January 7 in Music History

today

. 1762 ~ The first public concert by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, age 6 and his sister Nannerl, age 12 was on this day.

. 1857  ~ First performance of Franz Liszt‘s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A, in Weimar. Liszt conducted  and the soloist was his pupil, Hans von Bronsart.

. 1876 ~ William Yeates Hurlstone

. 1899 ~ Francis Poulenc, French composer
More information about Poulenc

. 1922 ~ Jean-Pierre Rampal, French flutist
More information about Rampal

. 1924 ~ George Gershwin completed the incomparable score of Rhapsody in Blue. Incidentally, George was only 26 years old at the time. George 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. Rhapsody in Blue was commissioned in 1924 by Paul Whiteman and then orchestrated by Ferde Grofe of Grand Canyon Suite fame. This first orchestration of Gershwin’s score was never quite right. Grofe’s style didn’t gel with Gershwin’s. Several other artists attempted to do justice to Rhapsody in Blue, never quite making the grade. Some thirty years later, orchestra leader Hugo Winterhalter with Byron Janis at the piano did a jazzed up version; pretty close to the way Gershwin had described his piece. However, it wasn’t until Gershwin’s original solo piano was accompanied by a jazz band led by Michael Tilson Thomas, that the true arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue was heard. 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.

. 1926 ~ A famous marriage that endured for many years is remembered this day. It’s the wedding anniversary of George Burns and Gracie Allen who were married by a Justice of the Peace in Cleveland, Ohio.

. 1930 ~ Jack Greene, The Green Giant, CMA Male Vocalist, Album, Single and Song of the Year

. 1940 ~ The gate to Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch opened. The ‘singing cowboy’ would entertain on CBS radio for the next 16 years.

. 1941 ~ Good-for-Nothin’-Joe was recorded by the sultry Lena Horne. She sang the classic song with Charlie Barnet and his orchestra on Bluebird Records.

. 1942 ~ Paul Revere, Singer, keyboards with Paul Revere and The Raiders

. 1946 ~ Jann Wenner, Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine

. 1947 ~ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was the #1 song on the U.S. pop charts

. 1948 ~ Kenny Loggins, American pop-rock singer, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and guitarist

. 1950 ~ Ernest Tubb made his first appearance at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Ernest also did a 15-minute radio program each day that became very popular in West Texas. So popular, in fact, that he bought the radio station that had aired the program for years and years: KGKL in San Angelo, Texas.

. 1955 ~ The first black singer at the Metropolitan Opera was Marian Anderson, who appeared as Ulrica in Verdi’s “The Masked Ball”.

. 1958 ~ The Flying V guitar, which is a favorite of rock musicians, was patented this day by the Gibson Guitar Company.

. 1985 ~ Yul Brynner returned to the Broadway stage this night as “The King and I” returned to where Yul first began his reign, 33 years before. Through his career to that date, Brynner appeared in 4,434 shows without missing a single performance.

. 2002 ~ Jon Lee, drummer for the Welsh rock band Feeder, died at the age of 33. The trio’s biggest hit single was the 2001 single Buck Rogers, which reached No. 5 on the British charts. Feeder released its first full-length album, “Polythene,” in England in 1997; it was released in the United States in early 1998. The band released its third album, “Echo Park,” last year, which debuted at No. 5 in Britain and swiftly sold more than 100,000 copies.

. 2002 ~ Nauman Steele Scott III, co-owner of Black Top Records which gained an international reputation for its blues, rhythm-and-blues and zydeco recordings, died. Scott suffered from heart disease. He was 56. Scott owned Black Top Records with his brother, Hammond. The label featured such artists as Earl King, Snooks Eaglin and the Neville Brothers. Black Top releases picked up two Grammy nominations and have won more than 30 W.C. Handy Blues Awards.

. 2018 ~ Ray Thomas, Moody Blues Founding Member, died at the age of 76. Born in 1941, Thomas founded The Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians including Mike Pinder and Denny Laine.

Happy Birthday, Alfred Brendel

brendel
Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in Wiesenberg, Czech Republic.

