Joseph M. LaCalle (1860 - June 11, 1937) was a clarinetist, composer, conductor and music critic. He is most well known for composing the song "Amapola".
LaCalle was born in Cadiz, Spain and emigrated to the United States as a young man. He performed on woodwind instruments with a number of popular bands including the John Phillip Sousa Band, the Gilmore Band, the 7th Regiment Band, the Hoadley Musical Society Amateur Orchestra, and the Columbia Spanish Band. He conducted his own band, the LaCalle Band, and the 23rd Regiment Band. LaCalle participated in early recordings for Columbia and other recording companies.
LaCalle composed numerous songs and marches, including 'Twenty-third Regiment March' (1902), 'Pobrecito Faraon' (1923) 'Amapola' (1924), 'Aquel Beso' (1927) and 'The Light That Never Fails (Luz Eterna)' (1928).
'Amapola' was originally composed without lyrics. In the early 1940s 'Amapola' was given English lyrics by Albert Gamse. The song was then recorded by a number of artists. Jimmy Dorsey recorded a version which hit #1 on the Billboard charts. 'Amapola' went to #1 on Your Hit Parade in 1941.
In later life LaCalle worked as a music critic for Columbia Phonograph Company. He founded the Spanish Theater Company in Brooklyn and presented Zarzuelas to American audiences. He was also influential in promoting Spanish and Cuban music. He died in Brooklyn, New York in 1937 at the age of 77.
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