Today we’re going to listen and learn about the opera Carmen.
I chose this for today since it’s the anniversary of French composer Georges Bizet‘s death.
Georges Bizet was born in Paris, France. Both his parents were musicians, and they actually wanted their son to become a composer when he grew up! Bizet loved music, but he also loved to read books. His parents wound up hiding his books so that he would spend more time on his music.
When Georges was 10 years old, his father enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory. While he was there, he wrote his only symphony, but it wasn’t performed until many years after he died. Bizet graduated from the Conservatory with awards in both composition and piano.
Bizet also composed operas. His most famous opera is Carmen. When Carmen first opened in Paris, the reviews were terrible. Many critics said there were no good tunes in it, so audiences stayed away.
In the middle of the night during the first round of Carmen performances, Bizet died. He was only 36. Four months later, Carmen opened in Vienna, Austria, and was a smash hit. It is now one of the most popular operas ever written. Bizet never knew that audiences would come to consider it his masterpiece.
Vladimir Horowitz made Carmen his own by turning it into a fantasy (or the more musical spelling – fantasie).
The fantasia (Italian; also English: fantasy, fancy, fantazy, phantasy, German: Fantasie, Phantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, like the impromptu, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form.
When you play wrong notes for an audience, just tell the audience it’s a “Fantasie”, not the original work!
As you can see, Carmen is a popular work. Here it is for two pianos, played by Anderson and Roe.
The Canadian Brass tell the story of Carmen in their own humorous words.
• 1911 ~ Sir William Gilbert, English librettist who together with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated on many operettas, died of a heart attack after rescuing a woman from drowning. He was 74.
• 1911 ~ Carl M Story (1916) Fiddler
• 1912 ~ Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA — for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job!
• 1922 ~ Iannis Xenakis, Rumanian-born French theorist and composer
More information on Xenakis
• 1923 ~ Eugene Wright, Jazz musician, bass with Dukes of Swing, played with Brubeck
• 1935 ~ Josef Suk, Czech violinist and composer, died at the age of 61
• 1930 ~ Eleanor Fazan, Opera and show choreographer
• 1937 ~ Peter Kolman, Composer
• 1941 ~ Roy Crewsdon, Guitarist with Freddie and The Dreamers
• 1942 ~ The biggest selling record of all time was recorded. A little out of season, perhaps, but White Christmas, the Irving Berlin classic, was recorded by Bing Crosby for Decca Records. The song was written for the film “Holiday Inn”. More than 30-million copies of Crosby’s most famous hit song have been sold and a total of nearly 70-million copies, including all versions of the standard, have been sold.
• 1942 ~ “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, based on life of George M. Cohan, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring James Cagney and Joan Lesley, premiered in New York City (Academy Awards Best Actor 1943)
• 1943 ~ Hermann Hans Wetzler, Composer, died at the age of 72
• 1943 ~ “The Million Dollar Band” was heard for the first time on NBC radio. Charlie Spivak was the first leader of the band that featured Barry Wood as vocalist. The unusual feature of the show was the awarding each week of five diamond rings!
• 1945 ~ Gary Brooker, Keyboard player, singer
• 1948 ~ Linda Esther Gray, opera singer
• 1948 ~ Michael Berkley, Composer and broadcaster
• 1949 ~ Francis Rossi, Guitarist
• 1949 ~ Gary Brooker, Rock keyboardist with Procol Harum
• 1950 ~ Rebbie (Maureen) Jackson, Singer, oldest member of the Jackson family
• 1951 ~ Dimitrios Levidis, Composer, died at the age of 66
• 1996 ~ James George “Jimmy” Rowles, Jazz pianist, died at the age of 77
• 1997 ~ Jeff Buckley, Musician, drowned at age 30
• 2003 ~ Janet Collins, the first black prima ballerina to appear at the Metropolitan Opera and one of a few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died. She was 86. In 1951, Collins performed lead roles in “Aida” and Bizet’sCarmen and danced in “La Gioconda” and “Samson and Delilah” at the Met in New York City. That was four years before Marian Anderson made her historic debut as the first black to sing a principal role at the Met. Collins left the Met in 1954. During the 1950s, she toured with her own dance group throughout the United States and Canada and taught. Collins also danced in films, including the 1943 musical “Stormy Weather” and 1946’s “The Thrill of Brazil.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1974 paid homage to Collins and Pearl Primus as pioneering black women in dance.
