Fascinating History of Fascination Waltz

07May10

Subtitle:  Many Wonderful Sounds of “Fascination” Song

I like to explore different versions of songs. It’s interesting, and I learn something new in the process. If you are a ballroom dancer, you are probably familiar with the waltz song “Fascination”. There are many versions that are played on ballroom floors – including Nat King Cole’s. But did you know that the first U.S. singer who made this song popular was not Nat King Cole? Moreover, did you know that the song originates from France, and the song did not have lyric when it was first written(that is, it was instrumental music) and that the current popular lyric has no relation to its original French lyric? Keep on reading to find out more.

First let me introduce you to a wonderful acoustic guitar rendition of the Fascination(Fascinação)

( The above guitar version is based on the arrangement of Dilermando Reis of the original song as written by F.D. Marchetti. Played by this amazing Italian guitarist, Modesto De Renzio who has a website here. You can go here to listen to more of his wonderful guitar plays.)

There’s a whole lot more interesting and fascinating history to the song.

Composer:

  • Originally written in 1904 by Italian F. D. Marchetti(1876-1940).  He was born in Massa, Italy, and later moved to Paris, France where he composed the song.), the instrumental song’s title was  “Valse Tzigane”, which means “Gypsy Waltz” in French. The song was initially written for instruments only, and later(1905?) the French words written by Maurice de Féraudy (1859-1932) was adopted (The title Fascination seems to have been given at this time). It’s hard to find the original instrumental recordings on internet.

French Version Sung by Florelle


The song became popular in France and probably in other parts of the world as well.  Some of the earlier versions used in American films from 1930 through 1949 are listed in F.D. Marchetti imdb database.   I found a 1931  recording by Florelle, French singer and actor.

Florelle’s birth name was Odette-Elisa Josephine Margaret Rousseau (also known as Odette Rousseau). Her biography appears here (in French Wikipedia) and here (translation into English here). There is  another bio from chanson.udenap.org.  Its translation into English is here.

  • Interesting facts about Florelle ( Odette Rousseau):  born August 9, 1898 in Les Sables d’Olonne (Vendée) and died September 28, 1974 in La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée).
  • She started to sing at the age of 13.
  • In 1923 she toured with Maurice Chevalier, who later (in 1957) appeared in film “Love in the Afternoon”(or “Ariane” for European release). She continued her singing career in the 1920s, appearing in Moulin Rouge (Cabaret in Paris, not film).
  • In the 1930s, she made many films with Austrian Film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst.
  • She appeared in 54 films throughout her career.
  • The original french lyrics of Florelle’s Fascination and its English translations are here. Her song is a great representation of French song, and it indeed sounds so good. Please listen to it here (This link requires that you enable an mp3 player on your computer; if you cannot play this, you do not have an mp3 player on your computer. If the link does not work properly, you can search for the file called florelle_fascination_1932.mp3 on Google.) Her version is rather dramatic, reflecting the atmosphere of Moulin Rouge.

I assume that instrumental version must have been around during this period(1920′s and 1930′s) to entertain social dancers.  Although I cannot find 1920′s- or 1930′s- “Fascination” waltz, I will illustrate the style of waltz that was popular in dances during this period in the below (where the instrumental versions would have been played – Florrelle’s version seems to fit more stage performance).

Portuguese version

There is a 1943 recording of the song in Portuguese.

(The above is not the original recording, but Carlos Galhardo himself is singing his version in this clip.)

The Portugese lyric can be found here (and its English translation here). Many later Brazilian singers sang this song. This  song is especially popular in Brazil.

English version

English lyrics were added by Dick Manning in 1932. This English version had a totally different lyric from the original French version (meaning it was not a translation of French lyric). It’s not clear if this English version was even recorded or not before 1957. In 1957, however, the song was used in the film “Love in the Afternoon”, followed by single albums by numerous artists, and became a hit song.

  • Interesting facts about Dick manning: Dick manning was originally born in Russia with a name, Samuel Medoff. His family immigrated to U.S when he was 6 years old.
  • 1957 Spring, at the age of 22, Nana Mouskouri records her first song ever in her career in Greek and in English. The song was “Fascination”. This was before the film “Love in the Afternoon” was released. But she remains still unknown artist until 1959 when she wins the Greek Song Festival 1st prize. Below is the Greek version sung by Nana Mouskouri.

