Among the collections of the Isham Memorial Library, a special library adjunct to the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, may be found Ms. Coll. 131, a huge file of lively correspondence between Richard Aldrich, chief music critic of the New York Times from 1902 to 1923, and his friends, editors and fellow critics. Aldrich graduated from Harvard University and his personal library, donated posthumously by his son in 1955, was an important early gift to the Loeb Music Library.
One particularly thick folder is that of letters to Aldrich from the folk music collector and editor Cecil Sharp. The correspondence chiefly concerned Sharp’s desire to investigate traditional English music as it was performed in the United States and Canada. Sharp’s research would result in the two-volume work English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1932). Grove music online credits Sharp with giving “impetus to American efforts, subsequently taken up by American universities, to collect and publish their traditional ballads and songs, both English and indigenous, and to conserve their other traditional arts” (but see also The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology, and the English Folk Revival, by Georgina Boyes, for a more nuanced interpretation).
In these letters we see Sharp tentatively exploring his relationship to the United States and its traditional music.
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In this post, we take a look at a few new and newly-catalogued recordings from the collections, including a set of communist songs from the mid-1930s, reissues of early 20th century 78s by the Egyptian singer Yusuf Al-Manyalawi, and a test pressing of a Duke Ellington alternate take.
From among our Peggy Stuart Coolidge collection recently surfaced three unique 78s which include music by Hanns Eisler recorded around the time of his first visit to the United States in early 1935. These valuable documents have labels with beautiful graphics and contain six communist songs featuring a chorus conducted by Lan Adomian, baritones Mordecai Bauman and Felix Groveman, and alternately Marc Blitzstein and Eisler himself at the piano. Songs include “United Front,” “The Soup Song,” “The Internationale,” “We’ve Not Forgotten,” “In Praise of Learning,” and “Rise Up.”
Label image, United Front, 528 Timely Recording Co. Record Coll. 78-36632
Label image, The soup song, 525 Timely Recording Co. Record Coll. 78-36632
- United Front; The soup song / Hanns Eisler. N.Y.C.: Timely Recording Co., [1936?]. 528 Timely Recording Co. 525 Timely Recording Co.
Record Coll. 78-36632
Label image, The internationale, 526 Timely Recording Co. Record Coll. 78-36633
Label image, Forward! We’ve not forgotten, 529 Timely Recording Co. Record Coll. 78-36633
- The internationale / music by Pierre Degeyter. Forward! We’ve not forgotten / music by Hanns Eisler. N.Y.C.: Timely Recording Co., [193-?]. 526 Timely Recording Co. 529 Timely Recording Co.
Record Coll. 78-36633
Label image, In praise of learning, 527 Timely Recording. Record Coll. 78-36634
Label image, Rise up, 530 Timely Recording Co. Record Coll. 78-36634
- In praise of learning; Rise up / music by Hanns Eisler. N.Y.C.: Timely Recording Co., [1936?]. 527 Timely Recording Co. 530 Timely Recording Co.
Record Coll. 78-36634
Complementing our collection of original Gramophone “Monarch” 78rpm recordings by Egyptian singer Yusuf Al-Manyalawi, we recently acquired this impressive box set produced by the Foundation for Arab Music Archiving and Research (AMAR). The Voice of the Nahda Era contains 10 CDs of recordings by Manyalawi made between 1907 and 1910, as well as two books, one in French and English by music historian Frédéric Lagrange and the other in Arabic by Prof. Muhsen Sawa and AMAR president Mustapha Said.
Cover, “The voice of the Nahda era”: Yusuf Al-Manyalawi: the works (1847-1911). Archive of World Music AC 43
- “The voice of the Nahda era”: Yusuf Al-Manyalawi: the works (1847-1911). Lebanon: Foundation for Arab Music Archiving and Research, .
Archive of World Music AC 43
Ellington Test Pressing
Next comes another recording from the year 1935. We recently purchased an original vinyl test pressing of one of Duke Ellington’s small group sessions. Take no. 2 of the tune “Indigo Echoes” was ultimately chosen for release, but this was an unissued alternate take (no. 1: matrix B-16976-1). Both were recorded in New York on March 5, 1935 and featured Rex Stewart, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Duke Ellington, Wellman Braud and Billy Taylor. You can hear this alternate take on the Mosaic set entitled Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936-1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions (Record Coll. AC 36801).
Label image, Duke Ellington’s Sextet, “Indigo echoes,” B-16976-1 Brunswick. Record Coll. 78-36631