Hans Neusidler and “Wascha Mesa”

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Hans Neusidler (c.1508 – February 2, 1563), was a German composer and lutenist of the Renaissance.  Neusidler (also Neusiedler, Newsidler) was born at Pressburg (today Bratislava, Slovakia) in 1508 or 1509 and first enters the historical record in 1530, when he settled in Nuremberg, Germany, where he spent the majority of his life as a lute teacher and lute maker. He was issued a residence permit by the city council in February and married there in September. In April 1531, he became a citizen and soon after bought a house on the Zotenberg. He taught lute there in the 1530s, publishing eight books of lute music between 1536 and 1549,, which are of great importance to the history of the lute, partly because of the fine music ranging from music for beginners to highly ornate and virtuosic intablulations, and partly also because his books contain valuable and rare instructional material for beginning lute players.  Also he went into business as a lute maker by 1550.

Neusidler, along with Hans Judenkunig and Hans Gerle, was one of the most important early German lutenists. His eight publications feature intabulations of German songs, French chansons, Italian madrigals, dance pieces, motets, and preludes of an improvisatory nature. Most of the works are in three parts, but there are two-part pieces for beginners and a few four-part arrangements in two of his publications. He republished popular works with newer arrangements in his later books. The initial 1536 publication, which was a beginner’s collection, opens with a written introduction to lute playing which gives insight into contemporaneous performance practice.  All of his publications were for lute and were published in Nuremberg. A somewhat infamous piece is Der Juden Tanz, often cited as an example of bitonality.

Neusidler fathered thirteen children with his first wife, which resulted in his having enormous financial troubles; he eventually sold his house to pay his debts. In January 1556, his wife died, and he remarried five months later; his second wife bore him four more children before her death in August 1562.  Two of his sons, Melchior Neusidler (1531–1590) and Konrad Neusidler (1541-after 1604) were also well-known lutenists and composers in their own right.  Neusidler, one of the leading figures in the development of 16th cnetury German lute music who achieved considerable success not only as a performer and composer but also as a lute maker and teacher, died in Nuremberg on February 2, 1563.

My collection includes the following work by Hans Neusidler:

Ein newes Lautenbuch: Welscher Tanz–Wascha Mesa und Hupff auff.

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Thomas Newman and “The Shawshank Redemption”

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Thomas Montgomery Newman (b. October 20, 1955) is an American composer best known for his many film scores, who has been nominated for fourteen Academy Awards and three Golden Globes, and has won two BAFTAs, six Grammys and an Emmy Award.  Born on October 20, 1955, in Los Angeles, California, he is the youngest son of composer Alfred Newman (1900–1970), who won nine Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Mississippi-born Martha Louis Montgomery (1920–2005). He is a member of a film-scoring dynasty in Hollywood that includes his father Alfred, brother David Newman, sister Maria Newman, uncles Lionel Newman and Emil Newman, cousin Randy Newman (also known as a singer and songwriter), and his first cousin, once removed, Joey Newman. During their upbringing, Martha herded her sons into violin lessons in the San Fernando Valley every weekend.  Newman later studied composition and orchestration for two years at the University of Southern California, before transferring to Yale University, where he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Master of Music in 1978. While at Yale, he met composer Stephen Sondheim, who became an early mentor.

Newman and his wife, Ann Marie, have three children. They reside in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.  At first, he was more interested in musical theater than in film composition, working with Sondheim in Broadway plays.  Lionel, who succeeded Alfred as music director for 20th Century Fox, gave Thomas his first scoring assignment on a 1979 episode of the series The Paper Chase.  In 1983, John Williams, who was a friend of both Alfred and Lionel, invited Newman to work on Return of the Jedi, orchestrating the scene where Darth Vader dies.  Afterwards Newman met in New York producer Scott Rudin, who invited him to compose the score for Reckless (1984).   In 1992, Newman composed the score to Martin Brest’s film Scent of a Woman.

