Jealous rage in musical form

Arthur Fiedler was one of the great popularisers. He hated the notion that classical and orchestral music were seen as the preserve of a moneyed, snobbish elite. He wanted the music he loved made available to everyone, and as director the Boston Pops Orchestra, that is exactly what he did. He took charge of the orchestra in 1930, as America slid into the Great Depression, and under his guidance the orchestra toured all over, giving low cost and free concerts, with a mix of lighter classics and orchestrations of popular tunes.

bpo-aPurists frowned, because that is what purists do to show their purity, but Fiedler’s program gave work for hundreds of musicians, and brought orchestral music to many thousands of people who would otherwise never have heard it. Actually, make that millions of people, because Fiedler also pioneered orchestral recording, making the first recordings of many light classical and orchestrated popular works.

Among them was this, the first ever recording of the tango “Jalousie”, made in 1935. Dramatic, powerful, explosive – a jealous rage in musical form – the disc sold more than one million copies. That is a lot of records, even now. Back then, for an orchestra, an astonishing feat.

In America, the Boston Pops recorded for RCA Victor. This is a British release, on His Master’s Voice, and the name used is Boston Promenade Orchestra. Perhaps “pops” was thought lacking in dignity for an HMV release? Whatever: this is a recording which is (rare mix) both  historic and sublime. Put on a red dress, clutch a rose between your teeth, and hit play.

  • Artist: Boston Promenade Orchestra [Boston Pops Orchestra], conducted by Arthur Fiedler
  • Title: Jealousy / Entry of The Boyards
  • Format: 12” shellac disc, 78rpm
  • Label: His Master’s Voice
  • Catalogue: C. 2861
  • Manufactured in: Great Britain
  • Year: c. 1935

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs

A basket of fruit on its head

Sting’s real name is Gordon Sumner. Bono’s real name is Paul Hewson. Madonna’s real name is actually Madonna, but you see where I am going. Many is the artist who has adopted a stage name for a bit of mystique.

A little while ago, I discovered the faux (but enjoyable) Latin jazz of Chaquito, whose real name was John Gregory.

3052 label A

This Ricardo Santos release is part of the G.S. Collection.

Of Ricardo Santos, whose orchestra put out this release in about 1958, I know little. He was a band leader, and had a fair bit of success in the 1950s and 1960s playing smooth, hint-of-gypsy-hint-of-Latin dance music. His records came out on Polydor, a Dutch label, and were first released in Germany. I suspect that Santos was a German band leader from Dusseldorf whose real name was Reinhardt Schmidt. I could be wrong: if anyone knows more about Herr Santos, please let me know.3052 label B

And the music? It’s good. Cognoscente of tango might find it a bit sanitised, westernised and, to be blunt, fake. And they would have a point. But it can still be enjoyed for what it is: polished and skilful dance music, with a basket of fruit on its head.

  • Artist: Ricardo Santos And His Orchestra,
  • Title: La Cumparsita / Tango Desiree
  • Track: B side, “Tango Desiree”
  • Format: 10” shellac disc, 78rpm
  • Label: Polydor H 49286
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: c. 1958

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs.