On this day in classical music: American composer Samuel Barber’s “Commando March” received its premiere in Atlantic City in 1943. The composer conducted the Army Air Force Technical Training Command Band. Listen to the Pioneer High School Band of Ann Arbor, Michigan perform this stirring march. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSstsRS9c8g
On this day in the musical theatre: Betty Garrett was born in 1919. The popular actress starred in productions ranging from “Call Me Mister” in 1946, “Bells Are Ringing” (1956) and “Spoon River Anthology” (1963). A quarter of a century would pass before Garrett returned to Broadway, this time in a stage adaptation of “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1989). Garrett’s final Broadway appearance was in the 2001 revival of “Follies.”
Musical musings: Described by critic Fredric V. Grunfeld as “an old-fashioned quickstep sporting a crew cut,” “Commando March” was played quite frequently during World War II and gained a permanent place in band repertoire after its publication by G. Schirmer in 1943. It was viewed as representative of “a new kind of soldier, one who did not march in straight lines across parade grounds,” but “struck in stealth with speed, disappearing as quickly as he came,” inspiring a different kind of music that departed from tradition. It has all the characteristics necessary to its function — jaunting rhythms, plentiful woodwind and percussion flourishes, and an easily remembered theme that incorporates a triplet figure from the introduction. – From Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music by Barbara B. Heyman.