It’s Groundhog Day…again! In weather lore, if a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, or marmot emerges from its burrow on this day and fails to see its shadow winter will soon end. If on the other hand, it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, winter will continue for 6 more weeks.
. 1594 ~ Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina, Italian composer, died at the age of 68
. 1714 ~ Gottfried August Homilius, German composer, cantor and organist
. 1789 ~ Armand-Louis Couperin, French composer, organist, and harpsichordist died at the age of 63
. 1875 ~ Fritz Kreisler, Austrian-born American violinist and virtuoso/composer Some of his best-known works are Caprice Viennois, Tambourin Chinois, Liebesfreud and La Gitana
. 1911 ~ Jussi Björling, Swedish tenor
. 1912 ~ Burton Lane (Levy), Composer of How Are Things in Glocca Morra, That Old Devil Moon, Look to the Rainbow, How About You, I Hear Music, Come Back to Me, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, How Could You Believe Me?; His Broadway musicals were Finian’s Rainbow (collaboration with Yip Harburg), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner). He contributed songs to over 30 films: Babes on Broadway, Royal Wedding, Ship Ahoy, St. Louis Blues and credited with discovering Judy Garland
. 1927 ~ Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetzby), American jazz tenor saxophonist
. 1937 ~ Tom Smothers, Entertainer, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Steve Allen Show, Dick’s Brother
. 1937 ~ Guy Lombardo and his orchestra recorded one of Guy’s most famous tunes. Boo Hoo was waxed on Victor Records and became one of the group’s all-time great hits.
. 1940 ~ Alan Caddy, Guitarist with The Tornados
. 1941 ~ Serge Alexandrovich Tcherepnin, composer
. 1942 ~ Graham Nash, Singer with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
. 1947 ~ Peter Lucia, Drummer with Tommy James and The Shondells
. 1945 ~ The first 45 RPM vinyl record was released. It was one of the most popular ways for music lovers to enjoy their favorite song without buying an entire record. The cassette single during the 1980s and 1990s was a comparable format.
. 1949 ~ Ross Valory, Bass with Journey
. 1959 ~ The Coasters tune, Charlie Brown, was released. The tune went to #2 and stayed there for three weeks, but didn’t make it to the top spot of the charts. A catchy song (“Fee fee fi fi fo fo fum. I smell smoke in the auditorium…”), it was on the charts for a total of 12 weeks. The song at number one, preventing Charlie Brown from reaching the top, was Venus, by Frankie Avalon.
. 1996 ~ Gene Kelly, American actor and dancer (Singin’ in the Rain), died at the age of 83
. 2001 ~ French pianist Nicole Henriot, who entered the Paris Conservatory at age 7 and went on to perform around the globe with conductor Charles Munch, died at the age of 75. Emerging on the world music scene after World War II, Henriot built her reputation on interpretations of works from Liszt to Prokofiev, and especially French composers such as Ravel, Fauré and Milhaud. She was most famous for her performances with Munch, music director of the Boston Symphony from 1949 to 1962. Munch, who died in 1968, was the uncle of Henriot’s husband. Born in 1925, Henriot won the Paris Conservatory’s first prize at age 13. During the war, Henriot gave aid to her brother, a member of the French Resistance. When Gestapo agents searched her home in 1944, she managed to destroy her brother’s secret documents but was badly beaten. After the war, Henriot became the first French pianist to appear in Britain and began an international tour that took her from Scandinavia to Egypt. She made her American debut in 1948 as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Munch’s direction. When Munch formed the Orchestra of Paris in 1967, Henriot was one of the fledgling orchestra’s first soloists. In the 1970s and 1980s, Henriot devoted herself to teaching, and worked at the Conservatory of Liege, Belgium, and at the Walloon Conservatory of Brussels.
. 2001 ~ Victor Norman, who founded the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and conducted the group for three decades, died at the age of 95. Colleagues said Norman was a visionary who needed to be as skilled in politics as he was in music to keep the symphony together. “He had this idea that a symphony orchestra could be created around here, when really it had been tried several times before, never with any kind of significant success,” said Charles Frink, a New London composer who studied with Norman. Norman founded the New London Civic Orchestra in 1946. It merged with the Willimantic Orchestra in 1952 to become the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. He stepped down from the podium in 1980. In his retirement, Norman composed music. Two of his orchestral pieces were performed by the New Britain Symphony Orchestra and the Westminster Community Orchestra in Princeton, N.J. His memoirs, “Victor Norman: A Life in Music, a Lifetime of Learning,” were published in 1999.
. 2015 ~ French piano virtuoso Aldo Ciccolini died at age 89. Born on August 15, 1925, into a musical family in Naples, Aldo Ciccolini was a child prodigy, beginning composition classes in the city’s conservatory at age nine.