Composers Datebook®

Marvin Hatley goes cuckoo

Marviin Hatley (1905 - 1986) "Dance of the Cuckoos", and "Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West" Van Phillips and His Orchestra (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Beau Hunks Orchestra ("Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West") 1932 British 78-rpm recording (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Movies Select Audio CD 99003 (Beau Hunks Orchestra)


Composers Datebook for April 3, 2021

2:00


April 03, 2021

Synopsis

The composer of this tune, the "Dance of the Cuckoos,” was born on this date in 1905.

Thomas Marvin Hatley worked for the Hal Roach film studio that produced the famous Laurel and Hardy comedies. Hatley wrote memorable music for those films. His “Cuckoo” theme was originally used as a time cue for a radio station located on the Hal Roach studio lot, but when Stan Laurel heard it, he knew it would be perfect as the Laurel and Hardy signature theme.

Between 1929 and 1940, Hatley wrote over 800 compositions for the studio. His scores for two Laurel and Hardy films were nominated for Academy Awards. But Hal Roach didn’t seem to appreciate Hatley’s music. In 1939, Hatley was fired by Roach, but at the insistence of Stan Laurel, Hatley returned to score one final Laurel and Hardy film.

Hatley went on to become a Los Angeles-area cocktail lounge pianist, and quipped that he earned more in that career than he did working for Hal Roach.

In his senior years, Hatley would attend meetings of Laurel and Hardy fan clubs in California, happily playing the piano to accompany old silent film era Hal Roach comedies.

Music Played in Today's Program

Marviin Hatley (1905 - 1986) "Dance of the Cuckoos", and "Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West" Van Phillips and His Orchestra (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Beau Hunks Orchestra ("Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West") 1932 British 78-rpm recording (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Movies Select Audio CD 99003 (Beau Hunks Orchestra)

On This Day

Births

  • 1889 - Rumanian composer and violinist Grigoras Dinicu, in Bucharest; He is best known for his virtuoso violin showpiece "Hora staccato" (1906);

  • 1895 - Italian-born American composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, in Florence;

Deaths

  • 1850 - Bohemian composer Jan Václav Tomášek (Johann Wenzel Tomaschek), age 75, in Prague;

  • 1868 - Swedish composer Frans Berwald, age 71, in Stockholm;

  • 1897 - German composer Johannes Brahms, age 63, in Vienna;

  • 1950 - German-born American composer Kurt Weill, age 50, in New York City;

  • 1972 - American composer and arranger Ferde Grofé, age 80, in Santa Monica, Calif.;

Premieres

  • 1748 - Handel: oratorio "Alexander Balus" (Julian date: March 23);

  • 1786 - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in c, K. 491, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, with the composer as soloist;

  • 1869 - Grieg: Piano Concerto in a, Op. 16, in Copenhagen, by the Danish Royal Theater Orchestra conducted by Holger Simon Paulli, and Edmund Neupert the soloist;

  • 1911 - Sibelius: Symphony No. 4, in Helsinki, with the composer conducting;

  • 1923 - Roussel: ballet "Le Festin de l'araignée" (The Spider's Feast), in Paris;

  • 1925 - Holst: opera "At the Boar's Head," in Manchester;

  • 1931 - Hindemith: "Concert Music,"by the Boston Symphony (commissioned for the orchestra's 50 th anniversary), with Serge Koussevitzky conducting;

  • 1998 - Tan Dun: "Concerto for Six Players " in Durham, N.C., by the Bang On A Can All-Stars;

  • 2003 - Elliott Carter: "Boston Concerto," by the Boston Symphony, Ingo Metzmacher conducting;

Others

  • 1834 - The "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik" (New Journal of Music) begins publication, with Robert Schumann as contributing editor;

  • 1843 - The Leipzig Conservatory opens, with Felix Mendelssohn as its director;

  • 1871 - American premiere of Wagner's opera "Lohengrin," at the Stadt Theater in New York City;

  • 1926 - American premiere of Sibelius' Symphony No. 7, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting.