Archeophone Presents the Hits of 1918

 A-ARCH-1918Archeophone Presents the Hits of 1918

   That marvelous series from Archeophone Records, The Phonographic Yearbook, has just grown by one more CD, “1918: ‘Like the sunshine after the rain’.”

I can only hope that the Archeophone people will eventually have one CD for each year from 1900 to 1922; and at this point, they lack a few  years. What an amazing project!

Each CD is accompanied by a booklet packed with information about the times and about each song on the disc, with plenty of photos to make it all the more vivid. The sound, considering the acoustic nature of the technology back then, is surprisingly good; and the tendency of the singers to enunciate (!) each word sets a standard that has been long since ignored.

1918 saw the last days of the war, the armistice, and the deadly flu epidemic. No one, to my knowledge, wrote songs about the latter, but most of the songs recorded in that year had much to do with the war.

downloadThose with direct references to WWI are “Send me away with a smile,” the overly optimistic “I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way,” and, as examples of old songs used for new purposes, “The battle hymn of the republic” and “Hail! hail! the gang’s all here.”

In a lighter vein, there are “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning,” “They were all out of step but Jim,” and “I don’t want to get well” (because the wounded soldier has fallen in love with his nurse). “Oh, Frenchy” is about an American nurse attracted to a French casualty.

hellocentralRecycling the sentimental song about the child trying to phone her mother up in heaven, “Hello, central, give me no man’s land” drew many a tear, as did “Just a baby’s prayer at twilight (for her daddy over there).”

The orchestral “Hindustan” brings to mind the some of the exotic places the soldiers were seeing, and “Roses of Picardy” does the same for some of the beautiful places.

To make a fair representation of all sorts of popular songs, “1918” includes “Darktown strutters’ ball,” “Everything is peaches down in Georgia,” “Tiger rag,” “I’m always chasing rainbows,” and “Smiles.”

200px-OverThereBayesVtEduAmong the singers are John McCormack, Arthur Fields, Billy Murray, Al Jolson, Henry Burr, Van and Schenck, and Enrico Caruso. The latter belts out “Over there” in English and then in French in a most impressive way.

What a wonderful way to liven up a history lesson, you teachers out there!

“Cabaret Girl” Sparkles in New Recording

1922 Kern Musical Sparkles in New Recording

   A-OLO-Cabaret GirlThere was once a form of entertainment called the Musical Comedy that actually had both delightful music and a good deal of comedy. Of course, the plots were bubble headed and served mainly as a peg on which to hang the songs. One of the masters of the genre was Jerome Kern, a disciple of Victor Herbert, whose influence on Kern is very obvious in his earlier works.

Of course, “Show Boat” dared to introduce a serious plot into the mix and prepared the ground for “Pal Joey,” “South Pacific,” and later much of what passes for musicals today. But back in 1922, musicals like Kern’s “The Cabaret Girl” were much in vogue. Most have deservedly vanished, but with Kern composing the music and P.G. Wodehouse and George Grossmith working on dialogue and lyrics, the show was heads above most of the others.

Jerome Kern

Now cut into the 21st century. The Ohio Light Opera has been producing and recording on CDs a good many American and European operettas, with considerable success, most of which I have reviewed in my columns. Now with “The Cabaret Girl” on the Albany label, they have what I consider one of their finer efforts. Since the recording and program notes include all the dialogue, I will pass over the silly plot.

What is most impressive is that just about every song makes one feel good! The comedy songs find their sources in past operettas (Gilbert and Sullivan’s influence is most apparent) as well as vaudeville routines, in particular those of Gallagher and Shean.

Two of the original cast

Conductor Michael Borowitz brings sparkle to a score that demands it; and even the dialogue flows a little faster than it does in some of the past OLO recordings. Compliments to the leads, among whom are Lindsay O’Neil, Stefan Gordon, Julie Wright, Steven Daigle, and too many others to list here.

The running time of the two CDs is 114 minutes, and for once I wish it could have been longer!

So for lovers of old time songs, students of the American musical theatre, and all who want to revel in things as they used to be—this is a definite Grabbit!

