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Nathaniel Shilkret (1895 - 1982)

At the age of seven, New York City-born Nathaniel Shilkret (1889–1982) was the clarinet soloist for the New York Boys Orchestra on its tour of the United States, and in his teen years he played in several of New York’s most popular orchestras and bands, including the Russian Symphony Orchestra, Victor Herbert’s orchestra, and John Phillip Sousa’s Grand Concert Band as well as under both Vassily Safanov and Gustav Mahler in the New York Philharmonic Society (later the New York Philharmonic). For many years Shilkret’s most prominent association was with the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor), where, as “director of light music,” he conducted numerous recordings with his Victor Salon Orchestra and other ensembles. Many of those recordingseither in a popular or what was then called light classical veinbecame best-selling hit records. Shilkret conducted for thousands of network radio broadcasts during those years, and recorded for many labels, such as Brunswick, Columbia, Edison, and Okeh. Some of his recordings also featured him as an instrumental soloist, playing clarinet, piano, organ, celeste, chimes, and trumpetand even whistling. Shilkret wrote a number of popular songs, of which the best-known and most commercially successful was “The Lonesome Road.” It was sung in the initial film version of Show Boat in 1929 and has been recorded in vocal and instrumental versions by more than 100 popular performers, including the Andrews Sisters (on the Paul Whiteman radio show), Louis Armstrong, Benny



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