March 8: Today’s Music History

today

. 1714 ~ Carl Phillip Emanuel (C.P.E.) Bach, German composer
More information on C. P. E. Bach

. 1857 ~ Ruggero Leoncavallo, Italian composer
More information about Leoncavallo

. 1866 ~ “It is possible to be as much of a musician as Saint-Saëns;  it is impossible to be more of one!” ~ Franz Liszt on meeting fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns in Paris.

. 1869 ~ Hector Berlioz, French composer (Symphony Fantastic), died at the age of 65

. 1889 ~ John Thompson, Piano educator

. 1911 ~ Alan Hovhaness, American composer
More information about Hovhaness

. 1922 ~ Cyd Charisse, Dancer

. 1927 ~ Dick Hyman, Pianist and music director for Arthur Godfrey

 

. 1945 ~ Michael Dolenz best known as the drummer vocalist of the television sitcom “The Monkeys” which appeared on American television from 1966 to 1968. He also wrote a number of the songs which later became hits including “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”. He has also toured at various times since with reunion tours for “The Monkeys” . Micky stage name (“Micky Braddock” ) had TV experience prior to the formation of The Monkeys TV show from his time as the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s.

. 1961 ~ Conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham died at the age of 81.

. 1962 ~ The Beatles performed for the first time on the BBC in Great Britain. John, Paul, George and … Pete Best sang Dream Baby on the show, “Teenager’s Turn” on ‘Auntie Beeb’ (as the BBC was known).

. 1993 ~ Billy Eckstine, jazz singer (Fools Rush In), died at the age of 78 of stroke

. 1983 ~ William T Walton, English composer (Belhazzar’s feast), died at the age of 80

. 2001 ~ Ballet Legend Dame Ninette De Valois died at the age of 102. She was the founder of Britain’s Royal Ballet who launched dancer Margot Fonteyn on the road to stardom. De Valois, a strict and demanding disciplinarian with her pupils, was a gifted and theatrical choreographer who almost single-handedly put British ballet on the international stage. The doyenne of dance helped to nurture the talents of unknowns like Fonteyn and courted controversy in the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War when she invited Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev to appear with her company. De Valois always gave credit to Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev for teaching her all she knew. “Everything,” she once said of the Ballet Russe legend. “Diaghilev just managed the whole company. He knew all about the different teachers. He knew the types of teachers he wanted, he knew the type of ballet he wanted. He was a musician.” Born Edris Stannus in 1898 in the Irish county of Wicklow, she graduated from Irish jig to the ballet, worked with the writer W.B. Yeats at Dublin’s Abbey Theater and then, almost single-handedly, brought ballet to the fore in Britain. The famed diva, who adopted her professional name from an ancestor who had married into a French family, was first inspired at the age of 11 when she watched Anna Pavlova dancing The Dying Swan. In 1923, she joined Diaghilev’s troupe in Monte Carlo and began to lay the foundations of her own ballet empire. She gave up dancing herself after discovering that she had been suffering for years from polio. “It was no tragedy. I wasn’t that great,” she once said. In 1926, she opened her own ballet school in London. From the tiniest beginnings, she built up the Sadlers Wells Ballet in less than a decade. At the end of World War II, the company moved triumphantly into the Royal Opera House. A ballet dynasty was born. De Valois retired in 1963 but remained intimately involved in the ballet school, forever the sharp-tongued martinet who could strike terror in tomorrow’s ballet hopefuls.

. 2001 ~ Maude Rutherford, a singer and dancer in the glory days of black theater during the 1920s, died. She was believed to have been 104. Rutherford was billed as the Slim Princess when she worked with entertainers such as Fats Waller, Josephine Baker and Pearl Bailey. She was a featured performer and favorite at Harlem’s Cotton Club. Rutherford’s theater credits include: “Dixie to Broadway,” (1924), “Chocolate Sandals,” (1927), and “Keep Shufflin”‘ (1928). She retired from show business in 1950 and worked as a switchboard operator at an Atlantic City hotel.

