Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A last look at 1948: And the winners are...

You know, of course, that I've been making plenty of hay from The Year in American Music: 1948. Before I go on, I should say a word of thanks to the book's previous owner, without whom etc. Stamped on the inside cover is the name of Eddie Hatrak, with an address in Trenton, New Jersey. Google reveals that Mr Hatrak, friend and colleague of pioneering comedian Eddie Kovacs, died in April of this year, about 3 months before I bought the book. Had it been out of his possession for a while, or did it somehow make it to a church fair in Connecticut within those three months? We'll never know.
This last bit deals with one of Les Introuvables' favourite topics... awards!

March 26, 1948
For the second consecutive year, fourteen music critics have singled out for recognition the outstanding recordings of the preceding twelve-month period. The announcement of selections for 1947 was made today at a luncheon held at the "21" Club in New York City. The presentation was made by the Review of Recorded Music which, together with two hundred music stores throughout the country, sponsors the annual awards.
The winners were:
Symphony: Berlioz - Romeo et Juliette; NBC Symphony/Toscanini
Concerto: Bartok - Violin concerto; Menuhin, Dallas Symphony/Dorati
Ballet: Ravel - Daphnis et ChloƩ suites 1 & 2; Paris Conservatoire/Munch
Overture: Wagner - Die Meistersinger; NBC Symphony/Toscanini
Chamber music: Beethoven - "Razumovsky" quartets; Paganini Quartet
Choral music: Bach - Mass in B minor; RCA Victor Chorale and Orchestra/Shaw
Operatic music: Rossini - arias; Tourel, Met/Cimara
Operatic music - single record: Arias from Orfeo and Rodelinda; Ferrier, LSO/Sargent
Enterprising repertory: Berg - Wozzeck excerpts; Charlotte Boerner, Wener Janssen Symphony/Janssen
Program music: Thomson - The Plow that Broke the Plains; Hollywood Bowl Symphony/Stokowski
Special orchestral music: Britten - Young Person's Guide; Liverpool PO/Sargent
Chamber-orchestral music: Handel - Concerti grossi; Busch Chamber Players/Busch
Instrumental music - keyboard: Debussy - Preludes book 2; Casadesus
Instrumental music - string: Hindemith - Violin sonatas; Ricci
Children's recording: Young People's Record Club Series
Vocal music: Italian art songs; de Luca
Folk music: Disc Ethnic Series
Drama: Henry V; Olivier, London Philharmonic/Walton

April 5, 1948
A poll conducted by radio station WQXR, in New York, among 4,600 members of its advisory committee [that's quite a committee!] to determine their favorite musical works revealed that Beethoven was the top-ranking composer.
The 10 most popular symphonies were
1. Beethoven 5
2. Beethoven 9
3. Brahms 1
4. Tchaikovsky 6
5. Beethoven 3
6. Franck
7. Beethoven 6
8. Beethoven 7
9. Brahms 4
10. Tchaikovsky 5
The 10 most popular concertos:
1. Beethoven piano 5
2. Beethoven violin
3. Rachmaninov piano 2
4. Mendelssohn violin
5. Grieg piano
6. Tchaikovsky piano 1
7. Beethoven piano 4
8. Brahms violin
9. Brahms piano 2
10. Paganini violin (that's what it says - just "Paganini's Violin Concerto". Is it safe to assume the first?)
And the 10 most popular operas:
1. Carmen
2. Don Giovanni
3. La Traviata
4. Tristan und Isolde
5. Aida
6. La Boheme
7. Die Meistersinger
8. Faust
9. The Marriage of Figaro
10. Madama Butterfly

May 1, 1947
The magazine Musical America announced today the results of its fifth radio poll conducted among six hundred newspaper music critics and editors in the United States and Canada.
Voted the outstanding radio event of the year was the performance of Verdi's Otello by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini on consecutive Saturday afternoons of December 6 and 13.
Indeed, go back to the book's entry for December 6, 1947, and you get this:
Olin Downes spoke the rhapsodic enthusiasm of all critics when he wrote in the new York Times: "This was not the best Otello interpretation we have encountered. It was the only one. It serves to accentuate the tragical fact that with Mr. Toscanini in our midst the only opera performances that he gives, which in themselves will not survive him, are in concert form... A performance like yesterday's should be preserved on record. Otherwise, the secret dies with him, in which case future generations may never know the entire secret of Otello."
(Fortunately, this Otello is indeed preserved on record)

And finally, from September 11, 1947:
Today the American Music Conference, an organization founded for the purpose of bringing "more music to more Americans," received its charter...
As a prelude to its activity in propagandizing music, the Conference set out to make a national survey of the role that music is playing in everyday life. This study, entitled "National Survey of Public Interest in Music" was released several months later, in March 1948...
Church music is the favored form among most Americans, with popular dance music second. Others in order of their preference: old favorites, folk tunes, operettas, classical music, cowboy songs, and hillbilly songs.
Six out of every ten adults wished that they had learned to play an instrument.

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