December 13 ~ in Music History

Christmas Countdown: The Alfred Burt Carols

• 1761 ~ Johann Andreas Streicher, German piano maker

• 1835 ~ Phillips Brooks, Lyricist, O Little Town of Bethlehem

• 1838 ~ Marie-Alexis Castillon de Saint-Victor, French composer

• 1843 ~ Charles Dickens published his play “A Christmas Carol”

• 1874 ~ Josef Lhévinne, Russian pianist, teacher. After gaining fame as a soloist in Russia and Europe, he and Rosa came to the U.S.A. in 1919. While they continued to concertize, they both taught at Juilliard; although he had the more prominent concert career, she lived on to become legendary for teaching an endless succession of prominent pianists including Van Cliburn.

• 1877 ~ Mykola Leontovych, Ukrainian composer

• 1903 ~ Carlos Montoya, Spanish Flamenco guitarist

• 1925 ~ Wayne Walker, Songwriter

• 1925 ~ Dick Van Dyke, American Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian

• 1928 ~ Audiences at Carnegie Hall heard the first performance of George Gershwin’s composition, An American in Paris. The debut was performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Walter Damrosch. Advertised as “a tone poem with jazz and sound effects”, it was used as a ballet for Gene Kelly’s 1951 performance in the movie of the same name. Unfortunately, George Gershwin did not live to see his composition being danced to in the Academy Award-winning An American in Paris. It won six Oscars: Best Art Direction/Set Direction [Color], Best Color Cinematography, Best Costume Design [Color], Best Story and Screenplay, Best Picture … and Best Score.

• 1929 ~ Christopher Plummer (Orme), Actor, Sound of Music, Doll’s House

• 1929 ~ Hoagy Carmichael recorded with Louis Armstrong. They did Rockin’ Chair on Columbia records and cylinders.

• 1940 ~ The two-sided jump tune, The Anvil Chorus, was recorded by Glenn Miller and his orchestra for Bluebird Records in New York. The 10-inch, 78 rpm record ran six minutes (including flipping).

• 1941 ~ John Davidson, Actor, singer, TV game show host of the Hollywood Squares

• 1948 ~ Jeff  ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Guitarist with Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers

• 1948 ~ Ted Nugent, Guitarist, singer with Amboy Dukes

• 1948 ~ The American Federation of Musicians went back to work after an 11½-month strike. During the strike, there was an 11½-month ban on phonograph records as well.

• 1949 ~ Randy Owen, Guitarist, singer with Alabama

• 1949 ~ Tom Verlaine (Miller), Guitarist, singer with Television

• 1974 ~ Former Beatle George Harrison was greeted at the White House. President Gerald R. Ford invited Harrison to lunch. The two exchanged buttons, Ford giving George a WIN (Whip Inflation Now) pin and Harrison gave the President an OM (Hindu mantra word expressing creation) button.

• 2000 ~ Cellist Yo-Yo Ma made a special guest appearance on NBC television’s West Wing. No, he didn’t play a partisan leader, but he was featured in some of the music of Bach.

• 2002 ~ Maria Bjornson, a set and costume designer whose work on the hit musical The Phantom of the Opera won critical acclaim, was found dead at her London home. She was 53. Bjornson was born in Paris in 1949 and grew up in London, the daughter of a Romanian woman and a Norwegian father. She went to the French Lycee in London and then studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design. Bjornson worked as a theater designer from 1969, and designed 13 productions at the Glasgow Citizens’ Theater. She worked for the Welsh National Opera and its English and Scottish counterparts and was involved with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Ballet. Her colorful and grand design for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theater in London in 1986 won her international acclaim. In 1988, Bjornson’s work on Phantom won two Tony Awards, one for sets and the other for costumes. After Phantom she collaborated with Lloyd Webber again on Aspects of Love, and worked on the Royal Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden in London in 1994 and on Cosi Fan Tutte at Glyndebourne in 1991.

