Newly available: a commercial recording of Weill's pageant for the 1939-40 World's Fair, Railroads on Parade. A nearly forgotten work from Weill's American years, Railroads was a vast work that featured real locomotives and train cars moving on and off the set. The orchestra, singers, and actors worked in an enclosed room under the stage, and the sound was broadcast into the amphitheater (the actors on stage did not speak or sing). Approximately an hour long, the show ran four times per day in the Fair's transportation pavilion; it was seen by over two million people. But little trace survived, aside from photographs and a few short silent film clips. Weill's manuscript score is housed in the Yale University Music Library, and a concert suite based on the original score has been performed, but no sound recording of the World's Fair performance was known to exist.
All that changed several years ago, when a set of four discs from a broadcast on the World's Fair radio station was discovered in New York by collector Guy Walker. The discs contain an abridged version of Railroads--almost 38 minutes in total. The original acetates are housed at the Archive of Recorded Sound at Stanford University, and the recording has been digitized and edited to produce the CD, now available from Transcription Recordings, Inc.
The deluxe packaging (above right) includes a complete facsimile of the original souvenir program and playbill from the Fair, with liner notes by Weill scholar bruce mcclung and audio restorer Aaron Z. Snyder. Railroad buffs, World's Fair fanciers, Weill fans, and students of Americana have an unprecedented opportunity to discover how Railroads on Parade sounded.
Facebook page for Transcription Recordings
New York Times article on the recording
Stanford press release on purchase of original discs
Learn more about Railroads on Parade
Originally posted: 9 November 2012
Last updated: 12 December 2012