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"Music With An Ayn Rand Connection"

New York Skyline circa 1910
Library of Congress public domain image


I have have had an interest in the popular music from the early decades of the 20th Century since childhood.  When I was in my early 20s I discovered and became an admirer of the writings of Ayn Rand - the author of the philosophically provoking best selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  A few years later, I was amused to learn that Rand enjoyed a type of turn of the century popular music that she called "Tiddlywink Music." 

Of course, there is no such formally recognized musical genre.  "Tiddlywink" seems to have been the name that Ayn Rand gave to music that she responded to in a certain way.  The music does not seem to come from from any one particular genre: Canadian Capers is an example of ragtime; El Choclo is a tango. 

When I discovered that Rand enjoyed music from the same era that I do, I became very curious as to what specific tunes she liked and classified as Tiddlywink music.  Unfortunately, only a few examples have been cited in books and lectures about her. Because I find it fascinating when different interests of mine meet,  I always try to keep an eye open for recordings with an Ayn Rand connection.   There are two obstacles that I face in doing so.  One is the previously mentioned limited information.   The other is the fact that locating  specific vintage recordings can sometimes take a lot of time.  As I find them, however, I will transcribe them to Real Audio and place them on this site. 

Important Information About The Recordings

The recordings presented here are of songs that I am told that Ayn Rand either liked or had some connection with - such as through one of her movies.  As someone with extremely strong musical opinions, I think it is important for me to mention that, just because someone likes a particular song, it does not mean that they will like every rendition of it.  For example, every so often I will be hear one of my favorite songs resurrected and played in a dreadful "easy listening" style.  Whenever this happens, my usual reaction is revulsion over what I consider to be aesthetic vandalism.  When I listen to music, how something is played is often more important than what is being played.  I think it is reasonable to assume the same was true for Ayn Rand as well.  Please keep this in mind when listening. 

Unlike today where most popular music stars use material written exclusively for them, in the early decades of the 20th century the music industry was dominated by "Tin Pan Alley"  publishers.  When a new song showed signs of becoming popular, record companies tried to get as much mileage as they could out of it by having several artists record it in a variety of styles.  In the 1920s, an especially popular tune could have been recorded by a "hot" jazz band, a "sweet" society band, a Hawaiian guitar duet, a novelty vocalist, an organ soloist,  a "popular concert" orchestra, a "salon" orchestra and, for the rural markets, a "hillbilly" group.   A fan of a particular hot jazz  rendition would probably not care much for the hillbilly or Hawaiian versions - and perhaps may not even like versions by other hot jazz bands. 

The majority of the selections presented here come from my personal 78 rpm record collection.   A few come from subsequent reissues or from the generosity of other music collectors who have been credited. The music on this page does not necessarily present a representative  view of the popular music of the era or of my own personal musical tastes. 

If you enjoy the music presented here, you  might want to visit my musical website, Dismuke's Virtual Talking Machine, which features a variety of music from my collection recorded between 1900 and 1940.  I also publish Dismuke's Hit of the Week which is updated every Thursday.  Also check out my Internet radio station Radio Dismuke which is devoted to popular music from the decade 1925 - 1935

About The Images On This Site

Anyone familiar with Ayn Rand's writings already knows how she much she loved New York City and its skyline.  Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to decorate the site with New York City skyscraper pictures from roughly the same era as the recordings.  Included are all of the New York buildings that were, at some point in the 20th century, the tallest in the world. The images come from either my personal collection or from the United States Library of Congress


All selections are in streaming Real Audio. To listen, simply click on a song's title.
To download a free Real Player, click here

"It's A Long Long Way To Tipperary"

This is one of the songs that Ayn Rand first heard in a Crimean park as a child on summer vacation.  The song was published in England in 1912.  It was especially popular a few years later with the British troops in World War I.   Of the two recordings included here, the American Quartet version features the words.    The Victor Military Band version - once you get past the lengthy drum intro - is done up in dance tempo. 

