Berl Olswanger "Mr. Music of Memphis"

The story of Berl Olswanger, Memphis pianist and composer, and his music
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In 1939, Berl Olswanger and the Tanner Sisters toured the country with the George Olsen Orchestra, one of the big bands of the era. The following year the Tanner Sisters appeared on Broadway in an Al Jolson musical comedy. While performing on Broadway, Betty, Martha, and Mickey Tanner commissioned Berl to do arrangements for them. Berl managed to supervise the orchestration by putting together a local trio in Memphis and teaching them the identical arrangements. www.BerlOlswanger.com

In 1939, Berl Olswanger and the Tanner Sisters toured the country with the George Olsen Orchestra, one of the big bands of the era. The following year the Tanner Sisters appeared on Broadway in an Al Jolson musical comedy. While performing on Broadway, Betty, Martha, and Mickey Tanner commissioned Berl to do arrangements for them. Berl managed to supervise the orchestration by putting together a local trio in Memphis and teaching them the identical arrangements. www.BerlOlswanger.com

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Set during World War II, the Canadian television series BOMB GIRLS tells the story of women who risked their lives in a munitions factory. Liberated from social and cultural restrictions, they embrace their newfound freedom and change their lives forever. Episode 3 of Season One contains “Hey Cinderella” by BERL OLSWANGER…

Set during World War II, the Canadian television series BOMB GIRLS tells the story of women who risked their lives in a munitions factory. Liberated from social and cultural restrictions, they embrace their newfound freedom and change their lives forever. Episode 3 of Season One contains “Hey Cinderella” by BERL OLSWANGER…

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1950. Memphis. Left to right: Mary Mead (Warner Brothers "starlet"), Fred Christensen (WMPS Program Manager), Berl Olswanger, and Mary Beth Hughes (Warner Brothers "starlet"). From The Memphis Commercial Appeal, April 9, 1950: "Berl Olswanger, who makes us all wish that we too had practiced our piano lessons, will celebrate his 20th anniversary in radio on his House Party Program at 9 tonight on WMCT, The Commercial Appeal television station." www.BerlOlswanger.com

1950. Memphis. Left to right: Mary Mead (Warner Brothers "starlet"), Fred Christensen (WMPS Program Manager), Berl Olswanger, and Mary Beth Hughes (Warner Brothers "starlet"). From The Memphis Commercial Appeal, April 9, 1950: "Berl Olswanger, who makes us all wish that we too had practiced our piano lessons, will celebrate his 20th anniversary in radio on his House Party Program at 9 tonight on WMCT, The Commercial Appeal television station." www.BerlOlswanger.com

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1953. Memphis. From The Commercial Appeal, December 1, 1953:  "BIRTH OF BLUES—W.C. Handy and his golden trumpet yesterday gave the world "The Newspaperman's Blues," a song written for a newspapermen's club here. Accompanying the famed musician at the piano is Berl Olswanger, star on WMCT, The Commercial Appeal's television station, and looking on is Paul Flowers, columnist on this newspaper. www.BerlOlswanger.com

1953. Memphis. From The Commercial Appeal, December 1, 1953: "BIRTH OF BLUES—W.C. Handy and his golden trumpet yesterday gave the world "The Newspaperman's Blues," a song written for a newspapermen's club here. Accompanying the famed musician at the piano is Berl Olswanger, star on WMCT, The Commercial Appeal's television station, and looking on is Paul Flowers, columnist on this newspaper. www.BerlOlswanger.com

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Berl Olswanger created the Rivermont label in Memphis in 1964 to showcase The Berl Olswanger Orchestra, which grew out of Berl's solo playing engagements. Clients had suggested that an instrument or two be added, until the orchestra was born. As an answer to requests from fans who couldn't get enough of the "Olswanger Beat," the BERL OLSWANGER ORCHESTRA WITH THE OLSWANGER BEAT album featured Berl's Dixieland arrangements. www.classicsonline.com/catalogue/product.aspx?pid=1667831

Berl Olswanger created the Rivermont label in Memphis in 1964 to showcase The Berl Olswanger Orchestra, which grew out of Berl's solo playing engagements. Clients had suggested that an instrument or two be added, until the orchestra was born. As an answer to requests from fans who couldn't get enough of the "Olswanger Beat," the BERL OLSWANGER ORCHESTRA WITH THE OLSWANGER BEAT album featured Berl's Dixieland arrangements. www.classicsonline.com/catalogue/product.aspx?pid=1667831

