Franz van Blon and “Flag of Victory”

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Franz von Blon (July 16, 1861 – October 21, 1945) was a German composer and bandmaster best known for his concert marches, operettas, and the serenade Sizilietta.  Blon was born in Berlin, Germany, on July 16, 1861. After receiving violin lessons at the age of eight, he attended Stern’s Conservatory of Music, studied with Joseph Joachim, and completed his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in Berlin.   Following graduation, he began composing during his military service from 1880 to 1883. First gaining orchestral experience as concertmaster in the orchestra of the Hamburg Stadttheater, he then founded and became conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Wind  Orchestra, with which he toured Europe and the United States, conducting concerts at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. At the same time he was conductor of the Berlin Tonkünstler . In the late 1920s, he made recordings for Electrola with the Berlin Harmonie Orchestra. Later, he directed the Warsaw Philharmonic.

Blon became known as a composer of about 30 marches, which are played internationally a lot. His marches were never written for the ordinary parade ground.  He introduced a lot more harmony into his marches than usual, with his flair for melodic invention. This carried over into his catchy trios, making the whole march a treat to listen to. It sets him aside from most of his German contemporaries, and thus he becomes of considerable interest to lovers of Viennese music.  Although best known as a march composer Blon also wrote a lot of dance and salon music, including many characteristic pieces, such as the Sizilietta Serenade, some delightful waltzes, three operettas, and a ballet..  The Dramatic Overture, which he composed for the 19th Swiss Federal Music Festival in Bern in 1931, is considered one of the pioneer works of symphonic brass music.  He died on October 21, 1945 in Seilershof , Brandenburg near Berlin, Germany.

The following work by Franz van Blon is contained in my collection:

Flag of Victory (1897).

Woody Guthrie and “This Land Is Your Land”

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Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music, whose songs, such as “This Land Is Your Land,” have inspired several generations both politically and musically.  Guthrie was born July 14, 1912 in Okemah, a small town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, the son of middle-class parents Charles Edward and Nora Belle (née Sherman) Guthrie. Guthrie’s mother, Nora, was afflicted with Huntington’s disease. When Woody was 14, she was committed to the Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane. At the time his father Charley was living and working in Pampa, Texas, to repay debts from unsuccessful real estate deals. Guthrie worked odd jobs around Okemah, begging meals and sometimes sleeping at the homes of family friends. Guthrie had a natural affinity for music, learning old ballads and traditional English and Scottish songs from the parents of friends. Guthrie did not do well as a student and dropped out of high school in his senior year before graduation.

In 1929, Guthrie’s father sent for Woody to join him in Texas. Guthrie, then 18, was reluctant to attend high school classes in Pampa; he spent most of his time learning songs by busking on the streets and reading in the library at Pampa’s city hall.  His mother died in 1930 of complications of Huntington’s disease while still in the Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane.  During the Dust Bowl period, Guthrie joined the thousands of Okies and others who migrated to California to look for work. Many of his songs are concerned with the conditions faced by working-class people.  During the latter part of that decade, he achieved fame with radio partner Maxine “Lefty Lou” Crissman as a broadcast performer of commercial hillbilly music and traditional folk music. While appearing on the radio station KFVD, owned by Frank W. Burke, Guthrie began to write and perform some of the protest songs that he eventually released on his album Dust Bowl Ballads.

With the outbreak of World War II, Guthrie preferred to accept Will Geer’s invitation to New York City and headed east.  Arriving in New York, Guthrie, known as “the Oklahoma cowboy,” was embraced by its folk music community.  In February 1940 he wrote his most famous song, “This Land Is Your Land” (original title “God Blessed America for Me”), as a response to what he felt was an overplaying of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on the radio.  He adapted the melody from an old gospel song, “Oh My Loving Brothe,” which had been adapted by the country group the Carter Family for their song “When The World’s On Fire.” Although the song was written in 1940, it was four years before he recorded it for Moses Asch in April 1944. Sheet music was produced and given to schools by Howie Richmond sometime later.

: Disgruntled with New York, Guthrie headed back to California. After a brief stay in Los Angeles, Guthrie moved to Portland, Oregon, in the neighborhood of Lents, on the promise of a job.  Gunther von Fritsch was directing a documentary about the Bonneville Power Administration’s construction of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, and needed a narrator. Alan Lomax recommended Guthrie to narrate the film and sing songs onscreen. So in 1941 Guthrie wrote songs for The Columbia, a documentary about the Columbia River released in 1949.   Following the conclusion of his work in the Northwest, Guthrie corresponded with Pete Seeger about Seeger’s newly formed folk group, the Almanac Singers. Guthrie returned to New York with plans to tour the country as a member of the group.  Guthrie was a prolific writer, penning thousands of pages of unpublished poems and prose, many written while living in New York City.

