Wednesday, October 24, 2012

African-American Classical Music and Opera / Stephen Hayes

>>> see also my post of 2011 entitled "Why Gamble Music Production and Archive / Awaken to Afro American Music" to see the full story of Stephen Hayes

You know of my intuition, my inspirational, dare I say my eye opening experience with finding the art of African-American music. Stephen Hayes (my dear friend) opened my eyes to a world I would not have known if I had not got in my car that Sunday, drove 50 miles, from Montgomery to Tuskegee and took a chance to find out how myself, a man, presumed white, would wind up on a predominantly black campus, go to chapel with a predominately black congregation, just to find out about a new genre of African-American music.  I can assure you I did and my life would not be complete without having done just that. Sometimes folks, I swear, we have to take a chance just to see if we can find out about a subject or it may slip away forever.  If Stephen Hayes had thought that day "what is this white man gonna cause trouble for........"  if he'd never have taken a chance either, I'd never found out what it was I was looking for AND in that my sincerity, I showed Stephen Hayes that there was a person out there in the world he could touch with this art form and burn it in my soul, it will go with me the rest of mine and his life. Thanks Stephen, you are my friend forever !!!
Stephen Hayes
This web page is about Marie Hadley Robinson.

With my passion for classical music beginning in 1982 and stretching on into the 1990's so did my obsession with the world of OPERA  !!!!  I know it's not for everyone, it's an acquired taste and it gets a bad rap because people don't understand what is going on. For example, my first opera "Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart was on the radio and I had no idea what was going on. I loved the music and singing, the ranges of the tenor and soprano but as far as understanding the words, I could not. Even when I was taking music appreciation classes, I knew there was a libretto (book to follow by in English), but here is the kicker, once you listen to an opera (read the libretto as you follow), the next time you hear it (most of the songs are repetitive anyway), you kind of know what to expect and the more times you hear a certain opera the more the opera makes sense to you.  This philosophy is also true with the arias (songs from opera) that are sung. If announced before an artist sings it (as to what aria they are about to sing), the whole scenario of: announcing the aria, singing it and it becoming the scene in the opera (that time frozen in story telling in song), you can be transported to that place in the opera, and yes, if it is a special opera, you can also be transported  to that very night or afternoon you saw it live.  It's a fascinating world of fantasy to escape the world problems for a couple of hours.  I was already captivated with opera when I was in Thomasville, Georgia that one afternoon, I saw the poster.  My friend Susan and I saw the poster and commented that we needed to come hear this lady sing. 


Jack Hadley curator of the Black History Museum in Thomasville, Georgia (located at 214 Alexander Street in Thomasville) (229) 226-5029  received a call from me in about the later part of March to tell him a little about me in that, "I love opera" I collect autographs, etc.... So I explained I was coming this next weekend to Thomasville to tour the museum and would like to meet him. I did.  I told him how I would love to meet Dr. Robinson after the performance and get her and Mrs. Adams' autograph. He said he believed he could arrange that. That Saturday night May 30th, my friends Susan, Iris and I heard piano pieces of Chopin played exquisitely by Agnes Adams, an absolute perfectionist when it comes to playing Chopin. She treated the piano with determination as she played flawless.  Agnes and Marie's sister Dr. Rosa L. Hadley, was very instrumental in teaching the two siblings. Agnes the art of piano and Marie the art of music so she could progress into singing as a soprano in the world of opera.

Dr. Rosa L. Hadley (first pix) Agnes and Marie (2nd)

After Agnes was through blowing our minds with the perfection she was displaying in music, then came her sister Marie. Oh my dear God, as He is alive on his throne, I'd never heard a soprano as lovely in my life as Dr. Marie Robinson. I'd collected music for years (25 +) and heard sopranos, altos, contraltos, mezzo-sopranos, every type of woman singer in the opera and this woman was good, great in fact, probably the best I'd ever heard.  She sang some art songs and spiritual songs but when she sang the aria from TOSCA, I knew without a doubt she was one of the finest Tosca's I'd ever heard in my life. WOW, what a range.  I would be very remiss if I didn't list several of Dr. Robinson's achievements and I borrowed from her website the write up about her life. Marie would later put these songs on her NEW album COME DOWN ANGELS”. Art Songs and Spirituals.  The cd is available and offered through the Jack Hadley Black Museum

