The singing stopped but the voice remains.

magda

When a nation destroys its own culture it does a lot more then destroying  the cultural fabric , it also destroys the soul of the nation, especially when it comes to the musical cultural heritage. When it murders the artist who perform this cultural legacy, a part of that soul will be lost forever.

Magda Spiegel  was a German contralto, who was born in Prague in the now Czech republic, she was a member of the Frankfurt Opera ensemble and was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

One Of her best known performances was that of Adriano in Wagner’s Rienzi ,when the Frankfurt opera company visited the Netherlands in 1934, according Peter Hugh Reed in The American Record Guide  .

The irony (for lack of a better word) was that Wagner was Hitler’s favourite composer.

Magda Spiegel

Although Magda was killed in the gas chambers and her body was burned, her voice was preserved in several recordings.

Physically the singing was stopped but her voice remains.

 

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Sources

Opera Arias.com

Find a Grave

Operanostalgia.be

 

 

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The Train Violin.

violin 1

The following story may not seem like much for anyone who is not a musician. But a musician will understand the significance of it and can identify with the sense of loss and sacrifice.

A musician’s instrument is more then a tool it becomes part of him or her.nearly a member of the family.

The violin from Lyon or the Train Violin

In July 1942 thousands of Jews were arrested in Paris and sent by cattle trains to concentration camps in the East, most of them to Auschwitz. On one of the packed trains was a man holding a violin. When the train stopped somewhere along the sad roads of France, the man heard voices speaking French, a few men were working on the railways fixing them and walking at leisure. The man in the train cried out:

“In the place where I now go – I don’t need a violin. Here, take my violin so it may live!”

The man threw his violin out the narrow window. It landed on the rails and was picked up by one of the French workers. For many years the violin had no life. No one played it. No one had any use for it. Years later the worker passed away and his children found the abandoned violin in the attic. They soon looked to sell it to a local maker in the South of France and told him the story they heard from their father. The French violin maker heard about Violins of Hope and gave it to us, so the violin will live.

violin 3

One Violin

Two Hands

Four Strings

Ten Fingers

Thousands  pieces of music

One Haunting Memory

One Final Farewell

One Revival

The soul of the musician is heard again.

The spirits are lifted one more time.

You can kill the artist but you can’t kill the art.

 

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Sources

Violins of Hope

YouTube

 

War of the Worlds-Lego style.

Lego

When it comes to music, it is very rare that I have to admit “I stand corrected”, especially when it comes to a piece of music I know inside out.

‘Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Worlds’ is by far my most favourite album in my collection, I actually have a variety of versions of the album. The original vinyl from 1978 and 3 CD versions. The original version on CD, the 2009 live version recorded in Dublin and the 2011 new generation album.

I saw the 30th anniversary show live in Dublin in June 2009 , which I really enjoyed, I was however very disappointed(to use an understatement) that in later years, Justin Hayward would be replaced by Westlife’s Brian McFadden(something I still can’t understand). I did write to Jeff Wayne and asked him to clarify why he replaced a very talented singer and musician with someone who has less talent then my small toe.(I did not use those exact words though.

But before I get side tracked, the blog is about a mistake I made. One of the singles from the original, and subsequent, album is “Forever Autumn” a romantic but yet haunting ballad. The song was played on the radio this week and the presenter mentioned that this song was actually written for a Lego  commercial.

I was outraged and said that it was a ridiculous statement. The thought of it, a classic piece of a concept album originally  music for Lego. I went on to say, that I am an expert when it comes to that particular album. However after a bit of research(and not even that much research) I discovered that the original melody was indeed written by Wayne in 1969 as a jingle for a Lego radio commercial.

Vigrass and Osborne, the performers of the original jingle, added lyrics to the song and recorded it for  their 1972 album Queues. Their version was also released as a single and gained moderate commercial success in Japan, selling more than 100,000 copies and becoming a top-20 hit on the country’s record chart.

Although it pains me, I am a big enough man to admit “I stand corrected”.

Ending the blog with the version we all know and love so well.

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Bei Mir Bistu Shein- The Ghetto swingers.

