Robert M. Crawford and the Air Force Song


Robert MacArthur Crawford (July 27, 1899 – March 12, 1961) is known for writing The U.S. Air Force song. He was born in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, July 27, 1899, to Ronald Marcus and Mabel MacArthur Crawford and spent his childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska.  During World War I he attempted to become a pilot in the United States Army Air Service but was dismissed when he was discovered to be underage. He attended the Case Scientific Institute, where he joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.  Crawford then enrolled in Princeton University, and graduated in 1925.  He later studied and taught at the Juilliard School of Music. Crawford learned how to fly an airplane in 1923.  He flew himself around the United States in a small plane to concerts, where he was introduced as “The Flying Baritone.”  Crawford married Hester Morgan Keen and had 3 children.

Liberty magazine sponsored a contest in 1938 for a musical composition that would become the official song of the U.S. Army Air Corps.  Out of 757 submissions, Crawford’s was chosen as the winner.  Originally, the song was titled “Army Air Corps.”   Crawford wrote both the lyrics and music.  During World War II, the service was renamed “Army Air Force,” and the song title changed to agree. During the war, Crawford flew for the Air Transport Command of the U.S. Army Air Forces. In 1947, when the Air Force became a separate service, the song became the “Air Force Song,” and is the official song of the United States Air Force.   That same year, Crawford joined the University of Miami’s music faculty. He remained there for ten years, until he left to focus on composing. He passed away on Mar. 12, 1961, in New York City, NY, at the age of 61.

The following work by Robert M. Crawford is contained in my collection:

(Off We Go into the) Wild Blue Yonder (“Air Force Song,” the official song of the United States Air Force).


Francesco Corteccia and Guardana almo pastor


Francesco Corteccia (July 27, 1502 – June 7, 1571) was an Italian composer, organist, and teacher of the Renaissance, who was only one of the best known of the early composers of madrigals, and an important native Italian composer during a period of domination by composers from the Low Countries, but also the most prominent musician in Florence for several decades during the reign of Cosimo I de’ Medici.  Corteccia was born on July 27, 1502,  in Florence, Italy. By 1515 he was a choirboy and was enrolled in the cathedral school; around this time he probably studied organ with Bartolomeo degli Organi, and composition with Bernardo Pisano. On October 22, 1527, he became chaplain at the baptistry, and in 1531 entered indirectly into the employ of the Medici as both chaplain and organist at the church of San Lorenzo, the Medici family church. From 1535 to 1539 he was organist at San Lorenzo, and from 1540 until his death was maestro di cappella to the court of the Duke of Florence, Cosimo I de’ Medici.

During his long tenure as maestro di cappella to the Medici, he gradually rose in position and prominence in Florence. In the chapel, he was successively chaplain, supernumerary canon, and canon; and in addition he held auxiliary positions such as chamberlain and archivist. In the 1560s he was replaced by Alessandro Striggio as the composer for most of the sumptuous musical productions of the Medici court, but he retained the position of maestro di cappella. The court of the Medici was one of the most opulent in Europe, and the Florentine family was keenly aware of their status and prestige, as shown by the artistic creations they inspired, ordered, or bought. Corteccia served the Medici for most of his life, and helped create some of the Medici’s most elaborate entertainments. Later composers for the Medici, such as Alessandro Striggio, continued in the same vein, creating some of the largest and most extravagant polyphonic compositions of the entire era.

Corteccia wrote most of his music relatively early in his career; his production peaked in the early 1540s. His music is both sacred and secular, and much of it, unusually for a composer prior to the birth of opera, is specifically for the stage. He was also atypical among the first generation of madrigal composers in that he had a complete published collection of his music dedicated only to him: his First Book of Madrigals for Four Voices, published in Venice in 1544. Some of his madrigals differ from the usual vocal music of the time in having specifically indicated instrumental accompaniment, a result of being composed for theatrical occasions.