After World War II, Brendel composed music, as well as continuing to play the piano, to write and to paint. However, he never had more formal piano lessons and, although he attended master classes with Edwin Fischer and Eduard Steuermann, he was largely self-taught after the age of six.

He made his debut in Graz (1948), and has since performed widely throughout Austria, where he lives.

He is known for his interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, and Schoenberg. He tours internationally, and has written many essays on music.

A short insight from Alfred Brendel on his recording career:

New for December: LIstening and Coloring Pages

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

Please let me know if you do not want your student to participate in Christmas activities and I will assign alternate activities.

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:

Get your piano students listening to great classical music!

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 Christmas edition includes 20 pieces of piano and orchestral literature for the Christmas season, from the Baroque to the Modern period. Includes background and historical information on the pieces and the composers, and a beautiful coloring page for each piece.

The Christmas Shades of Sound book includes 20 different pieces, including:

  • In Dulci Jubilo from the Christmas Tree Suite by Liszt
  • Pastorale from the Christmas Oratorio by Bach
  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach/Hess
  • Farandole from L’arlesienne Suite #1 by Bizet
  • Christmas Sonatina by Reinecke
  • Elegy #4 by Busoni
  • The Adoration of the Magi by Respighi
  • Winter Sonatina by Rowley
  • Christmas Concerto by Corelli
  • Ave Maria by Schubert/Liszt
  • Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Gillock
  • Diversions by Dello Joio
  • Nuit de Noel by Busoni
  • Sheep May Safely Graze by Bach/Petri
  • Carol Symphony by Hely-Hutchinson
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky
  • Trepak by Tchaikovsky
  • Arabian Dance by Tchaikovsky
  • Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky
  • Hallelujah Chorus by Handel

 

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

October 22 ~ This Day in Music History

today

OCMS 1811 ~ Franz Liszt, Hungarian composer and pianist
Read quotes by and about Franz Liszt
More information about Liszt

• 1885 ~ Giovanni Martinelli, Opera singer, tenor with Metropolitan Opera for 30 seasons

• 1904 ~ Paul Arma, Hungarian composer and theorist

• 1917 ~ Leopold Stokowski led the Philadelphia Orchestra in its first recording session, for Victor Records.

• 1930 ~ Dory Previn, Songwriter with André Previn

• 1939 ~ Ray Jones, Bass with Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas

• 1943 ~ Paul Zukofsky, American violinist

• 1943 ~ Bobby Fuller, Singer, guitarist with Bobby Fuller Four

• 1945 ~ Leslie West (Weinstein), Singer, musician, guitarist with Mountain

• 1945 ~ Eddie Brigati, Singer, musician with The (Young) Rascals

• 1959 ~ “Take Me Along” opened on Broadway and quickly became an American classic. Walter Pidgeon starred along with Jackie Gleason.

• 1966 ~ The Supremes rocketed to the top of the pop album charts with “Supremes A’ Go-Go”. They were the first all-female vocal group to hit the top of the LP chart.

• 1969 ~ Giovanni Martinelli passed away

• 1969 ~ Michael Tilson Thomas, the 25-year-old assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, took over for ailing conductor William Steinberg in the symphony’s appearance in New York City.

• 1971 ~ Folk singer Joan Baez received a gold record for her hit, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. It turned out to be her biggest hit, peaking at #3 on the charts on October 2, 1971.

• 1983 ~ Celebrating its 100th anniversary, New York’s Metropolitan Opera featured a daylong concert with some of the world’s greatest opera stars. On stage at the Met were Dame Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

• 2001 ~ Tom Baker, one of Australia’s most respected jazz musicians, died of a heart attack while touring in the Netherlands. He was 49. Baker, a native of California, took up residence in Australia 30 years ago. He was a regular at Sydney’s famous jazz club, The Basement. Willie Qua, drummer and co-founder of one of Australia’s best-known jazz bands, Galapagos Duck, said Baker had often played as “a part-time member” of the band and was an icon of the Sydney jazz scene. Baker formed his first band, Tom Baker’s San Francisco Jazz Band, in 1975, earning himself a reputation as one of Australia’s very best jazz musicians. Recently he toured extensively through Europe and America.

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