Trebor Borlet and Ma tre dol rosignol


Trebor Borlet (14th-15th century) was a 14th- and 15th-century composer whose life we know extremely little about; in fact, it is not certain whether he was French or Spanish. It is thought that his name is an anagram of Trebol, a French composer who served at the court of King Martin I of Aragon in 1409 during the same time as Gacian Reyneau and other composers in the Codex Chantilly.  He is thought to have composed a song of Spanish origin (a verilai) with three verses and a refrain. “Virelai” comes from the French describing a type of dance, and the piece attributed to Borlet was “He, tres doulz roussignol joly.”  If this Trebol is the same as Trebor then he has six surviving compositions. If not then he is only known for his virelai ‘He tres doulz roussignol’ and its variation `Ma tre dol rosignol’, which is also a virelai.

Trebor was a 14th-century composer of polyphonic chansons, active in Navarre and other southwest European courts c. 1380-1400. He may be the same person also called Triboll, Trebol, and Borlet in other contemporaneous sources. The name is likely a reversal of Robert.  His compositions are associated with the style known as ars subtilior, and six of his works survive in one of the most important surviving manuscripts of ars subtilior music, the Chantilly Codex. Some of his pieces explicitly reference historical events such as the Aragonese conquest of Sardinia in 1388-89 and the reign of Gaston Febus, the count of Foix. His music was well known to Avignonese composers of the time, such as Grimace and Franciscus Andrieu, who quoted some of his pieces in their works. He is noted for his use of displacement syncopation and sustained chords, the former of which is one of the hallmark devices of late 14th-century French musical style.

The following work by Trebor Borlet is contained in my collection:

Ma tre dol rosignol.

Jerry Bock and Fiddler on the Roof


Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Bock (November 23, 1928 – November 3, 2010) was an American musical theater composer who received the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Sheldon Harnick for their 1959 musical Fiorello! and the Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof with Sheldon Harnick.  Born on November 23, 1928, in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in Flushing, Queens, New York, Bock studied the piano as a child.  At an early age, he was able to play very advanced pieces of music by ear and began writing music for various shows while still in school, attending P.S. 32, where he wrote his first musical.  His first success came during his high school years, in the form of the musical comedy “My Dream.”

Bock attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he wrote the musical Big As Life, which toured the state and enjoyed a run in Chicago. It was based on the legend of Paul Bunyon, and put on by Haresfoot, an all-male college musical society. Bock’s collaborator was a fellow student, Larry Holofcener, who was to become a co-worker on Bock’s early scores. “Big as Life,” won first prize in an annual university show competition, sponsored by BMI, the performing rights organization. During the summer breaks, the pair worked at Camp Taminent Playhouse in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and wrote for early television revues. The program called for the preparation of an original one-act weekly revue for 10 consecutive weeks.

Returning to New York during the early 50s period following college, Bock and Holofcener were fortunate in being selected to audition their skills for Max Liebman, a producer of early music variety shows for television. They passed the test and joined the staff of “The Admiral Broadway Revue,” which later became “Your Show of Shows,” starring one of the world’s premiere comedy duos, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.  The young writers wrote songs for the stars as well as the chorus and the Corps de Ballet.  Bock’s other early-’50s television credits include composing music and writing sketches for The Mel Torme Show and The Kate Smith Hour.   Bock made his Broadway debut in 1955 when he and Holofcener contributed songs to the score of Catch a Star as a result of an introduction to the very well-known music publisher, Tommy Valando, after which they worked on Tallulah Bankhead’s Ziegfeld Follies of 1956, which closed out-of-town.

The following year the Bock and Holofcener collaborated on the musical Mr. Wonderful, designed for Sammy Davis, Jr.  Two songs from that score became standards, “Mr. Wonderful,” and “Too Close for Comfort.”   This was followed by some pop-styled songs for Sarah Vaughan and Bob Manning and the background score for a Columbia Pictures documentary short, titled “Wonders of Manhattan,” which won an honorable mention at The Cannes Film Festival.   Shortly after, Bock met lyricist Sheldon Harnick, with whom he forged a successful partnership. Although their first joint venture, The Body Beautiful, failed to charm the critics, its score caught the attention of director George Abbott and producer Hal Prince. They hired the team to compose a musical biography of former New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Fiorello! (1959) went on to win them both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Bock’s additional collaborations with Harnick include Tenderloin (1960), Man in the Moon (1963), She Loves Me (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), The Apple Tree (1966), and their final collaboration The Rothschilds (1970), as well as contributions to Never Too Late (1962), Baker Street (1965), Her First Roman (1968), and The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979). Fiddler on the Roof included the hit song “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”   Bock also contributed one song per weekly broadcast of “Sing Something Special,” a New York City Board of Education program on WNYE, which culminated in a special children’s album for Golden Records. Jerry Bock is also an esteemed Inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame.  Established in 1997, the Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theater is an annual grant presented to the composer and lyricist of a project developed in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.  Bock spoke at the funeral of 98-year-old Fiddler playwright Joseph Stein just 10 days before his own death on November 3, 2010, from heart failure at the age of 81, four weeks before his 82nd birthday.

