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

Happy Birthday to Franz Schubert!

Franz Peter SchubertFranz Peter Schubert lived between 1797 and 1828. He is considered to be a romantic composer. He was an Austrian composer who was one of the greatest creators of melody and foremost writer of ‘lieder’ (German songs).

Although he only lived for 31 years, Schubert composed more than 600 songs, 22 piano sonatas and many short piano pieces. This melodic output has never been equaled either in quantity of quality. He was one of the first musicians to earn a living from the sale of his music.

Schubert’s Ave Maria was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia.


This is from Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical.

Schubert’s musical genius went well beyond his incomparable gift for melody

During Beethoven’s funeral in 1827, one of the torchbearers was a young composer who would himself die the following year. There’s a poignant irony in this image of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) paying homage to the master, for the extent of Schubert’s own accomplishment was to remain one of music’s best-kept secrets for decades after his death. He had indeed struck out on a uniquely personal creative path, however intense his hero worship of Beethoven was. As often happens in such periods of transition–in this case, the evolution in style and attitude from classical balance toward romantic experimentation–Schubert simply slipped through the cracks, not easily fitting into his contemporaries’ sense of the direction music was taking.

Yet the fact that the only recognition that came his way was mostly confined to a tight-knit circle of musical friends didn’t deter Schubert from pursuing his inspiration. Even though an astonishing number of compositions were never performed during his short lifetime, the prolific composer produced a wide body of material, all with a seemingly effortless swiftness reminiscent of Mozart (another of the composer’s idols). His style is most frequently associated with an uncanny gift for melody, but that’s a shortsighted view of the true nature of Schubert’s genius.

The selections on our featured disc represent two key but divergent aspects of his music: the gemlike miniaturism of his songwriting and his preoccupation with large-scale forms from the classical period. “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”)–sung here with a silvery, seductive grace by Barbara Bonney–is an example of how Schubert elevated the art of song to an opera in miniature, rich in evocative scene-painting. Pay attention not just to the beguiling melody but to how perfectly Schubert mirrors the text’s images in the details of the burbling piano accompaniment.

The cheerful quintet that takes its name from the song makes an excellent introduction to the composer’s longer works. Most of these belong to the realm of “chamber music”; that is, pieces written for small groups of musicians to be performed in people’s homes. From the high-spirited interplay of the ensemble gathered here–all virtuosos on their respective instruments but clearly merging their voices into a common goal–it’s easy to imagine a typical evening of Schubert making music with his friends. There’s a flowing sense of conversation in the music, and just as you think you’ve heard one untoppable melody, Schubert obliges with another, taking it down an unexpected course with a sudden harmonic surprise–another of the composer’s trademarks–and spinning it out as it suits his fancy. Schumann once characterized the composer’s tendency to make us want the music to last, following its multiple digressions, as Schubert’s “heavenly lengths.”

Much of the pleasure here can also be heard in the way Schubert plays sonorities off each other, above all in the fourth movement. It offers a set of variations on the melody from the “Trout” song, presaging how Mahler would later incorporate material from his own songs into vast symphonic structures. You can notice this both in the interwoven yet contrasting timbres from the keyboard against four strings and in the opposition between double bass and sparkling passages high in the register. And within the spontaneity of the moment, there’s something else: emerging within all the joie de vivre are ambivalent shadows hinting at Schubert’s darker side, particularly in the intensity of the slow movement’s middle core. This is also apparent in the opening of the “Arpeggione” Sonata (nicknamed after a short-lived invention that was a sort of cross between a guitar and a cello), which unfolds a kind of aching, spun-out lyricism that could belong to no one but Schubert.

In his final decade, when intense poverty and a debilitating case of syphilis began to take their toll, Schubert would mine this vein of profound self-expression. His last quartets and piano sonatas, the String Quintet, and his despairing song cycle Winterreise, he touches in his own way on the inwardness probed by Beethoven’s late-period creations. Thomas May, Classical Editor

More Schubert can be found in Musical Information and Recommendations for Adults.

Schubert’s birthday

Schubert’s works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

Listen to Schubert’s music.

     Read quotes by and about Schubert

     Guess what my li’l Chopin played today

     Information about Schubert’s Symphony in D

     Schubert MIDI Section

     Read Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical feature

January 31 in Music History

today

. 1759 ~ François Devienne, French composer and professor of flute

. 1797 ~ Franz Peter Schubert, Austrian composer
Read quotes by and about Schubert
More information about Schubert

. 1798 ~ Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, German Kapellmeister and composer

. 1882 ~ Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina and choreographer

. 1892 ~ Eddie Cantor (Iskowitz), Entertainer, ‘banjo eyes’ Some of his hits were: If You Knew Susie like I Know Susie, Alabamy Bound, Dinah, Ida, Makin’ Whoopee and Ma He’s Makin’ Eyes at Me

. 1906 ~ Benjamin Frankel, British composer

. 1921 ~ Mario Lanza, Opera singer. Some of his non-operatic songs were Be My Love, The Loveliest Night of the Year and Because You’re Mine

. 1923 ~ Carol Channing, Broadway entertainer and Tony Award-winning actress in shows such as Hello, Dolly! (1964) and Thoroughly Modern Millie

. 1934 ~ Ron Weatherburn, jazz pianist

. 1936 ~ “The Green Hornet” was introduced by its famous theme song, The Flight of the Bumble Bee, originally by Rachmaninoff. The radio show was first heard on WXYZ radio in Detroit, MI on this day. The show stayed on the air for 16 years. “The Green Hornet” originated from the same radio station where “The Lone Ranger” was performed.

. 1937 ~ Phillip Glass, American composer of minimalist music
More information about Glass

. 1946 ~ Terry Kath, Guitarist with Chicago

. 1951 ~ Harry Wayne Casey, Keyboards, singer with KC and the Sunshine Band

. 1951 ~ Phil Collins, British rock drummer, songwriter and singer

. 1951 ~ Phil Manzanera (Targett-Adams), Guitarist with Roxy Music

. 1955 ~ Electronics pioneer RCA demonstrated the first music synthesizer that could electronically play musical sounds.

. 1960 ~ Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison and Jackie Gleason, appeared in a two-hour TV special titled, The Fabulous ’50s. 1961 ~ Lloyd Cole, Guitarist, singer with Lloyd Cole and The Commotions Dial Records founder Ross Russell died. He released 78-rpm recordings of Charlie Parker on his small jazz label and wrote a biography of Parker in 1973 called “Bird Lives! The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie (Yardbird) Parker”.

. 1976 ~ ABBA knocked Queen from the UK No.1 position on the UK singles chart with ‘Mamma Mia.’ Queen’s single ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ had enjoyed a nine week run at the top of the charts, by coincidence, Queen’s single contains the famous “mamma mia, mamma mia, mamma mia let me go” line.

. 1981~ Justin Timberlake, singer with *NSYNC who had the 2000 US No.1 single ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ and the 1999 UK No.5 single ‘I Want You Back’. As a solo artist scored the 2003 UK No.2 & US No.3 single ‘Cry Me A River’. His second solo album ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ was released in 2006 with the US No.1 hit singles ‘SexyBack’, ‘My Love’ and ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around.’ With his first two albums, Timberlake has sold over fourteen million albums worldwide. Timberlake has his own record label called Tennman Records. He also has an acting career, having starred in films such as The Social Network, Bad Teacher and Friends with Benefits.

. 1982 ~ Sandy Duncan of Tyler, Texas gave her final performance as Peter Pan in Los Angeles, CA. The actress completed 956 performances without missing a show. She flew a total of 261.5 miles while on stage.

. 1985 ~ John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, returned to the A&M recording studios in Hollywood, CA to give his first ‘live’ performance in 14 years. Actually, Fogerty performed in a video called Rock and Roll Girls.

. 1987 ~ Madonna’s record, Open Your Heart, moved to the #2 spot on the pop charts (right behind At This Moment by Billy Vera and The Beaters). A week later, Open Your Heart became Madonna’s fifth #1 hit since 1983. She had 11 consecutive singles in the Top 10, the most for any female artist of the rock era.

. 1995 ~ George Abbott, Director, passed away.

. 2002 ~ Evelyn Scott, the city’s first female disc jockey who later played a tough- talking tavern keeper on the television soap opera “Peyton Place,” died at the age of 86. Born in Brockton, Mass., Scott moved to Los Angeles and landed a job as a disc jockey on radio station KMPC. She later was hired as a singing DJ on KHJ’s “Rise and Shine” morning show. She began acting in theater companies and eventually landed small roles in films such as “Wicked Woman,” “The Green-Eyed Blonde” and “I Want to Live.” She may be best remembered as saloon keeper Ada Jacks in the soap “Peyton Place,” which showed the extramarital affairs and other dark secrets of the residents of a small New England town. Scott played the role from 1965 to 1969, and then reprised the role on “Return to Peyton Place” from 1972 to 1974. She also came back for the 1985 television movie “Peyton Place: The Next Generation.” Scott appeared in episodes of other TV shows including “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” and “Perry Mason.” After she retired from acting, she dedicated her time to helping the homeless and served as a board member of Portals House Inc., a center for mentally ill people.

