Category Archives: Music

Edward Elgar 6.2.13 Thought of the Day

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.”–Edward Elgar

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward William Elgar was born on this day in Broadheath, near Worcester, England in 1857.  Today is 156th anniversary of his birth.

He was the fourth child born to William and Ann Elgar. William Elgar ran a music shop and tuned pianos in Broadheath. A trained violinist, he taught all his children — The Elgars had a total of seven children — piano, violin and the basics of music theory. By  eight young Edward was tagging along with his father as William went to the richer houses of the county to tune their pianos. The little boy would play for the gentry while his father fixed the piano. He also started to compose at an early age.

It is a remarkable fact that Elgar was very largely self-taught as a composer – evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius.[www.elgar.org]

Although he wanted to go to Germany to study at the Leipzig Conservatory his family couldn’t afford it, so he  had no formal musical training. Instead, in 1872 he went to work as a clerk for a local solicitor.  He didn’t last long in the stifling office setting. He began to give lessons (piano and violin), sing in the town’s Glee Club, compose, conduct and play violin professionally. He became the conductor of the  County Lunatic Asylum (an unusual combination of instruments and talent levels) and worked with the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen.

Slowly, and through such early works as Froissart(1890), the Imperial March (1897) and the cantatas King Olaf (1896) and Caractacus (1898), his reputation began to spread beyond the area immediately around his native Worcestershire. His first big success came with the Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma) in 1899. [Ibid]

In 1900 he was awarded a Doctorate by Cambridge. Four years later he was Knighted.

Eventually Elgar was feted all over the world; he dined with royalty, was knighted and awarded the Order of Merit.  Yet he never forgot his roots, and when he became a Baronet in1931, he chose as his title First Baronet of Broadheath. [Elgar Foundation.org]

Edward Elgar died on February 23, 1934.

It is graduation season here in the US, and nary a matriculation takes place with out the school’s orchestra pulling out Elgar’s most famous piece Pomp and Circumstance. (The part every one recognizes comes at about the 2 minute mark.)

But might I suggest a listen to his Sea Pictures, OP. 37 with Contralto Linda Finnie and The London Philharmonic

Or the fabulously layered Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55, Sir John Barbiolli conducting the Halle Orchestra

or his delightful Serenade for String Orchestra in E minor, Op. 20,  performed by the New Philharmonia Orchestra with Giuseppe Sinopoli  at the podium,


“The Handels” A Saga

Again this week I’m doing a bit of creative writing with the help of Viewfromtheside’s writing prompt blog. This week’s prompt was “Handles.” I took it in a kind of odd direction. I hope you lie it…

Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel Deutsch: Ge...

Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel Deutsch: Georg Friedrich Händel (1733) Español: Georg Friedrich Händel en 1733 Français : Georg Friedrich Haendel en 1733 Nederlands: Georg Friedrich Händel Polski: G. F. Händel w 1733 roku Русский: Георг Фридрих Гендель (1733) Svenska: Georg Friedrich Händel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Communiqué #2)

25 April, 2012

Dear Sirs,

I thank you for your very kind inquiry and your interest in my family. It is certainly gratifying to know that after so many years the Handel name has not been lost to the dusty pages of history.

I find your proposal intriguing to say the least. A major motion picture biography on my esteemed uncle would certainly prove both educational and entertaining for your audience. And, as you say, it would have a top rate sound track “built in”.

Indeed my uncle had a long and interesting life, and although he was notoriously private in nature he had many friends. His travels though out the continent and his intimate connections with nobility will no doubt titillate your viewing audience.

Yes, I am sure we can come to a most beneficial agreement as to your researching our family archives and as my uncle’s executress I can guarantee your access to many of his personal effects.

I am most anxious for this project to proceed to the next level, but for the integrity of the Handel name I must insist on having some over sight on the script and production. I have no doubt that you will want this film to be as biographically accurate as possible, and, as this is my most sincere wish, I’m sure we will have a most fruitful enterprise.

