June 20, 2010

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(Daniele Amfitheatrof - before "Lassie Come Home")


Sort of an addendum to a piece I wrote a few weeks ago (Paul Whiteman's playing of Ferde Grofe's Metropolis) on the craze in the 1920's and early 1930's to compose quasi-serious pieces for Symphony Orchestras in the Jazz idiom. This piece, Panorama Americain comes from Russian emigre composer Daniele Amfitheatrof. Amfitheatrof is probably best known for his film scores throughout the 1940's and 1950's for MGM - the result of landing in Southern California while escaping the Hitler regime in the later 1930s. Amfitheatrof started off as a serious composer, but like so many of the period, was taken by the music of George Gershwin and wrote something along those lines. Like most of the pieces in this genre, it was moderately popular at the time, but hasn't aged well at all over the years and is almost totally forgotten today.

This recording, made shortly after the premier in 1935, features Amfitheatrof leading the Pasdeloup Orchestra of Paris for Pathe`Records. I don't know if this piece was ever re-recorded or if this was it. In any event, it's the first one - perhaps the only one.

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