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In 1958, WMCT moved its studios to 1960 Union Avenue in midtown Memphis. The dedication broadcast included pianist Berl Olswanger performing his arrangement of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMhB96yXgN8

In 1958, WMCT moved its studios to 1960 Union Avenue in midtown Memphis. The dedication broadcast included pianist Berl Olswanger performing his arrangement of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMhB96yXgN8

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1953. From The Commercial Appeal, February 3, 1953: "In 15 fateful minutes yesterday, television was set back a generation. Oh, there will be inquiries, all right. Bound to be, when you think how many women and children must have been terrified. But they needn't come around to me asking about the 'Sydel Lims Show.' I saw it, but I wasn't near the place. I admit making a couple of cracks about the afternoon Berl Olswanger turned up on his television show as a cowboy." www.BerlOlswanger.com

1953. From The Commercial Appeal, February 3, 1953: "In 15 fateful minutes yesterday, television was set back a generation. Oh, there will be inquiries, all right. Bound to be, when you think how many women and children must have been terrified. But they needn't come around to me asking about the 'Sydel Lims Show.' I saw it, but I wasn't near the place. I admit making a couple of cracks about the afternoon Berl Olswanger turned up on his television show as a cowboy." www.BerlOlswanger.com

In 2014 director Tom Whitus adapted Anna Olswanger’s novel GREENHORN to the screen. In the film, a young Holocaust survivor named Daniel arrives at a New York yeshiva. He is carrying a small box, his only possession, which he never lets it out of his sight. Aaron, a stutterer bullied by the other boys, befriends Daniel and discovers the box's contents. The film score includes “Sutton’s Lick” by BERL OLSWANGER and Art Sutton, recorded by The Berl Olswanger Orchestra. www.GreenhornFilm.com

In 2014 director Tom Whitus adapted Anna Olswanger’s novel GREENHORN to the screen. In the film, a young Holocaust survivor named Daniel arrives at a New York yeshiva. He is carrying a small box, his only possession, which he never lets it out of his sight. Aaron, a stutterer bullied by the other boys, befriends Daniel and discovers the box's contents. The film score includes “Sutton’s Lick” by BERL OLSWANGER and Art Sutton, recorded by The Berl Olswanger Orchestra. www.GreenhornFilm.com

1958. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, September 3, 1958: "Kiwanians Hear Berl Olswanger Play New Song. Berl Olswanger, who has composed a new tune called 'Juice Harp Rag' played it for the first time in public yesterday to the delight of his fellow Kiwanians. The performance of the ragtime novelty number came as an encore to a fast-paced piano concert he gave at the Kiwanis Club luncheon at the Peabody. The tune, which has a Jews harp solo, will be released next month."…

1958. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal, September 3, 1958: "Kiwanians Hear Berl Olswanger Play New Song. Berl Olswanger, who has composed a new tune called 'Juice Harp Rag' played it for the first time in public yesterday to the delight of his fellow Kiwanians. The performance of the ragtime novelty number came as an encore to a fast-paced piano concert he gave at the Kiwanis Club luncheon at the Peabody. The tune, which has a Jews harp solo, will be released next month."…

Berl Olswanger's piano arrangements were a feature of his daily radio and television programs over WMC in Memphis during the 1950s. Under his own Music Shop Records label, Berl recorded the album BERL OLSWANGER AT THE PIANO, which included his arrangements of such popular numbers as "Begin the Beguine" and "Donkey Serenade" in response to requests by his radio listeners for an album of Berl Olswanger piano stylings. www.classicsonline.com/catalogue/product.aspx?pid=1678625

Berl Olswanger's piano arrangements were a feature of his daily radio and television programs over WMC in Memphis during the 1950s. Under his own Music Shop Records label, Berl recorded the album BERL OLSWANGER AT THE PIANO, which included his arrangements of such popular numbers as "Begin the Beguine" and "Donkey Serenade" in response to requests by his radio listeners for an album of Berl Olswanger piano stylings. www.classicsonline.com/catalogue/product.aspx?pid=1678625

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