My collection includes the following work by Jerry Bock:

Fiddler on the Roof: Excerpts.


Arthur Bliss and Things to Come March


Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss (August 2, 1891 – March 27, 1975) was an English composer, arranger, and conductor.  Bliss was born on August 2, 1891, in Barnes, a London, England, suburb, the eldest of three sons of Francis Edward Bliss (1847–1930), a businessman from Massachusetts, and his second wife, Agnes Kennard née Davis (1858–1895).   Agnes Bliss died in 1895, and the boys were brought up by their father, who instilled in them a love for the arts.   Bliss was educated at Bilton Grange preparatory school, Rugby, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied classics, but also took lessons in music from Charles Wood.  Other influences on him during his Cambridge days were Edward Elgar, whose music made a lasting impression on him, and E.J. Dent.  Bliss graduated in classics and music in 1913 and then studied at the Royal College of Music in London for a single year, where his composition tutor was Charles Stanford, and he found inspiration from Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst as well as his fellow-students, Herbert Howells, Eugene Goossens and Arthur Benjamin.   In his brief time at the college he got to know the music of the Second Viennese School and the repertory of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with music by modern composers such as Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky.

Bliss’s musical training was cut short by the First World War.  When the First World War broke out, Bliss joined the army, and fought in France as an officer in the Royal Fusiliers until 1917 and then in the Grenadier Guards for the rest of the war. His bravery earned him a mention in despatches, and he was twice wounded and once gassed.   His younger brother Kennard was killed in the war, and his death affected Bliss deeply.   Although he had begun composing while still a schoolboy, Bliss later suppressed all his juvenilia, and, with the single exception of his 1916 Pastoral for clarinet and piano, reckoned the 1918 work Madam Noy as his first official composition. In 1919, he arranged incidental music from Elizabethan sources for As You Like It at Stratford-on-Avon, and conducted a series of Sunday concerts at Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, where he also conducted Pergolesi’s opera La serva padrona.  With the return of peace, his career took off rapidly as a composer of what were, for British audiences, startlingly new pieces, often for unusual ensembles, strongly influenced by Ravel, Stravinsky and the young French composers of Les six.   Among these are a concerto for wordless tenor voice, piano and strings (1920), and Rout for wordless soprano and chamber ensemble (subsequently revised for orchestra), which received a double encore at its first performance. Viola Tree’s production of The Tempest at the Aldwych Theatre in 1921, interspersed incidental music by Thomas Arne and Arthur Sullivan, with new music by Bliss for an ensemble of male voices, piano, trumpet, trombone, gongs and five percussionists dispersed through the theatre.

Bliss was commissioned, through Elgar’s influence, to write a large-scale symphonic work (A Colour Symphony) for the Three Choirs Festival of 1922.  In 1923 Bliss’s father, who had remarried, decided to retire in the U.S. He and his wife settled in California. Bliss went with them and remained there for two years, working as a conductor, lecturer, pianist and occasional critic.   While there he met Gertrude “Trudy” Hoffmann (1904–2008), youngest daughter of Ralph and Gertrude (Wesselhoeft) Hoffmann. They were married in 1925. The marriage was happy and lasted for the rest of Bliss’s life; there were two daughters. Soon after the marriage, Bliss and his wife moved to England.  From the mid-1920s onwards Bliss moved more into the established English musical tradition, leaving behind the influence of Stravinsky and the French modernists.  He received two major commissions from American orchestras, the Introduction and Allegro (1926) for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski and Hymn to Apollo (1926) for the Boston Symphony and Pierre Monteux.  Bliss began the 1930s with Pastoral (1930). In the same year he wrote Morning Heroes, a work for narrator, chorus and orchestra, written in the hope of exorcising the spectre of the First World War.

