It’s Franz Liszt’s Birthday!

liszt-quote

Franz Liszt was born in Raiding, near Ödenburg, October 22, 1811 and died in Bayreuth, July 31, 1886. He was a Hungarian composer and pianist who was a major influence during the romantic period. Liszt was an outstanding pianist at seven, composed at eight and made concert appearances at nine. In addition to being a piano virtuoso, he was also a critic, conductor, city music director, literary writer and transcriber of the works of other composers. He transcribed Beethoven’s Symphonies for the piano.

Franz Liszt began his career as the outstanding concert pianist of the century, who, along with the prodigious violinist Niccoló Paganini (1782-1840), created the cult of the modern instrumental virtuoso. To show off his phenomenal and unprecedented technique, Liszt composed a great deal of music designed specifically for this purpose, resulting in a vast amount of piano literature laden with dazzling, and other technical marvels. In this vein, Liszt composed a series of virtuosic rhapsodies on Hungarian gypsy melodies, the best-known being the all too familiar Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. Liszt developed the rhapsody as a form of serious music. This kind of music is worlds apart from the generally more introspective, poetic music of pianist-composer Frédéric Chopin.

Liszt was wildly handsome and hugely talented. He was extremely popular in Paris during the 1830’s. It is said that women actually fainted at his piano recitals. He was the first to position the piano so that its lid reflected the sound and the audience could see his profile as he performed.

Liszt was the first to write a tone poem, which is an extended, single-movement work for orchestra, inspired by paintings, plays, poems or other literary or visual works, and attempting to convey the ideas expressed in those media through music. Such a work is Les Préludes, based on a poem in which life is expressed as a series of struggles, passions, and mysteries, all serving as a mere prelude to . . .what? The Romantic genre of the symphonic poem, as well as its cousin the concert overture, became very attractive to many later composers, including Saint-Saëns, TchaikovskyDvorák, Sibelius, and Richard Strauss.


     Liszt’s birthday

     anniversary of Liszt’s death

    Listen to Liszt’s transcription of Meyerbeer’s Hellish Waltz from Robert du Diable, which probably caused more public commotion than any other piano piece in history.


     Read quotes by and about Liszt

     Liszt was the first recitalist

     In Praise of Pianos and the Artists Who Play Them

     History of the Piano

     Franz Liszt

It’s Jelly Roll Morton’s Birthday

jelly-grandpa

 

 

Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe in 1885, was one of the most influential composers of the jazz era, bridging an important gap between ragtime, blues, and jazz. In a sense, he was the first great jazz composer.

His career began in New Orleans, where he began to experiment with a unique blend of blues, ragtime, Creole, and Spanish music in bordellos as a piano player. Along with being a musician, he also worked as a gambler, pool shark, vaudeville comedian, and was known for his flamboyant personality and diamond front tooth.

Morton became successful when he started making what would be some of the first jazz recordings in 1923 with “the New Orleans Rhythm Kings”. Whether he played on the West Coast, New Orleans, or in Chicago, his recordings were always very popular. He joined the group “the Red Hot Peppers” in 1924 and made several classic albums with the Victor label.

Nothing but success came to him until 1930, when “Hot Jazz” began to die out, and big bands began to take over. Morton died in 1941, claiming that a voodoo spell was the cause of his demise.

 

   anniversary of Morton’s death

  Read quotes by and about Morton

 

Happy Birthday to Vladimir Horowitz!

Vladimir Horowitz

 

 

Destined to become one of the world’s greatest pianists, Vladimir Horowitz was born in 1903 in Kiev, Russia. While most young children were playing games, Vladimir was playing with the ivories. His time was well spent as he was fully capable of performing publicly by the time he was sixteen.

Within four years, the young piano virtuoso was entertaining audiences at recitals throughout Leningrad – 23 performances in one year, where he played over 200 different works of music, never repeating a composition. After Leningrad, Horowitz played in concerts in Berlin, Hamburg and Paris.

In 1928, the Russian pianist traveled to the United States to play with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Arturo Toscanini chose Horowitz to perform his first solo with the New York Philharmonic. It was there that Horowitz met his bride-to-be, Toscanini’s daughter, Wanda. The two were wed in Milan in 1933. New York became Horowitz’ permanent home in 1940. He became a U.S. citizen a few years later, devoting the rest of his career to benefit performances, and helping young, aspiring artists.

His return to the concert stage in May of 1965 was a triumphant success, as was his television recital, Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall.

Just three years before his death, Vladimir Horowitz returned to his homeland to perform once again for the Russian people on April 20, 1986. They felt he had been away far too long … close to sixty years.

