Classical records for children

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John F
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Classical records for children

Post by John F » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:17 am

I was a child once, though you might not believe it, :) and got to know classical music from my parents' quite sophisticated record collection. But they also bought some records specifically for me and my younger brother. Some of these are familiar enough: "Tubby the Tuba," of course, and Danny Kaye's "The Little Fiddle." But some others were on the long-gone label Young People's Records, and I must have played them often as I remember them well.

The repertoire was not what you might expect. Two of the records (they were 78s, made of vinyl so that clumsy children couldn't break them) were titled "Country Dances" and "Everybody Dances," the music being some of Mozart's contredanses which he composed for the carnival balls in Vienna. Max Goberman conducted a chamber orchestra of freelancers that he used, under various names, for grown-up recording projects.

The other one I remember was "The Music of Aaron Copland for Young People"; it included brief excerpts from "A Lincoln Portrait," "Billy the Kid," "Appalachian Spring," and "El Salon Mexico," linked by a scripted dialogue between a mother and child, both adult actresses. Walter Hendl conducted members of the New York Philharmonic; he was their associate conductor at the time. A bit of that dialogue about "A Lincoln Portrait" has stuck in my memory these 70 years or so: "That music sort of feels like Abraham Lincoln, I mean the kind of man he must have been." Music appreciation for children, vintage 1948.

So why am I writing about these records, which I no longer have? Because I found two of them on YouTube. "Country Dances" is not there; its music is the 6 contredanses K. 462. But here's side 1 of "Everybody Dances," the contredanses K. 123. The flip side, not included here, is K. 609 nos. 1-3, the first being Mozart's arrangement of his hit tune "Non piu andrai".


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=363F8G1lX6U

Why this particular music? First, it's very simple, each dance being a string of melodies. Also, the jacket blurb by Young People's Records makes the populist claim that this music was "danced to by peasant and nobleman" and shows that popular music ("country dances") and classical music aren't so different. Well...

And now for Aaron Copland:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbZdt-jyyiM

I wanted to know more about Young People's Records so I Googled and found that a whole book has been written about them, David Bonner's "Revolutionizing Children's Records," with a complete detailed discography. From it I learned that YPR was, of all things, politically controversial in its time, which was the mid to late 1940s. Some of its artists were left-wing; they included Pete Seeger and Oscar Brand. The actresses on the Aaron Copland record had refused to name names before the House Unamerican Activities Committee; some of the YPR staff had formerly been members of the American Communist Party or Communist-front organizations. Despite FBI investigations and a lot of public calumny, Young People's Records stayed in business and continued to make recordings with its own choice of artists, some of them blacklisted, until well into the 1950s.

So were my parents secretly lefties or Commies? No, they were conventional liberals, as were most of the faculty at Franklin & Marshall College where my father taught. I assume they came across these records in whatever store they bought their records from and knew nothing of YPR's reputation and troubles. But I could be wrong. It's too late now to find out.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:39 am

John F wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:17 am
I was a child once, though you might not believe it,
#MeToo. Off to the library now to pick up this OOP reconstruction of the LB score by Alexander Frey record (2005) to pair with the original 1950 Columbia OC album:

Image

I burned this one for my grandkids who loved it:

Image

And this rarity came courtesy of a blogger.

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Crossroads cover
Prokofiev suites for children? I know what you're thinking - Peter and the Wolf. But Sergei Prokofiev also wrote other music for the young ones, including the two relatively unfamiliar suites contained on this LP. It dates from 1966, and features two fine Czech ensembles. The recording originated with Supraphon; my transfer is from the US label Crossroads.

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Supraphon cover

The Summer Day Suite is Prokofiev's orchestration of several pieces in his Music from Children, dating from 1935. The orchestral suite debuted 10 years later. This delightful work receives a smooth performance from the Prague Chamber Orchestra, working without conductor.

A Winter Camp Fire comes from 1950. Here it is heard without the narration contained in the score, but with the children's chorus in the "Choir of Pioneers" section. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra plays well under its longtime conductor, Alois Klíma.

The sound is good, although the original lacked bass and was below pitch. I have addressed both those issues. Not sure what Michael Mendel's cover on the Crossroads LP is supposed to represent, but it is striking.
Last edited by jserraglio on Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

John F
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:09 am

Young People's Records recorded Prokofiev's "The Ugly Duckling" with Leon Lishner, baritone, Walter Hendl conducting. I doubt this was one of their more successful releases.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQXzpikYD9U

Also "Haydn's" Toy Symphony conducted by Max Goberman. We had this one too.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj_qcrPmfKU

We didn't have Walter Hendl's Concerto for Toys and Orchestra, which may have been composed on commission from Young People's Records:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c8zuNBhYt8

Nor "Strawinsky: The First Time for Young People," with excerpts from the three famous ballets conducted by Hendl:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c8zuNBhYt8

Not on Young People's Records, of course we had "Peter and the Wolf," the Columbia recording by Basil Rathbone and the All American Youth Orchestra conducted by Stokowski:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgyMnrDoPEw

The orchestra was mainly youthful players, including some who went on to major careers - Harold and Ralph Gomberg, for example - and also including some ringers from the Philadelphia Orchestra. They sound great, but of course, this is Stokowski.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:25 am

I like the McDonald, others find it substandard:

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reissued on LP:
Image

Pristine has a 3-volume edition of Harl McDonald that, iirc, includes this work in vol 1.