• 1929 ~ The first Academy Awards were presented on this night, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and William C. de Mille. This first awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. It attracted an audience of 200 people.
• 1929 ~ Paul Whiteman and his orchestra backed Bing Crosby for the tune, Sposin’, which ‘Der Bingle’ recorded for Columbia Records. Betty Carter (Lillie Mae Jones) (1930) Jazz singer: toured with Lionel Hampton & Miles Davis
• 1930 ~ Friedrich Gulda, Austrian pianist/composer
• 1946 ~ The Irving Berlin musical, Annie Get Your Gun, at New York’s Imperial Theatre. One of the most successful shows presented on a Broadway stage, the show ran for 1,147 performances.
• 1947 ~ Barbara Lee, Singer with The Chiffons
• 1947 ~ Darrel Sweet, Drummer, singer
• 1953 ~ Bill Haley and His Comets made it to the Billboard music charts for the first time with Crazy Man Crazy. The tune went to number six and became the first rock ’n’ roll record to make the pop music chart.
• 1965 ~ The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, a Broadway musical starring Anthony Newley, made its premiere at the Shubert Theatre in New York City. Cyril Ritchard appeared in the production which entertained audiences for 231 performances.
• 1966 ~ Janet Jackson, Singer
• 1990 ~ Jim Henson, the famous creator who of the Muppets, a cast of puppets including Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie and Bert, died at the age of 54.
• 1990 ~ The entertainer who could do it all, Sammy Davis, Jr., died this day, in Beverly Hills, California, USA. From vaudeville at age three (with his father and uncle) to the star of Broadway’s “Mr. Wonderful”, from Las Vegas nightclubs to hit records, the actor, singer, dancer, impersonator, and musician performed his way into the hearts of young and old everywhere. The world mourned the passing of Sammy Davis, Jr. at age 64 of throat cancer.
• 1993 ~ Marv Johnson passed away. He was an American R&B and soul singer.
• 1995 ~ Lola Flores, fiery Spanish dancer and singer, died. She made many films but was best known for her flamenco movements and passionate songs.
• 2010 ~ Hank Jones, American jazz pianist and composer, died at the age of 91
. 1692 ~ Giuseppe Tartini, Venetian Baroque composer and violinist (Trillo del Diavolo)
. 1848 ~ Gaetano Donizetti (born in 1797), died in Bergamo. He was an Italian composer.
. 1889 ~ Sir Adrian Boult, British conductor. In 1918 Gustav Holst asked him to conduct the first performance of “The Planets.”
. 1920 ~ Charles Tomlinson Griffes, US composer (White Peacock), died at the age of 35
. 1922 ~ Carmen McRae, US jazz singer/pianist
. 1923 ~ Franco Corelli, Italian tenor, debut: Spoleto (Italy) as Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen in 1951; in films: Great Moments in Opera, Franco Corelli in Tosca, The Great Tenors – Voice of Firestone Classic Performances
. 1929 ~ Jacques Brel, Belgian-born French singer and songwriter
. 1941 ~ Peggy Lennon, Singer with The Lennon Sisters
. 1950 ~ Vaslav Nijinsky, legendary Russian ballet dancer, died. He is generally regarded as the 20th century’s greatest male dancer.
. 1963 ~ Julian Lennon, Singer, son of John and Cynthia Lennon
. 1968 ~ The Beatles went gold again, receiving a gold record for the single, Lady Madonna.
. 1971 ~ Chicago became the first rock group to play Carnegie Hall in New York City.
. 1986 ~ It took 18 years of singing the U.S. national anthem, but on this day, at long last, baritone Robert Merrill of the Metropolitan Opera became the first person to both sing the anthem and throw out the first ball at Yankee Stadium for the Yanks home opener.
