December 1 ~ On This Day in Music

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Christmas Countdown: Sleigh Ride

• 1707 ~ Jeremiah Clarke, composer, died

• 1709 ~ Franz Xaver Richter, Austro-Moravian singer, violinist, composer, conductor and music theoretician

• 1879 ~ Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore, opened. Arthur Sullivan conducted the orchestra while William Gilbert played the role of a sailor in the chorus and in the Queen’s Nay-vee.

• 1912 ~ Terence Beckles, pianist/teacher

• 1913 ~ Mary Martin, American singer and actress, primarily for the musical theater, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress, mother of actor Larry Hagman

• 1924 ~ Lady Be Good opened in New York City. George Gershwin wrote the music while Fred and Adele Astaire were well-received by the show’s audience for their dancing talents.

• 1936 ~ Lou Rawls (Louis Allen), American Grammy Award-winning singer of popular music, TV regular on Dean Martin Presents

• 1938 ~ Sandy Nelson, Drummer

• 1939 ~ Diane Lennon, Singer with The Lennon Sisters on Lawrence Welk ShowJimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters

• 1940 ~ Glenn Miller got a call from ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers). He was informed that he couldn’t use his Moonlight Serenade as his band’s theme song. He had to use Slumber Song instead because of an ASCAP ban.

• 1945 ~ Bette Midler, American Grammy Award-winning pop-rock singer and actress

• 1945 ~ Burl Ives made his concert debut. He appeared at New York’s Town Hall. We lovingly listen every year for the voice of this old-time radio personality as the narrator and banjo-pickin’ snowman in TV’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

• 1946 ~ Gilbert (Raymond) O’Sullivan, Singer

• 1950 ~ John Wesley Ryles, Singer

• 1950 ~ Ernest John Moeran passed away

• 1968 ~ Promises, Promises opened on Broadway. The play ran for 1,281 performances, earning $35,000 in profits each week of 1969. Dionne Warwick had a hit version of the title song.

• 1986 ~ Horace Heidt, orchestra leader (Swift Show Wagon), died at the age of 85

• 1989 ~ Alvin Ailey, US choreographer (Blues Suite, Revelations), died at the age of 58

• 1997 ~ Stéphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, died at the age of 89

• 2012 ~ Galina Vishnevskaya, Russian soprano opera singer, died at the age of 85

October 10 ~ On This Day in Music

 

 

• 1902 ~ The Gibson Mandolin guitar company was formed. Gibson’s first electric guitar the ES-150 was produced in 1936, and in 1946 Gibson introduced the P-90 single coil pickup, which was eventually used on the first Les Paul model made in 1952.

• 1906 ~ Paul Creston, American composer and organist

• 1908 ~ Johnny Green, Songwriter of Coquette, Body and Soul, I’m Yours, (You Came Along From) Out of Nowhere, I Cover the Waterfront, Easy Come, Easy Go; won five Oscars for work on MGM films: “Easter Parade”, “West Side Story”, “Oliver”, “An American in Paris”, “Bye Bye Birdie”, “High Society”, “Raintree County”, “The Great Caruso”, “Summer Stock” and “Brigadoon”

• 1914 ~ Ivory Joe Hunter, Singer, pianist, songwriter

• 1920 ~ Thelonious (Sphere) Monk, American jazz pianist and composer

• 1928 ~ You’re the Cream in My Coffee … comes from “Hold Everything”, which opened on Broadway this day and ran for 413 performances.

• 1935 ~ George Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” opened on Broadway New York

• 1937 ~ The Mutual Broadcasting System debuted Thirty Minutes in Hollywood. 48 sponsors shared the cost of the program that aired in 72 cities nationwide. It was the first Mutual co-op radio show. George Jessel and Norma Talmadge starred. Music was provided by the Tommy Tucker Orchestra.

• 1940 ~ Moonlight and Roses, by Lanny Ross, was recorded on the Victor label.

• 1942 ~ The anniversary of the first production of Verdi’s opera Aida by an all African-American cast

• 1946 ~ Ben Vereen, American dancer and singer of popular music, Tony Award-winning actor, TV host of You Write the Songs

• 1953 ~ Midge (James) Ure, Singer, songwriter

• 1955 ~ David Lee Roth, Singer with Van Halen

• 1958 ~ Tanya Tucker, Singer

• 1961 ~ Martin Kemp, Bass with Spandau Ballet, brother of musician Gary Kemp

• 1970 ~ Neil Diamond reached the #1 spot on the pop music charts for the first time with Cracklin’ Rosie. In 1972, Diamond would reach a similar pinnacle with Song Sung Blue.

