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Too Opinionated

Sep 19, 2023

Today on Too Opinionated, we sit down with Donelle Dadigan, the President and Co-founder of the José Iturbi Foundation & President and Founder of The Hollywood Museum. 

Once upon a time in the 1940s and 1950s in America, classical music and its stars were a natural part of many big Hollywood movies. This golden age saw the creation of famous musical hits such as Anchors Aweigh with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra or That Midnight Kiss with Mario Lanza, in which a spirited piano virtuoso and conductor always played himself: José Iturbi. Nowadays known only to connoisseurs and aficionados, the native Spaniard was at the time, along with Oscar Levant (An American in Paris), one of the most commercially successful classical artists in Hollywood. When the film A Song to Remember was released in 1945, for example, Iturbi’s recording of a Chopin Polonaise sold 800,000 copies. Shortly thereafter, his recording company, RCA Victor, paid him over $118,000 in semiannual royalties – a record at the time. And Iturbi’s passion wasn’t just for music: he completed 1,400 hours of flying as a pilot, enjoyed riding motorcycles fast, and excelled as an amateur boxer. This edition is a tribute to an era when classical music from films made its journey around the world. It contains all the recordings made by José Iturbi and his sister Amparo Iturbi for RCA Victor from 1933 to 1955, painstakingly restored and remastered from the original records and tapes, including numerous previously unreleased recordings. The 188-page coffee-table book includes a detailed biographical essay by “Ambassador for the American Songbook” and producer of this set Michael Feinstein, extensive documentation with photographs and facsimiles from the José Iturbi Foundation archives, and a complete session and release discography.
·       The complete RCA Victor Recordings by José Iturbi from 1933 to 1953, including his piano duo recordings with sister Amparo Iturbi as well as Amparo Iturbi’s solo recordings on 16 CDs, restored and remastered from the original lacquer discs and analogue tapes using high-resolution 24 bit/192 kHz mastering technology with about 95% of the recordings appearing on CD for the first time and 23 pieces previously unreleased.
·       A new, captivating essay by GRAMMY®-nominated singer, pianist, and music anthropologist Michael Feinstein on the life and work of José Iturbi.
·       Complete session discography as well a complete documentation of José Iturbi’s commercial releases on 78rpm and LP.
·       Photo book with previously unseen photos and facsimiles from the Iturbi Archives in Hollywood.