Happy Birthday, Clara!

September 13th was Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday. To pay homage to the composer and pianist we are highlighting a photograph we have in our collection. This photo is a carte-de-visite, a thin paper portrait mounted on a thicker paper board.

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann, taken by Fritz Luckhardt.

 

The photographer was Fritz Luckhardt, an Austrian whose studio was at the Hotel National in Vienna, as indicated on the back of the photograph. His studio is discussed in detail in the book The Photographic Studios of Europe. Famous authors and musicians were his specialty, as demonstrated by the large number of cartes-de-visite from his studio found in libraries and archives. In 1870 he was awarded the Imperial Title of K.K. Photographer (K.K. stands for kaiserlich-königlich meaning imperial-royal), therefore this photograph was produced after that title was awarded.

Verso of the cartes-de-visite.

Verso of the carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann.

The name of the Munich photographer Ferd. Finsterlin is impressed on the lower left of the photograph. The relationship between the two photographers is unknown to us. It’s possible this carte-de-visite was collected by Ferdinand Finsterlin in a similar fashion to a calling card and he stamped his ownership on the item.

Thanks to Joanne Bloom, Photographic Resources Librarian at the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, for assistance in researching this photograph.

Pritchard, H. Baden. The Photographic Studios of Europe. The Literature of Photography. New York: Arno Press, 1973.

In Celebration of Apollo 11, Ellington Style

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, we are highlighting a fascinating record in our collection. Although the record itself is not particularly rare, the combination of a prominent composer and the anniversary of the premiere performance, in our opinion, makes it worthy of a few paragraphs and further exploration. It is one example among many written in 1969 containing “moon” in the title. “Moon Maiden” is one piece in Ellington’s “Music to Land on the Moon By,” commissioned by the American Broadcasting Company to be broadcast as part of a their 30-hour moon mission coverage. In the setting, Ellington is poised in front of  exact replicas of the spacecraft’s components, including a model lunar module. 

Intimate Ellington Cover

Intimate Ellington Cover

Moon Maiden is released on the album “The Intimate Ellington.” The liner notes from the original album were written by Stanley Dance, a jazz writer and close friend of Ellington, who was present during the rehearsals. There are conflicting citations of this track being recorded on either July 14th or July 15th, 1969, days before the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Ken Vail’s publication, Duke’s Diary, mentions it was recorded again on September 4, 1969, with a more robust instrumentation. This recording was released in 2002 on Duke Ellington Live and Rare, by Bluebird Records.

Instrumentation of September 4th recording.

Instrumentation of September 4th recording.

For comparison, I recommend first listening to the broadcast version followed by the track released on The Intimate Ellington album. The broadcast version was performed with piano and vocals by Ellington himself, along with Rufus Jones on drums, Paul Kondziela on bass, and Al Chernet on guitar. Mr. Dance writes that he anticipated the celeste might give a “moony” effect and thus during a rehearsal Ellington experimented with a celeste and vocal performance which was recorded and is heard on the album. 

For additional listening enjoyment, check out the 1978 Luv You Madly Orchestra disco arrangement. For more Ellington early recordings, the Loeb Music Library has the Duke Ellington Recordings Collection, available upon request.  The manuscript for Moon Maiden is held at the Smithsonian National Music of American History, Archives Center.

Bibliography

Ellington, Duke. Duke Ellington Live and Rare. New York: Bluebird, 2002, compact disc. Disc 3: The Reader’s Digest Sessions. Recorded September 1969. 

Ellington, Duke. The Intimate Duke Ellington. Pablo 2310-787, 1977, LP.

Stratemann, Klaus. Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film. Copenhagen NV, Denmark: JazzMedia ApS, 1992, p. 592.

Vail, Ken. Duke’s Diary: Part Two: The Life of Duke Ellington 1950-1974. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002, p. 360.

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