Today’s piece is Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Penny found in Piano Pronto Movement 4, Songs I Love to Play 2 and Beethoven: Exploring His Life and Music. The official title is The “Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio” in G major, Op. 129 (Italian for “Rondo in the Hungarian [i.e. gypsy] style, almost a caprice”).
The story goes –
At one point Beethoven was composing this piece, a booming and boisterous piece that exuded energy and vitality.
One night a neighbor heard a loud dispute.
Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny. The maid ran out and was never heard from again.
The neighbor then heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the great Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny.
The story spread through the neighborhood and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods and curmudgeonly behavior.
• 1818 ~ Henry Charles Litolff, French pianist, composer and music publisher
• 1921 ~ Karel Husa, Czech-born American composer and conductor
• 1921 ~ Warren Covington, Bandleader, trombone, played with Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights
• 1925 ~ Felice Bryant, Songwriter with husband Boudleaux
• 1931 ~ Bix Beiderbecke, U.S. Jazz musician and composer, died. The first white musician to make an impact on jazz, he died from pneumonia aged 28.
• 1936 ~ Rahsaan Roland Kirk, American jazz musician
• 1937 ~ Bunny Berigan and his orchestra recorded I Can’t Get Started for Victor Records. The song became Berigan’s longtime theme song.
• 1939 ~ Ron Holden, Singer
• 1942 ~ B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas, Singer
• 1943 ~ Lana Cantrell, Entertainer and singer
• 1952 ~ Andy Fraser, Musician: bass with Free
• 1958 ~ Bruce Dickenson, Singer with Iron Maiden
• 1970 ~ Christine McVie joined Fleetwood Mac as the group’s first female member. McVie was married to bass player John McVie. She quit touring with the group in 1991.
• 1971 ~ Homer (Henry D. Haynes) passed away
• 1975 ~ The Rolling Stones received a gold album for Made in the Shade.
• 1987 ~ Back to the Beach opened at theatres around the country. The film reunited Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, who played middle-aged parents with rebellious kids — kids like Frankie and Annette had played in their Bikini Beach movies in the 1960s.
• 2001 ~ Larry Adler, acknowledged as the king of the harmonica, died at the age of 87 at a London hospital after a long illness. Adler, born in Baltimore in February 1914, was a musical prodigy whose career covered seven decades during which he worked with a veritable who’s who of the 20th century’s entertainment industry.
From George Gershwin to Elton John, the classically trained Adler had worked with and inspired generations of musicians, touring as late as 1994 and even planning an update of his 1985 biography “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
“He was without doubt one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century,” said musical agent Jonathan Shalit.
“Larry was a man who believed the show must always go on, even to the point of playing from his wheelchair,” he added.
Adler learned to play the piano and mouth organ by ear from listening to records and could not actually read music until 1941.
He won the Maryland Harmonica Championship in 1927 after being expelled from a music conservatory and promptly ran away to New York and got a job playing in film theaters between features.
In 1936 he played harmonica on George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, prompting the composer to exclaim that it sounded as though he had written the haunting melody especially for Adler.
During World War Two Adler toured extensively in Africa and the Middle East, entertaining troops, and insisting on a non-segregation policy between whites and blacks at concerts.
He also entertained in the South Pacific with artists including comedian Jack Benny, and worked consistently for the war effort and the Allied forces.
In 1945 he went to Berlin where he played The Battle Hymn of the Republic on harmonica on the balcony of Adolf Hitler’s ruined chancellery after Germany capitulated.
He left the U.S. for Britain in the early 1950s after being blacklisted during the McCarthy communist witch hunt.
Adler’s most familiar composition is the music for the film comedy “Genevieve,” but he composed the music for other films.
In 1967 and 1973, gave his services to Israel in aid of those affected by the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars.
After Adler guested on Sting’s 1993 album “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” the rock singer returned the compliment and appeared on Adler’s 80th birthday celebration, The Glory Of Gershwin.
They were joined by other stars from the rock world such as Meat Loaf, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Sinead O’Connor.
A tennis fanatic, Adler once played in a doubles match with Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Salvador Dali.
• 2001 ~ Billy Byrd, who once played lead guitar for Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours, died at the age of 81.
William Lewis Byrd was born in Nashville, and taught himself guitar by copying the records of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.
In the 1940s, Byrd backed the Oak Ridge Quartet (predecessor of the Oak Ridge Boys), Little Jimmy Dickens, George Morgan and others.
In 1949, Byrd succeeded Tommy “Butterball” Paige as lead guitarist in Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours.
On many of Tubb’s hit records, Tubb would introduce Byrd’s tight melodic solos by exclaiming, “Aw, Billy Byrd now,” or “Play it pretty, Billy Byrd.” Byrd played on scores of Tubb hits, including Jealous Loving Heart,Two Glasses Joe and Answer the Phone.
Byrd also drove Tubb’s bus during his first tenure with the Texas Troubadours, which lasted a decade. He returned twice to the band, from 1969-70 and 1973-74.
Byrd released three solo instrumental albums, and during a brief stint in California backed Tab Hunter and Tex Ritter. In 1950,
Byrd and guitarist Hank Garland designed the popular Byrdland guitar for Gibson Guitars.
• 2017 ~ David Henry Maslanka, American composer, died at the age of 73