HERRMANN A Concert of English Music (1945) - PASC202

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HERRMANN A Concert of English Music (1945) - PASC202

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HANDEL Water Music Suite (arr. Harty)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Oboe and Strings in A minor
Falstaff, Op. 68

Recorded 1945
Total duration: 75:50

Mitch Miller, Oboe
The Columbia Broadcasting Symphony
conducted by Bernard Herrmann

This set contains the following albums:

A fabulous Falstaff; Mitch Miller shines in Vaughan Williams

Superb previously unissued live broadcast recording from Anglophile Herrmann

This fascinating recording comes from the archives of Edward Johnson. It dates from precisely one week after the surrender of Japan brought the Second World War to an end, and in Bernard Herrmann and Mitch Miller features two artists who would go on to become major names in their respective fields - Herrmann as a hugely successful and influential film composer, and Miller as one of the major movers and shakers in the music industry. Herrmann was a passionate Anglophile, which perhaps explains the programme here, and he and Miller had given the US première of Vaughan Williams' Oboe Concerto three months prior to this broadcast.

The present recording had previously been very well dubbed onto high quality 1/4" tape from what sound like excellent acetate discs for this era. For much of the recording the disc origin of the recording is hard to detect, with very little surface noise. However there are some areas where surface clicks and the occasional swish may be detected, though these have been kept to a minimum.

The recording is technically notable for its wide dynamic and frequency range, with a particularly well-extended treble for this era. I have retained announcements as broadcast, as well as including a short section of the start of the news broadcast, for historical interest.

Andrew Rose

  • HANDEL Water Music Suite (arr. Harty)
  • VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Oboe and Strings in A minor
  • ELGAR Falstaff, Op. 68
    CBS Broadcast, Sunday 9th September 1945
    Introduced by Sidney Berry
    Brief extract from the news read by Bern Bennett

A CBS live radio broadcast, 9th September 1945, introduced by Sidney Berry, from the archive of Edward Johnson
Transfers and XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, November 2009
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Bernard Herrmann

Total duration: 75:50


conducts English and American Music

The death of Bernard Herrmann on Christmas Eve, 1975, in Hollywood, deprived the film and music worlds of one of their most outspoken, colourful and talented personalities. It is true that his choleric personality and abrasiveness were not exactly endearing but in the words of one who was close to him, he was like a toffee-apple, all crusty on the outside and soft on the inside’.

Benny,” to his friends, was born in New York City in 1911 and showed an interest in music at an early age. After graduating he went to New York University and later became a student at the Juilliard School of Music. His career took a professional turn when he went to work for the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1933. He soon made his mark on their radio programmes, planning them in an unconventional way and featuring rarely heard music seldom played in public concert halls. One American composer whom Herrmann championed for many years was Charles Ives, several of whose works received their premieres under his direction.

Always an ardent anglophile, Herrmann presented a great deal of English music on the CBS network, introducing compositions by Vaughan Williams, Bax, Delius, Cyril Scott and many others. Indeed, when Herrmann became Conductor-in-Chief of the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 1940, Baker’s Musical Dictionary noted that he was ‘probably responsible for introducing more new works to American radio audiences than any other conductor.’

By 1948 he had also earned a chapter in David Ewen’s Dictators of the Baton in which the author commented on Herrmann’s ‘lack of attention to detail’ but concluded: Whatever his faults as a conductor may be, it cannot be denied that he is a splendid musician, that he has an enthusiasm which is found contagiously in his performances, and that with his detestation of the stereotyped he has been one of the most invigorating influences in the radio music of the past two decades.'

Although he was busy championing the music of others, he did not neglect his own composing career and by the late 1940s several of his concert works had received notable performances. Barbirolli had conducted his Cantata Moby Dick with the New York Philharmonic in 1940 and his Symphony was performed by the same orchestra under Howard Barlow in 1942.That same year Beecham conducted the CBS Symphony in the suite Welles Raises Kane . The Devil and Daniel Webster Suite was given its concert premiere by Ormandy and his Philadelphians in 1944 and was taken up by Stokowski and the New York Philharmonic in 1949.

After the war, Herrmann made many guest appearances in British concert halls and in 1950 completed work on his most ambitious composition, the windswept lyric-drama Wuthering Heights . This was a project which had occupied him for three years and reflected his wide literary tastes.

In 1951 after the CBS Symphony Orchestra was disbanded, he spent more time in England, where he eventually settled. In 1956 he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in two broadcasts, one of which included the British premiere of Charles Ives’s