Joe Rixner and Blauer Himmel


Josef “Joe” Rixner (May 1, 1902-June 25, 1973) was a German composer and conductor whose airy and light works are still enjoying great popularity today.  Rixner was born May 1, 1902, in the Munich, Germany, art quarter of Schwabing , attended the Volksschule and the Mittelschule where he took piano and violin lessons . As a composer he trained largely self-taught. From 1919 he worked as a violinist , violist, and pianist active in various orchestras and, encouraged by the success of his composition Bagatelle in 1932, went to Berlin. There he worked as a pianist and conductor, and above all a freelance composer.

Rixner wrote music for operetta, revue, and dance theater. His works were performed on the radio and in Berlin Revue theaters such as the Admiral’s Palace and the Germany Hall built in 1936. Many of them also found their way to records.  They were congenially interpreted in recordings with the salon orchestra of the violinist Barnabás von Géczy.  Rixner’s Ouverture Bagatelle, his Tango Blue Sky (both 1936) and his ‘Happy Weekend’ (1940)’ Suite’ became famous with the popular Spanish March, a lively Paso Doble.  Also his tango ballad Nocturnal Guitars (1940) with the text by Willy Dehmel was a hit song.

As the air raids on Berlin increased in the Second World War, Rixner returned in 1944 to his Bavarian homeland. His works, which had a resurgence and were played in Germany after the war, belong to the standard genre of sophisticated light music and are still very popular today. They are often played by brass ensembles as well as with various other instrumentations such as accordion or mandolin orchestras.  They also found their way into the media.  In the 1950s, his After-Work polka was the signature tune for the radio series Family Hesselbach, and The Spanish March from his suite Happy Weekend was frequently played by Josef Kirmaier forsports broadcasts of the Bayerischer Rundfunk.  Rixner lived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where he celebrated his 50th birthday on May 1, 1952, until his death there on June 25, 1973.  He was buried in the Garmisch cemetery there.

My collection includes the following work by Joe Rixner:

Blauer Himmel (Blue Sky, 1954).


Nelson Riddle and the John F. Kennedy March from “Profiles in Courage”



Nelson Smock Riddle Jr. (June 1, 1921 – October 6, 1985) was an American arranger, composer, bandleader and orchestrator whose career stretched from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s, whose work for Capitol Records kept such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith household names, and whose orchestrations earned an Academy Award and three Grammy Awards. Riddle was born on June 1, 1921, in Oradell, New Jersey, the only child of Nelson Smock Riddle Sr. and Marie Albertine Riddle, and later moved to nearby Ridgewood.  Following his father’s interest in music, he began taking piano lessons at age eight and trombone lessons at age fourteen.  A formative experience was hearing Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Maurice Ravel’s Boléro.  By his teenage years he had decided to become a professional musician.  He wanted to be a jazz trombone player but didn’t have the coordination.  So his inclinations began to turn to writing — composing and arranging.

Riddle and his family had a summer house in Rumson, New Jersey. He enjoyed Rumson so much that he convinced his parents to allow him to attend high school there for his senior year (1938).  In Rumson while playing for trumpeter Charlie Briggs’ band, the Briggadiers, he met one of the most important influences on his later arranging style, Bill Finegan, with whom he began arranging lessons.  Finegan created not only some of the most popular arrangements from the swing era, such as Glenn Miller’s “Little Brown Jug,” but also great jazz arrangements such as Tommy Dorsey’s “Chloe” and “At Sundown” from the mid-1940s.

After his graduation from Rumson High School, Riddle spent his late teens and early 20s playing trombone in and occasionally arranging for various local dance bands, culminating in his association with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. In 1943, Riddle joined the Merchant Marine, serving at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York for about two years while continuing to work for the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. He studied orchestration under his fellow merchant mariner, composer Alan Shulman. After his enlistment term ended, Riddle traveled to Chicago to join Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in 1944, where he remained the orchestra’s third trombone for eleven months until drafted by the Army in April 1945, shortly before the end of World War II. He was discharged in June 1946, after fifteen months of active duty. He moved shortly thereafter to Hollywood to pursue his career as an arranger and spent the next several years writing arrangements for multiple radio and record projects.  In May 1949, Doris Day had a #2 hit, “Again,” backed by Riddle.

In 1950, Riddle was hired by composer Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole; this was one of Riddle’s first associations with Capitol Records. Although one of the songs Riddle had arranged, “Mona Lisa,” soon became the biggest selling single of Cole’s career, the work was credited to Baxter. However, once Cole learned the identity of the arrangement’s creator, he sought out Riddle’s work for other sessions, and thus began a fruitful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol.  During the same year, Riddle also struck up a conversation with Vern Yocum, a big band jazz musician who would transition into music preparation for Frank Sinatra and other entertainers at Capitol Records. A collaboration followed with Vern becoming Riddle’s “right hand” as copyist and librarian for the next thirty years.

In 1953, Capitol Records executives viewed the up-and-coming Riddle as a prime choice to arrange for the newly arrived Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was reluctant however, preferring instead to remain with Axel Stordahl, his long-time collaborator from his Columbia Records years. When success of the first few Capitol sides with Stordahl proved disappointing, Sinatra eventually relented and Riddle was called in to arrange his first session for Sinatra, held on April 30, 1953. The first product of the Riddle-Sinatra partnership, “I’ve Got the World on a String,” became a runaway hit and is often credited with relaunching the singer’s slumping career. Riddle’s personal favorite was a Sinatra ballad album, one of his most successful recordings, Only the Lonely.

For the next decade, Riddle continued to arrange for Sinatra and Cole, in addition to such Capitol artists as Kate Smith, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Keely Smith, Sue Raney, and Ed Townsend. He also found time to release his own instrumental discs of 45 rpm and albums on the Capitol label. For example, Riddle’s most successful tune was “Lisbon Antigua,” which was released in November 1955 and reached and remained at the #1 position for four weeks in 1956. Riddle’s most notable LP discs were Hey … Let Yourself Go (1957) and C’mon … Get Happy (1958), both of which peaked at a respectable number twenty on the Billboard charts.  While at Capitol, Riddle continued his successful career arranging music for film, most notably with MGM’s Conrad Salinger on the first onscreen duet between Bing Crosby and Sinatra in High Society (1956), and the 1957 film version of Pal Joey directed by George Sidney for Columbia Pictures. In 1969, he arranged and conducted the music for the film Paint Your Wagon, which starred a trio of non-singers, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg.

In 1957, Riddle and his orchestra were featured on The Rosemary Clooney Show, a 30-minute syndicated program.  In 1962, Riddle orchestrated two albums for Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson, and Ella Swings Gently with Nelson, their first work together since 1959’s Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book. The mid-1960s would also see Fitzgerald and Riddle collaborate on the last of Ella’s Songbooks, devoted to the songs of Jerome Kern (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Song Book) and Johnny Mercer (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book).  In 1963, Riddle joined Sinatra’s newly established label Reprise Records, under the musical direction of Morris Stoloff. Much of his work in the 1960s and 1970s was for film and television, including his hit theme song for Route 66, steady work scoring episodes of Batman and other television series including the theme to The Untouchables, and composing the scores of several motion pictures including the Rat Pack features Robin and the 7 Hoods and the original Ocean’s 11.

In the latter half of the 1960s, the partnership between Riddle and Frank Sinatra grew more distant as Sinatra began increasingly to turn to Don Costa, Billy May and an assortment of other arrangers for his album projects. Although Riddle would write various arrangements for Sinatra until the late 1970s, Strangers In The Night, released in 1966, was the last full album project the pair completed together. The collection of Riddle-arranged songs was intended to expand on the success of the title track, which had been a number one hit single for Sinatra arranged by Ernie Freeman.  In 1966, Riddle was hired by television producer William Dozier to create the music for the Batman television series starring Adam West. While Neal Hefti had written the Batman theme song as it is known today (originally hired for the series but became unavailable), it was Riddle who did the first two seasons of Batman (sans two scored by Warren Barker).  Billy May did the third season’s music. Re-recordings of Riddle’s music from Batman was issued on one soundtrack LP and one 45 RPM.

During the 1970s, the majority of Riddle’s work was for film and television, including the score for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, which earned Riddle his first Academy Award after some five nominations. In 1973, he served as musical director for the Emmy Award winning The Julie Andrews Hour. He wrote the theme song for the 1972 television series Emergency!, and scored the 1977 miniseries Seventh Avenue. Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra also made numerous concert appearances throughout the 1970s, some of which were led and contracted by his good friend, Tommy Shepard.  In the 1960s and 1970s, Riddle was the band leader on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  On March 14, 1977, Riddle conducted his last three arrangements for Sinatra. The songs, “Linda,” “Sweet Lorraine.” and “Barbara,” were intended for an album of songs with women’s names. The album was never completed. “Sweet Lorraine” was released in 1990 and the other two on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings in 1996.