As court composer to Cosimo de’ Medici, Corteccia was required to write music, often intermedii, for various lavish court entertainments and spectacles, which often included weddings. Intermedii were sung interludes between acts of plays, with the most elaborate being those performed for state occasions. Often these interludes consisted of groups of madrigals, related to the subject matter of the play; in that they are staged, sung, and part of a dramatic production, they are seen as one of the predecessors of opera. One such intermedio by Corteccia was the set of seven madrigals he wrote for the wedding in June 1539 of Duke Cosimo to Eleonora di Toledo, descriptions of which survive in some detail. These madrigals, which were written for the play Il commodo by Antonio Landi, were sung in costume, with the singers playing nymphs, shepherds, mermaids, sea nymphs, and sea monsters (the three sea nymphs played flutes; the sea monsters, lutes). The entire performance was elaborately orchestrated, with the singers variously accompanied by harpsichord, nightingale stop on the organ, bass viol, cornett, crumhorns, flutes, violin, violone, and a quartet of trombones; during the finale, 20 bacchantes, mostly drunk and consisting of ladies and satyrs, were to come on stage singing and playing pipe, tabor, violin, harp, cornetts, crumhorns, and tambourine, and the performance closed with entrance and song by the personification of Night, accompanied by four trombones. The madrigals are also notable in that four of them, every alternate one, were the first in note nere rapid style.

The 1539 performance was one of many, but was one for which a detailed description survived. He also wrote, for example, a set of five madrigals in four voices to be performed between the acts of Francesco d’Ambra’s comedy Il furto in 1544. Many of his madrigals are lost, but another surviving set, from 1565, was written in collaboration with Alessandro Striggio. In this set each composer contributed three madrigals; once again it was for a Medici wedding, and like the previous, was designed for performance between the acts of a play by d’Ambra.   Many of his published madrigals, for four to six voices, give no hint in the score of the extravagance of their original premières. They are full of textural contrast, as befits their dramatic origin. His earlier work shows the influence of the frottola, and often his style mimics Arcadelt’s. The madrigals he wrote for the Medici weddings are often in a note nere, i.e. “black note” style: choppy rhythms, quick note values, sudden textural contrasts; in addition, they were usually designed for instrumental accompaniment, and consequently the soprano and bass lines often stand out. In this they foreshadow the development of monody by the Florentine Camerata later in the century.

Corteccia’s sacred music includes settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (lost), hymns, and many motets. While he wrote most of this music early in his career, the bulk of it was not published until 1570 and 1571, in Venice, possibly due to the lack of publishing capacity in Florence prior to that time.[3] Corteccia wrote a letter for the dedication of the several volumes of motets, and in it indicated that he had been working on them and refining them for 30 years. Many of the modifications he made were in keeping with the liturgical reforms of the Council of Trent.  The hymn settings are mostly in responsory format, i.e. a verse is sung in plainchant, the next in polyphony, and then the formula repeats. Corteccia varies the texture in the polyphonic sections from strict imitation to free counterpoint, with occasional homophonic interludes, providing variety. Corteccia died at Florence on June 7, 1571, at the beginning of a period of musical decline at the Medici court.

My collection includes the following work by Francesco Corteccia:

Guardana almo pastor (Intermezzo for the marriage of Cosmus I).


Growing With an Appreciation of Music

Growing With an Appreciation of Music
Lea Ann Garfias
Crosswalk Home Homeschool Life Newsletter (Tuesday, September 27, 2011)

One of my earliest recollections is of my father singing. I still remember him rocking my younger sister to sleep every night in the creaky maple rocker, singing “Amazing Grace.” That simple melody and uncomplicated text naturally became ingrained on both our hearts. My sister and I can still sing every verse, if tears don’t choke us up.

There was always music in our home. My mother sang constantly. Loud, lusty singing was the soundtrack of housecleaning, cooking, and errands. My infamous bout with chicken pox, during which I infected the entire church kindergarten class and my baby sister before breaking out myself, was also the beginning of my “Patch the Pirate” addiction. I soon wore out many a cassette tape as I loudly sang along with every character.

Read more:

LeaAnn Garfiasis a homeschool graduate and classically trained pianist and violinist. She has taught private lessons and classroom music for over 15 years. You can ask her your own music or home education questions at .