. 2004 ~ Roberto Ocasio, a versatile musician and band leader of Latin Jazz Project, died in a car accident. He was 49. Ocasio performed more than 250 times last year, mostly in Cleveland. He has shared stages with such other Latino musicians as Eddie Palmieri and Nestor Torres. His band played venues from street festivals to Cleveland’s Severance Hall. Ocasio played the piano and six other instruments. He earned a degree in composition and arranging from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He formed Latin Jazz Project in 1997. Ocasio composed and arranged the band’s music, a repertoire ranging from original pieces to rock tunes and American standards with his own twist. He performed songs in Spanish and English.

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:

October 28 ~ This Day in Music History

today

 

• 1813 ~ Franz Schubert, age 12, finished his first symphony, The Symphony in D Major
More information about Schubert

• 1896 ~ Howard Hanson, American composer, educator and conductor
More information about Hanson

• 1909 ~ Josef Gingold, Russian-born American violinist

• 1936 ~ Charlie Daniels, American CMA Award-winning musician (1979), guitar, fiddle, singer with Charlie Daniels Band

• 1941 ~ Curtis Lee, Singer

• 1941 ~ Hank Marvin (Brian Rankin), Guitarist with The Shadows

• 1945 ~ Wayne Fontana (Glyn Ellis), Singer with The Mindbenders

• 1948 ~ Telma Hopkins, Singer with Dawn

• 1955 ~ A local kid from Lubbock, TX opened a concert for Marty Robbins and Elvis Presley. In the audience was a youngster by the name of Scott Davis. He would later become a superstar. We know him as Mac Davis. The kid who opened the concert was Buddy Holly.

• 1957 ~ After a show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, local police told Elvis Presley that he was not allowed to wiggle his hips onstage, the local press also ran headlines saying Elvis would have to clean up his act. The next night, the Los Angeles Vice Squad filmed his entire concert, to study his performance.

• 1961 ~ Brian Epstein, a record store owner in London, was asked by a customer for a copy of the record, My Bonnie, by a group known as The Silver Beatles. He didn’t have it in stock so he went to the Cavern Club to check out the group. He signed to manage them in a matter of days and renamed them The Beatles.

• 1965 ~ Earl Bostic, American jazz alto saxophonist and a pioneer of the post-war American rhythm and blues style, passed away

• 1980 ~ Annette Funicello, Cubby O’Brien, Tommy Cole, Sherry Alberoni and Dickie Dodd joined other Mouseketeers wearing black ears and white shirts on a sound stage in Burbank, CA. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Club. The five special events each week were:

  • Fun with Music Day on Monday
  • Guest Star Day on Tuesday
  • Anything Can Happen Day on Wednesday
  • Circus Day on Thursday
  • Talent Roundup Day on Friday

• 2003 ~ Oliver Sain, a saxophonist whose work was later recorded by artists from Loretta Lynn to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, died of bone cancer. He was 71. Sain was a musician, songwriter and producer, known for his performances on songs like Bus Stop and Feel Like Dancing in the 1970s. He performed as recently as the previous night, his wife said. Sain’s work was sampled by Combs on his “No Way Out” CD and recorded by artists including the Allman Brothers Band, Chaka Khan and Ry Cooder. Sain grew up in Dundee, Miss., where he became known for his saxophone playing. He moved to St. Louis in 1959 and opened a recording studio in the city in the next decade.

• 2008 ~ A statue honoring AC/DC’s Bon Scott was unveiled at the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour in Western Australia. Although born in Scotland, Scott grew up in Fremantle after his family emigrated to Australia in 1952. Bon started out his newfound Australian life in Melbourne, his family lived in the suburb of Sunshine for 4 years before moving to Fremantle. Scott was born in 1946 died on 20th February 1980. He is buried in Fremantle Cemetery.

October 27 ~ This Day in Music History

today

OCMS 1782 ~ Niccolò Paganini, Italian violin virtuoso and composer
Read quotes by and about Paganini
More information about Paganini

• 1796 ~ Anton Thadäus Johann Nepomuk Stamitz, German composer

• 1908 ~ George Feyer, Pianist and entertainer, born in Budapest More about George Feyer

• 1917 ~ Jascha Heifetz made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Heifetz was a 16-year-old sensation who had played the violin since age 5.

• 1927 ~ Dominick Argento, American composer

• 1933 ~ Floyd Cramer, Pianist

• 1941 ~ Edda Moser, German soprano

• 1941 ~ Everything I Love, by Buddy Clark, was recorded this day, number 6469 on the Okeh label.