Riddle was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music. In a 1982 radio interview on WNEW with Jonathan Schwartz, Riddle cites Stan Kenton’s “23 Degrees North, 82 Degrees West” arranged by Bill Russo as inspiration for his signature trombone interplay crescendos.  1982 saw Riddle work for the last time with Ella Fitzgerald, on her last orchestral Pablo album, The Best Is Yet to Come.  In the spring of 1982, Riddle was approached by Linda Ronstadt — via telephone through her manager and producer, Peter Asher — to write arrangements for an album of jazz standards that Linda had been contemplating since her stint in The Pirates of Penzance. The agreement between the two resulted in a three-album contract which included what were to be the last arrangements of Riddle’s career, with the exception of an album of twelve Great American Songbook standards he arranged and conducted for his old friend, opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa, in April 1985, six months before his death that October. Ronstadt recalls that when she initially approached Riddle, she did not know if he was even familiar with her music. He knew her name, but basically hated rock ‘n’ roll. However, his daughter was a big Linda Ronstadt.

When Riddle learned of Ronstadt’s desire to learn more about traditional pop music and agreed to record with her, he insisted on a whole album or nothing. He explained to Ronstadt that he had once turned down Paul McCartney, who had sought him out to write an arrangement for one of McCartney’s albums.  They agreed, and three three albums together sold over seven million copies.  This brought Riddle back to a young audience during the last three years of his life. Arrangements for Linda Ronstadt’s What’s New (1983) and Lush Life (1984) won Riddle his second and third Grammy Awards.  On January 19, 1985, he conducted at the nationally televised 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan. The program was hosted by Frank Sinatra, who sang “Fly Me to the Moon” and “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (backed by a solo dance routine by Mikhail Baryshnikov). On October 6, 1985, Riddle died in Los Angeles, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, at age 64 of cardiac and kidney failure as a result of cirrhosis of the liver, with which he had been diagnosed five years earlier.  His third and final Grammy was awarded posthumously—and accepted on his behalf by Linda Ronstadt—in early 1986. Ronstadt subsequently presented the evening’s first on-air award, at which time she narrated a tribute to the departed maestro.

The following works by Nelson Riddle are contained in my collection:

Brother John (traditional).

Profiles in Courage: The John F. Kennedy March.

Clive Richardson and ‘British Grenadiers’


Clive Richardson (June 23, 1909 – November 11, 1998) was an English pianist and composer of light orchestral music, the last of the pioneers of light music.   Born on June 23, 1909, in Paris, France, of British parents, Richardson was educated at Harrow School and despite showing prodigious talent in matters musical from an early age began training to become a doctor before switching to the Royal Academy Of Music, studying several instruments as well as conducting with Sir Henry Wood and composition with Norman O’Neil. Richardson’s early career during the 30s included working in Andre Charlot revues such as Please (1933), starring Beatrice Lillie, and Spread It Abroad (1936), the show that introduced “A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square,” sung by Dorothy Dickson. in London’s West End, with artists such as Lupino Lane and Hermione Gingold.  He also toured as one of the pianists in “Harold Ramsay’s Six-Piano Symphony.”  As the singer Hildegarde’s accompanist and musical director, he spent several years touring Britain and Europe, culminating in a triumphant season at New York’s prestigious Rainbow Room.

In 1936 Richardson joined Gaumont-British Films at Lime Grove, and as arranger and assistant musical director to Louis Levy, he composed and orchestrated sections of some 100 films, in collaboration with such future greats of the light- music world as Charles (“Dick Barton”) Williams, Jack (“Picture Parade”) Beaver, Hubert (“Cornish Rhapsody”) Bath, Leighton Lucas, Jack Beaver, Bretton Byrd, and Mischa Spoliansky. Seldom was a complete score composed by one person and invariably almost every film gave screen credits to Levy who did little conducting and no composing at all.  Happily research is now in hand to identify who did what. Richardson may well have had a hand in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1933).  With Williams, he certainly wrote the scores for most of numerous Jack Hulbert and the Will Hay comedies, including Oh Mr Porter (1937), and he also scored Nicholas Brodszky’s French Without Tears (1939) which was officially credited to Brodszky.

