Anniversary of Van Cliburn’s Death

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Van Cliburn was just a pianist much the way Neil Armstrong was merely an astronaut. Simply put, the tall Texan’s musical talent and successes were out of this world.

Cliburn, who died Wednesday February 27, 2013 at age 78 at his Fort Worth home due to complications from bone cancer, was 23 when he strode into Moscow for the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition, created to showcase Soviet cultural superiority.

Playing with unerring precision and sublime emotion, he took the top prize and was given a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, the first and last time a pianist won such an honor.

“Imagine galvanizing the attention of the entire world in the pre-Internet, pre-global TV year of 1958,” says Howard Reich, who got to know the Texas-based pianist while researching his 1993 biography, Van Cliburn. “As a Texan, he was so emblematic of the United States. But the Russians fell in love with his romanticism.”

In many ways, however, that seminal performance both made his name and sealed his fate.

The pieces that won him the competition — Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 — sold countless records (his Tchaikovsky No. 1 was the first classical record to sell more than a million copies) and became required concert staples.

“Playing on that treadmill for the next 20 years led him to burn out, and by 1978 he looked terrible and bowed out of public life,” says Reich. “He was a gentle soul, and that harsh public spotlight had a negative effect on him.”

It would be nine years before Cliburn performed again, at the White House for Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Although he made occasional appearances in the following decades, he spent most of his time overseeing his foundation and a quadrennial competition that bears his name.

“I can’t think of anyone who has done more to help promote the instrument and young performers than Van,” says Cliburn’s friend Yoheved Kaplinsky, chairman of the piano department at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, which Cliburn attended. “He was an icon in Fort Worth, and a person of great humility.”

Born Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. in Shreveport, La., Cliburn started piano lessons at age 3 and immediately showed prowess under the watchful eye of his mother, who had trained on the instrument under a teacher who had studied with Franz Liszt.

After moving to Texas, Cliburn played with Houston’s symphony at age 12, and at 17 entered Juilliard. At 20, he performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, setting the stage for his triumphant coup in Russia.

No one can imagine a ticker-tape parade for a pianist in this era, but in Cliburn’s heyday he was as much an inevitable cultural icon as he was a reluctant political figure. In the late ’50s, the Cold War was raging, the Beatles were still practicing and classical music still held sway.

But what truly made Cliburn unique was the humble ease with which he went about seducing the alleged enemy.

“Van marched in full of the musical values of the Old World, full of tremendous sincerity and with a remarkable ability to connect with audiences,” says Kaplinsky. “He may have transcended the boundaries of the art world and breached into the political world, but foremost Van was a consummate artist.”

That artistry is on display in various YouTube clips of Cliburn reprising his competition-winning form in Moscow in 1962. The pianist’s eyes are often closed as massive hands fly across the length of the keyboard. Utterly lost in the music, Cliburn seems almost oblivious to his audience.

“He had more of everything,” says Reich. “More height, more smiles, more sweep on the piano.”

In his later years, Cliburn collected the usual array of awards accorded cultural heroes. A Kennedy Center Honors tribute in 2001, a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and in 2004 Russia’s equivalent, the Russian Order of Friendship. In 2004, there was a predictable Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1994 a less-expected guest appearance as himself in the TV cartoon Iron Man.

On the personal front, Cliburn was a devout Baptist but also quietly gay; in the late ’90s, his longtime partner, Thomas Zaremba, unsuccessfully sued the pianist over compensation claims.

Ultimately, Cliburn will be remembered not just as a performer of startling skill, but also as a global cultural sensation in the age of shortwave radio.

“He did something that no one could have ever imagined back then,” says Reich. “He was ubiquitous.”

Adapted from USA Today

February 26: On This Day in Music

today

. 1770 ~ Anton Reicha, Czech-born, later naturalized French composer of music very much in the German style

. 1802 ~ Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and many other works

. 1879 ~ Frank Bridge, English composer, violist and conductor

. 1922 ~ Dancing to jazz music and tango bands was criticized in Paris. It seems that dancing was detracting the French from their postwar reconstruction, according to “La Revue Mondiale”.

. 1928 ~ “Fats” (Antoine) Domino, American rock-and-roll pianist and singer. His works include: Ain’t That a Shame, Goin’ Home, I’m in Love Again, Blue Monday, I’m Walkin’ and Blueberry Hill

. 1930 ~ Lazar Berman, Soviet pianist

. 1945 ~ Mitch Ryder (William Levise), Singer with Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

. 1947 ~ Sandie Shaw (Goodrich), Singer

. 1950 ~ Jonathan Cain, Keyboard with Babys

. 1954 ~ Michael Bolton, Grammy Award-winning singer. Some of his songs are: When a Man Loves a Woman and How Am I Supposed to Live Without You

. 1961 ~ John-Jon (John Andrew Foster), Musician with Bronski Beat

. 1965 ~ Juan Trigos, Mexican composer and conductor

. 1972 ~ Harry Nilsson started his second week at number one with that toe-tapping ditty, Without You. The whiny love song stayed at the top for a total of four weeks.

. 1977 ~ The Eagles’ New Kid in Town landed in the top spot on the pop music charts for one week beginning this day.

. 1981 ~ Howard Hanson died.  He was an American composer, conductor, educator, music theorist, and champion of American classical music.

. 1983 ~ Charley Pride’s Why Baby Why topped the country charts. The song was written by George Jones (who found national fame with his own version in 1955) and Darrell Edwards. Legend has it that inspiration for the song came when Edwards overheard a couple squabbling in their car in Orange, TX.

. 2003 ~ Otha Turner, 94, who created his own niche in blues music with an ethereal mix of early American colonial drums and West African flute, died in Como, Miss. His recording Everybody Hollerin’ Goat was rated among the Top 10 blues releases in 1997 by Rolling Stone magazine. Members of a Senegalese drum troupe performed with Mr. Turner on the album. Mr. Turner was presented with a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award, the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award and the Charlie Patton Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival.

. 2011 ~ Eugene Fodor, American classical violinist (1974 Tchaikovsky Award), died at the age of 60

February 25: On This Day in Music

today

. 1727 ~ Armand-Louis Couperin, French composer, organist, and harpsichordist of the late Baroque and early Classical periods.

. 1735 ~ Ernst Wilhelm Wolf, German composer

. 1890 ~ Dame Myra Hess, British pianist

. 1929 ~ Tommy Newsom, Musician: tenor sax, arranger, composer, backup conductor for NBC’s Tonight Show Band

. 1943 ~ George Harrison, British rock singer, guitarist and songwriter and former member of The Beatles group

. 1952 ~ The complete choreographic score of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate” became the first musical choreography score given a copyright. The work was the effort of Hanya Holm.

. 1953 ~ The musical, “Wonderful Town”, opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City. The show was based on the book, “My Sister Eileen”, and the ran for 559 performances.

. 1957 ~ Buddy Holly and The Crickets traveled to Clovis, NM, to record That’ll Be the Day (one of the classics of rock ‘n’ roll) and I’m Looking for Someone to Love. Both songs were released on Brunswick Records in May of that year.

. 1960 ~ John Cage’s “Music for Amplified Toy Pianos” premiered

. 1963 ~ Please Please Me was the second record released in the U.S. by The Beatles. Some labels carried a famous misprint, making it an instant, and valuable, collector’s item. The label listed the group as The Beattles.

. 1966 ~ Nancy Sinatra was high-stepping with a gold record award for the hit, These Boots are Made for Walkin’.

. 1986 ~ We are the World captured four Grammy Awards. The song, featuring more than 40 superstar artists gathered at one time, was awarded the Top Song, Record of the Year, Best Pop Performance and Best Short Video Awards.

. 2001 ~ Ann Colbert, a manager of classical musicians, died at the age of 95. Colbert founded Colbert Artists Management Inc. Her clientele included the Juilliard String Quartet; conductors Sir Georg Solti, Christoph von Dohnanyi and Richard Bonynge; singers Dame Joan Sutherland, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; and musicians Alfred Brendel and the late Jean-Pierre Rampal. Colbert moved to the United States from Berlin in 1936 and started the management company with her husband, Henry Colbert, in 1948. She retired in 1991, leaving the company to her longtime associate, Agnes Eisenberger. The company has retained Colbert’s name.

. 2003 ~ Walter Scharf, 92, a composer who earned 10 Academy Award nominations and worked on more than 200 movies and television programs, including “Funny Girl,” “Mission: Impossible” and “White Christmas,” died in Los Angeles. He received Oscar nominations for the scores for such films as “Mercy Island” (1941), “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952), “Funny Girl” (1968), “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “Ben” (1972). He won an Emmy for his work on a National Geographic television special and a Golden Globe for “Ben,” whose theme song helped launch singer Michael Jackson’s solo career.

February 24: On This Day in Music

today

. 1766 ~ Samuel Wesley, English organist and composer in the late Georgian period. Wesley was a contemporary of Mozart (1756–1791) and was called by some “the English Mozart.”

. 1771 ~ Johann Baptist Cramer,  English musician of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer, a famous London violinist and musical conductor, one of a numerous family who were identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries.

. 1832 ~ Frederic Chopin’s first Paris concert. The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that “As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances—few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime.

. 1842 ~ Arrigo Boito, Italian composer, librettist and poet

. 1858 ~ Arnold Dolmetsch, British music antiquarian and musician

. 1932 ~ Michel Legrand, Academy Award-Winning composer for Best Original Score: Yentl in 1983, Brian’s Song, Ice Station Zebra

. 1934 ~ Renata Scotto, Italian soprano. She made her operatic debut at age 18 and is best known for performances as Violetta in La Traviata, Cio-Cio- San in Madama Butterfly, Mimi (and the occasional Musetta) in La Bohème, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Francesca in Francesca da Rimini. She is also an opera director.

. 1940 ~ Frances Langford recorded one of the classic songs of all time — and one that would become a Walt Disney trademark. When You Wish Upon a Star was recorded on Decca Records during a session in Los Angeles. Many artists have recorded the song, including pop diva Linda Ronstadt (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the early 1980s). One can hear the song not only on record, but as the theme in the opening credits of any Disney movie, video and TV program and those “I’m going to Disneyland/World!” commercials, too.

. 1942 ~ Paul Jones, Harmonica, singer with Manfred Mann

. 1943 ~ Stephen Douglas Burton, American composer and teacher

. 1947 ~ Rupert Holmes, Songwriter: over 300 songs & jingles, singer, producer

. 1947 ~ Lonnie Turner, Bass, singer with The Steve Miller Band

. 1964 ~ The musical, “What Makes Sammy Run”, opened in New York at the 54th Street Theatre. Making his Broadway debut in the show was Steve Lawrence. The production ran for 540 performances.

. 1985 ~ Yul Brynner reprised his role in “The King and I” setting a box office record for weekly receipts. The show took in $520,920.

. 1990 ~ Johnnie Ray died.  He was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist.

. 1991 ~ Webb Pierce passed away.  He was one of the most popular American honky tonk, rockabilly vocalists, guitarists of the 1950s

. 1994 ~ Donald Phillips, pianist/composer, died at the age of 80

February 22: On This Day in Music

today

. 1817 ~ Niels Wilhelm Gade, Danish composer

. 1834 ~ Albert Heinrich Zabel, harpist and composer

. 1857 ~ Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts

. 1923 ~ Frederick A. Julliard set up a million-dollar fund to establish a music school. Today, Juilliard is one of the world’s leading music and dance schools.

. 1927 ~ David Ahlstrom, American composer

. 1931 ~ Maurice Chevalier recorded Walkin’ My Baby Back Home for Victor Records in New York City. The same tune was recorded 21 years later by Nat ‘King’ Cole and Johnny Ray. It became a major hit for both artists.

 

 

 

. 1945 ~ Oliver (Swofford), Singer

. 1956 ~ Elvis Presley entered the music charts for the first time. Heartbreak Hotel began its climb to the number one spot on the pop listing, reaching the top on April 11, 1956. It stayed at the top for eight weeks.

. 1958 ~ Roy Hamilton’s record, Don’t Let Go, became #13 in its first week on the record charts. The song was the first stereo record to make the pop music charts. 1958 was the year for several stereo recordings, including Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes by Chuck Willis, Yakety Yak by the Coasters, Born Too Late by The Poni-Tails, It’s All in the Game by Tommy Edwards and What Am I Living For by Chuck Willis.

. 1965 ~ Filming began for The Beatles’ second movie, “HELP!”, in the Bahamas.