In 1994, Newman got his first Academy Award nominations with the scores to The Shawshank Redemption and Little Women.  He also scored the film The War. In 1996, he scored Diane Keaton’s Unstrung Heroes, receiving yet another Oscar nomination. In 1998, he scored Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer as well as Meet Joe Black. In 1999, Newman composed the score to Sam Mendes’ first feature film American Beauty, created using mainly percussion instruments.   This was his first collaboration with Mendes, and he would go on to score all of the director’s subsequent films except for the comedy-drama Away We Go, which featured songs instead of a score. He received a fourth Oscar nomination for this score, and although he lost again (to John Corigliano for The Red Violin), he did receive a Grammy and a BAFTA.

Newman was honored with the Richard Kirk award at the 2000 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.  His critical and commercial success has continued in the following years with his scores for films such as Meet Joe Black, The Green Mile, Erin Brockovich, In the Bedroom and The Salton Sea. He was nominated consecutively for a further three Academy Awards, for Road to Perdition (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). However, he lost on each occasion to Elliot Goldenthal (for Frida), Howard Shore (for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and Jan A. P. Kaczmarek (for Finding Neverland) respectively.  He was again nominated for an Oscar for scoring Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German (2006), but he again lost, this time to Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel.

Newman’s first score since The Good German was for the 2008 animated film WALL-E, collaborating for the second time with director Andrew Stanton (with the first collaboration being Finding Nemo). The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (as had Nemo). Newman received two Oscar nominations: one for Best Original Score, and another for Best Original Song for “Down to Earth,” which he co-wrote with Peter Gabriel. He was nominated in the Original Score category with two other veteran composers, James Newton-Howard and Danny Elfman, both of whom have also been nominated for several Oscars but each time unsuccessfully. Newman lost both the score and song nominations to A R Rahman for his work on Slumdog Millionaire. He and Peter Gabriel did however win a Grammy for “Down to Earth.”

In 2008, Newman scored Towelhead and Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road and in 2009 he scored Brothers. In 2011 he scored The Help, The Debt, The Iron Lady, and The Adjustment Bureau.  In 2012, Newman scored The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He also scored the 23rd James Bond movie Skyfall, directed by his longtime collaborator Sam Mendes, which celebrates the film franchise’s 50th anniversary.   His work on this film earned him his eleventh Oscar nomination and a second BAFTA win. During 2013, he scored Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects and Saving Mr. Banks. The latter score was very well received by film music critics, earning Newman BAFTA and Oscar nominations for the second consecutive year, both of which he lost to Steven Price for Gravity.

Newman’s 2014 projects included The Judge and Get on Up. He scored 2015’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, marking the first time Newman has scored a sequel to a film he also wrote the score for.  In 2016, Newman scored the motion picture “Passengers” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.  Newman likes to vary the instrumentation in his scores, ranging from full orchestra to percussion-only music. He is also fond of incorporating unusual instruments such as the zither, hurdy-gurdy, psaltery and hammered dulcimer, or unexpected sounds, like Aboriginal chants and the chirping of cicadas. The composer declared that he has “an interest in mundane experimentation.”

The following works by Thomas Newman are contained in my collection:

American Beauty (1999): Any Other Name.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): End Titles.

 

Beatitudes for the Housewives

(Lisa Wilen wrote: I found this in a cookbook from Imperial, Nebraska, as I was rummaging through some of my grandma’s old cookbooks looking for some of her goodies to make this year.  Thought all you ‘housewives’ or homemakers might enjoy.)

Beatitudes for the Housewives

Blessed is she whose daily tasks are a labor of love; for her willing hands and happy heart translate duty into privilege, and her labor becomes a service to God.

Blessed is she who opens the door to welcome both stranger and friends; for gracious hospitality is a test of brotherly love.

Blessed is she who mends stockings and toys and broken hearts; for her understanding is a balm to humanity.

Blessed is she who scours and scrubs; for well she knows that cleanliness is one expression of Godliness.

Blessed is she whom children love; for the love of a child is more to be valued than fortune or fame.

Blessed is she who sings while she works; for music lightens the heaviest load and brightens the dullest chore.

Blessed is she who dusts away doubt and fear and sweeps out the cobwebs of confusions; for her faith will triumph over all adversity.

Blessed is she who serves laughter and smiles with every meal; for her buoyancy of spirit is an aid to mental and physical digestion.

Blessed is she who preserves the sanctity of the Christian home; for hers is a sacred trust that crowns her with dignity.