• 1979 ~ Not just Rumours, but fact, that Fleetwood Mac got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

• 1985 ~ Yul Brynner passed away

• 2001 ~ Patricia Anne McKinnon, whose singing career began on Canadian television’s “Singalong Jubilee”, died of lymphatic cancer. She was 53. McKinnon was born in Shilo, Manitoba. Beginning her singing career at the age of 13, McKinnon sang for the Halifax-produced “Singalong Jubilee,” a show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She also starred in television programs, including “Juliette,” “Show of the Week,” and “A Go Go ’66.” For more than 28 years McKinnon fought Hodgkins disease, which put her career on hold at times.

• 2003 ~ Eugene Istomin, one of the first great classical pianists born in America, died after battling liver cancer. He was 77. At 17, Istomin won both the prestigious Leventritt and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra awards. In 1943, he made sensational debuts in the same week with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and the New York Philharmonic under Artur Rodzinski, playing Johannes Brahms’Second Piano Concerto. At 25, he began a long association with cellist Pablo Casals. A year and a half after Casals’ death in 1973, Istomin married his widow, Marta, now president of the Manhattan School of Music. In a career that carried him throughout the world, Istomin gave more than 4,000 concerts with leading conductors – including Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Leopold Stokowski and Leonard Bernstein.

• 2010 ~ Dame Joan Sutherland, Australian operatic soprano died at the age of 83

September 26: On This Day in Music

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• 1887 ~ Emile Berliner patented a disk recording device that made it possible to mass produce phonograph records.

• 1892 ~ The ‘King of Marches’ was introduced to the general public. John Philip Sousa and his band played the Liberty Bell March in Plainfield, New Jersey.

OCMS 1898 ~ George Gershwin (Jacob Gershvin), American composer,  songwriter and pianist
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is featured in Disney’s Fantasia 2000.
Read quotes by and about Gershwin
More information about Gershwin

• 1901 ~ Ted Weems (Wilfred Theodore Weymes), Orchestra leader, Ted Weems Orchestra, played mostly on network radio shows: violin, trombone

• 1908 ~ An ad for the Edison Phonograph appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. The phonograph offered buyers free records by both the Democratic and Republican U.S. presidential candidates!

• 1930 ~ Fritz Wunderlich, German tenor

• 1925 ~ Marty Robbins (Robertson), Country Music Hall of Famer, Grammy Award Winner, actor, last Grand Ole Opry singer to perform in Ryman Auditorium, first to perform in new Opryland

• 1926 ~ Julie London (Peck), Singer, actress

• 1931 ~ George Chambers, Bass, singer with The Chambers Brothers

• 1937 ~ Bessie Smith passed away
More information about Smith

• 1941 ~ Joe Bauer, Drummer with The Youngbloods

• 1945 ~ Béla Viktor János Bartók, Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist died.
More about Béla Bartók

• 1945 ~ Bryan Ferry, Singer with Roxy Music

• 1947 ~ Lynn Anderson, Grammy Award~winning singer, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, 1971

• 1948 ~ Olivia Newton-John, British country-music and rock singer

• 1954 ~ Craig Chaquico, Guitar, singer with Jefferson Starship

• 1955 ~ Carlene Carter, Singer, June Carter’s daughter

• 1955 ~ Debbie Reynolds married singing idol Eddie Fisher. The couple made it through four tempestuous years.

• 1957 ~ West Side Story opened in New York. The musical ran for 734 performances. The loose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet produced several hit songs, including Maria and Tonight. Leonard Bernstein was the composer.

• 1962 ~ Tracey Thorn, Singer

• 1962 ~ “Come and listen to the story ’bout a man named Jed…” The Beverly Hillbillies aired on CBS-TV. U.S. audiences were enchanted with Jed, Ellie Mae, Granny, Jethro, Miss Jane and that banker feller. Enchanted, as in a trance, in fact, for 216 shows. Bluegrass stars Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs had the honor of composing and recording the theme song and hit record, The Ballad of Jed Clampett.

• 1969 ~ The Beatles walked the road toward a hit LP for the last time, as Abbey Road was released in London. The 13th and last album for the ‘fab four’ zoomed quickly to the #1 spot on the charts and stayed there for 11 weeks. 1984 ~ History was made at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Neil Shicoff, lead tenor in The Tales of Hoffmann, was unable to perform due to illness. His understudy, a chap named William Lewis, was a bit under the weather as well, and his voice began to falter during the performance. So, Kenneth Riegel was called in to sing the part from the orchestra pit while Mr. Lewis lip-synced the part on stage.

