Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: Christmas

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

First recorded (as “Parade of the Tin Soldiers”) by Russian Orchestra (1911).
First US recording by The Vincent Lopez Orchestra (1922).
Other popular versions by Paul Whiteman & HisOrchestra (1923), The Andrews Sisters (1950), The Crystals (1963), Harry Connick, Jr. (1993).

From the wiki:”‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’ (originally titled ‘Parade of the Tin Soldiers’) was composed in 1897 for solo piano by Leon Jessel who later published it for orchestra in 1905, as ‘Opus 123’. In 1911, Russian impresario Nikita Balieff chose Jessel’s whimsically rakish ‘Parade of the Tin Soldiers’ for a choreography routine in his ‘The Bat’ vaudeville revue, changing the title to ‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’. Balieff’s wooden-soldier choreography referenced a legend regarding Tsar Paul I: that he left his parade grounds without issuing a ‘halt’ order to his marching soldiers, so they marched to Siberia before being remembered and ordered back.

“In December 1920 Nikita Balieff’s La Chauve-Souris (The Bat) revue reached Paris, to great acclaim, and in 1922 it was brought to Broadway. In 1922, an instrumental version of ‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’ recording performed by The Vincent Lopez Orchestra became a US hit 78 rpm in 1922. Paul Whiteman’s recording also topped the Hit Parade the following year (1923).

“In 1933, a Betty Boop cartoon, Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, was created by animator David Fleischer with music performed by popular Russian-American conductor David Rubinoff and His Orchestra. Also in 1933, The Rockettes began annually performing their own choreographed version of the piece, based on Balieff’s original, in their Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Silent Night

First recorded (as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) by Trompeter Quartett (1892).
First English-language recording by Edison Male Quartette (1905).
Popular versions by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #6 1928), Bing Crosby (US #16 1942), The Ravens (R&B #8 1948), Simon & Garfunkel (as “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”, 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Silent Night’ (German: ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011. ‘Stille Nacht’ was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river. In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.

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