March 25 in Music History

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Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week of the church year. At the other end of Holy Week is Easter, the most important day of the church year.

. 1699 ~ Johann Adolph Hasse, German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music.

. 1784 ~ François-Joseph Fetis, Belgian musicologist, composer, teacher, and influential music critic.

. 1851 ~ The Playel piano factory in Paris was destroyed by fire.  Playel was the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, and it was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy.

Pleyel was founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn.

. 1867 ~ Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor and musical director. Famed for his temper in rehearsals, he was director of La Scala and the Metropolitan opera houses. He also conducted the NBC symphony orchestra. With a career spanned 68 years, he was a cellist at age 19
Read quotes by and about Toscanini
More information on Toscanini

. 1881 ~ Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer and pianist, born. His knowledge of western musical techniques allied to the inspiration he derived from Hungarian peasant songs enabled him to become a unique musical force.
More information about Bartók

. 1903 ~ Grammy winner Frankie Carle (Carlone), Pianist and bandleader
More about Carle

. 1913 ~ The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.

. 1918 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer, died. His music, described as “musical Impressionism”, explored original avenues of expression.

. 1931 ~ Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Whistles, with Skinnay Ennis, for Brunswick Records. Both Kemp and Ennis sang in the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Ormandy (later, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra). The pair were part of the orchestra vocal quartet that also featured Nye Mayhew and Saxey Dowell in 1928.

. 1934 ~ Johnny Burnette, ‘The Master’, singer, brother of singer Dorsey Burnette

. 1938 ~ Hoyt Axton, Singer, musician and songwriter. Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel

. 1940 ~ Anita Bryant, Singer

. 1942 ~ Aretha Franklin, American soul singer, known as the “Queen of Soul” and “Lady Soul”, she won 15 Grammy Awards and was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)

. 1947 ~ Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight), Entertainer
More information about John

. 1948 ~ Kelly Garrett, Actress, singer

. 1949 ~ Neil Jones, Musician with Amen Corner

. 1951 ~ Maizie Williams, Singer with Boney M

. 1961 ~ “Gypsy” closed at the Broadway Theater in New York City after 702 performances

. 1966 ~ Jeff Healey, Guitarist, singer, songwriter with the Jeff Healey Band, CBC radio show: My Kind of Jazz

. 1971 ~ Tom Jones went gold with his single, She’s a Lady.

. 1972 ~ The group, America, rode to the top of the pop music charts with their LP, America, and the single (included on the LP), A Horse with No Name. A Horse With No Name would be the group’s only gold record.

. 1991 ~ Eileen Joyce, pianist, died at the age of 78

March 1 in Music History

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. 1643 ~ Girolamo Frescobaldi, Italian composer/organist, died at the age of 59
More about Frescobaldi

. 1810 ~ Frédéric Chopin, Polish composer and pianist
Read quotes by and about Chopin
More information about Chopin
Grammy winner

. 1826 ~ John Thomas, Welsh composer and harpist

. 1904 ~ Glenn Miller, American trombonist and bandleader
More information about Miller

. 1922 ~ Michael Flanders, Songwriter, comedian with the duo: Flanders and [Donald] Swann, made humorous mockery of English and American failings, died in 1975

. 1927 ~ Harry Belafonte, American calypso and folk singer, UNICEF goodwill ambassador, father of Shari Belafonte

. 1928 ~ Paul Whiteman and his orchestra recorded Ol´ Man River for Victor Records. The featured vocalist on the track was 29-year-old Paul Robeson. The song became an American classic.

. 1930 ~ Benny Powell, Jazz musician, trombone with the Ernie Fields band, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie veteran

. 1941 ~ FM Radio began in the U.S. when station W47NV in Nashville, TN started operations on this day. W47NV was the first commercial FM radio station to receive a license, some 20 years after its AM radio counterpart, KDKA in Pittsburgh. FM stands for ‘frequency modulation´ as opposed to ‘amplitude modulation´.

. 1941 ~ Downbeat magazine scooped the entertainment world with news that Glenn Miller’s renewed contract with Chesterfield Cigarettes was worth $4,850 a week (for three 15-minute programs).

. 1944 ~ Roger Daltrey, Singer with The Who

. 1968 ~ Country music stars Johnny Cash and June Carter got married on this day. Johnny walked down the aisle knowing that his 1956 hit, Folsom Prison Blues, was about to be redone for a June release. Cash has a daughter, Rosanne, (previous marriage) who became a country star in her own right in the 1980s.

. 1968 ~ Elton John’s first record, I’ve Been Loving You, was released by Philips Records in England. Philips, not realizing the potential of the soon-to-be superstar, released him in 1969, just prior to his teaming with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Elton then signed a contract with Uni Records and began to turn out what would become a string of more than 50 hits over the next 25 years.

. 1973 ~ The Robert Joffrey Dance Company opened with a unique presentation in New York City. The show featured music of the Beach Boys in “Deuce Coupe Ballet”. A clever show, even if it didn’t do much to bring the masses to ballet.

. 1985 ~ A Beatles song was used for the first time in a U.S. TV commercial. The rights for Lincoln-Mercury to use the song, HELP!, cost $100,000, helping boost the fortunes of the Ford Motor Company.

. 1985 ~ Eugene List, American concert pianist and teacher (Eastman School of Music), died at the age of 66. List performed internationally during the mid-to-late 1900s. He championed the works of the American pianist and composer–New Orleans born– Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869). Gottschalk played this piece, with all its fanfares and flourishes reminiscent of an imaginary band concert, at all his concerts.

