January 2 in Music History


• 1732 ~ Franz Xaver Brixi, Czech classical composer of the 18th century

• 1837 ~ Mily Balakirev, Russian Composer and collector of Russian Music
More information about Balakirev

• 1904 ~ James Melton, Singer in La Traviata

1905 ~ Sir Michael Tippett, British Composer and librettist
More information about Tippett

• 1917 ~ Vera Zorina (Eva Hartwig), Dancer, actress

• 1922 ~ Renata (Ersilia Clotilde) Tebaldi, Opera diva, lyric soprano. She debuted as Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele in 1944 and at the Metropolitan Opera in Verdi’s Otello in 1955
More information about Tebaldi
Anniversary of Tebaldi’s death

• 1930 ~ Julius LaRosa, Singer

• 1932 ~ Freddy Martin formed a new band and was hired to play the Roosevelt Grill in New York City. Martin became one of the big names in the music business. Merv Griffin later became Martin’s lead vocalist.

• 1936 ~ Roger Miller. American country-music singer, guitarist and songwriter, 11 Grammys in 1964-65

• 1941 ~ The Andrews Sisters recorded Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy on Decca Records. LaVerne, Maxine and Patti Andrews recorded in Los Angeles and the song was heard in the movie, “Buck Privates”, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

• 1949 ~ Chick Churchill, Keyboards with Ten Years After

• 1958 ~ Leonard Bernstein conducted his first concert as Joint Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, a title he shared with Dimitri Mitropoulos during the 1957-58 season.  At this concert, Bernstein conducted a program similar to that of his November 1943 New York Philharmonic debut: Schumann’s “Manfred” Overture and ‪‎Strauss‬’ “Don Quixote.” Additionally, Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic from the piano in the U.S. premiere of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

• 1971 ~The George Harrison album ‘All Things Must Pass’ started a seven-week run at No.1 on the US album chart, making Harrison the first solo Beatle to score a US No.1 album. The triple album included the hit singles ‘My Sweet Lord’ and ‘What Is Life’, as well as songs such as ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and the title track that were turned down by The Beatles.

• 1974 ~ Singing cowboy Tex Ritter died of a heart attack at the age of 67. His son, John, became a significant television star in “Three’s Company”, and in movies, including “Problem Child”.

• 1977 ~ Erroll Garner passed away.  He was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads.

• 1980 ~ Officials of the Miss America Pageant announced that Bert Parks would not return as host of the annual beauty contest in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Parks sang There she is, Miss America for 25 years. He was replaced by Gary Collins.

• 1983 ~ The smash musical, “Annie”, closed on Broadway at the Uris Theatre after 2,377 performances: the sixth longest-running show on the Great White Way. The five longest-running shows at the time were: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Life With Father”, “Tobacco Road”, “Hello Dolly” and “Music Man”.

• 2003 ~ Bluegrass music veteran James McReynolds, who with his mandolin-playing brother Jesse formed the legendary “Jim & Jesse” duo honored in the Country Music Hall of Fame, has died. Backed by their band, “The Virginia Boys,” their first single The Flame of Love, backed byGosh I Miss You All the Time, spent weeks on the national charts. Other songs regarded as Jim & Jesse classics are Cotton Mill Man, Diesel on My Tail, Are You Missing Me and Paradise. Jim’s enhanced high tenor and guitar playing combined with Jesse’s deep-voiced singing and unique mandolin style to produce their distinctive sound. Jesse developed a cross-picking technique and “split-string” style few could duplicate. The brothers’ performing career was interrupted by service in both World War II and the Korean War. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1964, and their numerous honors included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Walkway of Stars” and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor.

• 2004 ~ Pioneering black actress and singer Etta Moten Barnett, who sang at the White House and appeared with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio, died. She was 102. Barnett was unique because of the romantic, sexy figures she portrayed – as opposed to the motherly nannies and maids that most black actresses were cast as in early Hollywood films. Barnett moved to New York City in her 30s and quickly landed a spot singing with the Eva Jessye Choir. The lead in the Broadway show Zombie followed. She later dubbed songs for actresses and was cast in the Busby Berkeley film Gold Diggers of 1933. In the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio, Barnett was cast as a Brazilian entertainer who sang The Carioca while Astaire and Rogers danced. The song was nominated for an Academy Award as best song. Her voice caught the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who invited her to sing at his White House birthday party. In 1942, she appeared as Bess in Porgy and Bess on Broadway and then toured with the show until 1945. Suffering from a strained voice, she gave her last formal concert in 1952

Carnegie Hall


You’ve all heard it before.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice.

We took the easier route with the tour December 1, 2014.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t posting much on my travel blog yet so I don’t remember everything that happened.  I do highly recommend the tour if you’re in New York City.

If you want to go, other than  practicing, Carnegie Hall  is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.


The tour was very inexpensive, maybe $10 each.  We were taken by elevator up to the Main Hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage) first.  The stories that were told were fascinating!  I don’t remember most but I remember the guide telling us that after renovations audience members complained of a buzzing sound.  The floor had to be removed…

From 1995:

MARY CAMPBELL , Associated Press
Sep. 13, 1995 11:53 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) _ For nine years, the people who run Carnegie Hall insisted there was nothing wrong with the acoustics at the famed concert hall.

Wednesday, they sang a different tune

This summer, a layer of concrete, apparently left over from a major renovation job in 1986, was discovered under the stage. The concrete was ripped out and a new floor was installed that administrators say should improve acoustics.
Since the renovation, musicians and critics have complained about the acoustics, saying the sound the hall was world famous for wasn’t the same, that the bass had become washed out and the higher instruments harsh.

Executive Director Judith Arron said Wednesday she had been assured there was no concrete under the stage since arriving at the hall in 1986.

But the tongue-in-groove maple stage floor, which usually lasts 20 years, had warped so badly after just nine years, it was difficult to push a piano across it.

The hall closed for repairs after three Frank Sinatra tribute concerts the last week in July. “As we tore the whole floor up,” Arron said, “we learned we had a lot more hard substance than we had anticipated.”

She speculated the concrete was added to reinforce the stage while scaffolding was on it during the 1986 renovation and then simply left there in workers’ haste to finish.

The concrete had been placed under two layers of plywood, on which the maple stage floor rests.

“Concrete retains moisture,” Arron said. “As the moisture collected in the concrete, it went into the plywood, which expands with moisture and pushed up the floor.”

Jim Nomikos, the hall’s director of operations, compared the removal of hundreds of pounds of concrete to “an archeological dig.”

Nomikos said the floor is now constructed the way it was from Carnegie Hall’s opening in 1891 until 1986.

“In my opinion we’re not reconstructing the floor. We just restored it,” he said. “I think what we have now is a floor that will have some resonance, as opposed to a floor that was dead.”

The project cost $180,000.

Aaron said there are no plans to sue anybody for the way the floor was laid in 1986. “We’ve been focused on doing the job right,” she said. “We think this is going to be great.”

The new floor will meet its first test Sept. 26, when the Philadelphia Orchestra plays. The hall’s official gala opening for its 105th season will be Oct. 5 by the Boston Symphony.

I remember the guide not being happy with us because I knew the answers to some of the questions she asked such as Tchaikovsky conducting at the opening.  When she mentioned that Ignacy Jan Paderewski had made his debut there,  Tom piped up that he had lived near Steinway Hall (and that Michael and I had just played there in the final concert in the old building).  She gave us the evil eye and we stopped talking so much 🙂


Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building). This was just after Michael and I played there.



Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building).

There were many, many pictures on the walls of people who had performed there.  All in all, a fantastic tour.  Take it if you’re in NYC!

1891 Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened

Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened with a five-day music festival beginning on May 5.

Guest of honor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted his Marche Solennelle on Opening Night and his Piano Concerto No. 1 several days later.

William Tuthill’s design reflects Gilded Age architectural tastes and engineering.  Since the Hall was built shortly before the advent of structural steel construction, its walls are made of fairly heavy brick and masonry, to carry the full load of the structure without the lighter support that a steel framework soon made possible. The Italian Renaissance design of the exterior reflects the eclectic architectural tastes of the period, which look to European models of earlier centuries for inspiration.  Tuthill deliberately chose to keep the styling and decorative elements simple, elegant, and functional, focusing his energies on designing an excellent acoustic environment.

I came across this interesting 1947 movie about Carnegie Hall for my Music Studio Blog and I’m posting it here, as well.

Jascha Heifetz (violinist) Tchaikovsky – “Violin Concerto in D, First Movement” – New York Philharmonic, Fritz Reiner, conductor
Harry James (trumpeter)
Vaughn Monroe (band leader)
Jan Peerce (vocalist)
Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist)
Ezio Pinza (vocalist)
Lily Pons (vocalist)
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Artur Rodzinski (conductor)
Arthur Rubinstein (pianist)
Rise Stevens (vocalist)
Leopold Stokowski (conductor)
Bruno Walter (conductor)
Walter Damrosch (conductor)
Olin Downes (music critic)
New York Philharmonic Quintette (John Corigliano Sr., William Lincer, Nadia Reisenberg, Leonard Rose, Michael Rosenker)
New York Philharmonic

A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe’s orchestra. But Mama’s wishes prevail and the son appears at Carnegie Hall as the composer-conductor-pianist of a modern horn concerto, with Harry James as the soloist. Frank McHugh is along as a Carnegie Hall porter and doorman, and Martha O’Driscoll is a singer who provides the love interest for Prince. Meanwhile and between while a brigade of classical music names from the 1940’s (and earlier and later) appear; the conductors Walter Damrosch, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski; singers Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza, plus pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Jascha Heifetz.