Finding Leonard Posella

December 11, 2008

Every once in a while a magical correspondence happens. Sometime back, I posted a YouTube performance of Arnold Schoenberg conducting the first movement of his PIERROT LUNAIRE. The flutist on this recording was Leonard Posella. The other day I received this letter from his son, Nino, who gave me permission to reproduce his letter here.

Mr. Bourland:

Out of the blue I was sent a copy of the November 10th, 2008 Schoenberg conducts Pierrot Lunaire (excerpts) link to the YouTube recording of Pierrot Lunaire you provided in the article I believe you authored. The moment I heard it I was haunted, unexpectedly transported back through decades of memories and music, and then I knew I was listening to the unique sound of my father on the flute. I began to do some digging and discovered the article from which the link came. My ears did not deceive me. The flute and piccolo was credited to my father.

I have very few recordings of my father, Leonard Posella. Most of what I hear is from old Warner Brothers movies and of course, Looney Tunes cartoons. Dad did all the flute work from about 1940-1969 or 1970. I also just recently found a six record set of the Schoenberg, conducted by the composer himself. The set was in some boxes I had been hauling around for years after my father’s death, not really knowing the contents. They were from Ferde Grofe’s collection as my father and he were very close. I have not as yet been able to play them as they are either 78’s or 33 1/3 and I have no turntable. I will eventually attempt convert them to digital as I think my father was the flutist on that particular recording.

Interestingly enough, I have a letter to my father from Schoenberg, thanking my father for his work on Schoenberg’s music. I believe the Pierrot piece was included in Schoenberg’s gratitude letter, although not specifically. Anyway, I was thrilled to hear the music and take the journey on which it sent me. I also still have the ebony piccolo with the sterling head joint on which he played for the Schoenberg recording. The flute was either his platinum Powell (later stolen from his locker at WB), the Louis Lot or his Haynes (made by “old man Haynes” as he used to refer to him). I still have the Haynes and the Lot as well.

If you have any other recordings that you may know of with my father on them, I would be grateful to hear them.

Regards,

Nino Posella

Nino: Our librarian assures me that these recordings have been digitally made available. Whether they are still in print is another question. Many thanks for sharing this story about your father with me and my readers.

[Image from “Pierrot lunaire in Studio and in Broadcast” by Avior Byron, published in the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, 2 (2006-7), p. 69]

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