Modest Mussorgsky composed this multi-movement work in memory of his friend, artist Viktor Hartmann. Each movement corresponds to a picture in Hartmann’s gallery, with one pairing with Hartmann’s Paris catacombs. The painting depicts Hartmann and two other men walking through the labyrinthine catacombs, illuminated only by lamplight.
The movement is in two distinct parts. Its two sections consist of a nearly static Largo consisting of a sequence of block chords with elegiac lines adding a touch of melancholy and a more flowing, gloomy Andante that introduces the Promenade theme into the scene.
The first section’s alternating loud and soft chords evoke the grandeur, stillness, and echo of the catacombs. The second section suggests a merging of observer and scene as the observer descends into the catacombs. Mussorgsky’s manuscript of “Catacombs” (shown right) displays two pencilled notes, in Russian: “NB – Latin text: With the dead in a dead language” and, along the right margin, “Well may it be in Latin! The creative spirit of the dead Hartmann leads me towards the skulls, invokes them; the skulls begin to glow softly.”
1917 ~ Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter and bandleader Read quotes by and about “Dizzy” Gillespie
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• 1921 ~ Sir Malcolm Arnold, Composer of screen scores: “David Copperfield”, “The Chalk “Garden”, “Suddenly, Last Summer”, “Solomon and Sheba”, “Island in the Sun”, “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, “Trapeze”, “I Am a Camera”, “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” “the Eye Witness series”
• 1924 ~ It was a big night for a big band in New York’s Cinderella Ballroom. The crowd loved the Wolverine Orchestra from Chicago and the guy on the cornet, Bix Beiderbecke, the ‘young man with a horn’.
• 1938 ~ Quaker City Jazz was recorded on the Bluebird label by Jan Savitt’s orchestra. The tune would become the theme of the band. It was not, however, recorded in the Quaker City of Philadelphia. The song was waxed in New York City.
• 1940 ~ Manfred Mann (Michael Lubowitz), Singer with Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers
• 1941 ~ Steve Cropper, Guitarist with the groups: Blues Brothers as well as Booker T and The MG’s
• 1942 ~ Elvin Bishop, Guitarist, singer with Paul Butterfield Blues Band
• 1943 ~ Ron Elliott, Guitarist with Beau Brummels
• 1946 ~ Lee Loughnane, Brass with Chicago
• 1953 ~ Charlotte Caffey, Guitar, singer with The Go-Gos
• 1955 ~ Eric Faulkner, Guitarist with Bay City Rollers
• 1957 ~ Julian Cope, Bass, guitar, singer
• 1957 ~ Steve Lukather, Guitarist with Toto
• 1958 ~ Orchestral strings were used for the first time in a rock and roll tune. Buddy Holly recorded It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, written by Paul Anka. Sadly, it would be Holly’s last studio session. The song wasn’t released until after his death in February of 1959.
• 2001 ~ George Feyer, a pianist and entertainer who played at some of New York’s top hotels, died at the age of 92. Feyer, who was known for setting pop lyrics to classical music, entertained the sophisticated Manhattan cafe society for three decades. He played for decades at the Carlyle, the Stanhope and the Waldorf-Astoria. He made many recordings, including his Echoes album series, which featured Echoes of Paris and Echoes of Broadway. Born in Budapest on Oct. 27, 1908, Feyer attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where he studied with composer Sir Georg Solti. One of his first jobs was playing for silent movies. During World War II, the Nazis put Feyer on forced labor details, then imprisoned him in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp for the final year of the war. Feyer and his family moved to New York in 1951. He stopped working full time in 1982.