This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of HomeSchoolEnrichment Magazine. To learn more, and to request a FREE sample copy, visit

Frank Cordell and King Charles’s Galliard


Frank Cordell (June 1, 1918 – July 6, 1980) was a British composer, arranger and conductor, who was actively involved with the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and also composed music under the name Frank Meilleur or Meillear which was his mother’s maiden name. Cordell was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, England, on June 1, 1918.  His father was a doctor who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War. Frank had two sisters. His brother, Sid Cordell, who was a professional musician, composed music for some of the Hammer Horror productions filmed at Pinewood Studios. As a young teenager Frank worked briefly for Homfray and Company in the cotton mills at Halifax and in the Midlands for a family relative, before returning to London. By age 14, he was a competent pianist. Cordell entered a city-wide London music contest and won a Melody Maker poll at the age of 17 for the most promising jazz pianist of 1935. This enabled him to secure a job as a sound man in one of the prestigious London Warner Bros. film studios.

When World War II broke out Cordell enlisted in the RAF and trained as a radio navigation operator, flying the Vickers Wellington in RAF Bomber Command. In his time between dangerous flying “ops” Cordell was in constant demand entertaining his squadron with popular piano music in the mess. On completing his 33 ops he was transferred to flying stealth De Havilland Mosquito bombers on the run between Britain and the Middle East. While in RAF Middle East he was later assigned as bandleader with his own group of musicians and a small convoy of lorries to entertain the British troops in the Western Desert Campaign. He was then appointed music director of Forces Radio in Cairo, where he conducted a weekly radio program called Music For Moderns. Among the friends and local Cairo artists he worked with was the singer, Delores El Greco. From there he was assigned to a double role of music entertainment and intelligence work in Palestine. It is in Palestine while music entertaining that he met his first wife Magda, who was a Hungarian refugee working for the British in translating intercepted wireless signals. Magda later became a well known “Brutalist” artist, and along with Cordell was a participant in the This Is Tomorrow Exhibit, and both were founder members of the Independent Group at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

Cordell returned to Britain in 1947, resided in Banstead, and joined the BBC as a composer, arranger, and orchestra conductor. Among the recording studios he used were the Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood, and the Aeolian sound studio in Bond Street, he also worked with George Martin. One of his early music hits conducting his own orchestra was called “Sadie’s Shawl” (1956, UK #29), and another called “The Black Bear” (1961, UK #44).  Cordell was noted in 1951 for his radio score of the historical drama The Gay Galliard, starring Valerie Hobson as Mary, Queen of Scots. He worked with most of the well known performers and musicians of the day including Noël Coward, Charlie Chaplin, vocalists such as Alma Cogan and Ronnie Hilton, and the jazz trumpet player Humphrey Lyttelton. In 1952 Cordell was drawn to the cinema and made his music film debut. He also commenced composing music for many advertising commercials for film and TV.

It was in this 1952/3 period that Frank and Magda Cordell established an artistic atelier at 52 Cleveland Square in Paddington London, which they shared and artistically collaborated with the British Modern artist John McHale. The McHale/Cordell atelier occupied three floors in a large Georgian row house in Cleveland Square. Frank used the top floor with his piano and large windows overlooking the park as his music composing studio. John McHale occupied the large sky lit studio at the back of the atelier on the ground floor. Magda used the other large painting studio downstairs, which was also used by all three artist as a film studio. McHale used the downstairs film studio to produce his photograms for his Telemath collage series. There was also a separate downstairs workshop and photographic dark room. The living room on the ground floor was used for entertaining guests such as: Reyner Banham and other members of the ICA group, musicians, writers such as Eric Newby, dramatists such as Arnold Wesker, and international guests such as Buckminster Fuller, and Picasso’s son. Cordell made numerous tape recordings of Bucky Fuller.

In 1955, Cordell left the BBC to become musical director of HMV Records, known subsequently as EMI, a post held until 1962 when he decided to become a full-time film composer, and scored the music for the 1959 film The Captain’s Table. In the early 1960s he married his second wife Anja whom he met on film location in Japan while doing the music score for the 1964 film Flight from Ashiya. He wrote the theme music for the spy adventure directed by Robert Lansing (actor) called The Man Who Never Was 1966-67, and wrote The White Mountain introductory music for the science fiction episode of Space: 1999 – “Mission of the Darians” in 1975. Frank Cordell composed over twenty major music scores including The Voice of Merrill (1952), First on the Road (1957), The Rebel (1961) starring Tony Hancock, The Bargee (1964), Never Put It in Writing (1964), Khartoum (1966), Mosquito Squadron (1969), Ring of Bright Water (1969), Hell Boats (1970), Cromwell (1970), Trial by Combat (1976), and God Told Me To (Demon in the U.S.) (1976). Between his film scores Cordell wrote concert hall works including the Concerto for Cello, the Concerto for Horn, a wind quartet entitled Interplay; also pieces for saxophone quartet, Gestures and Patterns, and mood miniatures such as Production Drive.

