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.

July 4 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

Micky-mouse-4th-of-July-greetings

Today is a great day for patriotic music and there’s nothing better than John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever

A part of every Fourth of July program at the Esplanade in Boston involves a giant American flag unfurling from the ceiling during the Stars and Stripes.  Can you find it?

Piano arrangement by Vladimir Horowitz:

With Horowitz playing:

Marching band:

The Muppets version of Stars and Stripes forever

The animated graphical score:

The Band of the Grenadier Guards

The same melody can be heard with these words:

John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of a regular circus program. It is reserved for emergency use – sometimes called the “Disaster March”. If a major problem happens — an animal gets loose, a high wind threatens the tent, or a fire breaks out — the band plays the march as a warning signal to every worker on the circus lot that something is wrong.

Find piano arrangements of the Stars and Stripes Forever in Movement 2

Closing out today, enjoy The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E♭ major, Op. 49, popularly known as the 1812 Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

 

 

 

 

 

February 13 in Music History

today

 

. 1660 ~ Johann Sigismund Kusser (or Cousser),  composer of Hungarian parentage active in Germany, France, and Ireland

. 1778 ~ Fernando Sor, Guitar composer
More information about Sor

. 1867 ~ Johann Strauss’ magnificent Blue Danube Waltz was played for the first time at a public concert in Vienna, Austria.

. 1870 ~ Leopold Godowsky, Polish American pianist, composer, and teacher

. 1873 ~ Feodor Chaliapin, Russian Bass

. 1883 ~ (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner passed away
More information about Wagner

. 1895 ~ France, There’s no business like show business, right? Well, this is where it all started. A patent for a machine “to film and view phronopotographic proofs” (in simpler words, a projector) was assigned to the Lumiere brothers of Paris.

. 1904 ~ Wingy (Joseph Matthews) Manone, Trumpeter, singer, bandleader

. 1914 ~ The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (known as ASCAP) was formed in New York City. The society was founded to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.

. 1918 ~ Oliver Smith, Scenic designer for Broadway Musicals such as On the Town, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly! and films Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, Porgy and Bess, The Band Wagon

. 1919 ~ “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, American country-music singer and songwriter

. 1920 ~ Eileen Farrell, American soprano, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera. Also successful in singing and recording popular music and jazz

. 1940 ~ Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines and his orchestra recorded the classic Boogie Woogie on St. Louis Blues on the famous Bluebird record label.

. 1925 ~ Gene Ames, Singer with The Ames Brothers

. 1929 ~ Jesse McReynolds, Guitarist, folk singer with Jim & Jesse

. 1930 ~ Dotty McGuire, Singer with McGuire Sisters

. 1944 ~ Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson), Bassist, singer with The Monkees

. 1950 ~ Roger Christian, Singer with The Christians

. 1956 ~ Peter Hook. Bass with Joy Division

. 1957 ~ Tony Butler, Bass with Big Country

. 1971 ~ The Osmonds, a family singing group from Ogden, Utah, began a five-week stay at the top of the pop music charts with the hit, “One Bad Apple”. The song, featuring the voice of little Donny Osmond, also showcased the talent of Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay Osmond. The brothers were regulars on Andy Williams’ TV show from 1962 to 1967. The group began as a religious and barbershop quartet in 1959. Together, the Osmonds scored with 10 singles in four years — four of them were top ten hits.

. 1976 ~ Lily (Alice) Pons passed away

. 1990 ~ Musical highlight of glasnost when cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich returned to Russia after a 16 year absence. Russian listeners cheered wildly when he played American favorite march, “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa

. 2001 ~ Music critic George T. Simon, the original Glenn Miller Band drummer who swapped his sticks for a pen and eventually earned a Grammy for his acclaimed liner notes, died of pneumonia following a battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 88. In 1937 Simon sat in with the fledgling Glenn Miller Band. But he opted for writing over drumming, and became editor-in-chief of Metronome magazine in 1939. As a writer, Simon worked for the New York Post and the now-defunct New York Herald-Tribune. He also served as executive director of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Grammy Awards. In 1977, Simon won his Grammy Award for best album notes – his contribution to the collection “Bing Crosby: A Legendary Performer.” Simon was hand-picked by Crosby to write the liner notes for the release.