Scenes from the OLO production (2008)

A Rare Musical from 1956 Television: “Paris in the Springtime”

A Rare Musical from 1956 Television

A-VAI-Paris in the SpringtimeAs part of the now fabled “Max Liebman Presents” series of televised musicals back in the 1950s, Jerome Kern’s “The Cat and the Fiddle” was announced as the next presentation. But sudden copyright problems (I read) came up and a musical had to be created in three weeks. The result was “Paris in the Springtime” and it can be seen on a VAI DVD.

The book thrown together by William Friedberg and Neil Simon uses a time-worn plot. (I will use the names of the actors rather than the characters). An unsuccessful song-and-dance man, Dan Dailey, goes to Paris with his agent Jack Whiting and runs into a penniless artistic troupe of players headed by Carlton Carpenter and Gale Sherwood, whom he promises to help. He also runs into an old theatre friend, Helen Gallagher, who is a success at a local night club. And so on.


The songs are established ones by such composers as Cole Porter (“Nobody’s chasing me”), George Gershwin (“I can’t be bothered now”), Richard Rodgers (“From another world”), Harold Arlen (“Down with love”), Vernon Duke (“That’s what makes Paris Paree”), and Gus Kahn (“I’ll never be the same”). One is actually attributed to Marie Antoinette (“La jardinière du Roi”)! Not one of them advances the plot and several are used as numbers performed at the night club.

(Notice that Porter’s “I love Paris in the springtime” is not included. Too obvious? Or copyright limitations?)

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I wonder how they got the copyrights to all these numbers in so short a time. Nevertheless, it is good to hear unfamiliar numbers from shows seldom if ever revived and from composers like Paul Durand (“Mademoiselle de Paris”) of whom I know nothing.

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Gale Sherwood makes a pleasant if not very complex love interest and her voice is operatic. Jack Whiting brings that old-time vaudeville perfection to the song and dance routines, while Helen Gallagher brings down the house in her solo night club number, reminding me of Gwen Verdon at her best. Carlton Carpenter is amiable, while chanteuse Genevieve shows up to deliver one song and is not seen again.

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But alas, there is a slight vacuum in the middle of things and that is Dan Dailey. As good a dancer as he is (and we don’t get to see much of him dancing), his singing voice varies from adequate to quite awful. His acting skills are minimal and (sorry to say this) he simply lacks the good looks needed for a part like this.

The black and white video is primitive, of course, but this just adds to the charm. And you can even see the commercials as a bonus! Thank you, VAI, for this treat.

Dan W. Quinn

Dan W. Quinn Sings Turn of the (Last) Century Songs

A-ARCH-QuinnMeet Dan W. Quinn (1860-1938). Or at least hear him on a recent Archeophone CD, “Dan W. Quinn Anthology, The King of Comic Singers 1894-1917.” Here is a top recording star of his time who, without a beautiful voice but with great style, turned out about 2500 recordings, 30 of which appear on this disc.

Right away, I must quote from the back cover: “Contains racially derogatory language.” Although these songs, sung mostly by blacks to mock their own race but often enough by whites to vilify the former, are shameful to us today, they do form part of our musical heritage and cannot be ignored. Otherwise we would be like a certain nation that omitted World War II from its history books because it was too dreadful to remember.

392763-0At any rate, the only numbers I find familiar are “A hot time in the old town tonight,” “Ma blushin’ Rosie,” “Bill Bailey, won’t you please come home,” and “On the banks of the Wabash.” Among the catchier titles of unfamiliar songs are “The growler on a string,” “It’s not your nationality, it’s simply you,” and (my favorite) “How could Washington be a married man (and never, never tell a lie?).”

Among the inevitable love songs are “Pretty as a picture,” “My Jersey Lily,” and “Good morning, Carrie.” The rest represent a variety of subjects and moods that suited the tastes of the public during that particular year; and many of them found themselves inserted into then-current shows that had plots so thin that any new song could easily be placed into any situation.

220px-BillBailey1902CoverQuinn’s Irish accent varies from song to song, but it is quite prominent in the protest song “Drill, ye tarriers, drill,” which tells the tale of a dynamite man who tarries a bit too long, is blown sky high, and then finds his pay is docked for the time he was in the air. Well, at least he wasn’t outsourced.

As always, Archeophone provides fabulous program notes, this time 50 pages of them, that are worth the price of the CD set alone. There is much about the life and times of Quinn, lots of illustrations, and details about each song heard on the disc. There is even an account of a (then) notorious dinner at which Little Egypt did her thing and Quinn had to testify that nothing indecent had happened.

