The American Album of Familiar Music

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Andre Baruch

The American Album of Familiar Music is a radio program of popular music broadcast from October 11, 1931, to June 17, 1951, first on NBC and then on ABC.[1] Directed by James Haupt, the show was produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, better remembered today for creating Ma Perkins and other soap operas.

Sponsored by Bayer Aspirin, the show highlighted performances by a variety of vocalists, instrumentalists and vocal groups. When it began October 11, 1931 on NBC, the lead vocalist was Frank Munn, one of early radio's top stars because of his previous appearances on The Palmolive Hour (1927-31). Ring Lardner observed, "Under any name, they sound as sweet." Lardner outlined his "perfect radio program" for The New Yorker magazine, and found a place for The Revelers along with Paul Whiteman and Fanny Brice.

In the late 1930s, Munn was joined on the program by soprano Jean Dickenson (1937-51), "Nightingale of the Airwaves." Another co-star with Munn during that period was Lucy Monroe, who sang The Star-Spangled Banner at every New York Yankees opening day and every Yankees World Series between 1945 and 1960. [2]

Other singers featured on the program were Margaret Daum, Elizabeth Lennox, Vivian della Chiesa, Virginia Rea, Donald Dame, and the dozen members of the Buckingham Choir. Vocalist Evelyn MacGregor (1899-1967) was also heard on The American Melody Hour.

Walter Gustave "Gus" Haenschen. who led the orchestra, composed the opening theme song, "Dream Serenade," with lyrics by Alfred Bryan. The line-up also included violin soloist Bernard Hirsch and the piano duo of Victor Arden and Phil Ohman. The show's announcers were André Baruch, Howard Claney and Roger Krupp. The 30-minute show aired Sunday evenings at 9pm until 1933 when it moved to 9:30pm. In 1938, the Hummerts did away with the studio audience after concluding that the music sounded better with fewer people in the studio. In 1945, when Frank Munn left the show for retirement, he was replaced by Frank Parker.

After the NBC run ended November 19, 1950, the series moved a week later (November 26) to ABC where it was still broadcast Sundays at 9:30pm, continuing until the June 17, 1951 finale. [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. P. 25.
  2. ^ Belkin, Lisa. New York Times. "Lucy Monroe Dies," October 16, 1987.

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