Cordell also wrote choral music for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge; and an arrangement for strings of the English air “Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be.”  He was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe for his feature film score of Cromwell, 1970. Cordell was involved in several experimental and documentary films. These included a surrealist film made in Yugoslavia in 1957 with McHale and his three sons and Arnold Bittleman the Yale trained artist. Cordell also wrote the score for the documentary film Tiger Tiger 1977. He appeared in the Fathers of Pop interviewed by Reyner Banham in a 1970s TV documentary on the origins of British pop art.  Cordell retired with his wife and son to their sheep farm in the English countryside, where they kept open house to many of Britain’s leading artists and musicians including The Beatles.  Cordell died in Hastings in 1980, and his original manuscripts now reside in the archives at the Trinity College of Music in London.

The following work by Frank Cordell is contained in my collection:

King Charles’s Galliard for strings from the film Cromwell.

Swiss Heritage Village School, Berne, IN


Swiss Heritage Village School

1200 Swissway Rd.

P.O. Box 88

Berne, IN 46711

The Swiss Heritage Village & Museum has as its mission to spark and sustain an interest in the cultural heritage of Berne, Indiana, and southern Adams County by promoting learning through discovery.  Chartered in 1985, the Village is now the largest outdoor museum in northern Indiana. As visitors tour the site and see the buildings, grounds, and events that are sponsored by the Swiss Heritage Society, they will learn about how the Swiss settlers lived in the area more than a century ago.  The ordinance of 1787 mandated that education should be provided for the Northwest Territory, therefore the farthest any student had to walk was less than two miles.  The little red schoolhouse was built in 1881. Taken from its three brick construction, its approximate weight is 128 tons.  The back wall contains a row of hooks and a shelf on which the students hung their coats and hats and set their lunch pails. The platform in the front provided a place upon which the schoolmarm could instruct and children could perform. The bell in the belfry, rung by the teacher before and after school, is original. The desks range from very small to very large, as children of all grades were instructed here. The flag overhead dates to 1888. On it are only 45 stars, as Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma were not yet part of the Union.  The schoolhouse sat on the same plot of land at 400 West and 500 South for 110 years until it was donated to the Swiss Heritage Society by Chris Biberstein and moved to the Village in 1991.

J. Fred Coots and Santa Claus is Coming to Town


John Frederick (J. Fred) Coots (May 2, 1897 – April 8, 1985) was an American pop songwriter who was responsible for many hits of the late ’20s and ’30s, composing over 700 popular songs and over a dozen Broadway shows. Born on May 2, 1897, in Brooklyn, NY, he began work with Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. in New York in 1914 at age 17.  In 1916, his first hit song, “Mr. Ford You’ve Got the Right Idea” with words by Ray Sherwood, was published.  In 1919, actor-producer Eddie Dowling gave Coots his first chance at writing a musical score for Friars’ Frolics.   In 1922, Dowling commissioned Coots to write the songs for Sally, Irene and Mary, a show which ran for two years on Broadway.  The songwriter got his first break with 1928’s “Doin’ the Raccoon,” and he moved to Hollywood, California, in 1929.

Hal Kemp & His Orchestra recorded Coots’s song “I Still Get a Thrill Thinking of You” in 1930; this was a song that Dinah Shore would cover 20 years later. Coots then collaborated with Nick and Charles Kenny to write “Love Letters in the Sand,” which did well in 1931 and was revived by Pat Boone’s 1957 cover, as well as his performance of it in the movie Bernardine. Three years after penning “Love Letters in the Sand,” Coots wrote “For All We Know” with lyricist Sam M. Lewis.  In 1934, Coots wrote the melody with his then chief collaborator, lyricist Haven Gillespie, for the biggest hit for them both “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.”   When Gillespie brought him the lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” Coots came up with the skeleton of the music in just ten minutes. Coots took the song to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., who liked it but thought it was “a kids’ song” and didn’t expect too much from it.

