February 17 in Music History

today

. 1653 ~ Arcangelo Corelli, Italian violinist and composer
More information on Corelli

. 1902 ~ Marian Anderson, American contralto
Read quotes by and about Anderson
More information on Anderson

. 1904 ~ Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly was first performed at La Scala, world’s most famous opera house in Milan, Italy.

. 1909 ~ Marjorie Lawrence, Opera soprano: “One of the truest Wagnerian interpreters of our time, unchallenged for the stirring magnificence of her Brunnhilde and the tender simplicity of her Sieglinde, or the stately loveliness of her Elsa and the compelling malevolence of her Ortrud.”

. 1923 ~ Buddy (Boniface) DeFranco, Clarinetist, bandleader. He won all modern jazz music polls in the early 1950s

. 1933 ~ Bobby Lewis, Pianist, singer

. 1941 ~ Gene Pitney, Singer, songwriter

. 1945 ~ Zina Bethune, Dancer, choreographer, actress

. 1946 ~ Dodie Stevens (Geraldine Ann Pasquale), Singer

. 1954 ~ Doris Day’s single, Secret Love, became the #1 tune in the U.S. The song, from the motion picture, “Calamity Jane”, stayed at the top of the music charts for three weeks.

. 1962 ~ The Beach Boys started making waves with their first Southern California hit, Surfin’. Their new musical style swept the U.S. like a tidal wave when they hit nationally with Surfin’ Safari in August of this same year.

. 1962 ~ Gene Chandler hit #1 with Duke of Earl on this day. The song stayed at the top for three weeks. It hit #1 on the rhythm & blues charts, as well. Duke of Earl was Chandler’s biggest hit out of a half-dozen he recorded. His only other million seller came with Groovy Situation in

. 1970. Curtis Mayfield wrote several hits for Chandler, including Just Be True, What Now and Nothing Can Stop Me. Chandler’s real name is Eugene Dixon. He owned his own record label, Mr. Chand, from 1969 to 1973, though Groovy Situation was recorded in 1970 for Mercury.

. 1966 ~ Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler received a gold record from RCA Victor, for both the album and the single of The Ballad of the Green Berets. Sadler, who recorded one other single (“The “A” Team”) for the label, had served in Vietnam until injuring a leg in a Viet Cong booby trap.

. 1972 ~ Billie Joe Armstrong, Grammy Award-winning singer (1994), guitarist and songwriter with Green Day

. 1998 ~ Bob Merrill passed away.  Merrill was an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter.

February 16 in Music History

today

. 1709 ~ Charles Avison, English composer during the Baroque and Classical periods. He was a church organist at St John The Baptist Church in Newcastle and at St. Nicholas’s Church.

. 1878 ~ Selim Palmgren, Finnish composer, pianist, and conductor

. 1866 ~ David Mannes, American violinist and conductor; founder of the Mannes College of music

. 1896 ~ Alexander Brailowsky, Pianist

. 1901 ~ Wayne King, ‘The Waltz King’, saxophonist and bandleader

. 1907 ~ Alec Wilder, American composer, arranger and songwriter

. 1910 ~ Albert Heinrich Zabel died.  He was a German composer and virtuoso harpist.

. 1915 ~ Emil Waldteufel, [Charles Levy], French composer (Estudiantina), died

. 1916 ~ Bill Doggett, Musician

. 1918 ~ Patti Andrews (Patricia Marie Andrews), Lead singer with The Andrews Sisters

. 1935 ~ Sonny (Salvatore) Bono, Singer in the group Sonny and Cher. He later became mayor of Palm Springs, CA and a US Congressman

. 1938 ~ John Corigliano, American composer
More information about Corigliano

. 1939 ~ Herbie & Harold Kalin, Singers, The Kalin Twins

. 1942 ~ Shep Fields and his orchestra recorded Jersey Bounce on Bluebird Records.

. 1956 ~ James Ingram, Singer

. 1963 ~ The Beatles moved to the top of the British rock charts with Please, Please Me exactly one month after the record was released. It was the start of the Beatles domination of the British music charts, as well as the beginning of the British Invasion in America and elsewhere around the world.