Yours most sincerely,

Johanna Fridericia Floerken

Westminister, London

————————————————–

[Communiqué #3)

Date: 5.14.12

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Johanna,

So glad to have you on board with our little project. I’ll have our legal department write-up a contract and if all goes well we’ll get some researchers over to your side of the pond next month.

Yours,

Laurie

PS This is going to be a great movie!

————————————————–

[Communiqué #53)

Date: 8.6.12

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Johanna,

Some really exciting news on the project…

We’ve got our first star lined up. Are you sitting down? Daniel Craig has agreed to play George Frideric Handel! And Anthony Hopkins has agreed to play the King.

The latest draft is attached.

What’s your availability next week? I need to set up some time to scout for locations.

Yours,

Laurie

————————————————–

[Communiqué #78)

Date: 10.24.12

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Johanna,

I think you are really going to love this… We’ve reworked the concept to be cable network friendly. We’re in negotiations with Showtime and HBO right now and are feeling really good about it. This way we can expand the script to a multi episode format. We are thinking 6 or 8 part miniseries. That’s wonderful, isn’t it?

Yours,

Laurie

————————————————–

[Communiqué #103)

Date: 11.30.12

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Johanna,

And we have a network! Hello HALLMARK!

I think you’ll find that Hallmark does a wonderful job bringing a really human side out of every story. We didn’t want all the sex and violence that the HBO and Showtime folks were demanding anyway.  This is going to be great.

Yours,

Laurie

————————————————–

[Communiqué #158)

Date: 1.15.13

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Johanna,

Well, every production has its ups and downs, and I’m afraid the change from major release to miniseries has meant a change in schedule that didn’t work for our line up of stars. Mr. Craig and Mr. Hopkins have had to step away from the project. But I am 100% positive we’ll find some one just as dynamic.

— Laurie

PS You can stop looking for possible locations too. We’ll be filming at the studio here in Hollywood. It’s a cost thing.

————————————————–

[Communiqué #78)

Date: 4.13.13

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

Johanna,

Well we found our Young Handel… None other than Mr. Justin Bieber. The Biebs is looking to expand his acting cred and “The Handels” is just the right project for him. He’s all about the music.

Things are really looking up.

–Laurie

PS Lester is no longer Exec Producer on the project. (Not like he was doing any of the work, right?)

————————————————–

[Communiqué #109)

Date: 4.22.13

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: Laurie Donlevi-Jones
Project Manager
“The Handels”
Hollywood, California, USA

Johanna,

I’m really excited about our the new stars we’ve lines up for the roles of adult Handel and the King… Eddy Murphy and Dick Van Dyke. I know the casting is a little edgy, but I think you’ll agree it is just perfect.

— Laurie

———————————————

[Communiqué #126)

Date: 5.23.13

To: Johanna Fridericia Floerken
Westminster, London, England

From: The Law Office of Ward, Huggins and Huggins

RE: “The Handels”

CC: Lester Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.; Laurie Donlevi-Jones, Amazing Productings, LLC.

Dear Mrs. Fridericia Floerken,

Please be advised that the project known as “The Handels” as been put on hiatus for an undetermined amount of time…

————————————————


Bernie Taupin 5.22.13 Thought of the Day

English: Bernie Taupin attending the premiere ...

English: Bernie Taupin attending the premiere of The Union at the Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t let the sun go down on me.” — Bernie Taupin

Bernard John Taupin was born on this day in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England in 1950. He is 63 years old.

Bernie was the middle son born to Robert and Daphne Taupin. His father was a farmer and stock man, his mother a nanny. He has an older brother, Tony. Little brother Christopher (aka Kit) came along 11 years after Bernie was born.

Bernie credits his mother and paternal grandfather for instilling him with an appreciation for literature, nature, history, music and poetry. Although Bernie didn’t have much interest in traditional education, he demonstrated an uncommon flair for writing.  [Bernie Taupin Biography]

At 15 he dropped out of school  and spent two years hopping from one dead-end job to the next in rural England. Then, in 1967, he saw an ad in New Musical Express. Liberty Records was looking for talent. He answered the ad. So did Reginald Kenneth Dwight (aka Elton John). The two joined forces to become one of the best song writing teams in the history of rock and roll.

Publicity photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Publicity photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a musical partnership that has lasted longer than many marriages the John and Taupin have released 356 songs (more than “Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards combined” [Elton John.com]  According to John Taupin makes it easy…

…He’s a very cinematic writer. I get a piece of paper [from him] and it has as story on it. Then I sit down at the keyboard and hope and pray that something is going to come out. Because the story that he’s telling affects what I’m hearing. [Ibid]

Although Taupin wrote with other musicians (Alice Cooper, Melissa Manchester and Heart to name a few) it was the songs he forged with Elton John that became the sound track to a post Beatles generation.

Their first hit was  1970’s Your Song. 

[OK I’m going to stop writing for a while and just let you listen to some of the best of Bernie and Elton… feel free to sing along and play air guitar/piano or drums as you wish]

Here’s Tiny Dancer

and Benny and Jets 

and Yellow Brick Road

and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

and Philadelphia Freedom

and Sad Songs (Say So Much)

and Daniel

and Sun Go Down On Me

Bernie lives with his family on a working ranch in southern California where he breeds and trains cutting horses, hosts his own radio show, Bernie Taupin’s American Roots Radio, on Sirius/ XM Channel 30, and pursues a successful career as a painter. This year, “Beyond Words: An Exhibition Of Contemporary & Extraordinary Artworks By Famed Lyricist & Artist Bernie Taupin” has been touring select art galleries across America. [Elton John.com]


Bono 5.10.13. Thought of the Day

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” — Bono

Bono [Image courtesy: Club Fashionista.com]

Bono [Image courtesy: Club Fashionista.com]

Paul David Hewson (aka Bono) was born on this day in Ballymun, Dublin, Ireland in 1960. He is 53 years old.

Paul was born to Bobby Hewson and Iris Rankin. He is the second of their children, his brother Norman is eight years his senior. His parents were unusual in their Dublin neighborhood as his father was Catholic and his mother was Church of Ireland (Protestant). He walked the fence between the two religions, attending services with his mother and brother and starting his education at The Inkwell (a Protestant school) before transferring to the Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir School. His tenure in the Catholic school was not long as the “precocious, outspoken” [atu2.com] boy acted up once too often and was asked to leave after “throwing dog feces at his Spanish teacher.” [Ibid] He found his feet at a non-denominational, co-ed high school, Mount Temple Comprehensive.

At 14 Paul’s mother died of a brain hemorrhage. Life with his father was difficult.

Despite his father’s attempts to hold the family together, Bono claims that he and Bob Hewson “didn’t get on very well.” As a result, father and son never enjoyed a particularly close relationship. In fact, Bono would later claim that the inarticulate Bob Hewson’s unspoken message to his children was “to dream is to be disappointed.”[Ibid]

Paul rebelled against his father by dreaming big and trying everything.

At Mount Temple “he had a flair for history and art, and became a keen and expert chess player” [Ibid]. It is there that he met his wife to be Alison Stewart, his eventual U2 band mates, Larry Mullen, Dave Evans (aka The Edge), and Adam Clayton, and picked up the name Bono.

At first the group did covers, but then they started to write and perform their own music. Their first album was 1980’s Boy. The LP featured the post-punk Twilight and I Will Follow.

October  came out  in 1981 and touched on the band’s spiritual side, especially with Gloria, Tomorrow and With a Shout (Jerusalem).

1983’s WAR reached #1 in England and  #12 on the US charts. Bono said of the recording: “‘More than any other record, ‘War‘ is right for its time. It is a slap in the face against the snap, crackle and pop. Everyone else is getting more and more style-orientated, more and more slick.” [U2.com Discography]  Stand out tracks (on a very strong album) include 40, New Year’s Day, and Sunday Bloody Sunday.

U2’s fourth album, The Unforgettable Fire was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Pride (In the Name of Love), one of the groups biggest hits, came from The Unforgettable Fire.

[As much as I love the bass and drums on the earlier stuff — and I do — the guitar on this one just kills.]

If you STILL haven’t found what you’re looking for… maybe you need to pull out 1987’s The Joshua Tree. [Because, frankly, I’m about to give up being an objective blogger and just gush with fan girl admiration…With OR Without You.] Here’s Where The Streets Have No Name…

Rattle and Hum came out in 1988. It combines covers, new original music and concert recordings of some of their most famous songs. A documentary film directed by Phil Joanou  was released at the same time as the album.  Here’s All I want is You [My personal favorite U2 song.]

Achtung Baby was the band’s 7th release. It saw a shift to a more industrial rock and electronic dance music. Zooropa (1993) and Pop (1997) followed.

2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind marked a return to a lyric/melody driven style. It boasted successful singles Beautiful Day, Elevation, Walk On and Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.

Bono said of How To Dismantle an Atom Bomb  “‘It’s just such a personal record. It may just be our best.'” [Um yeah!] This time Vertigo, All Because of You, Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, City of Blinding Lights, and Yahweh stood out.

No Line on the Horizon came out in February of 2009 along with the companion film Linear. Get on Your Boots and Magnificent both charted in the US (Boots, with its awesome bass and guitar riffs, was #1 in Ireland) Here’s the band playing  Magnificent on Letterman:

Bono is still writing, recording and performing. If you are in the New York area and have a cool $3000 to donate to a good cause you can see him on Monday (May 13)  as part of the Robin Hood Foundation Gala at the Javits Center.  A more affordable option may be a trip your local movie theatre to see U2-3D, a concert film that comes out May 30th.

 

I could write another 500 words on Bono’s charitable works, but that would put me over the limit.


Billy Joel 5.9.13 Thought of the Day

“If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.”– Billy Joel

Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel

Piano Man: The Very Best of Billy Joel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Martin Joel was born on this day in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA in 1949. Today is his 64th birthday.

Billy Joel is the oldest child of Karl and Rosalind Joel. He was raised in the Levittown neighborhood of Hicksville, Long Island. Karl was a classical pianist and both parents insisted that Billy take lessons on the instrument. For his part he would have much rather been playing sports. He was bullied for playing piano rather than playing a sport. As a teen he remedied that situation by taking up boxing. Joel was an amateur Gold Glove winner — winning 22 bouts — before giving up the ring when his nose was broken.

He went to Hicksville High School, but by then his parents had divorced and Joel was playing piano at bars to help make ends meet at home. So he didn’t always make it to school the next day. The results being he didn’t have enough credits to graduate.

Instead he followed his dream and began his musical career in earnest. He started with the cover band the Echoes. Then through the mid to late 60s he worked with a number of bands (or reworking of bands) including: the Emeralds, the Lost Souls, The Hassles and Hour of the Wolf . In 1969 Joel and Wolf drummer Joe Small broke away to form Attila. Attila  focused on a heavy metal sound  and had some traction in the music scene. They and pressed an album in 1970 before Joel launched his solo career a year later.

His first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor  came out in 1971. The album had problems, not the least of which was it was recorded at the wrong speed so his voice seems shaky, strange and too high. The record contract also heavily benefited the producer, Ripp’s Family Productions, and Joel got little of the money made from the record.  But regardless of the problems there are some lovely songs on this freshman offering, like She’s Got A Way and Tomorrow is Today.

He toured and landed on the West Coast. (Where he played at the piano bar in The Executive Room and met the real life inspiration behind the song Piano Man.)  But it was a Philadelphia radio interview and in-studio recording of Captain Jack that  really launched his career. The radio station promoted the song (and singer) and Joel suddenly had an underground following. Columbia Records came calling at The Executive Room and signed him  to a contract.

His first album with Columbia was Piano Man. The title song became his signature song, and the song he ends almost all his live performances with. The LP was his first gold album.

