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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Blackstone's "Floating Lightbulb" music (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

sethb
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Does anyone know the title of the music that Blackstone, Sr. used for his Floating Lightbulb routine?

I saw Harry, Jr. perform this in Atlantic City several years ago. He told the audience about the history of the effect, and said he was using his Dad's original music. I believe he said it was called "The Zenda Waltz." Whatever it was, it was a lovely, delicate melody that perfectly underscored the Floating Lightbulb.

However, I recently heard a light classical piece called "Poeme," Op. 41/6, composed by one Zdeneck Fibich, and it sounded almost exactly like the music that I recall Harry, Jr. using. See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det......lassical to hear a bit of the piece in question.

Of course, it's entirely possible that this classical music was "recycled" into a popular standard. The same thing happened to a Chopin melody that became the hit song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." So for all I know, Harry, Jr. may have been right.

I checked the 1999 Blackstone biography by Daniel Waldron, but couldn't find any references to it. A search of Amazon's Music Department for "Zenda Waltz" turned up nothing, and nothing to listen to. However, a Google search shows several references to turn-of-the-century phonograph cylinder recordings of the Zenda Waltz, which would be about the right time frame for Harry Senior. Apparently the tune also later became something of a country standard. And there the trail ends.

Just wondering if anyone can provide some more information on this? Thanks! SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
hugmagic
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I know the piece you are talking about. It is the same as the Jr.'s lightbulb music. I asked Gay one time and she told me the music was from the movie "Butterfield 8" and was called "chocolate".
I suspect she may have been protecting the music.

If it is not the piece, it is close enough to count. Remember of all Harry's music was redone by Chuck Byrd who won Emmy's for his work at NBC.

To be honest of all the stuff in the auction. the music probably was one of the most usable to any act.

I have suggested to Gay that she put out a Cd rom of the music but nothing yet. The last time I worked with Harry live, Kelly Salvas's nephew Leo did the music with a Mac. It sound like the whole darn orchestra was there.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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sethb
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Thanks, Richard, for the additional information. Glad to know that someone else remembers the music, too.

I can certainly understand Mrs. Blackstone being protective of this information, if that was in fact the case. Or perhaps she didn't know the real source, either. But I'm not interested in using the music to perform the Floating Lightbulb or anything else, I was just curious about the tune, which was quite beautiful.

Well, if it really is the "Zenda Waltz" and it is a turn-of-the century piece, I should be able to turn up some sheet music for it fairly easily. If it was recorded on early Columbia phonograph cylinders, it must have been fairly popular and well-known. I'll keep poking around the 'Net, see what I can find, and report back.

In the meantime, anyone else with more information or a better ear than mine is free to continue adding to this thread. SETH

Here's another interesting bit of information I just picked up from THE FIDDLER'S COMPANION website:
Quote:
ZENDA WALTZ. AKA and see "La Zenda Waltz," "Lucenda Waltz," "Zender Waltz," "Zinder Waltz." Canadian, Waltz. A Major ('A' part) & D Major ('B' part). Standard. AB (Phillips): ABB (Messer). Frank Nims writes that the “Zenda Waltz” was “composed by Frank M. Witmark around 1896. It was written as incidental music for a stage version of the hit novel The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), an adventure set in the imaginary Balkan kingdom of Zenda. Anyhow, I know it as the theme song of magician Howard Thurston, a very big star in his time (~1910-1930). For decades after his passing, at magicians' gatherings, if somebody was demonstrating an especially show-bizzy sort of trick one of the onlookers was sure to start humming "Zenda Waltzes". I'm guessing it became known among traditional musicians via Thurston, who toured the country on a grand scale (ten freight cars worth of props & scenery in his prime). Although obviously it stands on its own merits now. Might be interesting to see how the folk process has changed it over the years.” Source for notated version: Jana Jae Greif [Phillips]. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 170, pgs. 114‑115. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 2, 1995; pg. 330. Voyager 340, Jim Herd - "Old Time Ozark Fiddling" (appears as "Zender's Waltz").

It would be ironic if Blackstone had lifted this from the Thurston show, wouldn't it? Especially if the tune itself was lifted from another classical composition! Or perhaps the writer, who is a musician, may have his magicians a bit mixed up. Anybody know what Thurston's "theme song" was, if he had one? Or what music he used for his "Princess Karnac" levitation?

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode . . . . SETH

Posted: Oct 8, 2004 8:04am
Well, it looks like the fiddler's post about Thurston may be right after all.

In his new book "Hiding the Elephant," Jim Steinmayer notes that Thurston was appearing at Tony Pastor's in 1900, doing card tricks and flourishes -- accompanied by the "Zenda Waltz." If that's so, it would seem to predate Blackstone and his Floating Light Bulb by a few years. And if Thurston did popularize it, it seems unlikely that Blackstone would use it, at least while Thurston was still alive.

Of course, until I actually hear or see the music for the "Zenda Waltz," I have no way of knowing if is the same as the "Poeme" piece I heard. But I think we're getting a little closer to unraveling this musical mystery. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
magicreza
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It's the same music as Darren Romeo uses...if that's any help.

Reza
hugmagic
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The Zenda Waltz is not the same thing. I heard Dick Zimmerman play it at a Collector's and it is not close.

Darrne Romeo is using Harry's music because he is doing Harry's complete routine under an agreement with Gay. It is a copyrighted routine,.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
sethb
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Thanks for the additional information, everyone.

Sounds like the music in question is NOT the Zenda Waltz, and that Harry Jr. was either mistaken or also trying to protect the source of the music when he made that statement. It also seems that the "Poeme" piece is the most likely candididate for the source. I've been unable to date the piece, but have found that the composer died in 1900, so it can't be any later than that.

In any event, I'm glad to hear that the Floating Lightbulb is floating again, along with its original music. Thanks to everyone for their interest and their help on this. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Thatoldblackmagic
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Don't know about Sr but Jr used "Zdenko Poem " may be the same.
Scotland's first winner of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival's first place award. ~ Allen Tipton's magic Student. ~ Magic Historian and Collector ~ Built magic for Scotland's top Pantomimes ,Cats ,The Wizard of Oz and a few other shows. ~ As seen on TV theatre and film Smile Aged 17
David Charvet
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The popular name of the song is "My Moonlight Madonna" which is based on Fibich's "Poeme." This was Jr.'s music.
Jim Sparx
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Blackstone Sr. biography, by Waldron, says Junior's music was "Midnight Madonna."
Et tu, Spartacus?
Leslie Melville
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Here is a vocal recording of the song by the late David Whitfield, a popular UK variety and recording artiste with whom I had the pleasure of working many years ago!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oybARBZjV4

Leslie
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hugmagic
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David has told you exactly what to look for. Of course, Harry had custom music done by Chuck Bird and others to fit his needs.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Rainboguy
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I wonder what the name of the Music Piece that Harry Jr. and Sr. used for the handkerchief and Casssadega Cabinet?

Harry Jr. showed me the sheet music once when he was setting up for a performance in Kansas City, but for the life of me I can't remember the name...
hugmagic
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Again it was custom written by Chuck Bird.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
David Charvet
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I used the Hank music during my re-creation at Abbott's in 2012. The music was recorded from the original chart by Michael Close. As Richard says, it was written by Chuck Bird and called "Spirit Music". It is adapted from Harry Sr.'s original music. The final "dance" music is "Every Little Movement Has A Meaning of It's Own" - a song written in 1910.
Rainboguy
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Thank you, Richard and David...isn't it interesting that it's called "Spirit Music"? Makes sense to me.......

There are only a couple of music pieces that I have ever heard which accompany a magician's performance that are "burned into my mind" as **SIGNATURE** pieces, and this was one of them.......the other being Lance Burton's "Intro" music when I first saw him doing his "Segue Act" in the Folies Bergere at The Tropicana.......he stuck with that music for many, many years, too......

I have no idea what the name of that music is either....but...when you hear it.....it's instant "Lance Burton"....

And David, your Blackstone recreation was magnificent..........wish we could have talked more...we have similar backgrounds in Radio and Television......
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