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George Kleinsinger and “Tubby the Tuba”

George Kleinsinger (February 13, 1914-July 28, 1982) was an American composer born February 13, 1914, at San Bernardino, CA, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, who is best known for his collaboration with Paul Tripp on the 1940s children’s song “Tubby the Tuba.” He was six when the family went east, and he graduated from high school in New York City. Abandoning earlier thoughts about dentistry as a career, Mr. Kleinsinger earned a B.A. degree in music from New York University. Further educated in private music study with Philip James, Marion Bauer, Harrison Potter and Charles Haubiel, and at Juilliard on fellowship with Frederick Jacobi and Bernard Wagenaar, he was a music director at Civilian Conservation Corps camps, and during World War II he was music supervisor with the 2nd Service Command, ASF. Following the war, he established himself from the 1940’s on as a versatile composer of songs and instrumenal pieces, often using native American rhythms for a light satiric purpose. Joining ASCAP in 1946, his chief musical collaborators included Paul Tripp and Joe Darion.

Among Kleinsinger’s better-known works, which frequently employed colorful instrumental effects, were his light-hearted tunes for younger listeners: ”Tubby the Tuba” (1946), ”Pee-Wee the Piccolo” (1946), ”Street Corner Concerto” for harmonica and orchestra (1946), ”Brooklyn Baseball Cantata” (1948), and “Tubby the Tuba Goes to the Circus.” He also wrote the popular ”I Hear America Singing” inspired by Don Marquis. His other popular-song compositions included “Christmas Is a Feeling In Your Heart”, “Toujours Gai”, “The Growing-Up Tree”, “The Toy Box” and “Lollipoptree.” His television scores include “Greece – The Golden Age,” and “John Brown’s Body.” Among his major compositions for the stage was his chamber opera ”Archy and Mehitabel,” performed at Town Hall in 1954 and based on the popular newspaper columns by Don Marquis about Archy, the eloquent cockroach, and Mehitabel, the impulsive cat. Three years later the sequel was the Broadway musical ”Shinbone Alley,” featuring Eddie Bracken and Eartha Kitt.

For the last 25 years of his life, Kleinsinger was a resident at New York’s famous Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. Among his later works were ”Prelude, Lament and Jig,” a viola concerto in memory of the late Irish writer Brendan Behan, and a symphonic work with voice, ”Shabbat Shalom,” written for Congregation Beth Israel in Houston and performed there in 1979. On Wednesday, July 28, 1982, he died at the age of 68 from malignant melanoma in New York at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. New York City, NY, and was survived by his wife, Susan; two children, Dr. Fred Kleinsinger of Oakland, Calif., and Jane Griffin of Manhattan, and four grandchildren.

My collection includes the following work by Kleinsinger:

Tubby the Tuba (1946).


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