It's A Long Long Way To Tipperary
American Quartet                 1914

It's A Long Long Way To Tipperary
Victor Military Band             1914

Broadway Circa 1909
Library of Congress public domain image.
Broadway Circa 1909
The tall building in the center is the Singer Building, home of  the  Singer Sewing Machine empire.  It was the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1908. Sadly, it was demolished in the late 1960s.  The tall building on the left is the Park Row Building which was the world's tallest when it opened in 1899.  It still stands, dwarfed but proud as ever.

"Get Out And Get Under"

I found out that this was one of Ayn Rand's favorite songs when I saw the film Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life.   I was already familiar with the song and was honestly a bit scandalized!  In the 1900s and 1910s, jokes and songs making fun of the automobile were very popular.  Usually the focus was on how unreliable they were.  This one is no different.  Imagine Ayn Rand enjoying a song poking fun of the latest technology!  Actually, the story that the words tell is kind of funny.  This recording is NOT from my collection.   I recorded it from a public library copy a few years ago.  Unfortunately,  I have misplaced the notes I took on the artist and recording date. If my memory is correct, it was recorded around 1912.   If  I ever locate the notes, or even better yet, come across a copy of the actual record,  I will immediately put that information up.   A brief excerpt of  a different version of this song was featured in Ayn Rand:  A Sense Of Life.

Get Out And Get Under

"El Choclo"

I have had this tango in my collection for a few years now.  I did not realize that it was an example of Tiddlywink music until I heard it - the exact same version - on the Ayn Rand Institute's hold music.  As the Institute's recordings are presumably from Ayn Rand's actual records,  on that basis I think it is reasonably safe to say this is the version she liked.   Choclo is a Chilean word meaning "corn."

El Choclo
International Novelty Orchestra 
Nat Shilkret, director                           1928

Metropolitan Life Insurance Building
Image from personal collection
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Building
This was the world's tallest building from 1909 until was surpassed by the Woolworth Building in 1913.  The company it housed became the nation's largest life insurance company through a large network of agents who went door to door collecting 5 and 10 cent weekly premiums from  immigrant factory workers and tenement dwellers.  It was a market previously overlooked by other American insurance companies.  I would guess that this postcard is from sometime in the late 1910's.   At the top of the tower was a lantern that could be seen for dozens of miles at night.  The building and its lantern were prominently featured in the company's advertising for decades with the slogan "The light that never fails."  The  tower is still occupied by Metropolitan Life but its exterior was significantly altered in the early 1960s.

"Destiny Waltz"

Shortly after this song, written by Sydney Baynes, was published in London in 1912,  it was played by Wallace Hartley's White Star Orchestra on the fateful maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Destiny Waltz is specifically mentioned in We The Living in the scene where Kira attends Vava Milovskaia's party.  Andrei asked Kira to dance while her sister Lydia played "Destiny Waltz" on the piano:

    "Destiny Waltz" was slow and soft; it stopped for a breathless second once in a while and swung into rhythm again, slowly, rocking a little, as if expecting soft, billowing satin skirts to murmur gently in answer, in a ball-room such as did not exist any longer.
This recording comes courtesy of collector R. A. Friedman.

Destiny Waltz
The Victor Military Band                             1914

Woolworth Building - circa 1914
Image from personal collection.
The Woolworth Building 
Often referred to as "The Cathedral of Commerce" the building was completed in 1913.  It was still the world's tallest when Ayn Rand arrived in New York City in 1926.  Pioneer mass merchandiser F.W. Woolworth paid for the building's $13.5 million price tag with cash - roughly $229 million in today's dollars.  Until decades of incompetent management forced the once mighty Woolworth Corp. (now called the Venator Group) to sell the building in 1998, it was the only New York skyscraper not to have a mortgage.  Inside its ornate lobby is a sculpture of Mr. Woolworth paying for his building with coins that he earned from his five & ten cent store empire.  This view is from a circa 1914 postcard.

