Consuelo Velasquez and “Besame Mucho”


Consuelo Velázquez-Torres (August 21, 1916 – January 22, 2005), popularly also known as Consuelito Velázquez, was a Mexican concert pianist, songwriter and recording artist.  She was born at Ciudad Guzmán Zapotlán el Grande in Jalisco, Mexico, though some sources list her birth date as August 29, 1924.  Velázquez is said to have begun playing the piano at the age of four.  When she was four years of age, her family moved to Guadalajara. At that time she began to demonstrate a good ear and great aptitudes for music, so when she was only six years old she began studying music and piano at the Serratos Academy in Guadalajara. After nine years of study, she moved to Mexico City, where she continued with her studies and obtained the degree of concert pianist and music teacher. Her degree concert took place at the Palace of Fine Arts of the capital and soon after she started as a popular music composer. As a classical music concert pianist, she was a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra (Mexico) and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico .

Velázquez was the songwriter and lyricist of many Spanish standard songs, and as a composer her legacy has been most noteworthy.  Her first compositions, “Do not ever ask me,” “Pasional,” and “Let me love you,” were of a romantic nature.  The best known success was Bésame mucho , a bolero composed when she was only 16 years old.  This romantic ballad was an enduring 1940s-era standard which was soon recorded by artists around the globe, making it an international hit. After it was recorded by the Spanish-Mexican baritone Emilio Tuero, in 1944 Valezquez made the first adaptation in English language for the famous American singer Nat “King” Cole.  From then on, it was performed by hundreds of artists around the world, such as Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, Sammy Davis Jr., Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Ray Conniff and his Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, and Frank Sinatra.  Bésame mucho is also known as Kiss Me Much, Kiss Me a Lot , Kiss Me Again and Again , Embrasse-Moi, and Stale Ma Boskavaj . Translated into more than 20 languages, the song became an icon in popular music. It was especially popular in the United States with women who waited for their husbands in World War II. The Beatles famously performed it as a part of their January 1, 1962, studio audition for Decca executives

Other Velszquez songs include Amar y vivir” (“To Love and to Live”), “Verdad amarga” (“Bitter Truth”), “Franqueza,” “Que seas feliz,” “Abuela abuela ,”  “Cachito,” “Enamorada,” “Chiqui,” “Que be feliz,” “Proud and pretty,” and “I was not” ( a dance song popularized initially by Pedro Infante and, in years recent, by Pedro Fernández). Velázquez participated as an actress in the 1938 Argentine film Nights of Carnival  directed by the filmmaker Julio Saraceni.  She also participated as a pianist in the Mexican films of the director Julián Soler, “He passed his hand” of 1952 and “My parents divorced” of 1959. In addition, she appeared in the documentary about her life Consuelo Velázquez of 1992. Throughout her life, he composed music for several Mexican films.

According to Velázquez herself, she was strongly influenced by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. After the beginning of her career, Velázquez married the media owner and promoter of artists, Mariano Rivera Conde who died in 1977, and they had children Mariano and Sergio Rivera Velázquez. In 1977, she received the Peace Medal of the United Nations, along with her colleagues, Master Ramón Inclán Aguilar, journalist and singer Wilbert Alonzo Cabrera, Lola Beltrán, and María Medina. This medal was given to them by the U.N. Secretary General due to their artistic participation and organization of a sumptuous Mexican festival on the occasion of the United Nations staff day.  Velázquez also was elected to the Mexican Congress, and in the period between 1979 and 1982 she was part of the Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Union.

Velázquez won the National Prize for Science and Arts in the area of ​​Popular Arts and Traditions in 1989.  Alsoshe served as president for SACM (Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico), and she was vice-president of CISAC (International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies).  In 2003, sculptor Sergio Peraza immortalized Velázquez with a Mexico City statue.   Her last artistic performance was as a pianist on an album by Mexican singer Cecilia Toussaint entitled Para mi … Consuelo , which contains songs by Velázquez.  Velázquez remained in the hospital after she suffered a fall in November 2004.  Affected by cardiovascular disease, she died on January 22, 2005, in Mexico City, Mexico, of respiratory problems.  According to her obituary, she was 88 years old when she died.  Her body was transferred to the Palace of Fine Arts, scene of her first presentation. Her ashes were then buried in the Santo Tomás Moro church, where the author went every Sunday to hear the mass.  She lleft seven unpublished songs, among them Donde siempre (dedicated to Cecilia Toussaint), Mi bello Mazatlán (to   be recorded by the Banda El Recodo ) and Por el camino (bequeathed the Mexican singer Luis Miguel) .

My collection includes the following work by Consuelo Velasquez-Torres:

Besame Mucho (1940).




Vangelis and “Chariots of Fire”


Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou best known professionally as Vangelis (b. March 29, 1943) is a Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music, who is best known for his Academy Award–winning score for the film Chariots of Fire, composing scores for the films Blade Runner, Missing, Antarctica, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Alexander, and the use of his music in the PBS documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.  Vangelis was born on March 29, 1943, in Agria, near Volos, Greece. Largely a self-taught musician, he reportedly began composing at the age of three.  His earliest memories include playing piano, percussion, and music of his own device.  He studied painting, an art he still practices, at the Athens School of Fine Arts.

When Vangelis was twelve years old he became interested in jazz music, and with the social movement to rock and roll.  At fifteen years old he started to form early school bands, not to cover other musicians, but to have fun, resulting in the early 1960s being one of the founders of pop rock group The Forminx (or the Formynx), which became popular in Greece.  Based in Athens, the five-piece band played a mixture of cover versions and their own material, the latter written mostly by Vangelis with lyrics by DJ and record producer Nico Mastorakis but still sung in English. The Forminx released nine hit singles and a Christmas EP before disbanding in 1966 at the peak of their success. Vangelis spent the next two years mostly studio-bound, writing and producing for other Greek artists.

Around the time of the student riots in 1968, Vangelis founded progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child together with Demis Roussos, Loukas Sideras, and Anargyros “Silver” Koulouris. After an unsuccessful attempt to enter the UK, they found a home in Paris where they recorded their first single, a hit across much of Europe called “Rain and Tears.”  Other singles followed, including two albums, which, in total, sold over 20 million copies. The record sales led the record company to request a third album, and Vangelis went on to conceive the double-album 666, based on Revelation, the last book in the Bible. It is often listed as one of the best progressive rock albums.  Tensions between members during the recording of 666 eventually caused the split of the band in 1971, but the album was still released in 1972.

While still in Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis had already been involved in other projects. In the 1960s he scored music for three Greek films My Brother, the Traffic Policeman (1963) directed by Filippos Fylaktos, 5,000 Lies (1966) by Giorgos Konstantinou, To Prosopo tis Medousas (1967) by Nikos Koundouros. In 1970 composed the score for Sex-Power directed by Henry Chapier, as well again for Salut, Jerusalem (1972) and Amore (1974).  In 1971, some jam sessions with a group of musicians in London had resulted in two albums’ worth of material, unofficially released without Vangelis’ permission in 1978, titled Hypothesis and The Dragon. In 1973 Vangelis’ solo career began in earnest. His second solo album was Earth. It was a percussive-orientated album with Byzantine undertones and featured a group of musicians including ex-Aphrodite’s Child guitarist Silver Koulouris and also vocalist and songwriter Robert Fitoussi (better known as F.R. David of “Words” fame).  This line-up, later briefly going out under the name “Odyssey,” released a single in 1974 titled “Who”, but that was Vangelis’ last involvement with them.

Later in 1974, Vangelis was widely tipped to join another prog-rock band, Yes, following the departure of Rick Wakeman. After a couple of weeks of rehearsals Vangelis wavered on the option of joining Yes, and the band had to detour and hire Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz instead, who later joined the Moody Blues. Vangelis did, however, become friends with Yes’ lead vocalist Jon Anderson, and later worked with him on several occasions, including as the duo Jon & Vangelis.  After moving to London in 1975, Vangelis signed with RCA Records, set up his own studio, Nemo Studios, and began recording a string of electronic albums, such as Heaven and Hell (1975), Albedo 0.39 (1976), Spiral (1977), Beaubourg (1978), and China (1979). In 1979 was released album Odes, which included Greek folk songs performed by Vangelis and actress Irene Papas.

Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980) used several pieces composed by Vangelis during the 1970s, including the series’ opening theme.  In the 1980s were released five solo albums, beginning with the experimental and satirical See You Later (1980) which included “Memories of Green.”  In 1981, Vangelis wrote the score for the film Chariots of Fire, set at the 1924 Summer Olympics. The choice of music was unorthodox as most period films featured traditional orchestral scores, whereas Vangelis’ music was modern and synthesizer-heavy. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Vangelis won the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. The opening theme of the film was released as a single in 1982, topping the American Billboard chart for one week after climbing steadily for five months.   In 1982, Vangelis collaborated with director Ridley Scott, to write the score for the science fiction film Blade Runner.

In the 1990s were also released five solo albums, beginning with The City (1990) which was recorded during his stay in Rome in 1989, and reflected a day of bustling city life, from dawn until dusk.  In 1992, Paramount Pictures released the film 1492: Conquest of Paradise, also directed by Ridley Scott, as a 500th anniversary commemoration of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World. Vangelis’s score was nominated as “Best Original Score – Motion Picture” at the 1993 Golden Globe awards. Vangelis wrote the film score for the 1992 film Bitter Moon directed by Roman Polanski, and The Plague by film director Luis Puenzo.  In the 90s, Vangelis scored a number of undersea documentaries for French ecologist and filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau, one of which was shown at the Earth Summit.  The music score of the film Cavafy (1996) directed by Yannis Smaragdis, was awarded at the Flanders International Film Festival Ghent and Valencia International Film Festival.

In 2001, Vangelis performed live and released choral symphony Mythodea, a predominantly orchestral rather than electronic piece that was originally written in 1993, and used by NASA as the theme for the Mars Odyssey mission. In 2004, Vangelis released the score for Oliver Stone’s Alexander, continuing his involvement with projects related to Greece.  Vangelis released two albums in 2007, including the soundtrack for the Greek movie, El Greco directed by Yannis Smaragdis, titled El Greco Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.  On December 11, 2011, Vangelis was invited by Katara’s Cultural Village in the state of Qatar to conceive, design, direct, and compose music for the opening of its world-class outdoor amphitheater.   In 2012, Vangelis re-tooled and added new pieces to his iconic Chariots of Fire soundtrack, for use in the same-titled stage adaptation.

Vangelis composed the soundtrack of the environmental documentary film Trashed (2012) directed by Candida Brady, in which starred Jeremy Irons, as well scored the music for the film Twilight of Shadows (2014) directed by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina.  In 2013 was released documentary film Vangelis And The Journey to Ithaka.  For the November 12, 2014, landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67P (part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission), Vangelis composed three short pieces titled “Arrival,” “Rosetta’s Waltz,” and “Philae’s Journey.” The pieces were released online as videos accompanied by images and animations from the Rosetta mission. In September 2016, the works were released as part of the new studio album Rosetta.

The following works by Vangelis are contained in my collection:

1492 Conquest of Paradise (1992): 1492 Conquest of Paradise (Main Theme).

Chariots of Fire (1981): Titles and Theme.

François van Campenhout and “La Brabanconne”

van campenhout

François van Campenhout (February 5, 1779 –April 24, 1848) was a Belgian opera singer, conductor and composer, who composed the music for the Belgian national anthem, the Brabançonne.  Van Campenhout was born on February 5, 1779, in Brussels, Belgium, where he studied violin. He worked initially as an office clerk, but soon pursued a career as a musician. After he had been a violist at the Théâtre de la Monnaie (or Muntschouwburg) in Brussels for a while, he started a career as a tenor at the Opera in Ghent. This was the beginning of a successful opera career, which brought him to Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague, Lyon and Bordeaux. In 1828, he ended his career as a singer and became conductor in Brussels.

Van Campenhout produced a large number of works, including operas such as Grotius ou le Château de Lovesteyn and Passe-Partout, which were successful, and he also composed ballet music, symphonies and choir music. He wrote the music of the Brabançonne in September 1830.  According to legend, the Belgian national anthem was written in September 1830, during the Belgian Revolution, by a young revolutionary called “Jenneval,” who read the lyrics during a meeting at the Aigle d’Or café. Jenneval, a Frenchman whose real name was Alexandre Dechet (sometimes known as Louis-Alexandre Dechet), at the time was an actor at the theatre where, in August 1830, the revolution started which led to independence from the Netherlands. Jenneval died in the war of independence.

Van Campenhout composed the accompanying score, based on the tune of a French song called “L’Air des lanciers polonais” (“The Tune of the Polish Lancers”), written by the French poet Eugène de Pradel, which was itself an adaptation of the tune of a song, “L’Air du magistrat irreproachable,” found in a popular collection of drinking songs called “La Clé du caveau” (“The Key to the cellar”), and it was first performed in September 1830. Van Campenhout was a member of the Grand Orient of Belgium and died in Brussels on April 24, 1848. He is buried at Brussels Cemetery in Evere, Brussels. In 1860, Belgium formally adopted the song and music as its national anthem, although the then prime minister, Charles Rogier edited out lyrics attacking the Dutch Prince of Orange.

My collection includes the following work by François van Campenhout:

La Brabanconne.

