On January 22 in Music History

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. 1886 ~ John J. Becker, American composer

. 1889 ~ The Columbia Phonograph Company was formed in Washington, DC.

. 1901 ~ Hans Erich Apostel, German-born Austrian composer

. 1904 ~ George Balanchine (Georgi Balanchivadze), Choreographer of Apollo, Orpheus, Firebird, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker. He founded School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet. He was married to Tanaquil Le Clercq.

. 1907 ~ The Richard Strauss opera, “Salome”, was featured with the Dance of the Seven Veils. It was copied by vaudeville performers. Soon, performances of the opera were banned at the Metropolitan Opera House.

. 1916 ~ Henri Dutilleux, French composer

. 1920 ~ William Warfield, singer (Show Boat)

. 1924 ~ James Louis “J.J.” Johnson, Trombonist, composer and bandleader. He was one of first to use the trombone in modern jazz

. 1931 ~ Clyde McCoy and his orchestra recorded Sugar Blues. The tune became McCoy’s theme song, thanks to its popularity on Columbia Records, and later on Decca, selling over a million copies.

. 1935 ~ Sam Cooke, American rhythm-and-blues singer

. 1949 ~ Steve Perry, Drummer with Radio Stars

. 1953 ~ Myung-Whun Chung, Seoul South Korea, pianist/conductor (Chung Trio)

. 2002 ~ Pete Bardens, a keyboardist who played alongside such pop stars as Mick Fleetwood, Ray Davies, Rod Stewart and Van Morrison, died of lung cancer. He was 57. He was known for his progressive and New Age rock style on synthesizer, electric piano and organ. In the 1960s, the London-born Bardens played in the Blues Messengers with Davies, who later went on to form The Kinks; Shotgun Express with Stewart; Them with Morrison; and the group Cheynes with Fleetwood and Peter Green, who went on to form Fleetwood Mac. In 1972, Bardens formed the progressive rock band Camel and stayed with it through the late 1970s. In 1978, he began a successful solo career, releasing several well-received records, including “Speed of Light”, and also played on Morrison’s album “Wavelength” and accompanied him on a world tour. Barden continued to compose, produce and perform music through the 1990s, appearing in Europe with his group Mirage.

. 2004 ~ Milt Bernhart, a big band trombonist known for his solo on Frank Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin, died. He was 77. During his three-decade career, Bernhart played in bands led by Benny Goodman, Henry Mancini and others. He was performing in Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars when Marlon Brando arranged for the band to play in the 1954 film The Wild One. Bernhart then became an in-studio musician for Columbia and other film and television studios, and in 1956 added a memorable solo to Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Born in Valparaiso, Ind., Bernhart was drafted into the Army and was to be sent overseas during World War II before he was transferred to the service’s band. After his music career wound down in 1973, he bought Kelly Travel Service in Los Angeles. He created the Big Band Academy of America in 1986 and planned to retire as the organization’s founding president in March.

. 2004 ~ Ann Miller, a childhood dance prodigy who fast-tapped her way to movie stardom that peaked in 1940s musicals like “On the Town”, “Easter Parade” and“Kiss Me Kate”, died of lung cancer. She was 81. Miller’s film career peaked at MGM in the late 1940s and early ’50s, but she honed her chops into her 60s, earning millions for “Sugar Babies”, a razzmatazz tribute to the era of burlesque featuring Mickey Rooney. Miller’s legs, pretty face and fast tapping (she claimed the record of 500 taps a minute) earned her jobs in vaudeville and nightclubs when she first came to Hollywood. Her early film career included working as a child extra in films and as a chorus girl in a minor musical, “The Devil on Horseback”. An appearance at the popular Bal Tabarin in San Francisco won a contract at RKO studio, where her name was shortened to Ann. Her first film at RKO, “New Faces of 1937”, featured her dancing. She next played an acting hopeful in “Stage Door”, with Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball and Eve Arden.

