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
Though the weather report promises but little joy, though due dates for theses and applications loom menacingly over us like steadily advancing diplodoci, though the ice and snowdrifts cling to the pavement as clings the tritone to Vitellio Scarpia, though we are, if not actually disgruntled, far from being gruntled, yet be of good cheer, gentle library patrons, for a brief escape to the enchanted land of Bolton, Wodehouse and Kern is but a mouseclick or two away.
Sheet music, recordings, and a couple of other pleasant, nostalgic things.
Between 1915 and 1924 Jerome Kern, often in cahoots with P. G. Wodehouse (brilliant lyricist as well as brilliant novelist; life is not fair) and Guy Bolton (the wizard of plot and pun) wrote several musicals for the small, stylish Princess Theater in New York. Their intricate, tuneful scores and believably nonsensical books distinguished the Princess shows from Ziegfeld’s extravaganzas and Cohan’s revues. Kern and Wodehouse created songs which advanced the plot and illuminated the characters, rather than a series of interchangeable numbers for interchangeable soubrettes and juveniles. The world of these shows is long, long gone, but the songs are as fresh as ever.
If you are stuck in your room with the cold that’s going around, Music Online streams an utterly beguiling album of Wodehouse lyrics (mostly set to Kern’s music) called “The Land Where the Good Songs Go.” Sylvia McNair (she of the voice like silver honey), joins forces with pianist Steven Blier and tenor/Wodehouse buff Hal Cazalet for songs like “You Can’t Make Love By Wireless” and “Non-Stop Dancing” (“Father pluckily continues, though he’s sprained eleven sinews, since we got the non-stop dancing craze.”) Those interested in the evolution of singing styles might want to listen to the vintage recordings of many of the same songs on “The Theatre Lyrics of P. G. Wodehouse”. Some of these tracks date back to 1905, and there’s an interview with Wodehouse about working with Kern.
For the full Bertie Wooster experience, try visiting the UCLA Archive of Popular American Music, printing out a .pdf of the original sheet music for “The Sirens’ Song” or “Sir Galahad” and playing through it on the nearest keyboard. You never know what might summon up Jeeves, tray in hand and mammoth brain at the ready to solve all your problems.