07 April 2008

From Barbershop Quartets to a Beatified Emperor

The other day I posted a video of the finale from The Music Man. One of the great songs from the film was 'Lida Rose' sung by the Buffalo Bills, a barbershop quartet. Barbershop singing is very popular in the USA. Barbershop singing is tuneful, with great harmony and brings people together. Here are the Buffalo Bills singing 'Lida Rose' in The Music Man:

Perhaps the best known barber in the world of entertainment was the late Perry Como, who kept his membership of the barbers' union till the day he died. During sojourns in the USA and Canada the barbers I went to were all Italians, either from Italy itself or first-generation North Americans. Here's vido of Perry Como singing with the Buffalo Bills in 1958. I'm not sure of the theology of 'If You Were the Only Girl in the World', which dates from 1916, but it's always been a favourite of mine, as it was of my parents.

You can access a recording of the song made in 1916 by Violet Lorraine and George Robey here.

This is from http://www.firstworldwar.com/ , a marvellous website for anyone interested in that awful event.

This same website has a number of recordings of the voice of Blessed Karl of Austria, the last Emperor of Austria and the last King of Bohemia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovania. This was recorded on 16 February 1916 when Karl, not yet emperor, gives his formal blessing to the Imperial Austrian Fund established to aid military widows and orphans.

I had no idea when starting this post that the Buffalo Bills Barbershop Quartet would lead to Blessed Karl of Austria! And I've just discovered that the Barbershop Harmony Society will be 70 years old on 11 April.

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