1935 – 2009
Feast of Tabernacles, 1984 - Tulsa, Oklahoma was where I was introduced to Mr. Kunzel, famed conductor of the Cincinnati Pops. We were staying at another church member's home during the Festival, and I found one of the first CDs I'd ever seen, Time Warp. It changed the course of my life.
Back then I was certain that CDs were only useful for scores and classical music and Time Warp did nothing to dispel my theory. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting and cleanest sounding recording of any score I had ever heard. I use the word exciting because this disc opened with an original synthesizer composition by Don Dorsey and was followed by an explosive and uniquely arranged Also Sprach Zarathustra as an transition to the Main Title of Star Trek: The Motion Picture as an intro to this disc's magnificent library of sci-fi themes. It breathed life into the tired old recordings my father had and was the very cusp of a new generation.
There were many firsts for me on this disc, one of them being a brand new recording of the full seven minute Menagerie suite from the Star Trek pilot. Another being the haunting end credits of Alien. When I returned home, I bought all I could on cassette: Star Tracks, Chiller, Round-Up. Later, I started buying them up on CD. Sadly, I'm still a few short of my original cassettes, but out of my 45 Telarc CDs, 15 of them are Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops.
I would drive all over the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex seeking out new releases, many which would introduce me to new composers or new selections from films I was familiar with. Many of the more 'fun' albums would include applicable sound effects throughout, or in the case of Chiller a glow-in-the-dark cover.
Oftentimes you could find tracks from films which weren't available anywhere else - and not lofi bootlegs either - new recordings! Telarc's high quality of digitally capturing orchestras raised the bar on industry standards and as far as I was concerned rivaled that of long-time leader Deutsche Grammophon.
But it was Erich Kunzel's energy and adventurous spirit with the arrangements he conducted that set him apart from the rote classical music recordings I had grown up on.
My father called me this evening to let me know he had passed away Wednesday, September 1st.
You captured my imagination, and will be greatly missed.