During the decade Bliss wrote chamber works for leading soloists including a Clarinet Quintet for Frederick Thurston (1932) and a Viola Sonata for Lionel Tertis (1933). In 1935, he established his position as Elgar’s natural successor with the Romantic, expansive and richly scored Music for Strings.  Two dramatic works from this decade remain well known, the music for Alexander Korda’s 1936 film of H. G. Wells’s Things to Come, and a ballet score to his own scenario based on a chess game. Choreographed by Ninette de Valois, Checkmate was still in the repertoire of the Royal Ballet in 2011.  By the late 1930s, Bliss was no longer viewed as a modernist; the works of his juniors William Walton and the youthful Benjamin Britten were increasingly prominent, and Bliss’s music began to seem old-fashioned.   His last large-scale work of the 1930s was his Piano Concerto, composed for the pianist Solomon, who gave the world premiere at the World’s Fair in New York in June 1939. Bliss and his family attended the performance and then stayed on in the US for a holiday. While they were there, the Second World War broke out. Bliss initially stayed in America, teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. He felt impelled to return to England to do what he could for the war effort, and in 1941, leaving his wife and children in California, he made the hazardous Atlantic crossing.

At first, Bliss found little useful work to do in England. He joined the BBC’s overseas music service in May 1941.   Adrian Boult, who was at that time both the chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC’s director of music, stepped down from the latter post. Bliss served as director of music at the BBC from 1942 to 1944, laying the foundations for the launch of the Third Programme after the war. During the war, he also served on the music committee of the British Council together with Vaughan Williams and William Walton.  In 1944, when Bliss’s family returned from the US, he resigned from the BBC and returned to composing, having written nothing since his String Quartet in 1941.  He composed more film music, and two ballets, Miracle in the Gorbals (1944),[24] and Adam Zero (1946).  In 1948, Bliss turned his attention to opera, with The Olympians. He and the novelist and playwright J. B. Priestley had been friends for many years, and they agreed to collaborate on an opera, despite their lack of any operatic experience.   The opera opened the 1949–50 Covent Garden season. It was directed by Peter Brook, with choreography by Frederick Ashton.

In 1950, Bliss was knighted.   After the death of Sir Arnold Bax, he was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 1953.  Bliss, who composed quickly and with facility, was able to discharge the many duties of the post, providing music as required for state occasions, from the birth of a child to the Queen, to the funeral of Winston Churchill, to the investiture of the Prince of Wales, including a Processional for the 1953 coronation, and A Song of Welcome, Bliss’s first official pièce d’occasion.  In 1956, Bliss headed the first delegation by British musicians to the Soviet Union since the end of the Second World War and returned to Moscow in 1958, as a member of the jury of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, with fellow jurors including Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter.  In addition to his official functions, Bliss continued to compose steadily throughout the 1950s. His works from that decade include his Second String Quartet (1950); a scena, The Enchantress (1951), for the contralto Kathleen Ferrier; a Piano Sonata (1952); and a Violin Concerto (1955), for Campoli. The orchestral Meditations on a Theme by John Blow (1955) was a particularly deep-felt work, and Bliss regarded it highly among his output.  In 1959 and 1960 he collaborated with the librettist Christopher Hassall on an opera for television, based on the story of Tobias and the Angel .   In 1961, Bliss and Hassall collaborated on a cantata, The Beatitudes, commissioned for the opening of the new Coventry Cathedral.   Bliss followed this with two further large-scale choral works, Mary of Magdala (1962) and The Golden Cantata (1963).  In the 1970s, he looked to the future of Britain’s orchestras by working with the young players of the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra for some years.

Bliss continued to compose into his eighth and ninth decades, in which his works included the Cello Concerto (1970) for Mstislav Rostropovich, the Metamorphic Variations for orchestra (1972), and a final cantata, Shield of Faith (1974), for soprano, baritone, chorus and organ, celebrating 500 years of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, setting poems chosen from each of the five centuries of the Chapel’s existence.  In addition to his knighthood, Bliss was appointed KCVO (1969) and CH (1971).[23] He received honorary degrees from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lancaster, and London, as well as from Princeton University.  Bliss died at his London home, at the age of 83 on March 27, 1975.  In Bliss’s later years, his work was respected but was thought old-fashioned, and it was eclipsed by the music of younger colleagues such as Walton and Britten. Since his death, his music has undergone a modest revival on radio, his compositions have been well represented on record,, and many of his better-known works remain in the repertoire of British orchestras. His reputation remains insecure, but his music undoubtedly has a personality of its own and is loved by its adherents.

The following work by Arthur Bliss is contained in my collection:

Things to Come: March.