"Canadian Capers"
Vintage Victor Scroll Label - Canadian Capers
This was one of Ayn Rand's favorites.  In an October 5, 1944 letter to her brother-in-law, Nick Carter, Rand asked him to ship her records from New York to her new home in California. "Just put an extra pad of cotton, if you can get it, around Canadian Capers," she added. 

Canadian Capers
Victor Arden - Phil Ohman                                                         1930

My understanding is that this is the version that Rand had in her collection. Arden and Ohman were an extremely popular piano team throughout the 1920s both on records and piano rolls.  The record label characterizes this selection as a "tap dance."  If you listen carefully, about 2 minutes and 17 seconds into the recording, you can hear what sounds like a tap dancer in the background.  Of course, it may have simply been a sound effect from the  percussion section.  It took me many months - as well as a nice chunk of change - to locate this recording.

Here are some additional versions of Canadian Capers performed in a variety of styles.

Canadian Capers 
Harry Snodgrass, piano                                                                   1926

Burnswick Records billed Snodgrass as "King of the Ivories."  I think the Arden -Ohman version is better.  Unfortunately, this poor record has been subjected to quite a bit of abuse over the decades and is not in the best of shape - though it is still listenable.

Canadian Capers
Harry Roy & His Orchestra from The Cafe Anglais                    1933

This is a jazzy British dance band recording that comes courtesy of Michael Herklotz, a German record collector I occasionally correspond with.  I really like this arrangement; it is guaranteed to put you in a good mood!   Herklotz, by the way, has an excellent website,  Die Shellack-Seite , that regularly features British and German dance band recordings from the 1920s & 1930s.

Canadian Capers
Al Donahue and His Orchestra                                                    1939

For most of his career Donahue had a society band.  However, in the late '30s and early '40s, he adopted a swing format - of which this recording is an example.

Canadian Capers
Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra                                              1941

Welk was just as schmaltzy in the 1940s as he was in that ghastly television show you may remember. This is the first Lawrence Welk record I have ever intentionally bought.  What little I do have by him was obtained in bulk purchases and was quickly relegated to its proper place:  my "junk record" pile in the garage!  Back in the '30s and '40s, jazz and swing enthusiasts had a derogatory term for bands such as Welk's:  Mickey Mouse bands.

Canadian Capers
Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra                                              1921

Paul Whitman led the 1920's most successful dance band.  He helped make the newly emerging jazz music "respectable" and introduced Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue in a now famous 1924 Aeolian Hall concert.  In the late 1920s, his band featured many of the era's top white jazz musicians and provided the start for the singing careers of Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey.  One of the most influential names in the 20th Century music industry, he is mostly forgotten today.

Canadian Capers
Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra                                            1937

Here is an interesting bit of trivia:  Ayn Rand was buried one grave over from Tommy Dorsey.   Dorsey was one of the top white jazz sidemen  of the late 1920s.  After an ill-fated attempt to run a band jointly with brother Jimmy in the early 1930s,  he took over the Joe Haymes band and became one of the biggest stars of the swing and big band eras. 


The Woolworth Building At Night
Library of Congress public domain image
The Woolworth Building At Night
"It was dark by then, it was kind of early evening, I think about seven o'clock or so.  And seeing the first lighted skyscrapers - it was snowing, very faintly, and I think I began to cry because I remember feeling the snowflakes and the tears sort of together"
--  Ayn Rand on her 1926 arrival to New York from Russia as quoted in Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life.

"Down South"

When I first read The Letters of Ayn Rand and came to the June 10, 1936 letter that Rand wrote to broadcaster Ev Suffens, I broke out laughing.   In it she jokingly complained that it had been a while since she had heard certain tunes, including "Down South," on the broadcast.   I laughed because the song was used as a theme for some 1930s radio broadcasts I have copies of.  The broadcasts were sponsored by Crazy Water Crystals - a popular 1930s laxative that was promoted as a miracle cure-all.  To hear "Down South", all Rand needed to have done was tune in to the weekly  nationwide Crazy Water broadcasts!  The thought of someone like Ayn Rand actually listening to them is laughably absurd:  the programs were extremely hokey and filled with bizarre testimonials of how people felt better after taking the product.  I looked through my record collection to see if I had another version of the song and, somewhat to my surprise, it turned out that I did. This particular version is done in what was then called "popular concert" style.   I have included both the popular concert version as well as a brief excerpt from one of the Crazy Water broadcasts. 

Down South
(Radio Transcription of opening of the Crazy Water Company's "Music From Texas" Program)
Jack Amlung and His Orchestra; Conrad Brady, announcer                    1936

Click here to see Crazy Water Company memorabilia from my collection.

Down South
Eveready Hour Group                                                                  1927

The label credits  W.H.Middleton as the composer.  I do not know if the name for the group had anything to do with the Eveready Battery Company, but it would not surprise me if it did. Bands sponsored by companies were not uncommon at the time.  I have records of bands named after Goodyear  Rubber, Remington Typewriters, Ipana Toothpaste and Clicquot Club Soda Water.  Nat Shilkret is the conductor on this.

Tap Dancing

In her article "Art and Cognition" (reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto) Ayn Rand wrote:

Tap dancing is completely synchronized with, responsive and obedient to the music - by means of a common element crucial to music and to man's body: rhythm...[Tap dancing] looks, at times, as if it is a contest between the man and the music, as if the music is daring him to follow - and he is following lightly, effortlessly, almost casually.  Complete obedience to the music?  The impression one gets is: complete control - man's mind in effortless control of his expertly functioning body.  The keynote is: precision.  It conveys a sense of purpose, discipline, clarity - a mathematical kind of clarity - combined with an unlimited freedom of movement and an inexhaustible inventiveness that dares the sudden, the unexpected, yet never loses the central integrating line: the music's rhythm.
Ayn Rand considered tap dancing to be her favorite form of dance saying that "it cannot express tragedy or pain or fear or guilt; all it can express is gaiety and every shade of emotion pertaining to the joy of living."  She cited Bill Robinson and Fred Astaire as its best exponents.

Sadly, tap dancing has for decades been a dying art.  Ayn Rand was right:  it is a form of art that celebrates the joy of living.  And since it is synchronized with and obedient to the music, this implies the necessity for music that is equally joyous.  But unrestrained joyousness in popular music was dealt a severe blow when jazz turned "modern" in the mid 1940s and lost its popular following.  Some elements of joyousness tried to resurface during the early rock and roll era  - but they were destroyed by the nihilism of the late 1960s.  The result is that the popular music of today that is not outrighly nihilistic has been, to a large degree, emotionally sanitized. Turn on your radio and listen to some of the popular stations.   You will be hard pressed to find a song that is appropriate for a tap dancer.

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

Born in 1878, Robinson started his dance career at the age of 6 performing "pikaninny" roles in restaurants and in minstrel shows.  During the first quarter of the 20th century, Robinson's reputation as a dancer grew as he traveled the nightclub and Vaudeville circuits.  His Broadway debut came at age 50 when he introduced the song featured here in the review Blackbirds of 1928, which had an all-black cast.  He went on to appear in over a dozen motion pictures and in other Broadway productions.  To celebrate his 61st birthday, Robinson danced  60 blocks down Broadway from above Columbus Circle to the theater in which he was performing.  He died in 1949.

If you enjoy the sound of the orchestra on this selection, Don Redman's recordings from the early 1930s are highly recommended as are recordings by McKinney's Cotton Pickers, which Redman presided over as musical director from 1927 -1931.  Happily, recordings by Redman and other Harlem Renaissance artists are increasingly available on CD reissues.

