From the very beginnings of recorded music being available on 78s, Classical music was being recorded and released. This Podcast looks at some of that music. It can be found on itunes Here and Podbean Here . Tracks featured are :
1. Intermezzo from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” by New Light Symphony Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 2377) in 1926). Pietro Mascagni was born in December 1863, in Tuscany, Italy. He began studying music aged 13, and began composing his own works at 16. His first major succes was with the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” in 1890 and he went on to compose many other operas, including “L’Amico Fritz” (1891), “Silvano” (1895), “Iris” (1898), “Amica” (1905) and “Lodoletta” (1917). He died in August 1945. The New Light Symphony Orchestra made many records for His Master’s Voice, the majority between 1925 and 1934. Others include “Rustic Wedding Symphony” (1925), “In A Clock Store” (1927), “Poet And Peasant-Overture” (1930), “Juba Dance” (1932) and “Glow Worm Idyll” (1934).
2, Narcissus by Joyce Grenfell and Norman Wisdom (Released by Columbia (DB 3161) in 1952). Joyce Phipps was born in February 1910 in London. She married Reginald Grenfell in 1929, so was known as Joyce Grenfell when she made her stage debut in 1939. During the Second World War she toured Italy, North Africa, the Middle East and India, entertaining the troops with her pianist Viola Tunnard. She appeared in a couple of films during the war but it was after the war that her film career took off, appearing in such films as “Alice in Wonderland” (1949), “Stage Fright” (1950), “The Million Pound Note” (1953), “Fobidden Cargo” (1954), and three “St. Trinians” films between 1954 and 1960. As well as her film career, she had a successful recording career and toured extensively, as well as in later years appearing regularly on TV. She died in November 1979. Norman Wisdom was born in February 1915 in London. Born into a poor family, he joined the army at 15, and was sent to India, where he became the flyweight boxing champion of the British army in India, and learned to play trumpet and clarinet. It was while in the army that he developed his stage act, and made his debut as a professional musician in 1946, after he’d left the army. He made his TV debut and made a series of successful films during the ’50s and ’60s, including “Trouble in store” (1953), “One good turn” (1955), “The Square Peg” (1958), “Follow A Star” (1959), “On the beat” (1962), and “The early bird” (1965). The film roles dried up by the late ’60s but in the early ’70s he appeared in three TV series, “Norman”, “Nobody is Norman Wisdom” and “A little bit of Wisdom”. In later years Wisdom appeared sporadically on TV and the occasional film, as well as live appearances. Later TV appearances included “Last of the Summer Wine” and “Coronation Street”. He announced his retirement at 90 in 2005 (although he did make one further short film, “Expresso”). He died aged 95 in October 2010.
3. Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a theme by Paganini by Winifred Atwell (Released by Philips (PB 234) in 1954). (For info on Winifred Atwell see previous blog Here ).
4. In the hall of the mountain King by Edna Hatzfield and Mark Strong (Released by Rex Records (10.050) in 1941). “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”, the incidental music to the Ibsen play of the same name, composed in 1875. Edvard Grieg was born in June 1843, in Bergen, Norway. His Mother was a music teacher and taught him to play piano as a child. At 15 he enrolled in the Leipzig Cpnservatory where he studied piano, and at 18 made his debut as a concert pianist. A couple of years later he started composing and went on to compose Sonatas and Concertos for piano, violin and cello. He died in September 1907. The Operetta “Song of Norway” (1944) and the 1970 film of the same name tells the story of Grieg’s early years.
5. Chopsticks by Carmen Cavallaro (Released by Bruswick (05577) in 1956). Carmen Cavallaro was born in May 1913 in New York City. He showed promise as a pianist from an early age, picking out tunes on a toy piano at the age of three, and went on to study Classical Piano. In 1933 he joined Al Kavelin’s Orchestra, and went on to play with Rudy Vallee before forming his own band in 1939. He consolidated his success during the ’40s with radio and film appearances, appearing in the films “Diamond Horseshoe”, “Out of this world” (both 1945), and “The time, the place, and the girl” (1946). He died in October 1989.
