Piano Day, an annual worldwide event founded by a group of like-minded people, takes place on the 88th day of the year – in 2018 it’s the 29th March – because of the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated.
. 1788 ~ Charles Wesley, writer of over 5,500 hymns and, with his brother John, the founder of Methodism, died.
. 1871 ~ The Royal Albert Hall in London opened
. 1879 ~ “Eugene Onegin”, best-known opera by Russian composer Tchaikovsky, was first performed at the Maliy Theatre in Moscow
. 1888 ~ Charles-Valentin Alkan died. He was a French composer and pianist.
. 1902 ~ Sir William Walton, British composer
More information about Walton
. 1906 ~ E. Power Biggs, English Organist
. 1936 ~ Richard Rodney Bennett, British composer
. 1943 ~ Vangelis, (Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou), composer/keyboardist (Chariots of Fire)
. 1947 ~ Bobby Kimball (Toteaux), Singer with Toto
. 1949 ~ Michael Brecker, Jazz musician, reeds with The Brecker Brothers
. 1951 ~ The King and I, the wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on Margaret Langdon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, opened this night in 1951 on Broadway. The King and I starred Yul Brynner in the role of the King of Siam. The king who, along with his subjects, valued tradition above all else. From this day forward, the role of the King of Siam belonged to Yul Brynner and no other. Brynner appeared in this part in more than 4,000 performances on both stage and screen (the Broadway show was adapted for Hollywood in 1956). Anna, the English governess hired to teach the King’s dozens of children, was portrayed by Gertrude Lawrence. Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Brynner acted, danced and sang their way into our hearts with such memorable tunes as Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance, Hello, Young Lovers, I Whistle a Happy Tune, We Kiss in a Shadow, I Have Dreamed, Something Wonderful, A Puzzlement and March of the Siamese Children. The King and I ran for a total of 1,246 outstanding performances at New York’s St. James Theatre.
. 1952 ~ Roy Henderson’s last singing performance was on this date in the role of Christus in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” at Southwark Cathedral, the Anglican cathedral on the south bank of the Thames in London.
. 1963 ~ M.C. Hammer (Stanley Kirk Burrell), Grammy Award-winning singer
. 1973 ~ Hommy, the Puerto Rican version of the rock opera Tommy, opened in New York City. The production was staged at Carnegie Hall.
. 1973 ~ After recording On the Cover of ‘Rolling Stone’, Dr. Hook finally got a group shot on the cover of Jann Wenner’s popular rock magazine. Inside, a Rolling Stone writer confirmed that members of the group (Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show) bought five copies of the magazine for their moms – just like in the song’s lyrics!
. 1980 ~ Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, Anglo-Italian conductor and arranger, died. Created the “Mantovani sound” that made him a highly successful recording artist and concert attraction.
. 1982 ~ Carl Orff, German composer of “Carmina Burana,” died.
. 1982 ~ Ray Bloch passed away
. 1999 ~ Legendary U.S. jazz and blues singer Joe Williams died aged 80.
. 2001 ~ John Lewis, a pianist who masterminded one of the most famous ensembles in jazz, the Modern Jazz Quartet, died at the age of 80. The M.J.Q., as the quartet was known, remained mostly unchanged from the mid-1950’s to the 90’s. It began recording in 1952 with Lewis, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. When Clarke moved to Paris in 1955, Connie Kay replaced him and the quartet continued until Kay’s death in 1994. Lewis contributed the bulk of the group’s compositions and arrangements, including Django and Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West, and he insisted members wear tuxedos to dignify jazz as an art. He was born in LaGrange, Ill., in 1920, and grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. His entree to the jazz world came during World War II, when he met Kenny Clarke, an established drummer in the nascent bebop movement. At Clarke’s urging, Lewis moved to New York after his discharge and eventually replaced Thelonious Monk as Dizzy Gillespie’s pianist. He also performed or recorded with Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1952 he formed the M.J.Q. with Clarke, Jackson and Heath. The quartet was a steady seller of records and concert tickets well into the 1970’s. Lewis also taught music at Harvard and the City College of New York, and in the late 1950’s helped found the Lenox School of Jazz in Massachusetts.