Richardson served in the Royal Artillery Regiment during World War II.  At the outbreak of war he immediately ceased all musical activities. Already an officer in the Territorial Reserve, he was posted to a succession of Ack-Ack Battalions and served in Coventry, Manchester, and Birmingham, but he managed to keep his musical career active. He contributed arrangements to BBC Radio’s most popular show ITMA; novel arrangements by leading writers of folk songs, nursery rhymes and traditional melodies, played by the BBC Variety Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell, were a popular feature of each program. Richardson’s scores for this feature included ‘A-Hunting We Will Go,’ ‘Baa! Baa! Black Sheep,’ ‘British Grenadiers,’ ‘Camptown Races,’ ‘Come Lassies And Lads,’ ‘Grand Old Duke Of York,’ ‘Irish Washerwoman,’ ‘John Peel,’ ‘Lincolnshire Poacher,’ ‘Little Brown Jug,’ ‘Oh Susannah,’,‘O Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone,’ ‘On Ilka Moor Baht’ At,’ ‘Polly-Wolly-Doodle,’ and ‘Sing A Song Of Sixpence.’

Following the success of Richard Addinsell’s ‘The Warsaw Concerto,’ Richardson’s publisher asked him to compose a sequel, which was originally called ‘The Coventry Concerto,’ as a tribute to the Midlands city which had suffered from saturation bombing. Eventually in 1944 this work emerged as ‘London Fantasia’, and it was recorded by Sidney Torch (Parlophone Records) and Charles Williams (Columbia Records) – both with the composer at the piano, and also by the Mantovani Orchestra with Monia Liter (Decca Records). His experiences of the bombing in these cities and both the horrors and courage that he witnessed were the inspiration for the London Fantasia), and it proved to be Richardson’s first popular hit.

Other major works by Richardson at this time included ‘Salute To Industry’ (1945) and a nautical overture ‘White Cliffs’ (1946). Between numerous composing assignments, Richardson developed a performing career with fellow pianist Tony Lowry as Four Hands In Harmony, which topped variety bills and notched up over 500 broadcasts. They made several film appearances including My Ain Folk (1944) and later a series of Rank fillers, For Your Entertainment (1952).  The immediate post-war period saw Richardson at his most productive. In addition to the performing he was invited to work on the ITMA (It’s That Man Again) radio series which featured a weekly orchestral interlude, performed by the Variety Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell.

Today Richardson is best remembered for his light orchestral work such as ‘Holiday Spirit,’ ‘Shadow Waltz’ (written under the nom de plume Paul Dubois), ‘Running Off The Rails,’ ‘Melody On The Move,’ ‘Road To Rio,’ ‘Tom Marches On’ (the ITMA march), ‘Chiming Strings,’ ‘Continental Galop,’ ‘Elixir Of Youth,’ ‘Valse Bijou,’ ‘Romantic Rhapsody,’ and many others. In 1988 he received a BASCA Gold Award for Lifetime Services To The Music Business. Continuing to write into the 1960s and 1970s Richardson freely acknowledged that the call for music in his style was limited in an era of pop.  In l988 he recieved a token of recognition from his peers when the British Association of Songwriters Composers and Authors awarded him their Gold Medal for services to the world of music, a belated acknowledgement of his exceptional work in the field of light music.  He died on November 11, 1998, in London, England, U.K.

My collection includes the following work by Clive Richardson:

British Grenadiers (arranged).

12/2017 News from Home School Book Review

Home School Book Review Blog ( ) is the place to go for book reviews, primarily of children’s and youth literature both old and new, from a Biblical worldview.

Books reviewed in November of 2017 include:

November 29, 2017–Goodbye, Charley
November 27, 2017–Calamity Jane at Fort Sanders: A Historical Novel
November 25, 2017–The Little White Horse
November 24, 2017–Davy Crockett
November 21, 2017–The Hooks Files: Murder, Arson, Robbery, Amnesia
November 15, 2017–Winter Cottage
November 13, 2017–Illuminate: An Advent Experience
November 12, 2017–A Day on Skates: The Story of a Dutch Picnic
November 11, 2017–The ABC Bunny
November 10, 2017–Sam And The Colonels
November 5, 2017–Swift Rivers
November 1, 2017–The Raft

The winner of our Book of the Month Award for November, 2017, is:


The Hooks Files: Murder, Arson, Robbery, Amnesia by Paul Boyce

Books we are currently reading and will review in the near future are:

Hero of Hacksaw Ridge by Booton Herndon

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Pageant of Chinese History by Elizabeth Seeger