     Horowitz’s birthday

     anniversary of Horowitz’s death

     History of the Piano

     News Item including Horowitz

 

Happy Birthday Whenever You Want

happy birthday

 

You’re legal now!

None of the companies that have collected royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.

Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-happy-birthday-song-lawsuit-decision-20150922-story.html

The following version is in the O’Connor Music Studio library, if you wish to borrow it.  It is also available on amazon.com

Happy Birthday to George Gershwin!

George GershwinGeorge Gershwin lived between September 26, 1898 and July 11, 1937. He is considered to be a twentieth century composer.

If you hate homework but like roller skating, you have something in common with American composer George Gershwin. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian immigrant parents, George loved to play street hockey, ‘cat’, and punch ball. He didn’t even have an interest in music until his family got him a piano when he was twelve. Nine years later he had his first hit, “Swanee”, with lyrics written by Irving Caesar. No one else in the Gershwin family was musical, but George was fascinated by music. When he heard a schoolmate play the violin, George struck up a friendship with the boy who introduced him to the world of concert music.

Gershwin’s American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue (featured in Disney’s newly released Fantasia 2000) proved that jazz was powerful enough to combine will with symphonic music. Gershwin was only 26 years old at the time when he composed Rhapsody in Blue. No matter how you hear it, “Rhapsody in Blue” will remain the signature of one of the most influential of composers, songwriters and pianists in American music history.

His play Porgy and Bess has been produced as both a film and an opera.

 

Happy Birthday, Jelly Roll Morton!

jelly-grandpa

 

 

Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe in 1885, was one of the most influential composers of the jazz era, bridging an important gap between ragtime, blues, and jazz. In a sense, he was the first great jazz composer.

His career began in New Orleans, where he began to experiment with a unique blend of blues, ragtime, Creole, and Spanish music in bordellos as a piano player. Along with being a musician, he also worked as a gambler, pool shark, vaudeville comedian, and was known for his flamboyant personality and diamond front tooth.

Morton became successful when he started making what would be some of the first jazz recordings in 1923 with “the New Orleans Rhythm Kings”. Whether he played on the West Coast, New Orleans, or in Chicago, his recordings were always very popular. He joined the group “the Red Hot Peppers” in 1924 and made several classic albums with the Victor label.

Nothing but success came to him until 1930, when “Hot Jazz” began to die out, and big bands began to take over. Morton died in 1941, claiming that a voodoo spell was the cause of his demise.

 

   anniversary of Morton’s death

  Read quotes by and about Morton

 

June 5, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Happy Birthday is a song that I like to have each of my students learn at various levels appropriate to their level. When a friend or family member has a birthday, it’s great to be able to sit down and play.

 

It’s only been fairly recently that piano students could have this music in their books.

“Happy Birthday to You”, more commonly known as simply “Happy Birthday”, is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person’s birth. According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.

The melody, or part you sing, of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which has traditionally been attributed to American sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill in 1893, although the claim that the sisters composed the tune is disputed.

Patty Hill was a kindergarten principal and her sister Mildred was a pianist and composer.  The sisters used “Good Morning to All” as a song that young children would find easy to sing.  The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.

“Happy Birthday” in the style of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky.  Find the melody!

 

Lots of legal stuff below which you can skip…

None of the early appearances of the “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics included credits or copyright notices. The Summy Company registered a copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R. R. Forman. In 1988, Warner/Chappell Music purchased the company owning the copyright for US$25 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at US$5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claimed that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are illegal unless royalties are paid to Warner. In one specific instance in February 2010, these royalties were said to amount to US$700. By one estimate, the song is the highest-earning single song in history, with estimated earnings since its creation of US$50 million.In the European Union, the copyright for the song expired on January 1, 2017.

The American copyright status of “Happy Birthday to You” began to draw more attention with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft in 2003, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer specifically mentioned “Happy Birthday to You” in his dissenting opinion. American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, concluded in 2010 that “It is almost certainly no longer under copyright.”

In 2013, based in large part on Brauneis’s research, Good Morning to You Productions, a company producing a documentary about “Good Morning to All”, sued Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming copyright to the song.  In September 2015, a federal judge declared that the Warner/Chappell copyright claim was invalid, ruling that the copyright registration applied only to a specific piano arrangement of the song, and not to its lyrics and melody.

In 2016, Warner/Chappell settled for US $14 million, and the court declared that “Happy Birthday to You” was in the public domain.

Legal stuff is finished and people can now sing and play “Happy Birthday to You” whenever and wherever they want.

One of my all-time versions of Happy Birthday, in duet form – and I have the music if you want to tackle it.