The Golden Age of Light Music : the 1930s – Volume 2 "In Town Tonight"
The second new Guild Light Music CD revisits the 1930s. Of special interest is the final ‘bonus’ track, which features a rare experimental recording from 1934 when EMI engineers were discovering that stereo recordings were possible. It took another 23 years, before they reached the record buying public.
The Golden Age of Light Music : the 1930s – Volume 2 "In Town Tonight"
1 Down The Mall (John Belton, alias Tony Lowry & Douglas Brownsmith)
PHILIP GREEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
2 Bitter Sweet Waltz (I’ll See You Again) (Noel Coward)
PARAMOUNT THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ANTON with AL BOLLINGTON (Organ)
3 Pony (Josef Rixner)
BARNABAS VON GÉCZY AND HIS ORCHESTRA
4 ‘Happy’ – Selection intro: I Want To Be Happy, Happy Days Are Here Again, Happy Feet, Back To Those Happy Days, Many Happy Returns Of The Day, Spread A Little Happiness, I Want To Be Happy.
COVENTRY HIPPODROME ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES SHADWELL (piano soloist: Jack Wilson)
5 La Paloma (Sebastian de Yradier)
REGAL VIRTUOSI Conducted by EMANUEL STARKEY with SIDNEY TORCH, Organ.
6 Chinese Street Serenade (Ludwig Siede arr. Crook)
ALFREDO CAMPOLI AND HIS MARIMBA TANGO ORCHESTRA
7 Badinage (Victor Herbert)
HARRY HORLICK AND HIS ORCHESTRA
8 Squirrel Dance (H. Elliott Smith)
MAREK WEBER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
9 Kismet (Erich Börschel)
INTERNATIONAL RADIO ORCHESTRA
10 ‘Ice Rink Selection’ intro: Skaters Waltz, Wine Women And Song, Casino Tanz, Artist’s Life, Count Of Luxembourg, Valse Septembre, Nights Of Gladness, Amoretten Tanz, Gold And Silver Waltz, Wiener Blut, Espana.
DEBROY SOMERS BAND
11 In Town Tonight ("Knightsbridge" from "London Suite") (Eric Coates)
BBC DANCE ORCHESTRA Directed by HENRY HALL
12 Chinese Legend (Hermann Schulenburg arr. Etlinger)
RICHARD CREAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
13 Fingerprints (Harry Engleman)
HARRY ENGLEMAN’S QUINTET
14 ‘A Bouquet Of Flowers’ intro: Won’t You Buy My Pretty Flowers, Valse Des Fleurs, Roses Of The South, Hearts And Flowers, Wedding Of The Rose, Dear Little Shamrock, Won’t You Buy My Pretty Flowers, Pas Des Fleurs, Narcissus, Last Rose Of Summer, Valse Des Fleurs.
GAUMONT STATE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ALFRED VAN DAM
15 Donna Juanita – Paso Doble (Wilhelm Gabriel)
ROBERT RENARD AND HIS ORCHESTRA
16 Shadowsplay (Schattenspiele) (Herbert Küster)
HERBERT KÜSTER’S PIANO ORCHESTRA
17 Ecstasy Waltz (Sidney Baynes)
EDITH LORAND AND HER VIENNESE ORCHESTRA
18 Procession Of The Sirdar (from ‘Caucasian Sketches’) (Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov, arr. Herman Finck)
COMMODORE GRAND ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH MUSCANT
19 "Mr. Whittington" – Selection (John W. Green, Jack Waller, Joseph Tunbridge) intro: Oceans Of Time, Whoops For The Derby Day, Weep No More My Baby, Who Do You Think You Are, The Sun Is Round The Corner, What A Pleasant Surprise, Finale.
NEW MAYFAIR ORCHESTRA Conducted by RAY NOBLE
20 BONUS TRACK: RARE EXPERIMENTAL STEREO FROM 1934
Excerpt from "Mr. Whittington" intro: The Sun Is Round The Corner, What A Pleasant Surprise, Finale.
NEW MAYFAIR ORCHESTRA Conducted by RAY NOBLE
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5116
The first Guild Light Music collection from the 1930s (GLCD5106) received such a warm reception from aficionados of the period, that a second helping from this tuneful era became a ‘must’. Recognising some constructive comments about the earlier CD, this time some additional famous continental ensembles have been included, resulting in a truly international feel. After all, music knows no boundaries, and whatever the politicians may have been doing during those troubled times, musicians were simply intent upon supplying first-rate entertainment for their grateful audiences.
Henry Hall [1898-1989] takes pride of place in these notes for providing the CD’s title. "In Town Tonight" was a popular British radio programme for 27 years, and its signature tune Knightsbridge from Eric Coates’ "London Suite" firmly established the composer as the leading figure in pre-war light music. Several different versions appeared on record, and while purists may blink at Henry Hall’s dance band version, the superb playing of his musicians has to be admired.
Barnabas Von Géczy [1897-1971] was born in Hungary. He had arrived in Berlin in 1922 and by the 1930s he had one of the best known hotel orchestras in Germany.
‘Robert Renard’ is one of several pseudonyms adopted by Otto Dobrindt [1886-1963] - others included Odeon Dance Orchestra, Piano Symphony, Dobbri and Frank Sandlers. He was also respected as a conductor for classical music, and some of his recordings accompanying noted singers of the time are still available on CDs.
Edith Lorand [1898-1960] was born in Hungary, but spent most of her early career in Germany where she became world-famous as a violinist. She made numerous recordings, mostly light classical and ‘salon’ works, but the changing political situation forced her to return to Hungary in the mid-1930s. Even in her homeland she felt unsafe, so in 1937 she went to the USA, where she spent the rest of her life.
Debroy Somers [1890-1952] could almost be described as a recording phenomenon of the 1930s. For a while his 78s occupied more space in the EMI Columbia catalogue than any other artist. Intriguingly, unlike other artists who were catalogued by surname, he was always listed under "D" rather than "S" and, whether fronting a small ensemble or conducting a large orchestra, the labels said "Debroy Somers Band". The vast majority of his records were medleys of popular songs, such as the Ice Rink Selection chosen for this CD. Somers was the son of an Army band-master from the 1st Gloucestershire Regiment, and was born in Dublin in 1890 – the names on his birth certificate were William Henry – ‘Debroy’ came later. He could play virtually every instrument in the orchestra or the military band and mastered the oboe, cor anglais, piano, harp, clarinet, saxophone and xylophone. He was one of the first dance band leaders to broadcast, and was the originator of the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in 1923 – he remained their musical director until 1926. A prolific broadcaster, he remained an important figure on the British musical scene until he died suddenly at the age of 62 from a stroke.
Harry Horlick was the conductor of one of early American radio’s most popular salon orchestras, largely due to his regular appearances on the long-running "A & P Gypsies" show from 1924 to 1936. When this series ended, Decca signed him for almost twenty sets of 78s featuring what has been described as ‘musically sturdy, if somewhat careful, albums, with a number devoted to popular and theatre music’. From this period comes the Victor Herbert cameo Badinage.
The Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn opened on 20 December 1937, and soon afterwards its own orchestra was making records, under its London-born conductor Alfred Van Dam [1902-1973]. He began a twelve-year association with the Gaumont-British organisation when aged only nineteen, and made his first broadcast in 1931. Immediately prior to his appointment at the flagship State cinema, he had been musical director at the Trocadero, Elephant & Castle in south London. During his later career he contributed no less than 140 broadcasts to the BBC’s famous ‘Music While You Work’ programme, his last broadcast taking place in 1958.