When Cyd Charisse broke a leg before starting “Easter Parade” at MGM with Fred Astaire, Miller replaced her. That led to an MGM contract and her most enduring work. She was teamed with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in “On the Town”, Red Skelton in “Watch the Birdie”, and Bob Fosse in “Kiss Me Kate“. Other MGM films included: “Texas Carnival”, “Lovely to Look At”, “Small Town Girl”, “Deep in My Heart”, “Hit the Deck” and “The Opposite Sex.” The popularity of musicals declined in the 1950s, and her film career ended in 1956. Miller remained active in television and the theater, dancing and belting songs on Broadway in “Hello, Dolly” and “Mame”. In later years, she astounded audiences in New York, Las Vegas and on the road with her dynamic tapping in “Sugar Babies.” The show opened on Broadway in 1979 and toured for years. In 1990, she commented that “Sugar Babies” had made her financially independent. While her career in Hollywood prospered, Miller became a regular figure in the town’s nightlife, and she caught the eye of Louis B. Mayer, all-powerful head of MGM. After dating, she declined to marry him because her mother would not allow it. She later married and divorced steel heir Reese Milner and oilmen William Moss and Arthur Cameron.

. 2004 ~ Dick Rodgers, an insurance salesman known as the “Polka King” when he hosted a regional television show from the 1950s to the 1970s, died. He was 76. Rodgers’ television show was on the air from 1955-78, starting on WMBV in Marinette, which later moved to Green Bay and became WLUK-TV. The program was shown on 17 Midwestern stations at its height. Rodgers’ accomplishments included membership in the International Polka Music Hall of Fame (1976) and in the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame (1996). He also was named Orchestra Leader of the Year by the Wisconsin Orchestra Leaders Association in 1967.

On January 21 in Music History

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. 1626 ~ John Dowland, English composer (In Darkness We Dwell), died at the age of 62

. 1899  ~ Alexander Tcherepnin, pianist and composer

. 1903 ~ First performance of “The Wizard of Oz” as a Broadway musical

. 1917 ~ Billy Maxted, Pianist, songwriter, arranger and bandleader

. 1927 ~ The first opera to be broadcast over a national radio network was presented in Chicago, IL. Listeners heard selections from “Faust” by Charles Gounod.

. 1932 ~ Annunzio Paolo Mantovani gave a memorable concert at Queen’s Hall in England to ‘glowing notices’. This was the beginning of the musician’s successful recording career that provided beautiful music to radio stations for nearly five decades. Better known as just Mantovani, his music still entertains us with hits like Red Sails in the Sunset, Serenade in the Night, Song from Moulin Rouge and Charmaine.

. 1939 ~ Wolfman Jack (Robert Smith), Disc jockey, icon of ’60s radio, broadcasting from XERF, then XERB in Mexico and heard throughout a major part of the U.S.; TV announcer: The Midnight Special; actor: American Graffiti; author: Have Mercy! Confessions of the Original Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal

. 1941 ~ Placido Domingo, Spanish tenor and conductor
More information about Domingo Grammy winner
Washington Honored Eastwood, Baryshnikov, Domingo, Berry in 2000

 

. 1941 ~ Ritchie Havens, American rock singer

. 1942 ~ Mac (Scott) Davis, Singer, actor, host of The Mac Davis Show, songwriter, ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1975

. 1942 ~ Nostalgia buffs will want to grab the greatest hits CD of Count Basie (on Verve) and crank up One O’Clock Jump. Just one of the many signature tunes by Bill Basie; the tune was originally recorded on Okeh Records this day.

. 1948 ~ Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Italian composer and teacher

. 1950 ~ Billy Ocean, Grammy Award-winning R&B Male Vocal in 1984

. 1957 ~ Singer Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s nighttime TV show. She sang the classic, Walking After Midnight, which quickly launched her career.

. 1959 ~ The Kingston Trio (Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard) received a gold record for Tom Dooley. The Kingston Trio recorded many hits, including Greenback Dollar, M.T.A., Reverend Mr. Black, Tijuana Jail, and the war protest song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.

. 1966 ~ George Harrison of The Beatles married Patricia (Patty) Anne Boyd in Surrey, England. The two met on the set of the movie, “A Hard Day’s Night”.

. 1970 ~ ABC-TV presented “The Johnny Cash Show” in prime time. Previously, the show had been a summer replacement. The regular season series was a big boost for country music. Johnny wore black in the all-color show, however, like he still does today.

. 1978 ~ The soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” reached #1 on the album charts — a position it held for the next six months.

