March 19 in Music History


. 1872 ~ Sergei Diaghilev, Russian impresario; founder of the Ballets Russes
More information about Diaghilev

. 1873 ~ Max Reger, German composer
Read quotes by and about Reger
More information about Reger

. 1900 ~ Charles-Louis Hanon, French piano pedagogue and composer, died
More about Hanon’s exercises

. 1917 ~ Dinu Lipatti, Rumanian pianist and composer
More information about Lipatti

. 1923 ~ Janine Dacosta, French pianist

. 1930 ~ Ornette Coleman, American jazz alto saxophonist and composer
More information about Coleman

. 1941 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded one of their biggest musical successes. It became one of Decca Records’ all-time greats. Green Eyes featured vocalists Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly.

. 1946 ~ Ruth Pointer, Singer from The Pointer Sisters

. 2001 ~ Cuba-born entertainer Tony Alvarez of “El Show de Olga y Tony” died at age 85. Alvarez was best known for the television and radio programs he hosted with his wife, singer Olga Chorens. He began his career in Cuba in the 1940s as a singer and model, starring in a tango program on Channel Azul. In the 1960s, Alvarez and Chorens moved to Puerto Rico, where they began “El Show de Olga y Tony.” They later moved to New York, where they performed on WABC-TV, WPIX-TV and WNJU-TV from 1965 to 1972.

. 2001 ~ Elena Del Rubio, whose 60-year singing career with her sisters as the Del Rubio Triplets got a boost with campy covers of 1980s tunes, died of cancer. She was believed to be in her 70s. “It was a terrible blow to me,” said Milly, the only surviving sister. “Now I’m left alone.” Another triplet, Eadie, died in 1996. The sisters lived together in a mobile home overlooking the ocean. The trio that promoted itself as “3 Gals 3 Guitars 1 Birthday” performed for six decades in showcases ranging from television comedy to retirement homes. The three were in their 60s when they hit the Hollywood scene, dressed in identical miniskirts, go-go boots and big blonde hairdos. Calling themselves “song stylists,” the sisters’ diverse acts included mariachi strolling, country western music, Hawaiian-Calypso and holiday theme music.

. 2001 ~ Randall Hylton, a bluegrass performer who wrote Room at the Top of the Stairs, died in St. Thomas Hospital after suffering an aneurysm. He was 55. Hylton, who played guitar in the fingerpicking style of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, was known for his ability to instantly write songs to fit any occasion. The 6-foot-6-inch performer also told jokes, did impersonations and could do guitar tricks, such as playing a song backward or two songs at once. Hylton’s songs were performed by more than 150 singers, including Ralph Stanley, Vern Gosdin, Mac Wiseman, Leo Kottke and Lester Flatt.

. 2001 ~ Herbie Jones, a jazz musician who worked with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, died of complications from diabetes. He was 74. Jones, a jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger and educator, toured five continents with the Ellington band. His recorded arrangements for the band were El Busto, Cootie’s Caravan, The Prowling Cat and The Opener, and he contributed to Ellington’s first and second Sacred Concerts. After leaving the Ellington band, Jones became the first director of Arts and Culture Inc., a New York City alternative school, and as a volunteer directed the Bugle Corps of the Police Athletic League in Harlem. In Ellington’s 1973 memoir, “Music Is My Mistress,” he called Jones “a great asset” to his orchestra in the 1960s. Jones often played first trumpet but rarely soloed.

. 2015 ~ Peter Katin died.  He was a British classical pianist and pedagogue.

March 18 in Music History


. 1842 ~ Stephane Mallarme, French Symbolist poet, born. His “L’Apres-midi d’un Faune” inspired composer Claude Debussy to write an orchestral prelude of the same name.

. 1844 ~ Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian composer
More information about Rimsky-Korsakov

. 1882 ~ Gian Francesco Malipiero, Italian composer and musicologist

. 1902 ~ Enrico Caruso recorded 10 arias for the Gramophone Company. The recording session took place in Milan, Italy and Caruso walked away with $500 for his effort.

. 1905 ~ John Kirkpatrick, American pianist (Concord Sonata)

. 1910 ~ Hold on to your hats! The opera, Pipe of Desire, was first performed this day at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Frederick Sheperd Converse wrote the work that turned out to be the first opera by an American composer to be performed at the Met.

. 1927 ~ John Kander, composer (Cabaret, Chicago, Funny Lady, Kramer vs Kramer)

. 1940 ~ Glen Gray and his orchestra recorded No Name Jive on Decca Records.

. 1941 ~ Wilson Pickett, American soul singer and songwriter; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

. 1959 ~ Irene Cara, Singer and actress

. 1963 ~ Vanessa Williams, Singer and actress

. 1967 ~ The day The Beatles, Penny Lane went gold

. 1970 ~ Brook Benton received a gold record for the hit single, Rainy Night in Georgia. It was Benton’s first hit since 1963’s Hotel Happiness.

. 1970 ~ Queen Latifah (Dana Elaine Owens), American rapper, songwriter, singer, actress, and producer

. 1978 ~ The Bee Gees started an eight-week stay at the top of the pop music charts with Night Fever from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

. 2001 ~ John Phillips died at the age of 65. He was the singer-songwriter who founded the 1960s pop act the Mamas the Papas.

. 2017 ~ Trisha Brown, American choreographer and dancer, died at the age of 80

March 17 in Music History

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day



. 1884 ~ Joseph Bonnet, French organist and composer.  He founded the organ department at the Eastman School of Music during his time in the U.S.

. 1901 ~ Alfred Newman, Conductor
More information about Newman

. 1917 ~ Nat “King” Cole, American jazz singer and pianist
More information about Cole

. 1930 ~ Paul Horn, American jazz flutist, saxophonist, clarinetist and composer
More information about Horn

. 1938 ~ Rudolf Nureyev, Dancer
More information about Nureyev

. 1944 ~ John Lill CBE, English classical pianist

. 1944 ~ John Sebastian, American pop-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, His group, The Lovin’ Spoonful performed Do You Believe In Magic, Summer In The CityDaydream, You Didn’t Have to be So Nice, Nashville Cats His solos include Darling Be Home Soon and Welcome Back


March 16 in Music History


. 1736 ~ Giovanni Battista Pergolesi died.  He was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.

. 1894 ~ Jules Massenet’s opera “Thaïs” premiered in Paris

. 1905 ~ Nadia Boulanger made her public concert debut at the piano.

. 1924 ~ Christa Ludwig, German mezzo-soprano

. 1935 ~ Theresa Berganza, Spanish mezzo-soprano

. 1937 ~ David Del Tredici, American composer

. 1942 ~ Fats Waller recorded The Jitterbug Waltz in New York for Bluebird Records.  The Jitterbug Waltz was inspired by some piano exercises that Waller’s son Maurice had been practicing on the piano.

. 1955 ~ The Ballad of Davy Crockett, by Bill Hayes, reached the number one spot on the pop music charts and stayed for five weeks beginning this day. The smash hit song sold more than 7,000,000 records on more than 20 different labels. Everyone seemed to be singing the song that saluted the frontier hero who was “Born on a mountain top in Tennessee…” Coonskin caps were seen everywhere as the Crockett craze spread like a frontier fire.

. 1963 ~ Peter, Paul and Mary released the single, Puff The Magic Dragon.

. 1971 ~ Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water LP and single won six Grammys including Record, Song and Album of the Year. Aretha Franklin won the Best Female R&B Performance Grammy for Don’t Play That Song. B.B. King won the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy for The Thrill Is Gone.

. 1983 ~ Arthur Godfrey passed away

. 1985 ~ A Chorus Line played performance number 4,000 this night at New York’s famed Shubert Theatre. The show originally opened in July, 1975, and became the longest-running show to light up the Great White Way in September, 1983.

. 1999 ~ Honoring a roster of music artists that range from The Beatles to the Backstreet Boys, the Recording Industry Association of America presented the first Diamond Awards, given in recognition of albums and singles that have sold a million copies or more.

. 1999 ~ Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and the late Roosevelt Sykes were inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.

. 2014 ~ Mitch Leigh, American musical composer (Man of La Mancha), died at the age of 86

. 2017 ~ James Cotton, American blues vocalist and harmonica player, died at the age of 81

Math meets music

Three researchers attempt to bring some rigor to the math of melody.

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrapped up last week in Washington, DC. One particularly enjoyable and informative highlight was a session on Mathematics and Music, which presented some work in progress by three prominent researchers in this area.

Noam Elkies of Harvard University presented the first talk, titled “The Entropy of Music: How Many Possible Pieces of Music Are There?” He illustrated his points with virtuosic turns on a keyboard. His basic idea was to apply concepts similar to those used in statistical mechanics and information theory to approach the question posed in his title. Elkies addressed how much a piece of music needs to change before it is a different piece, rather than a variation on the original. He also talked about how much information remains when the redundancy of repeated themes in a piece is accounted for.

Read the entire article at Mathematics meets music | Ars Technica

March 15 in Music History


.1897 ~ First performance of Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60.  It is a symphony in four movements.

. 1835 ~ Eduard Strauss, Austrian composer who, together with brothers Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss made up the Strauss musical dynasty. He was the son of Johann Strauss I and Maria Anna Streim.

. 1873 ~ Lee Shubert, Broadway producer. Theaters in NY and LA named after him. He died in 1953

. 1907 ~ Jimmy McPartland, Jazz musician: cornetist; played for the Wolverine Orchestra, Embassy Four; bandleader; played at Newport Jazz Festival with wife, Marian

. 1916 ~ Harry James, American jazz trumpeter and bandleader, married to Betty Grable (second of four wives)

. 1918 ~ Lili Boulanger, composer, died at the age of 24
More about Boulanger

. 1933 ~ Cecil Taylor, American jazz pianist and composer

. 1944 ~ Sly Stone, American soul-rock singer and instrumentalist

. 1956 ~ “My Fair Lady” opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York City for 2,715 performances

. 1959 ~ The musical, No Strings, opened on Broadway at the 54th Street Theatre. Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll starred in the show. Also featured was the show’s composer in an acting role, singing his own lyrics. The composer was Richard Rodgers.

. 1968 ~ LIFE magazine called Jimi Hendrix, “the most spectacular guitarist in the world.”

. 1987 ~ Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Starlight Express” opened on Broadway. This was the first ever roller-skating musical.

. 1964 ~ My Fair Lady, by Lerner and Loewe, opened on Broadway. It ran for 6-1/2 years before 2,717 audiences. It became, thanks to Rex Harrison and an outstanding cast, the longest-running musical to that time.

. 1970 ~ The musical, Purlie, opened a run of 680 continuous performances on Broadway.

. 2001 ~ Ann Sothern died at the age of 92. She was an actress who starred as the saucy, liberated showgirl in MGM’s “Masie” movies during the 1940s and played single working women on TV in “Private Secretary” and “The Ann Southern Show.”