. 2003 ~ Nadine Conner, a soprano who performed for nearly two decades at the Metropolitan Opera after singing on national radio, died. She was 96. Conner debuted at the Met in 1941 as Pamina in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” conducted by Bruno Walter. She performed there 249 times over 18 seasons. She won acclaim not only for her Mozart roles, including Zerlina in “Don Giovanni” and Susanna in “The Marriage of Figaro,” but also for her portrayals of Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Mimi inPuccini’s “La Boheme,” Gilda in Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” and Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Conner began her career singing on national radio from Los Angeles, and appeared with such stars as Bing Crosby and Gordon MacRae and toured with film star Nelson Eddy. She joined a fledgling opera troupe in Los Angeles, making her debut as Marguerite in Gounod’s “Faust.” Her Met farewell, in 1960, also was in “Faust.”

February 24 in Music History

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. 1766 ~ Samuel Wesley, English organist and composer in the late Georgian period. Wesley was a contemporary of Mozart (1756–1791) and was called by some “the English Mozart.”

. 1771 ~ Johann Baptist Cramer,  English musician of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer, a famous London violinist and musical conductor, one of a numerous family who were identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries.

. 1832 ~ Frederic Chopin’s first Paris concert. The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that “As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances—few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime.

. 1842 ~ Arrigo Boito, Italian composer, librettist and poet

. 1858 ~ Arnold Dolmetsch, British music antiquarian and musician

. 1932 ~ Michel Legrand, Academy Award-Winning composer for Best Original Score: Yentl in 1983, Brian’s Song, Ice Station Zebra

. 1934 ~ Renata Scotto, Italian soprano. She made her operatic debut at age 18 and is best known for performances as Violetta in La Traviata, Cio-Cio- San in Madama Butterfly, Mimi (and the occasional Musetta) in La Bohème, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Francesca in Francesca da Rimini. She is also an opera director.

. 1940 ~ Frances Langford recorded one of the classic songs of all time — and one that would become a Walt Disney trademark. When You Wish Upon a Star was recorded on Decca Records during a session in Los Angeles. Many artists have recorded the song, including pop diva Linda Ronstadt (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the early 1980s). One can hear the song not only on record, but as the theme in the opening credits of any Disney movie, video and TV program and those “I’m going to Disneyland/World!” commercials, too.

. 1942 ~ Paul Jones, Harmonica, singer with Manfred Mann

. 1943 ~ Stephen Douglas Burton, American composer and teacher

. 1947 ~ Rupert Holmes, Songwriter: over 300 songs & jingles, singer, producer

. 1947 ~ Lonnie Turner, Bass, singer with The Steve Miller Band

. 1964 ~ The musical, “What Makes Sammy Run”, opened in New York at the 54th Street Theatre. Making his Broadway debut in the show was Steve Lawrence. The production ran for 540 performances.

. 1985 ~ Yul Brynner reprised his role in “The King and I” setting a box office record for weekly receipts. The show took in $520,920.

. 1990 ~ Johnnie Ray died.  He was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist.

. 1991 ~ Webb Pierce passed away.  He was one of the most popular American honky tonk, rockabilly vocalists, guitarists of the 1950s

. 1994 ~ Donald Phillips, pianist/composer, died at the age of 80

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

November 1 ~ This Day in Music History

today

 

OCMS1830 ~ Frederic Chopin left Warsaw for Paris, never to return. He was presented a cup of Polish soil on this day.
More about Chopin

.1902 ~ Eugen Jochum, German conductor

.1921 ~ Jan Tausinger, Rumanian-born Czech violist, conductor and composer

.1923 ~ Victoria de Los Angeles, Spanish soprano

.1926 ~ Lou Donaldson, Alto saxophone, singer

.1937 ~ ‘Whispering’ Bill (James) Anderson, Songwriter, singer

.1940 ~ Barry Sadler, Songwriter, singer

.1944 ~ Keith Emerson, Keyboards with Emerson, Lake & Powell as well as Emerson, Lake & Palmer

.1944 ~ Chris Morris, Guitarist with Paper Lace

.1945 ~ Rick Grech, Bassist, violinist

.1950 ~ Dan Peek, Guitarist, singer with America

.1951 ~ Ronald Bell, Saxophone with Kool & The Gang

.1957 ~ Lyle Lovett, Grammy Award-winning singer, Best Male Country Vocal in 1989

.1959 ~ Eddie MacDonald, Bass with The Alarm

.1962 ~ Rick Allen, Drummer with Def Leppard

.1962 ~ Mags Furuholmen, Keyboards, singer with a-ha

.1968 ~ George Harrison’s soundtrack LP, “Wonderwall”, was released. It was the first solo album by one of The Beatles. The album was also the first on the new Apple label.

.1969 ~ Warner Brothers Records added Faces, to its roster. They fared OK, but even better when lead singer Rod Stewart stepped out to become a superstar on his own. The group’s former label, Mercury, capitalized on the fact by releasing Maggie Mae and three other Faces tunes before Stewart went solo for Warner exclusively.

.1969 ~ The last album of The Beatles reached #1 on the album chart. “Abbey Road” was the top LP for eleven nonconsecutive weeks.  The final studio recordings from the group featured two songs; ‘Something’ & ‘Here Comes The Sun’. The cover supposedly contained clues adding to the ‘Paul Is Dead’ phenomenon: Paul is barefoot and the car number plate ‘LMW 281F’ supposedly referred to the fact that McCartney would be 28 if he was still alive. ‘LMW’ was said to stand for ‘Linda McCartney Weeps.’

OCMS 1975 ~ Elton John’s Island Girl hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song parked itself at the top of the hit heap for 3 weeks.

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt!

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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

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).