Turning Points: 1990 - Berlin and Hollywood and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
During his time in Glasgow (1987-93), two seemingly separate events shaped the next decade of his life: the creation of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a long-term relationship with the Decca Record Company. This latter led to Scottish Opera's first complete opera recordings (Marc Blitzstein's Regina, restored to its original form by Mauceri with Tommy Krasker) and the first complete recording of an American work by Kurt Weill: Street Scene. In addition, Mauceri embarked on a series of award-winning recordings in Berlin, first with works by Kurt Weill and then as a principal conductor on Decca's "Entartete Musik" Series ("Degenerate Music," music banned by the Third Reich). Important recordings from this series include Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, Ernst Krenek's violin concerto, and Irwin Schulhof's Flammen.
The creation of a new orchestra for him in 1991 shaped much of his thinking for the next sixteen years. With the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (a hand-picked ensemble, selected by Mauceri, from Hollywood's best studio musicians) and its huge outdoor venue, Mauceri continued to develop programming ideas first attempted at Yale in the late 1960s. In addition, his work in Berlin connected his research with the lives of many Hollywood composers who had escaped Hitler's Europe.
During his summers at the Hollywood Bowl he brought dance companies and opera performances back to the venue. In addition, he instituted film nights in which music written in Los Angeles was given world concert premieres, sometimes synchronized to excerpts on the screen and sometimes within a concert program. In order to do this, Mauceri had to edit and create performing versions of literally hundreds of hours of music. In addition to celebrating the music written in Los Angeles and putting it into larger contexts, he brought fully staged musicals to the Bowl for the first time in its history.
His programming concept, which proved to be enormously popular, regularly included works not associated with mass audience appeal, and included Bowl premieres of works by Arnold Schoenberg, John Adams, John Corigliano and Gyorgy Ligeti, among many others. Mr. Mauceri developed direct professional and personal relationships with a number of important film composers, including Miklos Rozsa, David Raksin, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, and Alan Menken, as well as Adam Guettel, all of whom have been celebrated by Mauceri. A number of them have written new works for him, including symphonic suites from Cabaret and Chicago by John Kander, September 11, 2001 by Jerry Goldsmith, a symphonic suite from Ragtime by Stephen Flaherty, A Fanfare for John at the Bowl by Elmer Bernstein (his last composition), Three Symphonic Songs from 'The Light in the Piazza', and The Princess Bride Suite by Adam Guettel, The Overeager Overture by Danny Elfman and Troubadour Music by Richard Rodney Bennett.
Mr. Mauceri's relationship with Mr. Guettel goes back to a time when the very young Guettel was the principal boy soprano at New York City Opera. During Guettel's Yale undergraduate years, he frequently sat in the pit for performances led by Mr. Mauceri of On Your Toes, which was composed by his grandfather, Richard Rodgers. After graduating from Yale, Mr. Guettel served as Mr. Mauceri's assistant in Macerata, Italy (Rigoletto) as well as with a number of European orchestras.
Mauceri and his Hollywood Bowl Orchestra toured Japan four times and Brazil once, and made thirteen recordings for Philips, many of which have won awards. The average audience at the Bowl was well over 13,000 patrons per concert for sixteen seasons. Between September 17 and 21, 2004, his four concerts brought in a total of 70,000 patrons. For his 250th concert with the Bowl Orchestra, the governor of California proclaimed August 31, 2002 "John Mauceri Day" in the state.
Mauceri, who was originally called conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, subsequently became its principal conductor. In announcing his final season (2006), the Los Angeles Philharmonic honored him with the lifelong title of Founding Director. For his final concert, Mauceri commissioned new works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Danny Elfman, and Adam Guettel. During his tenure he was given permission by the Walt Disney Company to perform the original Fantasia live to film for the first time in America and he also presented segments left unfinished in 1940. In addition, he conducted a staged concert performance of Sunset Blvd. with the Academy Award winning score of Franz Waxman synchronized to the dialogue, all performed live for the first time in history, and celebrating the centenary or both Waxman and director/writer, Billy Wilder. In effect, this concert created a new genre, called by Mauceri "Symphonic Drama," combining live performance of a screenplay with its complete orchestral score.
In June of 2007, Mr. Mauceri was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, along with Placido Domingo.