There was an absolute aura hanging over that auditorium room when she finished with the opera arias and the art songs and spirituals.  The room was mostly filled with Afro-American lovers of classical music, opera and or they were just there because they were life long friends of Agnes and Marie. I was proud to be in the class of the few light skinned people that were there. I felt really like the "big man" when Jack Hadley thanked many people for being there that historical night.  So when he announced Scott Gamble an opera friend of Marie's I boasted my chest out and waved as I was some dignitary.  I enjoyed the whole concert.  It was almost over, and I had not made my mind up as to how I was going to get Marie's autograph (or for that fact Agnes's),  then Jack announced there was going to be a reception in their honor.  I knew this was my move. Before I leave with the rest of the story, that night May 30th 2009, as historical as I had made mention, it was indeed; both Agnes and Marie received keys to the city of Thomasville by the mayor of Thomasville and it was declared that the day of May 30th would be Adams/Robinson Day in the city of Thomasville, Georgia.  WOW ! Congrats you two precious ladies !!!!
Well the Mayor shocked everyone with that announcement and there we were about the have the closing remarks and I still had not come up with an idea to get these two ladies autographs. So we adjourned and headed just to the back of the Thomasville Cultural Center (600 East Washington Street), there I met Dr. Marie Robinson "soprano" and Agnes Adams "pianist", we met and they carried on with me like I was a old buddy of theirs. Both ladies very refined in very way but just as down to earth as you can get. I got both of their autographs (both were honored to have me put them on my wall of 'famed' people).  The wonderful thing that night Susan, Iris and myself we did not feel as there was a "black/white" thing going on, it was MUSIC, in any language it speaks to the soul far greater and any words could say. We were treated like royalty, even though Marie and Agnes were swamped with people, they allowed me to interrupt their time with friends and family and treat us just like we were part of their lives. Marie and I are still friends, I advocate her cd and encourage my followers to purchase one to support her career and profession, she is an awesome person, she doesn't let my harassing her seem to bother her at all and when you hear this woman sing, Oh my dear Father, you would think an angel was singing. Thanks Marie for opening your heart that night, you and your sister Agnes, both of you are precious and later I will post Rosa playing the piano on this website. That night was magical for me, I was overwhelmed to say the least and most overall everything else that night I felt like I was part of their family !!!!! 
I invite you to go to her website

>>>>   borrowed from MARIE ROBINSON'S  website it is written:

Marie Hadley Robinson, a native of Thomasville, GA, made her operatic debut as Aida with the Graz Opera, where she was principal soloist for three years. During her tenure there, she was hailed, by critics as, “the finest Tosca of her generation”. Also at Graz she became the first soprano of her race to portray the role of Sieglinde in Die Walküre in a staged performance anywhere in the world. Subsequent engagements took her to Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Kassel, Zurich, and a tour of Japan with the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. She also later was principal soloist for five years with the National Theatre Mannheim. Her repertoire includes thirty-three major roles and she has appeared in forty-two companies in Eastern and Western Europe as well as in South America. In the United States, she has performed with the Michigan Opera Theater, Los Angeles Opera Theater, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Omaha and Opera Ebony. Ms Robinson has appeared in recitals at Shenandoah, Florida A&M, University of Iowa Universities and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. where she was the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem and Poulenc’s Gloria with the Paul Hill Chorale and the Washington Oratorio Society. With Opera Ebony, she sang in the concert version of Fosca by Brazilian composer, Carlo Gomes in New York and with the Saskatchewan Symphony in Saskatoon, Canada a concert version of Porgy and Bess. Her latest concert of Porgy and Bess was with the late William Warfield at Longwood Gardens, PA with the Kennett Symphony. Ms. Robinson performed the role of Aida with Opera International in Mexico, Hong Kong, Marseille, Lyon, and with Opera Delaware. At the University she co-directed The Medium, Gianni, Schiccihi, The Stoned Guest, Trial by Jury, and The Secret Marriage and teaches applied voice. During the Fall of 2002, she produced the Marriage of Figaro with Leland Kimball as director and Patrick Evans as musical director. Dr. Robinson earned a Masters and Doctor of Music Degree in Performance from Florida State University where she studied with Elena Nikolaidi and Yvonne Ciannella. She earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Music Education at Florida A&M University. There she studied with Dr. Rebecca Steele. Her awards include prizes in the VI Internacional de Canto, The Palm Beach Civic Opera Audition, the Duguid Fellowship Award, and the “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in 2010 for the National Opera Association. She is member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Delta Alpha German Honor Society, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She serviced on the boards of OperaDelaware, Delaware Classical Showcase, Delaware Valley Chorale, The Newark Symphony Orchestra and the National Opera Association, as well as a pass Delaware State Governor of NATS. Dr. Robinson is an Associate Professor of Voice and Opera at the University of Delaware. With a lifetime of experience, this recording brings us masterful performance of music from Nadine Shanti, Lena McLin, Betty Jackson King, Margaret Bonds, Florence Beatrice Price, and Undine Smith Moore.  Joining Marie in accompaniment is pianist Julie Nishimura. Nishimura has performed in the chamber music series of Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and she has been a guest artist at more than 30 college campuses. Ms. Nishimura is a perennial favorite at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival and California Summer Music. An incredible collection, beautifully recorded, get your copy today!


One such fascination of mine of Negro Spirituals or Afro-American Spirituals is based on the pentatonic scale (pentatonic scale is a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven-note) scale such as the major scale and minor scale. Pentatonic scales are very common and are found all over the world. They are divided into those with semitones (hemitonic) and those without (anhemitonic).  In that all the spirituals are based on those 5 BLACK NOTES. For on those black notes wonderful pieces of music was composed. Yes, including but not limited to "AMAZING GRACE" for it seems that John Newton, Captain of a slave ship may have heard the chanting of slaves humming these 5 tonal notes and composed this delightful hymn. Oh the slave ship was most likely from west Africa and the tonal sounds sounds really like that of a West African sorrow chant. Hence the reason of it's touching melody.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"The Cuckoo Waltz" a research by Scott Gamble

Finding the Cuckoo Waltz: by Scott A. Gamble (1994)
In the fall of 1986 while working in Orlando, Florida, I remember
calling one of my customers one morning and being put on hold,
only to hear a series of tones that would haunt me for the next 8
years of my life. It so happens while listening to this piece of
music and trying to "name that tune", the more I tried, the more
I failed at naming it. The only thing there was for me to do,
was to call back, listen one more time and then if I still could
not name it, call back once more only to ask someone the title
and or where the music had come from. It was done, just in those
exact steps, only for me to be depressed, of the words that would
torment me off and on, for the next eight years "I am sorry, but
I can't help you". These were not the words that I wanted to
hear. I called the people who installed the phone answering
machine, i.e. on hold system and they did not know the music nor
did they know where the tune originated. Well now, this was not
a question of wanting to know what this 30 to 40 tonal segment
was but rather a mystery worth solving and deciphering. I called
the people who installed the on hold music machine once again and
refused "No" for an answer, as I went from receptionist to
Department Head Supervisor. I called their cooperate and
the company that bought out that cooperate company and so on,
until there was a list of calls on my phone bill that totaled
over twenty or thirty dollars. It was at this time that I had
declared an all out war on this piece of music and was determined
to find its origin or its lineage of the composer. I called the
maestro or resident conductor for the Florida Symphony Orchestra
who was at that time Michael Krajewski and Kenneth Jean who was
music director for the Florida Symphony Orchestra (1986 & 1987),
the professors of music for Central Florida University, Seminole
College and surrounding colleges near the greater Orlando area
were also other contacts that I had made at that time. Everyone
that I called had basically the same answer after they called
this one place of business, was put on hold, listened to the
tones of this piece of music and finally would call me back with
some answer. See, that is what is so wonderful about a scenario
like this and what I learned ultimately, if the question you have
pertaining to music is of an oddity or can't be answered or
solved quickly, musicologist will go out of their way to try to
answer or find an answer because in essence, they want to know
the answer too. However, pathetically and apologetically in
their own way they'd call me back and give me a colloquialism
that I hear several more times while researching this piece of
music "Gosh, Scott, I've heard this piece of music somewhere and
can't put my finger on it". I knew that once Ken Whitcome with
The Disney Imagineers, at the Magical Kingdom called me and
told me this same adage, that something was absolutely rotten in
Denmark, something was to suspicious about this piece of music,
because I knew that these people at Disney are some of the best
researchers of music in the world and some of the employees out
there were even composers of the best Disney music ever released
and if they did not know what this piece was then something was
very strange. By the way if you did not know the Imagineers and
the Rangers are the people in charge of all Disney Music.
I know possibly what you are thinking. What in the world was the
company that were getting these calls and putting these people on
hold thinking ? I must thank Mrs. Debbie and LuAnna most
graciously, they deserve all the recognition and credit for doing
that. I will leave the company named "Anonymous" but will tell
you that never at any time did anyone get upset, angry, enraged,
furious or annoyed at my research via their company, as a matter
of fact the president of the company thought it wonderful that he
had something in his telephone service that no one else had.
Also he had what was certainly a mystery that was not only
bizarre but unique and quite a novelty.
For the first 6 months, they received calls from professors,
musicologists, maestros, and every other person you could or I
could think of that had any understanding of music. I would call
them (the people doing the calling), they would call there (again
we'll call it "Anonymous"), be put on hold and they'd try to name
that tune. Some even taped the music as it was being played,
only to go to research reference books and look up this deranged
tune, that at times sounded like a folk song or even something
that was written for electronic music taken from an excerpt of a
piece of classical music. Let me not insult your intelligence, I
researched the art of electronic music, which is as you may be
aware, the little disks on toys that when depressed they play
music or cards, as when you open them they play a tune.
I was almost ready to give up my search for my answer, which was,
where did this piece come from, who wrote it and what year was it
written, when a professor of music at the University of Central
Florida told me that it sounded to him like a variation from a
folk song that might be baroque. So I started my research in the
1600's and went to the late 1700's, listening to every type of
folk song imaginable. I had no luck. A few months passed and I
still looked for some kind of answer that would be pacify me. I
was so hooked at trying to find an answer, I would think about it
late at night. Those melodic reverb notes pounding in my head.
I was really dedicated and determined, at this point, to find an
answer. The more I told the story, the more excited I'd get once
they'd ask me to hum a bar of the tune to them to see if they
could name it. It was quite embarrassing sometimes to be humming
this piece while people looked on very strangely as to what it
was I was doing. My Dad always told me, in the general
ramifications of life, "Ask questions to get answers and offer
information when you can, to get answers". So, that is what I was
doing. Humming to get an answer. It was heartbreaking at times
to go that far and not even get an "Oh, I think I know what that
is". Over a two year period I called different people, ask them
to call the number and get put on hold. Fewer and fewer people
were being contacted as I was exhausting all of my personal
resources. The "Anonymous" business was getting less and less
calls, which I am sure they appreciated. Some would call back
quickly and tell me that they'd heard it before but did not know
the name of it. Some would wait and call back a few weeks later
and it was the waiting that excited me as maybe they had found
something or stumbled upon something, some information that would
have some precedence.
I had people call me at work, all hours of the day, only to ask
had I received an answer of any kind. These were people who were
just as inquisitive and just as curious as I was but they did not
have the ambition that I did to want to search for this piece of