Again, I urge teachers of history and sociology to bring some educational delight into their classrooms by using Archeophone discs to shed some extraordinary light on what life was like before all those dull textbooks were written!

Mercury Living Presence Recordings are Now All on CDs!

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Mercury Living Presence Recordings are Now All on CDs!

In the glory days of the long playing record, certain labels with catch phrases shone bright: London FFRR, RCA Living Stereo, and Mercury Living Presence are three that graced my collection. From the 150 or so of the Mercury LPs, almost all were reintroduced on single CDs. And now that the third volume of the “Mercury Living Presence, The Collector’s Edition” is out (as the press release puts it), “almost every single album ever made and released under the Mercury Living Presence label is now available.”

For starters, there are 53 discs in this cubic boxed set (some are albums of two CDs), each in its own cardboard sleeve with the original artwork on the front and the tracking list on the back. A 130-page booklet gives the complete timings and technical information about each recording. I have counted only four discs that are in mono; and they are part of the 10 MLP vinyls that appear on CD for the first time here.

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Antal Dorati

The major conductors represented are Antal Dorati, Frederick Fennell, Howard Hanson, Charles Mackerras, and Paul Paray. Among the symphonies are those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Mendelssohn. To balance the “warhorses” of the symphonic genre are selections by Hindemith and Stravinsky.

61useXV274L._AA160_Among the more rarely heard orchestral pieces are the four Suites by Tchaikovsky and Ernest Bloch’s “Concerto Grosso 1, 2.” Although it is in mono, the “1812 Overture,” with original scoring, brass band, bronze cannon, and Yale University bells, will blow your socks off

The lighter side, pop music if you will, is found on programs devoted to the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Victor Herbert (in 1960s arrangements that might or might not please all). There are the “best of” type discs with shorter works by the same composer: Rimsky-Korsakov, Richard Strauss, and Richard Wagner.

Original LP cover for the Respighi disc

And there are “genre” collections such as “Kaleidoscope” (fast paced music), “Wienerwalzer” (waltzes from Vienna), and “World of Flamenco.” Among my favorite tone poems are those of Ottorino Respighi; and two of them, “Church Windows” and “Roman Festivals,” are found in this collection, the exact recording I heard so many times on my LP player!

When sound boards were still primitive…at least, smaller

But what was the fuss all about when these recordings were first released? Some critic, hearing the vinyl discs, used the expression “living presence”; and the Mercury publicists were not slow in picking it up. The microphones and tapes used are discussed in the program notes for those interested. But I remember how good they sounded, even with my not-quite-state-of-the-art equipment.

And if you want an incredible introduction for someone to classical music, it would be hard to beat this as a very generous gift.

Billy Murray, a Top Vocalist of a Century Ago, Sings Again

A-ARCH-Billy MurrayBilly Murray, a Top Vocalist of a Century Ago, Sings Again

Many of my readers will instantly recall such popular music vocalists as Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Rudy Vallee, and Al Jolson. But what about Billy Murray? If that strikes no bell, read on.

Among my most treasured recordings are those released by the fantastic Archeophone Records. On them are hundreds of recordings transferred from the earliest cylinders up to the acoustic 78 rpms of the late 1920s onto CDs. In the compilations that make up the Phonographic Yearbook series, there are several selections sung by a certain Billy Murray, who sang exclusively for recordings and whose career spans 1903-1940.

Just why his name is practically unknown to the general public is explained in the copious program notes that Archeophone has included with “Billy Murray Anthology: The Denver Nightingale. Recordings, 1903-1940.” Perhaps the designation does not quite fit Murray’s light comic voice, but his enunciation is perfect and his approach to the lyrics impeccable.

835Among the 30 examples of his legacy on this disc, the more familiar include “Meet me in St. Louis,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Give my regards to Broadway,” “In my merry Oldsmobile,” “Harrigan,” “Shine on, harvest moon,” “By the light of the silvery moon,” “K-k-k Katy,” and “Charley, my boy.” The less familiar are even more fascinating, being first hearings for most listeners: “The way to kiss a girl,” “Come take a trip in my air-ship,” “He’s a devil in his own home town,” and the bitingly satiric “He goes to church on Sunday.”

