Leonard Bernstein: What Does Music Mean?

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.

 

January 17 in Music History

today

. 1712 ~ John Stanley, English composer and organist

. 1728 ~ Johann Gottfried Muthel, German composer and noted keyboard virtuoso

. 1734 ~ François-Joseph Gossec, Belgian composer
More information about Gossec

. 1750 ~ Tomaso Albinioni, Italian composer (Adagio in G Minor), died at the age of 78

. 1876 ~ The saxophone was played by Etta Morgan at New York City’s Olympic Theatre. The instrument was little known at the time in the United States.

. 1913 ~ Vido Musso, Reed instruments, played with Benny Goodman, bandleader: Stan Kenton was his pianist

. 1917 ~ Ulysses Simpson Kay, US composer, born in Tucson, Arizona (d. 1995)

. 1920 ~ George Handy (George Joseph Hendleman), Pianist, composer, arranger for the Boyd Raeburn band, Alvino Rey band, Paramount Studios

. 1922 ~ Betty White, Emmy Award-winning actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, singer

. 1926 ~ Moira Shearer, Ballerina

. 1927 ~ Eartha Kitt, Singer. Kitt’s birth certificate listing her actual birthdate as 1/17/27 was found in 1997. She has celebrated her birthday as Jan. 26 (1928) all of her life and says, “It’s been the 26th of January since the beginning of time and I’m not going to change it and confuse my fans.”

. 1941 ~ Gene Krupa and his band recorded the standard, Drum Boogie, on Okeh Records. The lady singing with the boys in the band during the song’s chorus was Irene Daye.

. 1944 ~ Chris Montez, Singer

. 1948 ~ Mick Taylor, Singer, rhythm guitar with The Rolling Stones

. 1955 ~ Steve Earle, Songwriter, singer, guitar

. 1956 ~ Paul Young, Singer

. 1959 ~ Susanna Hoffs, Singer, guitar with The Bangles

. 1960 ~ John Crawford, Singer, bass with Berlin

. 1969 ~ Lady Samantha, one of the very first recordings by Reginald Kenneth Dwight (aka Elton John), was released in England on Philips records. The song floundered, then bombed. The rock group, Three Dog Night, however, recorded it for an album.

. 2001 ~ Pianist and singer Emma Kelly, the “Lady of 6,000 Songs” made famous by the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” died from a liver ailment at the age of 82. Kelly’s nightclub act, in which she tapped her vast repertoire of American popular standards five nights a week until she became ill a month ago, was a must-see for Savannah tourists itching to meet a real-life character from author John Berendt’s Southern Gothic best seller. Though the book helped her book performances from New York to Switzerland, Kelly continued to crisscross south Georgia to play church socials and high school graduations, Kiwanis luncheons and wedding receptions. Berendt devoted an entire chapter to Kelly in the 1994 book, describing her as a teetotaling Baptist who would play smoky cocktail lounges Saturday nights and Sunday school classes the next morning. Kelly performed at her own nightclub, Emma’s, in Savannah, for five years in the late 1980s. She then bounced between lounges near the downtown riverfront. She also independently recorded three albums, the last of which were released posthumously, her son said.

. 2001 ~ Jazz musician, composer and conductor Norris Turney, who played alto sax and flute with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and led the Norris Turney Quartet, died of kidney failure at the age of 79. Turney recorded with a number of bands over the years, and toured with Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles and others. He was an original member of the Lincoln target=”_blank”Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. Turney’s lone CD as a band leader, “Big, Sweet ‘N Blue,” was warmly received by jazz critics.

. 2002 ~ Edouard Nies-Berger, the veteran organist and protege of Albert Schweitzer, died at the age of 98. Nies-Berger, who played with the New York Philharmonic, was a native of Strasbourg in Alsace. His father, a church organist, was an associate of Schweitzer. The doctor, philosopher and Nobel laureate was pastor of a nearby church where the teen- age Nies-Berger played occasionally. Nies-Berger moved to New York in 1922 and for the next 15 years played the organ in houses of worship across the country. By the mid-’30s he settled in Los Angeles and performed in the soundtracks of several films, including “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “San Francisco.” He returned to Europe in 1937 to study conducting with Bruno Walter in Salzburg, Austria. After conducting for two years in Latvia and Belgium he returned to the United States. He was named organist of the New York Philharmonic, where he played under the direction of such conductors as Walter, George Szell and Leonard Bernstein. Nies-Berger was reunited with Schweitzer in 1949, when the humanitarian visited the United States. For six years they collaborated on the completion of Schweitzer’s edition of the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach. After serving at St. Paul’s in Richmond, Nies-Berger returned to Europe for several years to perform as a recitalist and write several books, including a memoir of Schweitzer. In 1991 he was awarded the gold medal of the Art Institute of Alsace, and in 1993 was named a knight of the arts and letters by the French Ministry of Education and Culture.

