Happy Birthday to Gene Krupa!

krupa

 

Eugene Bertram “Gene” Krupa lived from January 15, 1909 to October 16, 1973.  He was an American jazz and big band drummer, actor and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.

One of my all-time favorite non-piano songs is Sing Sing Sing. Krupa joined Benny Goodman’s band in 1934, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit “Sing, Sing, Sing” were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.

The Benny Goodman big band playing Sing Sing Sing, featuring Gene Krupa at the end. We get the added benefit of hearing Mr. Harry James play a trumpet solo.

~~~

Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich: Famous Drum Battle

Today is Rubber Ducky Day!

 

According to a 1973 Sesame Street calendar, Rubber Duckie’s Birthday is January 13 so around the country it’s National Rubber Ducky Day! A friend of Ernie and Big Bird, Duckie made his debut in a February 1970 episode.

The rubber ducky (also spelled duckie) has come a long way from his first concept as a chew toy for children. While the origin of the first rubber ducky is uncertain, many rubber molded toys from dolls to those in various animal shapes came about when rubber manufacturing developed in the late 1800s.

During World Wars I and II, rubber was a valuable commodity that was rationed, and by the 1940s with the advent of plastic, the rubber ducky began being produced in vinyl and plastic.

The earliest patent for a rubber duck toy was patented in 1928 by Landon Smart Lawrence. His design was for a bath toy which was weighted and when tipped would return to its upright position. The sketch included with the patent was that of a duck.

Russian Sculptor Peter Ganine sculpted many animal figures. One, a duck, he later designed and patented it into a floating toy which closely resembles the rubber ducky we have become familiar with today.

Sales of the iconic yellow rubber ducky we’ve come to know today soared in Britain in 2001. Why? A British Tabloid, The Sun, reported Queen Elizabeth II had a rubber duck in her bathroom that wore an inflatable crown.

The rubber ducky became a Toy Hall of Fame inductee in 2013. Founded in 1998, the Hall of Fame has only inducted 52 other toys.

 

 

 

The now world-famous giant rubber duck, by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, has sailed into the Port of Los Angeles. The six-story-tall bath toy has made its west coast debut to take part in their Tall Ships Festival parade. The duck has also appeared in Australia, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. Earlier this year, versions of the massive inflatable duck were in Asia, including Beijing’s harbor and Taiwan, where the duck actually exploded and fell apart while on display. Report by Sarah Kerr.

 

 

 

Did you know that the City of Fairfax Regional Library has a Rubber Ducky collection?

Go on a scavenger hunt to discover more than 200 ducks hiding throughout the building and are on display.  The Rubber Ducky is the library’s mascot.

 

And, finally, a little history lesson:

 

 

And, the final word…

 

 

January 6 in Music History

Today is National Shortbread Day.

.

 

1695 ~ Giuseppe Sammartini, Italian composer

. 1803 ~ Henri Herz, Austrian pianist and composer

. 1838 ~ Max Bruch, German Composer
More information about Bruch

. 1850 ~ Franz Xaver Scharwenka, Polish composer
More information about Scharwenka

. 1852 ~ Louis Braille died. He was a French educator and inventor of a system of reading and writing for use by the blind or visually impaired. His system remains virtually unchanged to this day and is known worldwide simply as braille.

. 1856 ~ Giuseppe Martucci, Italian composer, conductor, pianist and teacher influential in reviving Italian interest in non-operatic music.

. 1863 ~ First performance of Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Sonata No. 3 in f, in Vienna.

. 1872 ~ Alexander Scriabin, Russian composer and pianist
Recommended Books and CD’s by Scriabin

. 1878 ~ Carl Sandburg, Author, poet, folk balladeer

. 1916 ~ Philip Bezanson, American composer and educator

. 1924 ~ Earl Scruggs, American country music singer, banjo player and songwriter, born. He was with the Grand Ole Opry.

. 1929 ~ Wilbert Harrison, Singer

. 1934 ~ Bobby Lord, Country singer

. 1937 ~ Nino Tempo, Sax musician, singer with April Stevens

. 1937 ~ Doris Troy, Singer

. 1938 ~ Trummy Young played trombone and sang with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra in New York City as Margie became Decca record number 1617.

. 1946 ~ Roger Keith, Lead guitarist, Pink Floyd

. 1946 ~ Syd (Roger) Barrett, Guitarist, singer with Pink Floyd

. 1959 ~ Kathy Sledge, Singer with Sister Sledge

. 1964 ~ Premier of “Hello Dolly”

 

 

. 1966 ~ Duke Ellington’s concert of sacred music, recorded at 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, was broadcast on CBS-TV.

. 1975 ~ The Broadway premiere of “The Wiz” opened, receiving enthusiastic reviews. The show, a black version of “The Wizard of Oz”, ran for 1,672 shows at the Majestic Theatre. Moviegoers, however, gave a thumbs down to the later cinema version of the musical that starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. One memorable song from the show is Ease on Down the Road.

. 1993 ~ The great jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie died of cancer at age 75. He has been credited with being a co-founder (with Charlie Parker) of ‘bebop’ music and wrote many jazz numbers (Salt Peanuts, Night in Tunisia). Gillespie also created the ‘afro-cuban’ sound in jazz music. A few of the disciples who preached Dizzy’s gospel of bebop were Thelonious Monk, Earl ‘Bud’ Powell, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

