Monday, October 22, 2007

"They are striving only for melodies, harmony and rhythms which agitate the throbbing emotional resources of this young restless age"

Wherein starting off with the introduction of the program for Paul Whiteman's Aeolian Hall Concert


Three or four years ago Mr. Whiteman was requested by a number of his friends to give a concert of popular music but until now he considered it unwise to make the attempt because he did not feel confident that his organization had become sufficiently well known to be taken seriously by those people who are giving their time and effort to arouse in the present generation and in those to come a deeper appreciation of really good music.

The experiment is to be purely educational. Mr. Whiteman intends to point out, with assistance of his orchestra and associates, the tremendous strides which have been made in popular music from the day of the discordant Jazz, which sprang into existence about ten years ago from nowhere in particular, to the really melodious music of today, which -- for no good reason -- is still called Jazz. Most people who riducule the present so-called Jazz and who refuse to condone it o listen to it seriously, are quarreling with the name Jazz and not with what it represents.

Modern Jazz has invaded countless millions of homes in all parts of the world. It is being played and enjoyed where formerly no music at all was heard.

The greatest single factor in the improvement of American music has been the art of scoring. Paul Whiteman's orchestra was the first organization to especially score each selection and to play it according to the score. since then practically every modern orchestra has its own arranger or staff of arrangers. As a result there are thousands of young people scoring and composing, who otherwise would perhaps never have dreamed of writing music. These same people are creating much of the popular music of today. They are not influenced by any foreign school. They are writing in the spirit of the times. They are striving only for melodies, harmony and rhythms which agitate the throbbing emotional resources of this young restless age.

American composers should be encouraged to not only maintain the present standard, but to strive for bigger and better things. Eventually there may evolve an American school which will equal those of foreign origin or which will at least provide a stepping stone which will it very simple for the masses to understand and therefore enjoy symphony and opera. That is the true purpose of this experiment.

If after the concert you decide that the music of today is worthless and harmful, it is your duty to stamp it down. If it is not, then we welcome anyone eager to assist in its development.

I'll stream the first and next to last numbers played at the concert. Interestingly, "A Rhapsody in Blue" was not the final number; instead it was Elgar "Pomp and Circumstance." In the program notes it is explained that "This selection has been placed on the program because it is familiar to most people. It is hoped that Mr. Whiteman's rendition of it will not be taken too seriously." The music is taken from the digital LP The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue. This 1986 recording is by Maurice Peress as he recreated the entire Aeolian Hall Concert using the original instrumentation and scores. Eventually I'll have all 25 pieces up and all the liner notes.

  1. Livery Stable Blues. From the liner notes:
    Nick LaRocca, the New Orlens cornet player in the Orignal Dixieland Jazz Band, is credited as the composer of the Livery Stable Blues. The 1917 ODJB recording, from which the rendition on this recording was transcribed, has been said to be the first jazz recording ever. It outsold sousa and Caruso, the top money makers of the time. Our recording begins with Walt Levinsky, Alan Dean, Dave Bargeron, Chuck Spies, and Dick Hyman playing clarinet, coronet, trombone, drums, and piano, respectively, in their interpretation of this piece.

  2. Rhapsody in Blue. From the liner notes:
    I began researching the jazz-band orchestration in 1976. Since then, in the process of researching the entire Aeolian Hall Concert, I have had close looks at several original sources. I believe that this recording of the Rhapsody in Blue is the first fully restored edition. It was prepared in the light of current interest in urtext perforamces of classic music, made posible by a collaboration between musicologists and performers who specialize in historic replication: original instrumentation, tempi, size of forces, and expecially perfornace style.


Blogger Pastor_Jeff said...

Oh, that's good stuff. I really enjoy Paul Whiteman. It's like a soundtrack to the 20s -- music to drink bathtub gin by. It's also fun to put him next to early Louis Armstrong like "Heebie Jeebies" or "Willie the Weeper."

Funny that note -- "discordant Jazz, which sprang into existence about ten years ago from nowhere in particular." Nobody knows where jazz came from?

10/22/2007 11:49:00 PM  

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