• 2002 ~ Former Lovin’ Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky, who traded in the wild rock star life for a quiet existence as a restaurant owner in Canada, died. The Toronto native died of a heart attack at his home in Kingston, Ontario, six days before his 58th birthday. Famed for such hits as Do You Believe in Magic and Summer in the City, the Lovin’ Spoonful enjoyed a brief reign in the mid 1960s as America’s answer to the Beatles. The quartet, led by singer/guitarist John Sebastian, racked up seven consecutive top 10 singles in 16 months. Yanovsky, a tall Russian Jew who resembled Ringo Starr, joined forces with Sebastian in New York City in 1964. The pair shared a love of folk music, and both had played in the Mugwumps, a short-lived combo that also included future Mamas and Papas members “Mama” Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. The Lovin’ Spoonful, named after a Mississippi John Hurt song, took shape in 1965 when Yanovsky and Sebastian teamed up with drummer Joe Butler and bass player Steve Boone. The group’s first single, Do You Believe In Magic reached the top 10 that year. Its follow-up, You Don’t Have To Be So Nice also went top 10 in early 1966. Summer in the City was their sole No. 1. Besides recording five albums, the band also did the soundtracks to Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and Francis Ford Coppola You’re A Big Boy Now. Yanovsky was the zany member of the group. He was the focal point during live performances, but his biting humor often rubbed his colleagues the wrong way, especially when one of his girlfriends ended up with Sebastian. In 1966, the group’s banner year, Yanovsky was faced with deportation after he and Boone were arrested for marijuana possession in San Francisco. They turned in their dealer, which damaged the band’s hipster credentials. Amid rising tensions, Yanovsky was voted out of the band in 1967, but remained on amicable terms with his colleagues. He recorded a solo album, Alive and Well in Argentina, in 1968. Sebastian, the band’s creative force, left that year, and the band soon broke up. The original members reunited in 1980 to appear in the Paul Simon film One-Trick Pony and then in 2000 when it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yanovsky dabbled in TV before going into the restaurant business. He ran Chez Piggy, an acclaimed eatery in Kingston.

• 2003 ~ Jazz trumpeter Webster Young, who played with greats such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the 1950s, died of a brain tumor. He was 71. Young’s career got an early boost when Louis Armstrong took him as a student when he was 10 years old. As a teenager, Young jammed with Dizzy Gillespie, earning the nickname “Little Diz” in Washington D.C.-area clubs for a style that resembled Gillespie’s. Young broke into the modern jazz scene in New York City in the late 1950s, recording several albums. He returned to Washington D.C. in the 1970s to raise his family. He toured in Europe in the 1980s and performed regularly at jazz clubs until eight months before his death. Young’s career peaked in 1957, when he played cornet with John Coltrane for the album “Interplay for Two Trumpets and Two Tenors” for the Prestige record label.

• 2017 ~ The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this morning that rock legends The Moody Blues will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Current members Justin Hayward (lead guitar, vocals),  John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals) and Graeme Edge (Gray Edge) (drums); will receive the honor alongside former members Ray Thomas (flute/vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboard/mellotron/vocals). The Moody Blues are one of five 2018 Inductees.  Read more at http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-inducted-rock-roll-hall-fame-2018/

December 1 ~ in Music History

today

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

October 14 ~ in Music History

today

OCMS 1871 ~ Alexander Zemlinsky, Austrian composer and conductor
More information on Zemlinsky

• 1907 ~ Allan Jones, Singer, father of singer, Jack Jones

• 1926 ~ Bill (William E.) Justis (Jr.), Saxophone

• 1928 ~ Gary Graffman, American pianist

• 1930 ~ I Got Rhythm, by George Gershwin, sung by Ethel Merman, was a show-stopper in the production of “Girl Crazy” on Broadway. It was Merman’s debut on the Great White Way as she captivated audiences and launched her stellar career. “Girl Crazy” went on for 272 performances.

• 1931 ~ Rafael Puyana, Colombian harpsichordist

• 1938 ~ Melba Montgomery, Singer

• 1938 ~ One of the great songs of the big band era was recorded by Bob Crosby (Bing’s brother) and The Bob Cats. Big Noise from Winnetka on Decca Records featured Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc. Haggart whistled and played bass, while Bauduc played the skins.

• 1939 ~ Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) was organized on this day to compete with ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers). The two music licensing organizations’ goal is to ensure that composers, artists and publishers are properly paid for the use of their works.

