February 28 in Music History

today

. 1876 ~ John Alden Carpenter, American composer

. 1882 ~ Geraldine Farrar, American soprano

. 1890 ~ Vasalav Nijinsky, Ballet dancer

. 1903 ~ Vincente Minnelli (Lester Anthony Minnelli), Director, Judy Garland’s husband and Liza Minnelli’s father

. 1915 ~ Lee Castle (Castaldo), Trumpet, bandleader, led Jimmy Dorsey’s band during time of smash hit, So Rare

. 1926 ~ Seymour Shifrin, American composer

. 1930 ~ Ted Lewis and his orchestra recorded On the Sunny Side of the Street for Columbia Records on this day. Mr. Lewis was heard as the featured vocalist as well, on the tune that has been recorded hundreds of times and is an American music standard.

. 1939 ~ Tommy Tune, Tony Award-winning dancer, actor, director of musical theater

. 1942 ~ Brian Jones (Lewis Hopkin-Jones), Singer, rhythm guitar with The Rolling Stones

. 1948 ~ Bernadette Peters, Singer and actress

. 1959 ~ Cash Box magazine, a trade publication for the music/radio industry, began using a red ‘bullet’ on its record charts to indicate those records that have the strongest upward movement each week. The phrase, “Number one with a bullet” designates those hits that have reached the pinnacle of statistical chartdom. To be so means to be at the top of the list and still climbing higher.

. 1960 ~ Dmitri Capyrin, Russian composer of contemporary classical music.

. 1966 ~ The famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, England closed because of financial difficulties. During its peak of success, the club was best known as the home of The Beatles.

. 1968 ~ Frankie Lymon passed away.  He was an American rock and roll/rhythm and blues singer and songwriter.

. 1984 ~ It was Michael Jackson Night at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. He set a record for most wins by taking home eight of the gramophone statuette honors. He broke the previous record of six awards set by Roger Miller in 1965. The reason: the biggest selling album of all time, Thriller, which sold more than 35-million copies around the world soon after its release in 1983.

. 1993 ~ Ruby Keeler passed away.  She was a Canadian-born American actress, dancer and singer most famous for her on-screen coupling with Dick Powell in a string of successful early musicals at Warner Brothers, particularly 42nd Street.

 

 

February 27 in Music History

today

 

. 1848 ~ Hubert Parry, English composer, teacher and historian of music.

. 1873 ~ Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor, sang nearly 70 roles; appeared in nearly every country of Europe and North and South America
Read quotes by and about Caruso
More information about Caruso

. 1883 ~ Oscar Hammerstein of New York City patented the first practical cigar- rolling machine. If Oscar’s name sounds familiar, it should. Hammerstein’s grandson later made his mark by writing some of the best- known music in the world, teaming up frequently with Richard Rodgers.

. 1887 ~ Alexander Borodin, Russian composer, died at the age of 53
Read more about Borodin

. 1887 ~ Lotte Lehman, Singer

. 1897 ~ Marian Anderson, Opera diva

. 1923 ~ Dexter Gordon, American jazz tenor saxophonist

. 1927 ~ Guy Mitchell (Al Cernick), Singer, actor

. 1935 ~ Mirella Freni, Italian soprano

. 1936 ~ Chuck Glaser, Singer with Glaser Brothers

. 1948 ~ Eddie Gray, Guitarist with Tommy James & The Shondells

. 1951 ~ Steve Harley (Nice), Singer with Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

. 1954 ~ Neal Schon, Guitarist with Santana; Journey

. 1955 ~ Garry Christian, Singer with The Christians

. 1970 ~ Simon and Garfunkel received a gold record for the single, Bridge Over Troubled Water.

. 2003 ~ Tom Glazer, 88, the balladeer, guitarist and songwriter who, along with Burl Ives, Josh White, Pete Seeger and others, helped spark national interest in folk music in the 1940s, died. Mr. Glazer wrote songs for children, including a hit 1963 parody, On Top of Spaghetti, that won him National Critics’ and Parent Magazine awards. He also acted, sang and wrote for movies and TV. He was singer-narrator for the film, Sweet Land of Liberty, and composed the score for the Andy Griffith film A Face in the Crowd. Mr. Glazer was a native of Philadelphia who attended the City College of New York. As a young man, he played tuba and bass in military and jazz bands and worked at the Library of Congress. He began singing with a group while living in Washington, and was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to perform at the White House. Mr. Glazer became a full-time musician in 1943 and, over the years, hosted three radio series. He also wrote books about music, including a number of songbooks. His song Because All Men Are Brothers, based on the Passion Chorale by J. S. Bach, was recorded by the Weavers and Peter, Paul and Mary. Other hits included, Old Soldiers Never Die for Vaughn Monroe, More for Perry Como, Til We Two Are Onefor Georgie Shaw, and A Worried Man, recorded by the Kingston Trio. His song, The Musicians was used on the “Barney” television show for children; Bob Dylan recorded his Talking Inflation Blues.