• 2003 ~ Yi Sung-chun, one of the most outstanding musicians of contemporary Korean classics, died at the age of 67. Born in what is now North Korea, Yi moved south during the 1950-53 Korean War and became a pioneer of Korean classics, called Gukak, or national music. Yi first entered a medical college but switched to study Korean classics two years later at the Seoul National University. He earned his doctorate and served his alma mater as a professor for 30 years. Students called him “a real model of Seonbi,” or the disciplined and well-mannered intellectual class of the old royal Korean Joseon Dynasty. Yi produced about 300 pieces of music, and helped reshape the “gayageum,” a traditional Korean instrument with nine strings, into the one with 21 strings to broaden its tones. His name was put on record in 2001 along with 30 other Korean musicians in the New Grove Dictionary of Music, an encyclopedia named after British musician Sir George Grove that lists 3,000 important music figures worldwide.

Happy Birthday, George Gershwin!

George GershwinGeorge Gershwin lived between September 26, 1898 and July 11, 1937. He is considered to be a twentieth century composer.

If you hate homework but like roller skating, you have something in common with American composer George Gershwin. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian immigrant parents, George loved to play street hockey, ‘cat’, and punch ball. He 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. No one else in the Gershwin family was musical, but George was fascinated by music. When he heard a schoolmate play the violin, George struck up a friendship with the boy who introduced him to the world of concert music.

Gershwin’s American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue (featured in Disney’s newly released Fantasia 2000) proved that jazz was powerful enough to combine will with symphonic music. Gershwin was only 26 years old at the time when he composed Rhapsody in Blue. 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.

His play Porgy and Bess has been produced as both a film and an opera.

 

August 29: Today in Music History

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• 1920 ~ Charlie Parker, American jazz alto saxophonist
Read quotes by and about Parker
More information about Parker

• 1924 ~ Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones), Singer, Lionel Hampton’s band from 1943 to 1946

• 1928 ~ Thomas Stewart, American baritone

• 1942 ~ Sterling Morrison, Bass, guitar, singer with The Velvet Underground

• 1943 ~ Paul Whiteman Presents, a summertime radio replacement show, was heard for the last time. The hostess for the show was Dinah Shore. Whiteman’s 35-piece orchestra serenaded listeners on the NBC radio network. Whiteman’s well~known theme song was Rhapsody in Blue, composed by George Gershwin.

• 1946 ~ Ella Fitzgerald and The Delta Rhythm Boys recorded It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight on Decca Records. The song turned out to be one of Lady Ella’s most popular.

• 1958 ~ Michael Jackson, American rock singer

• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman was released. It hit number one (for 3 weeks) on September 26th and became the biggest of his career.  The title was inspired by Orbison’s wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out; when Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected: “A pretty woman never needs any money.”   Oh, Pretty Woman was Orbison’s second #1 hit. The other was Running Scared on 6/05/61.

• 1966 ~ The Beatles performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. It was the group’s last live appearance before they disbanded in 1970.

• 1986 ~ The former American Bandstand studio, at the original home of WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, PA, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The studio is located at 4548 Market Street. We expect that any day now, Bandstand host Dick Clark will also be placed on the National Register.

• 2018 ~ Paul Taylor, American dancer and choreographer (Paul Taylor Dance Company), died at the age of 88.

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!

July 21: On This Day in Music

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Be sure your student reads and listens to Today’s Daily Listening Assignment

 

 

• 1748 ~ Louis-Henry Paisible, Composer

• 1779 ~ Gottlob Wiedebein, Composer

• 1782 ~ Placidus Cajetan von Camerloher, Composer, died at the age of 63

• 1797 ~ Franz Schoberlechner, Composer

• 1865 ~ Robert Kahn, Composer

• 1870 ~ Josef Strauss, Austrian composer, died at the age of 42

• 1896 ~ Jean Rivier-Villemomble France, Composer

• 1898 ~ Ernest Willem Mulder, Composer

• 1898 ~ Sara Carter, Vocalist/guitarist with the Carter Family

• 1903 ~ Theodore Karyotakis, Composer

• 1906 ~ Daniel Ayala Perez, Composer

• 1915 ~ Floyd McDaniel ~ blues singer/guitarist

• 1920 ~ Isaac Stern, American concert violinist
Read quotes by and about Stern
More information about Stern