John F
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:33 am

I never heard of those. The book about Young People's Records says the late '40s and early '50s were the golden age of children's records, not just YPR but Golden Records (pressed in yellow plastic) and other specialist labels, and indeed mainstream labels like Columbia. If there's anything like this going on today, I don't know about it.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:54 am

John F wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:33 am
I never heard of those. The book about Young People's Records says the late '40s and early '50s were the golden age of children's records, not just YPR but Golden Records (pressed in yellow plastic) and other specialist labels, and indeed mainstream labels like Columbia. If there's anything like this going on today, I don't know about it.
The McDonald is worth a listen. I actually took the time to rip the LP copy a friend lent me. I can't find that work on YT. Naxos has issued the Columbia ML 2141 McDonald/Brand coupling in their Classical Archives download series, probably transferred by Lani Spahr. All three Pristine Audio albums were engineered by Mark Obert-Thorn.

Image Image

YT does have Harl McDonald's Suite from Childhood for Harp and Orchestra (McDonald managed the Phila Orch under Ormandy) but it's about, not for children:


Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:26 am

It's good to read about these old recordings and how childrens' music was actually available with respect to serious music!! And, of course, you had those wonderful young people's concerts with Leonard Bernstein. We only had "Peter and the Wolf". I listened to light classics to start, eg. Von Suppe, "Light Cavalry", "Poet and Peasant", then Tchaikovsky; "March Slave", "1812" etc. and then, inter alia, onto his Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor when I was about 9. My mother made narratives from those light pieces and only for me - my sisters were not interested then and are not interested now. I did listen to Viennese music of the Strauss variety at 15 or 16 but had grown tired of them by 18 when my mother gave me my first LP - Richter playing Beethoven Sonatas (LP), "Pathetique" and "Appassionata". Boy, that's one way to make a teenager feel suddenly grown up!!

I recently showed this piece to my grandchildren for a bit of fun!! They loved the percussion tricks and, of course, Franzie looks so elegant standing out there. And not a single sign of a blue-rinsed Viennese matron in the audience. Oh dear!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwnasjF_Poo

John F
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:34 am

We share the surprising experience of having siblings who don't care at all for classical music, while we loved it early on. Same parents, essentially the same genetics, same household with the same records, same school though different grades, but quite different tastes. I've read that after a child begins school or preschool, they are influenced in such matters more by the peer pressure of their fellow students than by parents or teachers or even brothers and sisters, and I believe it.

I've read some more about the Young People's Records story. Their purpose was not just to hold the kiddies' attention and entertain them but to educate them as well. All releases were approved by an editorial board including the composers Howard Hanson, Douglas Moore, and William Schuman, as well as two educators - and Schuman was an important educator too, notably as head of the Juilliard School.

Most of the music on Young People's Records wasn't classical but folk or folkish, as they thought this was what children age 2-11 could make the most of, not only listening but in activities in the classroom and at home. That might explain the two records of Mozart's dances - infants could move or dance to their straightforward rhythms, especially when marked by a side drum. (By the time those records were published in the late '40sI was already listening to grown-up Mozart; my parents told me that a favorite was the quartet for oboe and strings in the Goossens/Lener recording, I'd repeatedly ask for "Bone Strings.") Selections in the Copland and Stravinsky records were also based on folk and popular music.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:47 pm

It seems your country has taken serious music education very seriously!! This explains a lot. My mother always talked about Leonard Bernstein and what an extraordinary influence he was in this regard. In recent years I've caught up with some of those programs on U-Tube and realize they're suitable for both adults and children.

I take your point about the peer pressure, however my sisters were not interested right from the start. They were stepped 18 months in age younger than each other and my mother started to teach me about it at about 8; by the time I was 9 I had a sister who was 8 and I have zero recollection of her being interested in what my mother had to say. Actually it bonded mother and daughter in a way neither of the other 3 was able to achieve, for what it's worth.

By the time a young person is 15 he or she is really in the grip of peer pressure, which I never was. My view was always - and right from the start - that they were simply missing out!! We all enjoyed popular music too and my mother played our pop music (mostly the Beatles) on the piano and we would sing the tunes as a trio for guests at her parties. Ouch!! I'm afraid the people I searched out in my youth were more likely to be the quiet nerdy guy, looking like Harry Potter, who had a 'clandestine' collection of classical records!! Or one of my father's friends/colleagues who has a passionate collector and connoisseur.

Just recently my 59y/o sister bought a new hi-fi system and sent me the details for approval. She also bought some fairly mainstream jazz records and a turntable, but serious classical just isn't in her DNA. That's fine with me, though I fail to understand. The other two sister will say they think art music is "nice" and "beautiful" but I often feel it's like a fashion accessory to them. But one is a published poet, so it's not all gloom. The weird thing about her is that she'll say she likes 'contemporary' classical music but I've yet to see a recording of same in her home!!! I send them all links of good performances to this day when I find them on U-Tube and invariably none reply or when they do "that was beautiful" (how I hate that word!). Same with my physician friend, who listens to Andre Reiu and was born in Europe!!!

Who or what can account for tastes? One could write a thesis about it and not get very far. Psychological studies might help explain because (sorry to mention him again), as Dr. Peterson says, temperament and creativity definitely play a part in these things.