. 2003 ~ Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as host of the public television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for more than 30 years, died. He was 74. From 1968 to 2000, Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, produced the show at Pittsburgh public television station WQED. The final new episode, which was taped in December 2000, aired in August 2001, though PBS affiliates continued to air back episodes. Rogers composed his own songs for the show and began each episode in a set made to look like a comfortable living room, singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”, as he donned sneakers and a zip-up cardigan. His message remained simple: telling his viewers to love themselves and others. On each show, he would take his audience on a magical trolley ride into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where his puppet creations would interact with each other and adults. Rogers did much of the puppet work and voices himself. He also studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh and consulted with an expert there over the years. Rogers’ show won four Emmy Awards, plus one for lifetime achievement. He was given a George Foster Peabody Award in 1993, “in recognition of 25 years of beautiful days in the neighborhood.” One of Rogers’ red sweaters hangs in the Smithsonian Institution.

 

. 2003 ~ Jean Sullivan, a musician, dancer and actress who starred opposite Errol Flynn in the 1944 film “Uncertain Glory,” died of cardiac arrest. She was 79. Sullivan was the leading lady Marianne in “Uncertain Glory” and also has a starring role in the 1945 movie “Escape in the Desert.” The young actress also played the daughter of Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson in the motion picture comedy “Roughly Speaking.” Despite a budding acting career, Sullivan relocated to New York and began studying ballet and dancing professionally. While practicing flamenco steps during a Carnegie Hall rehearsal, Sullivan was discovered by choreographer Anthony Tudor and was a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She enhanced her flamenco by playing Spanish guitar and became a popular entertainer at Latin nightclubs throughout New York City. Sullivan also played cello and piano. Despite her career change, Sullivan performed flamenco on TV variety shows, including “The Steve Allen Show” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.” She also was a meteorologist on local New York television stations.

. 2013 ~ Van Cliburn died.  He was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.

Van Cliburn, American Classical Pianist

cdcovers/tchaikovsky/concerto no 1 van cliburn.jpg

Van Cliburn was just a pianist much the way Neil Armstrong was merely an astronaut. Simply put, the tall Texan’s musical talent and successes were out of this world.

Cliburn, who died Wednesday February 27, 2013 at age 78 at his Fort Worth home due to complications from bone cancer, was 23 when he strode into Moscow for the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition, created to showcase Soviet cultural superiority.

Playing with unerring precision and sublime emotion, he took the top prize and was given a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, the first and last time a pianist won such an honor.

“Imagine galvanizing the attention of the entire world in the pre-Internet, pre-global TV year of 1958,” says Howard Reich, who got to know the Texas-based pianist while researching his 1993 biography, Van Cliburn. “As a Texan, he was so emblematic of the United States. But the Russians fell in love with his romanticism.”

In many ways, however, that seminal performance both made his name and sealed his fate.

The pieces that won him the competition — Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 — sold countless records (his Tchaikovsky No. 1 was the first classical record to sell more than a million copies) and became required concert staples.

“Playing on that treadmill for the next 20 years led him to burn out, and by 1978 he looked terrible and bowed out of public life,” says Reich. “He was a gentle soul, and that harsh public spotlight had a negative effect on him.”

It would be nine years before Cliburn performed again, at the White House for Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Although he made occasional appearances in the following decades, he spent most of his time overseeing his foundation and a quadrennial competition that bears his name.

“I can’t think of anyone who has done more to help promote the instrument and young performers than Van,” says Cliburn’s friend Yoheved Kaplinsky, chairman of the piano department at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, which Cliburn attended. “He was an icon in Fort Worth, and a person of great humility.”

Born Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. in Shreveport, La., Cliburn started piano lessons at age 3 and immediately showed prowess under the watchful eye of his mother, who had trained on the instrument under a teacher who had studied with Franz Liszt.

After moving to Texas, Cliburn played with Houston’s symphony at age 12, and at 17 entered Juilliard. At 20, he performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, setting the stage for his triumphant coup in Russia.

No one can imagine a ticker-tape parade for a pianist in this era, but in Cliburn’s heyday he was as much an inevitable cultural icon as he was a reluctant political figure. In the late ’50s, the Cold War was raging, the Beatles were still practicing and classical music still held sway.

But what truly made Cliburn unique was the humble ease with which he went about seducing the alleged enemy.