. 2001 ~ Van Stephenson, a hit Nashville songwriter who also earned onstage success as a member of the trio BlackHawk, died after suffering from cancer at the age of 47. Stephenson released two albums as a solo pop artist in the 1980s, and scored the hit Modern Day Delilah in 1984. Moving back to Nashville from Los Angeles, Stephenson partnered with songwriter Dave Robbins to write a string of hits for Restless Heart, Dan Seals, and others. Stephenson and Robbins teamed up with former Outlaws singer Henry Paul at the suggestion of record executive Tim DuBois. The trio has had a string of hits since 1993, including Goodbye Says it All and Down in Flames.
. 2013 ~ Annette Funicello, American singer and actress (Mickey Mouse Club), died from multiple sclerosis complications at the age of 70.
. 1678 ~ Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, Italian Baroque composer. The creator of hundreds of spirited, extroverted instrumental works, Vivaldi is widely recognized as the master of the Baroque instrumental concerto, which he perfected and popularized perhaps more than any of his contemporaries. A group of four violin concerti from Vivaldi’s Op. 8, better known as “The Four Seasons”, may well be the most universally recognizable musical work from the Baroque period. Perhaps the most prolific of all the great European composers, he once boasted that he could compose a concerto faster than a copyist could ready the individual parts for the players in the orchestra.
More information about Vivaldi
(MaryO’Note: Spring from The Four Seasons is available in the Piano Maestro App for piano students)
. 1801 ~ The U.S. Marine Band performed for the first time at a presidential nomination. That president was Thomas Jefferson.
. 1839 ~ Ignace Antoine Ladurner, pianist/composer, died at the age of 72
. 1877 ~ The ballet of Swan Lake, composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was performed for the first time in the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia
. 1915 ~ Carlos Surinac, Catalan Spanish-born composer and conductor
. 1918 ~ Frank Wigglesworth, American composer
. 1925 ~ Enzo Stuarti, Opera singer
. 1928 ~ Samuel Adler, German-born American composer
. 1929 ~ Bernard Haitink, Dutch conductor
. 1932 ~ Miriam (Zensile) Makeba, South African born singer who was the first black South African to attain international stardom.
. 1934 ~ Barbara McNair, Singer, TV hostess of The Barbara McNair Show, actress
. 1942 ~ Dick Jurgen’s orchestra recorded One Dozen Roses on Okeh Records in Chicago.
. 1942 ~ The Stage Door Canteen opened on West 44th Street in New York City. The canteen became widely known as a service club for men in the armed forces and a much-welcomed place to spend what would otherwise have been lonely hours. The USO, the United Service Organization, grew out of the ‘canteen’ operation, to provide entertainment for American troops around the world.
. 1943 ~ Irving Berlin picked up the Best Song Oscar for a little ditty he had written for the film, Holiday Inn: White Christmas at the 15th Academy Awards.
. 1944 ~ Bobby Womack, Songwriter, singer
. 1948 ~ Chris Squire, Bass with Yes
. 1948 ~ Shakin’ Stevens (Michael Barratt), Singer, actor
. 1951 ~ Chris Rea, Guitarist with these groups Chris Rea Band and Ambrosia; singer, songwriter
. 1969 ~ Chastity Bono, Singer, daughter of Sonny & Cher
. 1978 ~ Andy Gibb reached the top of the music charts as (Love is) Thicker Than Water reached #1 for a two-week stay. The Bee Gees also set a record on this day as their single, How Deep Is Your Love, from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack stayed in the top 10 for an unprecedented 17 weeks.
. 1981 ~ Lyricist E.Y. ‘Yip’ Harburg died in an auto accident in Hollywood, CA at the age of 82. Two of his most successful hits were Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz and It’s Only a Paper Moon, popularized by Nat King Cole and many others.