Vic Lewis and When You Become a Man


Vic Lewis (July 29, 1919 – February 9, 2009) was a British jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader who also enjoyed success as an artist’s agent and manager.  Born on July 29, 1919, in England, Lewis began playing the guitar at the age of three, and dabbled with cornet and trombone. One of his early bands included George Shearing, then a teenager, among its members. Lewis first toured the United States in 1938, where he did recording sessions with a band that had Bobby Hackett, Eddie Condon, and Pee Wee Russell among its members. He served in the Royal Air Force from 1941–44; during this time he recorded with Buddy Featherstonhaugh. He worked with Stephane Grappelli during 1944-45 and with Ted Heath soon after. While he was in the RAF, he met Jack Parnell and together they formed the “Vic Lewis/Jack Parnell Jazzmen”

Lewis put together his first big band in 1946 to play swing jazz, but soon after its formation Lewis began to direct the ensemble toward the sound of Stan Kenton. Kenton provided Lewis with some of his arrangements by Pete Rugolo, Gerry Mulligan, and Bill Holman. Lewis’s pianist, Ken Thorne, also made arranging contributions. Lewis toured the U.S. with the band at various intervals between 1956 and 1959, and recorded extensively for Parlophone, Esquire, Decca, and Philips. After 1959 Lewis semi-retired as a performer, he only occasionally recorded, but he continued to write about jazz and champion its value. He went into artist management, and oversaw the careers of photographer Robert Whitaker and the singer Cilla Black among many others.  For the song “When You Become a Man,” he teamed up with British lyricist Don Black.

In 1964 Lewis sold his management agency to Brian Epstein’s company NEMS and thereafter worked with Epstein on arranging the Beatles’ international tours. Following Epstein’s death in 1967, Lewis served as managing director of NEMS.  Lewis also managed Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, and Lewis produced Gibb’s debut album Robin’s Reign released in 1970.  As a keen cricketer and administrator, he founded his own cricket club and represented the United States at the International Cricket Council. He served as a General Committee Member of Middlesex County Cricket Club between 1976 and 2001. Lewis also had a foot in the door of more serious music and conducted recordings of his own and others with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which included excerpts from his Russian Suite, a Romance for Violin, and two movements (Red and Jade) from a multi-composer suite called Colours.  He died on February 9, 2009

My collection includes the following work by Vic Lewis:

When You Become a Man

Thomas Bidgood and British Legion


Thomas Bidgood (October 7, 1858–March 1, 1925) was an English conductor, composer, and arranger.  Bidgood was born on October 7, 1858, in Woolwich, Kent. His father was William John Bidgood, a master plumber, and his mother was Jane Bidgood, née Williams. His early musical training included learning the violin at the London Academy of Music, taught by Signor Erba, and singing in the church choir.   As a boy, he attended concerts given by the band of the Royal Artillery, as a result of which he studied various wind instruments.  He played the althorn and E♭ bass in the band of the 9th Kent Artillery Volunteers.

While studying at the London Conservatory of Music, Bidgood won several awards for his achievements. After graduation, he worked as an orchestral conductor, teacher and composer.  While working at the Beckton Gas Works he became bandmaster of the Beckton Band of the Gas, Light and Coke Company.  Later he founded various theatre orchestras in addition to conducting his own professional orchestra and wind band. As a composer he wrote entertainment music, waltzes, dances and marches. He was the father of bandleader Harry Bidgood.  Sons of the Brave, his most famous march, written in 1898, was very popular during the Boer Wars and later used in the film A Canterbury Tale (1944).

Sons of the Brave established Bidgood as a popular composer of military music by its ready acceptance by the public and military alike. Although other marches followed, including Knight Errant (1901); The Lads in Navy Blue, Merry Soldiers, and Silent Heroes (1909); The British Legion and A Call to Arms (1912); My Old Kentucky Home and On to Victory (1917) and Vimy Ridge (1921) to name a few, Bidgood’s compositions were not restricted to military marches. During his highly productive life he composed a wide range of compositions, including dances and orchestral works such as the intermezzo Honoraria and A Motor Ride.

Despite this large body of musical compositions, Bidgood remains best known for his march Sons of the Brave. Given the fame of this stirring melody as well as the close association of the term ‘Sons of the Brave’ with the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, it is not surprising that Bidgood’s name should become strongly linked to the School. Over the years writers of anthologies have mistakenly assumed that Thomas Bidgood was a student or pupil of the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea.  However, there is no direct evidence to connect Thomas Bidgood directly to the RMA or the Duke of York’s School.

