October 26, 2016 ~ Today in Music History


OCMS 1685 ~ Domenico Scarlatti, Italian composer and harpsichordist
More information about Scarlatti

• 1911 ~ Mahalia Jackson, American soul and gospel singer

• 1913 ~ Charlie Barnet, Saxophonist, bandleader, his autobiography is Those Swinging Years

• 1934 ~ Cole Porter recorded his own composition titled, You’re the Top, from the show “Anything Goes”, on Victor.

• 1935 ~ A talented twelve-year-old sang on Wallace Beery’s NBC radio show on NBC.  Judy Garland delighted the appreciative audience. The young girl would soon be in pictures and at the top of stardom. It would be only four years before Ms. Garland (George Jessel gave her the name, thinking it would be better than her own, Frances Gumm) captured the hearts of moviegoers everywhere with her performance as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”.

• 1944 ~ Michael Piano, Singer with The Sandpipers

• 1946 ~ Keith Hopwood, Singer, guitarist with Herman’s Hermits

• 1952 ~ NBC~TV premiered Victory at Sea. The show was the first documentary film series to gain wide acceptance. Richard Rodgers wrote the score and Robert Russell Bennett orchestrated it. No Other Love, adapted from one of the songs in the score, became a hit for Perry Como in the summer of 1953.

• 1953 ~ Keith Strickland, Drummer with The B-52s

• 1962 ~ The Rolling Stones consisting of Keith Richard, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, pianist Ian Stewart and drummer Tony Chapman recorded their first demo tape at Curly Clayton Studios in Highbury, London. They recorded three songs, Jimmy Reed’s ‘Close Together’, Bo Diddley’s ‘You Cant Judge A Book By The Cover’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Soon Forgotten.’

• 1965 ~ The Beatles received MBE medals from the Queen of England, as they became Members of the British Empire. Ceremonies were held at Buckingham Palace.John Lennon returned his medal four years later in protest of Britain’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War.

• 1971 ~ Memphis minister Al Green received a gold record for his single, Tired of Being Alone.

• 1984 ~ Barbra Streisand won multiplatinum certification for three albums that reached the four-million-dollar sales mark. “Greatest Hits, Vol. II”, “Guilty”, and “A Star is Born” (with Kris Kristofferson) were honored.

• 2001 ~ Laszlo Halasz, the first music director of the New York City Opera, died at the age of 96. Halasz became the opera’s first director in 1943. During his eight-year tenure, the New York City Opera became an important training ground for young singers. The company also became an important venue for new works. Born in Hungary, Halasz studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, where his teachers included Béla Bartók, Ernst von Dohnanyi, Leo Weiner and Zoltán Kodály. He made his professional debut as a pianist in 1928, but in 1931 decided to focus on conducting. He came to New York in 1936, and when the New York City Opera was formed in the fall of 1943, Halasz was appointed its music director. The company’s first season included productions of Puccini’s “Tosca,” Flotow’s “Martha” and Bizet’s “Carmen”  Halasz conducted the company’s first American premiere, Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” in 1946, and the opera’s first world premiere, of  William Grant Still’s “Troubled Island,” with a libretto by Langston Hughes. But the opera’s board was uneasy with Halasz’s ventures into modern opera. When the board insisted in 1951 that Halasz submit his repertory plans for approval, he resigned. The board ultimately relented, but when Halasz became involved in union disputes later that year, the board fired him. After leaving City Opera, Halasz began a second career as a record producer. He also conducted opera at houses in Frankfurt, Barcelona, Budapest, London and South America. As a teacher, he was on the conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, in Baltimore, and the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y.

• 2001 ~ Herbert Weissenstein, a consultant who specialized in classical music, died at the age of 56. Weissenstein began his career in 1970 as public relations director for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He moved on to the New York Philharmonic and in 1979 became director of development and strategic planning at Carnegie Hall. In 1984, he founded H.F. Weissenstein & Co., which specialized in consulting, directing seminars, and publishing articles in the fields of management and development. His clients included the Electronic Media Forum, the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, the Manhattan Theater Club, the International Organization for the Transition of Professional dancers and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Getting Ready for Halloween: Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod


The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d’une marionnette) is a short piece by Charles Gounod. It was written in 1872 for solo piano and orchestrated in 1879. It is perhaps best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which originally aired from 1955 to 1965.