. 2001 ~ Glenn Hughes, a singer who performed as the mustachioed, leather-clad biker in the disco band the Village People, died at the age of 50. The group, which was the brainchild of producer Jacques Morali, featured men dressed as an Indian, a soldier, a construction worker, a police officer, a cowboy and Hughes’ character, a biker. The band released its first single, San Francisco (You’ve Got Me), in 1977. It followed the next year with its first hit, Macho Man. The band then produced a string of hits, including Y.M.C.A., In theNavy and Go West. Collectively the Village People sold 65 million albums and singles. Although disco fell out of fashion in the 1980s, Hughes stayed with the band until 1996, when he left to sing in Manhattan cabarets.
. 2003 ~ Fedora Barbieri, a mezzo-soprano whose passionate singing sometimes stole the scene from opera diva Maria Callas, died. She was 82. Born in Trieste in 1920, Barbieri performed on stages ranging from Milan’s La Scala to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House to London’s Covent Garden. Barbieri’s career started in 1940 and for her 80th birthday, she sang the role of Mamma Lucia in Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” in Florence. Her repertoire included roles in operas by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Barbieri died in Florence, which she had adopted as her home and where she gave many performances.
. 2003 ~ Emilio Estefan Sr., father of the Latin music mogul, died at the age of 83. Estefan Sr. played the plump and comical ambassador in a music video for the Miami Sound Machine’s hit song Conga, which featured singer Gloria Estefan, wife of Estefan Jr. The Miami Sound Machine’s office was once located in Estefan Sr.’s garage. His son later built a home for his parents on his Star Island compound. Estefan Sr. was born in Santiago de Cuba and moved to Spain with Estefan Jr. in 1966. His wife and another son stayed in Cuba because the boy was of military draft age and couldn’t leave until 1980. Estefan Sr. came to Miami in 1968, a year after Estefan Jr., and opened a clothing business in Hialeah.
. 2009 ~ Joseph Bloch died. He was an American concert pianist and professor of piano literature at the Juilliard School in New York City. During a career at Juilliard that spanned five decades, Bloch’s students included Emanuel Ax, Van Cliburn, Misha Dichter, Garrick Ohlsson, Jeffrey Siegel and Jeffrey Swann.
. 2011 ~ Johnny Preston, American pop singer (Running Bear), died at the age of 71
1803 ~ Louis-Hector Berlioz, French composer, conductor, music critic and major force in the development of musical form during the Romantic Era
More information about Berlioz
• 1876 ~ Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Polish composer and conductor
• 1882 ~ The Bijou Theatre in Boston, MA became the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.
• 1908 ~ Elliot Cook Carter, Jr., American composer
• 1916 ~ (Damaso) Perez Prado, Piano, organ
• 1926 ~ Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton, Blues singer
• 1931 ~ Rita Moreno (Rosita Alverio), Dancer, Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress
• 1934 ~ Curtis Williams, Singer with The Penguins
• 1935 ~ Tom Brumley, Steel guitar with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Stone Canyon Band
• 1939 ~ Marlene Dietrich recorded Falling In Love Again on the Decca label.
• 1940 ~ David Gates, Guitarist, keyboard, singer with Bread
• 1944 ~ Brenda Lee (Tarpley), American singer of popular music
• 1944 ~ “The Chesterfield Supper Club” debuted on NBC radio. Perry Como, Jo Stafford and many other stars of the day shared the spotlight on the 15-minute show that aired five nights a week. The show was sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes.
• 1952 ~ An audience of 70,000 people watched from 31 theatres as Richard Tucker starred in Carmen. The event was the first pay-TV production of an opera. Ticket prices ranged from $1.20 to $7.20.
• 1954 ~ Jermaine Jackson, Singer with The Jackson Five, brother of Michael, Janet, La Toya, Tito, Randy, Marlon and Jackie
• 1973 ~ Karen and Richard Carpenter received a gold record for their single, Top of the World.
• 1982 ~ Toni Basil reached the #1 one position on the pop music charts for the first time, with her single, Mickey.
• 2000 ~ Ruth Martin, a writer whose translations of both popular and obscure operas were widely used in American opera houses, died at the age of 86. Martin collaborated with her husband Thomas Martin in translating the librettos of some of the world’s most famous operas, including Mozart’sDon Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Puccini’sBoheme, and Bizet’sCarmen. Martin and her husband also translated some of the rarest operas, such as Offenbach’sGrand Duchess of Gerolstein, and Dvorák’sRusalka. The Martins’ translations were marked by their clarity and singability, and despite the increasing use of closed-captioning systems in major opera houses, their translations are still used widely. Martin contributed articles on opera for Opera News, Aria, and Theater Arts. She also served on the boards of the New York Federation of Music Clubs, the Liederkranz Foundation and the National Opera Foundation.