. 2002 ~ Waylon Jennings, whose rebellious songs and brash attitude defined the outlaw movement in country music, died peacefully at his Arizona home after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. He was 64. Jennings’ list of hits spans four decades and includes country music standards like Good-Hearted Woman andMammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, both duets with Willie Nelson. Jennings made 60 albums and had 16 country singles that reached No. 1. His “Greatest Hits” album in 1979 sold 4 million – a rare accomplishment in country music for that era. Jennings won two Grammy awards and four Country Music Association awards. Other hits include I’m a Ramblin’ Man, Amanda, Lucille, I’ve Always Been Crazy, and Rose in Paradise. Jennings’ deep, sonorous voice narrated the popular TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” and sang its theme song, which was a million seller. Jennings had been plagued with health problems in recent years that made it difficult for him to walk. In December 2002, his left foot was amputated. He traditionally wore a black cowboy hat and ebony attire that accented his black beard and mustache. Often reclusive when not on stage, he played earthy music with a spirited, hard edge. Some of Jennings’ album titles nourished his brash persona: “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean,” “I’ve Always Been Crazy,” “Nashville Rebel,” “Ladies Love Outlaws” and “Wanted: The Outlaws.” He often refused to attend music awards shows on the grounds that performers shouldn’t compete against each other. He didn’t show up at his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year. He made occasional forays into TV movies, including “Stagecoach” and “Oklahoma City Dolls,” plus the Sesame Street movie “Follow That Bird” and the B-movie “Nashville Rebel.”

. 2015 ~ John McCabe died.  He was an English composer and pianist.  He was a prolific composer from an early age but first became known as a pianist. He created works in many different forms, including symphonies, ballets, and solo works for the piano.

February 12 in Music History

today

. 1728 ~ Mysterious priest-composer Agostino Steffani died.

. 1760 ~ Jan Ladislav Dussek, Czech composer and pianist.  Along with his friend, famed piano maker John Broadwood, Dussek made important design improvements to the piano, allowing for the more dynamic style of playing that his highly original compositions required. Beethoven himself later used a Broadwood piano with Dussek’s innovations. This helped pave the way for Romanticism and Dussek’s influence on Beethoven’s piano writing has been well documented.

Dussek’s Piano Sonata Op. 77 in F minor (“L’invocation”), from 1812, is the last work he ever composed, and he saved the best for last. This is a neglected masterpiece that foreshadows Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.

. 1881 ~ Anna (Pavlovna) Pavlova, Russia’s premier ballerina

. 1894 ~ Hans von Bülow, German pianist and composer died (b. 1830)
More about von Bulow

. 1898 ~ Roy Harris, American composer

. 1904 ~ Ted Mack (William Maguiness), TV host of The Original Amateur Hour, The Ted Mack Family Hour

. 1914 ~ (Gordon) Tex Beneke, Bandleader, singer, tenor sax in the Glenn Miller Orchestra

, 1915 ~ Charles Emile Waldteufel, composer, died at the age of 77

. 1918 ~ All theatres in New York City were shut down in an effort to conserve coal.

. 1923 ~ Mel Powell, American jazz pianist and composer. One of his works is Mission to Moscow for Benny Goodman. He was also Dean of Music at California Institute of Arts.

. 1923 ~ Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director and producer of opera, theatre, film and television

. 1924 ~ Bandleader Paul Whiteman presented his unique symphonic jazz at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. The concert marked the first public performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The composer, himself, was at the piano this night. Distinguished guests included John Philip Sousa and Jascha Heifetz.

. 1935 ~ Gene McDaniels (Eugene Booker McDaniels), Singer

. 1939 ~ Ray Manzarek, Keyboards with The Doors

. 1942 ~ Mildred Bailey recorded More Than You Know on Decca Records.

. 1948 ~ Joe Schermie, Bass with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ “Annie Get Your Gun” closed at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1147 performances

 

. 1964 ~ The Beatles played two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City, concluding a very successful American tour.

. 1968 ~ Singer and famed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, received an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, WA, where he had dropped out at the age of 14.

