Christmas Countdown 2020: Johnny Marks

Who? You might say.

Johnny Marks  (November 10, 1909 – September 3, 1985) was an American songwriter. Although he was Jewish, he specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many holiday standards, including

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (a hit for Gene Autry and others)

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (a hit for Brenda Lee)

“A Holly Jolly Christmas” (recorded by the Quinto Sisters and later by Burl Ives)

“Silver and Gold” (for Burl Ives)

“Run Rudolph Run” (recorded by Chuck Berry)

 

Enjoy!

Music for Halloween: Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky

bald-mountain

Night on Bald Mountain refers to a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky composed a “musical picture”, St. John’s Eve on Bald Mountain on the theme of a witches’ sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which he completed on that very night, June 23, in 1867.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP or buy it on amazon.com.  There is also an easy version on amazon, with all the note names written in.

Interestingly, the original piece composed by Mussorgsky is not the version you typically hear. That was only published in 1968 and is performed very rarely. The piece we have come to know (and hear in places like Walt Disney’s Fantasia is an arrangement by Rimsky-Korsakov.

From Disney’s Fantasia

 

Piano version transcribed for solo piano by Konstantin Chernov (1865-1937).

 

The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Thomas Ludwig

Music for Halloween: The Monster Mash

 

The Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett is in Piano Maestro with 3 different levels to play. The song was released as a single in August 1962 along with a full-length LP (record) called The Original Monster Mash, which contained several other monster-themed tunes. The “Monster Mash” single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial Halloween favorite ever since.

Singing pumpkins

 

From Disney

From a contest winner

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 2: On This Day in Music

today

• 1863 ~ Isador Philipp, French pianist

• 1888 ~ Friedrich Schorr, Hungarian bass-baritone

• 1917 ~ Laurindo Almeida, Grammy Award-winning composer, musician, guitarist

• 1919 ~ Marge Champion (Marjorie Belcher), Dancer, actress, choreographer with Gower Champion, model for animated Snow White

• 1924 ~ Theatregoers heard the song Indian Love Call for the first time in the operetta Rose Marie, which opened in New York City.

• 1927 ~ Sophie Tucker recorded her signature song, Some of These Days, for Columbia Records.

• 1931 ~ The radio show 15 Minutes with Bing Crosby debuted on CBS. The singer became a super-hot property after the debut.

• 1936 ~ David Blaki, British composer

• 1939 ~ Sam Gooden, Singer with Roosters

• 1940 ~ Jimmy Clanton, Singer, songwriter, toured with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars

• 1943 ~ Rosalind Ashford, Singer with Martha and the Vandellas

• 1946 ~ Marty Grebb, Musician, keyboards with The Buckinghams

• 1957 ~ Steve Porcaro, Keyboards, singer with Toto

• 1958 ~ Fritz McIntyre, Keyboards with Simply Red

• 1965 ~ The Beatles received a gold record for their single Help!, from the movie of the same name.

• 1997 ~ Sir Rudolf Bing died.  He was an Austrian-born opera impresario who worked in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, most notably being General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from 1950 to 1972.

• 2000 ~ Elvera Sanchez Davis, a tap dancer and the mother of Sammy Davis, Jr., died at the age of 95. Known as Baby Sanchez, Davis began performing at 16 in the chorus line at the Lafayette Theater in Harlem. She continued her career into the early 1940s, dancing for six years in the chorus line at the Apollo Theatre. In 1923, performing in a touring show called “Holiday in Dixie”, she met and married Sammy Davis Sr., also a dancer in the show. Their son was born in 1925. He became a tap-dance prodigy by age 10, trained and brought up by his father after his parents separated. Mrs. Davis retired when the Apollo disbanded its dance chorus, though she danced informally into her 90s. She also performed in touring revues and in films including Carl Micheaux’s 1936 “Swing”. Davis continued to be involved with tap dance until her death, serving from 1989 as an adviser to the New York Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day.
Sammy Davis, Jr. died in 1990 at the age of 64.

• 2001 ~ Troy Donahue died at the age of 65. He was a matinee idol who climbed to stardom in the 1950s with his role in “A Summer Place.”

• 2001 ~ Jazz saxophonist Jay Migliori, who worked with musicians and singers ranging from
Frank Zappa to Frank Sinatra, died of colon cancer. He was 70.
Migliori, who was also a founding member of the Grammy-winning jazz group Supersax, played on some 4,000 recordings during his career. Although he described his own style as “modern acoustic jazz with roots in bebop,” he was equally comfortable working with country stars like Glen Campbell, a wide variety of rock musicians including Zappa and the Four Seasons and pop stars as varied as Dean Martin and Celine Dion. He performed with more than two dozen bands over the years, including those led by Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, Terry Gibbs and Maynard Ferguson. In 1971, he joined Supersax, an ensemble built around a five-saxophone section that specialized in orchestrated Charlie Parker solos. He also recorded several albums of his own, including “Jazz in Transition” and “Smile.”

• 2006 ~ [Jean-Josephat] Clermont Pépin, Canadian pianist and composer (Implosion Symphony), died at the age of 80