Those of you who have read my articles, both in the now extinct print version of The Times Examiner (from 1999 to July of 2018), and in the new digital version (since July of 2018), know that I’m somewhat of an “eclectic” writer. I have many different interests and I enjoy writing about some of them and sharing them with you. In that regard I consider myself to be something of a “renaissance” man, one who enjoys delving into different facets of history and the human experience, into mankind’s political and social foibles and noble accomplishments, into the artistic and cultural achievements of my fellow human beings who, during their sometimes far-too-brief pilgrimage through life, brought beauty, joy, great art and music, great literature, and various forms of cultural enrichment to us, their fellow pilgrims, all of which have instilled tears of joy and happiness and even pathos into our lives as we beheld their artistries and their struggled-for accomplishments.
Fortunately, much of that beauty will survive or has survived long after they have departed their earthly existence, whether they have been gone for thousands of years, as in the surviving architecture and writings of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, etc., or in the written and photographic recollections of a beloved recently deceased relative or friend or a greatly admired performing artist. Our physical existence may end, but what we’ve left to others can and will long survive us, thankfully, due to modern technology.
While I write mostly about my Christian faith and conservative political philosophy, I do write about other things in order to keep alive my belief that not all of mankind is “hopeless” or doomed to mediocrity or destined to live as slaves of the Satanic collectivists who have been and still are infesting our planet with their deceitful promises of “Heaven On Earth” if we’ll just give them a chance to “rule” over all of us. I suspect that you also appreciate an opportunity to share recollections from our joint experiences and common cultural history, for recalling the memories of people of the past, and sharing those memories with others, can be enriching and perhaps, in a few instances, those recollections of “long ago” can allow us to reminisce over some moments of tears or laughter together, even though we are separated by space and the inexorable flow of time which reduces us to helplessness in so many instances. The causes of the tears and/or the laughter often persist, and the recollections of the past which induced them, as God so wisely designed our minds, often lasts until our last breath.
I’ve included a very old photograph at the beginning of this article. It was probably taken in the 1880’s or 1890’s from the look of the dress she is wearing. Her name was Helen Guy Rhodes (1858-1936), and she was a musical song composer during her lifetime. She composed and published under her “pen name” of Guy d’Hardelot. It was one of her songs, written in 1902, that helped to change my life, for I believe that had it not been for that one song, I would have taken a “road more travelled” down the path of musical “junk” along with most of my other teenaged friends in those halcyon days of the early 1950’s. Let me explain. From 1951 to 1954 I worked as an usher and marquee changer for our neighborhood movie theater (I was only 14 when I started). As a result I saw hundreds of movies over those three years, most of them forgettable, but a few that still linger in my mind to this very day. One of them became my very favorite film of all time: The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, two screen legends. The other film was one that helped to propel me along the road to what I’ve always considered “musical excellence”. It was the film, The Great Caruso, starring Mario Lanza and Ann Blyth.
Guy d’Hardelot (Helen Guy Rhodes) was a well known (in her time) French/English composer, pianist, and teacher of singing and diction, and lived most of her life in London. She was born Helen Guy to an English father and a French mother, in an ancient castle known as Chateau d’Hardelot (a castle once lived in by King Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn—before the king had his wife beheaded). When she was 15, Helen travelled to Paris and studied at the Conservatoire de Paris where she came to the attention of the composer, Jules Massenet, who encouraged her to compose music. Later she returned to London and continued her musical studies. Emma Calve’, a French operatic soprano, became a good friend to Helen and helped her bring her songs to the notice of the public.
For most of her life, Helen (Guy d’Hardelot), confined her activities to London and taught singing and proper diction to students in her home. Some of her students became well known in the fields of music and writing. In 1896 she came to the United States with her good friend, Emma Calve’, and toured our country promoting her music and, I assume, having Calve’ singing it in concerts. But it was one of her songs, written in 1902, which was her first real super success, and was the song that attracted me to the world of “good”, or perhaps “life changing”, music. It was her song titled, Because. It became very popular throughout North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century, and even the famous opera singer, Enrico Caruso, recorded it in 1912 in its original French words, and again in 1913 in the English translation by Edward Teschemacher.
In 1951, while I was working at the movie theater, the owner booked the film, The Great Caruso, staring Mario Lanza as Enrico Caruso. The film was only very loosely based on Caruso’s life, but it featured much of the music that great opera singer actually sang during his many performances at the New York Metropolitan and many other opera venues. As I recall, that film became nationally popular because of Mario Lanza’s magnificent and powerful tenor voice, and it was held over at my theater for another two weeks. “The Great Caruso” introduced me, thankfully, to that incomparable voice of Mario Lanza (one of the greatest tenors to come out of the 20th century), to the immortal music from operas that I love to this very day, and to that ONE SONG—Because—that was so beautiful it has always remained in my mind. To hear Lanza sing Because multiple times during the film’s run at our theater delighted me, because I was spellbound each time I heard him sing it. I URGE you to use your search engine on UTube, enter “Mario Lanza sings ‘Because’ (NOT “Because of You”, which Lanza also sang). Turn the sound up as loud as you can, and you’ll be as entranced as I was so long ago. Here are the words written by Guy d’Hardelot—as translated by Edward Teschemacher:
Because you come to me, with naught save love,
And hold my hand and lift mine eyes above,
A wider world of hope and joy I see, because you come to me!
Because you speak to me in accent sweet,
I find the roses waking ‘round my feet, and I am led through
Tears and joy to thee, because you speak to me!
Because God made thee mine, I’ll cherish thee,
Through light and darkness through all time to be,
And pray His love may make our love divine,
Because God made thee mine!
I had a good friend in high school at the time who was equally enthralled with Lanza’s voice. He and I would go to our local record store—yes—vinyl analog records only—NO tapes, NO CD’s, NO digital anything—and listen to Lanza’s various recordings on their turntables so long that the manager would ask us to leave before we wore out his records. I still have all of Mario Lanza’s original 33 1/3 rpm recordings, and I treasure them (I also have most of his music on CD’s, but the vinyl sounds better). Long ago I listened to Lanza’s singing on his TV shows, in his several movies, and of course, on his records. His death at age 38 in 1959 from an apparent heart attack devastated me, but as long as we have his recorded work, he’ll never really be “dead” to me and to the millions of his other fans, just as the immortal Caruso is not really dead as long as people can listen to his music on those early recordings! (In my opinion, Lanza had a richer and more powerful voice than Caruso.)
When my daughter was married in 1982, I engaged a singer to sing some of the music at her wedding. One of the songs that I insisted on being sung was—you guessed it—Because! As he sang, many memories flooded into my mind, and my eyes filled with tears. Perhaps it was because I was “losing” a daughter—perhaps it was my memories as a young teen of first listening to that glorious music that an English/ French woman had composed 80 years before. I don’t know. YOU listen to Lanza sing Because—listen to it several times—and then perhaps you’ll begin to understand what prompted the tears. Perhaps!