Just the other day I was discussing this with my husband and we tried to remember any friends or acquaintances of ours who had books or records/CDs in their homes, in prominent view and not tucked away in a study, and we could think of only one!! My sister and brother-in-law,on the other hand, have entire rooms full of books!!

barney
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by barney » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:22 pm

That post was "beautiful", Sue. :wink: I must remember that remarkably apt approbation when next you post a link...

As a child I loved Peter and the Wolf, also Carnival of the Animals, and there were several works, especially Mozart and Schubert, that I asked my parents to put on the turntable incessantly. As I've posted before, Schubert's fifth symphony is the first classicalwork I am aware of knowing by name, at about 5.

barney
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by barney » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:27 pm

Re books, I have the opposite problem. floor-to-ceiling shelves are stacked two deep in a number of rooms, and there are piles of books and CDs on the study floor that my wife is frequently exhorting me to tidy up. This I do by arranging neat piles in the living room, the one room in the house that is pretty tidy, and she likes this even less.


This is a shameful confession: When we moved into this house in 1995, I stored four cartons of cricket books from my younger collecting days under the study desk. I planned to go through them and put them on ebay. Alas, they are still there, 23 years on. The book problem was/wasn't helped (depending on your perspective) when my mother died and I took several hundred of her books.

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:05 am

Cricket books!! I know all about it; they're in a cupboard here. Speaking of which; at the last lecture of mine for our music group one of my friends emailed me, "I enjoyed it very much, Sue, but a lot of it went through to the keeper!!". This man has sailed his own yacht around The Horn and I replied, when he told me that wasn't something people did every day of the week, "that's a horn I wouldn't blow in any orchestra!".

Yesterday, while preparing for my Beethoven Sonatas 1st lecture on 26th, I was listening (blaring loud) to Op.10/3 Largo e mesto. I could hear vague knocking, then the knocking got louder - it turned into desperate banging. I got up thinking my husband had locked himself in the garage; no, it was his friend returning a grinder and when I opened the door with CD liner notes from Kovacevich's Complete Beethoven Sonatas on one hand and "The Selected Poetry of John Donne" in the other he looked kind of flummoxed.

Ricordanza
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Ricordanza » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:54 am

barney wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:22 pm
As a child I loved Peter and the Wolf, also Carnival of the Animals, and there were several works, especially Mozart and Schubert, that I asked my parents to put on the turntable incessantly. As I've posted before, Schubert's fifth symphony is the first classical work I am aware of knowing by name, at about 5.
According to my parents, my favorite record at age 3 was Stravinsky's "The Firebird." I vaguely recall that the album (78 rpm) had a striking cover that may have attracted me. But there must have been some attraction to the music as well; 64 years later, it remains a favorite.

maestrob
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:15 pm

As a child, I remember being impressed so much by classical music (then on 78RPM discs) that I vowed to become a conductor when I grew up! My fascination with classical music continued to this day.....

Here's a list of the classical sets we had when I was a toddler as best I can remember:

Rachmaninoff: Symphony II/Ormandy Minneapolis (RCA)
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto II/Rubinstein (RCA)
Debussy: String Quartet (Columbia)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony VI/Ormandy Philadelphia (RCA)
Brahms: Symphony I/Toscanini NBC
Beethoven: Quartet Op. 18, No. 4 (Columbia)
Grieg: Piano Concerto/Rubinstein (RCA)
Chopin: Waltzes/Rubinstein (RCA)
Wieniawski: Violin Concerto II/Heifetz (RCA)

There were quite a few others, but the above is all I remember. My mother was an amateur pianist who could play some of the easier Chopin pieces. She taught me basic music theory, and I won a school talent competition playing Liszt/Schubert and Mendelssohn while in fifth grade in elementary school. Unfortunately I also discovered that I lacked the coordination to play more advanced music, so I gave up the piano as an instrument soon after. No regrets: I simply couldn't play well enough to commit myself to serious study. Have loved the piano all my life, and appreciate all the sacrifices great pianists make in their careers.

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:49 pm

Well done remembering all those details. I was a late starter, obviously, at 7 or 8 - but my father built the speaker system we had only after several years of marriage. Before that it was the radio and no record collection. The first house was way too small (2 bedrooms for 4 kids) to fit a piano, but we got one when moving to a bigger home. Liberation was at hand!!!

I was always a bog standard pianist myself. It takes one's own disappointments to really appreciate the skill required for any musical instrument - which I obviously lack/ed. Of course, every time I opened the piano I could hear Richter ringing in my ears and always fell miserably short!

barney
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by barney » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:38 pm

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:15 pm
As a child, I remember being impressed so much by classical music (then on 78RPM discs) that I vowed to become a conductor when I grew up! My fascination with classical music continued to this day.....