. 2000 ~ Ancient note: music as bridge between species

It’s Alfred Brendel’s Birthday!

brendel
Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in Wiesenberg, Czech Republic.

After World War II, Brendel composed music, as well as continuing to play the piano, to write and to paint. However, he never had more formal piano lessons and, although he attended master classes with Edwin Fischer and Eduard Steuermann, he was largely self-taught after the age of six.

He made his debut in Graz (1948), and has since performed widely throughout Austria, where he lives.

He is known for his interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, and Schoenberg. He tours internationally, and has written many essays on music.

A short insight from Alfred Brendel on his recording career:

Happy Birthday to Victor Borge!

Victor BorgeVictor Borge was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was an entertainer and pianist – a deliciously funny performer. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, and in Vienna and Berlin.

He made his debut as a pianist in 1926, and as a revue actor in 1933. From 1940 until his death in 2000 he worked in the USA for radio, television, and theatre, and has performed with leading symphony orchestras on worldwide tours since 1956.

He was best known for his comedy sketches combining music and narrative. He used his classical training to skew serious music and performers.

From his obituary:

Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep Dec 23, 2000 at his Greenwich, Connecticut home, was known as the unmelancholy Dane of international show business. He would have turned 92 on Jan. 3, 2001.

“The cause of death was heart failure,” his daughter, Sanna Feirstein, told Reuters.

“He had just returned from a wonderfully successful trip to Copenhagen … and it was really heartwarming to see the love he experienced in his home country,” she said.

Borge was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.

“He went to sleep, and they went to wake him up this morning, and he was gone,” said his agent, Bernard Gurtman.

“He had so much on the table, and to the day he died he was creative, and practicing piano several hours a day,” Gurtman told Reuters. “He was just a great inspiration.”

Funeral services will be private, his daughter said.

Borge made a career of falling off piano stools, missing the keys with his hands and getting tangled up in the sheet music.

One of his inspirations was a pianist who played the first notes of the Grieg A Minor Concerto and then fell on the keys dead.

He said that the only time he got nervous on stage was when he had to play seriously and adds that if it had not been for Adolf Hitler he probably would never have pursued a career as a concert-hall comedian.

Until he was forced to flee Denmark in 1940 he was a stage and screen idol in his native country.

Lampooned Hitler

But as a Jew who had lampooned Hitler, Borge — his real name was Boerge Rosenbaum — was in danger and fled first to Sweden and then to the United States, where he arrived penniless and unknown and by a fluke got booked on the Bing Crosby radio show. He was an instant success.

He became an American citizen in 1948, but thought of himself as Danish. It was obvious from the numerous affectionate tributes and standing ovations at his 80th birthday concert in Copenhagen in 1989 that Danes felt the same way.

In the concert at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, Borge played variations on the theme of “Happy Birthday to You” in the styles of Mozart, BrahmsWagner and Beethoven — all executed with such wit that the orchestra was convulsed with laughter that a woman performing a piccolo solo was unable to draw breath to play.

“Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing,” Borge told Reuters in an interview after that concert.

“That’s why I’ve never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy or a link with people, what better way is there?

“If I have to play something straight, without deviation in any respect, I still get very nervous. It’s the fact that you want to do your best, but you are not at your best because you are nervous and knowing that makes you even more nervous.”

His varied career included acting, composing for films and plays and writing but he was best known for his comic sketches based on musical quirks and oddities.

Unpredictable Routine

His routines were unpredictable, often improvised on stage as his quick wit responded to an unplanned event — a noise, a latecomer in the audience — or fixed on an unlikely prop — a fly, a shaky piano stool.

Borge was born in Denmark on January 3, 1909, son of a violinist in the Danish Royal Orchestra.

His parents encouraged him to become a concert pianist, arranging his first public recital when he was 10. In 1927 he made his official debut at the Tivoli Gardens.

Borge’s mischievous sense of humor was manifest from an early age. Asked as a child to play for his parent’s friends he would announce “a piece by the 85-year-old Mozart” and improvise something himself.

When his mother was dying in Denmark during the occupation, Borge visited her, disguised as a sailor.

“Churchill and I were the only ones who saw what was happening,” he said in later years. “He saved Europe and I saved myself.”

From 1953 to 1956, he appeared in New York in his own production “Comedy in Music,” a prelude to world tours that often took him to his native Scandinavia.

On radio and television, Borge developed the comedy techniques of the bungling pianist that won him worldwide fame.