New!Doin' The New Low Down
From Blackbirds of 1928
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, vocal & tap dance
with Don Redman and His Orchestra             1932

Fred Astaire

Vintage Brunswick label - Fred Astaire w/ Ray Noble's Orch

Astaire, along with his older sister Adele, entered show business when he was 5 years old.  Their childhood was spent taking singing and dancing lessons and struggling their way up from small time to big time Vaudeville circuits.   By the 1920s, their brother-sister act had paid off and they were highly successful  stars on Broadway and in the London theaters.  In 1929, however, Adele married a British nobleman and decided to retire from show business.  Forced to look for a new routine, Astaire decided to give Hollywood a try.  The response to his first screen test was less than encouraging:  "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."  He did, however, manage to land a cameo appearance in the Joan Crawford/Clark Gable picture Dancing Lady.  His second film appearance, Flying Down To Rio, paired him with Ginger Rogers and was so successful that on subsequent films he was able to ask for and receive complete artistic control over all musical sequences.  This control gave him the artistic latitude to revolutionize both dance and the movie musical. 

New!Pick Yourself Up
From Swing Time
Fred Astaire, vocal & tap dance 
with Johnnie Green and His Orchestra             1936

New!I Can't Be Bothered Now
From  Damsel In Distress
Fred Astaire, vocal & tap dance
with Ray Noble and His Orchestra                  1937

New!Nice Work If You Can Get It
From  Damsel In Distress
Fred Astaire, vocal & tap dance
with Ray Noble and His Orchestra                  1937

Composer Franz Lehar

Ayn Rand was fond of his operettas.   Lehar was extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic at the turn of the century.  I highly recommend Lehar's music.  Happily, it is widely available on CD.

The Merry Widow Two Step
Victor Dance Orchestra                          1908

This is a selection in dance tempo from Lehar's most famous operetta, The Merry Widow

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz
(Your Are My Heart's Delight)
Richard Tauber, tenor; 
Franz Lehar conducting the Orchestra of the Berlin State Opera House                                       mid-1930s
* I have replaced the previous Real Audio file for this selection with a cleaner copy that I recently acquired.

New!Patiently Smiling
Richard Tauber, tenor;
Franz Lehar conducting the Orchestra of the Berlin State Opera House                                       mid-1930s

These are selections from  Lehar's operetta The Land of Smiles.  Lehar himself is conducting the Orchestra of the Berlin State Opera House.  The singer is famed tenor Richard Tauber, about whom Lehar said: "As a singer he is tremendously gifted:  it is his voice that I hear as I compose." 

Composer Emerich Kalman

Ayn Rand was also fond of Kalman's operettas.  In a letter, she specifically asked radio host Ev Suffens to play selections from Countess Maritza and Czardes Fursten

For whatever reason, until recently, recordings of Kalman's works have been difficult to find.  For example, my 1948 edition of  The Gramophone Shop Enclycopedia of Recorded Music, which cataloged all currently available classical music recordings worldwide, had an entry for Kalman but was unable to list any available recordings.  It advised readers to check with individual record companies' most recent catalogues. 

In the 1920s, American librettist Harry B. Smith adapted two of Kalman's operettas for the Broadway stage: Countess Maritza in 1926 and The Circus Princess (Die Zirkusprinzessin) in 1927.  As a result,  selections from these productions were recorded  in America - but they seem to have been mostly performed as fox trots by dance bands.

Selections from  Countess Maritza

Gems From 'Countess Maritza'
Victor Light Opera Company                   1927 

This recording was part of the Victor Talking Machine Company's "Gems From" series featuring selections from various operettas and musicals.  This version is from the adaptation in English by Harry B. Smith

Play Gypsies - Dance Gypsies
Carl Fenton's Orchestra                          1926

This is the most famous tune from Countess Maritza.  Another tune from the operetta, "The One I 'm Looking For," can also be heard on this recording.  Carl Fenton's dance band had a large output of recordings on the Brunswick label in the 1920s.  In reality, there was no Carl Fenton - the name was fictional and used as a pseudonym for the Brunswick studio band.

Selections from The Circus Princess 
(Die Zirkusprinzessin)

New!Dear Eyes That Haunt Me
Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra          1927

This is an instrumental version done up in dance tempo.  Nat Shilkret's name appears on several recordings on this site.    In the late 1920s Shilkret was the music director for the Victor Talking Machine Company and  led many recording sessions ranging from classical to jazz with the company's excellent in-house studio orchestra. 

New!Like You
Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra              1927

This too is an instrumental version.   When this recording was made, Paul Whiteman had the most successful and highest paid dance band in the country with around 30 musicians on its roster - large even for the time.  Later that year, after the breakup of the rival Jean Goldkette Orchestra, several of the top white jazz musicians of the 1920s joined the Whiteman band.  The result was a combination of the lush orchestral sound heard on this recording  with lively "hot" jazz solos by the likes of  Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer.   Whiteman  appropriately referred to the style as "symphonic jazz."  Modern music critics tend to look down on it as being "too commercial" and  insufficiently improvisational.  But the result was incredibly beautiful and it is sadly long gone from the landscape of popular music.

"Serenade" by Franz Drdla

In an April 6, 1936 letter to Ev Suffens, host of Midnight Jamboree on radio station WEVD,  Ayn Rand asked if he would play Serenade by Franz Drdla. 

Drdla was born in Saar, Moravia in 1868 and died in Vienna in 1944.  He wrote several operas, but was best known for his violin composition Souvenir

Until I read the Letters of Ayn Rand, I had never heard of Drdla or this song.  Now that I have found a copy of it, I am glad I discovered it.  This is an acoustical recording, but nevertheless, it sounds great.

Vessella's Italian Band            1915

"Mairzy Doats"

The Ayn Rand connection for this song is a mention in her essay "The Comprachicos." "The  best illustration of this process [learning by means of repetition and concrete-bound association] is a song that was popular some twenty years ago called 'Mairzy Doats.'  Try to recall some poem you had to memorize in grade school;  you will find that you can recall it only if you recite the sounds automatically, by the 'Mairzy Doats' method; if you focus on the meaning, the memory vanishes." You will know what she was talking about when you hear the words. This particular recording was the top selling version.  The Merry Macs were a vocal group that started in the late 1930s and reached the peak of their popularity during World War II. 

Mairzy Doats
The Merry Macs                                1943

"The Internationale"
78 rpm record label from USSR
The following is from Part 1 Chapter V of Ayn Rand's novel We The Living:
    For the first time in Petrograd, Kira heard the "Internationale."  She tried not to listen to its words.  The words spoke of the damned, the hungry, the slaves, of those who had been nothing and shall be all;  in the magnificent goblet of the music, the words were not intoxicating as wine; they were not terrifying as blood; they were as gray as dish water. . . .

    [But] The tune sang a promise, calmly, with the calm of an immeasurable strength, and then, tense with a restrained, but uncontrollable ecstasy, the notes rose, trembling, repeating themselves, too rapt to be held still, like arms raised and waving in the sweep of banners.

    It was a hymn with the force of a march, a march with the majesty of a hymn.  It was the song of soldiers bearing sacred banners and priests carrying swords.  It was an anthem to the sanctity of strength. . . . 

    Kira stood smiling at the music.  "This is the first beautiful thing I've noticed about the revolution" she said to her neighbor. . . . "When this is all over. . . . when the traces of their republic are disinfected from history - what a glorious funeral march this will make!"

I do not have a lot of information about this particular recording other than it was recorded in the Soviet Union by the Red Army Chorus.  The record's label is in English and does not give any indication as to who manufactured it.  Perhaps it was something released for the consumption of the membership of some sort of pro-Soviet organization - possibly the US Communist Party.  The label design is reminiscent of old Soviet propaganda posters and features a drawing of a worker holding a shining star high above his head.  Despite the fact that the record is in fairly decent shape, the sound quality is terrible.  I have no way of dating this recording, but the record appears to have been made after World War II.  My guess is that it is from the 1950s.  The words, of course, are in Russian.   Too bad Ayn Rand did not live long enough to be able to see that republic "disinfected from history."

The Internationale
Red Army Chorus                                     circa 1950s?

Chopin's "Minute Waltz"

Despite its name, the Minute Waltz occupies the first one minute forty seconds of this recording.  The rest features the Butterfly Etude.

The Minute Waltz - Intr: Butterfly Etude
Moissaye Boguslawski, piano    1921

Film Version of We The Living

Made in Fascist Italy in the early 1940s without Rand's knowledge or approval, this film was able to get past the initial censors because Italy was then at war with Soviet Russia.  But, once the movie was released and had become a big hit,  Mussolini's government ordered it withdrawn and destroyed - it finally occurred to them that the story was not merely anti-communist, it was anti-totalitarian. Years later, a surviving copy was discovered and purchased by Ayn Rand's attorney. The restored version, with some changes suggested by Rand herself,  was released in the late 1980s.

Chansons Paroles (Songs Without Words)
Tchaikovsky - Op. 2 No. 3

This selection is a violin solo from an old Edison Diamond Disc and comes courtesy of R.A. Friedman.  This song is featured in the scene where, after hearing Lydia play this tune, Andrea asks her to continue.  Instead, Lydia refuses and walks away. 

When the We The Living movie was reissued,  I thought this tune was incredibly beautiful and attempted to learn its name for years.  Fortunately, Mr. Friedman, who remembered hearing it on a tape he had made of some of his records, told me about it and sent me a copy - but he could not recall the name of the composer.  Finally, after after posting it here on the site, a number of visitors kindly informed me that it was written by Tchaikovsky.

One of the things that had for so long frustrated my search for the song's name was the fact that the novel describes the tune Lydia played as being by Chopin.   My guess is that the producers of the movie substituted one by Tchaikovsky on the premise that it was more appropriate for the story's Russian setting.

I am keeping my eye out for a piano version on 78 rpm for future inclusion.

International Novelty Orchestra                       1925

This selection also comes from R.A. Friedman, who informs me that this is the song that was played in the bawdy bar scene.


"Out Of Nowhere"
I have no idea what Ayn Rand thought of this song.  For all I know, she hated it.  However, since it was used as the theme song of the movie You Came Along which she wrote the screen play for, I thought I would include it.  As you can tell by the recording dates,  this song predates the movie by a number of years.  The Bing Crosby version below includes the words.  The Artie Shaw version is a rather nice big band instrumental.

Out Of Nowhere
Bing Crosby                                        1932

Out Of Nowhere
Artie Shaw and His Orchestra              1939

The Chrysler Building
Library of Congress public domain image
The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building became the world's tallest in 1930 but was overtaken just one year later with the completion of the Empire State Building .  When the building was under construction, its builders were engaged in a fierce competition for the world's tallest designation with another skyscraper being built by the Manhattan Company.  The building's distinctive art-deco spire, which put its height over the top, was kept secret and installed only at the last possible moment.  The building remains one of New York's most famous and beloved skyscrapers.  It is one of my personal favorites. 

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergi Rachmaninoff

Rand's love of Rachmaninoff's music is well known.  Rachmaninoff was also a talented pianist and his solo recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company sold well.  I have read that before he went to Victor, Rachmaninoff briefly recorded for the Edison label.  Edison may have been a brilliant inventor, but sometimes he lacked business sense when it came to running a record company.  Despite being almost deaf, for years Edison insisted on personally listening to and approving every record that was produced under his label.  To hear the music, he had a special machine that he bit into and thereby used the bones in his skull to amplify the sound. To make matters worse, Edison had  rather narrow and old fashioned tastes when it came to music. Much to Victor's gain, Rachmaninoff's piano playing did not meet with Edison's approval. 

Another bit of interesting trivia: Ayn Rand and Rachmaninoff are buried in the same cemetery. 