. 2003 ~ Adam Faith, a square-jawed British singer who was briefly a Cockney challenger to Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll crown, died of a heart attack. He was 62. Born Terry Nelhams in west London in 1940, Faith was a handsome teenager who was playing with a skiffle music group – a mixture of jug band, acoustic, folk, blues and country and western styles – when he was spotted by producers of a British Broadcasting Corp. music program. Adopting the stage name Adam Faith, he became – alongside Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Billy Fury – a pop star of the pre-Beatles era. Developing a hiccuping delivery reminiscent of Buddy Holly, Faith had more than 20 British hits, including the chart-topping What Do You Want? and Poor Me. Faith also was a versatile actor, appearing in films like Beat Girl, Mix Me A Person and 1975’s Stardust opposite David Essex. In the 1970s he played a Cockney ex-con in the TV series Budgie.

. 2015 ~ Lew Soloff, American jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat and Tears), died at the age of 71

Music for Halloween 2021

pumpkin-music-on-notes-staff

 

Music for Halloween: Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns

danse-macabre

Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based on an old French superstition. In 1874, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin.

With a title that includes the word “macabre”, you can tell it’s a great piece for Halloween. This is by far the most famous work associated with the holiday, and with good reason. It is a tone poem inspired by a French legend that says “Death” appears at midnight on Halloween to call forth the dead from their graves to dance for him. He plays the fiddle while skeletons dance until dawn.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP (Look for Arrangements and Transcriptions) or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, simplified…

Amazon has a great Dover edition for solo piano.  This splendid compilation features a variety of the composer’s best piano works, all reproduced from authoritative sources. Taking its title from the popular orchestral work “Danse Macabre” (presented here in the brilliant arrangement by Liszt), this collection also includes “Allegro appassionato,” “Album” (consisting of six pieces), “Rhapsodie d’Auvergne,” “Theme and Variations,” plus six etudes, three waltzes, and six etudes for left hand alone.

This video originally aired on PBS in the 1980s:

 

For two pianos:

 

Piano Tutorial:

 

Orchestra:

Music for Halloween: Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique

berlioz-symphony-fantastique
The final movement is the best known part of the symphony, thanks to its use in the Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping With The Enemy. It features a four-part structure, which Hector Berlioz described in his own program notes from 1845 as follows:

“He sees himself at a witches’ Sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the Sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.”

The Dies irae melody is one of the most-quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many diverse composers.

The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a theme or musical quotation in a number of  classical compositions, notable among them:

 

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Dies irae

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Symphonie fantastique (look under Arrangements and Transcriptions)

The basic Gregorian Chant

An animated version of the  Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique.  Can you hear the Dies irae in this?  It starts around 3:18.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the “Orchestre National de France” in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique
5th Movement

Arranged for piano

 

A listening guide

 

Music for Halloween: Dies Irae

 

Although not technically a “halloween piece” this very old Gregorian Chant (from the 300s!) is used in a lot of music that sounds spooky.  Dies Irae is a Latin term that means “Day of Wrath”.

The words of Dies irae have often been set to music as part of a Requiem service. In some settings, it is broken up into several movements; in such cases, Dies irae refers only to the first of these movements.

The traditional Gregorian melody has been used as a theme or musical quotation in many classical compositions, film scores, and popular works, including:

  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Prose des morts – Dies irae H. 12 (1670)
  • Thomas Adès – Totentanz
  • Charles-Valentin Alkan – SouvenirsTrois morceaux dans le genre pathétique, Op. 15 (No. 3: Morte)
  • Ernest Bloch – Suite Symphonique
  • Hector Berlioz – Symphonie fantastiqueRequiem
  • Johannes Brahms – Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118, No. 6, Intermezzo in E-flat minor
  • Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind – Opening theme for The Shining, 1980
  • Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco – 24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195: “XII. No hubo remedio” (plate 24)
  • Michel Chion – “Dies Irae” (on The Roots 2014 album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin)
  • George Crumb – Black Angels (1970)
  • Michael Daugherty – Metropolis Symphony 5th movement, “Red Cape Tango”; Dead Elvis (1993) for bassoon and chamber ensemble
  • Gerald Fried – Opening theme for The Return of Dracula, 1958
  • Donald Grantham – Baron Cimetiére’s Mambo
  • Jerry Goldsmith – scores for The Mephisto Waltz (1971) and Poltergeist (1982) – quoted during the track “Escape from Suburbia”
  • Charles Gounod – Faust opera, act 4
  • Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 103, “The Drumroll”
  • Gustav Holst – The Planets, movement 5, “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age”Ode to Death for chorus and orchestra (1919)
  • Arthur Honegger – La Danse des Morts, H. 131
  • Gottfried Huppertz – Score for Metropolis (1927)
  • Aram Khachaturian – Symphony No. 2
  • Franz Liszt – Totentanz
  • Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Frozen II (soundtrack), “Into the Unknown”
  • Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2, movements 1 and 5
  • Ennio Morricone – “Penance” from his score for The Mission
  • Modest Mussorgsky – Songs and Dances of Death, No. 3 “Trepak”
  • Nikolai Myaskovsky – Symphony No. 6, Op. 23
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 1, Op. 13; Symphony No. 2, Op. 27; Symphony No. 3, Op. 44; Isle of the Dead, Op. 29; The Bells choral symphony, Op. 35; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43; Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, Piano sonata No. 1, Études-Tableaux, Op. 39 No. 2
  • Ottorino Respighi – quoted near the end of the second movement of Impressioni Brasiliane (Brazilian Impressions)[23]
  • Leonard Rosenman – the main theme of The Car (1977)
  • Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre, Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony), Requiem
  • Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 14; Aphorisms, Op. 13 – No. 7, “Dance of Death”
  • Stephen Sondheim – Sweeney Todd – quoted in “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and the accompaniment to “Epiphany”
  • Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji – Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis and nine other works
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Manfred Symphony, Orchestral Suite No. 3
  • Eugène Ysaÿe – Solo Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Obsession”

 

By itself, it sounds like this:

 

See if you can find it in these other places:

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you watch movies or listen to music, see if you can hear a hidden Dies Irae.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt!

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

March 8: On This Day in Music

today

. 1714 ~ Carl Phillip Emanuel (C.P.E.) Bach, German composer
More information on C. P. E. Bach

. 1857 ~ Ruggero Leoncavallo, Italian composer
More information about Leoncavallo

. 1866 ~ “It is possible to be as much of a musician as Saint-Saëns;  it is impossible to be more of one!” ~ Franz Liszt on meeting fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns in Paris.

. 1869 ~ Hector Berlioz, French composer (Symphony Fantastic), died at the age of 65

. 1889 ~ John Thompson, Piano educator

. 1911 ~ Alan Hovhaness, American composer
More information about Hovhaness

. 1922 ~ Cyd Charisse, Dancer

. 1927 ~ Dick Hyman, Pianist and music director for Arthur Godfrey

. 1961 ~ Conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham died at the age of 81.

. 1962 ~ The Beatles performed for the first time on the BBC in Great Britain. John, Paul, George and … Pete Best sang Dream Baby on the show, “Teenager’s Turn” on ‘Auntie Beeb’ (as the BBC was known).

. 1993 ~ Billy Eckstine, jazz singer (Fools Rush In), died at the age of 78 of stroke

. 1983 ~ William T Walton, English composer (Belhazzar’s feast), died at the age of 80

. 2001 ~ Ballet Legend Dame Ninette De Valois died at the age of 102. She was the founder of Britain’s Royal Ballet who launched dancer Margot Fonteyn on the road to stardom. De Valois, a strict and demanding disciplinarian with her pupils, was a gifted and theatrical choreographer who almost single-handedly put British ballet on the international stage. The doyenne of dance helped to nurture the talents of unknowns like Fonteyn and courted controversy in the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War when she invited Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev to appear with her company. De Valois always gave credit to Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev for teaching her all she knew. “Everything,” she once said of the Ballet Russe legend. “Diaghilev just managed the whole company. He knew all about the different teachers. He knew the types of teachers he wanted, he knew the type of ballet he wanted. He was a musician.” Born Edris Stannus in 1898 in the Irish county of Wicklow, she graduated from Irish jig to the ballet, worked with the writer W.B. Yeats at Dublin’s Abbey Theater and then, almost single-handedly, brought ballet to the fore in Britain. The famed diva, who adopted her professional name from an ancestor who had married into a French family, was first inspired at the age of 11 when she watched Anna Pavlova dancing The Dying Swan. In 1923, she joined Diaghilev’s troupe in Monte Carlo and began to lay the foundations of her own ballet empire. She gave up dancing herself after discovering that she had been suffering for years from polio. “It was no tragedy. I wasn’t that great,” she once said. In 1926, she opened her own ballet school in London. From the tiniest beginnings, she built up the Sadlers Wells Ballet in less than a decade. At the end of World War II, the company moved triumphantly into the Royal Opera House. A ballet dynasty was born. De Valois retired in 1963 but remained intimately involved in the ballet school, forever the sharp-tongued martinet who could strike terror in tomorrow’s ballet hopefuls.

. 2001 ~ Maude Rutherford, a singer and dancer in the glory days of black theater during the 1920s, died. She was believed to have been 104. Rutherford was billed as the Slim Princess when she worked with entertainers such as Fats Waller, Josephine Baker and Pearl Bailey. She was a featured performer and favorite at Harlem’s Cotton Club. Rutherford’s theater credits include: “Dixie to Broadway,” (1924), “Chocolate Sandals,” (1927), and “Keep Shufflin”‘ (1928). She retired from show business in 1950 and worked as a switchboard operator at an Atlantic City hotel.

. 2003 ~ Adam Faith, a square-jawed British singer who was briefly a Cockney challenger to Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll crown, died of a heart attack. He was 62. Born Terry Nelhams in west London in 1940, Faith was a handsome teenager who was playing with a skiffle music group – a mixture of jug band, acoustic, folk, blues and country and western styles – when he was spotted by producers of a British Broadcasting Corp. music program. Adopting the stage name Adam Faith, he became – alongside Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Billy Fury – a pop star of the pre-Beatles era. Developing a hiccuping delivery reminiscent of Buddy Holly, Faith had more than 20 British hits, including the chart-topping What Do You Want? and Poor Me. Faith also was a versatile actor, appearing in films like Beat Girl, Mix Me A Person and 1975’s Stardust opposite David Essex. In the 1970s he played a Cockney ex-con in the TV series Budgie.

. 2015 ~ Lew Soloff, American jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat and Tears), died at the age of 71

Halloween Music: Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns

danse-macabre

Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based on an old French superstition. In 1874, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP (Look for Arrangements and Transcriptions) or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, simplified…

Amazon has a great Dover edition for solo piano.  This splendid compilation features a variety of the composer’s best piano works, all reproduced from authoritative sources. Taking its title from the popular orchestral work “Danse Macabre” (presented here in the brilliant arrangement by Liszt), this collection also includes “Allegro appassionato,” “Album” (consisting of six pieces), “Rhapsodie d’Auvergne,” “Theme and Variations,” plus six etudes, three waltzes, and six etudes for left hand alone.

This video originally aired on PBS in the 1980s:

 

For two pianos:

 

Piano Tutorial:

 

Orchestra:

Halloween Music: Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz

berlioz-symphony-fantastique
The final movement is the best known part of the symphony, thanks to its use in the Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping With The Enemy. It features a four-part structure, which Berlioz described in his own program notes from 1845 as follows:

“He sees himself at a witches’ Sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the Sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.”

The Dies irae melody is one of the most-quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many diverse composers.

The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a theme or musical quotation in a number of  classical compositions, notable among them:

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Dies irae

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Symphonie fantastique (look under Arrangements and Transcriptions)

The basic Gregorian Chant

An animated version of the  Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique.  Can you hear the Dies irae in this?  It starts around 3:18.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the “Orchestre National de France” in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique
5th Movement

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