Here's a list of the classical sets we had when I was a toddler as best I can remember:

Rachmaninoff: Symphony II/Ormandy Minneapolis (RCA)
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto II/Rubinstein (RCA)
Debussy: String Quartet (Columbia)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony VI/Ormandy Philadelphia (RCA)
Brahms: Symphony I/Toscanini NBC
Beethoven: Quartet Op. 18, No. 4 (Columbia)
Grieg: Piano Concerto/Rubinstein (RCA)
Chopin: Waltzes/Rubinstein (RCA)
Wieniawski: Violin Concerto II/Heifetz (RCA)

There were quite a few others, but the above is all I remember. My mother was an amateur pianist who could play some of the easier Chopin pieces. She taught me basic music theory, and I won a school talent competition playing Liszt/Schubert and Mendelssohn while in fifth grade in elementary school. Unfortunately I also discovered that I lacked the coordination to play more advanced music, so I gave up the piano as an instrument soon after. No regrets: I simply couldn't play well enough to commit myself to serious study. Have loved the piano all my life, and appreciate all the sacrifices great pianists make in their careers.
I still have many of these recordings, Brian - obviously re-released much later - and I'm sure you do too. That's not a bad place to start.

barney
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by barney » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:42 pm

Belle wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:49 pm
Well done remembering all those details. I was a late starter, obviously, at 7 or 8 - but my father built the speaker system we had only after several years of marriage. Before that it was the radio and no record collection. The first house was way too small (2 bedrooms for 4 kids) to fit a piano, but we got one when moving to a bigger home. Liberation was at hand!!!

I was always a bog standard pianist myself. It takes one's own disappointments to really appreciate the skill required for any musical instrument - which I obviously lack/ed. Of course, every time I opened the piano I could hear Richter ringing in my ears and always fell miserably short!
Two bedrooms for four kids. I started out sharing too, then my parents fixed up a small outdoor shed and turned it into a bedroom. I was the eldest of four, so it came to me. I imagine that the past 50 years has seen the biggest increase in the standard of living (among Western nations, but not only) in recorded history. China's progress since 1949 is amazing.
I learned a variety of instruments, and went furthest on the French horn. My teacher told my father that I might make a minor career out of it as an orchestral player but no more. But I definitely agree that my failings highlight for me how brilliant professional musicians are.

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:58 pm

For fear of sounding like one of the "Four Yorkshiremen", our last home (before all my sisters had left) had a sort of room underneath with a dirt floor; that was going to be my second sister's 'study' when she started at university (the first one of us to do so). All the other bedrooms were taken up by noisy females. Alas, my sister ended up getting married hurriedly at 18 (cough) and that room was never finished. My father might have said "earth and she have swallowed all my hopes"!!! :roll:

And you are right about the fabulous increase in living standards! My husband and I could only dream about what our kids have now - and at such a young age. Well, I didn't dream of material things per se - but economic freedom is a feature of our children's lives in a way ours was not. One son and his wife are looking to buy a unit in Cremorne or Mosman, for god's sake!! And everyone has a comparatively cheap hi-fi system (or similar digital means) on which to play their preferred music. One has a Harmon Kardon sound system in his Mercedes!! As I said, light years away from our married life.

I could have lived the simple life indefinitely in those years as long as I had CDs and a half-decent sound system. And one trip in 1988 to the Adelaide Festival thrown in for good measure. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:54 am

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:15 pm
Here's a list of the classical sets we had when I was a toddler as best I can remember
In my teens I made a card catalog of my parents' record collection and I'm looking at it now. It was sizable, though nothing like what I eventually accumulated, and remarkably sophisticated. For example, there was no Beethoven 3rd or 5th symphonies, just the 4th, 7th, and 8th, but Felix Weingartner's recording of Beethoven's 11 Viennese Dances, and a single volume of HMV's Beethoven Sonata Society with Schnabel playing the 5th, 7th, and 25th sonatas. When and where the parents acquired such things - certainly there was no record store in Lancaster, PA where they could be found - and which reflected my father's taste and which my mother's, I don't know, and now it's too late to ask them.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:06 am

I do remember that in the 1960s the Readers' Digest used to issue classical recordings - usually (typical of the journal itself) somewhat truncated so as to form "excerpts". I learned a lot by listening to some of those in my early teens, which were in a huge book form with the individual records in 12 or so separate sleeves. I'm unsure why my mother purchased these since we had record shops and many of her recordings (all of which my sister now holds) were from DGG. They're too irredeemably scratched for me to listen to them these days. But I do remember one of them with particular fondness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Iqc8wh7VDo

maestrob
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by maestrob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am

Belle wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:06 am
I do remember that in the 1960s the Readers' Digest used to issue classical recordings - usually (typical of the journal itself) somewhat truncated so as to form "excerpts". I learned a lot by listening to some of those in my early teens, which were in a huge book form with the individual records in 12 or so separate sleeves. I'm unsure why my mother purchased these since we had record shops and many of her recordings (all of which my sister now holds) were from DGG. They're too irredeemably scratched for me to listen to them these days. But I do remember one of them with particular fondness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Iqc8wh7VDo
Yes, Belle, I had those Readers' Digest classical sets as a teenager (Rene Liebowitz was one conductor they featured). The repertoire ranged from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." Decent performances. There were two sets, one of light classics, and one of heavier complete performances. There was also a third set of operettas, featuring Anna Moffo & Judith Raskin (both of whom I would meet in later life), along with Mario Lanza. Interestingly, Moffo & I shared the same music teacher in high school (fifteen years apart), while Raskin & I shared the same voice teacher here in NYC. Small world indeed. Sadly, both women died of cancer.

When Raskin sang her love duets with Lanza in the set, she was actually singing with two-year-old tapes that Lanza recorded before his death. His estate tied up the recordings for roughly 2 years or more, while it negotiated with RCA, the producers of the album. Imagine singing a love duet with a man dead two years or more!