In 1871-72, while residing in London, Gounod started to write a suite for piano called “Suite Burlesque”. After completing one movement, the Funeral March of a Marionette, he abandoned the suite and had the single movement published by Goddard & Co. In 1879 he orchestrated the piece. The instrumentation is: piccolo, flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in D, 2 trumpets in A, 3 trombones, ophicleide, timpani, bass drum, triangle, strings. The work is in the key of D minor, with a central section in D major. Various arrangements by other hands exist.

There is a program underlying the Funeral March of a Marionette: The Marionette has died in a duel. The funeral procession commences (D minor). A central section (D major) depicts the mourners taking refreshments, before returning to the funeral march (D minor).
The score contains the following inscriptions in appropriate places:

La Marionnette est cassée!!! (The Marionette is broken!!!)
Murmure de regrets de la troupe (Murmurs of regret from the troupe)
Le Cortège (The Procession)
Ici plusieurs des principaux personnages de la troupe s’arrêtent pour sa rafrâichir (Here many of the principal personages stop for refreshments)
Retour a la maison (Return to the house). (Wikipedia)

Download this music in several versions from IMSLP.  Click on Arrangements and Transcriptions.  There are also some arrangements for piano at the O’Connor Music Studio.

On Alfred Hitchcock:

From Faber Piano Adventures Performance Book Level 3B No.7 (Also available in the OCMS Library):

Piano 4-hands:

With animation:

On organ:

Mannheim Steamroller:

And, finally, a light show!

October 25, 2016 ~ Today in Music History


1825 ~ Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825) Austrian composer, “The Waltz King”

OCMS 1838 ~ Georges Bizet, French composer
More information about Bizet

• 1912 ~ Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Colley), Grand Ole Opry singer, CMA Hall of Fame, comedienne

• 1924 ~ Billy Barty, Comedian on The Spike Jones Show

• 1926 ~ Jimmy Heath, Musician, reeds with the Heath Brothers, band leader

• 1927 ~ Barbara Cook, Tony Award-winning actress, singer in “The Music Man” in 1957, “Flahooley”, “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “Plain and Fancy”, “Candide”, “The Gay Life”, “She Loves Me”, “Any Wednesday”, “Funny Girl”, “The Gershwin Years”

• 1937 ~ Jeanne (Gloria) Black, Singer

• 1940 ~ “Cabin in the Sky” opened for the first of 256 shows. Taking a Chance on Love is the one big hit that came from the musical.

• 1941 ~ Helen Reddy, Singer

• 1943 ~ Benny Carter and his orchestra recorded Poinciana on the Capitol label. The real title, incidentally, is Poinciana (Song of the Tree).

• 1944 ~ Jon Anderson, Singer, solo and duo called Jon and Vangelis

• 1944 ~ Taffy Danoff (Nivert), Singer with Starland Vocal Band

• 1948 ~ Glenn Tipton, Guitarist with Judas Priest

• 1951 ~ Ransom Wilson, American flutist and conductor

• 1956 ~ Mathias Jabs, Guitarist with Scorpions

• 1964 ~ “And now, rrrrright here on this stage….” The Rolling Stones were introduced to American audiences on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV.

• 1969 ~ Canada’s The Guess Who got a gold record for the single, Laughing.

OCMS 1971 ~ Midori (Goto), Japanese violinist
More information on Midori

• 1974 ~ The single, Skin Tight, by The Ohio Players, went gold on this day.

• 1980 ~ Virgil Fox, organist, passed away

• 1984 ~ John Cougar Mellencamp reached the two-million-dollar sales mark with his album, “Uh-Huh”.

• 1984 ~ Country group Alabama went to the three-million-dollar mark with two albums this day with Feels So Right and Mountain Music.

