Thursday, September 9, 2010

More snippets from 1948

You thought we were done with The Year in American Music: 1948, didn't you? Hell no. Here's a few more bits...

Laura Bolton
The music instructor at the University of California in Los Angeles returned from her ninth expedition to primitive lands of Africa where she recorded little-known native songs and dances, and collected a number of rare musical instruments. "There is no definite African scale," she explained in an interview. "Every melody and every instrument is a law unto itself. Thus there is infinite variety." She added that Africa natives went for boogie-woogie in a big way, but at the same time were "simply crazy about symphonies."

Lorin Maazel
The seventeen-year-old violinist-composer-conductor was accorded a special "Man of the Year" award by the Pittsburgh Junior Chamber of Commerce for outstanding achievement in the field of music.

Igor Stravinsky
The famous modernist made a bid for the juke-box trade by adapting the Berceuse from his
Fire Bird Suite as a popular song which he entitled Summer Moon. Before it was turned over to the bobby-soxers, it was given an official concert-stage premiere by Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, who included it on her recital program in Lansing, Mich. November 3.

One week after the opening of the new season, on November 18, the Metropolitan Opera Association announced a plan to make sound pictures of opera for exhibition in theaters, schools, and clubs... The project, explained Edward Johnson, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera Association, is "one more step in the direction of our ultimate goal - which is, to bring more opera to more people in all parts of the world through world tours, broadcasts, records, and now films."
[Or, as Tom Galley of National CineMedia said, "This Metropolitan Opera series is a unique opportunity for people to experience world-class opera in their local community, plus the movie theatre environment and affordable ticket price make these events something that the entire family can enjoy. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a live opera performance before, this is the perfect opportunity to see why this magical art form has captured audiences’ imaginations for generations". Oh, wait, that was 2008...]

January 1
A ban on the making of phonograph records or transcriptions of any kind, by members of the American Federation of Musicians, went into effect today with the expiration of all previous contracts between the union and the recording companies... James Caesar Petrillo, president of the American Federation of Musicians, insisted that the prohibition against recording would be permanent. "We are only making our own competition when we make records," he explained. "I know of no other industry that makes the instrument that will destroy that industry... and... records sooner or later will destroy the musicians."
The major recording companies were not caught napping. For the preceding six months they had gone on a feverish twenty-four-hour-a-day recording schedule to create a stockpile that would last them from between two to three years.

[Remember, kids: Studio recording is killing music!]

March 20
Today, between 5:00 and 6:00 P.M., the first symphonic conert ever to be televised was broadcast over the CBS-TV networks; it presented the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy... One half hour after the termination of this concert, still another great musical organization was telecast - the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Arturo Toscanini over WNBT in New York.
... Howard Taubman wrote as follows in the magazine section of the New York
Times: "Once you have seen a conductor, his act, so to speak, remains essentially the same... In fact, watching him on the television screen for a solid hour may interfere with proper attention to the music. Television, it may turn out, may establish for good that conductors, unlike children, should be heard, not seen."

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