John F
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:37 am

The Reader's Digest recordings were made for them by English Decca when it was affiliated with RCA Victor. The ones I've heard are not musically abridged, though some are excerpts from operettas. Many have been reissued on other labels, notably the Rachmaninoff concertos and Paganini Rhapsody with Earl Wild, Jascha Horenstein, and the Royal Philharmonic, now on Chandos.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:37 pm

maestrob wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:01 am
Belle wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:06 am
I do remember that in the 1960s the Readers' Digest used to issue classical recordings - usually (typical of the journal itself) somewhat truncated so as to form "excerpts". I learned a lot by listening to some of those in my early teens, which were in a huge book form with the individual records in 12 or so separate sleeves. I'm unsure why my mother purchased these since we had record shops and many of her recordings (all of which my sister now holds) were from DGG. They're too irredeemably scratched for me to listen to them these days. But I do remember one of them with particular fondness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Iqc8wh7VDo
When Raskin sang her love duets with Lanza in the set, she was actually singing with two-year-old tapes that Lanza recorded before his death. His estate tied up the recordings for roughly 2 years or more, while it negotiated with RCA, the producers of the album. Imagine singing a love duet with a man dead two years or more!
Natalie Cole did the same thing with her father, Nat King Cole.

Belle
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:40 pm

John F wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:37 am
The Reader's Digest recordings were made for them by English Decca when it was affiliated with RCA Victor. The ones I've heard are not musically abridged, though some are excerpts from operettas. Many have been reissued on other labels, notably the Rachmaninoff concertos and Paganini Rhapsody with Earl Wild, Jascha Horenstein, and the Royal Philharmonic, now on Chandos.
I didn't know this!! Judging from the comments of maestrob, we must have had the light classics version of Readers' Digest recordings - though I do remember some truncated pieces being in there. Maybe in Australia they issued them differently, but I do remember Mozart's Symphony No. 40 being there - possibly not all the movements. Memory has dimmed.

It mystified me why my mother bought them! And I belonged to a record club when I was in my teens and spent all my pocket money on LP recordings of classical music. My mother complained that "you cannot borrow your sisters' clothes when you want to go out while spending all your money on records"! Wanna bet??

John F
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:06 pm

At least two series from RCA Victor featured abridged movements to make them easier listening: "The Heart of the Symphony" and "The Heart of the Piano Concerto." They were promoted as "the great themes from..." 6-8 warhorses of the standard repertoire. Charles O'Connell, the music director at RCA Victor, conducted the RCA Victor orchestra with pianist Jesus Maria Sanroma in the concertos. As I remember reading about them (never actually listened to them), a movement would be abridged by omitting the development and cutting to the coda. Maybe this is what you're remembering? Maybe not as they were 78 rpm, though reissued in the 1950s as Camden LPs.
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:16 pm

John F wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:06 pm
At least two series from RCA Victor featured abridged movements to make them easier listening: "The Heart of the Symphony" and "The Heart of the Piano Concerto." They were promoted as "the great themes from..." 6-8 warhorses of the standard repertoire. Charles O'Connell, the music director at RCA Victor, conducted the RCA Victor orchestra with pianist Jesus Maria Sanroma in the concertos. As I remember reading about them (never actually listened to them), a movement would be abridged by omitting the development and cutting to the coda. Maybe this is what you're remembering? Maybe not as they were 78 rpm, though reissued in the 1950s as Camden LPs.
The reason I remember them as 'abridged' is because years later when I listened to the same work on radio it occurred to me that certain sections (movements) must have been missing from that RD collection! At the time, when I was still a young teenager, these works seemed complete to me.

Like yourself, my own collection of CDs and my interest in music altogether is far more sophisticated and esoteric than anything my mother appreciated. But I mostly put that down to her reduced leisure time through more primitive labor-saving devices; back in those days she had her hands full with 4 girls, a husband in a very demanding job (he worked long hours) and a washing machine with roller wringers and a copper to boil the sheets and towels!! And she had no 'retirement' - dying at just 58 years - when, for many of us, we are only just getting up a full head of steam!!

But I do have a strong recollection of Saturday nights when she and my father shared (several) drinks and she verbally extemporized on jazz, Leonard Bernstein and other musical matters with him. One thing I particularly remember is them both coming home from seeing the film "West Side Story" and my mother declaring this to be the greatest musical ever created. And she backed up her argument with evidence.

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by maestrob » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:32 am

Belle, your Mom was right about West Side Story! When the movie came out I was about 11 yrs. young, and my Junior High music teacher had the audacity to teach a lesson using the soundtrack recording. She also, IIRC, played the Beethoven Choral Fantasy when Rudolf Serkin recorded it. I remember bringing my records of Brahms Symphonies by Bernstein (II & IV) to her, and she did a lesson on those as well!

JohnF, you are a fountain of knowledge! I don't remember ever hearing those truncated concertos, either on 78's or Camden LPs. I do remember that there was a set of most popular classics sold in supermarkets, in deluxe library packaging (dark green & black box containing a single LP with gold trim) that featured unknown artists in very good performances. My mother often played the Chopin Concerto I, which she loved and couldn't play on our piano.

