, 1939.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Cross, Lucy E. (2015). "Andre Kostelanetz". Masterworks Broadway. Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  6. Liner notes from Musical Evenings: Andre Koselanetz, mfp Classics, CFP 4074.
  7. "Andre Kostelanetz Papers Donated to Library of Congress - News Releases (Library of Congress)". Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  8. "Andre Kostelanetz". Andre Kostelanetz. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  9. Meeks, Eric G. (2012). The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 282. ISBN   978-1479328598.
  10. Rubin, Stephen E. (May 6, 1973). "Andre Kostelanetz‐Middlebrow Toscanini?". New York Times. New York. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  11. "Boris Kostelanetz, 94, Tax Defense Lawyer for the Notable, Dies". The New York Times . Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  12. Profile,; accessed October 3, 2015.
  13. Smith, J.Y. (January 15, 1980). "Conductor Andre Kostelanetz, 78, Dies". Washington Post. Washington, DC. Retrieved October 5, 2017.