Songs Lost in Time

Fritz-KruegerMy grandfather was a professional musician: a tenor in the Philadelphia Opera Company in the ’30s and ’40s (check it out! He’s mentioned in the Philadelphia Opera Co Wikipedia page), a performer in many other settings, and eventually a voice professor at West Chester University (where incoming freshman can still win the Fritz K. Krueger Memorial Voice Scholarship). I have written about him many times but I am continually fascinated by his life and work.

As I have said before, my family is lucky enough to have kept some old recordings of his performances, and my brother digitized them a few years ago. But the records sat in a chest in my parents’ house for decades and I guess over time that kind of record sort of deteriorates. So some of the recordings didn’t translate to digital very well.

I went back and listened to a few of the songs again the other day like I do occasionally, and I happened to zero in on one of the records (number 5 on the recordings page), which was labeled “B.J. Wedding Music” with a German song title written on it, but he was singing in English, so I thought I’d tap my mother for some more info by asking her about it on Facebook. Turns out that “B.J.” is Betty Jo, his niece, and he sang “Ich Liebe Dich” – “I love you” in German – at her wedding.

1412_thumbThe other song, “Because,” isn’t in the digital recordings, I guess because it was unplayable. So, I looked up the song, which was sort of hard to find. I did eventually find a Perry Como version (meh) and a performance of it that I liked, sung by another famous voice of the time, Mario Lanza (don’t worry, I didn’t know who he was until the other day, either):

Then I found this video of the song, which it turns out is from the 1938 movie, “Three Smart Girls Grow Up,” yet another thing I’d never heard of.

And Facebook showed me its true value again that day because as more people saw my post I collected more historical nuggets:

1. My grandfather’s family and friends called him “Our Mario Lanza.”

2. He sang at so many people’s weddings, and all of those people remember it so happily!

3. His picture is up in the Wyomissing Institute of Fine Arts in Reading, according to another family friend. I’d like to find out if it’s still there.

But at the end of all this, despite what I found, the thing that is still lost is Fritz’s recording of “Because.” That is, it’s lost unless there’s someone out there with another collection of his recordings…

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