The history of musical taste in the United States has a Germanic flavor. The symphony orchestras in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston were founded by German-Americans. The impact of Richard Wagner’s operas is still apparent. A patch of the Bronx contains locations such as Lohengrin Place, Siegfried Place, Parsifal Place, and Valhalla Drive. [Read more…] about Bayreuth and Brown Berries: German-American Music Traditions
Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith: Queen of Montmarte
Her hair was flaming red and so were her freckles. Born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith on August 14, 1894 in Alderson, West Virginia, she was the youngest of four children.
“I am hundred percent American Negro with a trigger Irish temper” – as she summarized her genealogy. The “Queen Victoria” in her birth name is both puzzling and amusing, but whatever the explanation she lived her life as a royal – Queen of Montmartre. [Read more…] about Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith: Queen of Montmarte
Long Island: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Time On The North Shore
The Great Gatsby left its mark on both Long Island and literature. But while F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two riotous years living in Great Neck, it took a move to France to turn those experiences into a masterpiece.
On the latest episode of The Long Island History Project, Charles Riley explains the history of the North Shore of Long Island in the 1920s and why Fitzgerald had to leave to get Gatsby written. Riley, author of Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism, is also the director of the Nassau County Museum of Art.
Listen to the podcast here. [Read more…] about Long Island: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Time On The North Shore
Guide to NYC’s Art Deco Architectural Treasures Published
Of all the world’s cities, perhaps none is so defined by its Art Deco architecture as New York. Anthony W. Robins’ new book New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture (SUNY Press, 2017) leads readers step-by-step past the monuments of the 1920s and 30s that recast New York as the world’s modern metropolis.
Robins’ new guide includes an introductory essay describing the Art Deco phenomenon, followed by eleven walking tour itineraries in Manhattan each accompanied by a map designed by New York cartographer John Tauranac and a survey of Deco sites across the four other boroughs. Also included is a photo gallery of sixteen color plates by Art Deco photographer Randy Juster. [Read more…] about Guide to NYC’s Art Deco Architectural Treasures Published
New World Symphony With Puppets
LaMama Theatre on East Fourth Street is where puppets, monsters and actors cavort, presenting classic and cutting-edge performance, whooping and hollering in many languages to stage just about any variety of theater from around the globe.
In March, in the space named after the founder, Ellen Stewart, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre partnered with Dvorak American Heritage Association to present “The New World Symphony: Dvorak in America,” by Vit Horejs. A jazz trio led by James Brandon Lewis on sax threaded musical commentary on the live and puppet action, adding a contemporary flavor to tales of Dvorak’s musical journeys through American sounds. [Read more…] about New World Symphony With Puppets
Harlem: Life in Pictures
“If new thought can enter the mind, even for a moment, then change has a chance,” writes JT Liss. His photographs search for those figures and visions that allow us to see new ways and think new thoughts.
Ilon Gallery’s show Harlem: Life in Pictures on view in a classic 1890s brownstone, demonstrates how historic images of figures that have become iconic can acquire new resonance when displayed along fresh takes on a neighborhood that has been a cradle of creativity for well over 100 years. [Read more…] about Harlem: Life in Pictures
New Book Highlights Waldorf Astoria Photographs
In a new pictorial history from author William Alan Morrison, Images of America: Waldorf Astoria (Arcadia Publishing, 2014), honors the world-renown grand hotel.
Vintage images take readers on a journey through the magnificent history of the hotel and the many glamorous guests that it housed. The Waldorf Astoria has been host to emperors, rajahs, potentates and plutocrats — not to mention every US president since Grover Cleveland — its name has become synonymous with the epitome of glamour, luxury and sophistication. [Read more…] about New Book Highlights Waldorf Astoria Photographs
Harlem Blues: Last Party At The Lenox Lounge
On New Year’s Eve the cigar smoke was thick on the sidewalk in front of the famed jazz club, the Lenox Lounge. Men in tuxes and women in clingy gowns stepped out of white stretch limos, three deep on Malcolm X Avenue, a.k.a Lenox Avenue in Harlem, as blue notes popped from the chromed doorway.
A huge bejeweled crowd could be glimpsed dancing and drinking through the wide octogon window. [Read more…] about Harlem Blues: Last Party At The Lenox Lounge
Treasure Trove of Vinyl Heads to Syracuse
The New York Times is reporting that some quarter-of-a-million 78 records (one of the worlds largest collections of 78s) from the New York City vintage gramophone record shop Records Revisited will be headed to Syracuse University’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive:
Records Revisited was packed floor-to-ceiling with discs of a vintage and variety that drew a steady stream of record buffs to 34 West 33rd Street. The shop, more like an archive than a store, held approximately 60 tons of swing, big band jazz and other styles on vinyl, forming one of the largest collections of 78s in the world.
The shop has been closed since Mr. Savada’s death in February. Last Thursday, his son, Elias Savada, was poring over a cardboard box, one of 1,300 being filled with records and put on waiting trucks. The collection will be sent to Syracuse University’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, which will now have the second-largest collection of 78s in the United States, after the Library of Congress, university officials said…
The Syracuse University archivists couldn’t be more pleased with the obscure records arriving in numbered boxes. Not only is there a huge swing collection, but also recordings of country, blues, gospel, polka, folk and Broadway tunes. Suzanne Thorin, the university’s dean of libraries, said the truckloads of Mr. Savada’s records — at least, the tiny percentage sampled so far — has revealed fascinating auditory treasures, including Carl Sandburg reading his own poetry while accompanying himself on the guitar, and Hazel Scott, the pianist and singer. There are also many rare recordings preserved only on V-Disc records produced for American military personnel overseas in the 1940s.