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Melachrino's "Moods in Music" series of albums for RCA Victor epitomize one of the most popular and influential movements in space age pop. Indeed, the countless cheapo compilation CDs of "Dinner Music" or "Music for Meditation" that Best Buy places as an obstacle course in front of its checkout counters can be traced back to Music for Dining, Music for Reading, Music to Help You Sleep and other albums by the Melachrino Strings.
Melachrino vied with Mantovani, also the son of immigrants, to dominate England's--and America's--seemingly bottomless easy listening market. Like Mantovani, he was encouraged into music at a very early age, and began writing his own compositions at the age of five. By the age of 14, he had enrolled in Trinity College of Music (also Mantovani's alma mater) and two years later, was leading his own string group for concerts and tea dances around London.
He spent most of the 1930s playing for popular English bands lead by Ambrose and Bert Firman, and performing on radio for the BBC. He formed his own band in 1939--not the best timing--but folded it a year later to join the British Army. Melachrino gained an enormous amount of experience as a military musician, leading the British Band of the American Expeditionary Forces and the Orchestra in Khaki, serving as musical director for the Army's Radio service, and singing and playing frequently on the BBC and Armed Forces Radio.
After the war, he formed a musical organization that grew to encompass recordings, concert tours, publications, and film scores. Melachrino scored a number of films in the late 1940s and early 1950s, most of them now forgotten with the exception of the British film noir "No Orchids for Miss Blandish." He also scored a popular London music revue, "Starlight Roof," that brought a very young Julie Andrews her first fame.
Melachrino's "Moods" albums are better remembered today for their covers thn their contents. Although Melachrino occasionally ventured beyond the limits of the most conventional easy listening styles--such as on Lisbon at Twilight, for which he enlisted Portugese guitar virtuoso Raoul Nery--these are rare exceptions.
Melachrino died in 1965, but Robert Mandell took over the helm and "The Melachrino Strings" continued to record into the late 1970s.
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