Mamoulian, The Drunken Woman in the Other Room, and Laura Conducted by John Wilson

“You know I directed Laura.” said Mr. Mamoulian to me matter-of-factly.

See, here’s the thing. I had been under the impression, ever since I was a kid and actually read the listing in TV Guide, that the director of Laura was a guy named Otto Preminger. But here was The Old Man sitting knee to knee with me, announcing right out that he was—what’s the Variety word?the helmer of that glamorous but nutsy picture with Gene Tierney.

So what did I do?

I was twenty-three. I was on a job. I nodded.

(more later)



All the Things You Are by Kern & Hammerstein, Conducted by John McGlinn

You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long.
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.

You are the angel glow that lights a star,
The dearest things I know are what you are.

(The great saxophonist/composer Charlie Parker thought this was the most beautiful passage ever written.)

Some day my happy arms will hold you,
And some day I’ll know that moment divine,
When all the things you are, are mine.

More from that Kitty Carlisle-hosted 1993 TV special: The most beautiful song ever written sung in the classiest concert in the world. (Well, it’s the NY Philharmonic, right?) Orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett. Milton Babbitt, that champion of musical theater and Stephen Sondheim’s teacher, wrote an analysis of this song having to do with tritones and inverted fifths which I was never able to understand, but I don’t think it’s important. You’re welcome to take a crack at it here.

Johnny One-Note by Rodgers & Hart, Sung by Kim Criswell and Conducted by John McGlinn

I’m about to blog about Kitty Carlisle Hart and thought this 1993 clip from PBS might be a nice way to introduce her. Conductor is American musical theater archivist John McGlinn, who died in 2009 at too young an age (55). Also featured in this program are Judy Kaye (On the Twentieth Century) and Rebecca Luker (The Sound of Music, 1998 Broadway revival). Thanks to McGlinn, this is the original Hans Spialek orchestration from the 1937 show Babes in Arms. I’ve always preferred Rodgers & Hart to Rodgers & Hammerstein; this was one of my audition pieces. (Starts at 46:30.)

More Jots on Inside Daisy Clover: The Musical

The story so far: Cantara, ex-ASCAP solfeggist, ex-porn star and screenplay writer, has fallen hopelessly in love with John Wilson, conductor of an English classical/swing orchestra, and has vowed to create something beautiful for his sake. Accordingly, she has pulled out of a dusty drawer the novel-based libretto for a musical she’d written years ago to please a handsome composer she had been in love with at the time—who eventually died of AIDS—and is now attempting to write the music he might have written.

Inside Daisy Clover 5.jpeg

From the novel Inside Daisy Clover, the 13 year-old Daisy:

I like going down to the old pier at Venice, which is a rotting dump like every other place in this whole area, but has this booth for recording your voice. You’re supposed to use it for sending messages to loved ones overseas, but I pay my twenty-five cents—saved up from baby-sitting wages—and I go inside and face this old man with a nervous twitch who works the machine, and I SING!

There’s no orchestra or anything, of course, and sometimes it feels like a hopeless battle against the surf and people screaming on the Big Wheel and the old man’s twitching left eye—but I can sing songs I like and then go home and put the disk in my Oriental casket, which I paid a dollar for because it has a key and I like to lock these things up.

So far I have recorded: “I’ve Got Five Dollars“—”Isn’t It Romantic“—”They Can’t Take That Away from Me“—”Let’s Do It“—and “Love Is Sweeping the Country“. The only trouble is, I can hardly play them afterwards. We don’t have a phonograph. However, I occasionally baby-sit in a trailer with a phonograph—and then I get to play them very softly, without waking Baby. Also, I don’t want anyone to know about this whole thing. I can’t explain why, except that a person is entitled to privacy, and sometimes you just can’t let people in on a thing without them trying to take over. 

The songs I sing are ones that I really and truly like. They make my palms sweat…

© 1963 Gavin Lambert

Sid Ramin and Red Ginzler’s Overture to Gypsy, Conducted by John Wilson

Shimmying commences at 4:00.

The indication “burlesque strip style” was actually written on the music right around this point. Both Ramin and Ginzler cut their teeth writing swing arrangements; lead trumpet in the original Gypsy pit was Dick Perry, late of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Solo trumpet Matt Lovatt here gets it down perfectly. Some people obviously know something about burlycue.

After my good luck in finding “The Trolley Song” 42 days ago I started combing the net for more great performances of show tunes to rip from the net for my personal library—and found this, the Overture to Gypsy. Watching it, at around the 4:00 mark I was struck by a lightning bolt.



Broadway Baby!!!

Almost immediately I took out of a dusty drawer the libretto I’d written for a composer I’d loved (now dead of AIDS) years and years ago. Then I went out and bought Piston’s Harmony, Third Edition.

Composer Jule Styne, by the way, was pleased with this orchestration. Also, the sound of Broadway changed for good.

The Trolley Song by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine, Orchestrated by Conrad Salinger

Co-composer Blaine once said that he’d been glancing at a book he’d found at the Beverly Hills Public Library, landed on a page about early streetcars captioned “Clang, Clang, Clang, Went the Trolley”, and bang was off to the races.

Orchestrator for this song—as well as the entire MGM Judy Garland musical Meet Me in St Louis—was Conrad Salinger. As producer Hugh Fordin wrote:

Salinger’s arrangement was a masterpiece. It conveyed all the colour, the motion, the excitement that was eventually going to be seen on the screen. With the remaining numbers and the background scoring for this film as well as all the work he was to do thereafter, Salinger always maintained sonority and texture in his writing, which made his a very special sound and style that has never been equalled in the American movie musical.

Orchestrator/arranger/conductor Jack Campey pointed to this clip highlighting Salinger’s orchestration, sans vocals. Thanks, Jack.