“Van marched in full of the musical values of the Old World, full of tremendous sincerity and with a remarkable ability to connect with audiences,” says Kaplinsky. “He may have transcended the boundaries of the art world and breached into the political world, but foremost Van was a consummate artist.”

That artistry is on display in various YouTube clips of Cliburn reprising his competition-winning form in Moscow in 1962. The pianist’s eyes are often closed as massive hands fly across the length of the keyboard. Utterly lost in the music, Cliburn seems almost oblivious to his audience.

“He had more of everything,” says Reich. “More height, more smiles, more sweep on the piano.”

In his later years, Cliburn collected the usual array of awards accorded cultural heroes. A Kennedy Center Honors tribute in 2001, a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and in 2004 Russia’s equivalent, the Russian Order of Friendship. In 2004, there was a predictable Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1994 a less-expected guest appearance as himself in the TV cartoon Iron Man.

On the personal front, Cliburn was a devout Baptist but also quietly gay; in the late ’90s, his longtime partner, Thomas Zaremba, unsuccessfully sued the pianist over compensation claims.

Ultimately, Cliburn will be remembered not just as a performer of startling skill, but also as a global cultural sensation in the age of shortwave radio.

“He did something that no one could have ever imagined back then,” says Reich. “He was ubiquitous.”

Adapted from USA Today

February 26 in Music History

today

. 1770 ~ Anton Reicha, Czech-born, later naturalized French composer of music very much in the German style

. 1802 ~ Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and many other works

. 1879 ~ Frank Bridge, English composer, violist and conductor

. 1922 ~ Dancing to jazz music and tango bands was criticized in Paris. It seems that dancing was detracting the French from their postwar reconstruction, according to “La Revue Mondiale”.

. 1928 ~ “Fats” (Antoine) Domino, American rock-and-roll pianist and singer. His works include: Ain’t That a Shame, Goin’ Home, I’m in Love Again, Blue Monday, I’m Walkin’ and Blueberry Hill

. 1930 ~ Lazar Berman, Soviet pianist

. 1945 ~ Mitch Ryder (William Levise), Singer with Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

. 1947 ~ Sandie Shaw (Goodrich), Singer

. 1950 ~ Jonathan Cain, Keyboard with Babys

. 1954 ~ Michael Bolton, Grammy Award-winning singer. Some of his songs are: When a Man Loves a Woman and How Am I Supposed to Live Without You

. 1961 ~ John-Jon (John Andrew Foster), Musician with Bronski Beat

. 1965 ~ Juan Trigos, Mexican composer and conductor

. 1972 ~ Harry Nilsson started his second week at number one with that toe- tapping ditty, Without You. The whiny love song stayed at the top for a total of four weeks.

. 1977 ~ The Eagles’ New Kid in Town landed in the top spot on the pop music charts for one week beginning this day.

. 1981 ~ Howard Hanson died.  He was an American composer, conductor, educator, music theorist, and champion of American classical music.

. 1983 ~ Charley Pride’s Why Baby Why topped the country charts. The song was written by George Jones (who found national fame with his own version in 1955) and Darrell Edwards. Legend has it that inspiration for the song came when Edwards overheard a couple squabbling in their car in Orange, TX.

. 2003 ~ Otha Turner, 94, who created his own niche in blues music with an ethereal mix of early American colonial drums and West African flute, died in Como, Miss. His recording Everybody Hollerin’ Goat was rated among the Top 10 blues releases in 1997 by Rolling Stone magazine. Members of a Senegalese drum troupe performed with Mr. Turner on the album. Mr. Turner was presented with a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award, the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award and the Charlie Patton Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival.

February 25 in Music History

today

. 1727 ~ Armand-Louis Couperin, French composer, organist, and harpsichordist of the late Baroque and early Classical periods.

. 1735 ~ Ernst Wilhelm Wolf, German composer

. 1890 ~ Dame Myra Hess, British pianist

. 1929 ~ Tommy Newsom, Musician: tenor sax, arranger, composer, backup conductor for NBC’s Tonight Show Band

. 1943 ~ George Harrison, British rock singer, guitarist and songwriter and former member of The Beatles group

. 1952 ~ The complete choreographic score of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate” became the first musical choreography score given a copyright. The work was the effort of Hanya Holm.

. 1953 ~ The musical, “Wonderful Town”, opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City. The show was based on the book, “My Sister Eileen”, and the ran for 559 performances.

. 1957 ~ Buddy Holly and The Crickets traveled to Clovis, NM, to record That’ll Be the Day (one of the classics of rock ‘n’ roll) and I’m Looking for Someone to Love. Both songs were released on Brunswick Records in May of that year.