Sheet music with altered title and lyrics

Notice especially the references to (then) modern inventions like the automobile and airplane. His recording of George M. Cohan’s “The grand old rag” keeps the original noun that Cohan had to change when audiences reacted unfavorably. In a few numbers, he is accompanied by vocalists Ada Jones, Aileen Stanley, Ed Smolle, Walter Scanlan, and the Haydn Quartet. As soloist or as part of a duet, Murray never fails to please.

Some other Archeophone discs feature vocal stars of the past are ‘Irving Kaufman Anthology,” “Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth,” “Marion Harris,” “Van and Schenck,” “Henry Burr Anthology,” and three sets devoted to “Bert Williams.”

My favorites of all are the CDs in the Phonographic Yearbook series, each holding nearly two dozen hits from specific years. They all contain thick booklets that alone are worth the price of the sets. It is like going back in a musical time machine.

Vintage Songs from 1911 and 1919 for School and Home

A-ARCH-1911Vintage Songs from 1911 and 1919 for School and Home

Let us say you are a history teacher (Junior High to College) and are teaching American History for (say) 1911. That is the year in which the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned down with most of its workers, a woman was the first to fly across the English Channel, the big books included G.K. Chesterton’s  “The Innocence of Father Brown,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” made Irving Berlin famous, and the first effective electric self-starter for cars was developed.

I could just see how much of this would be ho-hum time for the students. As I have been stating for years, perhaps songs of the period, tied into the events and temper of the time, would begin to rouse the interest of some of the tweeters. Even if they laugh at them, that would be a step in the right direction.

Well, Archeophone has just released two more CDs in their incredible “Phonographic Yearbook” series, one of which happens to be “1911, ‘Up a Little Bit Higher’.” Here are 25 vintage recordings released that year, each of which connects with life in that period of history, each of which has a bounce designed to please people of all ages, or a lovely melody which just might get through the indifference of some students.

ComeJosephineBrownieCarrollCoverA woman aviator? “Come, Josephine, in my flying machine” is an “invention” song, as is “The Oceana roll.” A growing sense of national superiority? “Under the yum yum tree” and “King of the Bungaloos” are part of the call to exotic places. An increasing wave of the Irish into the  country? “Mother Machree” is the tear jerker of the first water. A desire for musical comedy?  “Italian street song” from “Naughty Marietta” and other Herbert operettas is just the ticket.

Of course, the majority of the songs deals with Love. (No surprise.)

1919“1919, ‘Jazzin’ Around and Paintin’ the Town’” has 25 selections of recordings from that year in which soldiers returning from the Great War demanded a better deal and formed unions to get it. I have several older CDs filled with “protest songs,” but this Archeophone collection is of a wider range. Only the plaintive voice of Bert Williams in his “It’s nobody’s business but my own” and “Oh, Death, where is thy sting?” represents the underdog. But people were more interested in the fact that “A pretty girl is like a melody” or “A good man is hard to find.”

a0081-1-72dpiEven the non-Irish could praise “That wonderful mother of mine” while those who moved to the cities could still yearn for “Beautiful Ohio.” On the other hand, “How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm? (after they’ve seen Paree).” The two selections that directly refer to the war are “Oui, oui, Marie” and  “The Rose of No Man’s Land.” (I suppose that “Make love, not war” is the implication here.) Among the happier sort is “Ja-da (ja da, ja da, jing jing!)” [and they say our lyrics today are sappy!] and the rest are love songs as one would expect.

Among the voices heard on these two sets are Marion Harris, Nora Bayes, Henry Burr, Billy Murray, Al Jolson, John McCormack, Ada Jones, Blanche Ring, and the instantly recognizable Sophie Tucker.

It is apparent that these stars knew how to project and to enunciate. First of all, the size of the vaudeville houses in which they performed demanded both skills. Also, not all vocal performers had voices suited to the then state-of-the-art recording techniques. Students today might laugh, as I said, at these singers; but a good teacher could elicit from them just why they had to sing that way. (What! make students think?)

Another plus is the excellent booklets included with each Phonographic Yearbook. They are loaded with information about the events of the year being featured, facts about each recording, and lots of photos of the times and of the singers. Oh, for those not in the teaching profession, you will enjoy these discs for many reasons other than educational. For my age group, that means “nostalgia.”

Kudos, Archeophone!

Not only does the Archeophone website ( list all of their available discs but it even supplies the track listing for many of them.

