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

October 17 ~ On This Day in Music

today

• 1810 ~ Giovanni Matteo Mario, Italian tenor

• 1849 ~ Frederic Chopin died at the age of 39. Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose “poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation.

• 1892 ~ Herbert Howells, British composer

• 1909 ~ Cozy (William Randolph) Cole, Drummer. He played with Cab CallowayLouis Armstrong, in films – Make Mine Music, The Glenn Miller Story and started a drummers’ school with Gene Krupa

• 1938 ~ This was a big day in Tinseltown. NBC moved to the corner of Sunset and Vine, the ‘Crossroads of the World’. The new Hollywood Radio City drew thousands of visitors ready to fill studio-audience seats for popular radio programs.

• 1940 ~ James Seals, Singer, guitar, saxophone, fiddle with Seals and Crofts

• 1940 ~ One year before recording that memorable song, Fry Me Cookie, with a Can of Lard, Will Bradley’s orchestra recorded Five O’Clock Whistle, also on Columbia Records.

• 1941 ~ Alan Howard, Bass with Brian Poole & The Tremeloes

• 1942 ~ Gary Puckett, Singer with The Union Gap

• 1945 ~ Actress Ava Gardner made news. She married bandleader Artie Shaw.

• 1946 ~ Jim Tucker, Guitarist with The Turtles until 1965

• 1949 ~ Bill Hudson, Comedian, singer with The Hudson Brothers, was married to actress Goldie Hawn

• 1953 ~ The first concert of contemporary Canadian music presented in the U.S. was performed by conductor Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

• 1955 ~ Jose Ferrer and Claire Bloom starred on NBC’s Producer’s Showcase. They performed in “Cyrano De Bergerac”. Ferrer also won an Oscar for his performance in the film version.

• 1958 ~ Alan Jackson, Singer

• 1962 ~ Though the ‘Fab Four’ would appear on both radio and television, on what they would call ‘Auntie Beeb’ (the BBC), The Beatles made their first appearance this day on Great Britain’s Grenada TV Network.

• 1967 ~ A controversial rock musical “Hair”, opened on this day at the Anspacher Theatre in New York City. It ran for 1,742 performances and then became a movie.

• 1983 ~ Actor Anthony Quinn lit up the Great White Way in the revival of the 1968 musical, “Zorba”, that reunited Quinn with Lila Kedrova, who played Madame Hortense. They both had appeared in the film portrayal, “Zorba the Greek”, which won Quinn a nomination for Best Actor, and an Oscar for Kedrova as Best Supporting Actress. This was one of the few films that came before the Broadway show, rather than the reverse.

• 2003 ~ Bernard Schwartz, who produced “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the Academy Award-nominated biopic of country singer Loretta Lynn, died of complications following a stroke. He was 85. Schwartz was a one-time Broadway child actor who got into television and film production in the 1950s, working on the popular paranormal suspense show “Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond” and the hit science fiction film “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Schwartz’ best known and most lauded production was “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the 1980 film inspired by Lynn’s song of the same name. Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn and the film won the Golden Globe award for best musical or comedy. It also was nominated for an Oscar for best picture. In 1985, Schwartz featured Patsy Cline’s life in “Sweet Dreams,” which was named for one of her songs and starred Jessica Lange as the music legend killed in a plane crash. He also produced country singer Amy Grant’s 1986 TV special “Headin’ Home for the Holidays” and worked with Priscilla Presley on the 1988 miniseries “Elvis and Me.” Another of his best-known productions was 1983’s “Psycho II,” the darkly humorous but far bloodier sequel to Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller about troubled motel operator Norman Bates. Other feature films included “The Wackiest Ship in the Army,” “Global Affair,” which starred Bob Hope, and “Rage,” which starred Glenn Ford. Schwartz also produced “That Man Bolt” and “Bucktown,” both vehicles for former football star Fred Williamson, and the thriller “Roadgames” starring Stacey Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Today is the Anniversary of Chopin’s Death

Frederic Chopin died at the age of 39 on this date in 1849. Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose “poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation.

 

Fall 2021 Listening and Coloring Pages

 

I have 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.  They are also available in your Parent/Student Portal.   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).

 

Pianists Hands

pianist-hands

Redditor NeokratosRed had an idea: depict the hands of great composers and pianists, according to the characteristics of their music. He shared it on the social media site, and also punted for suggestions of more. It has since received over 300,000 images views, and lots of further suggestions from fellow Redditors and piano geeks.

Whisks for Chopin’s elegant pianistic souffles, feather dusters for the gentle impressionism of Debussy, instruments of trade for the composer of the thunderous Hammerklavier sonata.

Piano, and the internet – top marks to the both of you.

via This infographic of composers’ hands is painfully (and hilariously) accurate | Classic FM.

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!

Daily Listening Assignments ~ June 5, 2021

 

Happy Birthday is a song that I like to have each of my students learn at various levels appropriate to their level. When a friend or family member has a birthday, it’s great to be able to sit down and play.

 

It’s only been fairly recently that piano students could have this music in their books.

“Happy Birthday to You”, more commonly known as simply “Happy Birthday”, is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person’s birth. According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.

The melody, or part you sing, of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which has traditionally been attributed to American sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill in 1893, although the claim that the sisters composed the tune is disputed.

Patty Hill was a kindergarten principal and her sister Mildred was a pianist and composer.  The sisters used “Good Morning to All” as a song that young children would find easy to sing.  The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.

“Happy Birthday” in the style of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky.  Find the melody!

