October 9 ~ This Day in Music History

columbus
The day signifies Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America on October 12, 1492

 

OCMS 1813 ~ Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer
Read quotes by and about Verdi
More information about Verdi

OCMS 1835 ~ Camille Saint-Saëns, French composer, organist and conductor Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals is featured in Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
Read quotes by and about Saint-Saëns
More information about Saint-Saëns

• 1931 ~ Russ Columbo’s Prisoner of Love was recorded on Victor Records.

OCMS 1940 ~ John Lennon, British rock singer, songwriter and guitarist
More information about Lennon

• 1935 ~ Cavalcade of America was first broadcast on radio this very day. The CBS show featured some of Hollywood and Broadway’s most famous stars in leading roles in the half-hour radio dramas. Thomas Chalmers narrated the stories about obscure incidents and people in American history. The orchestra (yes, radio shows had live orchestras back then) was led by Donald Voorhees. The show aired from 1935 to 1953, changing from CBS to NBC in 1939; with one sponsor for its entire duration. The DuPont Company introduced its slogan on Cavalcade of America …”Better things for better living through chemistry…”

• 1941 ~ Helen Morgan passed away

OCMS 1944 ~ John Entwistle, Bass, French horn with The Who
More information about Entwistle

• 1947 ~ “High Button Shoes”, opened on Broadway in New York City with an entertainer named Phil Silvers in the lead. The popular show ran for 727 performances.

• 1948 ~ Jackson Browne, Songwriter, singer

• 1967 ~ “And now…heeeeeeeeerrrree’s the Doctor!” Coming out of the NBC Tonight Show Orchestra to become musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Doc Severinsen replaced Skitch Henderson on this night. Doc became famous for an eccentric wardrobe, quick wit, great trumpet solos and fabulous charts. Tommy Newsome became Doc’s backup arranger for many of the tunes the band played. Later, Doc and the band would move to solo albums, group CDs and incredibly successful concert tours. Doc went on to play with various symphony orchestras and even became the owner of a custom trumpet company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

• 1973 ~ Priscilla Presley, was divorced from Elvis in Santa Monica, CA. Ms. Presley got $1.5 million in cash, $4,200 per month in alimony, half interest in a $750,000 home plus about 5% interest in two of Elvis’ publishing companies.

• 1973 ~ Paul Simon got a gold record this day for his hit, Loves Me like a Rock.

• 1975 ~ John Lennon turned 35. To celebrate, Yoko Ono Ono presented John with a newborn son, Sean Ono Lennon.

• 1976 ~ Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony number 5 in c minor” landed for a twenty-two-week stop in the first spot on the Top 5. Beethoven is dead and this isn’t a ghost story. It’s simply a case of Beethoven being updated with a disco-rock beat and a catchy new title: A Fifth of Beethoven.

• 1985 ~ A 2½ acre garden memorial was dedicated to John Lennon by his widow,Yoko Ono, this day. The memorial in New York City’s Central Park is named Strawberry Fields.

• 1988 ~ Elmer J. ‘Mousey’ Alexander passed away

• 2000 ~ Yoko Ono Opened John Lennon Museum in Japan

• 2001 ~ Herbert Ross died at the age of 76. He was a director and choreographer whose credits include the hit movies “The Goodbye Girl,” “The Sunshine Boys” and “The Turning Point.”

• 2003 ~ Don Lanphere, a saxophone player who came on strong at the dawn of bebop, nearly succumbed to drugs and drinking, then recovered to become the city’s jazz “grandpop,” died of hepatitis C. He was 75. As lead tenor in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and in smaller groups, Lanphere’s versatility and virtuosity ranged from blazing riffs on the tenor to a solo jazz rendition of the Lord’s Prayer on the soprano sax. Many who were born long after Lanphere’s boyhood gigs with such legends as Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro and Max Roach hailed him as a jazz patriarch or, as his Web site proclaimed, “Seattle jazz grandpop.” Born in the apple country of central Washington about 95 miles east of Seattle, Lanphere played as a teenager with touring bands in Seattle, then studied music briefly at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. By the time he got to New York, captivated by the post-World War II bebop revolution, he was hooked on heroin. By his early 20s he had recorded with Navarro and Roach and played gigs with Parker, Woody Herman and top big bands, including one led by Artie Shaw. He could write a chart, the chord arrangement on which jazz improvisation is based, from the sound of water dripping in a tub. Battling alcohol and narcotics addictions that resulted in at least one arrest, he was back at his father’s store in Wenatchee – “from the Big Apple to the little apple,” he once said – by 1960. Only after he and his wife Midge became born-again Christians in 1969 did he dust off his horn. In an interview in 1998, he said that without the conversion, “I would be dead by now.”

New for Fall: LIstening and Coloring Pages

 

I have just purchased a set of Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Halloween for the studio.

Each week, I will print out some of the pages for your student and put them in his/her notebook.  After listening to the music on YouTube, the student may color the pages.

After they are colored, please return them to the notebook so that there will be a complete book when finished.

If you are an adult and want to listen and color, too, just let me know and I’ll print you a set.

From the website:

The Shades of Sound Listening and Coloring Books are a great way to encourage students to listen to great piano and orchestral repertoire. Students of all ages will love coloring the fun pictures while listening to and learning from the music of the great composers.

This Shades of Sound Halloween edition includes 13 spooky pieces of piano and orchestral literature, ranging from the Baroque to the Modern period. By spending just 5-10 minutes per day listening for just a few days per week, students can listen to and complete the whole book in a few weeks.

Aspiring pianists need to know the literature, hear the greats perform, and be inspired and excited by the great music that is available! Just as writers need to read, read, read, pianists need to listen! Through this fun curriculum, students will learn about the musical periods and the great composers and their works. Listening repertoire selected includes selections from the standard solo piano literature, as well as solo piano and orchestra literature and orchestral works.

My hope is that students can add just 5-10 minutes of listening per day to their normal practicing. Listening to great music will change their understanding of music and will vastly increase their music history knowledge. It will excite and inspire them, encourage further study and listening, give them new pieces to add to their own repertoire wish list, infuse more great music into their lives, homes and families, and will boost their musicianship and expression to the next level.

The Halloween Shades of Sound book includes 13 different pieces, including:

  • Totentanz by Liszt
  • Le Cimetiere, from Clairs de Lune by Abel Decaux
  • Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
  • Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Tarantelle, from Music for Children Op. 65 No. 4 by Prokofiev
  • Tarantella by Albert Pieczonka
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Bach
  • Funeral March, from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor by Chopin
  • Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens
  • The Banshee by Henry Cowell
  • Scarbo, from Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas

Students may use The Playful Piano – Halloween Listening YouTube playlist to listen along with their book using quality recordings. The playlist is ordered to go right along with the book, and also includes 5 extra pieces (some pages include optional “Further Listening” examples students may listen to).

 

80 fingers on 10 Pianos

Louise Schwartzkoff

From October 5, 2010

There will be $1.6 million worth of piano on stage at the City Recital Hall on Friday night. With their legs and lids removed for transport, eight Steinway grand pianos will be trucked to the venue.

There they will be reassembled on stage and tuned, ready for eight of Australia’s finest classical pianists.

In The Steinway Spectacular 16 hands and 80 fingers will play some of classical music’s greatest hits.

Conducted by Guy Noble, the pianists will work as an ensemble to perform works by composers such as Ravel, Saint-Saens and George Gershwin. ”It’s a very large affair,” says Noble. ”Logistically, it’s a nightmare.” The piano technician Ara Vartoukian will spend hours tuning the instruments.

For past concerts in Melbourne the process sometimes took all night. ”The pianos all, in essence, sound the same, so they have to be absolutely in tune with each other.”

Even after the most careful tuning, things can go awry.

The pianists – Anthony Halliday, Roger Heagney, Clemens Leske, Tamara Smolyar, Mikhail Solovei, Evgeny Ukhanov, Gerard Willems and Alexey Yemtsov – usually perform as soloists. Every now and again, Noble says, one of them ”goes rogue”.

”One will suddenly break out and play their own thing,” he says. ”I have to herd them back into the pride, glaring at them with eyes of death. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to conduct. It’s like herding cats.”

There is no repertoire for an ensemble of pianists, so Noble has created new arrangements.

His favourite is a rendition of the children’s staple Chopsticks. ”That just goes wild,” he says.

The segment titled So You Think You Can Play Scales is also a crowd pleaser. ”It’s like Piano Idol. People get voted off if they go off the rails.”

Other pieces will feature the organist Calvin Bowman and the soprano Shu-Cheen Yu. Bowman, who usually plays above the stage in a loft, will join the other performers on stage on an electronic organ.

”It’s a relief for him to be down on stage because he suffers terribly from vertigo,” Noble says. ”He’s been terrified in organ lofts all over Australia.”

More boisterous extravaganza than a recital for purists, the performance will appeal to an eclectic crowd.

”We get classical music lovers, as well as people who are just curious. It’s pure fun and enjoyment.”

The Steinway Spectacular is at the City Recital Hall on Friday.

From http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/a-piano-spectacular-for-80-fingers-20101004-164ac.html

March 8 ~ This Day in 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 died in Paris

. 1889 ~ John Thompson, Piano educator

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

. 1923 ~ 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 passed away

. 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’sStardust opposite David Essex. In the 1970s he played a Cockney ex-con in the TV series Budgie.

Getting Ready 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.

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:

Getting Ready for Halloween: 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

Happy Birthday to 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