“O Holy Night” (“Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877).
Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet, had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau’s French text in 1855.
In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of mankind’s redemption.
O Holy Night sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the King’s Singers
• 1719 ~ Johann Christoph Altnikol, German organist, bass singer, and composer. He was a son-in-law and copyist of Johann Sebastian Bach
• 1818 ~ Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany, composed the music for “Silent Night” to words written by Josef Mohr. The traditional song was sung for the first time during Midnight Mass on this night.
• 1824 ~ Peter Cornelius, German composer and writer
• 1871 ~ Opera-goers in Cairo, Egypt were treated to Verdi’sAida in its world premiere. The composer was commissioned to write the opera for festivities celebrating the opening of the Suez Canal
• 1887 ~ Lucrezia Bori, Spanish lyric composer
• 1893 ~ Harry Warren (Salvatore Guaragna), Composer, Song Writer’s Hall of Famer: Best Song Oscar
• 1906 ~ Professor Reginald A. Fessenden sent his first radio broadcast from Brant Rock, MA. The program included a little verse, some violin and a speech.
• 1918 ~ Zara Nelsova, Canadian-born American cellist
• 1914 ~ Ralph Marterie, ‘Caruso of the trumpet’: musician, bandleader
• 1924 ~ Carol Haney, Dancer, member of Jack Cole dance company, worked with Bob Fosse, in films
• 1928 ~ The first broadcast of The Voice of Firestone was heard. The program aired each Monday evening at 8:00. The Voice of Firestone became a hallmark in radio broadcasting. It kept its same night, time (in 1931 the start time changed to 8:30) and sponsor for its entire run. Beginning on September 5, 1949, the program of classical and semiclassical music was also seen on television.
• 1930 ~ Robert Joffrey (Khan), Choreographer with The Joffrey Ballet; died in 1988
• 1931 ~ Ray Bryant, Pianist, composer
• 1944 ~ Mike Curb, Music executive, producer, Oscar-winner
• 1944 ~ The Andrews Sisters starred in the debut of The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-To- The-Bar-Ranch on ABC radio. Patti, Maxine and LaVerne ran a fictional dude ranch. George ‘Gabby’ Hayes was a regular guest along with Vic Schoen’s orchestra. The ranch stayed in operation until 1946.
• 1945 ~ Lemmy (Ian Kilmister), Bass, singer with Motorhead
• 1946 ~ Jan Akkerman, Guitar, lute with bands: Friendship Sextet, Johnny and the Cellar Rockers
• 1951 ~ Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”, the first opera composed for television, made its debut on NBC-TV. Amal and the Night Visitors became a Christmas classic.
• 1955 ~ The lovely Lennon Sisters debuted as featured vocalists on The Lawrence Welk Show on ABC-TV. They became regulars with Welk within a month and stayed on the show until 1968.
• 1957 ~ Ian Burden, Keyboards with Human League
• 1977 ~ The Bee Gees spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the top of the music charts. How Deep is Your Love became #1 this day and stayed that way for three weeks.
• 2000 ~ Felix Popper, a conductor and music administrator at the New York City Opera, died at the age of 92. Popper joined the New York City Opera in 1949 as an assistant conductor and vocal coach. By 1958 he was named music administrator, and he played an important role in guiding the opera through a period in which the house truly established itself. During this time, the company is credited with discovering important American singers such as Johanna Meier, Tatiana Troyanos, Gianna Rolandi, Faith Esham and Jane Shaulis. Popper retired from the opera in 1980 but continued to work as a consultant and vocal coach.
• 2000 ~ Longtime Detroit blues radio personality and promoter Famous Coachman died of an apparent heart attack. He was 75. Coachman was host of the weekend blues and gospel show on Detroit’s WDET for 21 years until 1997 and remained busy in the city’s music world until his death. “Everybody knew Coachman,” said JoAnn Korczynska, blues music director for WHFR at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn. “He really did know B.B. King and John Lee Hooker. When I met John Lee Hooker, one of the first things he said to me was `How is Coachman doing?'” Coachman said he was named “Famous” because “my mother knew I would be.”
• 2000 ~ Nick Massi, an original member of the Four Seasons who handled bass vocals and vocal arrangements throughout the band’s glory days, died of cancer at the age of 73. Massi was born in Newark as Nicholas Macioci. The longtime West Orange resident performed with several bands before joining Frankie Valli in a group called the Four Lovers. By 1961, the group had evolved into the Four Seasons. Massi remained with the group until 1965, when he grew tired of touring, Valli said. Massi performed on hits such as Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man and Rag Doll, which friends said was his favorite. During his tenure, the group made the Billboard Top 40 chart 17 times and toured throughout the United States and overseas, melding doo-wop vocals with a contemporary beat. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Valli’s falsetto was the band’s trademark, but he said Massi was his musical mentor. “He could do four-part modern harmonies that would amaze musicians who had studied for years. And he did it all in his head without writing it down,” Valli said.