Randy Newman and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story

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Randall Stuart “Randy” Newman (b. November 28, 1943) is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, composer, and pianist, known for his distinctive voice, mordant (and often satirical) pop songs, and for film scores, who has been nominated for 20 Academy Awards, winning twice – Best Original Song in 2002 for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc., and Best Original Song in 2011 for “We Belong Together,”  and has received three Emmys, six Grammy Awards, and the Governor’s Award from the Recording Academy.  Newman was born on November 28, 1943, in Los Angeles, CA, to a Jewish family. He is the son of Irving George Newman (November 28, 1913 – February 1, 1990), an internist, and Adele “Dixie” (née Fox; August 30, 1916 – October 4, 1988), a secretary.  He lived in New Orleans as a small child and spent summers there until he was 11 years old, his family having by then returned to Los Angeles. Newman also shares the same birthday as his father. The paternal side of his family includes and three uncles who were noted Hollywood film-score composers: Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman and Emil Newman. Newman’s cousins Thomas, Maria, David, and Joey are also composers for motion pictures. He graduated from University High School in Los Angeles. Newman studied music at the University of California, Los Angeles, but dropped out one semester shy of a B.A.

Newman has been a professional songwriter since he was 17. He cites Ray Charles as his greatest influence growing up.  His first single as a performer was 1962’s “Golden Gridiron Boy,” released when he was 18.  The single flopped and Newman chose to concentrate on songwriting and arranging for the next several years. Newman has credited the Fleetwoods with giving him his first national break: the trio recorded his song, “They Tell Me It’s Summer,” as the B-side of one of their 11 hit singles, piggy-backed on the sale of the Fleetwoods’ 1962 hit A-side, “Lovers by Night, Strangers by Day,” giving Newman great exposure and royalties.  His early songs were recorded by Gene Pitney, Jerry Butler, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, the O’Jays, and Irma Thomas, among others. His work as a songwriter met with particular success in the U.K.  Alan Price, who was enjoying great success in England at the time, championed Newman by featuring seven Randy Newman songs on his 1967 A Price on His Head album.

Newman’s earliest scoring work was for television, creating background music for a 1962 episode of TV’s The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and later working briefly on the 1960s TV shows Lost in Space, Peyton Place, and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and more extensively on Judd For The Defense.  In 1966, an album of Newman’s Peyton Place music appeared, credited to The Randy Newman Orchestra.  Newman also co-wrote pop songs for films as early as 1964, co-penning “Look At Me” with Bobby Darin for The Lively Set (1964), and “Galaxy-a-Go-Go, or Leave It To Flint” with Jerry Goldsmith for Our Man Flint (1966).

In the mid-1960s, Newman was briefly a member of the band the Tikis, who later became Harpers Bizarre, best known for their 1967 hit version of the Paul Simon composition “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” Newman kept a close musical relationship with Harpers Bizarre, offering them some of his own compositions, including “Simon Smith” and “Happyland”. The band recorded six Newman compositions during their short initial career (1967–1969).  In this period, Newman began a long professional association with childhood friend Lenny Waronker. Waronker had been hired to produce the Tikis, the Beau Brummels, and the Mojo Men, who were all contracted to the Los Angeles independent label Autumn Records, and he in turn brought in Newman, Leon Russell ,and another friend, pianist/arranger Van Dyke Parks, to play on recording sessions. Later in 1966 Waronker was hired as an A&R manager by Warner Bros. Records. and his friendship with Newman, Russell, and Parks began a creative circle around Waronker at Warner Bros.

His 1968 debut album, Randy Newman, was a critical success but never dented the Billboard Top 200. Many artists, including Helen Reddy, Bette Midler, Alan Price, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Van Ronk, Judy Collins, Cass Elliot, Art Garfunkel, the Everly Brothers, Claudine Longet, Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Lynn Anderson, Wilson Pickett, Pat Boone and Peggy Lee, covered his songs and “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” became an early standard.  In 1969, he did the orchestral arrangements for Peggy Lee’s single “Is That All There Is?”, as well as her album with the same title (which also contained her cover versions of two of his songs: “Love Story” and “Linda”).  In 1970, Harry Nilsson recorded an entire album of Newman compositions (Newman played piano) called Nilsson Sings Newman.   It paved the way for Newman’s 1970 release, 12 Songs, a more stripped-down sound that showcased Newman’s piano.  Newman also made his first foray into music for films at this time, writing and performing the theme song “He Gives Us All His Love” for Norman Lear’s 1971 film satire Cold Turkey.

