Greta Keller: selected early recordings 1930-1938

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Greta Keller (later Greta Keller-Bacon)

Extracts from the Wikipedia profile:

Bio — Born Margaretha Keller in Vienna, Austria, she studied dance from the age of eight, followed by acting. Her début was in Pavillon, in Vienna. She also appeared on stage with Marlene Dietrich in Broadway, in which she sang and danced. A recording contract with Ultraphon in 1929 took her from Vienna to Prague and Berlin, where she enjoyed great success with Peter Igelhoff and Peter Kreuder. For over 45 years her voice was familiar worldwide, in radio shows, films, revues, concerts and musicals, but above all in recordings. First called The Great Lady Of Chanson in her native Vienna, the nickname followed her to London and America.

Career — Her lieder voice carried the charm of the Parisian women but never lost the heart of the girl from Vienna. Greta’s singing in what some call “a style reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich” comes from the fact she was the model for how Marlene Dietrich developed her own voice. Greta Keller made recordings throughout the world and from the earliest days of “schellack” to the dawn of CDs. She spent many years in the United States, notably in hotel club rooms at the Waldorf and (later) the Stanhope in New York, where her show always included “My Way“, with lyrics composed by Paul Anka, and a number of Noel Coward numbers. A “singer’s singer,” Keller often drew other performers to the room, including the Nordstrom Sisters, Beverly Sills and Hildegarde. Other regulars would book the same tables most nights that she was performing, including photographer Edgar de Evia. greta-keller-2-these-foolish-things-t80f23-s.5Favorites of the Stanhope crowd were the songs of Cole Porter and Noel Coward, for their sexual innuendo and double entendres. These included “Miss Otis Regrets” and “I’m the Other Woman in His Life” by her close friend Elisse Boyd. She regularly returned to Vienna. The poet and singer Rod McKuen was introduced by her to an audience in Vienna. McKuen, in turn, hosted a concert presenting her at Lincoln Center in the 1970s, and wrote the English lyric “If You Go Away” to Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” which she always sang.

Greta’s greatest strength was in her adaptability. She sang each song in a unique way. Her repertoire included songs from the 1930s through the war years as well as popular songs of the day. A few years before her death, her voice was heard in the Academy Award-winning movie, Cabaret (1972), for which she sang the song, “Heirat” (Married). The last years of her life, from 1973 until her death in November 1977 Greta lived, worked, and traveled with her last partner, Wolfgang Nebmaier, who now lives in Southern Oregon.

Filmography (partial, IMDb)

Actress:

Blaue Stunde (1967) … Singer
“Five Fingers” … Micheline (1 episode, 1959)
Station Break (1959) TV episode … Micheline
A Heart’s Foul Play (1953) … Chansonniere/Cabaret Singer
… aka “Ein Herz spielt falsch” – West Germany (original title)
Reunion in France (1942) (uncredited) … Baroness von Steinkamp
The Paris Adventure (1936) … Cabaret Singer
… aka “Der Abenteurer von Paris” – Germany (original title)
Right to Happiness (1932) … Singer
… aka “Melodie der Liebe” – Germany (original title)Das Lied vom Leben (1931) … Sängerin
… aka “Song of Life” – USA (informal literal English title)

Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht (1931) (uncredited) … Singer
Murder for Sale (1930) … Tänzerin
… aka “Einbrecher” – Germany (original title)
… aka “Burglars” – International (English title)

Soundtrack:
  1. The Music of Erich Zann (2009/II) (writer: “Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear”) (performer: “Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear”)
  2. The Music of Erich Zann (2009/I) (writer: “Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear”) (performer: “Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear”)
  3. “Pennies from Heaven” (1 episode, 1978)
    Down Sunnyside Lane (1978) TV episode (performer: “Blue Moon” (uncredited))
  4. Cabaret (1972) (performer: “Heirat”)
  5. Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht (1931) (performer: “Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte”)

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Selected Greta Keller discographies:

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Selected recordings:

1930

Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte (Friedrich Hollaender) – The title is translated into English by the video provider as “If I Could Only Wish Myself Something”

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1931

Tu ne sais pas aimer (m. Guy Zoka, w. Maurice Aubret) – The song was introduced by the French singer and actress Damia (Marie-Louise Damien) in the film Sola (1931)

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1933

Say It Isn’t So (Irving Berlin)

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Bei zärtlicher Musik, da kann man herrlich träumen (m. Gerhard Mohr, w. Klaus S. Richter) — with Peter Kreuder and his Orchestra

Henry König says:

Auf ausländischen Pressungen lautet der Titel auch ‘At Cosy Music It Is Wonderful To Dream’, obwohl deutsch gesungen wird.

translation:
On foreign pressings, the title is also “At Cosy Music It Is Wonderful To Dream,” although it is sung in German.

