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Friday, February 14, 2014

"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"

Most of you who have followed popular music over the decades and are old enough to remember the 70s may remember Eric Carmen's "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again."

The song was played heavily on the radio and was a big hit for Carmen, who had several songs that made the big time such as "All By Myself."

But what most, perhaps, did not know was that the melody Carmen used for "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" was based upon the third movement from classical music composer/performer Sergei Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony. Carmen supplied the lyrics.

Rachmaninoff received wide acclaim as one of the 20th century's best composers, and he chose Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra as the vehicle by which he would introduce his music to the world. Ormandy had taken a liking to Rachmaninoff's music early on, and thus it was a natural fit for the two to work together. Ormandy would sometimes make suggestions to the composer as to how he could make his music better, more pleasing to the ear, and thus, more marketable.

Say what you will about Ormandy, but one thing that cannot be debated was his ability to market and sell music to the masses. No one, no conductor, and no orchestra even came close to rivaling the sales of the Philadelphia Orchestra during Ormandy's 44-year tenure, not even Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic nor Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Ormandy knew what the average music lover wanted to hear, and even if classical music was not their cup of tea, he knew what would at least be pleasing to listen to without totally turning the listener off to classical music.

Other composers and solo performers almost universally pointed to Ormandy as the conductor they most preferred to work with. He was a gentleman, accommodating, and worked hard to make it easy for his solo guests to showcase their talent. Among these were violinists Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman, pianists Rudolf Serkin, Arthur Rubinstein, and Vladmir Horowitz, and many others.

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff was numbered among these as well.

The following is Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony in its entirety, filmed live and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Much of Rachmaninoff's music is deeply emotional in nature. While this could be said about all composers, some had that something extra. And here we get to see it. Only someone like Eugene Ormandy could capture such emotion and bring it out of his orchestra.

Ormandy loved his music. And although one might say that about all musicians, not all are able to tap into their inner reserve of emotion, and if they did they somehow did not have the ability to show it. Ormandy was not only able to tap that vast inner reserve of rich emotion ranging from joy to sadness, but he did so in a way that drew his musicians in the orchestra to that place with him. It was as if he were saying, "Come with me here. Experience what this composer may have been feeling when he wrote this. And then play as you feel it."

By the way, I know that some of you who are not big fans of classical will probably fast forward through some of this. But don't miss the 3rd movement, which is the most beautiful part of the piece, the part that Eric Carmen used for his song. It is very special and ultimately emotional. And you can see it on Ormandy's face and on the faces of the musicians as they respond to him.

I also want you to see a few seconds just prior to the 3rd movement, in the break after the 2nd movement. Ormandy gives his musicians a smile and whispers the compliment "great" -- something we rarely see.

This all begins at approximately 24:15 on the video. While I would prefer you to listen all the way to the end from there, if you must cut it short, be sure to listen to the entire 3rd movement, which will take you to approximately 35:22 on the video.

Unless you are completely and hopelessly detached from your emotions, there is no way you can hear this and not be moved. Enjoy...(click on the link at the top of the vid to enlarge).

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