Price: $600.00


The legendary Tin Pan Alley composer inscribes a bi-fold record jacket of his Walden Records “limited edition” 2 LP set “The Music of Harold Arlen” to Ray and Gwendolyn Bolger. To Raymond and Gwendolyn - with Love - Harold. We offer with a sepia original 8” x 10” photograph of the Bolger’s in their West Side New York City apartment by Leo Friedman and a 1966 original 8” x 10” photograph of Arlen with Lena Horne.  Both albums are included, however, they have not been played.  One appears un-played the other has one visible scratch, but looks playable.


Harold Arlen (1905-1986) was one of America’s greatest song composer’s of the Tin Pan Alley era.  His most popular song and the number one record of all time is “Over the Rainbow” from the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz”.  Arlen and Bolger first worked together in Buffalo in 1924 when Bolger was just starting out and Arlen was playing piano in the Buffalodians band.  Bolger had a 17 week gig in a Vaudeville show which had played for 17 weeks, breaking all previous records.  He liked the jazz rhythms played by the band, much of was written by Arlen, then known by his birth name, Hyman Arluck.  A year later when the band was playing in Pittsburgh, Bolger was the dancing act at the Monte Carlo Hotel where they were performing.  Arlen told Bolger he was moving to New York City, which led to their becoming roommates in a 57th Street rooming house on the far West Side.  During their co-habitation, Arlen wrote Bolger’s arrangements for his Vaudeville act. Interestingly, they did not work on Broadway until 1934 when Bolger was hired for Arlen, Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg’s show, “Life Begins at 8:40”.  Arlen at the time was the house composer at the Cotton Club and the Broadway show gave him a “legitimate” diversion from the blues and jazz works he was writing for the Club at the time. 


While Arlen’s music was used in film as early as 1929, the dawn of the talkie era, he remained in New York City at the time. In 1933, Arlen and Ted Koehler’s 1929 song “Get Happy” became their first Hollywood. Early on, Arlen - Koehler and Arlen - Harburg songs like; “Story Weather”, “It’s Only A Paper Moon”, “I Love a Parade” and “Let’s Fall in Love” and others were used as single songs within either feature films, or shorts.  In 1935, Broadway was limping along due to the Depression and Hollywood was churning out films, so Arlen moved to Hollywood as the opportunity for work was there. The composer and Yip Harburg teamed up as a song writing team in California and were hired in July, 1938 by the “Wizard of Oz” producers to write the songs for the film with a 14 week window and a payout of $25,000.  Ray Bolger who had been cast as the Tin Man, convinced the team he was the best person to mimic the dances done by Fred Stone on Broadway in the 1903 Wizard of Oz Broadway musical. It was fortuitous casting as Arlen knew Bolgers’ limited vocal range and how to let his star shine musically in the numbers written for him.  Bolger and Arlen remained life long friends and died a year apart.


The two record set was issued in 1955 by Walden Records, a company founded by a trio, Arlen’s futurer biographer Edward Jablonski, Leon Siedel, the owner of the Lion Head’s Pub in the Village and Bela Bartok’s son Peter. The label always short of cash made their first recording at the suggestion of Ira Gershwin, called “Lyric by Gershwin” which featured actress Nancy Walker singing songs by composers other than George Gershwin with Ira’s lyrics.  The recordings became known as “The Walden Sessions” and are considered to be some of the finest American song recordings of the period, despite the fact the label closed not long after this record was made.  With Ira Gershwin’s help, Jablonski convinced Harold Arlen to perform by himself and with a crew of “Walden regulars” which were comprised of lesser known Broadway singers with solid voices Arlen could live with: Louise Carlyle, Bob Shaver, Warren Galjour, Miriam Burton and June Ericson.  Arlen’s oft music director, Peter Matz led the orchestra.  The first record was Arlen alone singing, the second, the “Walden regulars” performed individually with one Arlen-Ericson duet. Arlen selected works from his Broadway shows and films that were not all, but generally lesser known:  “I Love a New Yorker”, “My Shining Hour”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “Let’s Take a Walk Around the Block”, “I Wonder What Became of Me?”, “Can I Leave Off Wearin’ My Shoes?”, “I Had Myself a True Love”, “Fun to Be Fooled”, “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe”, “Halloween”, “Right as the Rain”, “One for My Baby, One More For The Road”, “Hit the Road to Dreamland”, “Moanin’ in the Morning”, “Minuet”, “You’re the Cure for What Ails Me”, “It’s a New World”, “Buds Won’t Bud”, “I Never Has Seen Snow”, “Evelina, Last Night When We Were Young”, “T’Morra’, T’Morra’”, “House of Flowers Waltz” and “Hooray for Love”.  Arlen plays piano throughout the two discs and solo in his solo piano piece “Minuet” which was not written for any specific show and “The House of Flowers Waltz” allowed him to show his solo piano skills.


This record jacket at some point was damp which has led to some staining and separation of one of the record holders at the seam in the jacket, the spine is also partly cracked.  The albums are contained in the original sleeves. We do not typically deal in compromised material, but the dedication by Arlen to his life-long friend and collaborator in his most significant film score is historic and extremely important as autographed Tin Pan Alley items come.  Would make a superb display!


The record comes to us from a “Wizard of Oz” collector who told me he purchased the record and Bolger photograph from Bolger’s estate sale in Los Angeles in 1988.


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