Coots offered the song to Eddie Cantor who used it on his radio show that November and it became an instant hit. The morning after the radio show there were orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and by Christmas sales had passed 400,000.  The song became one of the biggest sellers in American history.  “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” went on to be recorded by Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Ozzie Nelson, and Tommy Dorsey.  Coots and Gillespie teamed up again to write the successful follow-ups “A Beautiful Lady in Blue” (1935) and “You Go to My Head” (1938). Originally sung by Bea Wain with Larry Clinton, “A Beautiful Lady in Blue” also went on to be recorded by many artists.  In 1940, Coots wrote “The Rangers’ Victory Song.”  In the following decades, his songs were periodically revived by the likes of Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, and more.  Coots died in New York City, NY, age 87, on April 8, 1985.

My collection includes the following work by J. Fred Coots:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Marius Constant and Symphonie Pelleas et Melisande


Marius Constant (February 7, 1925 – May 15, 2004) was a Romanian-born French composer and conductor, who was known in the classical world primarily for his ballet scores, but is best remembered for his iconic theme for the Twilight Zone TV series.  Constant was born in on February 7, 1925, Bucharest, Romania, and studied piano and composition at the Bucharest Conservatory, receiving the George Enescu Award in 1944. In 1946 he moved to Paris, studying at the Conservatoire de Paris with Olivier Messiaen, Tony Aubin, Arthur Honegger and Nadia Boulanger. His compositions earned several prizes. From 1950 on he was increasingly involved with electronic music and joined Pierre Schaeffer’s Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète.

From 1956 to 1966 Constant conducted at the Ballets de Paris, then directed by Roland Petit. To this period belong the numerous ballet scores for Petit and Maurice Béjart, namely: Haut-voltage (1956), Contrepointe (1958), Cyrano de Bergerac (1959), Éloge de la folie (1966) and Paradis perdu (1967). For the 1957 Aix-en-Provence Festival 1957 he wrote a piano concerto, but won wider recognition for the premiere, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, of 24 Préludes pour Orchestre (1958). Turner (1961) was a tone poem inspired by the English painter William Turner.

In the late 1950s, Constant was commissioned by Lud Gluskin of CBS to create a number of short pieces for the CBS stock music library that could be used as music for CBS radio and TV shows. The unusual, sometimes discordant nature of Constant’s work meant that the pieces were seldom heard or used, but in 1960, Gluskin edited two pieces together (“Etrange No. 3,” a series of repeated four-note phrases on electric guitar, and “Milieu No. 2,” an odd pattern of guitar notes, bongo drums, brass and flutes) to create a new theme for the CBS television series The Twilight Zone, then entering its second season. The theme quickly became iconic, and is easily Constant’s most well-known work in the public mind. Constant himself was apparently unaware for some years that his music was being used as The Twilight Zone’s theme, this music being a part of a “work made for hire” agreement with CBS, Constant thereby derived no ongoing income from it.

In 1963 Constant founded the pioneering Ensemble Ars Nova. In 1970 he took over the musical direction of the ORTF; from 1973 to 1978 he directed at the Paris Opera, and in 1988 and 1989 was Professor of Orchestration at the Paris Conservatory. Besides these appointments, he taught at Stanford University and in Hilversum. Later ballets include Septentrion (1975), Nana (1976) and L’ange bleu (1985). La tragédie de Carmen (1981), his adaptation of Bizet’s opera for director Peter Brook, was an international success.  He 1983 wrote a Symphonie based on Claude Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande.   In 1987 he arranged the orchestral music for the ballet Les mariés de la tour Eiffel, a pastiche by various French composers, for an ensemble of 15 instruments. In 1990 he also made an orchestral arrangement of the piano composition Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel.  He died in Paris on May 15, 2004, aged 79.

The following work by Marius Constant is contained in my collection:

Symphonie Pelleas et Melisande (after Debussey)