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Lover (m. Richard Rodgers, w. Lorenz Hart)

From Wikipedia:

“Lover” is a popular song written by Richard Rodgers, with words by Lorenz Hart. It was featured in the movie Love Me Tonight (1932) sung by Jeanette MacDonald. Les Paul’s version was a guitar instrumental released by Capitol Records in 1948. It has a French title Partout Toi. Frank Sinatra has recorded it twice in 1950 and 1961. Peggy Lee’s 1952 version featured in that year’s version of the movie The Jazz Singer which she appeared in. Cliff Richard has recorded it on his album Listen to Cliff!. Additionally, John Coltrane recorded a version of the song in 1957, which appeared on his album “Last Trane”, which was released in 1965.

Greta Keller — recorded on 22 March 1933; issued on (US) Brunswick 6544, c/w “Maybe I Love You Too Much” (Irving Berlin)

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Maybe I Love You Too Much (Irving Berlin) — recorded on 22 March 1933; issued on (US) Brunswick 6544, c/w “Lover” (Rodgers & Hart); also issued on (UK) Decca F. 3562

  • Embedding disabled; click on title to play at YouTube

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1934

Isle of Capri — music by Wilhelm Grosz (aka Hugh Williams), lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy

Wikipedia notes that Isle of Capri was a “huge worldwide hit” with countless arrangements and translated versions. An excerpt from the Wikipedia profile:

It was recorded by Lew Stone and his Band with vocal by trumpeter Nat Gonella on July 25, 1934 and released on Decca (UK) catalogue number F 5132. Other popular British recordings were by Ray Noble and his Orchestra with vocal by Al Bowlly on August 30, 1934 and by Gracie Fields on October 9, 1934.

The first US hit version of the song was by Freddy Martin’s orchestra with vocal by Elmer Feldkamp recorded on December 3, 1934. Later hit versions were recorded by Wingy Manone in 1944, and later by The Gaylords and by Jackie Lee in 1954. Frank Sinatra recorded it on October 1, 1957 for his album: Come Fly with Me, issued in 1958.

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1935

Ich spür in mir (Peter Kreuder, H. Rameau) — with Peter Kreuder and his Orchestra

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Blue Moon (m. Richard Rodgers, w. Lorenz Hart)

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Keller’s 1935 recording was used in the following scene of the 1978 BBC TV drama serial Pennies from Heaven, Episode #1

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Stormy Weather (m. Harold Arlen, w. Ted Koehler)

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Gloomy Sunday (Rezsô Seress, László Jávor, Sam M. Lewis) — Keller recorded the alternate version with lyric by Desmond Carter, as recorded by Paul Robeson, Diamanda Galás, and Hildegarde.

song and lyric links:

Greta Keller — recorded in London, 1935; issued on (UK) Decca F.5966

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1936

Bird On the Wing (m. Wilhelm Grosz, w. Jimmy Kennedy) — recorded on 16 January 1936; issued on (UK) Decca F.5863

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Dort, wo du hingehst — from the 1936 screwball comedy Allotria (Hokum) — recorded with Die Goldene Sieben (The Golden Seven)

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These Foolish Things (m. Jack Strachey, w. Holt Marvell (Eric Maschwitz))

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When I Learn French (A. Thompson) — on Brunswick

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1937

I’m Not Giving Up My Heart (Alastair Thompson) — mit Peter Kreuder und seinen Solisten — recorded in Berlin on 10 December 1937 (matrix: 22631); issued on Telefunken A 2413

Greta Keller (vcl), Peter Kreuder (p,arr,ldr), Kurt Wege (cl), Kurt Henneberg (vln), Hans Korseck (g), Rudi Wegener (b), Hans Klagemann (d)

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If It’s the Last Thing I Do (w.m. Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin) — Peter Kreuder mit seinen
Solisten

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Pennies From Heaven (m. Arthur Johnston , w. Johnny Burke) — Greta Keller accompanied by Peter Kreuder and his Orchestra; recorded in 1937

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1938

Bei mir bist du schön — recorded on Wednesday, 12 January 1938 in London; issued on (UK) Decca F. 6603

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I’m Gonna Lock My Heart (m. Terry Shand, w. Jimmy Eaton) — recorded 27.09.38 (27 September 1938) — The provider suggests that it was perilous, given the political climate, for Keller to make this recording in Paris in 1938 with black jazz musicians: trumpeter Bill Coleman, and pianist Herman Chittison. I haven’t yet identified the backing vocal group.

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The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble) — recorded in 1938

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Undated:

Geh’ schlafen, mein Junge (Kurt Radeke / H. F. Beckmann) — probably 1930s, with Peter Kreuder and his Orchestra

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Eine kleine Reise im Frühling mit Dir (“A Little Ramble in Springtime With You”) – published in 1929 — music: Walter Jurmann, words: Fritz Rotter; English lyric version: Leslie Sarony

The introduction quotes from the traditional Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia.”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christa Krings
    Feb 18, 2016 @ 07:44:26

    wonderful because I`m doing an evening with the Songs of Greta and your informations are helpful

    Reply

    • doc
      Feb 19, 2016 @ 19:30:51

      Hi Christa,
      Glad to hear that this page was helpful to you. Hope to improve the page when I find some free time. It was created in 2010, and lacks the kind of details present in more recent pages.

      Reply

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