“Decca Sound, the Mono Years” in Giant CD Collection

A-Decca Mono Years“Decca Sound, the Mono Years” in Giant CD Collection 

 What with the purchase of CDs falling in favor of downloading, companies are releasing budget sets of previously issued CDs. Now one has done the same with those old Decca ffrr (full frequency range recordings) classical recordings in a box of 53 CDs, each in a cardboard sleeve with the original artwork on the front and the contents on the back. A far more detailed listing is found in a 186-page booklet that also gives the technical facts about each disc and a history of the Decca LPs at the back. It is called “Decca Sound, Mono Years (ffrr), 1944-1956.”

Note: These LPs were called London ffrr’s when sold over here, and that is how most of us remember them. Many of the discs have extra pieces that were not on the original vinyls.

There is also a helpful list of which composers are featured on which CD, so one can find all the Mozart (say) without having to flip sleeves to do so.

The program notes tell how the first test recording with new equipment was conducted on June 8, 1944. The philosophy of the endeavor was that “once agreement with the conductor was reached regarding proper levels of loud and soft musical passages, the session was under musical control only, and Decca engineers left their mixing controls alone.”

Some company warned its sound people “Don’t disturb the bridge players.” In short, keep everything at the same sonic level. This could not have been at Decca Records.

Some of the conductors represented in this set are Ernest Ansermet, Clemens Krauss, Adrian Boult, Anthony Collins, Josef Krips, Georg Solti, Anatole Fistoulari, Erich Kleber, Jean Martinon, and Hans Knappertsbusch.

Among the pianists are Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen, Jean Francaix, and Friedrich Gulda. Among the violinists are Alfredo Campoli, Mischa Elman, and Christian Ferras. Among the chamber ensembles are the Amadeus Quartet, Griller Quartet, Quartetto Italiano, and Koppel Quartet.

Since several of the discs have more than one selection, I can only refer my reader to a complete listing that appears on an review of this set. But you can find the familiar: 14 pieces by Beethoven, 7 by Brahms, 5 by Haydn, 10 by Mozart, and 4 by Tchaikovsky.

Among the less familiar would be Arthur Bliss’ “A Color Symphony,” Paul Dukas’ “La Peri,” Andre-Ernest-Modesto Gretry’s “A Ballet Suite,” and other delights that might or might not exist on other recordings.

Just about every CD holds more than the original LP, and so “bonus” tracks are added from other Decca discs, the covers of which are shown on the back of the sleeve. So it’s in mono! It is the performances that count. And there are plenty of great ones in this legendary collection.


Telemann Gets a Super CD Collection of His Works

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Telemann Gets a Super CD Collection of His Works

A Baroque Master Gets a Super Set of CDs  Decades ago, I got to like the music of Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) through a single work, a suite titled “Ebb und Fluth,” one movement of which emulated the ebb and flow of the tide. Since then, I have gathered several recordings of his music—and now my journey has ended!

Brilliant Classics has issued a 50-CD “Telemann Edition,” selling at a bargain price. The first 31 discs are devoted to his instrumental music, subdivided into Musique de table, overtures (really suites), concertos, a quartet, sonatas, and fantasies. Discs 32-39 have keyboard music, while the remaining CDs contain choral, vocal, and dramatic music, including one opera.

There are nine pages of program notes and the back of each sleeve gives the contents and timings. But this is a budget set and further details must be found on the Brilliant Classics website ( It is a little tricky finding this information, but worth the effort. (The download comes to 63 pages and includes the names of the players and even the German text of the vocal selections.)

I will not say—indeed, I cannot say–that any of these performances by many different ensembles, would be a first choice among all the Telemann recordings available elsewhere. But they are all (I assume all) here as more than just an introduction to a Baroque composer whose surviving works were once immensely popular, then neglected, and now are coming back into their own.

Bernstein’s Concerts for the Young on DVD

A-Bernstein ConcertsBernstein’s Concerts for the Young  on DVD

 From January 18, 1958 at Carnegie Hall to March 29, 1970 at Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center, television history was made when Leonard Bernstein conducted and presented his Young People’s Concerts. For some time, these events were available on several VHS tapes and much treasured not only by those who attended or saw them on television but by children and adults who are interested enough in classical music to want to learn more about it.

Now I am delighted to report that Kultur has two sets of these milestones in educational broadcasting. In the first set, 25 of those telecasts comprise a splendid collector’s edition of 9 DVDs  with the title “Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic.” With each episode running about 50 minutes, you can see what a wealth of material is contained herein.

Now I really doubt that parents and teachers brought into the concert halls all those youngsters for a mere 50-minute event. Therefore, unless otherwise informed, I can assume that not every minute of those concerts has been kept on the film. I do know that one concert had to be repeated since “technical difficulties” prevented the first talk’s being telecast.

At any rate, the subject matter of the concerts can be sorted into types. There are those dealing with general questions: What does music mean? What is American Music? What is Orchestration? What is Classical music (in both senses of the word “classical”)? There are those dealing with somewhat technical matters: the concerto, Impressionism, melody, sonata form, intervals, modes. There are those about less technical topics: humor in music, folk music and jazz in the concert hall, Latin American music, the sound of an orchestra. (This is my favorite one, in which Bernstein plays Haydn all wrong in his discussion about sytle.)

Some talks are devoted to a single composer and often to just one of his works: Mahler, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Berlioz. There is one about two “bird” ballets, in which the music of “Swan Lake” and “Firebird” are contrasted, a salute to Vienna and its 3/4-time music, and a study of Beethoven’s “Fidelio.” One is even devoted to a quiz about spotting things about music.

Bernstein’s explanations are always very clear, but I fear much of it was over the heads of the really tiny tots picked up by the camera looking puzzled, fascinated, and in one case yawning politely into the back of a hand. But in general, the audiences—young and old—seem not only to understand but greatly enjoy the presentations, especially carefully spaced references to the music of the Beatles—just to show that grownups can appreciate “popular” music too.

I was particularly impressed by how well behaved the youngsters were, with the single exception of a wail from an upper balcony in one of the talks. In many cases, I think, the musical examples are far too long to make whatever may be the specific point. For example, as wonderful as it was, perhaps having Walter Berry and his wife Christa Ludwig sing three songs in 3/4 time and in German might have been a little too much for that audience—although viewers of this video will probably play this sequence several times. And you don’t bring such superstars in for only one short number anyway!

The video and sound are as good as they were at the times of the original broadcasts; and the sudden change to color halfway through is thrilling. A booklet is provided with a complete outline of all the track listings and a short synopsis for each of the 25 concerts.

The second volume with 27 concerts given from 1960 to 1970—and I am sure there are still some not yet released.

My only real objection to Bernstein’s approach is that he is far too often talking way over the heads of the youngsters in the audience. Indeed, the camera is merciless in picking up those in the audience playing with their programs, sitting in a daze or in a semi-sleep, and in general wishing they were somewhere else. Actually, I blame the parents for bringing children too young to understand what is going on.

Bernstein is further at fault for choosing musical illustrations that are either too long, too complex, or both, for even the older youth to take in. And when he utters statements like “I am sure that when you think of melody, you think of Brahms,” I wonder if he thinks he is speaking to a group of professional musicians. In fact, he is “sure” of many things that any second thoughts should have dissuaded him from claiming.

That said, this set is, like the earlier one, a super product for us grownups!  His analyses of works like “The Planets,” “Pictures at an Exhibition” (first the piano version, then the Ravel orchestration), and Strauss’ “Don Quixote” are quite good. Among the most interesting is “Bach Transmogrified,” in which one of that composer’s works is played in the original version, followed by an orchestrated one (arranged and conducted by Leopold Stokowski), and then on the Moog Synthesizer. More radical treatments of other Bach works end with a Rock and Roll version. Fascinating.

Of little interest to the younger audience are the nine “Young Performers” concerts in which upcoming conductors (one of whom is Seiji Ozawa) and musicians are invited to perform. Where he can, Bernstein does some explanation of what the piece is about. Better are his talks in which he explains the acoustics of Philharmonic Hall and “The Anatomy of a Symphony Orchestra,” the latter of which uses the four short movements of “The Pines of Rome” to illustrate his topic.

A good point about purchasing any video, especially a relatively expensive one like this, is that it cries out for repeated viewings over the years, especially for educational purposes. Music teachers MUST have this set and show carefully chosen short selections to their classes. Concerned parents would do very well to watch this themselves and encourage their youngsters to watch with them. Any lover of classical music should definitely view both volumes. What the really young in the original audiences might have missed will be most welcome by viewers today.