Musical Themes from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite
Waltz of the Flowers
narrated by Art Gilmore
performed by The Continental Symphony Orchestra
Arthur Wells “Art” Gilmore (March 18, 1912 – September 25, 2010) was an American voice actor and announcer whose voice has been heard in radio and television programs, movies, trailers, advertising promotions and documentary films.
Reared in Tacoma, Washington, Gilmore attended Washington State University in 1931, where he was a member of the Chi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity and a member of the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity. He left school in 1935 to work as an announcer for Seattle’s KOL Radio. In 1936 he became a staff announcer for the Warner Brothers’ radio station KFWB in Hollywood and then moved to the CBS-owned station KNX as a news reader. During World War II, he served as a fighter-director U.S. Navy officer aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean.
Leaving the Navy, he decided to become a professional singer and returned to Hollywood. With a group of notable Hollywood radio stars, including Edgar Bergen, Ralph Edwards and Jim “Fibber McGee” Jordan, Gilmore founded Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters in 1966. At the time of his death, he was Chairman Emeritus of PPB. The organization presents the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award five times each year to celebrities who have made notable contributions to the broadcasting and related industries.
In addition to his radio-TV work, he provided the narration for many collections of recorded musical works and a large number of recordings for children. Gilmore was also active in reading textbooks for the blind and dyslexic for many years.
The Nutcracker, Op. 71 (Russian: «?????????», Shchelkunchik) is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sunday, December 18, 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta.
Although the original production was not a success, the twenty-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960’s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the U.S. Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite. Among other things, the score is noted for its use of the celesta, an instrument that the composer had already employed in his much lesser known symphonic ballad The Voyevoda.
There have been several recorded children’s adaptations of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story – the basis for the ballet – using the Tchaikovsky music, some quite faithful, some not. One that was not was a version entitled The Nutcracker Suite for Children, narrated by Metropolitan Opera announcer Milton Cross, which used a two-piano arrangement of the music. It was released as a 78-RPM album set in the 1940s. A later version, entitled The Nutcracker Suite, starred Denise Bryer and a full cast, was released in the 1960s on LP and made use of Tchaikovsky’s music in the original orchestral arrangements. It was quite faithful to Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which the ballet is based, even to the point of including the section in which Clara drives her arm through the plate glass and mentioning that Clara married the Nutcracker Prince at the end. It also included a less gruesome version of “The Tale of the Hard Nut”, the tale-within-a-tale in Hoffmann’s story. It was released as part of the Tale Spinners for Children series.
Another children’s LP, The Nutcracker Suite with Words, featured Captain Kangaroo’s Bob Keeshan narrating the story, and sung versions of the different movements, with special lyrics.