The Greek born conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) broke a great deal of fertile musical ground during his lifetime. He championed the contemporary and cherished the traditional as he conducted all of the major orchestras around the world. Mitropoulos made his US debut in 1936 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From 1937-1949, he served as music director of the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Orchestra). In 1949, he assumed the post of music director of the New York Philharmonic. These were heady times for Mitropoulos as he focused upon the symphonies of Mahler while commissioning new music from the most important composers of the day. In many ways, Mitropoulos paved the way for the emergence of Leonard Bernstein, who succeeded him in 1957. It seems somehow fitting that Mitropoulos would die in Milan, Italy, aged 64, while rehearsing Mahler's 3rd Symphony.
David Amram fondly remembers Dimitri Mitropoulos in his "autobiography", called Vibrations. When I last crossed paths with David a couple of years ago, I asked him to tell me how he came to meet and know Dimitri Mitropoulos.