The Film “Love in the Afternoon” and the Song Fascination


Released June 30, 1957, the film “Love in the Afternoon” (1957, Directed by Billy Wilder, starring Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Audrey Hepburn) does not do well commercially in U.S., but becomes a hit in Europe where it was distributed under the name “Ariane(1957)”. In this film, rather unknown music group, “The Troubadours”, plays the song “Fascination”. This film was an English remake of the film “Ariane(1931, released in Germany)” made by  director Paul Czinner.

(Song by Lisa Ono was dubbed in the above film clips; the mix video shows the last part of the film starting at 3;13. Notice that the Troubadours plays the song at 4:27 in the video clip.)

  • August 8, 1957 Nat King Cole records the song “Fascination” at Capitol Record (but this version does not become the most popular version in 1957). I believe the readers are much familiar with this version.
  • David Kapp of Kapp Records brought “The Troubadours” to the studio, and asked  Jane Morgan(who had already recorded at Kapp Records previously) to sing with The Troubadours. This song reached billboard #7 in September 9, 1957,  and it became an instant sensation, remaining on the best selling charts for 29 weeks and selling millions of records. (Jane Morgan previously sang in Paris, France and had a great sense of French mood (!). This version reflects the French mood very nicely). Jane Morgan and the Troubadours’ version becomes the most popular version of the many competing versions during 1957.

(Single cover, Fascination / Whistling Instrumental, Label:  KAPP 191)

Here below is the above record playing (KAPP 191). Occasionally one may hear this version being played in a ballroom dance. (This is special !)

Below is the Jane Morgan and the Troubadours’ version of “Fascination” with film clips from “Love In The Afternoon” for the fans of Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn.
The song was also released in an album the same year.

(Album cover, Fascination, Label: KAPP 1068)

Music Scenes of 1957

Dinah Shore (1957), Dick Jacobs (1957) and David Carroll (1957) followed with the same song that year. They all reached billboard chart —— Dinah Shore (#15), Dick Jacobs (#17) and David Carroll (#56). You may wonder how there could be so many singers doing the same song. This was a quite common practice back then that many singers release different versions of a song, and compete against each other.

I want to add that, in the year 1957, the music chart of the 1957 lists such heavy hitters as Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, Perry Como, Pat Boone,  Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. Well, the music scene wasn’t all that quiet(?), and the Rock’n Roll song was mixing with pop songs.

The film Jailhouse Rock was released November 8 in1957. Here Elvis sings his famous Jailhouse Rock.

Fascination After 1957

  • Many other artists all over the  world recorded this song since then. I am sorry I could not list all of them here. Some later versions are mentioned in Wikipedia article of Fascination (1932 song).  I will list a few interesting versions in the below.
  • A lovely voice of Connie Francis here.
  • ” José Augusto” – (1976) Fascination (Portuguese) Brazilian singer:  I think one can dance a rumba to this version.
  • Lisa Ono — She is a modern bossa nova singer born in Brazil, and is  active in Japan — has a wonderful rendition — bossa nova style.  Her singing was dubbed to original film clips in the above. But remember this is a more recent rendition.

I must add ballroom dancing illustration to this precious song, although the readers are very familiar with how to do it themselves. So here is a Viennese Waltz version, “Vals Facinacion”, danced by young Peruvian dancers.

What have I learned? As waltz dance came from Europe, one of the most popular American waltz song’s origin is in Europe. I am so thankful to those – a lot of people (truly of international and multi-country) contributed to the existence of this song.

So which version is your favorite?

I would like to dance to all the (danceable) versions one day. But I also do love just listening to those wonderful (not-so-danceable but beautiful) renditions.

I think the following version is a great play on the ballroom dance floor.

From  Album: Gold Star Ballroom Series: Waltz (2005)

You can listen to it here (track #7).