Teaching the Fidgety Child (Without Using Duct Tape)

Teaching the Fidgety Child (Without Using Duct Tape)
by Carol Barnier

(This article was originally published August 4, 2010, in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and appeared on Homeschool Life on Tue., Jan. 31, 2012)

I harbored in my mind such beautiful images of motherhood … long before I was a mother, of course. It involved a calm, fresh-faced child nestled sweetly against my side, looking up with wide-eyed wonder and obvious appreciation for the seventh lovely little story I’d just read to her (or was that our eighth?). Why … she might even feel compelled to tell me yet again, “You da bestest mommy in da hoe wood!” She would sleep long and peacefully from the moment I’d lay her down. She’d awaken cheerfully and be eager to please me. My love for my children would so permeate our home that all those problems I’d seen in other children would be just that . . . problems in other children. Well, God must have been watching that little picket-fence-fiction movie I’d created in my mind, and He decided to nip that puppy in the bud right off the bat. (That last statement, by the way, is a classic mixed metaphor. Feel free to use this in today’s grammar lesson on how not to write.)

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Francis Van Boskerck and “Semper Paratus”


Francis Saltus Van Boskerck (1868/1869-Nov. 26, 1927) was an American Coast Guard officer, musician, and composer of the official march of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), “Semper Paratus” (Latin for “Always Ready”).  Van Boskerck was born in 1868 or 1869 at New York City, NY, the son of Francis Van Boskerck and Jane Van Boskerck.  His wife was Carlotta Witte Van Boskerck (1872–1968).  Semper Paratus is the official motto of the United States Coast Guard, and is the title of their marching song.  The precise origin of the phrase is obscure, although the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office notes the first use was by the New Orleans Bee newspaper in 1836, in reference to the actions of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service during the Ingham incident.

Under President Woodrow Wilson the Coast Guard, the world’s oldest life-saving service, was created as a separate military service unit in 1915, and by 1927 they were seeking an anthem. USCG officer Captain Francis Saltus Van Boskerck and his friends entered their material into a song-search contest sponsored by the Coast Guard and won.  The original lyrics of the song had been written by Van Boskerck in 1922, at the cabin of USCGC Yamacraw in Savannah, Georgia.

Captain Van Boskerck then composed the music in 1927 when he was Commander of the Coast Guard’s Bering Sea Forces.  Coast Guard lore says that he developed the tune in Unalaska, Alaska, on a “beat-up old piano” belonging to a Mrs. Albert C. Gross, the wife of an Alaskan fur trader, who owned what was at that time the only piano in the Aleutian Islands. Two public health dentists, Alfred E. Nannestad and Joseph O. Fournier of Unalaska Island, also contributed to developing the song’s early lyrics.  Later that year, Van Boskerck, by then Commendant of the Norfolk Division United States Coast Guard, died suddenly on Nov. 26, 1927, from a heart attack as he was preparing to leave his stateroom on a Washington steamer to come ashore at Norfolk, VA.   His remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery  Arlington, VA.

“Semper Paratus” was first published a 1928 issue of The Coast Guard Magazine. Its first commercial publication was in 1938 by Sam Fox Publishing, New York City, NY. During WWII, Rudy Vallee, a popular singer and radio personality, enlisted and was appointed bandmaster of a Coast Guard band stationed in Long Beach, California, which played widely across the nation to raise funds for the war effort. In 1943 the current verse, as well as a second chorus, was added to “Semper Paratus” by Homer Smith, 3rd Naval District Coast Guard quartet, Chief Cole, Walton Butterfield. The tune has been recorded by a variety of different groups including the U.S. Coast Guard Band and The River City Brass Band.  In 1969, the first line of each verse was changed and the first chorus was rewritten.

The following work by Francis Van Boskerck is contained in my collection:

Semper Paratus.