There is, however, compelling indirect evidence of a connection. That is, his naming his first march Sons of the Brave is clear evidence that Bidgood knew of the School, probably through the many Dukies who satisfied the London market for accomplished musicians. He must obviously have known of or even seen Phil Morris’s evocative painting of the same name, the Sons of the Brave painting in possession of the School.  It is reasonable to suppose that the Morris painting inspired Bidgood to compose the march in the first place. Alternatively, he may first have written the march and then found a suitable title for it in Morris’s magnificent painting.  Bidgood died by gas poisoning in London, England, on March 1, 1925.

The following work by Thomas Bidgood is contained in my collection:

British Legion.

The Uncomplicated Homeschooler

The Uncomplicated Homeschooler

by Gena Suarez, Sept. 14, 2011 (Originally published by The Old Schoolhouse)

I am the uncomplicated homeschooler. At least, I want to say that; I wish I could say that. Why does homeschooling seem so complicated sometimes? From the number of letters we get from readers all over the world, I see a common running theme. It’s like what public schooled high schoolers sometimes put on their Facebook profiles regarding their latest status of “relationship” with whomever significant other they have (at the time). They say, “It’s complicated.”

That’s what these letters convey, too. Things are difficult, confused, hard to keep up with. Their lives are crazy and lacking peace. They can’t balance it all, nor are they necessarily even sure they want to anymore. They feel like failures, ready to give up and put Johnny back in school again where they think by doing so will soon make things “less complicated” once again in their lives. What they don’t realize is that so many others, just like them, are saying the same thing. Why is this and what does it mean to live in a complicated state? Is there hope for change?

Read more at:

Felix Bernard and Winter Wonderland


Felix Bernard (April 28, 1897 – October 20, 1944) was an American conductor, pianist, and composer of popular music whose writing credits include the popular songs “Winter Wonderland” (with lyricist Richard B. Smith) and “Dardanella.”  Bernard was born Felix William Bernhardt to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York City, NY, on April 28, 1897.  His father played the violin professionally, and he himself took up the piano.  A professional pianist from childhood, his early musical studies were with his father, and his formal musical education was from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and CR. His first success as a composer came with 1919’s “Dardanella,” for which he co-wrote the music with Johnny S. Black; the lyrics were by Fred Fisher. Researchers have tabbed bandleader Ben Selvin’s recording of “Dardanella” as probably the first record ever to sell over a million copies.  Bernard wrote professional one-act musical comedies for vaudeville, later performing on the vaudeville circuit as a tap dancer, and he toured throughout the United States with the Orpheum and Keith Vaudeville Circuit, and also abroad.

Bernard worked as a pianist for dance orchestras and music publishers before forming his own band. His also had his own radio show which he produced. Best known as a composer, Bernard found success writing musical material for artists such as Al Jolson, Nora Bayes, Eddie Cantor, Marilyn Miller, and Sophie Tucker. In 1934 Bernard joined ASCAP where his chief musical collaborators were Sam Coslow, L. Wolfe Gilbert, Richard B. Smith, and Johnny Black.  Other musical compositions by Felix Bernard include “The Mailman’s Got My Letter”, “Jane”, “You Opened My Eyes”, “I’d Rather Be Me”, “Cutest Kid in Town”, “Tom Thumb and Tiny Teens”, “What Am I Goin’ to Do for Lovin’?”, “Painter In The Sky”, “Twenty One Dollars a Day Once a Month”, and “The Whistlin’ Cowboy.”

“Winter Wonderland” is a winter song, popularly regarded as a Christmas song, written in 1934 by Richard B. Smith lyricist with music provided by Bernard.   Dick Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while at the West Mountain Sanitarium in Scranton, Pennsylvania, being treated for tuberculosis, better known then as consumption.   The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher.  Due to its seasonal theme, “Winter Wonderland” is often regarded as a Christmas song in the Northern Hemisphere, although the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. There is a mention of “sleigh-bells” several times, implying that this song refers to the Christmas period.

The lyrics of Winter Wonderland have undoubtedly contributed to the magical vision of snow at Christmas together with the tradition of building snowmen and therefore turning fantasy into reality by creating a real Winter Wonderland.In the first bridge section of the song, the built snowman’s name is “Parson Brown.”  In the second bridge, the snowman is labeled as a “circus clown.”   The song became a hit for Guy Lombardo that holiday season.  Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists.  Bernard went on to write songs for a succession of films dating from the mid-’30s to the early ’40s, working with partners like L. Wolfe Gilbert, Alfred Bryan, Paul Francis Webster, Raymond Klages, and Irving Bibo.  He passed away on October 20, 1944, in Los Angeles, California, two years before Perry Como and the Andrews Sisters both made hugely popular recordings of “Winter Wonderland” that solidified its status as a Christmas classic.

My collection includes the following work by Felix Bernard.

Winter Wonderland (1934).