. 1987 ~ Thirty years after its release, Jackie Wilson’s single, Reet Petite (written by Motown founder Berry Gordy), ended a month at the top of England’s music charts. Three years earlier, on this same date, Jackie Wilson died after being in a coma (following a heart attack) for eight and a half years.

. 2002 ~ Peggy Lee, the singer-composer whose smoky voice in such songs as Is That All There Is? and Fever made her a jazz and pop legend, died of a heart attack. She was 81. Lee battled injury and ill health, including heart trouble, throughout a spectacular career that brought her a Grammy, an Oscar nomination and sold- out houses worldwide. In more than 50 years in show business, which began during a troubled childhood and endured through four broken marriages, Lee recorded hit songs with the Benny Goodman band, wrote songs for a Disney movie and starred on Broadway in a short-lived autobiographical show, Peg. A string of hits, notably Why Don’t You Do Right?, made her a star. Then she fell in love with Goodman’s guitarist, Dave Barbour, and withdrew from the music world to be his wife and raise their daughter, Nicki. She returned to singing when the marriage fell apart. Lee’s other notable recordings included Why Don’t You Do Right? I’m a Woman, Lover, Pass Me By, Where or When, The Way You Look Tonight, I’m Gonna Go Fishin‘ and Big Spender. The hit Is That All There Is? won her a Grammy for best contemporary female vocal performance in 1969. She collaborated with Sonny Burke on the songs for Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp, and was the voice for the wayward canine who sang He’s a Tramp (But I Love Him).

 

 

On January 20 in Music History

. 1586 ~ Johann Hermann Schein, German composer

. 1703 ~ Joseph-Hector Fiocco, Belgian composer and violinist

. 1855 ~ Amedee-Ernest Chausson, French composer
More information about Chausson

. 1870 ~ Guillaume Lekeu, Belgian composer

. 1876 ~ Josef Hofmann, Polish pianist and composer

. 1881 ~ First American performance of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No 94 G major aka “Surprise Symphony”.  More about this symphony.

. 1889 ~ Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, American blues guitarist, folk singer and songwriter

. 1891 ~ Mischa Elman, violinist

1894 ~ Walter Hamor Piston, American composer
More information about Piston

. 1899 ~ Alexander Tcherepnin, Composer

. 1922 ~ Ray Anthony (Antonini), Bandleader

. 1926 ~ David Tudor, American pianist and composer of experimental music

. 1935 ~ Buddy Blake (Buddy Cunningham), Recording artist: recorded for Sun Records as B.B. Cunningham and Buddy Blake; record executive: Cover Record Co., Sam Phillips’ Holiday Inn label

. 1941 ~ Ron Townson, Singer with The 5th Dimension

. 1942 ~ Harry Babbitt sang as Kay Kyser and his orchestra recorded, Who Wouldn’t Love You, on Columbia Records. The record went on to be a big hit for Kyser.

. 1947 ~ George Grantham, Drummer with Poco

. 1958 ~ The rock ‘n’ roll classic, Get a Job, by The Silhouettes, was released.

. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley got a little U.S. mail this day with greetings from Uncle Sam. The draft board in Memphis, TN ordered the King to report for duty; but allowed a 60-day deferment for him to finish the film, “King Creole”.

. 1964, The Beatles, a British rock group, released its first LP album, “Meet The Beatles“, in the US record stores. The album turned out to be a super hit and reached #1 position on music charts by early February.

. 1965 ~ John Michael Montgomery, Country singer

. 1965 ~ Alan Freed, the ‘Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, died in Palm Springs, CA. Freed was one of the first radio disc jockeys to program black music, or race music, as it was termed, for white audiences. In the 1950s, Freed, at WJW Radio in Cleveland, coined the phrase, “rock ‘n’ roll,” before moving to WABC in New York. He was fired by WABC for allegedly accepting payola (being paid to play records by certain artists and record companies). The 1959-1960 congressional investigation into payola made Freed the scapegoat for what was a widespread practice. Freed, not so incidentally, died nearly penniless after the scandal was exposed.

