Monday, September 10, 2007

End of the Century

Today marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of Raymond Scott (born Harry Warnow, in Brooklyn). Countdown begins to the centennial.

Photo taken in 1934 by Scott's lifelong friend Paul Gordon. At the time Harry, age 25, was an emerging composer ("Christmas Night in Harlem" was a big hit that year) as well as a hotshot session pianist in the CBS radio network orchestra conducted by his older brother, Mark Warnow. It was around this time that Harry changed his name to "Raymond Scott." He often told interviewers that he lifted the name out of the Manhattan phonebook, and that he liked the name because it was "crisp" and had "good rhythm." Apocryphal? Works for us.

Jeff Winner, who created and maintains and co-produced Manhattan Research, Inc., offers his birthday toast:

Much of my understanding of the 20th century came from Raymond Scott. Over the past decade I've studied his fascinating career and life in great detail; this gave me a greater awareness of the achievements of the past 100 years. The 1900s saw dramatic leaps of human advancement and technological invention. Scott was inspired by the optimistic spirit of this progress, and became a major player in both artistic and technical ways.

On September 9, 1908, Orville Wright made the first experimental flight to catch air for an hour. The following day, coincidentally, Raymond Scott was born. Scott's musical journey started as a kid with a player piano in his dad's music shop. In 1949 Scott wrote music that foresaw "the first experimental rocket express to the moon." Twenty years later, NASA did it. While aviators went from Kitty Hawk to the moon, Scott went from a player piano to synthesizers, sequencers, and homemade drum machines. They were both striving for a celebration on the planet Mars.

Happy birthday, Raymond, and thank you for the history lessons. I'm certain Earthlings will love your work even more in another 99 years. Especially if they're listening during a commute to the moon.

montage by EsoTek

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