Newman’s 1972 Sail Away reached No. 163 on Billboard, with the title track making its way into the repertoire of Ray Charles and Linda Ronstadt. “You Can Leave Your Hat On” was covered by Three Dog Night, then Joe Cocker, and later by Keb Mo, Etta James, Tom Jones (whose version was later used for the 1997 film The Full Monty), and the Québécois singer Garou.   His 1974 release Good Old Boys was a set of songs about the American South.  Little Criminals (1977) contained the surprise hit “Short People”, which also became a subject of controversy. 1979’s Born Again featured a song satirically mythologizing the Electric Light Orchestra (and their arranging style) entitled “The Story of a Rock and Roll Band.  His 1983 album Trouble in Paradise included the hit single “I Love L.A.”, a song that has been interpreted as both praising and criticizing the city of Los Angeles.   A revue of Newman’s songs, titled Maybe I’m Doing It Wrong, was performed at the Astor Place Theatre in New York City in 1982, and later at other theaters around the country. The New York cast featured Mark Linn-Baker and Deborah Rush, and at one point included Treat Williams.

In the years following Trouble in Paradise, Newman focused more on film work, and since the 1980s, Newman has worked mostly as a film composer. He returned to film work with 1981’s Ragtime, for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards.  His film scores include Awakenings, The Natural, Leatherheads, Cats Don’t Dance, Meet the Parents, Cold Turkey, and Seabiscuit. He has scored eight Disney-Pixar animated films: Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Toy Story 3, Monsters University, and Cars 3, as well as Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and James and the Giant Peach.  In 1985 Newman performed a set at the first Farm Aid concert that included a duet with Billy Joel on facing grand pianos. Newman performed “Sail Away.” Newman co-wrote the 1986 film Three Amigos! with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels, wrote three songs for the film, and provided the voice for the singing bush. His orchestral film scores resemble the work of Elmer Bernstein (with whom he worked on Three Amigos!) and Maurice Jarre.

In the 1990s, Newman adapted Goethe’s Faust into a concept album and musical, Randy Newman’s Faust. After a 1995 staging at the La Jolla Playhouse, he retained David Mamet to help rework the book before its relaunch on the Chicago Goodman Theatre mainstage in 1996. Newman’s Faust had a one-time performance at the City Center in New York City on July 1, 2014.  In 2000, South Coast Repertory (SCR) produced The Miseducation of Randy Newman, a musical theater piece that recreates the life of a songwriter who bears some resemblance to the actual Newman. Set in New Orleans and Los Angeles, it was modeled on the American autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams.

Newman has earned at least one Academy Award nomination for six of the seven films he has scored for Pixar, winning the award for Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 3, both times in the category of Best Original Song.   Newman had the dubious distinction of receiving the most Oscar nominations (15) without a single win. His losing streak was broken when he received the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2001, for the Monsters, Inc. song “If I Didn’t Have You”, beating Sting, Enya and Paul McCartney.  Newman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 for classics such as “Short People.”  In 2003 Newman’s song “It’s a Jungle Out There” was used for season 2 of the USA Network’s show Monk; it won him the 2004 Emmy Award for Best Main Title Music.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” became an anthem and was played heavily on a wide range of American radio and television stations.   In a related performance, Newman contributed to the 2007 release of Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard), contributing his version of Domino’s “Blue Monday.”

In 2007, Newman was inducted as a Disney Legend.  During Disney’s annual shareholder meeting in March of that year, Newman performed a new song written for the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ movie The Princess and the Frog. He was accompanied by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. In 2010, the Center Theatre Group staged Harps and Angels, a musical revue of the Randy Newman songbook, interspersed with narratives reflecting on Newman’s inspirations. The revue premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.  Also in 2010, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Newman has received 20 Academy Award nominations with two wins, both for Best Original Song, accepting the award for “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3in 2011.  Newman was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.  In September 2014, Newman received a Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award and performed at the annual film music gala Hollywood in Vienna for the first time together with his cousin David Newman.  In October 2016, Newman released the song “Putin.”  Newman released his much anticipated new album, Dark Matter in August 2017. It received positive reviews, many citing its musical ambition as well as its lyrical bite.