• 1920 ~ Manuel Valls Gorina, Composer

• 1921 ~ Billy Taylor, Orchestra leader on the David Frost Show

• 1922 ~ Kay Starr (Katherine Starks), Pop Singer

• 1925 ~ Lovro Zupanovic, Composer

• 1926 ~ Albert Fuller, American harpsichordist

• 1926 ~ Norman Jewison, Director of Jesus Christ, Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof

• 1927 ~ Stefan Niculescu, Composer

• 1931 ~ Leon Schidlowsky, Composer

• 1931 ~ Ted Husing was master of ceremonies for the very first CBS-TV program. The gala show featured singer Kate Smith, composer George Gershwin and New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker.

• 1935 ~ Kaye Stevens, Singer and comedienne on the Jerry Lewis Show

• 1938 ~ Anton Emil Kuerti, Composer

• 1938 ~ Paul Hindemith and Leonide Massines ballet premiered in London

• 1947 ~ Cat Stevens (Steven Demitri Georgiou) (Muslim name: Yusuf Islam), British folk-rock singer and songwriter

• 1948 ~ Donald Nichols Tweedy, Composer, died at the age of 58

• 1950 ~ Albert Riemenschneider, Composer, died at the age of 71

• 1958 ~ The last of Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts programs aired on CBS-TV. Many artists got their start on Talent Scouts, including Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, The McGuire Sisters and a singer named Connie Francis, who not only sang but played the accordion, as well.

• 1962 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 13th Symphony

• !963 ~ Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” hit #1

• 1964 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 10th String quartet

• 1969 ~ Just one day after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Duke Ellington and a portion of his band performed a 10-minute composition on ABC-TV titled Moon Maiden. The work featured piano, drums, bass and vocals.

• 1973 ~ Bad, Bad Leroy Brown reached the top spot on the Billboard pop singles chart, becoming Jim Croce’s first big hit. Croce died in a plane crash two months later (September 20, 1973).

• 1976 ~ “Guys & Dolls” opened at Broadway Theater New York City for 239 performances

• 1994 ~ Dorothy Collins, Singer on Your Hit Parade, died at the age of 67

• 1995 ~ Edwin “Russell” House, Saxophonist, died at the age of 65

• 2000 ~ Iain Hamilton, the Scottish composer who turned Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” into an opera at the age of 78. Hamilton wrote four symphonies and dozens of orchestral and chamber works but is known best for his vocal music, which includes a cantata based on the poems of Robert Burns. “Anna Karenina” premiered at the English National Opera in 1981 to critical acclaim. His other operas include “Agamemnon”, “The Catiline Conspiracy”, based on a Ben Jonson play, and an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play “The Royal Hunt of the Sun”. From 1961 to 1978 he was a professor of music at Duke University in North Carolina.

• 2000 ~ Barbra Streisand announced final concerts

• 2001 ~ Norman Hall Wright, the last surviving writer who worked on the Disney film Fantasia 2000, died at the age of 91. Wright studied at the University of Southern California before being hired by Walt Disney Productions. He started as an animator but later became a writer, producer and director. Wright developed the story of The Nutcracker Suite sequence for Fantasia 2000. He also was responsible for a sequence in Bambi. He wrote several cartoon shorts for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy and also produced several Wonderful World of Disney television programs.

• 2002 ~ Gus Dudgeon, a respected music producer who worked on many of Elton John’s hit recordings, died in a car crash in western England. He was 59. Dudgeon produced Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Your Song, Daniel and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Dudgeon also produced David Bowie’s Space Oddity and worked with other stars, including Chris Rea and Joan Armatrading. But it was his partnership with Sir Elton in the 1970s for which he will be best remembered. Dudgeon began his career in the early 1960s as a tea boy, running errands at Olympic Studios in London before joining Decca Records. He engineered the Zombies’ classic She’s Not There and the groundbreaking Blues Breakers album by John Mayall with Eric Clapton, before moving into producing.

• 2015 ~ Theodore Meir Bikel,  Austrian-American actor, folk singer, musician, composer, and activist, died at the age of 91.