• 1940 ~ Cliff Richard (Harry Webb), Singer

• 1946 ~ Justin Hayward, Guitarist, singer with The Moody Blues

• 1961 ~ The Broadway production “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” opened.

• 1971 ~ It was John and Yoko Day on The Dick Cavett Show on ABC. The couple promoted Lennon’s new LP (Imagine) and film (Imagine) and Yoko’s book, two films and a fine arts show.

• 1977 ~ Bing (Harry Lillis) Crosby passed away

• 1996 ~ Eighteen years after its creation, The Rolling Stones’ Rock & Roll Circus was finally released. The 1968 event put together by The Stones comprised two concerts on a circus stage and included performances by The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull and Jethro Tull. John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed as part of a supergroup called The Dirty Mac, along with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Keith Richards. It was originally planned to be aired on BBC TV.

• 2001 ~ Willam Farr Christensen, a Utah dancer who started on the vaudeville stage and went on to become one of the most important figures in American ballet, died at the age of 99. Founder of the San Francisco Ballet and Utah’s Ballet West, Christensen was the first person in the United States to choreograph full-length versions of several ballet classics, including “The Nutcracker”, “Coppelia” and “Swan Lake”. With his brothers Lew and Harold, he toured the famous Orpheum vaudeville circuit in the 1920s, performing a ballet act at a time when few Americans were familiar with the art. By 1934, Christensen had quit the circuit to found the first ballet company in Portland, Ore., then left three years later to join the San Francisco Opera Ballet as a principal soloist. Within a year he was named ballet master of the company. In 1941 he founded the San Francisco Ballet, the first major ballet company in the West. Christensen choreographed the country’s first full-length production of “The Nutcracker” in 1944, and today it is a Christmas tradition for nearly every ballet company in the nation.

October 10 ~ in Music History

 

 

• 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

It’s George Gershwin’s Birthday!

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.

 

September 26 ~ in Music History

today

• 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 ~ 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.

10 Pianos – 80 Fingers

 

From October 5, 2010

There will be $1.6 million worth of piano on stage at the City Recital Hall on Friday night. With their legs and lids removed for transport, eight Steinway grand pianos will be trucked to the venue.

There they will be reassembled on stage and tuned, ready for eight of Australia’s finest classical pianists.

In The Steinway Spectacular 16 hands and 80 fingers will play some of classical music’s greatest hits.

Conducted by Guy Noble, the pianists will work as an ensemble to perform works by composers such as Ravel, Saint-Saens and George Gershwin. ”It’s a very large affair,” says Noble. ”Logistically, it’s a nightmare.” The piano technician Ara Vartoukian will spend hours tuning the instruments.

For past concerts in Melbourne the process sometimes took all night. ”The pianos all, in essence, sound the same, so they have to be absolutely in tune with each other.”

Even after the most careful tuning, things can go awry.

The pianists – Anthony Halliday, Roger Heagney, Clemens Leske, Tamara Smolyar, Mikhail Solovei, Evgeny Ukhanov, Gerard Willems and Alexey Yemtsov – usually perform as soloists. Every now and again, Noble says, one of them ”goes rogue”.

”One will suddenly break out and play their own thing,” he says. ”I have to herd them back into the pride, glaring at them with eyes of death. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to conduct. It’s like herding cats.”

There is no repertoire for an ensemble of pianists, so Noble has created new arrangements.

His favourite is a rendition of the children’s staple Chopsticks. ”That just goes wild,” he says.

The segment titled So You Think You Can Play Scales is also a crowd pleaser. ”It’s like Piano Idol. People get voted off if they go off the rails.”

Other pieces will feature the organist Calvin Bowman and the soprano Shu-Cheen Yu. Bowman, who usually plays above the stage in a loft, will join the other performers on stage on an electronic organ.

”It’s a relief for him to be down on stage because he suffers terribly from vertigo,” Noble says. ”He’s been terrified in organ lofts all over Australia.”

More boisterous extravaganza than a recital for purists, the performance will appeal to an eclectic crowd.

”We get classical music lovers, as well as people who are just curious. It’s pure fun and enjoyment.”

The Steinway Spectacular is at the City Recital Hall on Friday.

From http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/a-piano-spectacular-for-80-fingers-20101004-164ac.html