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1979: Albert's (in Omaha) is lit!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

S1K - pp012 to 018 [12 songs]

what, again? In which I begin my traversal of The Book of a Thousand Songs [Wier, 1918].

The music follows a lengthy (as you might imagine) table of contents which somewhat mirrors the organization of the book. Alphabetical order guides but does not dictate placement -- Wier, or whoever did these things for him, was sensitive to layout and convenience. As a result, there are very few places where I need to turn a page once I'm playing a piece. I noticed one the other day and was almost shocked by it.

So the book is roughly alphabetic, but not fanatically so, with the same relaxed sort of organization as my two comb-bound books of photocopied music (almost entirely stuff I own or which is out of copyright), only they're on a vague chronological scheme. The first page forsakes even rough order in order to be patriotic.

p 12: "America" [Samuel F. Smith], "The Star-Spangled Banner" [John Stafford Smith, Francis Scott Key].
The editor relaxes his usual method of presenting no more than two verses and gives four for "America." The Book of World-Famous Music [Fuld], a valuable reference on such matters, says that nobody's sure whose tune it is. The Great Song Thesaurus credits a Mr. Harris.
I penciled in John Stafford Smith for "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's not that I'm tentative; it's just that a pencil is what I keep by the piano. The melody varies a little from the standard version we hear. There's a little less martial snap to it. The song didn't become our national anthem until 1931, but it was already popular in 1918 so its inclusion isn't surprising.

p 13: "At Pierrot's Door" [French folk song].
I played this way back in the first time I tried (and failed) to take piano lessons from my Dad, as "Au Clair de la Lune."

p 14: "Alice, Where Art Thou?" [J. Ascher], "Abide with Me" [H.F. Lyte, W.H. Monk].
The former would seem to be the source of a snippet Dad used to pop out with at odd moments, "Al-ice, where are you go-ing?" (To which the answer was "Down the drain.") Neither lyric is actually in the song.
"Abide with Me" is one of those hymns I've heard over and over, over the years.

p 15: "Ave Maria" [fr Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni], "Auld Lang Syne" [Traditional, and Robert Burns].
Instrumental opera intermezzo with (religious) words attached. Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, the librettists, had nothing to do with this, so I won't be writing their names in on it.
I added "Trad" to "Auld Lang Syne" because Burns didn't write the first verse. The melody first showed up as a germ of its present self in one of Playford's dance tune collections and was modified in subsequent appearances. The folk process at work.

p 16: "As Down in the Sunless Retreats" [Thomas Moore, Joseph Haydn], "As a Little Child" [C.M. Von Weber].
Thomas Moore gave us songs and lyrics that are still remembered. Some may have been original, many were taken from Irish and other folk sources. We'll run into him later, with "Believe Me, if All those Endearing Young Charms," "The Minstrel Boy," "The Last Rose of Summer" and, well, more. I'm not sure how he got together with Haydn, but it seems he wrote a poem and used something Haydn had left sitting around for a tune.
I don't know enough Weber to say if this is a translation of something he really set or if it's one of those didactic little bromides some educator cobbled together.

p 17: "Away Down Souf" [Stephen C. Foster], "Aura Lee" [W.W. Fosdick, Geo. R. Poulton].
Foster wins the previously unannounced prize for first use of the N-word in this collection. Seemed to me at one time that minstrel songs were an opportunity for uptight whites to express emotions that were too real for other songs, but I may have been wrong. Anyway, this is one of the happy ones, and that's an emotion I don't see as much of in white songs of the time -- they were more into sweethearts dying young and like that.
I had to write in both writers' names for "Aura Lee," courtesy of The Book of World-Famous Music. Elvis Presley covered this in the 50s as "Love Me Tender," with lyrics mainly by Ken Darby.

p 18: "Ah! So Pure" [F. von Flotow; w: W Friedrich].
A memorable air from a somewhat forgotten opera. I added in the writer of the lyrics, though the translation is anonymous. I like to play the version of this that's in Gems of the Universe, and tend to imagine it being sung by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer.

Now I'm worried. I didn't plan to write about every song. Maybe these were just special or something. I'm sure I'll have nothing much to say about "Angel Gabriel" on page 19. But it's late now, so I'm off to prepare for bed. Night, all.

Mirrored at my Live Journal. Edited slightly for format and words out.

ps: If somebody out there can tell me how to pad the picture so it doesn't crash into the text, please clue me in. I've tried all sorts of permutations of "padding" "cellpadding" and "border" with values in and out of quote marks, with and without px after, and using equal sign or colon. Guh.

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