C1303. AMERICAN RARITIES, incl. ROBERT LAWRENCE Cond.N.Y. City S.O., w.Alice Howland (MS): LA DAMNATION DE FAUST – Excerpts (Berlioz), Live Performance, 11 May, 1942, Brooklyn Museum; MAXIM SCHAPIRO & LUDWIG ALTMAN (Pfs.): Piano Concerto #2 (Bartók [Piano Reduction by Altman); BYRON STANLEY SCHIFFMAN (Pf.): Prisoner of War Rhapsody (Played by the Composer), c.1946. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-224, (from rare existing copies, albeit with occasional technical flaws). Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Robert Lawrence's career in music had many facets. He was a familiar voice for more than 40 years on the Metropolitan Opera intermission broadcasts. He wrote on music for many publications, including Opera News, Saturday Review, Musical America and The New York Times. He was also well known as an educator, lecturer, author and conductor. Overriding all these and other activities was Mr. Lawrence's enthusiastic championing of French opera at a time when this repertory had become unfashionable; the formation of the Friends of French Opera in 1962 was the realization of a lifelong ambition. The group's first concert performance took place in Carnegie Hall on 11 Nov., 1962, under Mr. Lawrence's direction, a potpourri of selections from unfamiliar French works by Dukas, Meyerbeer, Massenet and Berlioz.
Over the years he conducted many revivals of rarely heard scores with the Friends of French Opera, especially operas by one of his favorite composers, Massenet. In 1939 he joined the music staff of The New York Herald Tribune, where he remained until he entered the Army in 1943. During his three years in the service, Mr. Lawrence conducted many opera and concert performances for American troops in Italy. After his discharge, Mr. Lawrence began a freelance conducting career that brought him engagements with the NBC Symphony, the Berlioz Society and the American Opera Society. With the last group, he led the complete Berlioz LES TROYENS in 1959 and 1960 when on both occasions the scheduled conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, was indisposed. He also had served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and as Adjunct Professor of Opera at Temple University.”
- Peter G. Davis, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 Aug., 1981
“[Alice Howland was] Almost everything one could wish for in a singer – an artist right off the top shelf….just plain perfect.”
- Virgil Thomson, The Music Mart, NEWSWEEK, 29 Nov., 1948
“…the indefatigable Maxim Schapiro…became, on 29 and 30 March, 1946, the first person other than the composer to play [Bartók’s Piano Concerto #2] in the United States….A frequent soloist with the [San Francisco] Orchestra over the years was the Russian-born pianist Maxim Schapiro. Schapiro’s name is mostly associated with Monteux’s as the pianist in the first recording of d’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air.”
- John Canarina, PIERRE MONTEUX, MAÎTRE, pp.167 & 144
“Ludwig Altman was born in Breslau, Germany in 1910. He received his musical education at the State Academy for Sacred Music in Berlin. His outstanding talent led to an appointment, at the age of only twenty-three, as organist for the largest synagogue in Germany - Berlin's Neue Synagogue on Oranienburgerstrasse, a position he held until 1936 when increasing anti-Semitism forced his emigration to the United States. Upon arriving in San Francisco in February 1937, Altman's skills as an organist, pianist, music editor, scholar and composer soon gained him recognition as a superior and versatile musician. In 1937, Altman was named organist and choir director of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, a tenure continued for the next half-century. Altman also served as organist for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and as staff organist for the California Legion of Honor. He performed as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony as well. Altman's renown extended far beyond San Francisco, and his summer concert tours in Europe brought international acclaim. He retired as organist for Congregation Emanu-El in 1986 and passed away, at the age of eighty, in 1990.”
-URJ Books and Music
“Byron S. Schiffman created ten paintings while a German prisoner of war. He had been captured near Wels, Germany, when he bailed out of his flaming bomber after a protracted fight with more than 150 Nazi planes.”
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011