For decades the Far East inspired many artists from poets to painters and composers. The word ‘Chinese’ appears in numerous song titles, as evidenced by the two tracks in this collection. The first comes from Alfredo Campoli [1906-1991], one of the finest violinists working in Britain, whose brilliant playing enhanced numerous recordings, often unbeknown to the public since he was always in demand as a leader from the top orchestras. However he did get his own fair share of the limelight, through his recordings and broadcasts with the various groups he formed. His expertise is hardly surprising, since his father was a violin professor and orchestral leader, while his mother – the operatic soprano Elvira Celi – had toured with Caruso. The family moved to England from Rome while Alfredo was still a child, and he made his début at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1923. After enjoying great success in Britain for many years, he was widely praised when he appeared at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 1953, and other overseas tours took him twice to the Soviet Union.
Probably the best known British theatre orchestra during the 1930s was that of the world famous London Palladium which is featured on "British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras" (Guild GLCD 5108). In recording terms it was also the most prolific, with almost 150 recordings made between 1927 and the early 1940s, most of them conducted by Richard Crean who was in charge from 1930 to 1937. He also made recordings with his own orchestra and Chinese Legend is yet another classic example of the pseudo-oriental music that seemed to fascinate many music-lovers of that era.
The German composer and conductor Erich Börschel composed the charming Sparrow’s Concert which is included on the Guild Light Music CD "Highdays and Holidays" (GLCD5115). This was just one of a number of successful light pieces he wrote in the 1930s, and Kismet is another of the pieces specially recorded for the early Bosworth Mood Music Library.
Russian-born Joseph Muscant is credited with making the Commodore Grand Orchestra into one of the finest ensembles playing light music at that time. It was formed when the Hammersmith cinema opened on 14 September 1929, and soon became popular throughout Britain thanks to its regular BBC radio broadcasts.
Finally it is important to mention "Mr. Whittington" - a London show which, thanks to Ray Noble and EMI, formed an important landmark in the history of recorded sound. London-born Ray Noble (1903-1978) was one of the leading British bandleaders of the 1930s and, as well as being a talented pianist and arranger, he also composed several popular songs which have since become standards. Among his biggest successes were Goodnight Sweetheart, Love Is The Sweetest Thing, The Touch Of Your Lips, and The Very Thought Of You - all of them first introduced by singer Al Bowlly, who was a valued member of the Noble orchestra - called The New Mayfair (Dance) Orchestra on its numerous HMV 78s.
Alan Blumlein joined the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1929 with a brief to improve the then fledgling electrical recording process, which he did with notable success. By 1931 Columbia had merged with The Gramophone Company to form EMI (Electrical and Musical Industries) and Blumlein began experimenting with stereophonic recording (then known as "binaural") at their Hayes research laboratories. By 1934 these experiments were proving so successful that a complete binaural cutting system was installed in one of the studios at Abbey Road to enable recordings of orchestral and other music to be made and assessed.
Most of the results of these experiments – the "walking and talking" and classical music recordings - have already appeared on various LPs and CDs but it is not generally known that some light music was also recorded. In fact the very first Abbey Road binaural recording was made on the 11th of January 1934 by Ray Noble and The New Mayfair Orchestra (called "Ray Noble’s Dance Band" in the documentation). The music chosen was part of a selection from the musical "Mr. Whittington" and the complete mono recording, made at the same time, is featured on track 19 while the binaural version forms the finale of this CD.
The sound is rather distant as the microphones were placed approximately 45 feet from the orchestra and the lack of additional ‘spot’ microphones (and the absence of a stereo mixing desk to accommodate them), means that certain instruments do not have the same prominence as on the mono recording. Even so, the resulting sound is quite exciting, perhaps giving the impression of sitting near the rear of a concert hall or theatre.
It is a pity that the economic climate and the obvious problems of playing such recordings domestically at that time meant that the experiments were abandoned, and the introduction of stereo discs into the home had to wait another 23 years. However Alan Blumlein was responsible for developing the disc cutting principles eventually adopted by the recording industry, although his patents expired in 1952, having never been commercially exploited by EMI. His system was "re-invented" by Westrex, and became the universal standard for stereo LPs.