. 2013 ~ Lizbeth Webb, English soprano, died at the age of 86

January 16 in Music History

 

. 1864 ~ Anton Schindler, German violinist and Beethoven’s biographer, died at the age of 68

. 1875 ~ First American performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances”

. 1886 ~ Death of Italian opera composer Amilcare Ponchielli, in Milan

. 1891 ~ French Composer Leo Delibes died in Paris

. 1905 ~ Ernesto Halffter, Spanish composer and conductor

. 1908 ~ Ethel Merman (Zimmerman), American singer of popular music, Tony Award-winning actress (musical), Musical Theater Hall of Fame. She is most famous for Call Me Madam in 1951, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Alexander’s Ragtime Band

. 1929 ~ Marilyn Horne, American mezzo-soprano

. 1929 ~ G.T. (Granville) Hogan, Jazz drummer who played with Elmo Hope, Earl Bostic

. 1934 ~ Bob Bogle (Robert Lenard Bogle), Guitarist, bass with The Ventures

. 1938 ~ Béla Bartók and his wife, Ditta performed their first public concert featuring his Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

. 1938 ~ Benny Goodman and his band, plus a quartet, brought the sound of jazz to Carnegie Hall in New York City. When asked how long an intermission he wanted, he quipped, “I don’t know. How much does Toscanini get?”

. 1942 ~ Bill Francis, Keyboard, singer with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

. 1942 ~ Kay Kyser and the band recorded A Zoot Suit for Columbia Records. The tune is about the problems associated with wearing this garish, exaggerated ‘hep’ fashion.

. 1946 ~ Katia Ricciarelli, Italian soprano

. 1946 ~ Ronnie Milsap, Grammy Award-winning singer in 1976, CMA Male Vocalist of the Year (1974, 1976, 1977), CMA Entertainer of the Year (1977), blind since birth, he learned to play several instruments by age 12

. 1950 ~ Debbie Allen, Dancer, actress, choreographer, sister of actress Phylicia Rashad

. 1957 ~ Conductor Arturo Toscanini died in New York

. 1957 ~ The Cavern Club opened for business in Liverpool, England. The rock club was just a hangout for commoners. Then, things changed — big time. It all started in the early 1960s when four kids from the neighborhood popped in to jam. They, of course, turned out to be The Beatles.

. 1962 ~ Paul Webb, Bass with Talk Talk

. 1964 ~ “Hello Dolly!” opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City. Carol Channing starred in the role of Mrs. Dolly Levi. The musical was an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Matchmaker”. The show, with an unforgettable title song, was hailed by critics as the “…possible hit of the season.” It was possible, all right. “Hello Dolly!” played for 2,844 performances. And, it returned to Broadway in the 1990s, again starring Carol Channing.

. 1972 ~ David Seville died on this day in Beverly Hills, CA. Born Ross Bagdasarian, the musician was the force, and artist, behind the Alvin and the Chipmunks novelty songs of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

. 1973 ~ Clara Ward passed away. Ward was an American gospel artist who achieved great artistic and commercial success in the 1940s and 1950s.

. 1976 ~ The album, “Frampton Comes Alive”, was released by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records. The double LP soon reached the top spot of the album charts and stayed perched there for 17 weeks. It sold 19 million copies in its first year.

. 1980 ~ Lin Manuel Miranda, American actor, composer, lyricist (Hamilton)

. 1984 ~ Michael Jackson received eight awards at the 11th annual American Music Awards this night.

. 2001 ~ Eleanor Lawrence, a flutist who played often in chamber music performances and with several orchestras in New York City, died of brain cancer at the age of 64. She is credited with transforming a simple newsletter into an important source for flutists. Lawrence studied the flute at the New England Conservatory with the principal flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Pappoutsakis. She later studied with flutists from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. She joined the American Symphony Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic after moving to New York in the 1960s. She played periodically with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera. Besides performing, Lawrence taught at the Manhattan School of Music. She served three times as the president of the New York Flute Club. She edited The National Flute Association Newsletter, now The Flutist Quarterly, from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, expanding it from a brief information sheet to a publication with regular interviews.

