February 14, 1940

A special greeting from the orchestra

Dennis R. Smith wrote the following (in The Repository) to the CSO:

"Your splendid efforts surely give
A better town in which to live.
You bring to us mid care and strife
Some of the better things in life."

March 28, 1940

An early editorial on the CSO, from The Repository

The day after a Canton Symphony concert featuring violinist Frederick Vogelgesang, which drew an audience of 3,000 to the city auditorium, this editorial appeared in The Repository:

“When the echo of the closing note in last night’s symphony concert lost itself in city auditorium, there was an almost tangible sense of civic pride.

It was the tenth concert given by the orchestra, the tenth satisfied crowd, the end of the orchestra’s second full season.

What was an experiment two and a half years ago had become a soundly established institution in the community, assured of continued support.

Its future is assured, not because the necessary funds are in hand, but because the necessary confidence has been won. To borrow a phrase from commerce, the orchestra has “consumer acceptance.”

Quality of its music, good from the outset, was measurably better this season than it was last season. The kinks that originally made preparation for concerts difficult are gone. Conductor Oppenheim has developed an orchestra from what was originally a crowd of musicians.

Congratulations to those who have had the vision and determination to give Canton one of its valued civic assets.”

November, 1940

CSO’s first Junior Orchestra

Music Director, Richard Oppenheim, organizes Canton Symphony Orchestra’s first Junior Orchestra. Rehearsals began in November of that year.

February 22, 1941

The first Symphony Ball

Canton Symphony Association’s first “Symphony Ball” was on February 22, 1941. It cost a whopping $2 per couple to attend, with “dancing” and “entertainment.”

March 29, 1941

Pre-concert article on season finale

Music Director, Richard Oppenheim, is lauded heavily in this article as he prepares for the final concert of the season.

April 23, 1941

The first Junior Symphony Orchestra concert

The first concert performed by the Junior Symphony Orchestra was to an audience of 1,000 at the Lincoln High School auditorium.

October 24, 1944

Australian-born composer, arranger & pianist Percy Grainger performs with the CSO as piano soloist

The second photograph is a reminiscence/journal entry written by Percy Grainger while in Canton in 1944 for his performance. Grainger soon returned as piano soloist for the Orchestra’s 1947-48 season.

October, 1945

One of the most famous pianists of the 20th century, Jesús Maria Sanromá, is among the renowned soloists during the CSO’s 1945-46 season

The Puerto Rican pianist Jesús Maria Sanromá starred at the Canton Symphony Orchestra on October 16, 1945. With an education from the New England Conservatory of Music, today, he is known as one of the most accomplished pianists of the 20th century.

December, 1945

Imperial Russian born violinist, Tossy Spivakovsky, performs with the CSO

Tossy Spivakovsky  appeared as a guest violinist for the Canton Symphony Orchestra on December 5, 1945. 

He was born in the late Russian Empire in a part that now lands inside modern day Ukraine, and moved to Berlin as a child. He took private music lessons at a Hochschule in Berlin, studying under Arrigo Serato and Willy Hess.

When he was ten, he began his performing career, and started touring Europe at the Young age of thirteen.

July, 1947

The orchestra plays its first outdoor “pops” concert, at Meyers Lake

A thousand seats at tables, surrounded by a brick-walled garden, were supplemented by benches and chairs, bringing the capacity up to 2,000.

The Stark County Story


December 22, 1948

The orchestra’s first chapter comes to a sudden, and sad, close

Canton Symphony Orchestra’s first conductor, Richard Oppenheim, dies unexpectedly shortly before rehearsal. Orchestra members found him slumped, unresponsive, in his office.
Oppenheim’s death was a true tragedy for the organization and the people who served it. He loved it, and died doing what he truly loved. It was beautiful, in a way.

March 8, 1949

Canton Economist: “Save the Symphony”

After Oppenheim’s death, the future of the orchestra was uncertain. New leadership was needed, but the orchestra was still deeply affected by the sudden loss of their conductor.
A campaign to “Save the Symphony” was started to sustain the organization until new leadership could be found.

March 27, 1949

Louis Lane is named Music Director

Some interesting background on Lane from around the same time:

Louis Lane had never conducted an orchestra in 1947 when he auditioned for an apprenticeship with George Szell, legendary music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. The audition required each candidate to “shadow conduct” the first movement of a symphony by Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms. Lane chose Mozart’s Symphony no. 28 because he thought that Szell might not be familiar with it. (Eventually Szell recorded it.)

While Lane conducted himself humming Mozart’s themes, Szell followed along in the miniature score Lane had borrowed from the library at the Eastman School of Music,

where he was a graduate student. Szell then asked Lane to sit down at the piano and play Chopin’s “E-Major Etude”—in a different key. Having accomplished that daunting challenge, Lane was given an hour to orchestrate a Beethoven piano sonata. After he had completed about 30 bars, Szell voiced his approval and said “I think you will do.” That was high praise from the stern maestro with whom Lane was associated for the next 23 years as apprentice conductor, assistant conductor, associate conductor, keyboard player, chorus accompanist and music director of the summer pops orchestra. In addition to his work with the Cleveland Orchestra, he directed Lake Erie Opera Theater and the Akron and Canton symphonies.

November 30, 1949

Pianist Eugene List performs with the CSO

Eugene List was a family man, through and through. His confidant and calm demeanor paired well with his expert playing skills.