. 2002 ~ Actress, writer and musician Carrie Hamilton, daughter of actress Carol Burnett, died of cancer. She was 38. Hamilton, whose father was the late producer Joe Hamilton, appeared in the television series “Fame” and had guest roles on other shows, including “Murder She Wrote,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “thirtysomething.” She also starred in television movies. She and her mother collaborated on a stage version of Burnett’s best-selling memoir “One More Time.” The resulting play, “Hollywood Arms,” will have its world premiere in Chicago in April, said Burnett’s publicist, Deborah Kelman. Hamilton spoke publicly in the ’80s about her struggles with addiction and her decision to go drug-free. She starred as Maureen in the first national touring version of the musical “Rent” and wrote and directed short films through the profit-sharing production company Namethkuf. She won “The Women in Film Award” at the 2001 Latino Film Festival for her short film “Lunchtime Thomas.”

. 2002 ~ John Jackson, who went from gravedigger to one of the pre-eminent blues musicians in the country, died from kidney failure. He was 77. During his long career, Jackson played for presidents and in 68 countries. Jackson earned a living as a cook, a butler, a chauffeur and a gravedigger before his music career took off. He was playing guitar for some friends at a gas station in Fairfax in 1964 when Charles L. Perdue, who teaches folklore at the University of Virginia, pulled in to get some gas. He listened as Jackson taught a song to a mailman he knew. He and Jackson became friends, and Perdue eventually helped launch Jackson’s career by introducing him to people in the music business. The seventh son of 14 children, Jackson had just three months’ education at the first-grade level. But he earned the admiration of fans from all walks of life around the world. B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and Pete Seeger are among the performers he has played with and befriended. Among his numerous awards is the National Endowment for the Arts’ Heritage Fellowship Award, which he received in 1986.

2014 ~ Death of Italian conductor Claudio Abbado

 

Piano Exercises by Charles-Louis Hanon

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Since the first release of this classic Schirmer edition over 100 years ago, almost anyone who has taken piano lessons for more than two years has played from The Virtuoso Pianist.

Most anyone who has ever played piano has a love-hate relationship with the “Hanon”.

The Virtuoso Pianist (Le Pianiste virtuose) by Charles-Louis Hanon, is a compilation of sixty exercises meant to train the pianist in speed, precision, agility, and strength of all of the fingers and flexibility in the wrists.

First published in Boulogne, in 1873, The Virtuoso Pianist is Hanon’s most well-known work, and is still widely used by piano instructors and pupils although some teachers are getting away from the mechanical playing these can produce.

Personally, I’ve sometimes played these on “auto-pilot” since all one really needs is to get the first pattern going, then move up a step, up a step…

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Notes by C. L. Hanon: Preparatory exercises for the Acquirement of Agility, Independence, Strength and Perfect Evenness in the Fingers. For studying the 20 exercises, begin with the metronome set at 60, gradually increasing the speed up to 108.

From Wikipedia:

The exercises are intended to address common problems which could hamper the performance abilities of a student. These include “crossing of the thumb”, strengthening of the fourth and fifth fingers, and quadruple- and triple-trills.

The exercises are meant to be individually mastered and then played consecutively in the sections they are placed in.

Apart from increasing technical abilities of the student, when played in groups at higher speeds, the exercises will also help to increase endurance. The exercises are divided in three parts:

  1. Exercises 1 – 20: Labeled “preparatory exercises”, these are also the most famous exercises, and are used to develop finger strength and independence. Each exercise contains a sequence of 8 semiquavers, beginning on C, which is then repeated starting on D, and so on across two octaves. The exercise is then repeated in reverse down two octaves to the starting C. The exercises are intended to be practiced in groups of three, except for the first two which are practiced together.
  2. Exercises 21 – 43: Labeled “further exercises for the development of a virtuoso technique.” This more difficult section is meant to be played after the pianist has fully mastered Part 1. Part 2 includes scales and arpeggios.
  3. Exercises 44 – 60: Labeled “virtuoso exercises for mastering the greatest technical difficulties.” Since this section is considerably more difficult, Hanon recommends the mastery of both previous parts before proceeding to this one. This part includes repeated notes,, and more.

After all three parts are mastered, Hanon recommends all exercises be played through daily to retain technique.

The O’Connor Music Studio has several editions of this work.