. 1960 ~ John Cage’s “Music for Amplified Toy Pianos” premiered

. 1963 ~ Please Please Me was the second record released in the U.S. by The Beatles. Some labels carried a famous misprint, making it an instant, and valuable, collector’s item. The label listed the group as The Beattles.

. 1966 ~ Nancy Sinatra was high-stepping with a gold record award for the hit, These Boots are Made for Walkin’.

. 1986 ~ We are the World captured four Grammy Awards. The song, featuring more than 40 superstar artists gathered at one time, was awarded the Top Song, Record of the Year, Best Pop Performance and Best Short Video Awards.

. 2001 ~ Ann Colbert, a manager of classical musicians, died at the age of 95. Colbert founded Colbert Artists Management Inc. Her clientele included the Juilliard String Quartet; conductors Sir Georg Solti, Christoph von Dohnanyi and Richard Bonynge; singers Dame Joan Sutherland, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; and musicians Alfred Brendel and the late Jean-Pierre Rampal. Colbert moved to the United States from Berlin in 1936 and started the management company with her husband, Henry Colbert, in 1948. She retired in 1991, leaving the company to her longtime associate, Agnes Eisenberger. The company has retained Colbert’s name.

. 2003 ~ Walter Scharf, 92, a composer who earned 10 Academy Award nominations and worked on more than 200 movies and television programs, including “Funny Girl,” “Mission: Impossible” and “White Christmas,” died in Los Angeles. He received Oscar nominations for the scores for such films as “Mercy Island” (1941), “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952), “Funny Girl” (1968), “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “Ben” (1972). He won an Emmy for his work on a National Geographic television special and a Golden Globe for “Ben,” whose theme song helped launch singer Michael Jackson’s solo career.

February 24 in Music History

today

. 1766 ~ Samuel Wesley, English organist and composer in the late Georgian period. Wesley was a contemporary of Mozart (1756–1791) and was called by some “the English Mozart.”

. 1771 ~ Johann Baptist Cramer,  English musician of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer, a famous London violinist and musical conductor, one of a numerous family who were identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries.

. 1832 ~ Frederic Chopin’s first Paris concert. The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that “As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances—few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime.

. 1842 ~ Arrigo Boito, Italian composer, librettist and poet

. 1858 ~ Arnold Dolmetsch, British music antiquarian and musician

. 1932 ~ Michel Legrand, Academy Award-Winning composer for Best Original Score: Yentl in 1983, Brian’s Song, Ice Station Zebra

. 1934 ~ Renata Scotto, Italian soprano. She made her operatic debut at age 18 and is best known for performances as Violetta in La Traviata, Cio-Cio- San in Madama Butterfly, Mimi (and the occasional Musetta) in La Bohème, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Francesca in Francesca da Rimini. She is also an opera director.

. 1940 ~ Frances Langford recorded one of the classic songs of all time — and one that would become a Walt Disney trademark. When You Wish Upon a Star was recorded on Decca Records during a session in Los Angeles. Many artists have recorded the song, including pop diva Linda Ronstadt (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the early 1980s). One can hear the song not only on record, but as the theme in the opening credits of any Disney movie, video and TV program and those “I’m going to Disneyland/World!” commercials, too.

. 1942 ~ Paul Jones, Harmonica, singer with Manfred Mann

. 1943 ~ Stephen Douglas Burton, American composer and teacher

. 1947 ~ Rupert Holmes, Songwriter: over 300 songs & jingles, singer, producer

. 1947 ~ Lonnie Turner, Bass, singer with The Steve Miller Band

. 1964 ~ The musical, “What Makes Sammy Run”, opened in New York at the 54th Street Theatre. Making his Broadway debut in the show was Steve Lawrence. The production ran for 540 performances.

. 1985 ~ Yul Brynner reprised his role in “The King and I” setting a box office record for weekly receipts. The show took in $520,920.

. 1990 ~ Johnnie Ray died.  He was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist.

. 1991 ~ Webb Pierce passed away.  He was one of the most popular American honky tonk, rockabilly vocalists, guitarists of the 1950s

. 1994 ~ Donald Phillips, pianist/composer, died at the age of 80

Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children, Study says

From the Washington Post, but we knew this already, right?

Music training not only helps children develop fine motor skills, but aids emotional and behavioral maturation as well, according to a new study, one of the largest to investigate the effects of playing an instrument on brain development.

Using a database produced by the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development, researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine analyzed the brain scans of 232 healthy children ages six to 18 specifically looking at brain development in children who play a musical instrument. (The original study did not indicate specific instruments.)

“What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument,” said James Hudziak, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”

Read the entire article at Music lessons spur emotional and behavioral growth in children, new study says – The Washington Post.