Monday, December 21, 2015


Born in New York, April 19, 1921, Robert Maxwell was a harpist, performer, composer and songwriter known for having composed many popular American songs, including Ebb Tide composed in 1953. His music, which often included harp, has returned in popularity due in part by its use in the hit television series Mad Men.  

In 1964, Maxwell's piece Shangri-La (originally entitled Fantasy for Harp) became a Top 40 hit when Jackie Gleason started using it on his television variety show. Below is a YouTube audio of its original 6 minute 1946 version, performed by its writers, Robert Maxwell on harp and Matty Malneck, conductor. 

Maxwell also wrote Solfeggio, or The Do-Re-Mi Song, which Ernie Kovacs made famous using it in a bizarre bit with the Nairobi Trio; a motley group of mechanical monkey musicians.

Maxwell began to play harp at the age of 10. By high school he was studying under a scholarship at the Julliard School of Music, and by age 17, Maxwell became the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. 

His interest towards contemporary popular music and a more gritty and bold performance style flourished during his recruitment with the United States Coast Guard in a unit commanded by Rudy Vallée. Vallée arranged concert tours for the servicemen which found Maxwell performing his original works along with well-known hits of the time to thousands of audience members. 

Below is a wonderful video made in 1950 of Maxwell performing a medley of pieces. The Man I Love, beautiful.

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