Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 by Compact Discoveries, Inc.

Program 62
"From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro"

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's rendition of Mozart: "Turkish March" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 14] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman, and during the next hour I'm going to take you on a trip "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

MUSIC: above piece fades out

When I was a child taking piano lessons, I got tired of practicing the same classical pieces over and over again. To relieve my boredom -- at least when my mother wasn't in the house to hear me -- I jazzed up the pieces.

Many of the big bands of the 1930s and 40s did the same thing. They jazzed up classical pieces for fun and, as it turned out, profit. Benny Goodman did this. So did Tommy Dorsey, Freddy Martin, Glenn Miller, Alvino Rey and Duke Ellington. And I'm devoting another hour of Compact Discoveries to these guys, which I call "Swingin' Classics."

But this hour I'm going to feature the music of just one of the musicians from that Big Band Era: Carmen Cavallaro. I'm going to go back and forth between the original classical music pieces and Carmen Cavallaro's version.

Incidentally, I'm pronouncing his name in the American way because, despite his very Latin name and handsome Italian appearance, he was very much an American, born in New York City on May 6, 1913. I'll tell you more about him as we go along, but let's get started with the music.

Here is Beethoven's Für Elise -- one of the pieces that I played over and over again in my youth and which I jazzed up whenever my mother went out shopping. It is played here first by pianist Mordecai Shehori as Beethoven wrote it; then as Carmen Cavallaro jazzed it up.

MUSIC: Beethoven: Für Elise; Mordecai Shehori, pianist [Cembal d'Amour CD 108, track 31] [2:31]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's rendition of Beethoven: "Für Elise" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 12]

Beethoven's Für Elise, first played the way Beethoven wrote it by pianist Mordecai Shehori on a Cembal d'amour compact disc. Then by Carmen Cavallaro from a Polydor compact disc called "The Best of Carmen Cavallaro."

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is called "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

Before we go any further, let me tell you a little bit about Carmen Cavallaro, who in his day was called "the poet of the piano."

Cavallaro was classically trained, as were several of the great jazz musicians of the period. He followed the example of Eddy Duchin, whose blend of flashy classically-oriented stylings and popular selections also inspired Liberace, Roger Williams and others.

Cavallaro studied and performed as a classical pianist well into his mid-twenties. But he faced a tough job market in serious music. At the same time he was attracted to the dance music craze, so he joined band leader Al Kavelin in 1933. Cavallaro quickly became the featured soloist. After four years he switched to a series of other big bands, including Rudy Vallee's.

Cavallaro started his own band, a five-piece combo, in St. Louis in 1939. As his popularity grew, his group expanded into a 14-piece orchestra. He eventually made some 19 albums for Decca. Although his band traveled the country and played in all the top spots, it was most at home in the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. During the 1940s, when I was growing up, Cavallaro also hosted "The Schaeffer Parade" radio program Sunday afternoons on NBC.

Cavallaro and his musicians also took to Hollywood where they were hired to perform in a number of musical revue films, starting with "Hollywood Canteen." He had the chance to pay tribute to Eddy Duchin's legacy in 1956, when he provided the piano playing for actor Tyrone Power in "The Eddy Duchin Story." Carmen Cavallaro died from cancer in 1989.

Now back to the music. First Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat, as performed by Artur Rubinstein. Then the same piece, renamed "To Love Again," with Carmen Cavallaro.

MUSIC: Chopin: Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat; Artur Rubinstein, pianist [RCA 5613-2-RC, disc 1, track 2] [4:27]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's "To Love Again" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 1]

Carmen Cavallaro's "To Love Again" was preceded by the classical piece from which it was adapted, Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat, as performed by Artur Rubinstein.

One more piece by Chopin now. His Etude, Opus 10, No. 3. First we'll hear it as Chopin wrote it, performed by pianist Idil Biret on a Naxos CD. Then by Carmen Cavallaro as we go "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

MUSIC: Chopin: Etude in E, Op. 10, No. 3; Idil Biret, pianist [Naxos 8.554528] [4:29]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's "Etude" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 17]

Chopin's Etude in E Major, Op. 10, No. 3. The original version was performed by Idil Biret. Then we heard Carmen Cavallaro's treatment of the same theme.

My name is Fred Flaxman. The program is Compact Discoveries, and this hour is called "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

[optional break not included in total timing]

Next let's listen to two versions of a beautiful piece by an anonymous composer that first came to the attention of a wider world when it was used so very effectively in the 1952 French film Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games). First we shall hear it performed by guitarist Pepe Romero. Then in an adaptation by Carmen Cavallaro which makes the piece appear to be written by Franz Liszt.

MUSIC: Anonymous: Romance from "Jeux Interdits"; Pepe Romero, guitar [Philips 411 033-2, track 1] [1:47]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's rendition of Romance from "Jeux Interdits" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 5]

The Romance from the classic French Film, Jeux Interdits. First we heard guitarist Pepe Romero; then pianist Carmen Cavallaro.

Next we turn to the music of Johannes Brahms. The classic version of his Hungarian Dance No. 5 is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado. This will be followed by the appropriate cut from the Polydor CD called "The Best of Carmen Cavallaro" as we continue our trip "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

MUSIC: Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 5; Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado [Deutsch Grammophon, track 5] [2:16]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's rendition of Brahms: "Hungarian Dance No. 5" [Polydor POCP-1645, track 15]

Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5. The classic version was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado. Then we heard Carmen Cavallaro's rendition.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. And this hour is a trip "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro."

[optional break not included in the total timing]

Next we turn to a piano composition called The Maiden's Prayer by the Polish composer, Tekla Badarzewska. She lived for only about 27 years, from 1834 until 1861. This piece used to be very popular with amateur pianists, but has been almost completely forgotten. In fact it was probably the biggest selling piece of piano music ever written. Over 100 editions were published in the 19th Century. And in 1924, more than 60 years after its first appearance, a Melbourne music publisher said he sold 10,000 copies of it a year.
The composer was only 17 when she wrote it and had it published in 1851 in Warsaw. We hear the original version as performed by Philip Martin on a Hyperion compact disc. We'll then go right into Carmen Cavallaro's interpretation.

MUSIC: Badarzewska: The Maiden's Prayer; Philip Martin, pianist [Hyperion CDA67379, track 2] [4:14]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's rendition of Badarzewska: The Maiden's Prayer [Polydor POCP-1645, track 12]

On our trip "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro," we just heard Badarzewska's The Maiden's Prayer, first performed by Philip Martin in the original version; then by Carmen Cavallaro.

We'll conclude our journey with Sarasate's Gypsy Airs. The original classic version is for violin and orchestra. We'll hear it with the Orchestra of the City of Málaga conducted by Jacques Bodmer. The violin soloist is Gabriel Croitoru. This is from a Limit compact disc recording of the complete works for violin and orchestra by Pablo Sarasate.

Limit recordings, for your information, are imported from the Principality of Andorra. So you see we really do bring the world to you on Compact Discoveries!

MUSIC: Sarasate: Gypsy Airs, Op. 20; City of Málaga Orchestra; Jacques Bodmer, conductor; Gabriel Croitoru, violin [Limit RTAC 010/1, track 2] [8:52]

MUSIC: Carmen Cavallaro's interpretation of Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, No. 1 [Polydor POCP-1645, track 18] under the following:

Pablo Sarasate's Gypsy Airs, Op. 20. We heard the original version as performed by violinist Gabriel Croitoru with the City of Málaga Orchestra conducted by Jacques Bodmer. This is Carmen Cavallaro's jazzed-up interpretation behind me now.

I hope you've enjoyed this hour of Compact Discoveries which I called "From the Classics to Carmen Cavallaro." I'd like to thank Michael Rose of the Michael Rose Orchestra for not only the theme for this hour's program, but also for supplying the CD of "The Best of Carmen Cavallaro" and some of the research.

If you have an idea for a theme for a future Compact Discoveries program, I'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me through the Compact Discoveries website: Or write me in care of this station. You'll find the script with music information for each Compact Discoveries radio program as well as a list of radio stations carrying the series at the Compact Discoveries website. I hope you'll visit us soon.

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Inc., and a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

music and program ends at 58:00 [total timing without optional breaks]
  2009 Compact Discoveries