Christmas Countdown: Ding Dong! Merrily On High
1803 ~ Louis-Hector Berlioz, French composer, conductor, music critic and major force in the development of musical form during the Romantic Era
More information about Berlioz
• 1876 ~ Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Polish composer and conductor
• 1882 ~ The Bijou Theatre in Boston, MA became the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.
• 1908 ~ Elliot Cook Carter, Jr., American composer
• 1916 ~ (Damaso) Perez Prado, Piano, organ
• 1926 ~ Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton, Blues singer
• 1931 ~ Rita Moreno (Rosita Alverio), Dancer, Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress
• 1934 ~ Curtis Williams, Singer with The Penguins
• 1935 ~ Tom Brumley, Steel guitar with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Stone Canyon Band
• 1939 ~ Marlene Dietrich recorded Falling In Love Again on the Decca label.
• 1940 ~ David Gates, Guitarist, keyboard, singer with Bread
• 1944 ~ Brenda Lee (Tarpley), American singer of popular music
• 1944 ~ “The Chesterfield Supper Club” debuted on NBC radio. Perry Como, Jo Stafford and many other stars of the day shared the spotlight on the 15-minute show that aired five nights a week. The show was sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes.
• 1952 ~ An audience of 70,000 people watched from 31 theatres as Richard Tucker starred in Carmen. The event was the first pay-TV production of an opera. Ticket prices ranged from $1.20 to $7.20.
• 1954 ~ Jermaine Jackson, Singer with The Jackson Five, brother of Michael, Janet, La Toya, Tito, Randy, Marlon and Jackie
• 1973 ~ Karen and Richard Carpenter received a gold record for their single, Top of the World.
• 1982 ~ Toni Basil reached the #1 one position on the pop music charts for the first time, with her single, Mickey.
• 2000 ~ Ruth Martin, a writer whose translations of both popular and obscure operas were widely used in American opera houses, died at the age of 86. Martin collaborated with her husband Thomas Martin in translating the librettos of some of the world’s most famous operas, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Puccini’s Boheme, and Bizet’s Carmen. Martin and her husband also translated some of the rarest operas, such as Offenbach’s Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, and Dvorák’s Rusalka. The Martins’ translations were marked by their clarity and singability, and despite the increasing use of closed-captioning systems in major opera houses, their translations are still used widely. Martin contributed articles on opera for Opera News, Aria, and Theater Arts. She also served on the boards of the New York Federation of Music Clubs, the Liederkranz Foundation and the National Opera Foundation.
• 2001 ~ Erik Johns, who wrote the libretto for Aaron Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land, died in a fire at his home in Fishkill, N.Y. He was 74. Born Horace Eugene Johnston in Los Angeles, Johns began his career in music as a dancer. He met Copland when he was 19 at a New Year’s Eve party in New York. In 1952 the two began collaborating on an opera based on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans that describes the lives of several Southern sharecropper families during the Depression. Copland composed the music and Johns wrote the libretto, or the words. The work was originally commissioned as a television opera by NBC but was subsequently rejected by the network. The New York City Opera performed it at its premiere at City Center in April 1954 in a short two-act version. The two later added a third act.
• 2001 ~ Jose Fajardo, a Cuban flutist who was one of the most influential bandleaders in Latin music, died an aneurysm. He was 82. The Cuban native had emigrated from Cuba in 1961, when he refused a request from the Cuban government to continue a musical tour to other communist countries. During his lengthy career, Fajardo recorded more than 40 albums and performed around the world. He was credited with expanding the audience for charanga, a Cuban musical style that backs a singer with flute, violins, piano, bass and percussion. Fajardo started his first group, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, in the 1940s. He later led three bands by the same name. After moving to the United States, he founded bands in New York and Miami and began performing in new style called pachanga, featuring a slightly more assertive rhythm. Fajardo was featured on “Cuban Masters: Los Originales,” an album of performances by leading Cuban musicians that was released November 2001.
• 2002 ~ Kay Rose, the first woman to win an Academy Award for sound editing, died. She was 80. Rose won the statuette for her work on the 1984 film The River. A native of New York, Rose was recognized in March with a career achievement award from the Cinema Audio Society. The Motion Picture Sound Editors gave her a similar lifetime achievement award in 1993. In October 2002, directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg endowed the Kay Rose Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. The chair is the first of its kind in the country. After studying film at Hunter College, she became a civilian film apprentice for the Army Signal Corps during World War II. There, she helped create such training films as How to Erect a Double Apron Barbed Wire Fence and the John Huston documentary Report from the Aleutians. She moved to Hollywood in 1944 and found a job as an assistant to an editor at Universal studios. In 1951, she married film editor Sherman Rose. Together, they produced the 1954 sci-fi cult classic, Target Earth. They later divorced. During her five-decade career, Rose received sound editing credits on such films as The Rose, Ordinary People, On Golden Pond, The Milagro Beanfield War, The Prince of Tides, For the Boys and Speed.
. 2021 ~ Russian opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya died at the age of eighty-six. Vishnevskaya had a forty year career and had performed many soprano roles in classic operas.