During this time Guthrie met Marjorie Mazia, who would become his wife, and with whom he would have two children, Arlo and Nora. Mazia was an instructor at the prestigious Martha Graham Dance School, where she was assisting Sophie Maslow with her piece Folksay. Choreographer Sophie Maslow developed Folksay as an elaborate ballet, which combined folk songs by Woody Guthrie with text from Carl Sandburg’s 1936 book-length poem The People, Yes. The premiere took place in March 1942 at the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre in New York City.   After serving in the Merchant Marine in World War II, Guthrie lived on Mermaid Avenue.  The years immediately after the war were among Guthrie’s most productive as a writer. By the late 1940s, Guthrie’s health was declining, and his behavior was becoming extremely erratic. He received various diagnoses (including alcoholism and schizophrenia). In 1952, it was finally determined that he was suffering from Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder inherited from his mother.

Upon his return to California, Guthrie lived at the Theatricum Botanicum, a summer-stock type theatre founded and owned by Will Geer. Together singers and actors who had been blacklisted by HUAC, he waited out the anti-communist political climate.  He moved to Fruit Cove, Florida, where he briefly lived in a bus on land called Beluthahatchee, owned by his friend Stetson Kennedy. Guthrie’s arm was hurt in an accident when gasoline used to start the campfire exploded. Although he regained movement in the arm, he was never able to play the guitar again. In 1954, he returned to New York, Marjorie cared for him until his death.  Increasingly unable to control his muscles, Guthrie was hospitalized at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County, New Jersey, from 1956 to 1961; at Brooklyn State Hospital (now Kingsboro Psychiatric Center) in East Flatbush until 1966;[and finally at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, New York, until his death there from complications of Huntington’s disease on October 3, 1967.

My collection includes the following work by Woody Guthrie:

This Land Is Your Land (1940).

Win Butler and “Abraham’s Daughter”

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Edwin Farnham “Win” Butler III (born April 14, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and multi-instrumentalist, who is one of the co-founders of Montreal-based indie rock band Arcade Fire which includes his wife Régine Chassagne and younger brother Will Butler.  Butler was born in Truckee, California, on April 14, 1980, and raised in The Woodlands, Texas, with a Mormon upbringing.  He also lived in Buenos Aires before his brother Will was born.  Win and Will Butler have strong musical roots.  Their maternal grandfather was jazz steel guitarist Alvino Rey, a pioneer bandleader whose career spanned eight decades.  Their maternal grandmother, Luise, was a member of The King Sisters, who starred in a weekly variety program on ABC called The King Family Show and cut a swath through big-band America in the 1940s.. Their mother, Liza Rey, who also performed on the family TV show, plays jazz harp and sings.  Their father, Edwin Farnham Butler II, worked as a geologist for oil conglomerate Halliburton in Houston, Texas.  They currently live on Mount Desert Island, Maine.

At the age of 15, Butler started attending the Phillips Exeter Academy preparatory school in New Hampshire, where he lived in Abbot Hall.   There, he played varsity basketball and club softball, and performed with several student bands. He also worked with the administration to establish “Winter Thaw”, in which students got a long weekend’s worth of rest in the middle of typically cold, grueling New England winters. After graduation, he studied photography and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, but left after a year.  Butler moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2000 to attend McGill University, where he met his future wife, Régine Chassagne, whom he married in 2003.  The first song Regine and Win ever wrote together, back in 2002 before they were married, was called “Headlights Look Like Diamonds.”  Butler graduated from McGill in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.

Butler participated in the 2005 UNICEF benefit project, “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?,” along with Chassagne. The two also collaborated on the music for the 2009 Richard Kelly film The Box, which starred Cameron Diaz and James Marsden.  On April 2, 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its last concert before its disbandment. Arcade Fire performed with them during the song “North American Scum.” During James Murphy’s stumbling introduction to the song, Butler shouted out “shut up and play the hits!” Murphy immediately responded, “Ladies and gentlemen, for our live record entitled ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits,'” and Butler’s cry later became the title of the well-received documentary of the concert.  In September 2011, Butler played in a charity basketball tournament in Toronto, Ontario, Canada known as “Rock The Court.” Several other celebrities and athletes participated, such as Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs.

The Hunger Games is a 2012 American science fiction-adventure film directed by Gary Ross and based on Suzanne Collins’ 2008 novel of the same name. It is the first installment in The Hunger Games film series.  Hunger Games has a storyline of a group of children sent on an annual battle to the death, which is screened live to the rest of the planet.  The film score was by James Newton Howard, but Arcade Fire also contributed to the movie’s original score. The group composed the fascistic-inspired Panem national anthem, entitled “Horn of Plenty,” an important and signature leitmotif appearing throughout the film.  In addition the Canadian band wrote and recorded “Abraham’s Daughter” for the soundtrack of the movie.  While  the soundtrack album for The Hunger Games contains songs inspired by the film; only three of them (“Abraham’s Daughter,” “Safe & Sound,” and “Kingdom Come,” respectively) appear in the film itself, during the closing credits.

