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Various Artists

Stories For Christmas (2CD)

A collection of short stories for Christmas, written and adapted for American children of the 1940s and 1950s and featuring stars of the silver screen, including several first-time official CD issues.

In the days when families gathered around the wireless and the radiogram, Christmas stories made popular entertainment for children and adults alike. The most successful of them transferred to record with musical accompaniments supervised by experienced Hollywood hands, none more so than Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock's composer of choice, who in 1944 composed and conducted a score to an adaptation by Orson Welles of Oscar Wilde’s tale of The Happy Prince. Bing Crosby took the part of the Prince, and two years later became narrator for a new story by Charles Tazewell, The Small One.

Two further Tazewell stories for radio captured the imagination of the American public in 1948 and became Christmas-time fixtures, rather likeThe Snowman on British TV in the 1980s. The Littlest Angel and Lullaby of Christmas both told a touching tale, in the tradition of Andersen’s Little Match Girl but with a happy ending, of a child whose fortunes are transformed at Christmas time. When Decca released them as 78s and 10-inch LPs, they were narrated by Loretta Young and Gregory Peck respectively. According to Peck, 'This is the holiday drama I've always hoped to find'.

English leads were used for the two English stories recorded by American Decca: Ronald Colman as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and Charles Laughton as Mr. Pickwick in another Dickensian picture of poor souls redeemed by kindness at Christmas time - this last scored by none other than Hanns Eisler, seven years before he fled the US after being denounced by the Committee for Un-American Activities. In all these tales, there is a warmth and a delight in the telling that struck a chord in their audiences of the 40s and 50s, and will do so again in these newly remastered transfers.

1-9 The Happy Prince

An Oscar Wilde Fairy Tale
Adapted and directed by Orson Welles
Musical Score composed by Bernard Herrmann
Orson Welles, Bing Crosby, Lurene Tuttle
Orchestra directed by Victor Young

10-14 A Christmas Carol

Adapted from Charles Dickens by George Wells
Ronald Colman, Eric Snowden, Barbara Jean Wong
Victor Young, musical director, Ken Darby, vocal director

15-17 Mr. Pickwick's Christmas

Story by Charles Dickens
Orchestral accompaniment composed by Hanns Eisler
Charles Laughton, narrator
Ensemble conducted by Hanns Eisler

CD 2

1-5 The Small One

A Christmas Story
Story by Charles Tazewell
Musical Score Composed by Victor Young
Bing Crosby, narrator
Orchestra directed by Victor Young

6-12 The Littlest Angel
Story by Charles Tazewell
Original Musical Score by Charles Paul
Loretta Young, narrator
Ken Darby Choir
Orchestra directed by Victor Young

13-20 Lullaby of Christmas
Story by Charles Tazewell
Musical Score by Carmen Dragon
Gregory Peck, narrator
Choir and Orchestra directed by Carmen Dragon