• 2000 ~ Don Brooks, a studio musician who played the harmonica with Harry Belafonte, Ringo Starr, the Bee Gees and Yoko Ono’s band, died of leukemia at the age of 53. Brooks, who was raised in Texas, first picked up the harmonica after hearing an album by bluesman Sonny Terry. He played in Dallas coffee shops in the 1960s and moved to New York in 1967, joining a Greenwich Village folk scene that included David Bromberg and John Hammond Jr. In 1973, he joined singer Waylon Jennings’s band and helped create the sound known as outlaw country music. Brooks recorded with Belafonte, Starr, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon, Diana Ross and Bette Midler, among others. He also played with groups such as the Bee Gees, the Talking Heads and Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. He was a musician on Broadway in “Big River” (1985) and “The Gospel at Colonus” (1988), and he worked on the soundtrack for the television documentary “The Civil War.”

October 24, 2016 ~ Today in Music History


1788 ~ Sarah Hale, Poet, magazine editor, wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb

• 1904 ~ Moss Hart, Tony Award-winning director of My Fair Lady (1957), playwright, married to actress Kitty Carlisle

• 1911 ~ “Sonny” Terry (Saunders Terrell), American blues singer and harmonica player

OCMS 1925 ~ Luciano Berio, Italian composer More information about Berio

• 1929 ~ George Crumb, American composer and teacher

• 1929 ~ The Rudy Vallee Show was broadcast for the first time over NBC radio. Actually, the Rudy Vallee show had several different titles over the years, all of which were referred to by the public as The Rudy Vallee Show. Megaphone-toting Rudy and his Connecticut Yankees band were mainstays on radio into the late 1940s.

• 1930 ~ J.P. (Jiles Perry) Richardson (The Big Bopper), singer, songwriter More about The Big Bopper

• 1936 ~ David Nelson, Actor, son of entertainers Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, brother of singer Ricky Nelson

• 1936 ~ Bill Wyman, Musician with The Rolling Stones, songwriter, London restaurant owner of Sticky Fingers

• 1937 ~ Santo Farina, Steel guitar with Santo & Johnny

• 1939 ~ F. Murray Abraham, Academy Award-winning actor for his portrayal of Salieri in “Amadeus” (about Mozart), 1984.

• 1939 ~ Let’s Dance was recorded on Columbia Records. It became the theme song for the band that recorded it, the Benny Goodman Band.

• 1946 ~ Jerry Edmonton, Drummer with Steppenwolf

• 1960 ~ Brenda Lee hit #1 for the second time in the year with I Want to Be Wanted. 1960 was a very good year for the young (age 15) songstress. In addition to her first #1 smash, I’m Sorry (July 18), Lee had two other songs on the charts: SweetNothin’s (#4, April 18) and That’s All You Gotta Do (#6, July 4).

• 1975 ~ Looking to name your own greatest hits album something other than Greatest Hits? Do what former Beatle John Lennon did, with his package of the best. Lennon called it, “Shaved Fish”.

• 1977 ~ Gary Busey began filming The Buddy Holly Story. The star was a ringer for the rock idol.

• 1999 ~ Phillip Glass’ “Dracula” score makes news.

• 2001 ~ Kim Gardner, a bassist who played with several bands, including the British rock group Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, died. He was 53. Gardner, born in London, joined fellow teen-age musicians Ron Wood, Ali McKenzie, Tony Munroe and Pete McDaniels to form the Thunderbirds. Shortening their name to the Birds, the band released four singles, including Leaving Here and No Good Without You Baby, both in 1965. Gardner’s next group was Ashton, Gardner & Dyke with Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke in 1968. The trio, whose albums featured a light, jazz-rock style, scored a top-three hit in Britain with Resurrection Shuffle in 1971. The group broke up a year later. Gardner also toured with Pacific Gas and Electric and other bands in the 1970s. He played bass with everyone from Eric Clapton to Bo Didley, and worked on 27 albums. Gardner also was a successful pub master and restaurateur. Gardner toured the United States regularly before settling in Los Angeles in 1973. In 1982, he started the original, 50-seat Cat & Fiddle Restaurant and Pub. Over the years, Cat & Fiddle has been a favorite destination for British rockers such as Keith Moon, Robert Plant and Rod Stewart, as well as Hollywood celebrities.