Butler told Entertainment Weekly how he attempted to channel the movie’s strong dystopian themes.  He came up with the idea of using the account in Genesis of God ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to test his obedience as its framework.   Régine Chassagne gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son, on April 21, 2013.  On February 12, 2015, Butler participated in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and scored 8 points and had 12 rebounds.  He returned to the event a year later in his home country. In his second stint, Butler won the MVP award of the event.  In March 2015, Butler and Chassagne attended the launch of music streaming service Tidal, and revealed themselves, along with other notable artists, as shareholders in the company.  Each member of the band plays multiple instruments both in the studio and on stage during live events. Some of the instruments that can be heard are, hurdy gurdy, violin, cello, viola, guitars, drums, bass, cymbals, French horn, accordion, xylophone and harp. During live events, band members sometimes climb around the stage using parts of the set and venue as instruments.

The following work by Win Butler is contained in my collection:

The Hunger Games (2012): Abraham’s Daughter.

Bear Grylls Urges His Sons into Life’s Great Adventure

Bear Grylls Urges His Sons into Life’s Great Adventure
by Debbie Holloway

Author: Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild)
Title: To My Sons
Publisher: David C. Cook

You can learn a lot about the Grylls family by picking up the small book To My Sons by Bear Grylls. Best known for his feats on the television show Man Vs. Wild, Grylls opens up to the reader immensely in this tribute to his three little boys. Like his wife’s book, To My Sons is a tiny tome of anecdotes, generally related to manhood and other life advice.

The first words of advice Bear leaves his sons are: “Aim to live a wild, generous, full, exciting life – blessing those around you and seeing the good in all.” This perhaps is unsurprising. After all, Bear Grylls is famous for his adventuresome exploits, particularly being the youngest person on record to climb Mt. Everest. Surely he would be eager to impart to his boys the same vivid appreciation of life.

But some things are softer, more surprising. In many places he exhorts his boys to be vulnerable, citing that real bonds can only come from honesty. Flipping through the pages of the book, here are some things I discovered about this renowned adventurer.

Read more:

https://www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/to-my-sons-lessons-for-the-wild-adventure-called-life.html

Frank Skinner and “Shenandoah” Theme

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner (December 31, 1897 – October 9, 1968) was an American film composer and arranger.  Skinner was born on December 31, 1897, in Meredosia, Illinois. A graduate of the Chicago Musical College (now known as the Chicago Conservatory of Music), 16-year-old Frank found employment in vaudeville and began playing in local areas with his brother Carl Skinner  on drums. They were billed as the Skinner Brothers band. From there they began playing on the steamboats that went up and down the Illinois River. It was during this time that he began writing and arranging music for other bands. This work brought him to New York, where from 1925 to 1935 he arranged about 2000 popular songs for Robbins Publishing. By the time he left Manhattan for Hollywood, he had written two books on arranging for bands.

After a short period at MGM, working on musical settings for The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Skinner was hired by Universal Studios. Over the course of his 30 years there, he composed music for more than 200 films. Although he continued to work on musicals, he quickly mastered the art of dramatic scores, eventually earning five Academy Award nominations (1938–43). His distinctive approach to scoring horror films, such as Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Wolf Man (1941), has been characterized as a “passion for chromatic lines … mirrored contours … [and] restrained, yet ominously mythical orchestrations.”  Despite many changes in the film industry, his book Underscore (1950) has survived as an excellent introduction to film music composition. He gained new recognition in the 1950s for his lush romantic scores, including those for such Douglas Sirk films as Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Written on the Wind (1956).

In 1965 Skinner provided the score for Shenandoah, an American Civil War film starring James Stewart, Doug McClure, Glenn Corbett, Patrick Wayne, and, in their film debuts, Katharine Ross and Rosemary Forsyth.  The film was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.   It is about a wealthy widower who has remained steadfast in his opposition to the war on moral grounds. However, he is forced to become involved in the conflict when his son-in-law is called upon to serve in the Confederate forces, his youngest son is captured by the Union army, and another son and his pregnant daughter-in-law are killed by looters.  Though set during the Civil War, the film’s strong antiwar and humanitarian themes resonated with audiences in later years as attitudes began to change toward the Vietnam War. Upon its release, the film was praised for its themes as well as its technical production.  The American folk song “Oh Shenandoah,” which Skinner used as a theme, features prominently in the film’s soundtrack.

“Oh Shenandoah” (also called simply “Shenandoah” or “Across the Wide Missouri”) is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century.  In the early days of America, rivers and canals were the chief trade and passenger routes, and boatmen were an important class. The song appears to have originated with Canadian and American voyageurs or fur traders, who were great singers traveling down the Missouri River in canoes, and has developed several different sets of lyrics. Until the 19th century only adventurers who sought their fortunes as trappers and traders of beaver fur ventured as far west as the Missouri River. Most of these Canadian and American “voyageurs” in the fur trade era were loners who became friendly with, and sometimes married, Native Americans, and songs were an important part of their culture.  Some lyrics refer to the Oneida Iroquois pine tree chief Shenandoah (1710–1816), who lived in the central New York state town of Oneida Castle, and a canoe-going trader who wants to marry his daughter. Some folklorists have suggested that the song was inspired by the life of Jim Bridger, a legendary mountain man and trapper.

Also in the early 19th century, flatboatmen who plied the Missouri River were known for their shanties, including “Oh Shenandoah” which they probably learned from the voyageurs.   Sailors heading down the Mississippi River picked up the song and made it a capstan shanty that they sang while hauling in the anchor.  This boatmen’s song found its way down the Mississippi River to American clipper ships, and thus around the world.  By the mid 1800s versions of the song had become a sea shanty heard or sung by sailors in various parts of the world, especially a version of the song called “Shanadore.”  In a 1930 letter to the U.K. newspaper The Times, a former sailor who had worked aboard clipper ships that carried wool between Britain and Australia in the 1880s said that he believed the song had originated as a black American spiritual which developed into a work song.

Eyewitnesses recorded having heard the song sung by black workers loading and unloading wool and cotton from ships in the late 19th century. It was here that it was sung as “this world of mis’ry” rather than “the wide Missouri.”  Others think that Shenandoah was a logging song, first sung by the logging men coming in from the woods, in the spring of the year.  So it’s a fur traders’ ballad, a logging song, and a sea shanty.  Generations of schoolchildren in the US and elsewhere have grown up singing it, and some of the world’s great popular singers have been drawn to it. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. Skinner, who helped to make it famous, died, aged 70, on October 9, 1968, in Beverly Hills, California, leaving behind his wife Dolly Repine Skinner.

My collection includes the following work by Frank Skinner:

Shenandoah: Theme

Fort Dauphin Museum School, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada

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Sandringham School at Fort Dauphin Museum

140 Jackson St.

Dauphin, MB R7N 2V1, Canada

Fort Dauphin Museum, established in 1975 in the City of Dauphin, Manitoba, is surrounded by a wooden palisade representative of an 18th century fur trading post and featuring archaeological, fur trade, and pioneer artifacts.  Outside the entrance to the museum are two monuments. The first, erected in 1931 by the Dauphin Pioneers’ Association, commemorates the people who settled this area between 1883 and 1895. It lists their names and gives a chronology of significant events during this period. The second monument, erected by the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba, commemorates explorer Peter Fidler.  Inside, visitors can walk through history with a tour of the nine buildings. The main log building, a trapper’s cabin, a trading post, a blacksmith’s shop, a pioneer log house, a church, and a schoolhouse are located inside palisade walls. The museum has displays of the fur trade, history of Dauphin, life in the parkland area from prehistoric Aboriginal life 8000 years ago through to the arrival of explorers, fur traders, the birth of the Métis, and the early pioneer settlers.  Everyone can explore what it was like for Peter Fidler, early pioneers, and fur traders in the Dauphin area.  The original one room Sandringham School building, built in 1894 as Sandringham School No. 722 is now on display at the Fort Dauphin Museum.  Youngsters can imagine what it would be like to be a child among 14 siblings in a one-room pioneer log house and take classes at the one-room Sandringham School like children in the prairies used to.  The Parkland Archaeological Laboratory, a resource centre with displays and information on more than 1000 archaeological sites in the region, houses over 80,000 artifacts. The Museum hosts the Fur Traders Rendezvous in September.

John W. Casto and the “Royal Bridesmaids March”

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John Wheaton Casto (August 1, 1879- May 8, 1950) was an American band composer and conductor.   Casto was born in Danville, Illinois, on August 1, 1879.  After he completed his education at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he returned to his hometown, where he became an educator, literary and music critic, performing musician, and organizer of the Rock Island, Illinois, band.  Sometimes using the pseudonym of Jean Kastowsky, he left behind numerous marching compositions, including t he Royal Bridesmaids March for band (1908) and Al-Fresco, also a march for band.  In 1942 he moved to California, and died at Escalon, California, on May 8, 1950.

The following work by John W. Casto is contained in my collection:

Royal Bridesmaids (1908).