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The Works Progress Administration Presents - 1937 Series, Pgm 10

August 20th, 2008

Here's a little something for you classical music buffs out there.

"The Works Progress Administration Presents" was a series syndicated from 1936 to 1938 featuring WPA sponsored orchestral, vocal and chamber groups performing contemporary and standard classical works. The program was part of the Federal Music Project, directed by Nikolai Sokoloff, a Russian-American conductor and violinist. Each quarter hour program includes a commercial promoting some aspect of the WPA's work in local communities or programs that unemployed workers could take advantage of.

In program 10 of the 1937 series, we hear the Los Angeles Grand Opera Group performing selections from the first and third act of the opera, "Fernando del Nonsensico" by composer Felix Borowski. The piece is a satire of grand opera that references "Lucia", "Aida", "Carmen", and other popular works.

The Federal Music Project in Los Angeles produced the opera in February, 1936 and this was the radio premiere of the work. Borowski was newspaper critic at the Chicago Sun and professor of theory and counterpoint at the Chicago Musical College. This is the only known recording of "Fernando del Nonsensico".

I recently obtained five programs from this series and would like to hear more - though the groups mostly tackle standard repertoire, they occasionally work in lesser known compositions from contemporary composers.

The program was directly transferred from RCA Victrolac pressing, matrix number PMS 09299. (Note that the disc has a slight warp.)

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