He’s won six Grammy Awards (including 5 on a hot streak from 1978 -1980) and has 16 Platinum records.  An Innocent Man, Glass Houses and 52nd Street garnered  7x Platinum status. The Stranger nabbed 9 Platinums. His Greatest Hits Volume I and II  earned a whopping 20 x Platinum rating.

Rolling Stone calls him the  “bard of everyday suburban dream and disappointment” adding that “his forte is the romantic ballad, epitomized by his signature tune, Just the Way You Are.” [Rolling Stone.com]

He now writes both jazz and classical music as well as rock and roll, and was most recently in featured at April’s  New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Billy Joel performing in Jacksonville, Florida...

Billy Joel performing in Jacksonville, Florida, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so it goes (on)…

Related sites:

http://www.billyjoel.com/news


Judy Collins 5.1.13 Thought of the Day

“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something Greater than You, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” — Judy Collins

Portrait of an American Girl

Portrait of an American Girl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judith Marjorie Collins was born on this day in Seattle, Washington in 1939. She is 74 years old.

She grew up the oldest of five siblings in Denver, Colorado.

Her father had a great influence on her. He was a musician, singer and  radio broadcaster and he introduced the family to a variety of music. “Collins credited her father for teaching her how to pick good songs.” [Biography.com] At first Judy thought she would be a classical pianist. “She began studying classical piano with conductor Antonia Brico. At the age of 13, Collins made her debut with a local orchestra.” [Ibid]  But as talented as she was at the piano, she found that the softer sounds of the acoustic guitar better suited her. She followed… “her passion for folk music, especially the songs of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.” [Ibid]

By 1959 she was playing clubs. A year later she’d moved to New York City and was at the heart of the Greenwich Village folk scene playing at the Village Vanguard and the Gaslight. Her debut album A Maid of Constant Sorrow came out in 1961.

Collins had a knack for choosing her songs that both fit her voice and told an intreguing story.

She interpreted the songs of fellow artists – particularly the social poets of the time such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton.  Judy was instrumental in bringing other singer-songwriters to a wider audience including poet/musician Leonard Cohen – and musicians Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman. [Judy Collins. com]

In 1967 she sang Joni Mitchell’sBoth Sides Now” for her album Wildflowers. It became her signature song. The song won Collins a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance in 1968 and charted at #8 on the US pop singles chart and #3 on Billboard’s Easy Listening survey.

She followed that up with another impressive collection of covers in Who Knows Where the Time Goes. It reached #29 on the Billboards Pop Album chart. Here’s the title song off that album:

In 1970 she broadened the scope of her song book adding traditional (Amazing Grace) and Broadway tunes t0 the mix. She also began to include original songs.  Her rendition of  Send In the Clowns from Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 musical A Little Night Music became a Top 20 hit.

Collins has put out over 35 albums in her 50 year music career, the latest of which is Bohemian.

In 1999, Judy founded her own record label, Wildflower Records – a grass roots artist driven label committed to nurturing fresh talentThe aim of the label is to develop long-term relationships with artists and their representatives in a way that Judy’s own career was nurtured by major labels.[Judy Collins. com]

She has written several books most notably the memoirs Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength (2006)– about the death of her son —  and Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music (2011), and her novel,  Shameless.

Collins continues to produce music, tour and lecture on mental health and suicide prevention.


Ella Fitzgerald 4.25.13 Thought of the Day

“It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” — Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Sings Broadway

Ella Sings Broadway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on this day in Newport News, Va. in  1917.  Today is the  96th anniversary of her birth.

Her parents, William and Tempie Fitzgerald split when she was an infant and Ella and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York. Tempie fell in love with Joe Da Silva and the couple had a baby girl, Ella’s half-sister, Frances in 1923. When Joe couldn’t make ends meet with his part-time chauffeuring gig he dug ditches. Tempie worked at a laundromat. Even little Ella helped out, she was a runner for local gamblers.

Ella enjoyed sports as a child and liked to dance and sing with her friends. “some evenings they would take the train into Harlem and watch various acts at the Apollo Theater.” [The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald] She was inspired by Louis Armstrong and the Boswell Sisters, a trio from New Orleans who specialized in tight harmonies and intricate rhythms.

She had to grow up fast  in 1932 when her mother died from injuries she received in a car crash. Joe died shortly thereafter, and Frances shortly after him. Ella lived with her Aunt Virginia for a while.

Her grades dropped dramatically, and she frequently skipped school. After getting into trouble with the police, she was taken into custody and sent to a reform school. ….Eventually Ella escaped from the reformatory. The 15-year-old found herself broke and alone during the Great Depression, and strove to endure….. [Ibid]

She was homeless for a while and on the run. But her luck turned around when she was 17. She was at the Apollo Theatre and her name was selected to compete at “Amateur Night.” Although she was planning to dance  she changed her mind when she saw another act  win the crowd over with their spectacular dancing. She would have to do something else. She decided to sing instead. She chose an old Boswell song, “Judy,” that she knew by heart.

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ella could be shy off stage, but on stage she lit up like a Christmas Tree. The audience loved her song and demanded an encore (she did the song from the flip side of the Boswell record). She was fearless and she won the talent show and took home the $25 prize. “Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,…I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.” [Ibid]

She began to enter every talent show she could find. And she won them all. She met drummer/bandleader Chick Webb and signed a contract with him to front his band for $12.50 a week. In 1936 she recorded “Love and Kisses” on the Decca label. At 21 She recorded “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” her first #1 hit.

When Webb died his band changed its name to “Ella and her Famous Orchestra.” She recorded 150 songs with the group, but it wasn’t until she left, in 1942 that her career really began to take off.  She signed with Decca records  and did a  series of “songbooks” by famous jazz composers. From Irving Berlin to Duke Ellington to Cole Porter she reinterpreted jazz standards for a new audience.

“I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them,” Ira Gershwin once remarked. [Ibid]

She also began to work with Norman Granz on his Jazz at the Philharmonic and her sound morphed from big band to bebop and she began to master scat singing.

She received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan in 1987. She gave her final concert in Carnegie Hall in 1991. She died on June 15, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California

Here she is scatting away and doing a Broadway standard:


Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day Part two

[Continued from Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part One]

 

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925) (Photo credit: quicheisinsane)

Having fulfilled his contract with National, Chaplin  was free to work on independent projects for United Artists, a group he formed with  Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith in 1919. With the Gold Rush in 1925 he made the movie he wanted to be remembered by.

 

Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless retakes and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. It also wasn’t rare for him to begin with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting, and start again with someone new…But the results were hard to refute. [Biography]

 

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the ...

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the film’s most famous scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Modern times

His later films include City Lights, 1931, Modern Times, 1936 and The Great Dictator, 1940. He made a half dozen more films (most noteably Lime Light co starring Buster Keaton) but they paled  in comparison to his earlier work. No one, it seemed, was interested in Chaplin sans bowler hat and mustache.

 

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictat...

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictator (with “double cross” emblem in background and on cap). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chaplin’s personal life was always in the spot light. He was married 4 times to women decades his junior. He had numerous affairs with his leading ladies. He didn’t join the British Army in WWI (which caused a lot of controversy back home in England. –Chaplin had registered for the draft, but had not been called up. He also worked for the War effort raising money through Liberty Bonds and producing propaganda films — but it wasn’t enough to satiate the flag waving mania sweeping his home country.) He was never afraid to voice his political views and after The Great Dictator (with it’s brilliant, but preachy six-minute closing speech) he was branded a radical. In the 1950’s he was a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee who “saw him as a nonconformist and therefore a communist.” [About.com] When he tried to return to the States after a trip  abroad he was denied entry. (He went to live in Switzerland.)

 

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland - Project ...

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland – Project 1/365 (Photo credit: Airflore)

He stayed away… until 1972 when he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award. He was given a 12 minuted standing ovation at the ceremony.