Many of his skits were based on real-life events. One of his classics evolved from seeing a pianist playing a Tchaikovsky concerto fall off his seat.

Borge’s dog joined the show after it wandered on stage while he was at the keyboard — an entrance nobody would believe had been unplanned.

One incident could not be repeated. A large fly flew on to Borge’s nose while he was playing. “How did you get that fly to come on at the right time?” people asked. “Well, we train them,” Borge explained.

Borge’s book, “My Favorite Intervals”, published in 1974, detailed little-known facts of the private lives of composers describing Wagner’s pink underwear and the time Borodin left home in full military regalia but forgot his trousers.

In 1975, Borge was honored in recognition of the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and his work as unofficial goodwill ambassador from Denmark to the United States. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 1984 with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall and in Copenhagen.

Borge received a host of honors from all four Scandinavian countries for his contributions to music, humor and worthy causes.

Borge, who had lived in Greenwich since 1964, is survived by five children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. His wife of many years, Sanna, died earlier that year.

Borge’s birthday

Anniversary of Borge’s death

 

January 1 in Music History

new-year-ani

Happy New Year!

• 1652 ~ Johann Krieger, German composer and organist

• 1701 ~ Johann Joachim Agrell, Composer
More information about Agrell

• 1735 ~ Paul Revere, American patriot and music engraver

• 1764 ~ In a stunning demonstration of prodigious talent, the Royal Family at Versailles in France was treated to a brilliant recital by an eight-year-old musician. His name was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

• 1782 ~ Johann Christian Bach (“English Bach”), German composer, 11th son of Johann Sebastian Bach, died at the age of 46
More about Johann Christian Bach,

• 1878 ~ Edwin Franko Goldman, Composer

1900 ~ Xavier Cugat (Francisco de Asís Javier Cugat Mingall de Brue y Deulofeo). Spanish violinist, composer and bandleader, married to Abbe Lane and Charo
More information about Cugat

• 1916 ~ Earl Wrightson, Actor, singer

• 1923 ~ Milt Jackson, Vibes with The Modern Jazz Quartet

• 1925 ~ Lucrezia Bori and John McCormack of the famous Metropolitan Opera in New York City made their singing debuts on radio this day. The broadcast over what was WEAF Radio (now WABC) encouraged others to sing on radio. Some of those were Hootie and the Blowfish, and Barry Manilow.

• 1928 ~ Frank Pourcel, Composer, violinist

• 1942 ~ Country Joe McDonald, Singer with Country Joe & the Fish

• 1953 ~ A sad day in country music, as the legendary Hank Williams died at the young age of 29. Undisputedly, the biggest star in the history of country music, Hank Williams’ legacy is being carried on by his son, Hank Williams, Jr.

• 1955 ~ Elvis Presley appeared at The Eagles Hall in Houston Texas. Presley went on to play over 250 shows in 1955.

• 1958 ~ Johnny Cash played his first-ever prison concert —a concert that helped set Merle Haggard, then a 20-year-old San Quentin inmate, on the path toward becoming a country music legend.

• 1968 ~ A group known as The Blue Velvets decided to change its name this day and it’s a good thing they did. The new name soon became a national pop music favorite as Creedence Clearwater Revival climbed to stardom.

• 1972 ~ Maurice Chevalier passed away. Chevalier was a French actor, Cabaret singer and entertainer.

• 1981 ~ Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Australian concert pianist, writer, and human rights campaigner died at the age of 61. She was sister to the violinist Yehudi Menuhin and to the pianist, painter, and poet Yaltah Menuhin.

• 1984 ~ Alexis Korner passed away. Korner was a British blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a founding father of British blues”.

• 2000 ~ Ray Walston, who found commercial success playing a comical devil in the play “Damn Yankees” and an extraterrestrial on the sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” of natural causes at the age of 86. Walston caught the biggest break of his career when he won a Tony in 1955 for his performance in Broadway’s “Damn Yankees.” The smash musical told the story of a frustrated baseball fan who sells his soul. His screen debut came in the 1957 movie “Kiss Them For Me” with Cary Grant, and the next year he played the devil again in the film version of “Damn Yankees.” Walston snagged the role that would stick with him for a lifetime – that of a lovable alien on the TV show “My Favorite Martian” in 1963. The show was immensely popular, but Walston felt so typecast that he tried to highlight his dramatic abilities by returning to the stage when the TV comedy went off the air in 1966. He stayed in theater for several years before re-emerging with a succession of solid supporting roles in movies and television. Nearly 30 years after the end of the lighthearted “My Favorite Martian,” Walston’s role on “Picket Fences” as acerbic Judge Henry Bone earned Walston successive Emmys in 1995-96.

• 2016 ~ Chart-topping R&B singer Natalie Cole, who followed her famous father in the music business with hits like “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) and “Unforgettable,” died at age 65.

• 2018 ~ Robert Mann, American composer and violinist (the founding Violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet), died at the age of 97

 

 

maryorhhappynewyear