The following works by Randy Newman are contained in my collection:

James and the Giant Peach (1996): Good News.

The Natural (1984): The Natural (Main Theme).

Toy Story (1995): You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

 

Franklin (College) Museum, New Athens, OH

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Franklin Museum

187 N. Main St.

New Athens, OH 43981

Franklin Museum, in New Athens, Ohio on Route 9 between St. Clairsville and Cadiz, approximately 25 miles from Wheeling, West Virginia, is located in the building that housed Franklin College from 1900 until it closed in 1921. The college was chartered in 1825 as Alma College but its name was soon changed to Franklin College. The college was preceded by the Alma Academy, which had been started in 1818.  Although a small institution, Franklin College boasted numerous influential graduates of national and international renown, including 8 U.S. Senators, 9 U.S. Representatives, 20 State Legislators, 47 physicians, over 113 educators and over 440 ministers.  A few of the more notable graduates include: John Bingham, Congressman and author of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and chief deputy prosecutor of President Lincoln’s assassins; Titus Basfield, an ex-slave who was one of the first Aftrican-American graduates from an Ohio College; William Lawrence, first Controller of the U.S. Treasury; John Kuhn, one of the founders of the Republican Party; and Joseph Ray, who authored “Ray’s Arithmetic” books.  From its inception, Franklin College was a “hot bed” of abolitionist sentiment and its founder and alumni played a significant role in the anti-slavery movement. John Walker, preacher, physician, and strong abolitionist, was the founder of Franklin College. He also was the co-founder of the village of New Athens. The name, New Athens, was selected because he wanted to establish a center of classical learning and felt that Athens, Greece was the epitome of classical learning, thus the name, new Athens.  Franklin College closed in 1921, and its charter was later transferred to Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. The building was used as a school for grades 1-12 until 1971 and then as a grade school until 1987. In 1990, the building was designated as the Franklin Museum. It is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

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Alfred Newman and The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Alfred Newman (March 17, 1901 – February 17, 1970) was an American composer, arranger, and conductor of film music, who started as a music prodigy, came to be regarded as a respected figure in the history of film music, won nine Academy Awards, and was nominated forty-three times.  Newman was the eldest of ten children, born on March 17, 1901, in New Haven, Connecticut, to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Russia shortly before his birth.  His father, Michael Newman, was a produce dealer, and his mother, Luba, took care of the family. Her father had been a cantor in Russia, which contributed to her love of music.  She sent Newman, her first born, to a local piano teacher to begin lessons when he was five. At one point, in order to take lessons, he walked a ten-mile round trip. And with barely enough to live on, his parents once had to sell their dog to make ends meet.

By the age of eight Alfred had become known locally as a piano prodigy. His talent led virtuoso Ignacy Jan Paderewski to arrange a recital for him in New York, where Sigismund Stojowski and Alexander Lambert, at different periods, took him as a pupil.  To save Newman commuting cost, Stojowski convinced a ticket inspector to let young Newman sometimes travel free.  Stojowski offered him a scholarship, after which Newman won a silver medal and a gold medal in a competition. He also studied harmony, counterpoint and composition with Rubin Goldmark and George Wedge.  By the time Newman was twelve, his parents’ meager income was not enough to support his large family, which led to him searching for ways to earn an income from music to help his family. He then began playing in theaters and restaurants, including the Strand Theater and the Harlem Opera House, with a schedule that often had him playing five shows a day.  During the shows, he typically accompanied singers as pianist. Grace La Rue, star of one the shows, was taken by Newman’s talent and signed him on as her regular accompanist.

Newman, then 13, also attracted the attention of author Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who wanted to promote him to those who could further his music ambition. She greatly admired his ability to play Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner and other composers, and with equal skill, in her opinion, as noted pianist Paderewski.  He began traveling the vaudeville circuit with La Rue’s show when he was 13, where she billed him as “The Marvelous Boy Pianist.”   While on tours, he was sometimes allowed to conduct the orchestras. This led to him making conducting his career goal, an ambition furthered by William Merrigan Daly, an experienced music director and composer who taught Newman the basics of conducting. By the time he was fifteen, he was regularly conducting performances for matinee shows. Cincinnati Symphony conductor Fritz Reiner was so impressed by Newman, he invited him to be a guest conductor.

When Neweman was nineteen, he began conducting full-time in New York City, the beginning of a ten-year career on Broadway as the conductor of musicals by composers such as George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Jerome Kern.  He conducted George White’s Scandals in 1919, Funny Face in 1927 and Treasure Girl in 1929.  In 1930 songwriter and composer Irving Berlin invited him to Hollywood to conduct his score for the film, Reaching for the Moon.   Although the musical film was originally planned to include songs written by Berlin, problems developed between him and director Edmund Goulding, which led to most of his songs being taken out. Newman was kept on and received credit for directing the music, which became his Hollywood debut.  Soon after Newman arrived in Hollywood in 1930 and finished directing the score for Reaching for the Moon, producer Samuel Goldwyn offered him a contract to continue on as a movie composer. His first complete film score was for Goldwyn’s Street Scene in 1931. The score mirrored the busy and frantic sounds of everyday life in New York’s Lower East Side in the 1930s.   He later used that music theme in other films, such as How to Marry a Millionaire in 1953, which opens with him conducting an orchestra. The theme is also used in Gentleman’s Agreement, I Wake Up Screaming,The Dark Corner, Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

In 1931 Charlie Chaplin had Newman to orchestrate his film, City Lights, and used him again for Modern Times in 1936.   Newman became Goldwyn’s favorite composer, while his style evolved with each new film he scored.  He scored numerous adventure stories and romances, historical pageants and swashbuckling epics, as did his contemporary, Erich Wolfgang Korngold.    Newman also began taking lessons with Arnold Schoenberg, who emigrated to the U.S. from Europe in 1934.  He received his first Academy Award for Alexander’s Ragtime Band in 1938. In 1939, he wrote the music for Goldwyn’s Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.  His score was unique in the way it included different musical themes and created different motifs for the key actors, which helped frame the action. The theme for Cathy, for instance, consisted of a glowing pastoral with strings, while Heathcliff’s theme, in contrast, produced a darker, more serious image. Also in 1939, he composed the music for Gunga Din, and Beau Geste.  Among Newman’s specialties were films with a religious theme, although he himself was not known to be religious. Among the films were The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), starring Charles Laughton.

In 1940 Newman began a 20-year career as music director with 20th Century-Fox Studios, composing over 200 film scores, nine of which won Academy Awards. He wore many hats at the studio depending on the need, acting as composer, arranger, music director and conductor for various films. However, he said that he preferred arranging and conducting over composing because the latter was lonely and demanding work.   He composed the familiar fanfare which accompanies the studio logo at the beginning of Fox’s productions, and still introduces Fox pictures today.  The Song of Bernadette (1943) is said to be one of Newman’s loveliest scores, recorded over a four-week period with an 80-piece orchestra.  Newman’s score for Wilson (1944), a biopic about president Woodrow Wilson, required he devote an unusual amount of time to research.

In the 1940s Newman scored a number of films related to World War II. Among those were A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941), To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) and Twelve O’Clock High (1949), which one historian says is Newman’s best dramatic opening theme for a movie.   Newman also composed or music directed the score to some of Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series of films, including Prelude to War (1942) and War Comes to America (1945). He created the music for The All-Star Bond Rally (1945), a documentary short film featuring Hollywood stars promoting the sales of War Bonds.  The previous year he scored another documentary, The Fighting Lady (1944).

Newman often studied period music and assimilated it into his scores.  For The Grapes of Wrath (1940), he brought in the folk tune favorite “Red River Valley” throughout the score.   For films such as How Green Was My Valley (1941), for example, he incorporated Welsh hymns.  In 1947 he composed the music for Captain from Castile, which included the famous “Conquest march”, an impassioned score for the Spanish conquistadors. The dramatic score for The Snake Pit, a 1948 film set in a lunatic asylum, was accentuated by Newman’s careful use of effects to intensify the discomfort and fear portrayed by the actors, primarily its star Olivia de Havilland.  Newman also orchestrated and conducted the music for a biopic about the life of American composer John Philip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever (1952), a film which includes numerous marches for which Sousa is best known.

In 1952, With a Song in My Heart gave Newman his fifth Academy Award. It was presented to him by Walt Disney.  The Robe (1953), a New Testament epic, was another of Newman’s scores with a religious theme, with orchestration creating spaciousness, grandeur and simplicity. It was also the first picture to use stereo sound, which allowed Newman to experiment in developing the various moods.  The score was one of fellow composer Franz Waxman’s favorites, and he re-worked part of it for the film’s sequel.   In 1953, Newman also  wrote the “CinemaScope extension” for his fanfare. During portions of the score for Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955), he created numbers with a distinctly Chinese sensibility, both with instruments and melodies.

Newman received his eighth Oscar for The King and I in 1956.  In 1959 Newman composed the score for The Diary of Anne Frank. Although based on the true-life tragic story of a young girl during World War II, Newman’s score focuses on her optimistic personality, which as her diary attests, she continued to believe that people were good at heart.  It was nominated for an Oscar.  Newman’s final musical score under his Fox contract was The Best of Everything (1959), and after leaving Fox in 1960, Newman freelanced for the remainder of his career, writing the scores for such films as MGM’s How the West Was Won (1962), which some consider his most familiar and best score where he took folk tunes and transformed them into orchestral/choral works of tremendous power.   It is listed on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores. That film and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), were nominated for an Oscar.  Newman remained active until the end of his life, scoring Universal Pictures’ Airport (1970) shortly before his death. Newman died on February 17, 1970 at the age of 68, a month shy before his 69th birthday, at his home in Hollywood, from complications of emphysema.

Newman was among the first musicians to compose and conduct original music during Hollywood’s Golden Age of movies, later becoming a respected and powerful music director in the history of Hollywood.m He and two of his fellow composers, Max Steiner and Dimitri Tiomkin, were considered the “three godfathers of film music.”  In a career spanning more than four decades, Newman composed the scores for over 200 motion pictures. Some of his most famous scores include Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Mark of Zorro, How Green Was My Valley, The Song of Bernadette, Captain from Castile, All About Eve, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Anastasia, The Diary of Anne Frank, How The West Was Won, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and his final score, Airport, all of which were nominated for or won Academy Awards.  Newman was also one of those rare Hollywood souls who generously nurtured the talents and careers of many other men who became legends in the field of film composition—including Bernard Herrmann, David Raksin and John Williams.  Had Newman not been music director at Twentieth Century Fox, composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Alex North, and David Raksin, all of whose music was somewhat radical, might never have had such major careers in Hollywood.  Newman was also highly regarded as a conductor, and arranged and conducted many scores by other composers, including George Gershwin, Charlie Chaplin, and Irving Berlin. He also conducted the music for many film adaptations of Broadway musicals (having worked on Broadway for ten years before coming to Hollywood), as well as many original Hollywood musicals.

My collection includes the following works by Alfred Newman:

The Greatest Story Ever Told : The Nativity.

Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare and Cinemascope Extension.

 

W. S. Mygrant and My Maryland (March)

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William Seneca Mygrant (September 12, 1862-November 18, 1937) was an American composer, musician, and cornet player.  Mygrant was born September 12, 1862, in Markle, Indiana.  His parents were Isaac Mygrant (1828-1914) and Susan Pennell Mygrant (1828-1899).   He had three siblings, a brother S. Ozro Mygrant, a sister who married a man whose last name was Farley; and another brother Claude Emery Mygrant.    According to family lore, he joined a circus band when it came to town.  Also he was in the U.S. army band with the rank of lieutenant.  He wrote music and was a published composer.

Mygrant’s most famous work was My Maryland march for band, which was played by John Philip Sousa’s band. There was a recording of Sousa’s band made on May 13, 1912. It is also available as sheet music for piano.  Mygrant married a French woman named Hannah or Fannie May LaBarre, and together they had two children, a son Percy LaBarre Mygrant and a daughter Susanne Louise Mygrant Minnerly.  Later he lived and played in theaters in New York.  It is said that at one point Mygrant owned his own nightclub somewhere in New York, and prior to owning the nightclub he was playing in some sort of a traveling circus band.  He passed away on Nov. 18, 1937, in Mineola, New York.

The following work by W. S. Mygrant is contained in my collection:

My Maryland (March).