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:09 pm

Belle wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:16 pm
John F wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:06 pm
At least two series from RCA Victor featured abridged movements to make them easier listening: "The Heart of the Symphony" and "The Heart of the Piano Concerto." They were promoted as "the great themes from..." 6-8 warhorses of the standard repertoire. Charles O'Connell, the music director at RCA Victor, conducted the RCA Victor orchestra with pianist Jesus Maria Sanroma in the concertos. As I remember reading about them (never actually listened to them), a movement would be abridged by omitting the development and cutting to the coda. Maybe this is what you're remembering? Maybe not as they were 78 rpm, though reissued in the 1950s as Camden LPs.
The reason I remember them as 'abridged' is because years later when I listened to the same work on radio it occurred to me that certain sections (movements) must have been missing from that RD collection! At the time, when I was still a young teenager, these works seemed complete to me.

Like yourself, my own collection of CDs and my interest in music altogether is far more sophisticated and esoteric than anything my mother appreciated. But I mostly put that down to her reduced leisure time through more primitive labor-saving devices; back in those days she had her hands full with 4 girls, a husband in a very demanding job (he worked long hours) and a washing machine with roller wringers and a copper to boil the sheets and towels!! And she had no 'retirement' - dying at just 58 years - when, for many of us, we are only just getting up a full head of steam!!

But I do have a strong recollection of Saturday nights when she and my father shared (several) drinks and she verbally extemporized on jazz, Leonard Bernstein and other musical matters with him. One thing I particularly remember is them both coming home from seeing the film "West Side Story" and my mother declaring this to be the greatest musical ever created. And she backed up her argument with evidence.
The film of West Side Story has many weaknesses. Just to start with, Richard Beamer who played Tony was a triple threat: He couldn't sing, he couldn't act, and he couldn't dance. I heard a far superior version of "Something's Coming" at of all places a dinner theater in Gaithersburg Maryland (the same town where Marlene Dietrich fell off the stage and ended her career).



I am sorry that I cannot respond to the main theme of this thread. My household had no recordings to introduce children to classical music. My father taught me when I was six how to read music, an ability without which I would be lost, and that must suffice.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:09 am

This music and it's astonishing lyrics will transcend any performance - film or otherwise. It's the work of a musical genius and his prodigiously talented lyricist: here the "Symphonic Dances" from the musical.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUSPzL7lsY8

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:38 am

"West Side Story" isn't even Bernstein's best musical, though it's his most successful. For truly astonishing lyrics it's "Candide," whose lyrics are by Richard Wilbur and Dorothy Parker among others, and Bernstein's music is his most brilliant. The overture is at least as often performed in concert as WSS's symphonic dances, and "Glitter and Be Gay" is a showpiece for coloratura soprano which is often sung in concerts and voice competitions. And then there's this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC5j0gGBzXs

OLD LADY: I have always been wily and clever
At deceiving and swindling and such,
And I feel just as clever as ever,
But I seem to be losing my touch.
Yes, I'm clever, but where does it get me?
My employer gets all of my take;
All I get is my daily spaghetti,
While he gorges on truffles and cake.
What's the use? What's the use?
There's no profit in cheating,
It's all so defeating
And wrong, oh, so wrong,
If you just have to pass it along!

RAGOTSKI: That old hag is no use in this gyp joint,
Not a sou have I made on her yet,
And the one thing that pays in this clip joint
Is my fraudulent game of roulette.
But I have to pay so much protection
To the chief of police and his men,
That each day when he makes his collection
I'm a poor man all over again.

RAGOTSKI, OLD LADY: What's the use? What's the use
Of dishonest endeavor and being so clever?
It's wrong, oh, so wrong,
If you just have to pass it along!

MAXIMILIAN: It's a very fine thing to be prefect
Shaking down all the gamblers in town.
My position has only one defect:
There is someone who's shaking me down.
For this fellow unhappily knows me
And he's on to the game that I play,
And he threatens to shame and expose me
If I do not incessantly pay.

MAXIMILIAN, RAGOTSKI, OLD LADY: What's the use? What's the use
Of this sneaky conniving and slimy contriving?
It's wrong, oh, so wrong,
If you just have to pass it along!

CROOK: I could live very well by extortion,
But I simply can't keep what I earn,
For I haven't a sense of proportion,
And roulette is my only concern.
I've a system that's fiendishly clever,
Which I learned from a croupier friend,
And I should go on winning forever
But I do seem to lose in the end.

MAXIMILIAN, RAGOTSKI, CROOK, OLD LADY: What's the use? What's the use?

OLD LADY: All this cheating and plotting,
You end up with notting.

OLD LADY, MAXIMILIAN, RAGOTSKI, CROOK: It's wrong, oh, so wrong
If you just have to pass it along!

CHORUS: Pass it along, pass it along.

ALL: What's the use? What's the use?
There's no use in cheating,
It's all so defeating
And wrong, oh, so wrong,
If you just have to pass it along!

Neither musical is either classical or suitable for children - thread drift strikes again.
John Francis

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:06 am

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:38 am
"West Side Story" isn't even Bernstein's best musical, though it's his most successful. For truly astonishing lyrics it's "Candide,"
I agree. Candide makes my pulse race. It's a joyous blend of music and poetry, so of the 18th-century, yet in its way also of Jewish culture, of Vienna and NYC. I use text and music snippets with kids when I teach the transcendent source novel. I think Voltaire (sorta a grown-up kid was he) might've smiled at seeing yet another of his dramatic works bomb at the box office.

The Old Lady's superficially gay number "I am easily assimilated" brings tears to my eyes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxopSGzjKu8



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFi-neN5H_0



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMIzHnyuiNY


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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:49 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:38 am
"West Side Story" isn't even Bernstein's best musical, though it's his most successful.
Please, John, apply a little consistency here. You are the one who some time ago decided that Candide was worthy because you could attach the title of operetta to it, while all the other stuff was just Broadway pop music of one kind or another. Now you're calling it Bernstein's best musical.

