Christmas Countdown: O Little Town Of Bethlehem

 

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” is a popular Christmas carol. The text was written by Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), an Episcopal priest, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He was inspired by visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in 1865.

Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Redner’s tune, simply titled “St. Louis”, is the tune used most often for this carol in the United States.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings O Little Town Of Bethlehem

 

“Intervals Roasting”: The Most Educational Christmas Carol Ever

music-theory-song

Music theory has never sounded so catchy with this witty remake of the holiday classic The Christmas Song (with apologies to Mel Torme) Try not to laugh at the ending.

Though it is a bit humorous, this version titled ‘Intervals Roasting’, with lyrics by David Rakowski, attempts to encapsulate the fundamentals of music theory in just over two minutes.

It does a good job of explaining the intervals and harmonic structure of the song and also gives you an idea of how to use music theory to analyze or compose music.

The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy if anyone wants to learn this 🙂

Christmas Countdown: The Alfred Burt Carols

Alfred Burt Carols

 

I could have turned the Alfred Burt Carols into the next 15 parts of this series but I decided that was a bit too easy on me!

I love this story – it’s a wonderful family tradition from the Burt family.

Starting in 1922, Alfred Burt’s father created a Christmas card for family members and parishioners. On these cards were original Christmas carols, with both the words and music by the Reverend Bates Burt. For the family Christmas card in 1942, Bates asked his son to write the music for that year’s carol, “Christmas Cometh Caroling.”

From then on, Alfred would write the music for the family’s Christmas cards, and the “Alfred Burt carols” were born.

Over the next several years, and as the Burts’ circle of friends grew, the Christmas card list grew from 50 to 450 people. But still, the Alfred Burt Carols remained unknown outside the Burts’ growing mailing list.

That changed with the 1952 carol, “Come, Dear Children”. Burt finished writing the music during a rehearsal with the Blue Reys, the vocal group with Alvino Rey’s orchestra. He asked them to sing it so he could make sure the harmonies worked; they liked it so much that they asked Burt if they could sing it at the annual King Sisters Christmas party. It proved to be a hit among the partygoers, and served to introduce Burt’s carols to Hollywood, California.

More about the Burt family and the Christmas Carol tradition: http://www.alfredburtcarols.com/

Alfred Burt’s Carols:

  1. “Christmas Cometh Caroling” (1942)
  2. “Jesu Parvule” (1943)
  3. “What Are the Signs” (1944)
  4. “Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind” (1945)
  5. “All on A Christmas Morning” (1946)
  6. “Nigh Bethlehem” (1947)
  7. “Christ in the Stranger’s Guise” (1948)
  8. “Sleep Baby Mine” (1949)
  9. “This Is Christmas” (also known as “Bright, Bright, the Holly Berries”) (1950)
  10. “Some Children See Him” (1951)
  11. “Come, Dear Children” (1952)
  12. “O, Hearken Ye” (1953)
  13. “Caroling Caroling” (1954)
  14. “We’ll Dress the House” (1954)
  15. “The Star Carol” (1954)

Burt finished the last of his carols, “The Star Carol”, on February 5, 1954. He died less than 24 hours later, at the age of 33.

One of the best known of these today is Caroling Caroling (lyrics by the church organist at his father’s church, Wihla Hutson)

Caroling Caroling

The Salt Lake Vocal Artists perform 2 carols; “Caroling, Caroling” and “We’ll Dress the House” by Alfred Burt live in concert on December 17, 2011 in Holy Family Catholic Church, South Ogden, Utah under the direction of Dr. Brady Allred.

What’s your Christmas tradition?

December 13 ~ in Music History

Christmas Countdown: The Alfred Burt Carols

• 1761 ~ Johann Andreas Streicher, German piano maker

• 1835 ~ Phillips Brooks, Lyricist, O Little Town of Bethlehem

• 1838 ~ Marie-Alexis Castillon de Saint-Victor, French composer

• 1843 ~ Charles Dickens published his play “A Christmas Carol”

• 1874 ~ Josef Lhévinne, Russian pianist, teacher. After gaining fame as a soloist in Russia and Europe, he and Rosa came to the U.S.A. in 1919. While they continued to concertize, they both taught at Juilliard; although he had the more prominent concert career, she lived on to become legendary for teaching an endless succession of prominent pianists including Van Cliburn.

• 1877 ~ Mykola Leontovych, Ukrainian composer

• 1903 ~ Carlos Montoya, Spanish Flamenco guitarist

• 1925 ~ Wayne Walker, Songwriter

• 1925 ~ Dick Van Dyke, American Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian

• 1928 ~ Audiences at Carnegie Hall heard the first performance of George Gershwin’s composition, An American in Paris. The debut was performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Walter Damrosch. Advertised as “a tone poem with jazz and sound effects”, it was used as a ballet for Gene Kelly’s 1951 performance in the movie of the same name. Unfortunately, George Gershwin did not live to see his composition being danced to in the Academy Award-winning An American in Paris. It won six Oscars: Best Art Direction/Set Direction [Color], Best Color Cinematography, Best Costume Design [Color], Best Story and Screenplay, Best Picture … and Best Score.