Happy Birthday, Gene Krupa

krupa

 

Eugene Bertram “Gene” Krupa lived from January 15, 1909 to October 16, 1973.  He was an American jazz and big band drummer, actor and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.

One of my all-time favorite non-piano songs is Sing Sing Sing. Krupa joined Benny Goodman’s band in 1934, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit “Sing, Sing, Sing” were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.

The Benny Goodman big band playing Sing Sing Sing, featuring Gene Krupa at the end. We get the added benefit of hearing Mr. Harry James play a trumpet solo.

~~~

Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich: Famous Drum Battle

January 15 in Music History

martin-luther-king

 

Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

. 1775 ~ Giovanni Battista Sammartini, composer, died

. 1890 ~ Premiere of The Sleeping Beauty, ballet by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky. After the less-than-promising 1877 debut of Swan Lake, marred by a largely amateur production, over a decade lapsed before the composer was commissioned by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg to supply music for a ballet on the Perrault fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky threw himself arms-deep into the project. Not only was the composer again on happy turf, he was currently in a state of delight by the occasional presence of a three-year old little girl; children seemed to tap a joyful vein in Tchaikovsky. The little girl’s proximity fed a spirit of fantasy which transmitted to this most lighthearted of the composer’s scores. Most musicologists and historians concede that Sleeping Beauty is the most perfectly wrought of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores, classic in its restraint, yet possessing the right amount of color and panache to render it pure Tchaikovsky; its waltz remains a Pops favorite.

. 1896 ~ Alexander Scriabin made his European debut as a pianist at the Salle Erard in Paris

. 1904 ~ Ellie Sigmeister, Classical composer

. 1905 ~ Weldon Leo ‘Jack’ Teagarden, died of pneumonia
More information about Teagarden

. 1909 ~ Gene Krupa, American Jazz bandleader and drummer

. 1925 ~ Ruth Slenczynska, pianist, born in Sacramento, California

. 1941 ~ Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), Singer with Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, artist

. 1942 ~ Kenny Sargent vocalized with the Glen Gray Orchestra on Decca Records’ It’s the Talk of the Town.

. 1948 ~ Ronnie Van Zandt, Singer, songwriter with Lynyrd Skynyrd

. 1951 ~ Charo (Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza), ‘The Hootchy Cootchy Girl’, actress, singer, wife of Xavier Cugat

. 1951 ~ Martha Davis, Singer with The Motels

. 1959 ~ Peter Trewavas, Bass with Marillion

. 1964 ~ The soundtrack album of the musical, “The King and I”, starring Yul Brynner, earned a gold record.

. 1967 ~ Ed Sullivan told the Rolling Stones to change the lyrics and the title to the song, Let’s Spend the Night Together, so it became Let’s Spend Some Time Together.

. 1972 ~ Elvis Presley, who was also censored from the waist down by Ed Sullivan, reportedly drew the largest audience for a single TV show to that time. Elvis presented a live, worldwide concert from Honolulu on this day.

. 1987 ~ Ray Bolger died.  He was an American entertainer of vaudeville, stage and actor, singer and dancer best known for his portrayal of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

. 1993 ~ Sammy Cahn passed away.  He was an was an American lyricist, songwriter and musician.

January 14 in Music History

today

. 1690 ~ Announcement of the invention of the clarinet.

. 1812 ~ Sigismond Thalberg, composer and one of the most famous virtuoso pianists of the 19th century.

. 1780 ~ François-Joseph Dizi, Flemish harpist and composer. He died sometime in 1840

. 1800 ~ Ludwig von Köchel, Austrian musicographer; compiler of the Mozart catalogue
More information about von Köchel

. 1875 ~ Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian humanitarian, physician, Bach scholar and organist, winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1952

. 1888 ~ Stephen Heller, Hungarian composer and pianist, died at the age of 74

. 1900 ~ The Giacomo Puccini opera “Tosca” had its world premiere in Rome. The opera made its U.S. debut on February 4, 1901.

. 1908 ~ Russ Columbo, Singer, bandleader, songwriter

