Posted by Rosemary Penna U'Ren on Tuesday, August 08, 2006 at 19:26:56 :
I have lots of musical memories of San Francisco. It is a very musical city.
(I know these are lateódidn't want to be in the contest.)
Well, it is obvious that I am from another era. Too young for Caruso, too late for Rock n' Roll.
One of my very first musical memories was to see and hear the organ grinder with his monkey. They were often seen in San Francisco in the1930s and 40s. This is considered cruelty to animals now, as it probably should be, but it was fascinating to a little 3 or 4 year old child. I remember the wheezy sound of the little barrel organ.
My first memory of hearing a live orchestra was in 1938 or so. I was about 4 or 5 years old. My mother and my grandmother and I went to see the Ice Follies at Winterland. (When it was still an ice rink.) I think the star of the show was Sonja Heine, but I can't find anything to document this. My German grandmother loved the comedians on ice, Frick and Frack (Frick und Frack). I had never seen a little old lady laugh so hard.
Of course there were Band Concerts on Sundays in GG Park at the Bandstand with a picnic. (And maybe a drive out to the beach on the way home with a stop at Bob's Big Boy for BBQ beef sandwiches so Mother wouldn't have to cook dinner.)
The first operas I saw at the Opera House were "La Traviata", and "La Boheme", in the late 1940s. A wealthy patron paid every year for the 7th and 8th graders at our school to have their first opera experience. This included a chartered bus. The Opera company had a matinee I think on a Thursday or Friday, which was mostly attended by school children. I was very taken with the opera performances. Seeing the live singers on the stage was a big improvement over listening to the Standard of California Childrens' Hour weekly broadcasts at school. (Which I loved but other kids didn't.) I felt the excitement of the live music and singing and acting. (even if I couldn't understand the words.)
Later there were ballet performances with the San Francisco Ballet and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I seem to remember that only condensed or ballet excerpts were performed, never a whole ballet. But the Music came to life for me with the dancing. Again, these were matinees. Finally a Famous Ballet Company came to town, and we saw an entire performance of Swan Lake. Unfortunately senility is setting in, and I can no longer remember the name of the Company or the Famous Ballerina who performed that day.
Then there was the first time I went to Stern Grove with some family friends circa 1949. We were all dressed up. The boys wore sports jackets and slacks, Mothers wore suits or a dress and coat with hat and gloves. I had on my best skirt and jacket. I don't remember who played that day. It was a first of many times over the years since then. In fact, I am going again soon on a Sunday, to see the---San Francisco Ballet!
Dancing at the Tonga room, was a real treat. Besides the orchestral serenades, there was a "Tropical Storm".
In the 1980s I went to Folk Music Concerts at Ft. Mason. And to the Blues Festivals there too. Sitting on the lawn, listening to Blues by some of the greats, and eating red beans & rice.
But I think the tops was in the mid1950s. I was in college, and I saw Dave Brubeck at USF. Dave was touring the colleges of the country, acquiring new jazz fans as he went. I was one of them. Oh yes, and the singer was Anita O'Day. It was a small setting and we were just a couple of rows back. My first experience with live jazz.
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