Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eisenhower Farewell Address: My Musical Typewriter.

Thanks to a generous colleague and collector, I have borrowed a manual typewriter for the October 5, 2008 world premiere of my Eisenhower Farewell Address.  The Castro Valley Chamber Orchestra has been rehearsing the half-hour composition for a couple weeks now.  They've added a larger brass section, and Scott Budman from NBC 11 is the orator.  Josh Cohen conducts.
This typewriter was chosen from the private collection for its volume, reliability, condition, and the swift action of the keys.  It's a Royal "Aristocrat" portable from about 1954.

There are already several musical compositions employing typewriter. The most famous is Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter." (1950) You can hear it here. And here's a video:

Anderson's typewriter part is the most difficult and challenging out there.  The issues for this piece, especially for today, are that the carriage return and bell must be in perfect working order, and the typist must have control over speed and dexterity.  It's a very showy part.  The success of "The Typewriter" depends entirely upon the skill of the typist.

The typewriter doesn't need to be used this way.  It can be used to create an environmental effect, without the pyrotechnics Anderson employs.

Rachel Portman uses the typewriter suitably in the businessman's number in her fanciful opera, The Little Prince.  Portman also used typewriters in her score to Amelie.

Dolly Parton evokes the office environment with typewriter in "9 to 5"!

Frank Loesser uses a typewriter in "A Secretary is not a Toy" from How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1961).

There is also some kind of "Boston Typewriter Orchestra" but it looks like it may have been a one-time novelty performance.

I'm sure there's other uses of typewriter, and I'd like to hear about them, especially if they're in significant classical/orchestral repertoire.  

I hope you will come to the premiere, and hear the sound of this beautiful mechanical marvel.

1 comment:

jay said...

We'd love to come to chicago.