Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra



Good news, especially for my two older brothers. The greatest out-of-print LP ever made, Alec Wilder’s “A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra,” is available for free downloading at the Children’s Vinyl Record Series site (thanks to Bloggerythms for the heads up). This recording was a great favorite of mine in childhood, and was probably one of those random influences that made me (not to mention my two brothers) into a musician. It introduces each member of the orchestra with a little tune sung by a singer representing the instrument, followed by a solo on said instrument; there are Antoinette the Clarinet, Newt the Flute, Mellow Fellow the Cello, even Max the Sax in a very hip number. Well, hip for a child’s recording made in the late 1950s; it will never be reissued, because it is in fact hopelessly square in an age when They Might Be Giants are cutting kids’ CDs. It is really fantastic, though. Alec Wilder’s music and arrangements, conducted by Mitch Miller, are very forward-looking, anticipating the work of Gil Evans. The singers are excellent too: a high, Irish-type tenor sings the part of Bobo the Oboe (one of the most beautiful numbers on the LP); a basso profundo sings Old Muldoon the Big Bassoon (“they call me the clown of the orchestra, but it’s not necessarily so”); the sole girl singer is a kind of legit-slash-lounge type; they all do a great job. It all sounds remarkably corny, but it’s not. I’m so happy to have rediscovered this gem of children’s music. My son is digging it hard, too.

14 comments:

gtra1n said...

As one of the two brothers, thanks - great find! And I'll fight with anyone who says this isn't hip.

Pentimento said...

Gtra1n, check out "Peter Percussion" and "Nola the Viola." Really cool.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

I still have my copy of the vinyl...never forgot my fascination with that cover! My dad, son of a classical pianist, loved listening to this with me. What a blast from the past...now if I could get my turntable to work, I could play it for my daughter (who would undoubtedly find it hysterical)...

Pentimento said...

Brenda, you can download all of the tunes from the link in the original post. Or I can burn you a copy of my CD and send it to you by mail. Let me know. Isn't it the greatest?

Tertium Quid said...

I had this too! If I get it, I'll need a turntable.

Pentimento said...

tertium quid, you can download the whole thing from the website I linked to and burn it to CD.

Laura said...

So geeked to have stumbled on this gem of information. I was looking for this, for my little nephew. This record was a marvel of my own childhood. (I google-searched "Bobo the Oboe"!). Thank you for posting this.

Pentimento said...

You are welcome! Merry Christmas!

Benzie Central Earth Science said...

Much to my surprise this beloved album from my early childhood resurfaced recently when my parents moved from their home of forty years. Mom had saved it all this time tucked away in some safe storage nook. I am just now digitizing it for my daughter and found your blog post this morning in a quest for more information about this recording.

Pentimento said...

Amazing that two people have found this two-year-old post in two days! Enjoy this wonderful album. Do either of you know that Jack Gilford recording of the songs of Winnie the Pooh from roughly the same era? I've written about it here as well.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing collection. I wore these records out when I was a kid. Came in a boxed set-45s? Drawn especially to Msr. Forlorn the French Horn, I started studying the instrument. Found out in college that it was my professor on that recording!! John Barrows, one of the great lyricists on any instrument. I'm a professor of music now, and I'll NEVER forget the influence of these records on my life.

Pentimento said...

What a fantastic story! The anonymous players on that album are really amazing. My two brothers and I are professional musicians too, and I wonder how much this LP influenced us too. Thanks for commenting!

gaylee said...

I am so pleased to have rediscovered this album. My daughter enjoyed it as a child and I'd like to have the CD now for my grandchildren. As a high school Humanities teacher I actually used this album to acquaint my students with the sounds of individual instruments. It was a huge success. Now, how can I get a copy of the CD?

Pentimento said...

Gaylee, just go to the Children's Vinyl Record site, linked to in this post, and you can download it for free.