Little Red Schoolhouse, Willoughby, OH


Little Red Schoolhouse

5040 Shankland Rd.

Willoughby, OH 44094

The Little Red Schoolhouse was built in 1901. The site is a three-building complex. In addition to the one-room schoolhouse, a print shop, looms, and spinning wheels are also on display. A research library contains north-eastern Ohio information, specializing in Willoughby Township  The Little Red Schoolhouse and History Center of Willoughby-Eastlake transports both schoolchildren and adults back in time. School tours begin in late September and run until mid-May. School groups in the Willoughby-Eastlake system can enjoy a four-hour program for free, though all other schools must pay $3 per head. Arranged visits for adults are offered year round and are free, though donations are greatly appreciated.  The schoolhouse is set up as an actual school would have been in the early 1900s. Visiting students are provided slates and McGuffey Readers. The school groups then discuss Ohio history. The program meets Ohio history curriculum standards for fourth graders.   Although the schoolhouse itself is the major attraction, technology from an earlier time is on display as well. The volunteer-run living history museum features not only the historic classroom, but also a loom, spinning wheel and printing press.  The Chandler printing press is a major attraction. Cleveland’s Chandler and Price Co. dominated the movable type printing business until the ascent of offset printing.  In addition, the Chandler family once owned the property on which the schoolhouse now sits. The loom and spinning wheel remain in working condition.  Classes that visit the Little Red Schoolhouse also experience a Victorian parlor and kitchen. In addition, the pupils learn to make applesauce and wool yarn, while learning about “the simple life” of the early 1900s.

The Little Red Schoolhouse once sat at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Campbell Road in Willoughby, near today’s GE Momentive facility. It is estimated that the building was last used as a school in the 1940s.   For years the structure was privately owned and used primarily for storage. Fearing the school could be lost to development, the Willoughby Rotary acquired the building and relocated it in 1975. Today, the nonprofit Little Red Schoolhouse Society owns the structure, though the small brick building is located on Willoughby-Eastlake School District property along Shankland Road in Willoughby.  The schoolhouse museum also enjoys use of one of the barns where Gertrude Chandler-Tucker once bred Guernsey cattle and Percheron horses. The barn houses larger museum artifacts, as well as a local history room that holds records, photographs and information on historic Willoughby Twp.  Funding for museum operations comes from several sources, though donations remain essential to the survival of the Little Red Schoolhouse and History Center of Willoughby-Eastlake. Those wishing to volunteer, visit or donate to the museum—which is accredited by the Northeastern Ohio Inter-Museum Council—should call 440-975-3740.

Giuseppe Valentini and his concerti


Giuseppe Valentini (December 14, 1681 – November 1753), nicknamed Straccioncino (Little Ragamuffin), was an Italian violinist, painter, poet, and composer, though he is known chiefly as a composer of inventive instrumental music. Born on December 14, 1681, in Florence, Italy, he studied under Giovanni Bononcini in Rome between 1692 and 1697.  He may also have been a student of Arcangelo Corelli in Rome. Many of Valentini’s early works are dedicated to Corelli and those composers associated with him in Rome during this time. . As both a violinist and a composer (of operas, oratorios and cantatas, as well as instrumental pieces), he was evidently one of the most prominent musicians active in Rome from around 1700, achieving substantial success there with his sonatas and concertos even before the death in 1713 of Corelli.

Besides Valentini’s several published collections issued in the period 1701–24, numerous instrumental works survive in manuscript, including nine preserved in Manchester, twelve in the archive of the Scuole Pie di S. Pantaleo, Rome, and six in Dresden. Working often in a freelance capacity, Valentini received patronage in Rome from various churches and important persons, many of whom were connected with the Arcadian Academy.  Service came for Valentini with Prince Francesco Maria Ruspoli between 1708 and 1713, and from 1710 to 1727 he served as ‘Suonator di Violino, e Componitore di Musica’ to Prince Michelangelo Caetani. He also succeeded Corelli as director of the concertino at San Luigi dei Francesi, from 1710 to 1741.  Valentini’s op. 7 consisting of seven Concerto a Quattro Violini (Concerti grossi) was published in 1710 at Rome.   Valentini was possibly with the Prince of Caserta in 1714 when he dedicated the opera “La finta rapita” to the Prince.

Not much is known about Valentini in the next decades, but most is his association, notably in the 1720s, with the court of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740).  By 1748 publications of Valentini’s works were occurring in Paris including four sinfonias and other instrumental works. These works indicate a penchant for distant keys like A-flat and B as well as high, sonorous positions on the violin. Many of the movements in these instrumental pieces were written in the form of pastorales indicating some concern for popular audiences.  Though during his lifetime overshadowed by the likes of Corelli, Vivaldi, and Locatelli, his contribution to Italian baroque music is noteworthy, and many of his works were published throughout Europe.  He died in November of 1753 at Rome, Italy.  Research over the past twenty years has revealed Valentini to be a figure of considerable importance in early-eighteenth- century Italian music

My collection includes the following works by Giuseppe Valentini:

Concerto Grosso in AM, op. 7 no. 1.

Concerto Grosso in dm, op. 7 no. 2.

Concerto Grosso in dm, op. 7 no. 3.

Concerto Grosso in GM, op. 7 no. 7.

Concerto Grosso in am, op. 7 no. 10.

Concerto for 4 Violins in am, op. 7 no. 11.