Saturday, September 26, 2009

Old Ireland Quartette - The Star of Munster

A Google search for these guys only brought up the Internet Archive entry from which this file is sourced. The text there says:

Irish bagpipes, fiddle, flute, and cello. Beltona label. The lineup here is William Andrews, pipes, James Cawley, flute, and Frank O'Higgins, fiddle, backed by the cello (name unknown), which along with Andrews's chugging on his regulators gives a quite unique sound. Cawley and O'Higgins also recorded with piper James Ennis in the Fingal Trio, one recording of which is on this site. A 78 of Andrews is featured here as well. Andrews and Ennis both learned from the same old piper, Nicholas Markey, but developed somewhat different styles.

Old Ireland Quartette - The Star of Munster

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Henny Hendrickson's Louisville Serenaders - My Future Just Passed

Like Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders, this is apparently a Pennsylvania band that for unknown reasons chose to bill themselves as Kentuckians.

Henny Hendrickson's Louisville Serenaders were reportedly a territory band, one of the several combos that Hendrickson led in the general vicinity of the crux of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware borders. Although totally forgotten today, they obviously were a well-trained orchestra.

Most personnel is unknown. According to sketchy online info, purportedly part of the lineup is: Henny Hendrickson (leader, clarinet, soprano and alto saxophone); Eddie Friebel (tenor saxophone); Lew Quadling (piano and arranger) and Ditter Haynes (banjo and guitar).

Can't find any images of Henny, so here's a photo of a 1927 Buick Model 28 Standard.

Henny Hendrickson's Louisville Serenaders - My Future Just Passed

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Alfred Cortot - Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand

Alfred Cortot, born September 26, 1877, was a Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor. So saith Wikipedia:

Controversially, he supported the German occupation in France during the Second World War (he played in Nazi-sponsored concerts, for example), serving as High Commissioner of the Fine Arts for the Vichy regime[1], and befriending Hitler's friend, architect, and (after 1942) Minister of Armaments and War Production Albert Speer[citation needed]. His Vichy connections, in particular, led to him being declared persona non grata after the Liberation. The motives for his wartime activities have been disputed; they may have arisen from nothing more than his lifelong championship of Teutonic musical culture. Moreover his wife, Clothilde Breal, daughter of the linguist, Michel Breal, was of Jewish origin and Clothilde Breal's cousin, Lise Bloch, was married to Léon Blum, the first Jew to become President du Conseil or Prime Minister in France. Cortot and the Blums maintained a close friendship. At any rate, he was banned from performing publicly for a year and his public image in France suffered greatly (though he continued to be well received as a recitalist in other countries, notably Italy and England).

Wikipedia also goes on to say: "In his early years (approx. 1920–1930) Cortot recorded a number of piano rolls for the Aeolian/ Duo-Art company, since 78rpm discs were not always satisfactory in quality or maximum duration of the recording. Once he performed a Liszt Rhapsody weaving his own playing live at the piano with its mechanical reproduction. With eyes closed some critics could not distinguish between the two." I find this idea fascinating.

This selection, Maurice Ravel's "Piano Concerto for Left Hand", was recorded May 12, 1939. Victor 78rpm Album M-629 (15749-15750). Paris Conservatory Orchestra. Charles Munch, conductor. It was expertly digitally remastered for the Internet Archive by F. Reeder.

According to a comment posted on archive-org's entry for it: "I'm interested in Cortot's playing, which sounds at once rich and rough to point of carlessness. I knew someone who met him after a concert. My acquaintance thought it was great, but Cortot was actually weeping, he was so conscious of his short-comings. I guess he blew it politically, too."

Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand came about when specially commissioned by Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm during World War I. He nevertheless continued a stellar musical career, and devised many novel techniques, such as pedal and hand-movement combinations, that allowed him to play music that had been previously thought impossible for a one-armed pianist. Ravel, inspired by the technical challenges of the idea, said "In a work of this kind, it is essential to give the impression of a texture no thinner than that of a part written for both hands." Wittgenstein was originally not thrilled by it upon first listen, but after studying it and playing it himself, came to be obsessed by the piece.

Alfred Cortot - Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Farber Sisters - How'd You Like to be my Daddy?

I know absolutely nothing about the Farber Sisters and have only circumstantial evidence that they even existed. This recording, purportedly from 1918, causes me severe cellular disruption. I dig it.

The Farber Sisters - How'd You Like to be my Daddy?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shortwave Spy Transmissions

Heard these before? No? Then you should definitely invest in one of these. Meanwhile, you can check out these mp3 files of classic intelligence-spook secret code shortwave broadcasts.

From The Conet Project's Internet Archive text:

For more than 30 years the Shortwave radio spectrum has been used by the worlds intelligence agencies to transmit secret messages. These messages are transmitted by hundreds of Numbers Stations.

Shortwave Numbers Stations are a perfect method of anonymous, one way communication. Spies located anywhere in the world can be communicated to by their masters via small, locally available, and unmodified Shortwave receivers. The encryption system used by Numbers Stations, known as a one time pad is unbreakable. Combine this with the fact that it is almost impossible to track down the message recipients once they are inserted into the enemy country, it becomes clear just how powerful the Numbers Station system is.

These stations use very rigid schedules, and transmit in many different languages, employing male and female voices repeating strings of numbers or phonetic letters day and night, all year round.

The voices are of varying pitches and intonation; there is even a German station (The Swedish Rhapsody) that transmits a female child's voice!

One might think that these espionage activities should have wound down considerably since the official end of the cold war, but nothing could be further from the truth. Numbers Stations (and by inference, spies) are as busy as ever, with many new and bizarre stations appearing since the fall of the Berlin wall.

Why is it that in over 30 years, the phenomenon of Numbers Stations has gone almost totally unreported? What are the agencies behind the Numbers Stations, and why are the eastern European stations still on the air? Why does the Czech republic operate a Numbers Station 24 hours a day? How is it that Numbers Stations are allowed to interfere with essential radio services like air traffic control and shipping without having to answer to anybody? Why does the Swedish Rhapsody Numbers Station use a small girls voice?

These are just some of the questions that remain unanswered.

150 Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Transmissions

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ludwig Van Beethoven - Marcia Funebre (Symphony No.3)

Marcia Funebre, the second movement from Beethoven's Symphony No.3 ("Eroica").

From Brunswick 78rpm discs, recorded in 1929. Performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, Hans Pfitzner, conductor. According to whoever posted it to the Internet Archive: "A truly 19th century interpretation - this is probably very much the way it sounded when Wagner or Mahler conducted".

Beethoven - Marcia Funebre (Symphony No.3), Hans Pfitzner, conductor

Monday, September 7, 2009

Paul Specht Orchestra - Chant of the Jungle

Photo above from Library of Congress archives: Paul Specht (1895-1954) and his Orchestra in a recording studio.

Musicians in the image include Chauncey Morehouse (drummer; holding cymbal), Frank Guarente (trumpeter; next to Morehouse) and Arthur "The Baron" Schutt (pianist; holding a saxophone for some reason, in the middle of the back row). Specht himself is to the far right.

Paul Specht Orchestra - Chant of the Jungle

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Melle Boyer de Lafory - Le Prophète

Who is Melle Boyer de Lafory? I don't know, but this 1910 cylinder recording of her performing a portion of the Giacomo Meyerbeer opera Le Prophète has that certain indefinable something that makes me want to eat Bovril from the jar with a spoon.

Melle Boyer de Lafory - Le Prophète