• 1929 ~ Christopher Plummer (Orme), Actor, Sound of Music, Doll’s House

• 1929 ~ Hoagy Carmichael recorded with Louis Armstrong. They did Rockin’ Chair on Columbia records and cylinders.

• 1940 ~ The two-sided jump tune, The Anvil Chorus, was recorded by Glenn Miller and his orchestra for Bluebird Records in New York. The 10-inch, 78 rpm record ran six minutes (including flipping).

• 1941 ~ John Davidson, Actor, singer, TV game show host of the Hollywood Squares

• 1948 ~ Jeff  ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Guitarist with Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers

• 1948 ~ Ted Nugent, Guitarist, singer with Amboy Dukes

• 1948 ~ The American Federation of Musicians went back to work after an 11½-month strike. During the strike, there was an 11½-month ban on phonograph records as well.

• 1949 ~ Randy Owen, Guitarist, singer with Alabama

• 1949 ~ Tom Verlaine (Miller), Guitarist, singer with Television

• 1974 ~ Former Beatle George Harrison was greeted at the White House. President Gerald R. Ford invited Harrison to lunch. The two exchanged buttons, Ford giving George a WIN (Whip Inflation Now) pin and Harrison gave the President an OM (Hindu mantra word expressing creation) button.

• 2000 ~ Cellist Yo-Yo Ma made a special guest appearance on NBC television’s West Wing. No, he didn’t play a partisan leader, but he was featured in some of the music of Bach.

• 2002 ~ Maria Bjornson, a set and costume designer whose work on the hit musical The Phantom of the Opera won critical acclaim, was found dead at her London home. She was 53. Bjornson was born in Paris in 1949 and grew up in London, the daughter of a Romanian woman and a Norwegian father. She went to the French Lycee in London and then studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design. Bjornson worked as a theater designer from 1969, and designed 13 productions at the Glasgow Citizens’ Theater. She worked for the Welsh National Opera and its English and Scottish counterparts and was involved with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Ballet. Her colorful and grand design for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theater in London in 1986 won her international acclaim. In 1988, Bjornson’s work on Phantom won two Tony Awards, one for sets and the other for costumes. After Phantom she collaborated with Lloyd Webber again on Aspects of Love, and worked on the Royal Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden in London in 1994 and on Cosi Fan Tutte at Glyndebourne in 1991.

• 2002 ~ Former Lovin’ Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky, who traded in the wild rock star life for a quiet existence as a restaurant owner in Canada, died. The Toronto native died of a heart attack at his home in Kingston, Ontario, six days before his 58th birthday. Famed for such hits as Do You Believe in Magic and Summer in the City, the Lovin’ Spoonful enjoyed a brief reign in the mid 1960s as America’s answer to the Beatles. The quartet, led by singer/guitarist John Sebastian, racked up seven consecutive top 10 singles in 16 months. Yanovsky, a tall Russian Jew who resembled Ringo Starr, joined forces with Sebastian in New York City in 1964. The pair shared a love of folk music, and both had played in the Mugwumps, a short-lived combo that also included future Mamas and Papas members “Mama” Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. The Lovin’ Spoonful, named after a Mississippi John Hurt song, took shape in 1965 when Yanovsky and Sebastian teamed up with drummer Joe Butler and bass player Steve Boone. The group’s first single, Do You Believe In Magic reached the top 10 that year. Its follow-up, You Don’t Have To Be So Nice also went top 10 in early 1966. Summer in the City was their sole No. 1. Besides recording five albums, the band also did the soundtracks to Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and Francis Ford Coppola You’re A Big Boy Now. Yanovsky was the zany member of the group. He was the focal point during live performances, but his biting humor often rubbed his colleagues the wrong way, especially when one of his girlfriends ended up with Sebastian. In 1966, the group’s banner year, Yanovsky was faced with deportation after he and Boone were arrested for marijuana possession in San Francisco. They turned in their dealer, which damaged the band’s hipster credentials. Amid rising tensions, Yanovsky was voted out of the band in 1967, but remained on amicable terms with his colleagues. He recorded a solo album, Alive and Well in Argentina, in 1968. Sebastian, the band’s creative force, left that year, and the band soon broke up. The original members reunited in 1980 to appear in the Paul Simon film One-Trick Pony and then in 2000 when it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yanovsky dabbled in TV before going into the restaurant business. He ran Chez Piggy, an acclaimed eatery in Kingston.

• 2003 ~ Jazz trumpeter Webster Young, who played with greats such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the 1950s, died of a brain tumor. He was 71. Young’s career got an early boost when Louis Armstrong took him as a student when he was 10 years old. As a teenager, Young jammed with Dizzy Gillespie, earning the nickname “Little Diz” in Washington D.C.-area clubs for a style that resembled Gillespie’s. Young broke into the modern jazz scene in New York City in the late 1950s, recording several albums. He returned to Washington D.C. in the 1970s to raise his family. He toured in Europe in the 1980s and performed regularly at jazz clubs until eight months before his death. Young’s career peaked in 1957, when he played cornet with John Coltrane for the album “Interplay for Two Trumpets and Two Tenors” for the Prestige record label.

• 2017 ~ The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this morning that rock legends The Moody Blues will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Current members Justin Hayward (lead guitar, vocals),  John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals) and Graeme Edge (Gray Edge) (drums); will receive the honor alongside former members Ray Thomas (flute/vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboard/mellotron/vocals). The Moody Blues are one of five 2018 Inductees.  Read more at http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-inducted-rock-roll-hall-fame-2018/

Christmas Countdown: Still, Still, Still

Still, Still, Still

Still, Still, Still is an Austrian Christmas carol and lullaby. In German its first line is “Still, still, still, weil’s Kindlein schlafen will!” (Hush, hush, hush, for the little child wants to sleep!)

The melody is a folk tune (authorship unknown) from the State of Salzburg. The tune appeared for the first time in 1865 in a folksong collection of Maria Vinzenz Süß (1802-1868), founder of the Salzburg Museum; it has changed slightly over the years but remains attributed to G. Götsch.

The words, which run to six verses in German, describe the peace of the infant Jesus and his mother as they sleep. There are various English translations.  This is one version:

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

December 12 ~ in Music History

Christmas Countdown: Still, Still, Still

• 1887 ~ Kurt Atterberg, Swedish composer

• 1889 ~ Václav Štěpán, Czech pianist and composer

• 1900 ~ Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice & Sing”, composed. It was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1905.

• 1915 ~ Frank (Francis Albert) Sinatra, American actor and singer of popular music

• 1918 ~ Joe Williams (Joseph Goreed), Jazz singer, sang with Count Basie, actor on The Bill Cosby Show

• 1938 ~ Connie Francis (Concetta Franconero), American singer and actress

• 1941 ~ Terry Kirkman, Wind instruments, keyboards with The Association

• 1941 ~ Dionne Warwick, American Grammy Award-winning of popular music

• 1942 ~ Mike Pindar, Keyboards with The Moody Blues

• 1943 ~ Dickie Betts, Guitar with The Allman Brothers and also Great Southern

• 1943 ~ Mike Smith, Organs, singer with The Dave Clark Five

• 1943 ~ Grover Washington, Jr., American jazz saxophonist

• 1946 ~ Clive Bunker, Drummer with Jethro Tull

• 1949 ~ Paul Rodgers, Piano, vocals with Free, Bad Company, The Firm

• 1959 ~ Sheila E. (Escovedo), Drummer, singer

• 1959 ~ Paul Rutherford, Singer with Frankie Goes to Hollywood

• 1984 ~ The group known as Band Aid, 38 of Britain’s top rock musicians, recorded Do They Know This is Christmas? for Ethiopian famine victims. Despite the best of intentions, much of the food raised never got to the starving Ethiopians. In fact, much of it was found rotting on docks, not fit for human consumption. More than a Band-Aid was needed to fix that political mess.

• 1989 ~ Lindsay Crosby, son of crooner Bing Crosby, died

• 2002 ~ Actor Brad Dexter, who rode with Yul Brynner as one of the “Magnificent Seven” and became a confidant of both Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, died. He was 85. Burly and handsome, he was often cast as a tough guy in supporting roles, which included 1958’s “Run Silent, Run Deep,” starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable, and 1965’s “None but the Brave,” starring Sinatra. He made his film debut in the “The Asphalt Jungle” in 1950, but his most prominent role came in 1960’s “The Magnificent Seven,” in which he starred with Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Born Boris Milanovich in Goldfield, Nev., Dexter made guest appearances on the 1950s television shows “Zane Gray Theater,” “Death Valley Days” and “Wagon Train.” In January 1953, he married singer Peggy Lee, but they divorced eight months later. Soon after his divorce, Dexter befriended Monroe. In 1954, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to stay with her husband, Joe DiMaggio. His friendship with Sinatra took on legendary proportions during the filming of “None but the Brave” in 1964. On location in Hawaii, Sinatra nearly drowned and Dexter saved his life.

• 2002 ~ Marvin O. Herzog, who traveled the world with his for 58 years, died of pancreatic cancer. He was 70. Herzog was a polka celebrity who regularly booked 170 appearances a year. He and his band would travel more than 75,000 miles a year in a converted Greyhound bus. For years, Herzog was the star and co-sponsor of Frankenmuth’s Summer Music Fest, which drew about 25,000 visitors annually to the town known for its Bavarian events and shopping. Born in Frankenmuth, Herzog lived there his entire life. He quit his job at Star of the West Milling in 1973 to concentrate full-time on polka music. He played a Cordovox – a mix of organ and accordion. Herzog recorded 32 albums, including his Schnitzelbank and Octoberfestrecords in German as well as Polish, Italian and English polkas. He had a radio show and co-hosted a television show. Herzog was inducted into the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in 1979.