. 1968 ~ Elvis Presley received a gold record for his sacred album of hymns, How< Great Thou Art. Despite his popularity in the pop music world, Elvis won only 3 Grammy Awards — one for this album, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1970; then for He Touched Me in 1972. He did, however, receive over a dozen Grammy nominations.

. 1972 ~ Led Zeppelin made their Australian live debut when they kicked off a six-date tour at the Subiaco Oval, Perth. Police battled with over 500 fans who rammed locked gates trying to get into the concert. Over 4,000 fans stood outside the venue without tickets and local residents jammed police phone lines to complain about the noise.

. 2015 ~ Leslie Gore died.  She was an American singer. At the age of 16, in 1963, she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party”, and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me”.

February 15 in Music History

today

 

. 1571 ~ Michael Praetorius, German organist, composer and theorist

. 1621 ~ Michael Praetorius, German composer (In Dulce Jubilo), died on his 50th birthday
More information about Praetorius

. 1797 ~ Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, German piano manufacturer
More information about Steinway

. 1847 ~ Robert Fuchs, Austrian composer and music teacher

. 1857 ~ Mikhail Glinka, Russian composer (“Ruslan and Ludmilla”), died at the age of 53
More about Glinka

. 1905 ~ Harold Arlen, (Hyman Arluck) American composer of musicals and songs
More information about Arlen

. 1918 ~ Hank Locklin (Lawrence Hankins Locklin), Country singer

. 1932 ~ George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on The Guy Lombardo Show on CBS radio. The couple was so popular that soon, they would have their own Burns & Allen Show. George and Gracie continued on radio for 18 years before making the switch to TV. All in all, they were big hits for three decades.

. 1941 ~ Brian Holland, Songwriter

. 1941 ~ Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded one of big band’s all-time classics on this day. Take the “A” Train was recorded at Victor’s Hollywood studio and became the Duke’s signature song.

 

. 1944 ~ Mick Avory, Drummer with The Kinks

. 1951 ~ Melissa Manchester, Singer

. 1958 ~ Get A Job, by The Silhouettes, reached the top spot on the music Tunedex. It remained at #1 for two weeks. Talk about sudden change in American popular music! One week earlier, the number one song was Sugartime, by The McGuire Sisters, a song that definitely was not classified as rock ‘n’ roll. Get A Job was replaced by Tequila, an instrumental by a studio group known as The Champs.

. 1959 ~ Ali (Alistair) Campbell, Guitarist, lead singer with UB40

. 1964 ~ Jack Teagarden [Weldon Leo Teagarden], American trombonist and actor (Meet Band Leaders), died from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 58
More about Teagarden

. 1965 ~ This was a sad day in music, as singer Nat ‘King’ Cole died in Santa Monica, CA. The music legend was 45.

. 1986 ~ Whitney Houston reached the #1 spot on the music charts. Her single, How Will I Know, replaced a song recorded by her first cousin, Dionne Warwick (That’s What Friends Are For). Whitney is the daughter of singer Cissy Houston.

. 1992 ~ William Schuman passed away. Schuman was an American composer and arts administrator.

February 14 in Music History

valentine-heart

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

. 1602 ~ Pier Francesco Cavalli, Italian opera composer

. 1813 ~ Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Russian composer

. 1882 ~ Ignace Friedman, Polish pianist and composer

. 1894 ~ Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), The stingy, violin-playing, perennial-39- year-old comedian of radio, television and vaudeville

. 1923 ~ Cesare Siepi, Opera basso

. 1925 ~ Elliot Lawrence (Broza), Emmy Award-winning composer, conductor, arranger, musical director of Night of 100 Stars, Night of 100 Stars II,

. 1993, 1994, 1995 Kennedy Center Honors; Tony Award: musical direction: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

. 1931 ~ Phyllis McGuire, Singer

. 1934 ~ Florence Henderson, Singer

. 1946 ~ Gregory Hines, Dancer
More about Hines

. 1950 ~ Roger Fisher, Guitarist with Heart

. 1957 ~ Lionel Hampton’s only major musical work, “King David”, made its debut at New York’s Town Hall. The four-part symphony jazz suite was conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.

. 1972 ~ “Grease” opened at the Eden Theatre in New York City. The musical later moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway where it became the longest-running musical ever with 3,388 performances. A hit movie based on the stage play starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and produced the hit song, Grease, by Frankie Valli, You’re the One That I Want and Summer Nights by Travolta and Newton-John.

