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July 22, 2020:

BRUNO WITH A B

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, this week is flying by, like a gazelle wearing a mask, social distancing, and doing the rhumba.  Otherwise, I am sitting here like so much fish, listening to the marvelous mono musical magical majesty or Mahler’s fourth as conducted by Bruno Walter.  That’s Bruno with a B, if you must know.  You see, I had to put old Arturo Toscanini aside for a couple of weeks.  I just couldn’t abide the terrible sound on most of the albums and I really don’t understand it, since I have a few other sets with early RCA albums.  But it’s very clear that in terms of classical music in mono, Columbia has weathered the years much better than RCA.  That is abundantly clear on the Charles Munch box, and now I have dug into the Bruno Walter The Complete Columbia Album Collection and the mono stuff in this set is superb, actually.  When I was introduced to classical music in the eighth grade in music appreciation class taught by Mr. Williamson, the piece we heard first was Smetana’s The Moldau, which I was entranced by.  So, I wanted to have it on LP and my parents took me to a record store in Beverly Hills, and even though it was 1959 and stereo had become very popular, we didn’t have stereo yet, so we found a monophonic copy of a Eugene Ormandy album that had The Moldau.  I played that LP to death.  And so I associated Columbia with classical music, and by looking at their classical albums, one took note of their popular conductors and that’s how I learned about classical music – not from RCA and Living Stereo, that came later, but through Columbia and conductors like Ormandy, Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, Kostelanetz, Percy Faith, and others like that.  In the classical world these conductors were like rock stars.  And thus far, this Bruno with a B box set is proving to be the equal of the Munch box.  It’s a lot of the standard repertoire in brilliant performances.  So, there’s a lot of Mozart I’ll be hearing for the first time, a LOT of Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, Haydn, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms – frequently in early mono performances and then the stereo redos later in Walter’s life.  It’s a really stunning set.  I’m already on disc 7 and the pleasures are immense, as is the weight of the set.  And best of all, unlike the Toscanini set with its uniform covers, here we get original jackets and back liner notes, which I love.

Yesterday was a steady little day – a few ups, no downs, and even-keeled.  I got eight hours of sleep, so that was good, got something for the mystery project, so that made me very happy, then it was getting more tracks and sending to the singers – they’re all finally done now, although at least one of the last to come in has to be finessed.  I went to the mail place and picked up some stuff, then came right home.  I had to do some work that took about two hours and I also shaved and showered, then around three I finally ordered some pasta papa from Hugo’s.  It arrived about twenty-five minutes later and it was really excellent as always.

Then I got around to answering e-mails, I had a few telephonic conversations, and then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.  But before I get to that, I’ll share this photograph I found of the parking lot at POP and the only photo I know of that actually shows the Hotel St. Regis, where my grandparents lived and where I visited once or twice a week my entire childhood.  You can see that it’s located right across from the entrance to POP – it’s the brown brick double-building over on the left.  Imagine little BK coming out the front door and going directly to POP or down the boardwalk.  Or imagine me looking from the third-floor window facing the POP entrance.  That would be their kitchen window, with the smell of canned salmon with vinegar and onions.

Isn’t that a splendidly splendid photograph?  Anyway, there I was, sitting on my couch like so much fish, watching two more Thriller episodes.  The first, The Merriwether File, is another gabfest well directed by John Brahm, with a “twist” at the end you can see a mile away and not a thrill to be found.  The second episode was certainly weird, I’ll give it that – about a killer of young female children, which was bold stuff for TV back in 1960 – whether he’s doing anything else to them before murdering them is anyone’s guess, but the performances in this one are just awful, as is the direction by someone I’ve never heard of.  There are a lot of young actors in it, not a one of whom receives billing, and including Terry Burnham, who’d been in an early episode and who I thought was terrific, as she was in this episode.  I researched her and she didn’t have a happy end, living as a recluse in a trailer park, apparently, and never acknowledging her TV and film work.  If you see her photo, you’ll recognize her instantly.  The other excellent young actor was, of all people, Michael Burns, and just eleven years later I’d be working with him in my first pilot and then he’d be starring in my musical, Start at the Top.  I’m now going to skip right to the famous episodes and be done with Thriller.

After that, I had some toast as my evening snack, listened to Bruno with a B make musical magic, read a bit, had a long telephonic conversation, and then relaxed.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, then I’ll do whatever needs doing, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat, and then we’ll finesse the two tracks that need finessing and that part will finally be done.  I’ll do some work on the computer and I’ve actually begun to think about the tenth anniversary Kritzerland in September, which will clearly be online.  Then at some point, I’ll read, watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow will be more of the same, then Friday is our Zoom rehearsals, which begin at three.  Not sure what I’ll do on the weekend but getting out of the house for a while will definitely be on the agenda.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, finesse tracks, do work on the computer, thing about the Kritzerland anniversary show, and then read, watch, listen and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like.  So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, enjoying starting the journey through the discography of Bruno with a B Walter on Columbia.

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