The Hooks Files II by Paul Boyce


J. J. Richards and the “Emblem of Unity” March


Joseph John Richards (August 27, 1878 – March 16, 1956) was a composer, conductor, and music educator best known for writing over 300 compositions for circus and school bands, whose most successful works were marches, including Crusade for Freedom, Emblem of Unity, and Shield of Liberty.  Richards was born on August 27, 1878, at Cwmafan, Wales, in the United Kingdom. His family immigrated to the United States four years later, settling in Peterson, Kansas, and he spent most of his childhood in Pittsburg, Kansas. He began playing alto horn and cornet at the age of ten, progressing rapidly and playing in various amateur bands, and became director of the Norton-Jones Circus Band at the age of nineteen, beginning a long career as bandmaster with numerous ensembles. He would later play for and conduct several other circus bands, including the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band before it combined with the Ringling Brothers Band. When not playing for a circus, Richards studied music at Kansas State Teachers College and the American Conservatory of Music.

Richards’ first composition appeared in print in 1899; during this period he began writing marches and other works, and certainly many of his early works were first performed by the bands that he led. His career as a circus bandleader culminated with his directorship of the Ringling Bros. Circus Band from 1911 through 1918.  He began teaching music during World War I, first to Army bands and later to public schoolchildren. Beginning in the early 1920’s, he taught school music and directed bands in various Illinois towns through 1944. He became a member of the American Bandmasters Association in 1936.  He also conducted several municipal bands in Florida and Kansas until 1945 when he was selected to succeed Herbert L. Clarke as conductor of the Long Beach, California Municipal Band, a post he held until 1950.

Subsequently, Richards returned to Illinois in the spring and summer to lead the Mt. Morris Band while wintering in Long Beach. He died on March 16, 1956 in Long Beach, California.  Richards was highly regarded by his peers. He was elected as an officer in the American Bandmasters Association in 1939 and served as its president in 1948-1949. Also he was inducted into the Windjammers’ Hall of Fame in 1981.  He composed well over one hundred works that were published. Undoubtedly his most famous composition – one which enjoys great popularity today – is the marvelous “Emblem of Unity” march.

The following works by J. J. Richards are contained  in my collection:

Emblem of Unity.

The Barnum.

Monument Park School, Warren, OH


Monument Park School

West Market Street and Mahoning Avenue

Warren, OH 44483

Monument Park, which is on the east bank of the Mahoning River in Warren, OH, and includes a reconstructed log cabin built on the site of Warren’s first schoolhouse (circa 1804), commemorates the sacrifices of local citizens in military service.  In 2008 the new Trumbull County Veterans’ Memorial was added to the site. Built by volunteers from local building trade organizations with monetary donations from local businesses, organizations and residents, the memorial includes a World War II statue and a Wall of Honor. The Wall, which is comprised of bricks inscribed with individual names of veteran servicemen and women, honors and memorializes those who have served this country.

Georg Rhau and Tricinia: Ic truere


Georg Rhau or Rhaw (1488 –August 6, 1548) was a German publisher and composer, who was one of the most significant music printers in Germany in the first half of the 16th century, during the early period of the Protestant Reformation and was principally active in Wittenberg, Saxony, the town where Martin Luther is said to have nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church, initiating the Reformation.   Born in 1488 at the Thuringian town of Eisfeld, then part of Ernestine Saxony in Germany, Rhau from 1513 onwards studied philosophy at the newly established University of Wittenberg. From 1518 he continued his studies at the University of Leipzig where he also worked as a tutor. He was the cantor of Leipzig Thomanerchor from 1518 to 1520. During Luther’s Leipzig Debate, he performed his mass Missa de Sancto Spiritu for twelve voices on June 27, 1519.

In 1520 Rhau had to leave Leipzig, due to his favorable attitude towards the Reformation, and went on to serve as a schoolmaster in the Mansfeld town of Eisleben and in Hildburghausen. From 1522 he worked as a printer in Wittenberg, where he established his own printing shop and publishing house. In 1528, he is again documented as Thomanerchor organist.  Rhau published method books and various significant prints of music by contemporary composers, such as Heinrich Finck, Thomas Stoltzer, Arnold von Bruck, and Ludwig Senfl. His collection is an important document for the development of Lutheran church music.  Rhau’s support as a printer was critical to Luther’s success.  He died on August 6, 1548, at Wittenberg, Germany.

My collection includes the following work by Georg Rhau:

Tricinia: Ic truere (1542).