 

Lots of legal stuff below which you can skip…

None of the early appearances of the “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics included credits or copyright notices. The Summy Company registered a copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R. R. Forman. In 1988, Warner/Chappell Music purchased the company owning the copyright for US$25 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at US$5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claimed that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are illegal unless royalties are paid to Warner. In one specific instance in February 2010, these royalties were said to amount to US$700. By one estimate, the song is the highest-earning single song in history, with estimated earnings since its creation of US$50 million.In the European Union, the copyright for the song expired on January 1, 2017.

The American copyright status of “Happy Birthday to You” began to draw more attention with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft in 2003, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer specifically mentioned “Happy Birthday to You” in his dissenting opinion. American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, concluded in 2010 that “It is almost certainly no longer under copyright.”

In 2013, based in large part on Brauneis’s research, Good Morning to You Productions, a company producing a documentary about “Good Morning to All”, sued Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming copyright to the song.  In September 2015, a federal judge declared that the Warner/Chappell copyright claim was invalid, ruling that the copyright registration applied only to a specific piano arrangement of the song, and not to its lyrics and melody.

In 2016, Warner/Chappell settled for US $14 million, and the court declared that “Happy Birthday to You” was in the public domain.

Legal stuff is finished and people can now sing and play “Happy Birthday to You” whenever and wherever they want.

One of my all-time versions of Happy Birthday, in duet form – and I have the music if you want to tackle it.

 

 

May 8: Today’s Music History

OCMS  1829 ~ Louis Moreau Gottschalk, American pianist and composer
Listen to Gottschalk’s music
More information on Gottschalk

• 1948 ~ Oscar Hammerstein I, Playwright, producer

• 1910 ~ Mary Lou Williams, American jazz pianist, composer and arranger

• 1911 ~ Robert Johnson, Blues Hall of Fame, singer, songwriter, guitarist, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986

• 1941 ~ Anita O’Day recorded Let Me Off Uptown on Okeh Records with Gene Krupa and his band.

• 1943 ~ Toni Tennille, Singer

• 1944 ~ Gary Glitter (Paul Gadd), Singer

• 1945 ~ Keith Jarrett, American jazz pianist and composer

• 1953 ~ Alex Van Halen, Amsterdam The Netherlands, Dutch drummer (Van Halen)

• 1960 ~ Hugo Alfven, Swedish composer (Midsommarvaka), died at the age of 88

• 1967 ~ Laverne Andrews, American singer (Andrews Sisters), died at the age of 55

• 1985 ~ Karl Marx, German composer/conductor, died at the age of 87

May 6: Today’s Music History

today

 

1896 ~ Puccini’s opera La Bohème made its world premiere in Venice

 

 

• 1913 ~ Chopin’s Polonaise, films: The Eddy Duchin Story, Hollywood Canteen, Out of this World, Diamond Horseshoe

• 1913 ~ Carmen Cavallaro, American actor and pianist (Hollywood Canteen, Diamond Horseshoe)

Yes!  Same video!

• 1915 ~ George Perle, American composer and theorist

• 1918 ~ Godfrey Ridout, Canadian composer

• 1926 ~ Marguerite Piazza (Luft), Soprano and regular on TV’s Your Show of Shows

• 1942 ~ Richard Stilwell, American baritone

• 1945 ~ Bob Seger, Singer

• 1963 ~ Ted Weems passed away. He was an American bandleader and musician.

• 1983 ~ Kai Winding passed away. He was a Danish-born American trombonist and jazz composer.

• 2002 ~ Otis Blackwell, American pianist, singer and songwriter died

April 26: Today’s Music History

today

. 1813 ~ Fredrich von Flotow, German composer
More information about von Flotow

. 1835 ~ Frederic Chopin’s “Grand Polonaise Brillante” premiered in Paris

. 1886 ~ Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett), American blues, jazz and vaudeville singer

. 1900 ~ Joseph Fuchs, American violinist

. 1924 ~ Teddy Edwards (Theodore Marcus), Jazz musician, tenor sax

. 1936 ~ Carol Burnett, Entertainer

. 1938 ~ Duane Eddy, Singer

. 1938 ~ Maurice Williams, Singer, songwriter

. 1941 ~ Claudine Clark, Singer

. 1942 ~ Bobby Rydell, American rock-and-roll singer and drummer

. 1970 ~ The musical, Company, opened on Broadway. It ran for 705 performances at the Alvin Theatre in New York City. Company starred Elaine Stritch.

. 1975 ~ On top of the Billboard popular music chart was B.J. Thomas, with the longest title ever for a number one song. (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song was number one for one week, though it took that long just to say the title.

. 1978 ~ An updated version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper appeared on television. In the lead role (his first TV special), was former Beatle, Ringo Starr. He sang new versions of Act Naturally, Yellow Submarine and With a Little Help from My Friends.

. 1984 ~ Count Basie (William Basie), U.S. jazz pianist and big band leader who led his orchestra from 1937, died.

. 1991 ~ Carmine Coppola, American composer and conductor (The Godfather Part II), and father of Francis Ford Coppola, died at the age of 80

. 1991 ~ Leo Arnaud, French-American composer (Bugler’s Dream), died at the age of 86

. 1997 ~ Gene [Eugene] Ames, singer (Ames Brothers), died of cancer at the age of 73

. 2018 ~ Charles Neville, American vocalist and saxophonist (Neville Brothers), died of pancreatic cancer died at the age of 79