. 1976 ~ Florence Ballard passed away.  She was an American vocalist, one of the founding members of the popular Motown vocal group the Supremes. Ballard sang on sixteen top forty singles with the group, including ten number-one hits.

. 1985 ~ Efrem A Zimbalist, Russian/US composer/violinist, died at the age of 95

. 2001 ~ Ray Hendricks, a singer of the Big Band era who performed with Benny Goodman and Betty Grable, died at the age of 88. His career took him to Hollywood and across the country with stars including Goodman, Grable, Hoagy Carmichael, Ben Bernie, Ray Noble and Sid Lippman. His earliest performances were on Spokane radio station KFPY. He soon set out for California with Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby. After serving as a flying instructor in the Air Force during World War II, he returned to Spokane and formed his own orchestra. He continued playing local venues for several decades but said he regretted not pushing his career after the war.

. 2001 ~ Herbert Kupferberg, a music critic and a senior editor of Parade magazine, died at the age of 83. For more than 20 years, Kupferberg was an editor and critic for The New York Herald Tribune. After it folded in 1966, he joined Parade. He also wrote reviews for The Atlantic Monthly and The National Observer. Kupferberg, born in New York in 1918, published several books including Amadeus: A Mozart Mosaic and Those Fabulous Philadelphians: The Life and Times of a Great Orchestra, a history of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

. 2013 ~ Wolfgang Sawallisch, German conductor and pianist died at the age of 89

. 2018 ~ Nanette Fabray [Ruby Fabares], American actress and singer (Love Life, Caesar’s Hour, One Day at a Time), died at the age of 97

February 21: On This Day in Music

today

. 1791 ~ Carl Czerny, Austrian pianist and composer whose vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works. His books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching.
More information on Czerny

Czerny is in the center top of this image. He influenced many!

Czerny is in the center top of this image. He influenced many!

 

. 1836 ~ Léo Delibes, French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage.
More information on Delibes

. 1893 ~ Andrés Segovia, Spanish guitarist
More information on Segovia

. 1933 ~ Nina Simone, American jazz and soul singer

. 1943 ~ David Geffen, Tony Award-winning producer of Cats in 1983, M Butterfly in 1988, “Miss Saigon”, Beetlejuice and Risky Business. Also a record executive: Geffen Records and a partner in Dreamworks film production company with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg.

. 1944 ~ New York City Opera, first performance

. 1958 ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter, Grammy Award-winning singer

. 1982 ~”Ain’t Misbehavin'” closed at Longacre Theater in New York City after 1604 performances

. 1990 ~ “The Batman Theme” by Danny Elfman won Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition at 32nd Annual Grammy Awards

. 1991 ~ Dame Margot Fonteyn died. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time.

. 2015 ~ Clark Terry died.   He was an American swing and bebop trumpeter, a pioneer of the flugelhorn in jazz, educator, and NEA Jazz Masters inductee. He played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948–1951), Duke Ellington (1951–1959) and Quincy Jones (1960).

Terry’s career in jazz spanned more than seventy years and he is among the most recorded of jazz musicians.

. 2017 ~ Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Polish-born classical conductor and composer, died at the age of 93

. 2019 ~ Peter Tork, a musician who became a teeny-bopper sensation as a member of The Monkees, the wisecracking, made-for-TV pop group that imitated and briefly outsold The Beatles, has died at the age of 77.

Technic Series: Scales and Arpeggios

scales

PDF Article on Scales and Arpeggios

In music, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch.

An arpeggio (it. /arˈpeddʒo/) is a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than being played together like a chord. This word comes from the Italian word “arpeggiare”, which means “to play on a harp”. An alternative translation of this term is “broken chord”.

Make any scale or chord here

 

It’s Carl Czerny’s Birthday!

czerny599

1791 ~ Carl Czerny, Austrian pianist and composer whose vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works.

His books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching.
More information on Czerny

Czerny is in the center top of this image. He influenced many!

Czerny is in the center top of this image. He influenced many!

 

 

At the age of fifteen, Czerny began a very successful teaching career. Basing his method on the teaching of Beethoven and Muzio Clementi, Czerny taught up to twelve lessons a day in the homes of Viennese nobility.

His ‘star’ pupils included Theodor Döhler, Stephen Heller, Sigismond Thalberg, Leopoldine Blahetka and Ninette de Belleville.In 1819, the father of Franz Liszt brought his son to Czerny.

