Friday, March 9, 2018

Theatre and radio organists: Fred Feibel

Fred Feibel (1906-1978) was organist at the Paramount Theatre in New York City from 1928-1935, then staff organist for CBS Radio. In that capacity, he also created music for early CBS television shows, including episodes in Starlight Theatre (1950-1951).

In addition to sheet music arrangements and original compositions, Feibel published two volumes of music specifically for use in radio shows, which extended silent-film era music practices insofar as the shows were performed live. Modern Improvisations for Radio Shows (NY: Emil Ascher, 1939) is organized in the familiar arrangement of musical topics and functions: "Love Motifs," "Neutral Dramatic leading to Dramatic," "Agitato," "In a Rustic Setting," etc.,

Modern Improvisations also includes a category "Play-Off," short snippets of music to finish off the show, analogous to a film's "end credits" music. Here are the items in that section, nos. 86-100 in the volume:

86. No. 1 - "Neutral Conclusion" – p.46
87. No. 2 - "Tragic Result" – p.46
88. No. 3 - "Incidental Pause" – p.46
89. No. 4 - "Romantic Finis" – p.46
90. No. 5 -"Expiration" – p.46
91. No. 6 - "Outcome of Events" – p.47
92. No. 7 - "A Happy Ending– p.47
93. No. 8 -"Coda Modeme" – p.47
94. No. 9 - "Completion" – p.47
95. No. 10 - "Consumation" – p.47
96. No. 11 - "Dramatic Wind·up" – p.46
97. No. 12 - "Melodic Termination" – p.46
98. No. 13 - "Brief Appassionato" – p.46
99. No. 14 - "Emotional Finale" – p.46
100. No. 15 - "Dramatic Close" – p.46

And here are two examples:


(In case you're wondering, the volume was copyrighted by the publisher in the United States in 1939. That means the copyright would have to have been renewed no more than 28 years later. I found no record of it in U.S. Copyright Renewals 1950 - 1977, text available through Project Gutenberg, and therefore conclude that the music is in the public domain.)

Feibel's second volume of music is titled Comedy Cues (NY: Emil Ascher, 1943) and consists of 25 short compositions with titles like "Playful," "Sneaking," "Insignificant Fugue," and even "Fido on Holiday." Here are the final two entries:



Links:
Fred Feibel: from theatreorgans.com.
"Sounds of American Organs": also on theatreorgans.com. Audio from recordings, but also interesting photographs of instruments and theatres, including the Chicago Theatre and the Paramount Theatre, New York.

Footnote: The publisher, run by the founder's children as Emil Ascher Inc., later became a major player in stock music recordings for television, starting with Superman, "the first TV show to use Ascher music as its theme" (Billboard, 24 May 1969, "Ad Notes"). Their recordings were also used in "Hallmark Hall of Fame," soap operas such as "Love of Life" and "Edge of Night," and in commercials. By the time of Billboard's article the company was said to have "more than 300 hours on tap."