Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

This December Chicago Bronze will once again feature solo ringer Fred Snyder, performing "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" by Leon Jessel.

In the "Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook" (1981), William L. Simon wrote:
Léon Jessel caught the jaunty strut of toys exactly when he wrote his Parade of the Wooden Soldiers as a novelty item in 1905. It was published in Germany and apparently heard there by a Russian producer who was readying a new revue for Paris bearing the title La Chauve-Souris (The Bat), for which he needed an offbeat dance number. He chose Jessel's rakish "Parade." The Bat opened on Broadway, finally, in 1922, and Ballard Macdonald, who wrote songs for the George White Scandals of 1924 and Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic, gave the tune the lyrics given below and that seldom heard anymore. The arm-swinging melody and strutting rhythm of the piece make the march a charming one for children and adults at Christmas or any time of the year.
The toy shop door is locked up tight, and ev'rything is quiet for the night,
When suddenly the clock strikes twelve, the fun's begun!
The dolls are in their best arrayed, there's going to be a wonderful parade.
Hark to the drum, oh, here they come, cries ev'ryone
Hear them all cheering. Now they are nearing. There's the captain stiff as starch
Bayonets flashing, music is crashing, as the wooden soldiers march
Sabres a-clinking, soldiers a-winking, at each pretty little maid.
Here they come, here they come, here they come, here they come, wooden soldiers on parade!

The arrangement for handbell solo was written by Solo Artist Extraordinaire Christine Anderson, published under the title "Parade of the Tin Soldiers." It utilizes a large range of bells, almost a full three ocatves; Fred will be managing 24 bells, and trying hard to always put each bell back where it came from. When you come to the concert, try watching a single bell as it is picked up, weaved into the melody and then returned to the same spot on the table.

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