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August 10, 2011

Midweek Madness: In these volatile days, Marlene Dietrich's musical saw may soothe

Such a roller-coaster week so far, full of terribly unsettling news -- the stock market, the London riots, the prospect of a Rick Perry candidacy.

I figured this installment of Midweek Madness had to be doubly distracting, something to take your mind far away from the troubles around us (and, boy howdy, nobody knows the troubles I've seen just since Monday, so I may need this particular relief more than you).

Here then, for something completely different, the immortal Marlene Dietrich performing a lovely little Hawaiian song on her saw.

As you will hear in this radio show from the 1940s, interviewed by Milton Cross (voice of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts back in the day), Miss Dietrich had ...

even higher musical ambitions, but, really, when you've mastered the saw, what else is left?

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


Have you heard of the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival? Marlene dietrich would have fit right in :) the 2011 festival was last month: They even mentioned Marlene's saw playing in this video report of the festival!

Who knew? Thanks for the info. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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