On January 17 in Music History

today

. 1712 ~ John Stanley, English composer and organist

. 1728 ~ Johann Gottfried Muthel, German composer and noted keyboard virtuoso

. 1734 ~ François-Joseph Gossec, Belgian composer
More information about Gossec

 

. 1750 ~ Tomaso Albinoni, Italian composer (Adagio in G Minor), died at the age of 78

. 1876 ~ The saxophone was played by Etta Morgan at New York City’s Olympic Theatre. The instrument was little known at the time in the United States.

. 1913 ~ Vido Musso, Reed instruments, played with Benny Goodman, bandleader: Stan Kenton was his pianist

. 1917 ~ Ulysses Simpson Kay, US composer, born in Tucson, Arizona (d. 1995)

. 1920 ~ George Handy (George Joseph Hendleman), Pianist, composer, arranger for the Boyd Raeburn band, Alvino Rey band, Paramount Studios

. 1922 ~ Betty White, Emmy Award-winning actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, singer

. 1926 ~ Moira Shearer, Ballerina

. 1927 ~ Eartha Kitt, Singer. Kitt’s birth certificate listing her actual birthdate as 1/17/27 was found in 1997. She has celebrated her birthday as Jan. 26 (1928) all of her life and says, “It’s been the 26th of January since the beginning of time and I’m not going to change it and confuse my fans.”

. 1941 ~ Gene Krupa and his band recorded the standard, Drum Boogie, on Okeh Records. The lady singing with the boys in the band during the song’s chorus was Irene Daye.

. 1944 ~ Chris Montez, Singer

. 1948 ~ Mick Taylor, Singer, rhythm guitar with The Rolling Stones

. 1955 ~ Steve Earle, Songwriter, singer, guitar

. 1956 ~ Paul Young, Singer

. 1959 ~ Susanna Hoffs, Singer, guitar with The Bangles

. 1960 ~ John Crawford, Singer, bass with Berlin

. 1969 ~ Lady Samantha, one of the very first recordings by Reginald Kenneth Dwight (aka Elton John), was released in England on Philips records. The song floundered, then bombed. The rock group, Three Dog Night, however, recorded it for an album.

. 2001 ~ Pianist and singer Emma Kelly, the “Lady of 6,000 Songs” made famous by the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” died from a liver ailment at the age of 82. Kelly’s nightclub act, in which she tapped her vast repertoire of American popular standards five nights a week until she became ill a month ago, was a must-see for Savannah tourists itching to meet a real-life character from author John Berendt’s Southern Gothic best seller. Though the book helped her book performances from New York to Switzerland, Kelly continued to crisscross south Georgia to play church socials and high school graduations, Kiwanis luncheons and wedding receptions. Berendt devoted an entire chapter to Kelly in the 1994 book, describing her as a teetotaling Baptist who would play smoky cocktail lounges Saturday nights and Sunday school classes the next morning. Kelly performed at her own nightclub, Emma’s, in Savannah, for five years in the late 1980s. She then bounced between lounges near the downtown riverfront. She also independently recorded three albums, the last of which were released posthumously, her son said.

. 2001 ~ Jazz musician, composer and conductor Norris Turney, who played alto sax and flute with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and led the Norris Turney Quartet, died of kidney failure at the age of 79. Turney recorded with a number of bands over the years, and toured with Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles and others. He was an original member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. Turney’s lone CD as a bandleader, “Big, Sweet ‘N Blue,” was warmly received by jazz critics.

. 2002 ~ Edouard Nies-Berger, the veteran organist and protege of Albert Schweitzer, died at the age of 98. Nies-Berger, who played with the New York Philharmonic, was a native of Strasbourg in Alsace. His father, a church organist, was an associate of Schweitzer. The doctor, philosopher and Nobel laureate was pastor of a nearby church where the teenage Nies-Berger played occasionally. Nies-Berger moved to New York in 1922 and for the next 15 years played the organ in houses of worship across the country. By the mid-’30s he settled in Los Angeles and performed in the soundtracks of several films, including “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “San Francisco.” He returned to Europe in 1937 to study conducting with Bruno Walter in Salzburg, Austria. After conducting for two years in Latvia and Belgium he returned to the United States. He was named organist of the New York Philharmonic, where he played under the direction of such conductors as Walter, George Szell and Leonard Bernstein. Nies-Berger was reunited with Schweitzer in 1949, when the humanitarian visited the United States. For six years they collaborated on the completion of Schweitzer’s edition of the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach. After serving at St. Paul’s in Richmond, Nies-Berger returned to Europe for several years to perform as a recitalist and write several books, including a memoir of Schweitzer. In 1991 he was awarded the gold medal of the Art Institute of Alsace, and in 1993 was named a knight of the arts and letters by the French Ministry of Education and Culture.

. 2013 ~ Lizbeth Webb, English soprano, died at the age of 86

On January 15 in Music History

 

. 1775 ~ Giovanni Battista Sammartini, composer, died

. 1890 ~ Premiere of The Sleeping Beauty, ballet by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky. After the less-than-promising 1877 debut of Swan Lake, marred by a largely amateur production, over a decade elapsed before the composer was commissioned by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg to supply music for a ballet on the Perrault fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky threw himself arms-deep into the project. Not only was the composer again on happy turf, he was currently in a state of delight by the occasional presence of a three-year-old little girl; children seemed to tap a joyful vein in Tchaikovsky. The little girl’s proximity fed a spirit of fantasy which transmitted to this most lighthearted of the composer’s scores. Most musicologists and historians concede that Sleeping Beauty is the most perfectly wrought of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores, classic in its restraint, yet possessing the right amount of color and panache to render it pure Tchaikovsky; its waltz remains a Pops favorite.

. 1896 ~ Alexander Scriabin made his European debut as a pianist at the Salle Erard in Paris

. 1904 ~ Ellie Sigmeister, Classical composer

. 1905 ~ Weldon Leo ‘Jack’ Teagarden, died of pneumonia
More information about Teagarden

. 1909 ~ Gene Krupa, American Jazz bandleader and drummer

. 1919 ~ Pianist and statesman Ignace Paderewski became the first premier of Poland

. 1925 ~ Ruth Slenczynska, pianist, born in Sacramento, California

. 1941 ~ Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), Singer with Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, artist

. 1942 ~ Kenny Sargent vocalized with the Glen Gray Orchestra on Decca Records’ It’s the Talk of the Town.

. 1948 ~ Ronnie Van Zandt, Singer, songwriter with Lynyrd Skynyrd

. 1951 ~ Charo (Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza), ‘The Hootchy Cootchy Girl’, actress, singer, wife of Xavier Cugat

. 1951 ~ Martha Davis, Singer with The Motels

. 1959 ~ Peter Trewavas, Bass with Marillion

. 1964 ~ The soundtrack album of the musical, “The King and I”, starring Yul Brynner, earned a gold record.

. 1967 ~ Ed Sullivan told the Rolling Stones to change the lyrics and the title to the song, Let’s Spend the Night Together, so it became Let’s Spend Some Time Together.

. 1972 ~ Elvis Presley, who was also censored from the waist down by Ed Sullivan, reportedly drew the largest audience for a single TV show to that time. Elvis presented a live, worldwide concert from Honolulu on this day.

. 1987 ~ Ray Bolger died.  He was an American entertainer of vaudeville, stage and actor, singer and dancer best known for his portrayal of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

. 1993 ~ Sammy Cahn passed away.  He was an was an American lyricist, songwriter and musician.

. 2018 ~ Edwin Hawkins, American gospel musician, choirmaster and composer (Oh Happy Day), died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 74

. 2019 ~ Carol Elaine Channing died at the age of 98. She was an American actress, singer, dancer and comedian. Notable for starring in Broadway and film musicals, her characters typically radiate a fervent expressiveness and an easily identifiable voice, whether singing or for comedic effect.