. 1984 ~ British rocker Elton John married Renata Blauel in Sydney, Australia on this day.

. 1998 ~ Frederick Loewe American composer of musicals, died
More information about Loewe

. 2003 ~ Jack Maher, 78, who served more than three decades as publisher of respected jazz magazine Down Beat and its parent company, Maher Publications, died. Down Beat began in 1934 to chronicle the comings and goings of touring swing bands. A previous owner forfeited the magazine to his printer, Mr. Maher’s father, John Maher. After his father died in 1968, Jack Maher put up his own money to acquire Down Beat, outbidding Playboy founder and jazz aficionado Hugh Hefner. Mr. Maher was credited with transforming Down Beat into a leading forum on jazz, with a roster of writers that included Leonard Feather, Nat Hentoff, Dan Morgenstern and Ira Gitler. He changed a number of his father’s policies, including one that had frowned on putting pictures of black musicians on Down Beat’s cover.

. 2004 ~ Joe McFarlin, whose late-night shows on WCCO radio featured big bands, swing and traditional jazz for a quarter-century, died. He was 78. McFarlin was as a nightly presence on 830 AM during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, attracting a following across the country. McFarlin retired from WCCO in 1992. Management and format changes had reduced his broadcast to about two hours on the weekends and he was forced to choose from a jazz-free play list. He served as a U.S. Navy signalman during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. McFarlin began his radio career in 1947 at WREX in Duluth and worked at several other stations before moving to the Twin Cities in 1961, where he worked at KRSI before joining WCCO.

. 2011 ~ George Shearing, British-American blind jazz pianist (Lullaby of Birdland), died at the age of 91

Hot Cross Buns

 

It’s the beginning of Lent so…

It’s time for Hot Cross Buns. “Hot Cross Buns” is an English language nursery rhyme, Easter song, and street cry referring to the spiced English bun known as a hot cross bun, which is associated with the end of Lent and is eaten on Good Friday in various countries.

This is from Keyboard Kickoff:


From last year, on another of my blogs:

 

My husband came home from the grocery store last night with Hot Cross Buns.  I was surprised because they had never had them before Ash Wednesday in past years.  I almost refused to eat them because they were “seasonally incorrect”.  Of course, I did try one to be sure that they weren’t mislabeled or anything…

I’d never even heard of HCB before college.  My freshman year in the dining commons at UMass Amherst changed all that.  Huge pans of actually hot, cross buns.  We actually even put butter on them, too.  No wonder the “Freshman 15” was a problem.

I’ve made a fairly exhaustive study of the local grocery stores’ versions and the one from  Giant come out on top.  Surprisingly, Wegmans isn’t the winner in this case.

Looking for a video on the history of HCB, I came across one for making these at home.

Maybe that wouldn’t be a good thing!

 

A bit of HCB trivia: English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year.

Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover.

If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck.

If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

 

Turns out there’s also a “Not Cross Bun” which is a variation on the hot cross bun. It uses the same ingredients but instead of having a “cross” on top, it is has a smiley face in reference to it being “not cross” or “angry”.

The not cross bun was first sold commercially in 2014 by an Australian bakery in response to supermarkets selling hot cross buns as early as Boxing Day (December 26)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day

valentine-stomp

Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller (May 21, 1904 – December 15, 1943) was an influential American jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer, whose innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano.  He wrote the Valentine Stomp above in 1929.

MaryOOneRose

Piano Lessons are Not Just for Kids

 

 

When Paula Fay started taking piano lessons for the first time in her late fifties, it fulfilled a lifelong dream.

“I always wanted to learn how to play as a child, but my parents couldn’t afford it,” she said.

 

Today, four years later, Paula can play some of her favorite tunes. And she’s loving every minute of it.

 

Some adults may groan at childhood memories of lesson after lesson, practice after practice and a lot of teacher nagging, but many wish those days were back.

 

And more and more, these adults are turning wishful thinking into reality. According to the National Piano Foundation, adults ages 25-55 are the fastest-growing segment of people learning piano.

 

When Ruth Ann Laye started teaching an adult piano class at Mandarin’s Keyboard Connection, there was only one weekday class. Now, she’s up to seven classes. And of her own private practice of 28, 11 are adults.

 

One of her students is Belinda May from St. Augustine, who is in her 60s and in her second year of piano lessons.

Though her brothers played piano, she was more athletically inclined than musical. Then after years of “picking” at the pianos in her house, she recently resolved to start taking lessons. A beginner when she started, “now I’m playing Christmas carols,” she said.

“It tells me that you’re never too old to learn something new.”

 

Maureen Rhodes, a piano teacher on the Southside, would likely agree. She has more adults in her practice than she did 20 years ago.

“I think baby boomers are looking for ways to stay active,” she said. “Sometimes, kids come to me for lessons and then when they grow up and leave, their mother starts to take lessons,” says Rhodes. “Other adults have a specific goal in mind, like they want to play in church or accompany their grandson.”

 

Sandra Stewart, outgoing president of the Jacksonville Music Teachers Association and adjunct professor teaching a non-degree adult piano course at Florida State College, believes technology is a big part of the reason for the greater interest in piano among adults.

“Keyboards are more affordable, and that’s made all the difference,” she says.

 

But the piano is not always a succession of high notes for the adult student. Says Stewart: “Adults can have problems with finger dexterity. If they never played before, this can be frustrating. People who use computer a lot have an advantage. But if they don’t have this experience, they have to get over that hurdle.”

And some adults expect to transform into Mozart overnight.

 

“They may be symphony patrons or just love classical music and want to play instantly and do it like the pros,” Rhodes says. “But they have to develop the skills first, and it takes a lot of patience.”

 

But for adults committed to learning, it can be very satisfying for student and teacher alike.

“Adults are there for their own pleasure,” said Marc Hebda, president of the Florida State Music Teachers Association. “They have wonderful enthusiasm; it’s fun to see them get excited. It’s also interesting that with the economic downturn, they are not cutting back on lessons or buying instruments. Piano is a constant source of entertainment and personal development.”

 

The key to any student learning well, whether that student is an adult or child, is finding the right teacher. Hebda stresses the importance of taking lessons from a teacher with a music degree.

“Some people who took piano figure it’s easy to teach. But credentials are very important. You wouldn’t go to a doctor without certification or a lawyer who didn’t pass the bar. All our teachers have a music degree or demonstrate teaching ability.”

Hebda also notes that rapport between teacher and student is important.

“The student should interview the teacher, because not all students and teachers are a good match.”

 

For those who want to fast-track the learning process, there are alternatives. “The Piano Guy,” Scott Houston, has been teaching piano using a non-traditional method through his shows on public station WJCT.

“It seemed like there was a single path to the world of piano: this long process of taking lessons,” he said. “But people want to play the tunes they know.”

 

So Houston came up with a simple way for adults to learn quickly, based on the concept behind “lead sheets,” which are used by professional musicians. Houston’s technique is to teach adults a single line of notes on the treble clef with their right hand and chords with their left.

 

“My goal is not to teach adults to be the greatest players but to be able to play the tunes they want to play,” Houston says.

His approach has clearly struck a chord, as his book has sold 300,000 copies and he has taught many adults through his workshops in Indiana and master class “piano camp” from his beach home in Fort Myers.

 

There’s also a new trend gaining traction called “recreational music making” — RMM — which like Houston’s approach focuses on a simplified method to teaching music. The goal is not for a student to become accomplished at the piano and perform, but rather to just have fun making music. It is often taught to adults in group settings, such as music stores, churches and senior centers.

 

“Research has found that RMM is very helpful for seniors, promotes hand/eye coordination and keeps the brain working,” said Erin Bennett, assistant professor of piano and pedagogy at the University of North Florida. “Its asset is the ability to reach more people; it’s more inclusive and easier for the non-experienced.”

 

Whether learning piano through traditional or nontraditional means, its many benefits include boosting self-confidence.

“When I first started, I didn’t think I could do it,” Fay said. “And my friends and family were in disbelief that I was taking lessons. Then they wanted to hear a concert. In another year, I might just do it.”

 

She gets some measure of satisfaction in surprising those around her.

“Society puts restrictions on us as we get older that we stop learning,” she says. “But we are wiser, more patience and accept our limitations.”

 

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2011-10-27/story/piano-lessons-not-just-kids#ixzz1l14hSFaV