July 11: Today’s Music History

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Be sure your student reads and listens to Today’s Daily Listening Assignment

 

 

• 1768 ~ Jose Melchior de Nebra Blascu, Composer, died at the age of 66

• 1781 ~ Adolph Carl Kunzen, Composer, died at the age of 60

• 1824 ~ Adolphe-Abraham Samuel, Composer

• 1826 ~ Carl Bernhard Wessely, Composer, died at the age of 57

• 1836 ~ Carlos Gomez, Composer

• 1837 ~ Paul Lacombe, Composer

• 1857 ~ Iacob Moresianu, Composer

• 1861 ~ Anton Stepanovich Arensky, Russian composer of Romantic classical music, a pianist and a professor of music.

• 1862 ~ Liza Nina Mary Frederica Lehmann, Composer

• 1892 ~ Giorgio Federico Ghedini, Composer

• 1897 ~ Blind Lemon Jefferson, Singer

• 1914 ~ Ahti Sonninen, Composer

• 1916 ~ Howard Brubeck, Composer

• 1918 ~ Enrico Caruso bypassed opera for a short time to join the war (WWI) effort. Caruso recorded Over There, the patriotic song written by George M. Cohan.

• 1920 ~ Yul Brynner (Taidje Khan), Academy & Tony Award-winning actor in The King and I

• 1925 ~ Mattiwilda Dobbs, American soprano

• 1925 ~ Nicolai Gedda, Swedish tenor

• 1926 ~ Rodolfo Arizaga, Composer

• 1927 ~ Herbert Blomstedt, American-born Swedish conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic from 1954 until 1961

• 1928 ~ Robert Washburn, Composer

• 1929 ~ Hermann Prey, German baritone

• 1931 ~ Thurston Harris, American vocalist

• 1931 ~ Tab Hunter (Arthur Gelien), Singer

• 1932 ~ Alex Hassilev, American vocalist with the Limeliters

• 1937 ~ George Gershwin, Composer of An American Paris, died at the age of 38
More information about Gershwin

• 1938 ~ Terry Garthwaite, American guitarist and singer

• 1944 ~ Bobby Rice, Singer

• 1945 ~ Debbie Harry, Singer

• 1947 ~ Jeff Hanna, Singer, guitarist with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

• 1950 ~ Patty Pointer, Singer with Pointer Sisters

• 1950 ~ Timotei Popovici, Composer, died at the age of 79

• 1951 ~ Bonnie Pointer, Singer with Pointer Sisters

• 1957 ~ Peter Murphy, Singer with Bauhaus

• 1959 ~ Richie Sambora, Guitarist

• 1964 ~ 18-year-old Millie Small was riding high on the pop music charts with My Boy Lollipop. Rod Stewart played the harmonica. Millie Small was known as the ’Blue Beat Girl’ in Jamaica, her homeland.

• 1967 ~ Kenny Rogers formed The First Edition just one day after he and members Thelma Camacho, Mike Settle and Terry Williams left The New Christy Minstrels. The First Edition hosted a syndicated TV variety show in 1972.

• 1969 ~ David Bowie released Space Oddity in the UK for the first time. It was timed to coincide with the Apollo moon landing but had to be re-released before it became a hit, later in the year in the UK (but not until 1973 in the US).

• 1969 ~ Rolling Stones released Honky Tonk Woman

• 1973 ~ Alexander Vasilyevich Mosolov, Russian Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1980 ~ Boleslaw Woytowicz, Composer, died at the age of 80

• 1984 ~ Karel Mengelberg, Composer, died at the age of 81

• 1993 ~ Mario Bauza, Cuban/American jazz musician ~ died at the age of 82

• 1994 ~ Charles “Lefty” Edwards, Saxophonist, died at the age of 67

• 1994 ~ Lex P Humphries, Drummer, died at the age of 57

• 1996 ~ Louis Gottlieb, Musician, died at the age of 72

• 1999 ~ Big band jazz singer Helen Forrest died

• 2001 ~ Herman Brood, an artist and musician in the Dutch rock scene for 30 years, died at the age of 55. Brood became a sensation with his 1978 hit single Saturday Night, which he wrote as leader of the band Wild Romance. Over 25 years, he recorded nearly 20 albums. He also appeared in Dutch movies.

• 2002 ~ Blues singer Rosco Gordon died of a heart attack. He was 74. Rosco was known for 1950s hits including Booted, No More Doggin’, Do the Chicken and Just a Little Bit, which sold more than 4 million copies in covers by Etta James, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Jerry Butler. His offbeat, rhythmic style influenced the early sounds of ska and reggae after he toured the Caribbean in the late ’50s. Gordon quit the music business in the 1960s and invested his winnings from a poker game in a dry cleaning business. He started his own record label in 1969 and returned to concert performances in 1981.

March 24: Today’s Music History

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. 1784 ~ Mozart‘s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat, K. 450 in B flat, K. 450 was first performed.  Mozart was the soloist.

It is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra.  Mozart composed the concerto for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater. In a letter to his father, Mozart compared this concerto with the 16th concerto in D:

“I consider them both to be concertos which make one sweat, but the B flat one beats the one in D for difficulty.” Indeed, many pianists consider this to be the most difficult of all of Mozart’s piano concertos. The concerto is primarily difficult from its many quick scale patterns which must be played perfectly and also from its many fast chord patterns moving up and down.

Beginning with this concerto, Mozart began to use the term “grand” to describe his concerti such as K.450 which feature a prominent and required wind section for the ensemble. The work is orchestrated for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings.

The concerto is in three movements:
1. Allegro
2. Andante in E-flat major
3. Allegro

. 1808 ~ María Felicità Malibran, Spanish contralto

. 1895 ~ Arthur Murray, dancer

. 1900 ~ June (Algeria Junius) Clark, Musician, trumpeter

. 1916 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish composer, died in the English Channel. Best known for his piano suite “Goyescas” after paintings by Goya.

. 1920 ~ Gene Nelson (Eugene Leander Berg), Actor, dancer in Lullaby of Broadway, Oklahoma, Tea for Two, The West Point Story

. 1922 ~ Dave Appell, Arranger for big bands: Benny Carter, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines; TV music director, record producer, singer, songwriter, musician with Dave Appell and the Applejacks

. 1928 ~ Byron Janis (Yanks), American pianist, NBC Symphony Orchestra; well-known piano performance on Hugo Winterhalter’s Rhapsody in Blue recording, composed by George Gershwin.

. 1935 ~ After a year as a local show from New York City, “Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour” was heard on the entire NBC radio network. The show stayed on the air for 17 years. Later, Ted Mack took over for Bowes and made the move from radio to television.

. 1937 ~ Benjamin Luxon, British baritone

. 1941 ~ Glenn Miller began work on his first motion picture for 20th Century Fox. The film was Sun Valley Serenade.

. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley reported to local draft board 86 in Memphis, TN. He became US 53310761. Oddly, since Elvis was now ‘government property’ serving his time in the Army, Uncle Sam stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes each year that Private Presley was in the Army.

. 1980 ~ Capitol Records released some rare Beatles tracks. Included in the album were stereo versions of Penny Lane and She Loves You, sung by the group in German, under the title, Sie Liebt Dich. Also included was a German version of I Want to Hold Your Hand or, in the Teutonic tongue, Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand.

. 2000 ~ French Quarter pianist and chanteuse Lily Simha Hood, whose fans included Tennessee Williams, died of kidney failure. She was cagey about revealing her age, and her husband asked that the secret remain with her death. Her musical career began on a whim. After dinner one night in 1976, the Hoods and a friend stopped at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a Bourbon Street bar across from their house. Mrs. Hood played a few tunes on the piano for her friend and was hired on the spot, even though she wasn’t looking for a job. Soon, “Miss Lily” had a crowd of regulars including Tennessee Williams, who would bring in a songbook for her to sing from. Mrs. Hood never formally studied the piano and never learned to read music. She was self-taught and learned by listening. She performed at Lafitte’s for 16 years, but health problems ended her career about 1993.

George Gershwin’s Steinway

gershwinpiano

The Gershwin family donated the Steinway to the University as part of the George and Ira Gershwin initiative that is focused on research and study of the brothers’ music.

According to Marc Gershwin, George and Ira’s nephew, “I wanted the instrument to be accessible to the students and faculty who would be preserving the legacy of George and Ira Gershwin’s music… I’m delighted that the piano will once again be in regular use [by students and faculty], and am thrilled that it has been restored to performance condition.” [Two other Gershwin Steinways are in museums.]

From what I know of George he would have wanted it this way. Unlike some composers George was a gifted pianist. He had a rich social life and enjoyed playing his music for anyone who would listen.

There’s a lesson in that thought. If you have something valuable, sometimes it becomes more valuable – or at least more appreciated – when people can see it and use it. If you look at the piano as an instrument of technology that is it, then it makes sense that organizations give people access to technology – as well as resources – to do their work.

Adapted from  What George Gershwin’s Piano Teaches Us About Technology.