"Waltz from Drigo's Serenade", Joseph C. Smith and his Orchestra (1917)





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Uploaded on Sep 21, 2011

Harlequin's Serenade from "Millions d'Arlequin"
(By Philipp Lumbye - arranged by Chas. J. Roberts)
(Carl Fischer, N.Y.)
Joseph C. Smith and his Orchestra
Victor, 35615-A, January 8, 1917.

This famous waltz, the "Serenade" by Italian composer Riccardo Drigo, was paired with the lively, fast-paced "Havanola" on the reverse side of this record, made at the start of Joseph C. Smith's short (about 5 years) career as a very popular recording artist of dance tunes for Victor. Both sides, one a waltz and the other a fox trot, are labeled "for dancing" and the record seems to be almost intended as a "sampler" of the versatility of this orchestra.

The waltz was part of a ballet ("Les Millions d'Arlequin") for which Drigo wrote the score, and which was first performed in Russia in 1900. Pulled from the score, the waltz, with the new title "Serenade", soon became a stand-alone concert piece, which can be found on Youtube in many, many versions recorded over the last century. Drigo even later reworked "Serenade" as a song, "Notturno D'Amour."

This recording of "Serenade" comes from a collection that belonged to family friend, Walter Brockmann. Walter grew up in Wisconsin, and in 1918, when he was of high school age, the family moved to the town of Stambaugh in the northern part of Michigan. Walter had happy memories of his high school years there, and especially of his jazz band, "The Stambaugh Jazz 5." Not only did the band members play at school events, but they were hired to play at parties in homes, as well. As pianist, Walter had the responsibility of ensuring that the band was always "up-to-date." To that end, he purchased both records and sheet music of all the latest hits. Much of his collection has survived.

A high school friend wrote this ditty about Walter, found pasted into a scrapbook of high school memorabilia:
"He's a jazz baby, and you ought to hear him play.
But everybody doesn't see it that way.
He's got poor Caruso in a frazz.
Have a heart, Walter! Cut out the jazz!"

I also came across an envelope of art pictures cut from magazines that Walter had indicated were his "favorites" during his high school years. These romantic landscapes seemed to me to be a poignant accompaniment to the nostalgic strains of the waltz, as played by the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra!

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