One of the most popular pieces on the GMC is The REAL Eddy Duchin Story, which has been visited thousands of times since its appearance a couple of years ago. In fact, it received a burst of 2,000 visits in one day when the movie of the same name was shown recently on Turner Classics. It has also inspired a lot of comments, many of them about the identity of the actual pianist in the movie (even though Tyrone Power did a lot of studying beforehand to make it look realistic). Which brings us to Carmen Cavallaro, the man known as the Poet of the Piano.
A native New Yorker, Cavallaro was a classically trained piano prodigy who played concerts all over Europe while still a very young man. By the early 1930s he began to transition to pop music, which in that era meant playing in the orchestras of guys like Al Kavelin, Abe Lyman, and Rudy Valee, and it didn’t take long for him to establish himself as a star attraction.
In the years leading up to World War II, Cavallaro even led his own orchestra for a while, and his style often resembled that of successful bandleader Eddy Duchin, featuring not just pop tunes but also light classical music. Of course, other bands in those days often did the same, but it’s been said that he was inspired by Duchin, which might have made his participation in the movie a couple of decades later extra special.
Cavallaro continued to lead a very popular and successful orchestra for many years, both during and after the war, often enjoying long engagements at some of the biggest and best venues around. He also hosted a radio show, appeared on screen in the occasional movie, and made countless records. And of course he furnished much of the music for The Eddy Duchin Story. (Part of the soundtrack was from Duchin’s own recordings.) By the time he died at age 76 in 1989, Cavallaro’s legacy was in place.