18 Responses to “Fascinating History of Fascination Waltz”

  1. Great blog, great post. I hope I can contribute to it. How about the original recording of “Fascination”, done by singer Jane Dyt in 1904? Here it is:

    http://www.4shared.com/audio/zrmm6Shj/Jane_Dyt_-_Fascination.html

    Cheerio,

    Ayrton

  2. Ayrton, thank you for the interest and valuable contribution.
    According to the website http://bmarcore.perso.neuf.fr/mil/top-02.html, Fascination by Jane Dyt was released in 1905, and is included in this CD “1900-1913, Les chansons de ces années-là ” (translated “1900-1913, The Songs of Those Years”). This CD is a part of a collection of French Chansons 1850-1958 Label: Disques Dom / Forlane. For readers who are interested in French chansons, these CD sets are amazing source of old chansons of those periods.
    So when you waltz to “Fascination”, you are dancing to a French chanson.

  3. 3 Sylvia

    A big TY for this blog post! I’m Brazilian and, as you said, here in my country we are really enthusiastic with this beautiful waltz.
    I’d like to ask you a favor. Long time ago I had a close friend who used to sing it, the Italian version. It is just for a vey long time I’m looking for this lyrics (in Italian) but I’ve never found it. Could you help me, please?

  4. I have the song fascination in my contract to be played on my funeral

  5. 5 Sylvia Guimaraes

    Here is another Brazilian follower with a contribution for your wonderful post…LOL… as you mentioned, here in Brazil, this song is especially popular. The hotlink you’ve posted about Roberto Carlos and Carlos Gaglhardo is not working anymore. So, here is another one:

    I still need to say that, many years ago, I’ve listened a dear friend singing it in the Italian version. It was very hard for me to find it with the Italian lyrics, but finally I succeeded, and here is:
    http://italiasempre.com/verpor/fascination2.htm

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. 6 Víctor M. Vargas

    It´s a beatiful theme. I´ve heard for many years. Recently I sang it. Thanks a lot for this information. I was looking for the composer because I just have found the songwriter.

  7. 7 Frank Howard

    Sean, many thanks for the info on F. D. Marchetti. You cross all the Ts and dot all the I’s — that is to say, you give dates of birth and death, and his full name.
    I like to write these things on my copies of music.
    (I play from Klavarskribo.)
    Best regards,
    Frank, Wigan, U.K.

  8. It was 10.30 pm on 12 April 2012 in Dunedin New Zealand when the song, ‘Fascination’ came into my head. I had heard it before as I was a big Nat King Cole fan in my teens (I’m now 77). What might be especially interesting is that at a late age I’ve suddenly begun to get what appears to be lots of origninal music coming into my head. I think a dead composer with ‘unfinished business’ on the planet might be using me as a channel. Sounds crazy, eh? But no crazier than lots of other wierd, unexcplainable happenings. I wonder if it’s Mr Marchett?

  9. 9 Sylvia

    Do you know it Fascination has been recorded in German?

    • Hi Sylvia, thanks for your question. Since I do not speak fluent German, I can’t answer that question. I hope someone will answer.

  10. Dear Sean,

    I see you love this song too!

    I stumbled across your blog entry just now.

    I have a blog entry on Fascination too.

    By all means check it out:
    http://soundofthunder.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/fascination/

    It has to be one of the most beautiful melodies every composed.

    Bevin

    • 12 Sylvia

      TY for posting the French version! TY for posting!

    • Thank you Bevin, I checked it out. Wonderful postings!
      (For readers: The posted link by Bevin has many French versions including complete French lyric, an Estonian version, and Jane Morgan’s English version.)
      I agree with Bevin strongly that Jane Morgan’s version is by far the best English version in history !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Important Update!!!

      New information added to my blog entry on “Fascination.”

      Includes a link to the complete Marchetti/Feraudy score, downloadable for free without conditions. Includes not just the chorus, but both verses.

      The lyrics on the score, unfortunately are in English. But I have matched the French lyrics to the English lyrics in the blog entry in text form.

      Same URL:
      http://soundofthunder.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/fascination/

      I have also translated the French lyrics into English and Chinese. The translations are not singable. They are merely so one can understand what the French lyrics mean.

      Enjoy!

  11. 15 Pietro Kleiner

    Thanks for this research! Great work and very interesting! Would be great ha ing all this information on more songs!

  12. 16 lord franklin

    It’s funny but after having listened a lot of versions, and I remember well one sung by the great Elis Regina, i wondered who wrote this song. I figuered it was an american song from some musical or something. I discover, instead, that the composer was italian and that studied music in my home town!


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