As for the previous musical postings, what they have in common with the only conducting effort Bernstein ever made with WSS is that there were singers who were great and then singers who could not pronounce English correctly (forget the supposed Spanish accent, which only makes Gundula Janowitz more amusing for the wrong reasons) . Bernstein's notorious studio recording of WSS includes several memorable moments, perhaps starting with Tatiana Troyanos as an incomparable Anita.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:34 pm

So what's the problem? "Candide" was conceived and developed as a Broadway musical, and if in retrospect it appears to be an operetta, there's no barbed wire barrier between the genres - both are light musical theatre as distinct from opera. "Candide" had its first performances on Broadway, and if its run was disappointingly short, I'd say that's because its music and lyrics are too good for a Broadway musical, too sophisticated in every way. But one of the volunteers at the library who is a big-time enthusiast for Broadway-musicals won't concede that "Candide" is anything but a musical. So I can call it the one thing or the other as I like and as the discussion requires. "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" - Ralph Waldo Emerson, sort of. :D

A Broadway run is not itself a defining element. Not only musicals but operettas going back to Gilbert & Sullivan in the 19th century as well as operas have succeeded on Broadway; the latter include Menotti's early operas and, of course, "Porgy and Bess." The Broadway musical is an American genre in its origins and most of its repertoire, Andrew Lloyd Webber aside; operetta is cosmopolitan. I suppose this is one reason why I prefer it.
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:49 pm

I think WSS is definitely Bernstein's musical theatre masterpiece with its amalgam of extraordinary music exploiting polyrythms and that fabulous 'quintet', together with memorable lyrics and phenomenal dancing choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Unforgettable. Today WSS remains enigmatic to many mainstream theatre and cinema-goers because of its musical sophistication. In a discussion about the MGM Freed Unit on a DVD I did hear Saul Chaplin say that about Bernstein in Hollywood and Arthur Freed's resistance to what he regarded as music too sophisticated for film audiences. Actually, WSS is in many respects quite eclectic.

"Candide" may or may not be operetta but I don't like 'yappy' musical theatre - going right back to the uber-syllabic G&W. I find Sondheim's more recent contributions fall into this category too. For me, less is more. The really only 'yappy' song in WSS is "Sergeant Krupke", and it was there for comedic purposes.

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:43 pm

The first act finale of WSS is beyond a doubt the greatest show stopper of all time. It still sends chills up and down my spine, no matter whether Bernstein/Sondheim used "hours" as a two-syllable word.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:48 pm

Belle wrote:I don't like 'yappy' musical theatre - going right back to the uber-syllabic G&W
What on earth can you mean by "yappy"? I'm not going to argue with your taste in musical comedy lyrics, but I'd like to know what it is, and I don't.

For myself, I want a libretto of some technical craftsmanship and, if it's a comedy, wit. "Candide," Gilbert and Sullivan, and others which I won't bother to list, have these qualities. "West Side Story" doesn't. Interestingly enough, WSS's lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, who adopted a primitive style not characteristic of him but that suits WSS's characters and situations. Anyway, for me more is more. :)

As for what "Candide" is, Bernstein called it a Broadway musical comedy in a 1960 TV show, then "My operetta, or musical, or whatever you want to call it." If he himself wasn't clear about the genre of his own composition, I guess we can call it whatever we want to.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn5bhJ5YX6U
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:20 pm

By 'yappy' I mean syllable-to-note, endless lyrics; no let-up. As in the example I mentioned from WSS.

In such cases I've wondered why music was necessary since they endlessly 'talk' all the way through the operetta/musical. Ergo, you don't really get to appreciate the music as it becomes supportive rather than in the foreground. And it's a major reason I haven't really been interested in anything very much (with some exceptions in terms of individual songs) by Stephen Sondheim. It's a move away from the lyrical musical influenced by Viennese operetta (eg. Rodgers and Hammerstein) and it shows how different WSS was when it arrived on the scene because it only contained SOME of those ingredients. The score was far far better anyway. Cole Porter was something of a sophisticate, too, in the way he handled harmony and his clever use of setting his own words to music. In fact, he was one of the greatest lyricists of all time, IMO (and that of Howard Goodall). Take this masterful piece of Cold War satire: some people might think it second rate because it rhymes, but that was Porter's real skill and his acrobatics with words still amazes me!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBQZ6VzeWUk

Chatty, yappy - whatever it can be called - I just shut off.

And Bernstein's comments about the nature of "Candide" are reflective of his role as something of a 'disrupter' in musical theatre (I don't speak of opera when I used that term). His "Wonderful Town" and "On the Town" contained very sophisticated lyrics (Comden and Green?) and, as I said before, this was altogether too much for film audiences. I'll check again in the Burton biography of Bernstein (do you like my alliteration?) to see his views on WSS.

But it's a long way from the thread's intent!!

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:02 pm

Where did Cole Porter's way with words come from?

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XJIpp2Jj8AQ


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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:11 pm

Absolutely spot on!! My mother played Cole Porter on the piano and I loved it even then. He was a wit and raconteur and incredibly talented. Part of my musical education as a teenager!!

