December 23 ~ Today in Music History

today

Christmas Music, Part 23 ~ Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

OCMS Fairfax County Student Holiday

OCMS Michael’s Birthday 🙂 OCMS

• 1689 ~ Joseph Bodin De Boismortier, French baroque composer of instrumental music, cantatas, opéra-ballets, and vocal music.

• 1907 ~ Don McNeill, Radio host

OCMS 1918 ~ José Greco, Italian flamenco dancer
More information about José Greco

• 1929 ~ Chet Baker, American jazz trumpeter and singer

• 1934 ~ Claudio Scimone, Italian conductor and musicologist

• 1935 ~ ‘Little’ Esther Phillips (Esther Mae Jones), Pianist, singer, Grammy nomination for Best female R & B vocalist in 1973. Aretha Franklin won but she gave the award to Esther

• 1939 ~ Johnny Kidd (Frederick Heath), Singer, songwriter with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

• 1940 ~ Tim Hardin, Singer, composer

• 1940 ~ Jorma Kaukonen, Guitarist with Jefferson Airplane and also Hot Tuna

• 1940 ~ Eugene Record, Singer with Chi-Lites

• 1942 ~ Bob Hope agreed to entertain U.S. airmen in Alaska. It was the first of his many famous Christmas shows for American armed forces around the world. The tradition continued for more than three decades.

• 1943 ~ The first complete opera to be televised was aired on WRBG in Schenectady, NY. (WRGB was named after GE engineer Dr. W.R.G. Baker. It was not named, as many have thought over the years, for red, blue and green, the three primary colors of a TV picture tube.) Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” was the opera presented.

• 1945 ~ Ron Bushy, Drummer with Iron Butterfly

• 1951 ~ Johnny Contardo, Singer with Sha-Na-Na, formerly Eddie and The Evergreens

• 1964 ~ Eddie Vedder (Mueller), Songwriter, singer with Pearl Jam

• 1964 ~ Rock ’n’ roll radio,in the guise of Pirate Radio, went to the U.K. Radio London began its regular broadcasts. It was joined, at sea, by other pirates like Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. It was a gallant effort to broadcast commercial radio, which was illegal in Great Britain. On England’s mainland, one had to listen to ‘Auntie Beeb’ (the BBC) or nothing at all. It was generally like a battle. Government agents would attempt to board a floating radio station, take it over, and shut it down. Many times the ships would broadcast from different locales to foil the governmental crackdown on the high seas. Later, the BBC split into four different radio networks, Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4, to stem the tide of the pirates who gained huge audiences by playing popular music. Eventually, limited commercial broadcasting came to Great Britain.

• 1969 ~ B.J. Thomas received a gold record for the single, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head from the motion picture, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Raindrops hit number one on the pop charts on January 3, 1970 and stayed there for 4 weeks.

• 1969 ~ Elton John met with arranger Paul Buckmaster, writer Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon. The collaboration marked the start of one of the most successful milestones of music in the 1970s. Together, they created Your Song, Friends, Levon, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and many more.

• 2000 ~ Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep.

• 2001 ~ Anthony Charles Chavis, Zydeco musician and son of the late Zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis, died after suffering a heart attack He was 45. His death came just eight months after his father’s. Charles Chavis, in addition to playing the washboard, was lead vocalist on numerous recordings with Boozoo, including his 1996 hit What You Gonna Do? After Boozoo Chavis’ death, his sons had agreed to continue the Magic Sounds Band. It was not clear how Charles Chavis’s death would affect the group. In addition to his music, Charles Chavis had worked with his father as a jockey and trainer at Chavis stables.

 

Christmas Music, Part 23 ~ Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

nutcracker

We also recently went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcrackerâ„¢. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcrackerâ„¢, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcrackerâ„¢ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite.