Minneapolis is known as a city of bicycling enthusiasts. We certainly love riding around this neighborhood ourselves — in fact, we have a sidecar bike on which our shop dog, Irene, often rides to work.
In his own way Don Gillis brought the classical repertoire to millions of Americans. He was the producer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra during the long tenure of Arturo Toscanini, helping to broadcast hundreds of symphonic and operatic performances on radio and television (today you can buy an enormous, 85-disc box set of the complete recordings of Toscanini on RCA/Victor Records which including many with the NBC Symphony Orchestra).
After Toscanini retired in 1954 Gillis helped create the Symphony of the Air, which continued to broadcast orchestral music under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Gillis was also an active composer when not busy with the office work of managing the Orchestra — He wrote ten symhonies (including the light-hearted Symphony No. 5 1/2 “A Symphony for Fun”), several concertos and quartets, and tone poems such as a celebration of the town where he grew up, Fort Worth, Texas (Portrait of a Frontier Town).
The Man Who Invented Music was written by Don Gillis for the U.S. Steel NBC Summer Symphony Series in 1949. It was debuted by Antal Dorati that August. Gillis conducted this recording himself, and it was narrated by Jack Kilty, a minor television star on, you guessed it, NBC.
Last night the Minnesota Orchestra began its annual Sommerfest with a live performance of the 2009 Star Trek score. Once again, they’ve invited your friendly neighborhood record store to provide some entertainment for the mezzanine. Once again there will be listening stations in Orchestra Hall and this year we’ve selected some albums connected to each night’s musical program. Also throughout the lobby are giant versions of popular games like chess, Connect Four and Scrabble.
You can check out the whole calendar for the Orchestra’s Sommerfest program on their website here. And when you visit Orchestra Hall between now and the first week of August you can take a rest and listen to albums like Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space during the intermission.
Sonny Bono said he wrote “Laugh at Me” after being refused service at Montoni’s Restaurant in Hollywood because of his hippy attire. The owner later claimed he called Bono a “clown.” It was the first of only two solo singles by Sonny, and in his spoken introduction he says, “I never thought I’d cut a record by myself but I’ve got somethin’ I want to say.”
Mott the Hoople covered the song on their first album several years later. It provided a perfect vehicle for Ian Hunter’s Dylanesque delivery and the band’s early glam styling.
On Monday mornings Garfield often makes remarks about coffee, and today was no exception. Our family had a little trouble getting the motor started this morning as well, and its the first day of summer camp for the kids which meant early alarm clocks and lunches to pack. All this morning activity needed some coffee.
We thought of this Dave Dudley single from the album Oh Lonesome Me. It was one of his first collaborations with songwriter Tom T. Hall. Their work together is best known by the 1970 hit “Day Drinkin’,” but this 1966 tune is a favorite of ours.
From the liner notes to this 1976 community theater production written by Agnes Helenius Luoma:
Land of the Sleeping Giant is the musical epic of the rugged northern frontiersmen — the Chippewa, the Voyageur, the Lumberjack and the Miner — as they challenge the grotesquely beautiful northern frontier of America … creating a legend unsurpassed as tehy left their marks along the way in search of life and livlihood.
The Mesabi Daily News reported in Ms. Luoma’s obituary that she received a federal grant to write Land of the Sleeping Giant, which was part of our nation’s bicentennial commemorations. She also wrote two unpublished novels.
For your listening enjoyment we’ve recorded the prologue (“Minnesota, Land of Charm”) and the three songs which make up Part I of this epic story.