Liszt became Czerny’s most famous pupil. He trained the child with the works of Beethoven, Clementi, Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Sebastian Bach. The Liszt family lived in the same street in Vienna as Czerny, who was so impressed by the boy that he taught him free of charge. Liszt was later to repay this confidence by introducing the music of Czerny at many of his Paris recitals.

Shortly before Liszt’s Vienna concert of 13 April 1823 (his final concert of that season), Czerny arranged, with some difficulty (as Beethoven increasingly disliked child prodigies) the introduction of Liszt to Beethoven. Beethoven was sufficiently impressed with the young Liszt to give him a kiss on the forehead. Liszt remained close to Czerny, and in 1852 his Études d’exécution transcendente (Transcendental Études) were published with a dedication to Czerny.

 

February 20: On This Day in Music

 

 

. 1626 ~ John Dowland, composer, died

. 1803 ~ Friedrich Theodor Fröhlich, Swiss Composer

. 1903 ~ Karel Janeček, Czech composer

. 1937 ~ Nancy Wilson, American jazz singer

. 1941 ~ Buffy (Beverly) Sainte-Marie, Singer, songwriter, married to Jack Nitzsche

. 1940 ~ Christoph Eschenbach, German pianist and conductor

. 1940 ~ Larry Clinton and his orchestra recorded Limehouse Blues on Victor Records.

. 1946 ~ Sandy Duncan, Dancer, actress

. 1946 ~ J. (Jerome) Geils, Guitarist with The J. Geils Band

. 1950 ~ Walter Becker, Bass, guitarist with Steely Dan

. 1951 ~ Randy California (Wolfe), Singer, guitarist with Spirit

. 1961 ~ Percy Aldridge Grainger, Australian/US composer/pianist, died at the age of 78

. 1963 ~ Ian Brown, Singer with Stone Roses

. 1974 ~ After a decade of marriage, Cher filed for separation from husband Sonny Bono. Not long afterwards, she filed for divorce and the accompanying alimony. This time she sang, I Got You Babe, for real … before becoming a successful solo singer and movie actress in films such as “Moonstruck” (Best Actress Oscar in 1987).

. 1975 ~ Brian (Thomas) Littrell, Singer with Backstreet Boys

. 1977 ~”My Fair Lady” closed at St James Theater in New York City after 384 performances

. 1982 ~ Singer Pat Benatar married musician-producer Neil Geraldo in Hawaii.

. 2005 ~ John Raitt, American actor and singer (Chevy Show, Pajama Game), died from complications of pneumonia at the age of 88

 

 

 

February 19: On This Day in Music

today

. Luigi Boccherini, Italian composer
More information on Boccherini

boccherini-minuet

. 1878 ~ Thomas Alva Edison, famed inventor, patented a music player at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. This music device is the one we know as the phonograph. Edison paid his assistant $18 to make the device from a sketch Edison had drawn. Originally, Edison had set out to invent a telegraph repeater, but came up with the phonograph or, as he called it, the speaking machine.

. 1902 ~ John Bubbles (John William Sublett), An actor: Porgy and Bess (1935 Broadway version), films: Cabin in the Sky, Variety Show, A Song Is Born, No Maps on My Taps; dancer: credited with creating ‘rhythm tap’.

. 1912 ~ Stan Kenton, American jazz pianist, composer and Grammy Award-winning bandleader

. 1927 ~ Robert Fuchs, Austrian composer and music teacher. As Professor of music theory at the Vienna Conservatory, Fuchs taught many notable composers, while he was himself a highly regarded composer in his lifetime.

. 1940 ~ “Smokey” Robinson, American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter

. 1942 ~ If there was ever such a thing as a jam session, surely, this one was it: Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded I’ll Take Tallulah (Victor Records). Some other musical heavyweights were in the studio too, including Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers, Ziggy Elman and drummer extraordinaire, Buddy Rich.

. 1971 ~ Gil Shaham, Israeli-American violinist

. 1975 ~ Luigi Dallapiccola, composer, died at the age of 71
More about Dallapiccola

. 1981 ~ George Harrison was ordered to pay ABKCO Music the sum of $587,000 for “subconscious plagiarism” between his song, My Sweet Lord and the Chiffons early 1960s hit, He’s So Fine.