Prelude In G Major ( Op. 32, No. 5)
Sergei Rachmaninoff, composer, pianist                                                  1920

Because this recording is low in volume, you will hear quite a bit of surface noise.  It sounds much better when it is played as it was intended on a wind up phonograph.  If you are interested in hearing more recordings by Rachmaninoff, most of his output has been reissued on CD using state of the ar technology to remove most of the surface noise. 

Rachmaninoff Player Piano Rolls

Vintage Ampico Player Piano Roll Box

In the early decades of the 20th Century, the player piano was serious competition to the wind-up phonograph for space in the parlors of  middle and upper class households.  The pianos - "programmed" by a series of holes punched in a roll of paper - offered one major advantage over acoustical recording:  more accurate sound reproduction.  Indeed, thanks to the player piano, we can today hear the piano greats from the past exactly as they sounded live.  Like the record industry, the player piano industry was nearly wiped out by the Great Depression.  But, unlike records, piano rolls never made a substantial comeback - largely due to the advent of improved recording technology as well as radio and, later on, television.  All player piano selections come courtesy of  Gabe of Gabe's Piano Player Page - a site that is definitely worth a visit.  All selections here are played on Gabe's restored 1925 Lexington Simplex Straightline Player Piano.

Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto Number 2
Rudlolph Martin, Piano

This selection is seven and a half minutes long - something that, with the exception of a short-lived attempt by Edison,  was not possible on the commercially available records of the time. 

Schubert Impromtu Op 90 Number 4, A Flat
Sergei Rachmaninoff, piano

This was composed by Schubert - but it does provide an opportunity to hear Rachmaninoff play.

The Empire State Building
Library of Congress photo by Theodore Horydczak.  Commercial use of this image may be restricted.
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building opened in 1931 and remained the world's tallest until the completion of the World Trade Center towers in 1973.  An art-deco masterpiece, this was one of Ayn Rand's favorite skyscrapers. For a while, during the 1960s, the offices of her publication, The Objectivist, were located in the building.

Would This Have Been An Example Of 
Tiddlywink Music?

Jack Bund and His Bravour Dance Band                            1932

This is a British recording that I loved the moment I first played it.  It reminds me a lot of Canadian Capers and the Minute Waltz.  I would be very interested in knowing whether Rand was familiar with it and, if so, what she thought of it.  It sounds like something that she might have enjoyed.  Now that you have an idea about the music she liked, you be the judge.

Green Brothers Marimba Orchestra                             1930

When I first heard this - especially the first half of the recording - I immediately thought of Ayn Rand and her Tiddlywink music.  It is yet another song I wonder what she would have thought of.  Regardless, I think  it is very beautiful.  While this particular recording is more recent, the song itself dates back to 1908.

Woolworth Building framed by World Trade Center
Copyright 2001 by Dismuke

I took this photo of the Woolworth Building framed by the World Trade Center's twin towers in the distance during a visit to New York in 1999.  To Ayn Rand, New York City and its skyscrapers were a symbol of "achievement and of life on earth."  It is precisely achievement and life on earth  that the modern day savages desperately hate and seek to destroy.  It is no coincidence that the tallest skyscraper in New York City was chosen as the target of their murderous attack. 

There is talk of rebuilding the World Trade Center - but, so far, the plans are to replace it with several much smaller buildings.  It is said that potential tenants would be afraid to locate in another tall, high profile building.  Not long ago, had someone expressed such a fear, they would have been laughed at.  We will know that our war against savagery has been won when such a fear is once again considered absurd.

In the final chapter of The Fountainhead, architect Howard Roark signs a contract to build the Wynad Building, which was to be New York City's tallest:

If you consider the behavior of the world at present and the disaster toward which it is moving, you might find this undertaking preposterous.  The age of the skyscraper is gone....This will be the last skyscraper ever built in New York.  It is proper that it should be so.  The last achievement of man on earth before mankind destroys itself.

Mankind will never destroy itself, Mr. Wynand.  Nor should it think of itself as destroyed.  Not so long as it does things such as this.

As what?

As the Wynand Building.


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