One of my classes in the seventh grade was “Music Appreciation.” It was taught by Ivadell Swindler. Miss Swindler’s class introduced me to classical music. The emphasis of the class was mainly European composers including Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Bach. She also included American composers as she presented classical music in a chronological progression that presented Aaron Copland and Charles Ives at the end of the school year. Miss Swindler’s efforts to enlighten me to classical music were reinforced by the teacher whose classroom was next door, Louis Fusscas’ “English Composition” class. Mr. Fusscas was a Mozart admirer and managed to communicate his passion for Mozart’s music as he instructed his classes in the ABC’s of composition.
Two of my first classical LP purchases were companion albums on the Capitol label conducted by Vladimir Golschmann. Modern French Music, Capitol P-8244, included works by Arthur Honegger, Maurice Ravel, Darius Milhaud, and Erik Satie. The Satie pieces, “Three Gymnopédies,” were composed originally for piano. The first and third were orchestrated by Claude Debussy and the second by contemporary American composer Richard Jones for this album. These pieces were my introduction to Satie’s music that became one of my passions as I sought to collect all of Satie’s music that was available on record.
This was not a difficult task in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Only four long playing records were available as publicized in the One-Spot Classic Guide 1961 edition. The singular Aldo Ciccolini LP on Angel Records eventually became six albums as Satie’s rising popularity prompted Angel and Ciccolini to record additional Satie oeuvre. My fascination with Erik Satie led me to purchase Rollo H. Myer’s biography that was published by Dennis Dobson. The Myer’s book included an addendum that listed records issued in Europe. That became my shopping list on my first trip to Paris in 1962.
The other Golschmann LP, Contemporary American Music, presented music by Samuel Barber, Paul Creston, David Diamond, and Aaron Copland. Miss Swindler’s class had already introduced me to the music of Aaron Copland. Samuel Barber’s music was new to me and I sought out his other works as my classical music collection continued to grow. Neither of the Golschmann LPs made the transition to compact disk when that format replaced the long playing record in the 1980s. A Vladimir Golschmann and St. Louis Symphony admirer, Bill Anderson, has digitized many works that are otherwise unavailable including the Capitol LPs.
Darius Milhaud’s “Le Boeuf sur le Toit” as recorded by Vladimir Golschmann on the Capitol LP did not make a memorable impression on me. That happened at the record department of Mossholder’s Furniture Store. I had become a regular customer of Bill Emery, the manager of the record department who hosted a weekly program, Willie’s Waxworks, on the local radio station, KWYO. Bill’s program introduced me to jazz and my initial fascination with Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and their drum battles was replaced by an appreciation of less bombastic jazz music emanating from the west coast and labels like Contemporary Records, Pacific Jazz, and Fantasy Records.
I was in my sophomore year in high school and dropped by Mossholder’s after school to check out new arrivals in the record shop. A customer had the door open in one of the listening booths where he was listening to the new Capitol Records classical release of Darius Milhaud conducting his “Suite Provencale” that had been recorded the previous year. He remarked, “Isn’t this music grand?” and proceeded to tell me that it was Darius Milhaud who had taught at Mills College in Oakland where Dave Brubeck was one of his students. I now had a greater appreciation of Milhaud’s music, and the customer became one of my closest friends.
Fast forward to the 1990s when I was director of the UCI Bookstore at the University of California, Irvine. The associate director of the bookstore pioneered our involvement in the world wide web and he created one of the first online presences of a bookstore in the US. He also created a music department in the bookstore and it rapidly became one of the finest regarded outlets for classical music in the area. I supervised the creation of two online presentations to complement the jazz and classical music sections of the music department. The Jazz Photography of Ray Avery became one of the first online presentations of jazz photography, and I began to import hard to find jazz CDs from Japan and Europe for sale to customers. Orpheus In Aix was created by the same web wizard who designed the Ray Avery presentation as a complement to the classical music department at the bookstore. Those presentations had a brief online life in the 1990s.
Orpheus In Aix celebrated the music of Darius Milhaud as reviewed by Elizabeth and Elliott Hurwitt in the spring and summer 1993 editions of Schwann/Opus. I contacted the Hurwitts and secured their permission of present their appreciation online. Fortunately the Internet Wayback Machine captured this presentation and it has resided peacefully in the data banks for the last twentyfive years.
The music industry of my youth with wonderful presentations of cover art and carefully crafted liner notes on 12″ LPs gave way to the digital era and diminished presentation of music on Compact Disk in the latter years of the twentieth century. We now seem to be in an age where the digital download has further diminished our documentation of music that the aforementioned liner note on the 12″ LP so wonderfully expanded our appreciation and understanding of the music.
I began blogging like many others at the dawn of the new century. Our aims share much in common, an appreciation of neglected musicians and composers that deserve attention that is lacking in this download era. My JazzResearch site is dedicated to celebrating jazz artists from the 1950s and earlier eras to highlight their achievements for new generations of listeners. I hope that DariusMilhaud.org will do the same for the music of Milhaud and his contemporaries.