. 1917 ~ Billy Butterfield (Charles William Butterfield), Trumpeter, founding member of World’s Greatest Jazz Band

. 1925 ~ Alban Berg’s atonale opera “Wozzeck” premiered in Berlin

. 1929 ~ Billy Walker, Singer, known as the ‘masked singer’

. 1931 ~ Caterina Valente, Singer

. 1936 ~ Harriet Hilliard, vocalist and wife of bandleader Ozzie Nelson, sang Get Thee Behind Me Satan, on Brunswick Records.

. 1938 ~ Jack Jones (John Allan Jones), Singer, son of Allan Jones and wife, actress, Irene Hervey.

. 1939 ~ The program, “Honolulu Bound”, was heard on CBS radio. Phil Baker and The Andrews Sisters were featured on the program.

. 1949 ~ Joaquín Turina, Spanish pianist/conductor/composer (Rima), died at the age of 66

. 1953 ~ Ralph Vaughan WilliamsSinfonia Antartica first performance.

. 1956 ~ Rock ‘n’ roller, Little Richard, was singing the newly released Tutti-Frutti. The Pat Boone version became even more popular as a cover record.

. 1964 ~ A hootenanny was held for the first time at the White House, as the New Christy Minstrels entertained President and Lady Bird Johnson, as well as Italy’s President.

. 1965 ~ Jeanette (Anna) MacDonald passed away.  She was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy

. 1968 ~ LL Cool J (James Todd Smith), Rap singer

January 13 in Music History

 

 

. 1683 ~ Johann Christoph Graupner, German harpsichordist and composer of high Baroque music who was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel.

. 1690 ~ Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel, German Baroque composer.

. 1842 ~ Heinrich Hofmann, German pianist and composer

. 1854 ~ The first patent for an accordion was issued to Anthony Fass, of Philadelphia, PA

. 1866 ~ Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov, Russian composer

. 1884 ~ Sophie Tucker (Abuza), Russian-born American burlesque and vaudeville singer

. 1904 ~ Richard Addinsell was born
More information about Addinsell

. 1909 ~ Quentin ‘Butter’ Jackson, Trombonist, played with Duke Ellington

. 1910 ~ Enrico Caruso and Emmy Destinn were heard via a telephone transmitter; rigged by DeForest Radio-Telephone Company to broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

. 1925 ~ Gwen Verdon (Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon), Dancer, Tony Award-winning Actress

. 1930 ~ Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester, Singer with The Chi-Lites

. 1938 ~ Singer Allan Jones recorded The Donkey Serenade for Victor Records. The song became the one most often associated with the singer. Allan sang and acted in several Marx Brothers films: “A Night at the Opera”, “A Day at the Races”, but the film that catapulted him to stardom was the operetta, “Firefly”, with Jeanette MacDonald. Singer Jack Jones is the son of Allan and wife, actress Irene Hervey.

. 1941 ~ The four Modernaires joined to sing with the Glenn Miller Band on a permanent basis beginning this day. They had a ‘solo’ hit in 1946 with To Each His Own.

. 1957 ~ Elvis Presley recorded All Shook Up and That’s When Your Heartaches Begin for Victor Records in Hollywood. The former tune became Elvis’ ninth consecutive gold record.

. 1961 ~ Wayne Marshall, English pianist, organist and conductor

. 1962 ~ Singer Chubby Checker set a record, literally, with the hit, The Twist. The song reached the #1 position for an unprecedented second time – in two years. The Twist was also number one on September 26, 1960.

. 2001 ~ Kenneth Haas, the former general manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, died after a long illness at the age of 57. Haas was general manager of the Boston orchestra from 1987 to 1996 and was instrumental in appointing Keith Lockhart conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Haas was general manager of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1976 to 1987 after performing the same job for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1975. In Cleveland he established the orchestra’s chamber music and recital series.

. 2001 ~ Michael Cuccione, youngest of the five-member spoof boy band 2gether, died at age 16 from complications from Hodgkin’s disease. The teen played Jason “Q.T.” McKnight on the MTV show “2gether,” which poked fun at the boy band craze. His character had a fictional illness, “biliary thrombosis,” but Cuccione really had suffered from Hodgkin’s disease as a child and underwent five months of chemotherapy. The singer-actor set up a cancer research foundation, co-wrote a book with his grandmother and appeared on “Baywatch” as a cancer victim.