Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman and the Theremin
by Max Baars
March 01, 2001
is a theater engineer with a touring opera company, living in Enschede, The Netherlands, Europe. He became enthousiastic about the theremin somewhere in 1999.
Music by Harry Revel, Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Leslie Baxter ('47 '48) and Billy May ('50).
This box contains re-issues from the following record sets:
Music out of the moon, 1947 (Capitol CC-47); Perfume set to music, 1948 (RCA Victor P-231); and Music for peace of mind, 1950 (Capitol CC-221).
Dr. Hoffman started his musical career in New York as Hal Hope. During the daytime he worked as a chiropodist, but in the evening hours he played the violin in a swing and dance band. Samuel Hoffman saw the theremin first in Jolly Coburns band somewhere in the mid thirties and he decided to study the instrument because it would make an interesting novelty in his band. In 1941 Hoffman moved to Los Angeles, and he registered with the musicians local listing as a violin and theremin player. By that time the theremin found it's way into film music. And when composer Miklos Rosza needed a new sound for the score of Spellbound, he wanted to use a theremin. The part was rather difficult and needed a professional theremin player. The musicians union had only one player listed that could read notes: a dr. Hoffman.
The record industry hooked in on the theremin mystique and released Music out of the moon in 1947. It contains 6 songs: Lunar rhapsody, Moon moods, Lunette, Celestial Nocturne, Mist o' the moon and Radar blues.
The music is compuced by the Brittisch born songwriter and film music composer Harry Revel. The record was presented as an adventure.. 'using exotic harmonies, timbre and composition to play upon the more remote realm of human emotions'. If you like the music of old SF movies you will like this too.
The second cd in the box is the re-issue of Perfume set to music, 1948. Back in 1936 Revel was sitting in a bar when a women walked by. She spread a dreamy beautifull fragrance, that created a melody in Revels head. He asked her what perfume she was using and she told him it was 'Toujour Moi'. He had her pose at the piano while he wrote down some musical sketches. Later that evening he wrote them out to a full composition. He thought that other perfumes might have a melody in them too, but when he couln'd score them the right way, he set the project aside. Ten years later, again, he encountered a woman wearing 'Toujour' and later that evening he went to the premiere of Spellbound. When he heared the theremin, the fragrance of 'Toujour' returned and he realized that the theremin was the key. After recording Music out of the moon, he picked up the project again to write music on perfumes. The results are mystical, magic and therapeutic (In the persective of 1948 ofcourse). The music is called 'lounge music', a mix of swing and melodic charms.
Six perfumes were set to music: Toujours moi, Tzigane, Posession, l'Ardente nuit, Jet and Fame.
In 1949 Capitol records brought Hoffman and Revel together again, to make another post-war lounge music record: Music for peace of mind. This one is the most dreamy and romantic record in this box. To quote the record sleeve: 'In every life there are times when things seem to go exactly right; when business and health, life and love, dovetail into a pleasant pattern that results in "peace of mind". Out troubled and complex world today offers all too few periods when we can relax in this happy mood. At best perhaps we have memories of such moments---The music in this album is dedicated to such moments. Its written and played, not with the crashing chords of conquerors, but with simple relaxed harmonies...gentle rythms...we warm, vibrant tones of a flute in the low register, and themes on the exotic theremin.---This music has a message to give, if you will open your mind and heart to receive it. Turn down the lights, relax in an easy chair, and listen.' I guess it's the 50's version of new age.
Songs on this record are: This room is my castle of quiet, The darkness gives me you again, Remembering your lips, My troubles float away like fallen leaves, Your soft hand on my brow, I dream of a past love.
The guys at Basta did a wonderfull job. The music quality is clear and bright. The whole set of 18 songs would easy fit on one cd. Yet they choose to put in on 3 cd's and make miniature versions of the original record sleeves. Very nice. The set is completed with an informative booklet with a lot of background info from Albert Glinsky's book 'Out of thin air'.
If you like this style of music, Basta has a lot more to offer, check their site.
Published: Basta audio/visuals, The Netherlands.
[Copyright © 1998 by Max Baars]
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