 

Chaplin also composed music. He wrote the songs “Smile” and “This is My Song” along with 500 other melodies.

 

After finishing his last film A Countess from Hong Kong … he composed the music to many of his silent movies, among them The Circus,… The Kidand A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate [IMDb]

Charlie Chaplin died of a stroke on Christmas morning 1977.

 

Awards:

 

  • 1929 WON Special Academy Award “for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Actor Oscar  for his dual role in The Great Dictator.
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Writing Oscar for The Great Dictator..
  • 1948 Nominated for Best Screenplay Oscar for Monsieur Verdoux.
  • 1972 WON Special Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he  has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”.
  • 1973 WON The Academy Award for Best Original Score for Limelight. (The film had not been released in the US until 1972).

CLICK HERE for Charlie Chaplin Part One

 


Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part ONE

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” — Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 -- p...

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 — pre-1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on this day in 1889 in London, England. Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was practically born to the stage. Both his parents were musical hall entertainers. His father, Charles Chaplin, Sr.  was a singer and actor, his mother, Hannah Chaplin — her stage name was Lily Harley — sang light opera. The marriage didn’t last long, and Chaplin, Sr. abandoned the family when Charlie was an infant. He had two half brothers. Sydney Hill Chaplin was four years older than Charlie and was born to Hannah a year before she married Chaplin, Sr. (who was not his father.) Hannah had another baby, George Wheeler Dryden in 1892, by entertainer Leo Dryden. Sydney and Charlie hardly knew this brother, however, because Leo took the boy away when he was 6 months old. George didn’t resurface until his mid thirties.

Hannah continued her stage career for a few years, but…

in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her…[Biography]

The audience loved little Charlie, but it was a disaster for Hannah…

Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses. [Ibid]

Hannah was in and out of mental institutions until 1905 when she was committed permanently. With the exception of one disastrous stint with their alcoholic father, the boys were left to fend for themselves,  and, eventually, thrown into the workhouse. Sydney was trained as a seaman, but both boys wanted to act. Charlie charmed his way into a clog dancing group called the Eight Lancashire Lads in 1897.

It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could…”I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.” [Ibid]

His first play was  Jim, a Romance of Cockayne by H.A. Saintsbury in 1903.  Although the show closed after two weeks Chaplin’s comedic performance  as the newsboy received good reviews. Real stage experience came later that year with a 2.5 year run with  Sherlock Holmes in which Chaplin played the Page-boy.

He toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. [Ibid]

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charle...

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charles Spencer Chaplin tomada en Estados Unidos, durante su juventud, en un momento en el que, como se aprecia, se encontraba al natural, tal como era, sin los clasicos caracteres que usaba para protagonizar a su recordado personaje de cine mudo Charlot. Français : Charles Chaplin, acteur américain, célèbre pour son personnage Charlot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He twice came to America on tour with the Karno troupe and film producer Mack Sennett promptly signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week with Keystone Pictures. Chaplin didn’t like his first film, Making a Living, and it wasn’t a hit, but he was singled out for his comic timing and presence.

He wanted to create a persona that made him stand out from the crowd of comedic actors at Keystone, so he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s pants, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes and Arbuckle’s father-in-law’s bowler to invent the Little Tramp. The Tramp made his debut in  Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (...

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie yearned for more creative input in his film and finally got a chance to direct in 1914. With the caveat that Chaplin would return $1,500 to producer Sennett should the film fail, he helmed Caught in the Rain . (He did not have to return the money. )

When Keystone wouldn’t give him a raise (he wanted $1,000 a week)  he went to Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  (they gave him $1,250 a week.) He made 14 films with Essanay.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917). [Biography]

He got a million dollar deal with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit to make 8 films. (His brother Sydney was his financial manager by then, and he was instrumental in making the deal.) Two of the eight movies broke the old show business rule about not working with children and animals, and those films — The Kid and A Dog’s Life were two of Chaplin’s best.

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part TWO


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