• 2001 ~ Erik Johns, who wrote the libretto for Aaron Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land, died in a fire at his home in Fishkill, N.Y. He was 74. Born Horace Eugene Johnston in Los Angeles, Johns began his career in music as a dancer. He met Copland when he was 19 at a New Year’s Eve party in New York. In 1952 the two began collaborating on an opera based on Let Us Now PraiseFamous Men, a book by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans that describes the lives of several Southern sharecropper families during the Depression. Copland composed the music and Johns wrote the libretto, or the words. The work was originally commissioned as a television opera by NBC but was subsequently rejected by the network. The New York City Opera performed it at its premiere at City Center in April 1954 in a short two-act version. The two later added a third act.
• 2001 ~ Jose Fajardo, a Cuban flutist who was one of the most influential bandleaders in Latin music, died an aneurysm. He was 82. The Cuban native had emigrated from Cuba in 1961, when he refused a request from the Cuban government to continue a musical tour to other communist countries. During his lengthy career, Fajardo recorded more than 40 albums and performed around the world. He was credited with expanding the audience for charanga, a Cuban musical style that backs a singer with flute, violins, piano, bass and percussion. Fajardo started his first group, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, in the 1940s. He later led three bands by the same name. After moving to the United States, he founded bands in New York and Miami and began performing in new style called pachanga, featuring a slightly more assertive rhythm. Fajardo was featured on “Cuban Masters: Los Originales,” an album of performances by leading Cuban musicians that was released November 2001.
• 2002 ~ Kay Rose, the first woman to win an Academy Award for sound editing, died. She was 80. Rose won the statuette for her work on the 1984 film The River. A native of New York, Rose was recognized in March with a career achievement award from the Cinema Audio Society. The Motion Picture Sound Editors gave her a similar lifetime achievement award in 1993. In October 2002, directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg endowed the Kay Rose Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. The chair is the first of its kind in the country. After studying film at Hunter College, she became a civilian film apprentice for the Army Signal Corps during World War II. There, she helped create such training films as How to Erect a Double Apron Barbed Wire Fence and the John Huston documentary Report from the Aleutians. She moved to Hollywood in 1944 and found a job as an assistant to an editor at Universal studios. In 1951, she married film editor Sherman Rose. Together, they produced the 1954 sci-fi cult classic, Target Earth. They later divorced. During her five-decade career, Rose received sound editing credits on such films as The Rose,Ordinary People,On Golden Pond,The Milagro Beanfield War, The Prince of Tides,For the Boys and Speed.
Get your piano students listening to great classical music!
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 Christmas edition includes 20 pieces of piano and orchestral literature for the Christmas season, from the Baroque to the Modern period. Includes background and historical information on the pieces and the composers, and a beautiful coloring page for each piece.
The Christmas Shades of Sound book includes 20 different pieces, including:
In Dulci Jubilo from the Christmas Tree Suite by Liszt
• 1894 ~ Peter Warlock, British composer and writer
• 1939 ~ Grace Slick (Wing), American rock singer and songwriter with Jefferson Airplane
• 1939 ~ Eddie Holland, Songwriter in the writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. They were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, singer
• 1941 ~ Otis Williams, Singer with The Temptations
• 1941 ~ The song that would become the theme of bandleader Tony Pastor was recorded. It was Blossoms on the Bluebird label. If you don’t remember Blossoms, maybe you remember this one by Pastor: Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking).
• 1947 ~ Timothy B. Schmit, Bass guitarist, singer with Poco, who joined The Eagles, in 1977, (1977 US No.1 & UK No.8 single ‘Hotel California’, plus 5 US No.1 albums. ‘Greatest Hits 1971-1975’ is the second biggest selling album in the world with sales over 30m).
• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison went gold with his hit single, Oh, Pretty Woman.
• 1971 ~ Pink Floyd released their sixth studio album Meddle in the US. The album features ‘One Of These Days’ and the 23-minute track ‘Echoes’ which took up all of side 2 on the vinyl record. The cover image was photographed by Bob Dowling. The image represents an ear, underwater, collecting waves of sound, represented by ripples in the water.
• 1972 ~ A command performance was given for the Queen of England by Elton John.
• 1976 ~ The group, Chicago, started its second (and final) week at number one on the pop singles charts with If You Leave Me Now. The hottest LP was Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”. The album was number one for a total of 14 weeks.
• 1984 ~ Barry Manilow opened at Radio City Music Hall, New York. His concerts sold out to the tune of $1.9 million, besting (by $100,000) the record set by Diana Ross.
• 1984 ~ Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, aka The Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood), hit the two-million-dollar sales mark with their LP, Briefcase Full of Blues.
• 2000 ~ Steve Allen, the bespectacled, droll comedian who pioneered late-night television with the original “Tonight Show” and wrote more than 4,000 songs and 40 books, passed away. He died at the age of 78 of an apparent heart attack. In addition to starting the “Tonight Show,” Allen starred as the King of Swing in the 1956 movie “The Benny Goodman Story.” He appeared in Broadway shows, on soap operas, wrote newspaper columns, commented on wrestling broadcasts, made 40 record albums, and wrote plays and a television series that featured “guest appearances” by Sigmund Freud, Clarence Darrow and Aristotle. “I’ve known him for almost 60 years. … He is one of the great renaissance figures of today,” comic Art Linkletter said. Said entertainer Dick Clark: “He had a magnificent mind. He was a kind, gentle, warm man. He would be embarrassed for me now, because I can’t put into words the way I felt about this man. I loved him.” His ad-libbing skills became apparent in his early career as a disc jockey. He once interrupted the music to announce: “Sports fans, I have the final score for you on the big game between Harvard and William & Mary. It is: Harvard 14, William 12, Mary 6.” Allen’s most enduring achievement came with the introduction of “The Tonight Show” in 1953. The show began as “Tonight” on the New York NBC station WNBT, then moved to the network on Sept. 27, 1954. Amid the formality of early TV, “Tonight” was a breath of fresh air. The show began with Allen noodling at the piano, playing some of his compositions and commenting wittily on events of the day. “It was tremendous fun to sit there night after night reading questions from the audience and trying to think up funny answers to them; reading angry letters to the editor; introducing the greats of comedy, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood; welcoming new comedians like Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, Mort Sahl and Don Adams,” he once said. Allen’s popularity led NBC in 1956 to schedule “The Steve Allen Show” on Sunday evenings opposite “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS. A variation of “Tonight,” the prime-time show was notable for its “Man in the Street Interview” featuring new comics Louis Nye (“Hi-ho, Steverino”), Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington and Bill Dana. The show lasted through 1961, the last year was on ABC. Among his TV routines: parodying juvenile rock ‘n’ roll lyrics by reading them as if they were sublime poetry, and “The Question Man,” in which someone would give him an answer and he would guess the question – forerunner to Johnny Carson’s “Karnac.” He wrote great quantities of songs, and several were recorded by pop vocalists. His most popular song was This May Be the Start of Something Big. His books ranged from autobiography (“Hi-Ho, Steverino: My Adventures in the Wonderful Wacky World of TV”), to philosophy (“Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality,” to murder mystery (“Die Laughing.”) Steve Allen came by his humor naturally; both his parents, Billy Allen and Belle Montrose, were vaudeville comedians. Steve was 18 months old when his father died, and his mother continued touring the circuits as a single.
• 2003 ~ Franco Corelli, a dashing Italian tenor who once starred alongside Maria Callas, died at the age of 82. Corelli rose to operatic stardom in the 1950s and remained there well into the 1970s. “He was the most viscerally thrilling and handsome tenor of the post Second World War generation,” the late Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan once said of Corelli. Born in 1921, Corelli grew up a keen singer but his opera career did not really take off until 1951. He made his debut that year singing Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen.” Three years later he appeared alongside Maria Callas in Gaspare Spontini’s “La Vestale” in Milan. The Italian’s fame spread and before long his career took him to Paris, Vienna, London and New York. His versatile voice and good looks made him a popular choice for romantic lead roles.
• 1934 ~ Cole Porter recorded his own composition titled, You’re the Top, from the show “Anything Goes”, on Victor.
• 1935 ~ A talented twelve-year-old sang on Wallace Beery’s NBC radio show on NBC. Judy Garland delighted the appreciative audience. The young girl would soon be in pictures and at the top of stardom. It would be only four years before Ms. Garland (George Jessel gave her the name, thinking it would be better than her own, Frances Gumm) captured the hearts of moviegoers everywhere with her performance as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”.
• 1944 ~ Michael Piano, Singer with The Sandpipers
• 1946 ~ Keith Hopwood, Singer, guitarist with Herman’s Hermits
• 1952 ~ NBC~TV premiered Victory at Sea. The show was the first documentary film series to gain wide acceptance. Richard Rodgers wrote the score and Robert Russell Bennett orchestrated it. No Other Love, adapted from one of the songs in the score, became a hit for Perry Como in the summer of 1953.
• 1953 ~ Keith Strickland, Drummer with The B-52s
• 1956 ~ Walter Gieseking, German pianist/composer, died at the age of 60
• 1962 ~ The Rolling Stones consisting of Keith Richard, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, pianist Ian Stewart and drummer Tony Chapman recorded their first demo tape at Curly Clayton Studios in Highbury, London. They recorded three songs, Jimmy Reed’s ‘Close Together’, Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Soon Forgotten.’
• 1965 ~ The Beatles received MBE medals from the Queen of England, as they became Members of the British Empire. Ceremonies were held at Buckingham Palace. John Lennon returned his medal four years later in protest of Britain’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War.
• 1971 ~ Memphis minister Al Green received a gold record for his single, Tired of Being Alone.
• 1984 ~ Barbra Streisand won multiplatinum certification for three albums that reached the four-million-dollar sales mark. “Greatest Hits, Vol. II”, “Guilty”, and “A Star is Born” (with Kris Kristofferson) were honored.
• 2001 ~ Laszlo Halasz, the first music director of the New York City Opera, died at the age of 96. Halasz became the opera’s first director in 1943. During his eight-year tenure, the New York City Opera became an important training ground for young singers. The company also became an important venue for new works. Born in Hungary, Halasz studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, where his teachers included Béla Bartók, Ernst von Dohnanyi, Leo Weiner and Zoltán Kodály. He made his professional debut as a pianist in 1928, but in 1931 decided to focus on conducting. He came to New York in 1936, and when the New York City Opera was formed in the fall of 1943, Halasz was appointed its music director. The company’s first season included productions of Puccini’s “Tosca,” Flotow’s “Martha” and Bizet’s “Carmen” Halasz conducted the company’s first American premiere, Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” in 1946, and the opera’s first world premiere, of William Grant Still’s “Troubled Island,” with a libretto by Langston Hughes. But the opera’s board was uneasy with Halasz’s ventures into modern opera. When the board insisted in 1951 that Halasz submit his repertory plans for approval, he resigned. The board ultimately relented, but when Halasz became involved in union disputes later that year, the board fired him. After leaving City Opera, Halasz began a second career as a record producer. He also conducted opera at houses in Frankfurt, Barcelona, Budapest, London and South America. As a teacher, he was on the conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, in Baltimore, and the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y.
• 2001 ~ Herbert Weissenstein, a consultant who specialized in classical music, died at the age of 56. Weissenstein began his career in 1970 as public relations director for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He moved on to the New York Philharmonic and in 1979 became director of development and strategic planning at Carnegie Hall. In 1984, he founded H.F. Weissenstein & Co., which specialized in consulting, directing seminars, and publishing articles in the fields of management and development. His clients included the Electronic Media Forum, the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, the Manhattan Theater Club, the International Organization for the Transition of Professional dancers and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.