On January 19 in Music History

today

 

. 1853 ~ Verdi’s opera “Il Trovatore” premiered in Rome

. 1884 ~ Jules Massenet’s opera “Manon” premiered in Paris

. 1908 ~ Merwyn Bogue, Comic singer, sang and played trumpet with Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge, big bandleader

. 1939 ~ Phil Everly, American rock-and-roll singer and guitarist, The Everly Brothers with his brother Don

. 1942 ~ Michael Crawford, singer. Some of his best-known roles have been in The Phantom of the Opera, Condorman, Hello, Dolly!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Knack

. 1943 ~ Janis Joplin, American blues-rock singer and songwriter with Big Brother and The Holding Company and formed Kozmic Blues Band

. 1944 ~ Shelley Fabares, Singer, Nanette Fabray’s niece

. 1946 ~ Dolly Parton, American country-music singer and songwriter, ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1977 and CMA Entertainer of the year, 1978

. 1949 ~ Robert Palmer, Singer, guitarist

. 1952 ~ Dewey Bunnell, Singer, guitarist with America

. 1953 ~ Sixty-eight percent of all TV sets in the U.S. were tuned to CBS-TV this day, as Lucy Ricardo of I Love Lucy gave birth to a baby boy, just as she actually did in real life, following the script to the letter! The audience for the program was greater than that watching the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower the following day. The baby was Desi Arnaz, Jr., entertainer and singer with Dino, Desi and Billy

. 1970 ~ The soundtrack of the film, “Easy Rider”, the movie that made a star of Peter Fonda, became a gold record. It was the first pop-culture, film soundtrack to earn the gold award.

. 1971 ~ Ruby Keeler made her comeback in the play, “No, No Nanette”, which opened at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. Keeler played the role of Sue Smith in the revival of the 1925 hit musical. The show played for 861 performances.

. 1976 ~ The Beatles turned down an offer of $30 million to play together again on the same stage. Rock promoter Bill Sargent still doesn’t understand why the group turned down his generous offer.

. 1980 ~ Richard Franko Goldman, composer, died at the age of 69

. 1998 ~ Carl Perkins, singer/songwriter, died at the age of 65

What Does Music Mean? ~ Bernstein

On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.  Some of the episodes can be found below:

Part 1 What is Classical Music?

Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel’s Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. “Exact” is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.

The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven’s innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.


Part 2 What is Melody?

Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.


Part 3 What is a Mode?

Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy’s Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.

An excerpt from Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free is also performed.

 

On January 18 in Music History

today

. 1835 ~ César Cui, Russian composer and music critic
More information about Cui

1841 ~ Alexis-Emmanuel Chabrier, French composer
More information about Chabrier

. 1913 ~ Danny Kaye (David Daniel Kaminski), Comedian, dancer, singer, actor, entertainer

. 1939 ~ Louis Armstrong and his orchestra recorded Jeepers Creepers on Decca Records. Satchmo lent his vocal talents to this classic jump tune.

. 1941 ~ Bobby Goldsboro, Singer

. 1941 ~ David Ruffin (Davis Eli Ruffin), Lead singer with The Temptations

. 1944 ~ ‘Legs’ Larry Smith, Drummer with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band

. 1944 ~ The first jazz concert was held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The stars of the concert were Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden. What a ticket!

. 1948 ~ Ted Mack came to television as “The Original Amateur Hour” debuted on the DuMont network. The program continued on different networks for a 22-year run on the tube. Teresa Brewer and Pat Boone got their start on this program.

. 1953 ~ Brett Hudson, Singer, comedian with Hudson Brothers

. 1958 ~ Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.

. 1968 ~ Singer Eartha Kitt made headlines, as she got into a now-famous confrontation with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, wife of the President of the United States, at a White House luncheon to discuss urban crime. Ms. Kitt told Lady Bird (the First Lady) that American youth were rebelling against the war in Vietnam, linking the crime rate with the war escalation. She had a lot to say and it definitely was not “C’est Si Bon”.

. 1986 ~ Dionne Warwick’s single for AID’s research, That’s What Friends are For, became her second #1 song on the music charts. Although Dionne had many hits in the 1960s, singing Burt Bacharach tunes like I Say a Little Prayer and Do You Know the Way to San Jose.

. 2017 ~ Roberta Peters, American operatic soprano (NY Met), died at the age of 86