The Hollywood Bowl at 101: a brief history

Posted on: June 7, 2022


The League of American Orchestras’ 2022 National Conference, June 1-3 in LA, took place just before the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s opening concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The orchestra and Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel were joined by singer Gwen Stefani and the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band. (USC Photo/Brett Padelford)

“The Hollywood Bowl represents L.A. in all its naked splendor, idealism, commercialism, diversity, communal aspirations toward equality, social division … ,” writes Mark Swed in Thursday’s (6/2) Los Angeles Times. “With its special acoustics and lovely atmosphere, the Bowl quickly caught on [after opening a century ago] … The first woman to conduct the all-male L.A. Phil … was composer and pianist Ethel Leginska in 1925. In 1927 … Native Americans held intertribal ceremonials in the venue. In 1936, composer William Grant Still became the first Black person to conduct a major American orchestra when he performed two of his works with the L.A. Phil at the Bowl…. [Leopold] Stokowski … formed the first iteration of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra…. The finding of common ground between pop and classical began to seem more plausible with the advent of Zubin Mehta’s ‘Star Wars’ concert in 1977 and the growing popularity of John Williams’ music …. [LA Phil Music and Artistic Director] Gustavo Dudamel … instantly embraced the Bowl…. The Bowl on a good night feels closer to its original democratic model than it has almost any time in my long history with it.” The League of American Orchestras’ 2022 Conference, June 1-3 in LA, included a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl.