On this day in classical music: French conductor and composer Paul Paray was born in 1886. Paray made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra in 1939. In 1952, he was appointed music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with whom he conducted numerous recordings for Mercury Records. Paray specialized in the French symphonic literature. One of his most popular recordings was a 1957 reading of Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3 in C minor.” Marcel Dupré, a friend and fellow student from childhood, was organist for the session. Dupré, as a young student, had pulled the organ stops for the composer Camille Saint-Saens in a performance of the Symphony No. 3 in Paris, and the organ of Ford Auditorium in Detroit was well suited to the work. Paray’s recording became one of the most admired readings of the work.
On this day in the musical theatre: Based on the success of his 1961 musical “Milk and Honey,” producer David Merrick signed Herman to compose the score to what would become his most popular work: “Hello, Dolly.” Two years later, Herman chose Patrick Dennis’ novel “Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade” to musicalize. Herman’s “Mame” opened on Broadway in 1966 and ran nearly four years. Angela Lansbury won the first of her five Tony Awards for “Mame.” Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur recreate their showstopping duet “Bosom Buddies” in this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilV5K8tw_6o
Musical musings: Between 1936 and 1951, financial difficulties caused the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to disband on two separate occasions. The Motor City had been without its orchestra for two years when Paray was named music director in 1951. The well-respected Frenchman reinvigorated the orchestra and established what would become a long history with Mercury Records. Paray recorded symphonies by Schumann, Franck, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak and Sibelius but was best known for his highly-praised recordings of the French repertoire. Paray remained music director until 1962.