Did your parents or grandparents save holiday cards? Some folks preserved nearly every card they received. Fortunately, my in-laws saved this unique holiday greeting from composer Rudolf Friml and his wife Kay.
You might guess that the square envelope holds a 20th century 45 rpm recording. The envelope’s postmark sets the date in December 1954 when Rudolf was 75 years old and living in Hollywood. Created on red translucent vinyl with a handwritten label in Kay’s artistic scrawl, the recording just begs to be played.
I was unsure if our old turntable was up to the task, so I looked for help at a local audiophile store where vintage restored and new equipment lined the walls and pristine jazz filled the room.
I’d hoped the recording would be a Christmas song for footnoteMaven’s annual Blog Caroling review. The vinyl is still in good condition after 60-plus years, but the recording I heard (one side only, due to limited time) was Rudolf’s piano improvisation, not a holiday tune. And, of course, the copyright to Friml’s original music is probably held by his estate.
I do wonder, though, if another copy of this recording has been discovered in the 200 boxes (100 linear feet) of archival material donated to the Rudolf Friml Collection at the UCLA Library Special Collections.
Mary Krantz probably met the Frimls when she lived in Honolulu in the late 1930s. By then, Rudolf was well-known for operettas such as The Vagabond King, The Three Muskateers, and Rose-Marie, and hits “Indian Love Call” and “Song of the Mounties.”
When the Levenicks retired to Southern California in 1958, Mary and Kay renewed their friendship and enjoyed spending time together until Mary’s death in 2006.
Since Mary usually played Friml’s records when we were together at Christmas, why not play “Rose Marie” one more time and add a bit of sentimental music under the mistletoe? Merry Christmas footnoteMaven.