Again, let me not insult your intelligence, I had heard Fur
Elise, Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Edelweiss, and other "common"
type pieces of electronic on hold music before and this one was
one that I'd never heard as an electronic piece but rather from
some sonata, partita, etude, concerto or even a part of a
symphony. I just could not find that link to hearing the piece
of on hold music and naming it. Everything else would be easy
once I got that link in the information. I will spare you great
detail in what would happen over the next two to three years but
I will start in September 1989. Once I left Orlando and moved to
Montgomery I had remembered the little piece of music and from
time to time, would hum that piece to myself but I never called
the company in Orlando to hear it again. I started with Warren
Wholesale, a company here in Montgomery in 1990 that dealt with
customers through out the Montgomery area and I remember, very
well, the morning my boss, Rob Warren told me to call a particular
company. So the phone rang on the other end and once Ann picked up
and transferred me from her phone to Ron, the president of this
company that I was trying to reach and to whom I am deeply
grateful to, for letting so many people call there, as so many
people had called three years prior to the "Anonymous" store in
Orlando. I was quickly haunted once again by this melodic piece
as I was put on hold. I thought "No way" there is just no way
possible that there could be two answering machines of the same
brand out there and me be in the same town as each. Could a
predetermination, fate or God be telling me NO ! it is not your
time to give up your research for this music.
As sure as I hung up though, I started over into that never
ending cycle of telephone calls and being rejected.
Professors at the local colleges gave me the same answer I'd
gotten some three to four years ago and still I could not find
that one person of whom could recognize this bizarre little tune.
Dr. Harald Rohlig of Huntingdon College here in Montgomery was my
mentor and to whom I looked up to while researching The Cuckoo
Waltz. I will never forget the time he called to get put on hold
and took enough enthusiasm to play the melody as it was being
played on the other end to him. I recall once I called Dr.
Rohlig and ask him if he'd heard of anything new with the tune
and he played the notes of the strange piece on his piano
keyboard while I was listening by phone. It literally blew my
mind how he could play this piece. He would have had to have
memorized the piece, to play it on command. Thanks to him I
found more vitality, at that point, to want to find the song's
origin and composer. I was also for the first time listening to
a different way it was being played. There were no electronic
tones being pulsated in my ear but the composed notes played by
piano. Which in my opinion sounded a lot better.
However the more I was rejected the more I was determined to find
some answer.
I spoke to several musical advocates including but not limited to
Yvonne Rodriguez. She was another person who had a great amount
of insight to my research as it was her suggestion that the tune
sounded to her like a folk song of perhaps the late romantic
period, in and around the time of Mozart. It was with that
information that I went into depth researching and finding any
kind of folk song dated (1760 to 1850) imaginable. All of these
things and the following scenario happened with in about 15
weeks. It was sometime in 1991, I'll call it the spring of, when
I called the company that made the cartridge that was inserted in
the On Hold system. They told me the company was sold in 1986 to
TIE Communications in Japan. So I called TIE Communications in
New Jersey and in Connecticut to get the telephone number to the
TIE Communications in Japan. Once I got the number for the Japan
TIE Communication Office (which is now Nitsuko), I called there
to see if by chance I could get an answer there. Keep in mind
there is at least a 8 hour difference in time and I'd get up at
3:00 to 4:00 in the morning to make the call and to try to
contact someone, anyone who could help. There was no luck however
in that telephone conversation, even though I did talk to someone
to whom spoke some, broken english. After exhausting this
resource I was about to give up when I had a brain storm of sorts
and decided that these people at Tie Communications had only
heard me ask for the name of this piece of music based on the
information that I've given them, that being a model number,
serial number, bar code (UPC), and the date stamped on the side
of the cartridge. There was to much time being spent in getting
someone to call the number, waiting for their call back, waiting
for some answer, whether it would be one I wanted to hear or not,
so I had to come up with a plan to get the music out there in the
field and do it to where it would not harass anyone.
I never for a moment thought, until this time, that what I might
do is make a copy of the music on cassette and mail it to Japan,
Disney World, to professors of music, to all those places that
I'd been exposed to in the past and avoid asking them to go
through the ordeal of calling and getting put on hold.
Sure, it would cost a little money to purchase tapes to send out
and a little more time would be needed to send them out but I'd
spent several dollars in research already and many man hours
already , what would it hurt to spend a little more to solve this
case of the "unnamed music"? Also it would be a lot quicker to
canvass a large area in a small amount of time.
So I made a copy of the music by taping the music from the on
hold system to a tape recorder and sent it to the Japan TIE
Communications office, Kansas TIE Communications office, to
several professors of music, Disney Imagineers, Library of
Congress Music Research Department, radio stations that play
mostly music of Big Band and Classical and finally to the radio
stations of National Public Radio. The tapes were sent to those
places in envelopes marked "Do Not Pass By Any Magnet" as to
protect the tape from any damaging outside forces, at this point
I could not afford the tapes to get to their destination and be
damaged, imagine what confusion that would bring on. The tapes
were also sent with a letter explaining the difficultly of
finding the importance, result or outcome of this strange
unsolved mystery. Some time had lapsed and one morning to my
surprise the phone rang and it was a Mrs. Lang at TIE
Communications in Kansas. She wanted to know if by chance I had
found out any information on that piece of music I was looking
for. I had gotten excited, imagine my surprise, I thought
perhaps she was about to offer a conclusion to this charade. The
call from Mrs. Lang was just a false alarm, as she just wanted to
let me know she was helping me on that end as much as she could.
I thanked her very much and began my search again. What I am
telling you, is once I had forgotten about the music situation
and had something else on my mind, like my job, or in fact had
began to forget it all together, the phone would ring and I'd get
the call asking me about the song. I was going crazy with wonder
about this whole music thing. Was it worth it ? Was the
aggravation and disappointment needed ? How in the world could
a 30 to 40 note little ballad give me so many problems.
1991 passed as did 1992 and 1993 and still I'd not heard any
word. Again I am leaving a lot of detail out, for example the
trips to The Public Library, using the Music Index at Alabama
State University, which is the best in southeastern Alabama, to
my knowledge, also to other libraries such as Maxwell Air Force
Base, Auburn University at Montgomery and so on. I'd work
periodically on the research and maybe would stumble into a
little information that was informative. I'd been collecting
classical music compact disks, I had about 600 by that time and
most of the music was baroque. I'd listen to the music in hopes
that with in the piece there would be surprisingly somehow, maybe
even in a part of the piece of music, maybe in a movement, a
sonnet, that I did not know that very well, maybe there it would
be with in the music . I thought perhaps it might be buried in
there somewhere, anywhere. Even my 78's were growing in size and
nothing there even resembled this piece. Maybe along the line
I'd even find some person out there who was a little interested
to help, but I'd find out later that they were not dedicated and
there I'd be, back at the "drawing board". I was steadfast in my
ways because by now there were to many people involved in wanting
to know the outcome. People will make fun of you and criticize
you, they'll even think that you are a little strange, until the
research has paid off, by the end result being, that answer in
which you'd been looking for. That is the time when people will
listen to you.
I didn't need just to give up, nor would my own being let me do
so. Even my faith in God made me realize that praying for an
answer for this musical crossword puzzle was not totally out of
the question. If anything, He could help with an answer far
faster than anyone else. The drum roll is about to sound...... I
will not hold out any longer on the ending. As with some
stories, they sometimes end with a happy ending or unhappy ending
and I'll be honest with you, I thought this story was going to
have a unhappy ending. In fact a bad ending to this story would
be better than no ending at all.
In January of 1994 Jim Furbush with Tie Communications called me
after receiving my letter and tape. He told me that he would
help me after reviewing and reading the of sincerity of the
letter. He told me that he'd call his friend, also named Jim, in
Japan that worked with Nitsuko (the company that purchased Tie
Communications and Technicom). As you recall these are the
companies that I'd failed at getting an answer back in 1986. Jim
Furbush called me back after speaking to Jim in Japan and the
Mystery was half over. When Jim told me that the name of the
song was "The Cuckoo Waltz" my heart stopped a beat and I was
completely stunned. Jim Furbush will always be a hero to me as
well as friend, as it was he that ended my search for the title
of the song. It was an emotional day and I'll remember it
clearly as it was an ending to a long anticipation of every
aspect of knowledge and research resource I had. Jim with
Nitsukoin Japan had the information all along and the call that
I had made to Japan in 1986 and 1990 must have been close to
finding the answer. In other words I had the right church but
the wrong pew. After finding out that the "Cuckoo Waltz" was the
name of the piece of music, I thought that would satisfy me.
No Way. I began my research, with the new name I'd been given
from Jim, in the popular music epoch (1900 to 1950) because I was
just guessing at this point and just took a stab in the dark to
see if I'd get fortunate enough to find it. Keep in mind that at
this point I had no clue as to what time period it would fall
under, so I would start in that time era and then move backwards
if I had found no answer. I researched a set of volumes entitled
"The Guide to Popular Music" and there, to my astonishment, it
was, finally in black and white. Titled under the name Ken
Griffin for the year 1948. The flip side of "The Cuckoo Waltz"
on the 78 record was "You Can't be True Dear". There is a key
here in the research as the reference referred to the label of
the record being Rondo Records. No additional information was
given about Rondo only that the number of the 78 record was 128.
Cautiously I believed that the ending of this mystery was close
at hand. At least now I'd seen the words "The Cuckoo Waltz" in
print. I'd found the music's title in text and now, what I
thought was the composer of the piece of music. How could I've
been so lucky, so auspicious, as to have killed two birds with
one stone. By finding the composer and the title the
investigation was over, done, finished, finis.
But hold on, the reference book referred to Ken Griffin as being
the artist. There is a big difference between the who is an
artist and the composer, especially when I was trying to find out
who the composer was. The reference read that Ken Griffin was a
popular organist that played at skating rinks and that after
World War 2, had again played at skating rinks and at popular
dance halls playing Hammon Organ. The reference never mentioned
any birth date nor if he was still living but did suggest that
since he was in World War Two he might still be alive. I was
hesitant in trying to call him as I didn't know if he'd offer any
information to me, if he'd be rude or belligerent in anyway.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to contact him or not.
Maybe I'd be better off if I'd just find a copy of the music, say
that he was the composer and let it alone, no one would be the
wiser. Whoever would research this piece it would take them at
least 8 years and again no one would ever question my findings.
The more I thought of not calling him, strangely enough, I then
had mixed emotions of calling Mr. Griffin to see maybe what
prompted him in writing it and tell him of the research that I'd
done on it. I finally made up my mind and decided to call. Now
the problem was where to start. I thought about researching his
address through the editors or publishers of The Guide of Popular
Music at first and then I stumbled upon the answer I was looking
one day as I made a call to Carl Fisher Music company to see if
the Cuckoo Waltz was available on sheet music, which it was not.
I spoke to the man there who had been with Carl Fisher for some
35 years plus. He said that he'd heard of Ken Griffin and did
not know where he was or what he was doing. He asked if I had
heard of a Hal Pearl as he too was a famous organist. He told me
that Hal Pearl was in the Chicago area and told me to contact
information for his telephone number. I contacted Hal Pearl and
had a wonderful conversation with him. Very coincidentally Hal
told me he was friends with Ken Griffin, and told me some of the
relationship that he and Ken Griffin had after the WWII and that
Ken really made it big time with the hit " You Can't Be True Dear
". He went on to tell me that after the late forties on into the
mid fifties that they'd been friends and that Ken had played here
and there and nothing much was written about him. I knew my
search for Ken Griffin was over when Hal told me that he had died
in 1956. From what Hal told me Ken had an alcohol problem and
that is why he died and after that was said, nothing more was
said about the way he died. He went on to tell me that Ken's
sister was the beneficiary of the monies and he did not know
where she was but thought it might be somewhere in New York. I
was saddened to know that I would not get to speak to Ken Griffin
or have him comment on my research. After speaking with Hal
Pearl for about 45 minutes I had a feeling of knowing a little
segment about Ken Griffin's life and what he was about and that
he love to play music for people and watch their reaction to his
music. Hal told me that Ken took his Hammon Organ with him,
loaded it on to a hitched up trailer and would go from town to
town in the mid United States and come back periodically to Chi
town. After that week I thought very strongly of ending the
research because I felt like perhaps I was chasing after a ghost
and maybe the spirit of Ken Griffin might be better off left
alone. The old adage of the artist or composer was still at hand
and finding out that was far more important than a ghost haunting
me. Was Ken Griffin the composer as well as the artist of The
Cuckoo Waltz ? This was the next big question to ask myself and
research. I wound up asking a lot of questions to a lot of
people and finally asked ASCAP (American Society of Composers and
Publishers) in New York as to whom was responsible, wrote or is
credited for writing The Cuckoo Waltz. I was thinking that Ken
Griffin's name was who they'd tell me and found out that I was
indeed wrong. When the girl there gave me a different name other
than " Ken Griffin " and I was shocked to say the least and now
yet another piece of still the unsolvable puzzle. I was told
that it was E. Johannson and that he was from Sweden and no
further information was given because there was no more listed
there. Notice the spelling of Johannson. I was completely
baffled about this new name but at least now I had the composer's
name. I spent more time finding out about this composer and
couldn't because, mainly over the next few months, I'd find out
that his name would be spelled differently as what ASCAP had on
file. I'd been looking for Johannson and to what you'll read was
not his name at all. In fact through translation after
translation somehow the "h" in Johannson acquired a stem from the
letter "n" causing much confusion in researching his name. I was
told by ASCAP that STIM WRITER was who I needed to contact in
Sweden and they gave me an address and fax number. I wrote three
letters to Stim Writer, all with in about 8 weeks of each other.
I received all the letters that I wrote back "return to sender",
"NO SUCH ADDRESSE", was the way it was marked, which was typical
at this point but pressed on with my research. I was speaking to
some friends about finding a copy of the music on record and I
was using my friends as my last resource, as I tried their
suggestion and contacted all the record stores including record
specialty stores in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and other
large metropolitan cities. No luck.
I researched RONDO records and found a little information about
the label. I found a company called Ranwood outside the greater
Los Angeles area that bought out the company called Rondo back in
the late 40's or early 1950's and she told me due to a fire,
their records were lost and there would be no way for any
research to be done on their end. After I exhausted all
questions like: who personally bought the company in 1950, maybe
if that person still exists then I could ask them some questions.
The girl that I spoke to "Linda" was very uncooperative and I
really was at a dead end in speaking with this girl as she was
very rude and she did not have any sympathy for me and my
research. After I totally struck out with Ranwood Records I
contacted the Library of Congress in and around this same time
frame and I was amazed that they had THE CUCKOO WALTZ on a
Columbia label and would get me an album to cassette copy of the
Ken Griffin " Cuckoo Waltz " if I would send Sony Classical, who
owned the rights to the label "Columbia" record, not the
individual piece of music, a letter of authorization so that the
record could be copied. From there, after receiving the Letter
of Consent from Sony, to forward it on to the Library of Congress
with a check or money order for sixty dollars. "Sixty dollars"
for a three minute song was expensive but when it finally would
come in, I at least would have it in my collection, "The Cuckoo
Waltz" by Ken Griffin, the only person that ever cut this piece
in the United States, just the thought of that was comforting and
very tranquilizing to me.
I did contact Sony by letter and never received the Letter of
Consent from them. I waited a total of two months before I
decided to write yet another letter to Sony. Again no response.
I found out, from the Library of Congress, that the RONDO
recording was a collector's item, that there were just a few
recordings of the original label and that RONDO was in fact the
original label and it would be very difficult to find. The LOCÔ
(Library of Congress) went on to tell me that they only had the
music on the Columbia label, as the RONDO label was entirely
impossible to get. All of this took place on a Friday morning
and Friday afternoon a wonderful lady, Mrs. Ellen Jones, who owns
an antique store, Blue Ridge Antiques, just outside of Montgomery
called me and said she was going to take some 78 records to her
store in Birmingham, about 100 miles north of Montgomery, did I
want to come look through what she had once more, before she
loaded several and took them north ? I said sure and headed up
there the next morning. In the last stack of records and I had
gone through about 1875 records of 78's and 33 1/3's, I found and
to those people I've told this story to, can not believe it to
date in what happened, there in front of me was the original
RONDO recording of Ken Griffin's "The Cuckoo Waltz". It had a
crack on one side but it was playable. I had gone beyond the
point of being ecstatic and passed the point of being totally
delirious. I could not believe it. For $ 2.00 payable to the
Blue Ridge Antiques, I could now own it. This was to much, all
good things come to those who wait was the first colloquialism
that came to mind and I thanked God several times. I remember a
story from my childhood that there was a store where if you could
not find something out in the world, just a trip to the Old
Curiosity Shop would allow you to find your most wanted
possessions. Magically it would appear at the Old Curiosity Shop.
This was exactly what it was feeling like.
Ellen and Joe the owners, came to my rescue as they thought I'd
fallen or hurt myself with the loud convulsion that I'd just gone
through. They could have heard me in Montgomery, which was
several miles away. I was holding in my hands the original
record, the collectors item that was told to me that I'd never
find. Again, the LOC told me they didn't even have a copy of it
on RONDO as it was so hard to get a copy. What blew my mind was
that the record was in the original jacket or slip cover. With
holding this record in my hands I was able to answer yet a few
more questions I found out that RONDO records was in Chicago,
Ill. in the same town that Hal Pearl had a friendship with Ken
Griffin. I was assuming at one time or the other that it might
have been Chicago as to where the record company RONDO was
located, as everything thus far was either happening very
ironically or was coincidental. The thought had crossed my mind
several times but now I had proof that RONDO was located in
Once I had my copy of the record I took it home and played it.
It was a very emotional time for me because I'd spent hours upon
hours trying to find some evidence of its existence and could not
until this very moment. People were starting to think that Scott
Gamble had flipped, gone crazy but I was bound and determined to
find the answer or some evidence and now my research had paid
off. This was most definitely a part of the culmination of the
Still there was a question as to whom E. Johannson was or how I
could maybe even reach him in Sweden.
Don't forget that it was he that ASCAP showed in their text of
Composers & Publishers, as to whom the composer of "The Cuckoo
Waltz" was. I was speaking to my friends again about all that
had happened and frankly they were tired of all that I was
rambling on about. I asked Allen what I should do about finding
out the information from Sweden and when he said it, when he
suggested what I'm about to tell you, I almost fell out of my
chair as it sounded so logical and I was furious that I'd not
thought of it several months prior. He told me to contact the
Swedish Embassy to the United States and ask for the Cultural
Arts Department and they'd probably be able to help. I was
surprised to say the least, as I was on the phone for only 45
seconds and had received the name and address of who to contact
in Stockholm, Sweden at the Swedish Music Information Center.
Needless to say I was trying to contact the wrong people in
Sweden, no wonder my letters were sent back.
I had waited Eight years and a few more weeks to wait wouldn't
matter one way or the other. On August 16, 1994 at about
11:35 am the mail man came in with my letter from Gunn Dattermark
chief of popular music arkiv (archive) in Stockholm Sweden. Her
letter was similar to this:
The Cuckoo Waltz by J. Emanuel Jonasson
The story of The Cuckoo Waltz starts in Stockholm, Sweden in a
saloon that showed a cinema entitled Gyllene Goken or "The Golden
Cuchoo". The motion picture cinema, The Golden Cuckoo, was shown
in the same saloon as where the cuckoo clock was. So as the
story goes, the cuckoo clock in the saloon was of a golden color
and the bird inside chirped a scale in C-Major.
There was a six man group of musicians that played background
music for this cinema, some of the members played in military
bands but there was a trumpet major, J. Emanuel Jonasson (1886 - 1956)
that is given credit for noticing that the cuckoo bird
inside the cuckoo clock, chirped in the same scale as when they
would play a ballad or melody in C©Major. Since the cuckoo
clock's bird chirped in C©Major and the background music was
played in C©Major as well, Jonasson decided that he could make
the two relate somehow. He studied the two circumstances, took
notes and came up with a new tune to be performed as background
music for "The Golden Cuckoo" cinema. This music remains Gok
Valsen or The Cuckoo Waltz. It was there at the saloon in 1913,
when Jonasson, 27 years old, wrote this wonderful lively tune.
It is even played and sang today in Sweden as a popular folk
song. In and around the year 1913, two brothers, accordion
players, recorded the waltz and it continues to be a popular
ballad even today. Jonasson lived to be 70 years of age and is
put to rest in Stockholm.
** Credited for the Text is Ejnar Westling. The Cuckoo Waltz if
written for Andante for piano in 3/4 time. First copyright of
this music is 1920 by Elkan & Schildknecht, Emil Carelius in
International copyright secured and reserved # E.C.21.
Information provided by Gunn Dattermark, archive chief of
music at the Swedish Music Information Center in Stockholm,
Sweden. The Swedish MIC is the Swedish Performing Rights
Society's (STIM) information and documentation center for
copyright © protected Swedish music.
Also with this very informative letter came the original sheet
music, copyright on this music was 1925 and so ended a story that
I might say very sarcastically drove me CUCKOO. A follow up
letter thanking Gunn Dattermark followed the letter that I
received from her and I requested one last item, that was a copy
of the Cuckoo Waltz. On whatever medium or means she could find
it I would get that playable object to play it. In other words I
did not know if all she could find the music on would be reel to
reel, I don't own a reel to reel but was willing to get or
purchase one to hear this piece of music. I was hoping, I had
just a little desire to have the music performed by the original
composer J. Emanuel Jonasson. However whatever she could get I'd
be satisfied with. I waited several weeks and heard nothing, no
response. I had the letter saved in my word processor and
reprinted the same letter, changed the date to what was current
and mailed it once again, waiting now in my 6th week from sending
the first one. To my astonishment in our fax machine at Warren
Wholesale there was a fax from Gunn Dattermark in Sweden and she
told me to wait that in January 1995 I'd be receiving a parcel
from her. I had no idea what to expect but had an idea that I
was about to own a Swedish Copy of the Cuckoo Waltz. As I
speculated Rob, my boss, handed me on January 24, 1995 a
cassette tape mailed from Sweden that Gunn Dattermark had
sent to my attention. Enclosed was the three minute Cuckoo Waltz
performed by Jorma Juselius a Finnish (Finland) accordion player
cut in 1956 the very year that it's founder Emanuel Jonasson died.
Rob was very cooperative, in that he allowed me to receive calls
from places all over the world concerning receiving info and the
receiving the music itself, Rob Warren hired me full time and my
time I was supposed to have been working at my job, I was working
on the Cuckoo Waltz.  I will never be able to repay him or OD Warren
for the kindness their expressed during these wild endeavours I was on
in the art of music.  I did learn one thing in those 8 years of researching:


THROUGH".  (click on the link below to hear the cuckoo waltz)

My notes: while listening to the first 8 notes (remember these notes were the only ones burned to the electronic card for TIE Communications), take notice of the trills where the cuckoo is speaking and finally notice in the sharps and flats the brilliance of Jonasson as to how he could put these in the piece and you think only for a brief period of time (that note should not be there), until the next note reveals the corrected phrase of the music. It's really outstanding, and now without further to do here is the Cuckoo Waltz by Emanuel Jonasson (1886-1956)

(vocal Cuckoo Waltz) Kuk-Kuk-Valsen (The Cuckoo Waltz) - Alex og Richard's Harmonikaorkester; Valdemar Davids 1951

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