Psychic pianists, prophetic instrument makers, and orchestral meditators--Secret Sound features marginalized American composers, whose work is drawn from intuitive experience and esoteric tradition. Each episode explores an individual artist, focusing on their musical works, creative process, biography, and esoteric influences. Along the way we'll encounter the philosophies of New Thought, Theosophy, spiritualism, Kabbalah, Enochian magic, and more.
#44 - A Séance of Strings - Florizel von Reuter
Welcome to episode #44, A Séance for Strings, featuring Iowa-born child prodigy, psychic violinist, composer, music educator, and author, Florizel von Reuter (1890-1985). Following an immensely successful career touring American and Europe as a child violinist, Reuter and his mother became devout séance practitioners during the 1920s. Through his mother, the medium, Reuter communicated with diverse composers and musicians using a unique séance device called the Hesperus-Additor. Through these spirit messages Reuter’s violin performance was psychically enhanced. He also wrote several books on medial communications and music, as well as fiction and a memoire of his experiences in Hitler-era Germany, where he helped German Jews evade the Nazis. Eventually walking away from his psychic interests, Reuter would focus on composing, teaching, and performing well into his 90s. This episode looks into the history of the planchette and ouija board, the “odic force,” and a truly inspired violinist. Welcome to the voice of the Od...
#43 - The Prayerful Organist - Irma Glen
Welcome to episode 43, "The Prayerful Organist," featuring radio celebrity, virtuoso organist, Religious Science minister, and early pioneer of "new age" music, Irma Glen (1908-1982). After successful vaudeville music tours in her adolescence, Glen found a passion for the organ and became a renowned presence on radio and in the silent film theatres of Chicago. She would then become a household name through her role in diverse programs on NBC radio. Having studied comparative religion since childhood, Glen took to the new thought philosophy of Earnest Holmes' Religious Science during the 1950s. She soon became a minister and founded her own churches in California. But she would leave formal ministry in her later years to pioneer her unique "Prayer-Music." This episode explores Glen's life, the philosophy of Religious Science, and the incredible organ and spoken word music she recorded in the 1960s and 70s. Welcome to the Golden Melody...
#42 - The Coloratura of Celestial Choice - Amelita Galli-Curci
Welcome to episode 42, "The Coloratura of Celestial Choice," featuring Spanish-Italian American opera singer, Amelita Galli-Curci (1882-1963). Through her opera career she accrued international renown and fortune, but this was cut short by a vocal injury in the 1930s. While her opera recordings have remained a touchstone in the genre up to the present, less remembered is her public embrace of Swedenborgian theology and Kriya Yoga, for both of which she served as a significant representative and devoted instrument. Welcome to the singing heart...
#41 - The Ghost Dance - Wovoka
Welcome to Episode 41, "The Ghost Dance," featuring Native American prophet Wovoka (1856-1932). A descendent of the Numu language family and Paiute tribe in Nevada, Wovoka had a vision in 1889 in which he visited heaven and communed with the spirits of his ancestors. The spirits told him that by performing the “Ghost Dance,” the white man’s violent oppression would subside and the native tribes would thrive following an apocalyptic resurrection of Native life. The rapid spread of the Ghost Dance across the nation was so threatening to white oppressors that it compelled them to even greater atrocities, resulting in the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Wovoka’s prophetic religion, music, and dance, however, still remain today. Through the life of Wovoka and his Paiute heritage this episode explores the meaning and music of the Ghost Dance tradition. Welcome to a prophecy of hope...
#40 - The Prophet of Swing - Vincent Lopez
Welcome to episode 40, "The Prophet of Swing," featuring Portuguese American pianist, bandleader, numerologist, and metaphysical philosopher Vincent Lopez (1895-1975). Raised in an extreme Roman Catholic home, Lopez left the monastic path for ragtime piano as a child. One of the first jazz bandleaders to make use of America's emerging radio technology, Lopez's radio program, "Lopez Speaking," made him a household name across the country. While the success of his orchestra lead to a million dollar deal. Lopez attributed his success to numerology, astrology, and the "power of thought vibration." He would go on to publish books on prophecy and numerology, practices he often incorporated into his concerts. His song selections frequently emphasized dreams and cosmic imagery; while Lopez's 1944 "Musical Horoscope" is one of the earliest examples of "zodiac jazz." Welcome to the hidden number...* Featuring special guest, Sarah Cahill, on piano.
#39 - The Everlasting Gospel Revelation - Sister Gertrude Morgan
Welcome to episode 39, "The Everlasting Gospel Revelation," featuring preacher, painter, and musician, Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980). Raised in a poor Baptist family in Alabama, a series of divine revelations lead Sister Morgan to paint, sing, and preach in the Baptist-Holiness-Pentecostal tradition. Her visions also lead her to New Orleans, where she founded an orphanage and her own house of worship. Though she became most known for her street performances, where with guitar or tambourine she sang and preached through hand-painted paper megaphones. Her paintings and music were picked up by the Preservation Hall in New Orleans and diverse galleries and museums, gaining widespread attention and fans as notable as Andy Warhol. This episode looks into the musicalization of the holy spirit in the African American church. We'll look at the Baptist, Holiness, and Pentecostal movements as well as the musical evangelism of early 20th century New Orleans, where Sister Morgan sang, painted, poeticised and prophesied the New Jerusalem to come...
I love this podcast. Every episode feels like an adventure through the dusty stacks of an old music library. Thanks to Matt’s podcast, I don’t even have to get dusty.
Matt’s thoughtful, well spoken podcasts of forgotten, neglected, esoteric composers are something to behold. Hasn’t been many podcasts like this. Excellent musical curation and editing. I hope he continues and extends his research to other places on the planet too. Highly recommended!
Lovely podcast. Soothing voice, informative and fascinating music. This is musicology at its best. This podcast celebrates the depth, context, story, purpose and meaning in the esoteric music it explores.