6. The Flight of The Bumble Bee by Harry James and His Orchestra (Released by Parlophone (R 2848) in 1942). Harry James was born in March 1916 in Albany, Georgia. His father was a bandleader in a circus, while his mother was an acrobat. His father began teaching him trumpet aged 8. By the age of 15, his family had settled in Texas and Harry began playing in local dance bands. He played with various bands, before joing Benny Goodman’s band in 1937, and then formed his own band in 1939, scoring a major hit with “You made me love you” in 1941. During the early days of the band, a young Frank Sinatra sang with them, although he left them after a matter of months. The band also had success in radio and film, and Harry continued playing with them until his death in July 1983.
7. Trusting Eyes by Enrico Caruso (Released by His Master’s Voice (4-2480) in 1914). Enrico Caruso was born in Naples, Italy, on 28th February, 1873. As a child, he sang in the church choir, where his exceptional voice was noted. His Father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a mechanical engineer, and he was enrolled as an apprentice at the age of 11, but his Mother (who died when he was 15) encouraged him to carry on singing and he would earn extra money as a street singer and in cafes. He made his first professional singing appearance at the age of 22 in the Opera “L’Amico Francesco”, and several years later, in 1902, made his first recordings for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. The following year, 1903, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and in 1904 signed a lucrative recording contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He stayed with Victor for the rest of his life. Over the next decade and a half he sang worldwide, becoming the world’s biggest opera star. Towards the end of World War One he undertook a lot of charity work for the war effort, and in 1918 married Dorothy Park Benjamin. During late 1920 Caruso began to suffer ill health, initially as a result of a pillar falling on him during a performance of Pagliacci at The Met. He was diagnosed with Bronchitis, and in December suffered a throat haemorrage on stage, leading to the cancellation of his performance. During early 1921 he underwent a series of operations as his condition worsened and died on the 21st August, aged 48.
8. Greensleeves by The Beverley Sisters (Released by Decca (F 10853) in 1957). The Beverley Sisters were a UK trio comprising sisters Joy (1924-2015) and twins Teddie and Babs (born 1927) Chinery. They came to prominence after successfully auditioning to sing in an advert for Ovaltine, and then for BBC Radio in 1944. They made many appearances on BBC Radio during the late ’40s an early ’50s, and signed to Columbia Records in 1951, then to Philips in 1953 and finally Decca in 1955. They scored their first UK hit with “I Saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” in 1953 and had several other hits over the following years including “Willie Can” (1956), “I Dreamed” (1957), “Little drummer boy” (1959) and “Green Fields” (1960). The group’s hits dried up in the early ’60s and they rarely recorded after then, although they continued to sing live and appear on TV. As late as 2009 they were still making occasional live appearances, before retiring.
9. The Conclusion to Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March Number 1” by The Royal Festival Hall Orchestra and Choir conducted by Sir Malcolm Sergeant (Released by His Master’s Voice (D.A. 1981) in 1951) The Royal Festival Hall, on the South bank of the river Thames in London, was built as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. This recording was made at the Ceremonial Opening Concert on May 3rd 1951. Edwatd William Elgar was born in June 1857 in Lower Broadheath, a village just outside Worcester, England. His Father owned a shop selling sheet music and musical instruments, which led to the young Elgar’s interest in music. Although he had piano and violin lessons, Elgar largely self taught himself music theory from books. After leaving school he had a short period as a solicitor’s clerk before devoting his career to music, giving piano and violin lessons, working in his Father’s shop and playing music in live concerts. It was at this point he began composing.His first major succes came in 1899 with The Enigma Variations. Elgar composed five Pomp and Circumstance Marches, the first two in 1901. With words added by A C Benson, the conclusion of March number 1 became better known as “Land of Hope and Glory” and became a mainstay of the last night of the proms. Elgar was knighted in 1904 and although his major works were all composed by around 1910, he continued composing up to his death in February 1934. During the late 1920s after electrical recording became the norm he recorded many of his own compositions for His Master’s Voice, many of which were recorded at the then new Abbey Road Studios in London.