A tuba coincidence?
What are the odds? I mean, it was just on Friday that I blogged about the mystery of the purloined tubas. Then today, the very next weekday, it's the birth anniversary of the late George Kleinsinger. Funny how often things work out that way.
Wait a minute ... you don't know who George Kleinsinger was? Harrumph! Yet another example of the shameful state of American arts education.* To clue you in, George Kleinsinger was a composer and conductor from San Bernardino, California. After studies at New York University and Juilliard, and service in World War II, he wrote scores for recordings ("archy and mehitabel", based on a cartoon series about a cockroach and an alley cat), Broadway ("Shinbone Alley", based on the "archy and mehitabel" record), television ("Greece - The Golden Age", and "John Brown's Body") and popular singers ("Christmas Is a Feeling In Your Heart", "Toujours Gai", "The Growing-Up Tree"). Later, he was one of the many artistically significant denizens of New York's famed Chelsea Hotel, where he lived with his third wife, his snakes, his tarantulas and his piranhas. Just your basic American composer.
But none of this is why we bring him up today. For Kleinsinger's chief claim to fame, you see, came about earlier, in collaboration with author and actor Paul Tripp, later known as host of such children's television programs as "Mr. I-Magination" and "Birthday House". According the the official website of Kleinsinger and Tripp's chef d'oeuvre:
"In 1941, on week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, following the performance of Paul Tripp and George Kleinsinger's first musical piece, Tripp and Kleinsinger thanked the musicians, including the tuba player, who said, 'You know, tubas can sing too.'"
Tripp set about immediately to write his part of the response to the tubist's plea. Kleinsinger added the music later, then Danny Kaye added his vocal talents to the original 1945 Decca recording -- and so was born one of music's most endearing characters, "Tubby the Tuba". We'll hear the tale narrated by Paul Tripp during the noon hour of Monday's WFCR classical music. And next time someone tells you to stop singing, please channel your inner Tubby. As loud as you want.
*Just kidding folks. Actually, I think most people who say this kind of stuff are being silly.