Saturday, August 3, 2013

Brahms: Hungarian Dances (Harry Horlick)

Harry Horlick
According to Wikipedia, the Tiflis-born violinist Harry Horlick (1896-1970) learned Gypsy music while traveling with Gypsy bands in Istanbul, before coming to America and achieving success as a radio conductor with a program featuring light orchestral music, "The A&P Gypsies" (sponsored by the grocery store chain), which ran from 1924 to 1936.  Thus, one imagines, his interpretations of Brahms' Hungarian Dances have a certain ring of authenticity to them:

Brahms: Hungarian Dances Nos. 1-7 and 17
Decca Concert Orchestra conducted by Harry Horlick
Recorded September 5, 1939
Decca Album 89, four 10-inch 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 74.97 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 30.69 MB)

After his radio stint was over, Horlick signed with Decca and from 1938 to 1942 made some two dozen albums with eponymous light orchestras, both for the cheaper blue label (35 cents) and, as here, for the slightly more prestigious red label series.  This review of the Brahms set makes it seem as though Decca was intent on encroaching upon the classical territory dominated at the time by Victor and Columbia; as it turned out, of course, Decca did not develop a serious classical presence in the USA until the days of LP, other than through imports of English Decca and Parlophone matrices which had already been ongoing at the time this set was released!  In Decca's defence, however, neither Victor nor Columbia had a whole album devoted to the Brahms Hungarian Dances at the time.

Horlick later (in the late 40s and early 50s) made a few albums for MGM, and in the late 50s made a couple of LPs for Pickwick's Design label.

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