 

Ghetto

Music soothes the savage beast, that is what Eric Vogel  must have thought when he send a petition to the Commander of the Theresienstadt camp on January 8, 1943  , to start a Jazz band, named the Ghetto Swingers. The band would include the following members he noted.

Dr. Brammer (piano), Dr. Kurt Bauer (percussion), Fr. Goldschmidt (guitar), Fasal (bass), Ing. Vogel (trumpet), Langer (tenor sax and clarinet), and Fr. Mautner (trombone)

pettition

As crazy as it may seem the request was granted and the band was formed.The Jewish prisoners organized in the ghetto a lively cultural scene including jazz music.

The Jazz classic “„I Got Rhythm“ by George Gershwin became the theme tune of the band. One of the prisoners favourite song was the 1932 song Bei Mir Bistu Shein composed  by  Sholom Secunda. The song is better known as Bei mir bist du schön , The Andrew Sisters had a hit with the song in 1936.

The Ghetto Singers also included guitarist Coco Schumann  Kurt Gerron and clarinetist Bedřich “Fritz” Weiss, who had joined later.

After being pressurized following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944

After the Red Cross inspection, Commandant Rahm instructed Gerron to make a propaganda film.  Filming took place over eleven days between 16 August and 11 September 194.The Ghetto Swingers participated in this Nazi propaganda film “Theresienstadt: A Documentary Film from the Jewish Settlement Area” which is also known as albeit with the  erroneous name “The Fuehrer gave the Jews a city.”

After the camp closed, the members of the jazz band were sent to Auschwitz.

In Auschwitz Coco Schumann had to play for the SS hangmen, “for hours and hours every day, especially when they tattooed the new arrivals, because they considered it such boring work. Four members survived among those 4 were Vogel, Schumann and Roman

Ending this blog with the aforementioned ‘Bei Mir Bistu Shein’ played by the Ghetto Swingers.

 

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

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Geni

Huffpost

 

The Eurovision Song contest- The bizarre songs.

Lordi

No matter what you think of the Eurovision song contest, there is no denying it is a global cultural event. It might not be to everyone’s liking but it is a global cultural event nonetheless.

And it is truly global not only because it goes out live to nations across the world, bit also the last few years Australia has entered the competition.

Even last year’s winner,Israel, although Israel has strong historical,political and economical ties to Europe, geographically it is technically in Asia. But it does ly at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.

However this blog is not a blog about geopolitical situations but as alluded to a blog about the more bizarre songs which competed in the song contest throughout its history. I literally could pick dozens of songs  but I am sticking to the ones that stood out most for me.

Staring with probably the most bizarre band ,Lordi from Finland with their song “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, what makes this even more bizarre it actually won the competition in 2006.

 

In 1979 the Germans tried to win the contest with the band “Dschinghis Khan” who had a song with the very original name “Dschinghis Khan”. They reached the 4th place.

In 2003 the Belgians came up with the idea to enter the contest with a song in a made up language. The band “Urban Trad” the song “Sanomi” They reached the 2nd place.

If the contest was measured on the most bizarre songs Belgium would definitely be the winners. In 1980 the band “Telex” entered with the song “Euro-Vision”( I wonder where they got the idea for the title).It ended on the 17th place.

In 2007 the Ukraine came up with a song in Ukranian,German,English and some made up words.But to be honest there wasn’t that much text really. The song “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” the artist “Verka Serduchka” Funny enough it also reached the 2nd place.

Ending with the nation that won the Eurovision the most. Ireland won the competition 7 times. But I don’t think that anyone expected a Turkey to win the competition and yet in 2008 Ireland’s national broadcaster,RTE, did just that. They send a turkey named Dustin asking Europe for 12 points, Hence the title “Irlande Douze Points” strangely enough it didn’t reach the finals.

 

On  May 14 the whole circus starts again with the the 2nd semi finale on May 16th and the Grand Finale on May 18th.

Pssst, come here!Although I am supposed to be a rocker and a serious music fan, I will be watching it, but don’t tell anyone.

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Record Store day

record

This is a small deviation from my usual more dramatic historical blogs, but since today is marked as Record Store day I felt compelled to do a blog celebrating this day.

Record Store day is a bi-annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every “Black Friday” in November to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store”

As a young man I spent a lot of time and money in my local record syore called “Limburg’s platenhuis” which means Records house of Limburg. In Geleen. It wasn’t the only one where I bought my weekly and sometimes daily dose of music, but it was the one I frequented the most.

Nowadays I feel nostalgic thinking back to those days, and I feel sorry for youngsters now who often rely on downloads and/or streaming services.

Nothing beats a good customer service in a shop. Especially a pro active customer service from staff who appreciate you buying goods in their shop.

To illustrate what I mean with pro active customer service I will use an example from “Limburgs Platenhuis”

I walked in one Saturday afternoon not thinking of buying anything, just browsing. Shortly after I had entered the shop one of the sales staff called me to the counter. She told me ” I kept this album aside for you when it came in, I reckon you might like it. Have a listen to it”

She then proceeded by putting on the album ‘Long Cold Winter’ by the American Hard Rock band ‘Cinderella’

Cinderella

She was right I did like the album indeed. So much so that I didn’t mind parting with some money in order to purchase this compilation of great Rock songs.

That is the kind of service you just don’t get on line or even in shops nowadays.

All that is left for me to do now is to leave you with one of the singles of the aforementioned album. Enjoy!

 

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A violin to silence the violence.

vIOLIN

An instrument is not just a thing used to create music. Anyone who owns and plays an instrument knows that at some stage it becomes a part of you.

It is no longer just a physical entity but it becomes filled with a bit of your soul.

I do not know who owned this violin which survived one of the death camps. I don’t even know in which death camp it was found.

But I do know that a part of the soul of its owner is linked to the instrument.

It probably was played when innocent victims were taken from the trains, often close to death. Only to become witness to even more violence which they were subjected to.

The violin undoubtedly broke the sounds of the violence,albeit for a split second.

Or it could have been played when women and children were paraded to the gas chambers. Although the sound of the violin was used in a cynical way it was also a distraction for a short time.

I can imagine the tears of a young virtuoso playing a piece of music knowing that those who passed him by were destined for a certain death. But he also knew that the same fate would await him too.

Despite that and despite the fact that the criminals who forced him to play, only wanted to create a false illusion, pretending all would be fine, he still played and tried to play his instrument in the most pleasing manner.

He’d use his violin to silence the violence, even if it was for a fleeting moment.

Beat it- The guitar solo

beat it

The guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” could have sounded completely different and perhaps it would not have become the massive hit it was if it wasn’t for Quincy Jones’s persistence.

Eddie van Halen was  relaxing at home one day in the summer of 1982, where he suddenly received a call, The caller claimed to be Quincy Jones. Eddie thinking it was a prank, kindly told to caller to leave by using 2 words including 3 f’s. One at the start of the first word and 2 at the end of the 2nd word(I don’t mean Funny Stuff). He then put down the phone.

However he caller called 4 more times, van Halen then realized that it was indeed the legendary music producer Quincy Jones.

Quincy had just working with Michael Jackson on his mega selling album “Thriller” and he wanted Eddie van Halen to play the solo on “Beat it”

Quincy Jones and Michale Jackson took a skeleton version of Beat it up to Eddie van Halen’s place. After Eddie van Halen did some minor adjustment to the part of the song, he recorded the solo and he did it in one take.

He did not charge anything for it either, no fee no royalties, totally free. Well kind of, legend has it he did ask for a six pack of beer.

Eddie van Halen wasn’t the only legendary guitarist involved in the project, Steve Lukather from the rock band Toto also worked on the Thriller album.

 

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I betcha you didn’t know they were Dutch-The Music edition.

nl

This is slight deviation from my usual heavier history blogs. Every once in a while something lighthearted is needed.

The Netherlands, a small country in the Northwest of Europe. Known for great painters and footballers and for Tulips and windmills and a lot of other things.

It is however not so much known for its music.and to an extend rightfully so. Because lets face it, the majority of Dutch music just isn’t great. But there have been some bits of music  which have become global classics and a lot of people,including Dutch, don’t know the origin lies in the Netherlands. Even some of the worlds biggest acts have some Dutch connection.

Starting off Down Under

Harry Vanda

vanda

The name Harry Vanda on its own will mean very little to most, but connect it to the name George Young and it becomes a different story.

Born Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg , the young musician Harry emigrated to Australia in 1963. Where he met George Young and teamed up to form the band “the Easybeats”  they achieved a global hit with the song “Friday on my Mind” with the Easybeats.

But it was in their songwriting/producing capacity they achieved the biggest successes, Songs like “Love is in the air” and “Standing in the rain” performen by John Paul Young became massive hits. However the biggest impact they had in the music industry was as producers of the band formed by George Young’s brothers,Malcolm and Angus,AC/DC.

This is one of my favourite Vanda/Young productions. It is the duo in the incarnation of the band “Flash in the Pan” the song “Hey St.Peter”

 

Diesel

diesel

This band started off as more of a hobby project  of former members of legendary Dutch symphonic rock band Kayak. In 1981 their song Sausalito Summernightgot to No.25 in the US Charts and No.1 in Canada. It also did very well in a number of European countries.

Shocking Blue

venus

Shocking Blue are probably responsible for one of the biggest hits, if not the biggest hit ever written by a Dutch band. The song “Venus” still gets an awful lot of airplay in a variety of versions and if it’s not on radio it is on TV, where the song is often used in commercials ranging from products like yogurt to razors for ladies.

This is the original from 1969

 

Dave

dave

This one is a bit difficult to definee, I suppose the best way to describe Dave is a French Disco chansonier, but he wan’t French but Dutch.Born Wouter Otto Levenbach in Amsterdam. He had a string of hits in French, the most successful song  Dansez Maintenant. Most people in the Netherlands don’t know he is Dutch.

The George Baker Selection

george baker

Some bands need only to be heard and not to be seen, well at least that is what I think about this band and especially the singer George Baker aka Hans Bouwens, his fake smile just annoys me. But having that said he is responsible for a massive hit which had an unexpected revival due to the Quentin Tarantino movie “Reservoir Dogs” the son of course is “Little Green Bag” first released in 1970.

 

Pussycat

pussycat

This is like a country and western music fairy tale, Three sisters, telephone operators form a rural part of the Netherlands, the south east of the country. They team up with some musicians and a song writer/lyricist and create a classic Country song which topped the charts in most countries worldwide. A song of a river which they hadn’t seen. The river Mississippi.

 

Caro Emerald

caro

Now before I get accused on only focusing on 20th century music. This one sneaked in a few years ago. Caro Emerald born Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw had a big world wide hit with the Jazz song “A Night like This” which was released in 2009.

To me the quality sign of approval for any musician is when they appear on “Later with Jools Holland” on the BBC. Caro appeared on Jools Holland’s new Year’s eve edition of his show in 2011.

 

I could have added the more commonly known dutch artists like Van Halen,The Golden Earring, 2 Unlimited, DJ Tiesto and Andre Rieu, but I think this is a good compilation of bands and musicians most people outside of the Netherlands know are Dutch.

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The laughing Gnome-Happy Birthday David Bowie.

bowie

January 8, 1947 probably has not much of a historical significance,however it is the day which saw the birth of a truly musical genius,David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie.

But in order to   become this musical icon he had to make a few odd detours. Before Space Oddity,Ziggy Strdust,Life on Mars, Let’s dance, etc, he had to learn his craft by performing as a 15 year old in a band with the name ” the Konrads”.

It was 2 years later though with another band named “the King Bees” David Bowie’s talents were first captured on a record with a song titled “Liza Jane”.

However this song did not become a hit,also the fact it was credited as  Davie Jones with the King-Bees didn’t help, because in 1964 another Davy Jones was already a well established name as the singer of the Monkees.

In order David Robert Jones changed his name  after the 19th-century American pioneer James Bowie and the knife he had popularized.

With the legend of  David Bowie was born. Well kind of, there was just one more literally small obstacle to overcome before reaching the stellar heights the David Bowie reached. The obstacle was called “the Laughing Gnome” although I love David Bowie’s music a lot that song released as a novelty single on Deram Records in 1967 was awful and an assault to the ears. But hey, all is forgiven for David Bowie did become one of THE musical icons of the 20th century.

 

Happy Birthday David

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