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Origins: Luxembourg Polka

GUEST,Len Kennington 19 May 22 - 04:39 AM
The Sandman 19 May 22 - 05:07 PM
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Subject: Origins: Luxembourg Polka
From: GUEST,Len Kennington
Date: 19 May 22 - 04:39 AM

I have been searching for a very familiar melody for years, and finally heard a recording of it - it was credited as The Luxembourg Polka, and after further reseach found it credited to one Emile Reisdorff. But seemingly the first recordings under Mr Reisdorff's name are in the early 1950s , and I know of performances of this piece in the 1930s and earlier. I'm pretty sure it's a Swiss or European folk melody of the 19th century, but I just can't trace anything prior to Luxembourg. Any ideas?

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Subject: RE: Origins: Luxembourg Polka
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 22 - 05:07 PM

Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 (Swedish: Svensk rapsodi) is the subtitle of Midsommarvaka (Swedish for 'Midsummer Vigil'),[1] a symphonic rhapsody by the Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén (1872–1960). Although it is only the first of three similarly named works, it is often simply called the "Swedish Rhapsody".

The Rhapsody was written in 1903. It is the best-known piece by Alfvén, and also one of the best-known pieces of music in Sweden. The score, published around 1906, describes it as:[1]

    [A] fantasy on popular Swedish folk melodies depicting the moods evoked by an old-time Swedish Midsummer wake; the dancing and games around the May-pole through the magic night of Midsummer Eve. [One theme] is the composer's own invention, while other themes are borrowed from the folk-music of Sweden and elaborated by the composer.

It is scored for an orchestra consisting of 3 flutes (3rd doubling on piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling on cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A (2nd doubling on E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet in A, 3 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (2 tenor, 1 bass), 1 tuba, timpani, cymbals, triangle, harpsichord, 2 harps, and strings.

The Rhapsody was adapted as a ballet, La Nuit de St Jean, choreographed by Jean Börlin. It was first performed by Ballets Suedois in Paris in October 1920.
In popular culture

The main theme of "Swedish Rhapsody No. 1" has been used several times in pop culture:

    It is played repeatedly in the 1952 short film The Stranger Left No Card.
    The 1953 recording of the piece by Percy Faith's and his orchestra was a US Top 30 hit. The same year, light orchestral British cover versions by Mantovani and Ray Martin made the UK Singles Chart, peaking at no. 2 and no. 4 respectively.[2][3]
    It was arranged and recorded as a fingerstyle guitar solo in 1957 by American guitarist Chet Atkins, and became one of his best-known recordings.
    It is played for a few seconds by Deep Purple's guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during the version of "Lazy" on the group's live album Made in Japan.
    The numbers station 'Swedish Rhapsody' got its nickname after listeners believed this piece of music was being used as the interval signal. Documents subsequently released from Polish intelligence revealed that the signal was produced by a music box (pitched to sound like an Ice Cream Truck) playing the song. However, Agencja Wywiadu (the owners of the station) claimed that the melody was Emilie Reisdorff's "Luxembourg Polka", but the melody is actually Swedish Rhapsody No 1.[4]
    The opening theme is quoted in the verse of Mah Nà Mah Nà, written by Piero Umiliani for the film "Sweden: Heaven and Hell" and later popularized by The Muppets.

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