• 1943 ~ Lee (Melvin) Greenwood, CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, 1983 and 1984, sax, piano, bandleader

• 1957 ~ The Crickets started a three-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘That’ll Be The Day’. It was also a No.3 hit in the US where it went on to sell over a million. The song was inspired by a trip to the movies by Holly, Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis in June 1956. The John Wayne film The Searchers was playing and Wayne’s frequently-used, world-weary catchphrase, “that’ll be the day” inspired the young musicians.

• 1958 ~ Simon LeBon, Singer with Duran Duran

• 1975 ~ Rocker Bruce Springsteen appeared on the cover of both TIME and Newsweek. Things were certainly going well for ‘The Boss’ that week.

• 2000 ~ Walter Berry, a bass-baritone who won acclaim for his interpretations of Mozart and Strauss and was beloved by Austrians for his renditions of Schubert, died of a heart attack at the age of 71. Known for the powerful timbre of his voice, Berry was a prolific performer who sang 100 different roles in more than 1,280 appearances at the Vienna State Opera. His U.S. debut was a 1963 performance with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His interpretations of classical lieder by fellow Austrian Franz Schubert won him his most loyal following. Austrians who rarely went to the opera loved Berry for his renditions of popular Viennese songs performed as they believed only a native- born son could. In 1989, he became a professor at the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts.

• 2001 ~ John Roberts, a promoter of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, died of cancer. He was 56. Roberts produced the festival concert with three others, almost by accident. The idea originally was a pitch for a television comedy show about two young venture capitalists with money but no business plans. Roberts and his partners funded the festival with Roberts’ inheritance and ticket sales. They lost $2.3 million but recovered their loss with royalties from film and album spinoffs, and held on to the profitable name and trademark symbol of a dove on the neck of a guitar. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Roberts later invested in other companies, avoiding the music business. Roberts also was a championship bridge player.

• 2006 ~ Amy Winehouse released her second and final studio album Back to Black. The album spawned five singles: ‘Rehab’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’, ‘Back to Black’, ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ and ‘Love Is a Losing Game’ and won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Back to Black sold 3.58 million copies in the UK alone, becoming the UK’s second best-selling album of the 21st century. Worldwide, the album has sold over 20 million copies.

Piano Puzzlers!

puzzlers

 

The Piano Puzzlers book is available in the O’Connor Music Studio library if you’d like to give any a try.  Piano Puzzlers as heard on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.” Includes 32 tunes with songs by Gershwin, Berlin, Arlen, Porter, Rodgers, Fats Waller, Lennon & McCartney, and others disguised in the styles of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Janacek, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, and Copland.

Includes an introduction by Fred Child, host of “Performance Today” as well as background info by Bruce Adolphe. “Bruce Adolphe has taken a common musician’s party game and elevated it to high art and truly funny musical slapsticks. The Piano Puzzlers are a unique combination of extraordinary insight into the styles of many composers subtle, expert workmanship and great, great fun!”

From http://jasonmorris.blogsome.com/2008/08/08/piano-puzzlers/

If you’re a music geek (like me), I have a program for you. Now, let me be clear, to fully qualify as a music geek…you must have a fond appreciation for classical music (no, Poison, Quiet Riot, and Zepplin do not count as classical music). So, if you’re a “music geek” without an appreciation for classical music…well, I hate to burst your bubble…but, you’re not truly a music geek. Instead, you’re a music appreciator, but not a geek. So, if you just listen to indie music and scowl at anything on a label larger than Matador…don’t bother following the link I’ll provide…the fun will be lost on you…And, you probably won’t have a chance.

Every Wednesday night, on my way home from WNL, I turn on my local NPR station to listen to Piano Puzzlers on Performance Today. It’s absolutely incredible. A pianist/composer (Bruce Adolphe) takes a familiar folk or pop tune and sets it inside a classical masterpiece (or in the style of a particular composer). Sometimes it’s easy…sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult. There are days when I say, “got it” on the first pass. Then there are days when I say, “what the heck?” And, more often than not, I’m able to get either the popular/folk tune or the composer.

This is sad to admit, but there are nights when I’ll slow down on the drive home or sit in the car in the driveway to finish an episode. In fact, I get a little worked up if someone stops me after WNL…as I might miss the beginning of Piano Puzzlers (it usually hits around 8:20pm on our local station).

Take a listen to some of the archives and see if you can figure it out! It’s really cool…but probably only appreciated by music geeks (the kind of people that listen to NPR for their musical programs and not just the snipets of cool indie rock between segments on All Things Considered…which is a great show too).

Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!