Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Oz Dinner

Here are a fun pair of photos I recently found online, at the Museum of the City of New York website. These are from a dinner given by Anna Fitzhugh, in honor of Montgomery and Stone, in 1904 at the Hotel Ansonia in New York.

Fitzhugh was a member of the chorus in The Wizard of Oz, and played a variety of small roles in the show - I posted several pictures of her here in this earlier posting. She left the company in 1904, so perhaps this dinner was given at the time of her exit from the show? The life size centerpiece of the Scarecrow and Tin Man is quite impressive!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musical Selections

Occasionally sets of orchestra parts turn up for musical Selections from the 1903 Wizard of Oz. These were available for small or large orchestras, and performances of the music were probably common fare at public concerts of the time. The set on the left is for a small orchestra, and features parts for piano, 1st violin, 2nd violin, cello, bass, flute, 1st clarinet, 1st cornet, 2nd cornet, and drums/bells/triangle etc. The music runs through the various themes of the major songs from the show.

Hungry Tiger Press has released two CDs containing a great deal of original music from the stage Wizard, as well as other early Oz theater. The first compilation, called Before the Rainbow, presents new recordings of the vintage music, assembled by the late James Patrick Doyle. The other CD is a 2 disc set, featuring actual vintage recordings collected from old records, piano rolls, and music box discs. This set features a number of the interpolated songs which were not written specifically for the show, but were dropped into the score. Unfortunately, very few vocal recordings of the more "show-specific" songs, with L. Frank Baum's lyrics, were ever made. But there are recordings of the Selections featured above, both by orchestra and piano roll!

Below is a video clip of a performance of The Traveler and the Pie, a song written by Baum & Tietjans for the Scarecrow and chorus. It's presented here in last summer's re-creation of the 1903 Wizard by the Canton Comic Opera Company:

I'm sure this music would have pleased the listeners of Victor Columbia Edison - the living gramophone in The Patchwork Girl of Oz!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Army and Navy Alphabets

L. Frank Baum published The Army Alphabet and The Navy Alphabet in 1900, the same year as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. These two books bear no resemblance to the Wizard, but might almost be seen as additions to Father Goose, His Book, as they contain the same sort of doggerel rhymes. I've had an Army Alphabet for some time, but I only recently obtained a Navy...

I've never felt as much interest in these titles, since they aren't actual stories, and let's face it - some of Baum's rhymes make you wince! But the pair of books do have a lovely series of illustrations by Harry Kennedy, reminiscent in some ways of Maxfield Parrish's black & white work.

The Army illustrations are bold and a bit spare, generally set against a white background, which focuses the eye on figures. A nice element in the Army drawings is the inclusion of a small boy who appears in every illustration - a clever way to draw the reader into the book.

On the other hand, the Navy illustrations include more backgrounds and the verses tend to be longer, squeezed into a separate box at the top of the page. This division of the space makes the illustrations feel smaller, and perhaps a bit cramped. The boy is missing as well -  he does pop up once or twice in the Navy drawings, but the continuity is gone - a shame as it was a nice touch!

I'm not familiar with Kennedy's work aside from these two books. *After writing that, I took a look online and found that I do have another example - Kennedy illustrated The Airship Boys in the Great War, which was published by Reilly & Britton in 1915. Unfortunately, the 4 plates he provided for this title are very generic half-tone examples and really have none of the charm of the earlier alphabets. I'll have to keep an eye out for other examples of his work!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dick Martin's Wizard

Previously I showed three of the 1961 Oz adaptations illustrated by Dick Martin. Since then, I've come up with a copy of the first title, The Wizard of Oz. This seems to be the scarcest of the series, and prices can vary wildly. So much of collecting seems to be waiting for the right copy at the right price at the right time!

I've never been a great fan of Martin's work, but he provides colorful and energetic illustrations for the story. It's humorous to note how his Dorothy seems to have fallen asleep in the poppies more elegantly than Denslow's version - but Denslow does conjure up a child who's dropped in her tracks!

I particularly like the rear cover illustration showing the Scarecrow sitting and reading a first edition of the Wonderful Wizard, next to a stack of the new adaptations. The verbiage explains how these adaptations prepare a child for the full length versions of the books - but I think the Scarecrow has the right idea. Skip the adaptations and launch into the real book!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Valuable Life

1897's A Valuable Life by Adeline Sergeant is one of W. W. Denslow's more pictorial efforts for Rand McNally. The front cover shows a woman gazing from a window, but when the book is viewed in its entirety, she seems to be watching a ship burning at sea, with a lifeboat of survivors in the foreground.

There is a copy of this book with an alternative front cover design, a bouquet of lilies, using the same spine and rear cover. I don't know if both covers were put into general publication or not - this is the only copy I've run across!