One of the top-grossing American films of 1940 was the western Santa Fe Trail, the seventh Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland collaboration. The story concerns John Brown’s campaign against slavery just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Starting out on an acting career, young Ronald Reagan appeared in the story line as George Armstrong Custer. [Read more…] about Wilhelm Grosz: The Red Sails of Forced Migration
Solomon Northup, the free black man who was kidnapped from Saratoga Springs and sold into slavery (as portrayed in the film 12 Years a Slave), was known locally as a good fiddler. Northup probably mostly played at dances, and there is no evidence that he played at any of Saratoga’s posh hotels.
But as a black musician, Northup probably could have found acceptance in such venues, because the way had been paved by Francis “Frank” Johnson. Johnson, a black resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, performed with his band during many summers at the best hotels in Saratoga. [Read more…] about Black Musician Francis Johnson at Saratoga, 1822-1843
This week on The Historians Podcast, David Brooks, education director at Schoharie Crossing State Historic site in Fort Hunter, takes a look at life on the wild side of the Erie Canal with tales about the Kilboys, including balladeer Tom Kilboy. [Read more…] about Tom Kilboy: Balladeer of the Erie Canal
On February 4th, 2006, La Repubblica reported the funeral in Rome of Romano Mussolini. His death had been made public by former actress and politician Alessandro Mussolini, Romano’s daughter out of his first marriage to Maria Scicolone (the younger sister of Sophia Loren) on the website of her neo-Fascist party Alternativa Sociale.
The church service began with Gershwin’s “Summertime” and ended with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Outside the church hundreds of mourners paid their respect with Fascist salutes.
Fascism, jazz and black gospel mentioned in the same context and a service that had started with a classic tune by a composer of Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry. What brought this contradictory intertwining about? [Read more…] about Jazz, Mussolini and Italian Fascism
When the sidewheel steamboat Horicon II was launched on Lake George in 1910, she was both the longest and fastest passenger vessel to ever sail the lake. Over the next 29 years, she would be used for transportation of cargo and residents around the lake, as well as cruises for tourists.
The construction of a road on the west side of the lake, as well as the region’s rapidly increasing mobility with the introduction of the automobile, brought a dramatic decline in passengers. In response to this trend, in 1932 the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, owners of the steamboats on the lake through the Lake George Steamboat Company, announced that they would not be running boats that year. [Read more…] about The Showboat Era on Lake George 1933-1937
Florenz hit his stride with the Follies of 1907. A combination of European refinement, the signing of high quality performers (chorus girls), choreographers and lyricists, a relatively short show of forty minutes presented with lightning speed and precision, created an unprecedented sense of theatrical excitement. [Read more…] about Florenz Ziegfeld: The Incarnation of Broadway
Barker Schwarz said WGY when it began in 1922 “was really at the cutting edge of technology and the caliber of the music being played was of such high quality.” Violinist Edward Rice played a piece called “Romance” by renowned Polish composer Henri Wieniawski during WGY’s first broadcast on February 20th, 1922. [Read more…] about High Quality Music in Radio’s Early Years
Thomas Jefferson, America’s first Ambassador to France and the nation’s third President, developed a liking for the more genteel aspects of life in Europe. The man who requested that a cellar be constructed at the White House, has been named the first American wine connoisseur. He ordered his supplies directly from the finest French vineyards.
Jefferson also had a passion for music and was a devoted violinist. As part of his early ‘gentlemanly’ education he had been taught to play the instrument. Later in life he compiled a music library at his Monticello estate in Charlottesville that contained works by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Handel, and compositions by contemporaries such as Haydn and others. [Read more…] about The Violin, George Gemünder & The Sound of New York
Widely regarded as one of the great composers, Bartók spent the last three summers of his life in Saranac Lake, in the Adirondack Mountains. Historic Saranac Lake maintains the cabin where Bartók stayed the year of his death, in 1945, and shows it to the public by appointment. [Read more…] about Historic Saranac Lake Acquires Béla Bartók Artifacts
Capital Region radio station WGY, New York State’s oldest broadcaster, will celebrate their 100th year with a live afternoon of broadcasting on Sunday, February 20th.
WGY’s original licensee was General Electric (GE), headquartered in Schenectady. In early 1915, the company was granted a Class 3-Experimental license with the call sign 2XI. That license was canceled in 1917 due to the First World War, but 2XI was re-licensed in 1920. [Read more…] about Radio Station WGY’s 100th Anniversary of Broadcasting