October 23, 2016 ~ Today in Music History


• 1878 ~ The opera Carmen, by Bizet, had its first American performance but it was sung in Italian. It took another fifteen years before audiences could hear it in French, the language in which it was written.

• 1891 ~ Albert Lortzing, German composer

• 1906 ~ Miriam Gideon, American composer

OCMS 1923 ~ Ned Rorem, American composer and writer
Read quotes by and about Ned Rorem
More information about Rorem

• 1927 ~ Sonny (William) Criss, Saxophonist

• 1939 ~ Charlie Foxx, Singer with sister, Inez

• 1940 ~ (Eleanor) Ellie Greenwich (Ellie Gay, Ellie Gee), Songwriter

• 1941 ~ Clarinet a la King was recorded by Benny Goodman and his orchestra on Okeh Records.

• 1947 ~ Greg Ridley, Bass with Spooky Tooth

• 1950 ~ Al Jolson passed away

• 1956 ~ Dwight Yoakam, Songwriter, singer

• 1959 ~ ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic, Singer, comedian, parodies

• 1970 ~ ‘Lady Soul’, Aretha Franklin, won a gold record for Don’t Play that Song.

• 1975 ~ Elton John’s Los Angeles concert was sold out at Dodger Stadium. It was the finale to his concert tour of the western U.S.

• 1978 ~ Mother Maybelle Carter (Addington) passed away

• 1978 ~ CBS Records hiked prices of many vinyl albums by one dollar to $8.98. Other labels soon joined in.

• 2001 ~ Russell “Rusty” Kershaw, a guitarist and recording artist, died of a heart attack at the age of 63. Over the course of a long career, Kershaw, the younger brother of Cajun recording star Doug Kershaw, performed with Neil Young, Chet Atkins, J.J. Cale and Charlie Daniels. Kershaw’s musical career began with a small family band, Pee Wee Kershaw and the Continental Playboys. The band joined the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport in 1955 and moved on the following year to the Wheeling Jamboree on a West Virginia radio station. Doug and Rusty Kershaw went on to perform as a duo and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957. In 1964, Rusty Kershaw started performing on his own, and worked on numerous albums with other artists. Kershaw had lived in New Orleans since 1980 when then-Gov. Edwin Edwards asked him to join the Louisiana Music Commission.

• 2003 ~ Nico Snel, conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony for 18 years, died after a battle with cancer. He was 69. Port Angeles, with a population of about 19,000, is one of the smallest cities in the nation to support a full orchestra. A search committee will spend the next two seasons looking for a new permanent conductor to succeed him. Born in Alkmaar, Holland, Snel began studying music with his father, an accomplished musician and conductor. He started with piano and then moved on to violin, and began performing when he was about 8. The family immigrated to the United States after World War II, when Snel was 15. An accomplished violinist, he went to Germany as a young man and served with the Seventh Army Symphony, becoming the organization’s conductor in 1958. In the 1960s and early ’70s, he worked as a conductor for the Oakland, Calif., Light Opera and the Diablo Light Opera and as director of the Oakland Temple Pageant chorus and orchestra. He moved to the Northwest in the late 1970s and conducted the Everett Youth Symphony for three years. He was named conductor of the Seattle Philharmonic in 1980, a position he held until 1995. He became conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony in 1985, for a time serving both orchestras.

Happy Birthday to Franz Liszt!


Franz Liszt was born in Raiding, near Ödenburg, October 22, 1811 and died in Bayreuth, July 31, 1886. He was a Hungarian composer and pianist who was a major influence during the romantic period. Liszt was an outstanding pianist at seven, composed at eight and made concert appearances at nine. In addition to being a piano virtuoso, he was also a critic, conductor, city music director, literary writer and transcriber of the works of other composers. He transcribed Beethoven’s Symphonies for the piano.