Yet another example of Porter's gifts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6oGytt0Hiw

And another from my childhood, though a newer version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ7ifstcOtQ

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:18 am

Belle wrote:By 'yappy' I mean syllable-to-note, endless lyrics; no let-up. As in the example I mentioned from WSS.
So that's it. To me, "yappy" brings to mind a chihuahua, not a distinguished American poet as Richard Wilbur certainly was. Enlisting him to provide lyrics for Broadway was only one of several ways that "Candide" was intended as a class act, which it turned out to be. Too much so for Broadway, it seems, but it has been constantly revived elsewhere, as the many YouTube clips show.

And yet you praise Cole Porter, whose comedy lyrics are as "yappy" as anything in "Candide" or Gilbert & Sullivan, with far more ordinary music. Recently I shared "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" and "Siberia" (from "Silk Stockings") with my Swedish friend, who likes "Candide," and he detested them. I don't get it. But what Emerson and I said about consistency applies to him and you as well as to me. :)
Last edited by John F on Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:29 am

Remember those famous lines uttered somewhat humorously in "Amadeus".."too many notes". Well, what I'm talking about is "too many words". It gets down to a matter of taste.

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:38 am

John F wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:18 am
Belle wrote:By 'yappy' I mean syllable-to-note, endless lyrics; no let-up. As in the example I mentioned from WSS.
So that's it. To me, "yappy" brings to mind a chihuahua, not a distinguished American poet as Richard Wilbur certainly was. Enlisting him to provide lyrics for Broadway was only one of several ways that "Candide" was intended as a class act, which it turned out to be. Too much so for Broadway, it seems, but it has been constantly revived elsewhere, as the many YouTube clips show.

And yet you praise Cole Porter, whose comedy lyrics are as "yappy" as anything in "Candide" or Gilbert & Sullivan, with far more ordinary music. Recently I shared "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" and "Siberia" (from "Silk Stockings") with my Swedish friend, who likes "Candide," and he detested them. I don't get it. But what Emerson and I said about consistency applies to him and you as well as to me. :)
What Emerson said about consistency in his famous essay "On Self-Reliance" is that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." That is from high school memory. Some years later Walt Whitman wrote "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself."

Cole Porter was a genius of sorts. It doesn't hurt that he was a graduate of Yale and I had more than one professor there who wanted to talk about him, much to the chagrin of students who were there only to learn more about classical music. One of them, and I will name him even though this site is searchable, was Maury Yeston, whose great ambition was to compose Broadway musicals while he pretended to be a classical music professor. He succeeded in that, and ended up composing a number of successful musicals.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by John F » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:01 am

There have been many geniuses but from reading his Wikipedia biography, Porter was one of a kind. What a life!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cole_Porter
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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:14 am

John F wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:01 am
Porter was one of a kind. What a life!
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/07/12/king-cole
Alan Jay Lerner wrote:— You could follow a progression from Jerome Kern to Dick Rodgers to Gershwin. But Cole seemed to spring like Jupiter from Minerva’s head—all made. What he did was so special and . . . unexplainable that he is really of them all, in a strange way, the most irreplaceable.
— [He was] a homosexual who had never seen the closet.
Cole Porter as "Cole Porter"
You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that's fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

John Updike as "Cole Porter"
When you connect,
It's the whistle of a quail,
It's the soar of a hawk
It's the sighting of a planet hitherto unseen
It's mathematical perfection wrested from a half-buried lie
It's absolute!
___________________________________________________

No doubt who tops whom there.

Image

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:24 pm

This is recommended: Howard Goodall's program about Cole Porter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2htSTN1crU

And how's this for imaginative lyrics!!? This music is what I was exposed to in my formative years - and thank god!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0unnUHphLt8


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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:58 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:14 am
John F wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:01 am
Porter was one of a kind. What a life!
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/07/12/king-cole
Alan Jay Lerner wrote:— You could follow a progression from Jerome Kern to Dick Rodgers to Gershwin. But Cole seemed to spring like Jupiter from Minerva’s head—all made. What he did was so special and . . . unexplainable that he is really of them all, in a strange way, the most irreplaceable.
— [He was] a homosexual who had never seen the closet.
No doubt who tops whom there.
First, it was Minerva (Athena) who sprang from the head of Jupiter (Zeus). Then, unless you intended the double entendre, watch your phraseology. This is a family site. ;)

I can't think about Cole Porter without thinking about the crippling riding accident that left him in great pain for much of his life until his death. Sorry to spoil the fun, but there it is.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by jserraglio » Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:03 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:58 pm
First, it was Minerva (Athena) who sprang from the head of Jupiter (Zeus).
Alan Jay Lerner said, “You could follow a progression from Jerome Kern to Dick Rodgers to Gershwin. But Cole seemed to spring like Jupiter from Minerva’s head—all made." https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/07/12/king-cole

And I had thought the point of Lerner's witty inversion was that Porter was nobody's creature, being begotten all made, i.e., not made, consubstantial with the divine, not just an immortal like Kern (Jerome), Rodgers (Dick) and Gershwin (George).

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Re: Classical records for children

Post by barney » Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:39 am

AS a sub-editor trained to spot (and remove) unintended double entendres, I don't see the one in jserraglio's post. Perhaps it is an American expression not used in Australia.
John can you (delicately) enlighten me. I am naturally curious.
Sometime I will share some of my favourites from my collection over the decades (by no means all are rude. But the most memorable are).
thanks.

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