Thursday, August 19, 2010

More from 1948

Here's some more snippets from The Year in American Music 1948...

November 30, 1947. "An innovation in program-making was offered tonight by Edward Kilenyi, pianist, in a recital at Fullerton Hall of the Chicago Art Institute. This was believed to be the first audience-participation event in American concert history". Basically, Kilenyi performed 4 Beethoven sonatas voted on by the audience before the concert; they chose one early work, one middle-period work, one of the 5 "best-known sonatas", and one of the last 5 sonatas. What did the audience pick? The sonata op.10 no.3, the "Appassionata", and opuses 90 and 111.

January 13, 1948. Staying in Chicago: "The directors of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced firmly today that at the conclusion of the present season, Artur Rodzinski would not be re-engaged as musical director... It was generally felt that Dr. Rodzinski's refusal to adhere to advertised programs, his repetition of programs in defiance of the policy of the orchestra, and his insistence on expensive opera productions were some of the factors involved in his dismissal".

March 26. The book devotes a full 2 pages to the "voluntary deportation" of Hanns Eisler, who the previous September had been hauled before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which called him "the Karl Marx of the musical world". After his questioning, he was arrested over "irregularity in entrance" into the U.S., mainly because he sworn an oath that he was not a Communist. "During the period of his travail, prominent musicians throughout the country as well as distinguished citizens in all other fields rallied to his support... Statements were issued pointing out his international eminence as a composer not only of film music and of workers' songs, widely sung by anti-Fascist forces throughout Europe, but in the field of concert and chamber music as one of the more famous of Schoenberg's pupils". Eisler's "voluntary" deportation allowed him "to go to any country to which he could obtain a visa except Canada or Mexico". He went to Prague and then Vienna. "Eisler himself reiterated as he left that he was an anti-Fascist but not a Communist and that he was without rancor toward the American people".

May 12. In other "red menace" news: "In the State Supreme Court of New York, four Soviet composers today asked for restriction of the use of their music in the film, The Iron Curtain, produced by Twentieth Century-Fox. These composers - Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Prokofieff, and Miaskovsky - maintained that the use of their music without their consent for a film that was anti-Soviet put them in a treasonable position. The injuction was sought on four legal grounds: it violated their right of privacy under Section 50 of the civil rights law; that it constituted a libel on them; that it deliberaetly caused them injury without just cause; and that it abused their "moral rights" as composers". On June 7, the motion was denied "on the grounds that the civil rights of the composers had not been violated and that the music in question was in public domain enjoying "no copyright protection whatever"". The Iron Curtain starred Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney and has an IMDb score of 6.3 with 183 votes.

On the subject of movies, the book has a section listing "motion pictures, foreign as well as domestic... in which the musical interest warrants bringing them to the attention of the music world". There are several Italian productions of an operatic nature, including Elixir of Love, "A rather vague adaptation of the Donizetti opera", and Anything for a Song, starring Ferruccio Tagliavini as "a young man who quits the eggplant business for a singing career". English-language films include Song of Love, with Katharine Hepburn and Paul Henried as Clara and Robert Schumann and Robert Walker as Brahms; The Magic Bow, "A screen story supposedly built around incidents in the life of Paganini"; and Song of my Heart, "purporting to be a biography of Tchaikovsky".

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