Franz Liszt began his career as the outstanding concert pianist of the century, who, along with the prodigious violinist Niccoló Paganini (1782-1840), created the cult of the modern instrumental virtuoso. To show off his phenomenal and unprecedented technique, Liszt composed a great deal of music designed specifically for this purpose, resulting in a vast amount of piano literature laden with dazzling, and other technical marvels. In this vein, Liszt composed a series of virtuosic rhapsodies on Hungarian gypsy melodies, the best-known being the all too familiar Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. Liszt developed the rhapsody as a form of serious music. This kind of music is worlds apart from the generally more introspective, poetic music of pianist-composer Frédéric Chopin.

Liszt was wildly handsome and hugely talented. He was extremely popular in Paris during the 1830’s. It is said that women actually fainted at his piano recitals. He was the first to position the piano so that its lid reflected the sound and the audience could see his profile as he performed.

Liszt was the first to write a tone poem, which is an extended, single-movement work for orchestra, inspired by paintings, plays, poems or other literary or visual works, and attempting to convey the ideas expressed in those media through music. Such a work is Les Préludes, based on a poem in which life is expressed as a series of struggles, passions, and mysteries, all serving as a mere prelude to . . .what? The Romantic genre of the symphonic poem, as well as its cousin the concert overture, became very attractive to many later composers, including Saint-Saëns, TchaikovskyDvorák, Sibelius, and Richard Strauss.

     Liszt’s birthday

     anniversary of Liszt’s death

    Listen to Liszt’s transcription of Meyerbeer’s Hellish Waltz from Robert du Diable, which probably caused more public commotion than any other piano piece in history.

     Read quotes by and about Liszt

     Liszt was the first recitalist

     In Praise of Pianos and the Artists Who Play Them

     History of the Piano

     Franz Liszt

October 22, 2016 ~ Today in Music History


OCMS 1811 ~ Franz Liszt, Hungarian composer and pianist
Read quotes by and about Franz Liszt
More information about Liszt

• 1885 ~ Giovanni Martinelli, Opera singer, tenor with Metropolitan Opera for 30 seasons

• 1904 ~ Paul Arma, Hungarian composer and theorist

• 1917 ~ Leopold Stokowski led the Philadelphia Orchestra in its first recording session, for Victor Records.

• 1930 ~ Dory Previn, Songwriter with André Previn

• 1939 ~ Ray Jones, Bass with Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas

• 1943 ~ Paul Zukofsky, American violinist

• 1943 ~ Bobby Fuller, Singer, guitarist with Bobby Fuller Four

• 1945 ~ Leslie West (Weinstein), Singer, musician, guitarist with Mountain

• 1945 ~ Eddie Brigati, Singer, musician with The (Young) Rascals

• 1959 ~ “Take Me Along” opened on Broadway and quickly became an American classic. Walter Pidgeon starred along with Jackie Gleason.

• 1966 ~ The Supremes rocketed to the top of the pop album charts with “Supremes A’ Go-Go”. They were the first all-female vocal group to hit the top of the LP chart.

• 1969 ~ Giovanni Martinelli passed away

• 1969 ~ Michael Tilson Thomas, the 25-year-old assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, took over for ailing conductor William Steinberg in the symphony’s appearance in New York City.

• 1971 ~ Folk singer Joan Baez received a gold record for her hit, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. It turned out to be her biggest hit, peaking at #3 on the charts on October 2, 1971.

• 1983 ~ Celebrating its 100th anniversary, New York’s Metropolitan Opera featured a daylong concert with some of the world’s greatest opera stars. On stage at the Met were Dame Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

• 2001 ~ Tom Baker, one of Australia’s most respected jazz musicians, died of a heart attack while touring in the Netherlands. He was 49. Baker, a native of California, took up residence in Australia 30 years ago. He was a regular at Sydney’s famous jazz club, The Basement. Willie Qua, drummer and co-founder of one of Australia’s best-known jazz bands, Galapagos Duck, said Baker had often played as “a part-time member” of the band and was an icon of the Sydney jazz scene. Baker formed his first band, Tom Baker’s San Francisco Jazz Band, in 1975, earning himself a reputation as one of Australia’s very best jazz musicians. Recently he toured extensively through Europe and America.