Thursday, February 10, 2011

Robin Hood on Young Peoples Records

Well, this is a little bit of a change of pace.  I present today a pair of records that I had and loved as a kid, Young Peoples Records' 1950 presentation of the Robin Hood story.  Admittedly, the tale is a bit sugar-coated in this version, with the Sheriff of Nottingham presented as a cowardly buffoon (one can hardly imagine the real Sheriff submitting as meekly to his eventual fate as this one does) - but how well-characterized he is, by the Metropolitan Opera tenor George Rasely (1889-1965).  And how wonderful are the tunes!  I really repsonded, as a youngster (and still do), to the maddeningly memorable, ersatz-Elizabethan songs, and the Sportsman's Song on side 3 owes quite a bit to Gilbert & Sullivan with its choral repetitions of the soloist's words.  The music was written by Herbert Haufrecht (1909-1998), about whom I can find out little other than that contained in his New York Times obituary here.  The narration is by Alexander Scourby (1913-1985), best-known as the first person to record the entire Bible, on talking books for the blind in the early 1940s - click here to see the American Federation of the Blind's page about Scourby.  And the script and lyrics are by Raymond Abrashkin (1911-1960), a frequent collaborator on Young Peoples Records, as was the conductor, Max Goberman.

Abrashkin-Haufrecht: Robin Hood
Soloists, chorus and orchestra conducted by Max Goberman
Recorded c. 1950
Young Peoples Records 1010-11, two 10-inch vinyl 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 39.16 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 22.31 MB)

As I said, I had these records as a child, but I re-acquired the set about five years ago from an online dealer, and therefore obtained what I didn't have previously, namely, the original double sleeve (the front of which is pictured above).  The lyrics and text of the story are reproduced inside, and they are provided as JPG files with this download.

I had several dozen Young Peoples Records (and records on its affiliated label, Children's Record Guild), which, even in the early 1970s, were still available as 78s in specialized outlets.  Therefore I was fascinated by David Bonner's book about them which appeared in 2008.  (David's blog, named after his book, "Revolutionizing Children's Records," is among my blog links at right.  His first post of 2009 contains a bit written by yours truly.)  In the wake of the book's appearance, I transferred four Young Peoples Records on classical music subjects, all dating from the late 1940s, and posted them to the RMCR newsgroup.  These are still available, along with a new FLAC version; here are the details:

The Wonderful Violin (script and narration by Douglas Moore)
Mischa Mischakoff, violin
Young Peoples Records 311, one 10-inch vinyl 78-rpm record

Said the Piano to the Harpsichord (script by Douglas Moore)
David Allen, Gilbert Mack, Sylvia Marlowe
Young Peoples Records 411, one 10-inch vinyl 78-rpm record

Round and Round - Fun and Facts on the Fugue
David Allen, Gene Lowell Chorus, Horace Grenell (piano)
Young Peoples Records 431, one 10-inch vinyl 78-rpm record

Weber: Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra
Eli Carmen (bassoon) with orchestra conducted by Max Goberman
Young Peoples Records 1009, one 10-inch vinyl 78-rpm record

All four records in one ZIP file with JPGs of the covers.
Link (FLAC files, 63.66 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 31.51 MB)

At the same time I uploaded a ridiculously abridged recording of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," from a Cricket 78 that has been in my possession since I was seven years old (and, I'm afraid, sounds like it!):

Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf (abridged)
"Reginald Carol" (narrator), with orchestra
Cricket C-11, one 7-inch vinyl 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 15.36 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 6.39 MB)

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 2015): I have just learned the actual provenance of the abridged "Peter and the Wolf" - it derives from a Royale LP, No. 1246, where the narration is credited to Bob Danvers-Walker (1906-1990), best known for his narration on British Pathé newsreels.  The anonymous orchestra is conducted by Reginald Leopold (1907-2003). Royale, of course, was an Eli Oberstein label, and "Obie" was known to license a bunch of children's material to Cy Leslie, founder of Pickwick Records, to jumpstart his Cricket Records line. This recording was one of those. The Royale issue was a full-length recording of "Peter and the Wolf" - which Cricket hacked down to a six-minute length, while cloaking Mr. Danvers-Walker in pseudonymity by borrowing the first name of his conductor!


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  2. I took this record set to first grade in 1957 and played it for the class. Over the years my brother and I would sing the "Robin's band" theme song anytime Robin Hood was mentioned. Thanks for the memories. This will be a Christmas surprise for my brother.

    Mark age 60

  3. thank you so much for posting the abridged P&the W ;)

    my 1st graders will be acting out the story, and 6 minutes is way more manageable than 20!

  4. Thank you for the wonderful downloads. Do you have Herbert Haufrecht's "Ferdinand the Bull"? If you do, could you please post it. I knew Haufrecht slightly and I was instrumental in having the Hudson Valley Philharmonic play Ferdinand about 20 years ago.

    1. I have a copy of Ferdinand the Bull on 78rpm, Decca records. Is this the same one you are after ?

    2. I have inherited some 200 scores from my father, and Ferdinand is one of them, I believe from 1943. Text by Munro Leaf?

  5. Eric, sorry but I don't have "Ferdinand the Bull." It sounds like it would be good! (Assume it's the same story Disney made a cartoon from in the late thirties.)

  6. My brothers and I grew up with this record and we know every word by heart. I still have the original, but, like a lot of children's records, it's in pretty rough shape. I was doing a search on composer 'Herbert Haufrecht' and stumbled upon this site. THANK YOU for uploading this. You are keeping it alive. I can now share this delightful edition of Robin Hood with my daughter, as I don't even own a player that plays 78rpm anymore. Again: many, MANY thanks!

  7. Bless you, Sir! I have searched for this record for 30 years... I found it on YouTube on a whim - I was planning Thanksgiving dinner and started humming "Venison & Hotbread & Nut Brown Ale"...
    There is another song from this album that I must find for my brother - a sea shanty that began "A capital ship for an ocean trip was the walloping window blind. No gale that blew disturbed her crew nor troubled the captain's mind". Do you perchance have this, or know where I might find it? Thank you for digitizing this wonderful music!

  8. "Capital ship" is by Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. I think it is part of the Bab Ballads. But this song isn't on the Robin Hood album, is that what you are saying?

  9. Thanks for posting this. I had "Robin Hood," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Said The Piano ToThe Harpsichord" when I was a kid. I don't know what happened to them, but I never forgot them. It's great to see them preserved online on YouTube.

  10. Thanks for posting this. I had "Robin Hood," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Said The Piano ToThe Harpsichord" when I was a kid. I don't know what happened to them, but I never forgot them. It's great to see them preserved online on YouTube.