 

Christmas Countdown: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

 

nutcracker

A few years ago, we went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular, the pieces featured in the suite.

 

 

April 25 in Music History

today

. 1906 ~ John Knowles Paine died.  He was the first American-born composer to achieve fame for large-scale orchestral music.

. 1913 ~ Earl Bostic, Saxophonist, bandleader

. 1915 ~ Italo Tajo, Italian bass

. 1915 ~ Sal Franzella, Jazz musician, alto sax, clarinet

. 1918 ~ Ella Fitzgerald, American Grammy Award-winning singer (12), jazz and popular music. She was discovered at age 16 at an amateur night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and went on to work with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

. 1923 ~ Albert King, American blues singer and guitarist

. 1923 ~ Melissa Hayden (Mildred Herman), Ballerina with the New York City Ballet

. 1926 ~ Arturo Toscanini conducted the first performance of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” at La Scala, Milan.

. 1932 ~ Gator (Willis) Jackson, Composer, tenor sax, invented the gator horn

. 1933 ~ Jerry Leiber, Record producer with Mike Stoller

. 1945 ~ Stu Cook, Bass with Creedence Clearwater Revival

. 1945 ~ Bjorn Ulvaeus, Musician, guitar, singer with Abba

. 1946 ~ The popular Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra recorded Cement Mixer for Majestic records, tapes and CDs this day. Well, not tapes and CDs. We were still listening to 78s back then … thick, heavy ones, at that.

. 1952 ~ Ketil Bjørnstad, Norwegian pianist

. 1956 ~ The rock ‘n roll legend, Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel went No.1.

. 1970 ~ DJs around the U.S. played the new number one song, ABC, quite often, as the Jackson 5 reached the number one spot in pop music for two weeks. ABC was the second of four number one songs in a row for the group from Gary, IN. I Want You Back was their first. ABC was one of 23 hits for Michael, Tito, Jackie, Jermaine and Marlon. ABC was knocked out of first place by The Guess Who and their hit, American Woman.

. 1973 ~ The group, The Sweet, received a gold record for the hit Little Willy. The English rocker band recorded four hits in addition to their first million- seller, Ballroom Blitz, Fox on the Run, Action and Love is like Oxygen. Little Willy was a top-three hit, while the group’s other gold record winner, Fox on the Run made it to the top five.

. 2000 ~ David Merrick, one of Broadway’s most flamboyant and successful theatrical producers who created “Gypsy,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “42nd Street,” died in London at the age of 88. During his long career as arguably Broadway’s most successful producer, Merrick won all the major theatrical awards, including 10 Tony Awards just for “Hello, Dolly!” He was best-known for his musicals but he produced many non-musicals as well.

February 28 in Music History

today

. 1876 ~ John Alden Carpenter, American composer

. 1882 ~ Geraldine Farrar, American soprano

. 1890 ~ Vasalav Nijinsky, Ballet dancer

. 1903 ~ Vincente Minnelli (Lester Anthony Minnelli), Director, Judy Garland’s husband and Liza Minnelli’s father

. 1915 ~ Lee Castle (Castaldo), Trumpet, bandleader, led Jimmy Dorsey’s band during time of smash hit, So Rare

. 1926 ~ Seymour Shifrin, American composer

. 1930 ~ Ted Lewis and his orchestra recorded On the Sunny Side of the Street for Columbia Records on this day. Mr. Lewis was heard as the featured vocalist as well, on the tune that has been recorded hundreds of times and is an American music standard.

. 1939 ~ Tommy Tune, Tony Award-winning dancer, actor, director of musical theater

. 1942 ~ Brian Jones (Lewis Hopkin-Jones), Singer, rhythm guitar with The Rolling Stones

. 1948 ~ Bernadette Peters, Singer and actress

. 1959 ~ Cash Box magazine, a trade publication for the music/radio industry, began using a red ‘bullet’ on its record charts to indicate those records that have the strongest upward movement each week. The phrase, “Number one with a bullet” designates those hits that have reached the pinnacle of statistical chartdom. To be so means to be at the top of the list and still climbing higher.

. 1960 ~ Dmitri Capyrin, Russian composer of contemporary classical music.

. 1966 ~ The famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, England closed because of financial difficulties. During its peak of success, the club was best known as the home of The Beatles.

. 1968 ~ Frankie Lymon passed away.  He was an American rock and roll/rhythm and blues singer and songwriter.

. 1984 ~ It was Michael Jackson Night at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. He set a record for most wins by taking home eight of the gramophone statuette honors. He broke the previous record of six awards set by Roger Miller in 1965. The reason: the biggest selling album of all time, Thriller, which sold more than 35-million copies around the world soon after its release in 1983.

. 1993 ~ Ruby Keeler passed away.  She was a Canadian-born American actress, dancer and singer most famous for her on-screen coupling with Dick Powell in a string of successful early musicals at Warner Brothers, particularly 42nd Street.

 

 

February 21 in Music History

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
More information about Nina Simone

. 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

February 12 in Music History

today

. 1728 ~ Mysterious priest-composer Agostino Steffani died.

. 1760 ~ Jan Ladislav Dussek, Czech composer and pianist.  Along with his friend, famed piano maker John Broadwood, Dussek made important design improvements to the piano, allowing for the more dynamic style of playing that his highly original compositions required. Beethoven himself later used a Broadwood piano with Dussek’s innovations. This helped pave the way for Romanticism and Dussek’s influence on Beethoven’s piano writing has been well documented.

Dussek’s Piano Sonata Op. 77 in F minor (“L’invocation”), from 1812, is the last work he ever composed, and he saved the best for last. This is a neglected masterpiece that foreshadows Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.

. 1881 ~ Anna (Pavlovna) Pavlova, Russia’s premier ballerina

. 1894 ~ Hans von Bülow, German pianist and composer died (b. 1830)
More about von Bulow

. 1898 ~ Roy Harris, American composer

. 1904 ~ Ted Mack (William Maguiness), TV host of The Original Amateur Hour, The Ted Mack Family Hour

. 1914 ~ (Gordon) Tex Beneke, Bandleader, singer, tenor sax in the Glenn Miller Orchestra

, 1915 ~ Charles Emile Waldteufel, composer, died at the age of 77

. 1918 ~ All theatres in New York City were shut down in an effort to conserve coal.

. 1923 ~ Mel Powell, American jazz pianist and composer. One of his works is Mission to Moscow for Benny Goodman. He was also Dean of Music at California Institute of Arts.

. 1923 ~ Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director and producer of opera, theatre, film and television

. 1924 ~ Bandleader Paul Whiteman presented his unique symphonic jazz at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. The concert marked the first public performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The composer, himself, was at the piano this night. Distinguished guests included John Philip Sousa and Jascha Heifetz.

. 1935 ~ Gene McDaniels (Eugene Booker McDaniels), Singer

. 1939 ~ Ray Manzarek, Keyboards with The Doors

. 1942 ~ Mildred Bailey recorded More Than You Know on Decca Records.

. 1948 ~ Joe Schermie, Bass with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ “Annie Get Your Gun” closed at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1147 performances

 

. 1964 ~ The Beatles played two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City, concluding a very successful American tour.

. 1968 ~ Singer and famed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, received an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, WA, where he had dropped out at the age of 14.

. 1972 ~ Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together knocked American Pie out of the top spot on the music charts. The record stayed at the top for one week, before giving way to Nilsson’s Without You. Green returned to his gospel roots in 1980 and is a minister in Memphis, TN. Green recorded 14 hit songs with six of them making it to the Top 10.

. 1976 ~ Sal Mineo, singer, died

. 1983 ~ Eubie Blake, US ragtime-composer/pianist (Memories of You), died at the age of 96