The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York is the official name of the New York Philharmonic, a symphony orchestra based in New York City. Founded in 1842 as the Philharmonic Society of New York, it is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. The 1920s were a period of expansion for the orchestra: in 1921 it merged with the National Symphony Orchestra of New York and in 1928 with the New York Symphony Society, at which point the name changed to the Philharmonic-Symphony Society. In 1924, the Young People’s Concerts were substantially expanded under the direction of conductor Ernest Schelling. The series proved popular and became a prototype for other orchestras.
Guila Bustabo was a concert violinist. Born in Wisconsin, she was a violin prodigy whose story was bittersweet — immensely gifted musically, she was burdened with an abusive and controlling stage mother, whom she came to feel had prevented her from fully realizing her potential. Her family moved to Chicago when she was 4 so she could study with Leon Samétini. Soon thereafter Samétini secured a scholarship for her in New York, where she studied at the Juilliard School. At the age of 15 she made her Carnegie Hall debut, and first toured abroad in 1934, starting in London. She was encouraged by prominent musicians of her day — a consortium including the conductor Arturo Toscanini bought her a Guarneri violin and the composer Sibelius invited her to his villa in 1937 to play his violin concerto, praising her interpretation. In 1940 she arrived with her mother in Paris, just before the German occupation. The composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari composed a concerto for her and became her recital partner on tours of Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Spain. Her participation in concerts in Nazi-occupied countries during World War II tainted her reputation in the United States. Even after U.S. authorities cleared her of having been a Nazi sympathizer, many American symphonies declined to have her back, so during the 1950s and 1960s she continued to tour in Europe. In 1964, she settled in Innsbruck as a professor of violin at the conservatory, but retired in 1970 due to bipolar disorder. Subsequently she played in the violin section at the Alabama Symphony for five years. She died at the age of 86.
The Standard Flashlight Company was a commercial photography service in New York City that made photographs of events and large groups.
Inscription center: Prize Winners of the Concerts for Children and Young People of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of N.Y. for the Ten Years from 1923-1924 through 1932-1933 Receive Diplomas on the Occasion of the Formation of the Alumni Association of These Concerts. The center group consists of Ernest Schelling, Conductor of the Children’s Concerts, Lucrezia Bori and John McCormack, who distributed the diplomas, Charles Triller, Treasurer of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society, and fifteen-year-old Guila Bustabo, who was the violin soloist of the morning’s program. Carnegie Hall, Saturday Morning, March 18, 1933.”
Stamped verso: “This photograph was taken by the Standard Flash Light Co., Inc., 1595 Broadway, New York City.”
Condition: Generally fine overall with only minor toning and wear.
“Guila Bustabo.” The Guardian. 12 June 2002. http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/jun/12/guardianobituaries.arts (17 January 2015).
“New York Philharmonic.” Wikipedia. 25 December 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Philharmonic (17 January 2015).