Alec Templeton

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Alec Templeton
Alec Templeton
Templeton in the 1940s.
Background information
Born (1910-07-04)4 July 1910
Cardiff, Wales
Died 28 March 1963(1963-03-28) (aged 52)
Greenwich, Connecticut
Notable instruments
Piano

Alec Templeton (July 4, 1909/1910 – March 28, 1963)[1] was a Welsh composer, pianist and satirist.

Templeton was born in Cardiff, Wales. There is some confusion concerning Alec Templeton's year of birth. Most published and Internet biographies give his birth year as 1909, but his headstone shows 1910 as his year of birth. Blind from birth, he studied at London's Royal Academy of Music, his piano teachers there being Lloyd Powell and Isador Goodman.[2]

Radio and Recordings[edit]

In 1936, he moved from Wales to the United States as a member of Jack Hylton's Jazz Band,[1] where he played with a number of orchestras and gave his first radio performances on The Rudy Vallée Show, The Chase and Sanborn Hour, Kraft Music Hall and The Magic Key of RCA.[3]

His first recordings were made for The Gramophone Shop Inc. of 18 East 48th St, New York in 1936 for their "Varieties" label. Two sets of 4 10-inch (25 cm) recordings were issued, the first set entitle "Musical Impressions" on nos. 1006-1009 included:- "Impressions of Old-Fashioned Italian Grand Opera," "A Trip Through a Music Conservatory," "The Shortest Wagnerian Opera," "Impressions of Two German Lieder Singers," "The Lost Chord," "An Amateur Performance of Gilbert and Sullivan," "The Music Goes 'Round and Around," and "Improvisations on Five Varied Melodies." The second set entitled "His Own Compositions" on nos. 1010-1013 included:- "Topsy Turvy Suite" nos. 1-3 ("Bach Goes to Town," "Soldier's Minuet," "Undertaker's Toccata"), "Ghost Rhapsody," "Longing," "Pines," "Voyage a La Lune," "Mothers's Lullaby" and "Friendship."

Signing a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1939, he made a string of amusing sides including "Man with New Radio," "Mendelssohn Mows 'em Down," and a pseudo-operatic rendering of "And the Angels Sing" (written by the Italian composer Ziggy Elmano). A set of three 78rpm records called "Musical Portraits" was issued by RCA Victor as catalog number P-19; it continued in the catalog until the late 40s, and included "Mozart Matriculates." He also did six sides for Columbia in August 1940, including an instrumental entitled "Redwoods at Bohemian Grove" (he had been accepted into that organization). In 1942 he did eight sides for Decca, six of them released as a three-record set with catalog number A-314.

His radio program, Alec Templeton Time, sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, was first broadcast from 1939 to 1941, returning in 1943 and 1946–47. It was sometimes known as The Alec Templeton Show. Guests included Kay Lorene and Pearl Bailey.[3] He memorized the scripts for his shows by having them read to him 20 times. From 3 June to 26 August 1955, his TV show It's Alec Templeton Time aired on the DuMont Television Network. He also appeared in the later DuMont series Jazz Party.[3] Templeton's compositions include "Scarlatti Stoops to Conga," and "Bach Goes to Town" which was covered by both Benny Goodman's band (1938) and the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street (1941).

Later years and death[edit]

Through the 1950s he concertized with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra playing jazz and classical works. Two of them were recorded for the Remington label, one of Gershwin works and another of improvisations on Offenbach and Strauss.

The grave of Alec Templeton, with 1910 given as year of birth

Experimenting with the new recording medium of audio tape, Alec was able to make sounds with the piano similar to what Les Paul was doing with guitar (recording at half-speed so as to play back doubly fast). Two albums were issued utilizing this technique: "Magic Piano" on Atlantic (LP #1222) and "Smart Alec" for ABC-Paramount (ABC-100). He also made two albums for children on the Riverside label: "Children's Concert" and "Mother Goose Songs." There were also two LPs of recordings consisting of the sounds from Alec's music box collection, the first for the "Ficker Recording Service" of Greenwich Connecticut (mastered by Columbia), and the second recorded for RCA Victor.

He died, aged 52 or 53, in Greenwich, Connecticut, from an undisclosed illness. Alex Templeton is interred at Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Slonimsky, Nicolas; Theodore Baker (1992). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. New York, New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-872415-1. 
  2. ^ Virginia Goodman, A Life in Music, p. 24
  3. ^ a b c "Alec Templeton". On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. 1998. 

External links[edit]