. 1972 ~ Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together knocked American Pie out of the top spot on the music charts. The record stayed at the top for one week, before giving way to Nilsson’s Without You. Green returned to his gospel roots in 1980 and is a minister in Memphis, TN. Green recorded 14 hit songs with six of them making it to the Top 10.

. 1976 ~ Sal Mineo, singer, died

. 1983 ~ Eubie Blake, US ragtime-composer/pianist (Memories of You), died at the age of 96

December 25 ~ This Day in Music History

merry-christmas

Merry Christmas!
Christmas Family Fun
Christmas Music
Christmas Music Lyrics

Christmas Music, Part 25 – Hallelujah Chorus

OCMS 1583 ~ Orlando Gibbons
Read quotes by and about Gibbons
More information about Gibbons

• 1896 ~ John Philip Sousa wrote the melody to a song that had haunted him for days. On Christmas Day, that melody was finally titled, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

• 1907 ~ Cab Calloway (Cabell Calloway III), American jazz singer and bandleader

• 1912 ~ Tony Martin (Alvin Morris), Singer, actor, married to dancer Cyd Charisse

• 1915 ~ Pete Rugolo, Bandleader, arranger, scored TV’s The Fugitive

• 1931 ~ Lawrence Tibbett was the featured vocalist as radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The first opera was Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck, heard on the NBC network of stations. In between acts of the opera, moderator Olin Downes would conduct an opera quiz, asking celebrity guests opera-related questions. The program’s host and announcer was Milton Cross. He worked out of the Met’s Box 44.

• 1932 ~ Little Richard, American rock-and-roll singer, pianist and songwriter

• 1937 ~ O’Kelly Isley, Singer with the Grammy Award-winning group, The Isley Brothers

• 1937 ~ Arturo Toscanini conducted the first broadcast of Symphony of the Air over NBC radio.

• 1939 ~ The Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, was read by Lionel Barrymore on The Campbell Playhouse on CBS radio. The reading of the tale became an annual radio event for years to come.

• 1944 ~ Henry Vestine, Guitarist with Canned Heat, sideman for Frank Zappa

• 1945 ~ Noel Redding, Bass with Noel Redding Band and also The Jimi Hendrix Experience

• 1946 ~ Jimmy Buffett, Songwriter, singer

• 1948 ~ Barbara Mandrell, CMA Entertainer of the Year (1980, 1981), Female Vocalist of the Year in 1979

• 1954 ~ Robin Campbell, Guitar, singer with UB40

• 1954 ~ Annie Lennox, Singer with Eurythmics

• 1957 ~ Shane MacGowan, Songwriter, musician: guitar, singer with The Pogues

 

 

MaryOXmasCarolers

Will You Be Going to the Circus This Spring?

A small break from Christmas music since we been to the Big Apple Circus several times both here and in New York.  The Big Apple is bringing its one-ring circus show to National Harbor March 8 through April 1, 2018.

 

big-apple

In New York:  Back on the subway to the Lincoln Center for the Big Apple Circus.  We’d seen them a couple times here but Michael had never seen them.  On the grounds of the Lincoln Center, everything is under the tents where here, much is outside.

We found that Michael had bought tickets in the VIP Seating & Lounge.  This included:

  • The best seats in the tent! First row, center ringside
  • Private Concierge
  • Complimentary Circus Meal – includes hot dog, soda and choice of popcorn or cotton candy
  • Cheese, vegetable and fruit crudite
  • Juice, water, wine, and beer
  • Dessert
  • Souvenir Book (We didn’t get this!)
  • Private restrooms (They called this the Golden Restroom)
  • Coat rack
  • Photo ops as you try on our circus costumes and hats
  • Close-up magician who did card tricks with us

THE GRAND TOUR is a circus extravaganza set in the 1920s and featuring acts from the four corners of the globe. Ships, trains, automobiles, and airplanes will serve as the backdrop for breathtaking acts of wonder, accompanied by the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band playing live at each of more than 100 performances. Acts will include clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists, from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as domestic and rescue animals, all creating performances that will leave audiences smiling and cheering. The show runs 1 hour and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.

I was glad to see the ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, was back.  The last time we went here at home, there had been a female ringmaster.

There were so many neat acts and we were right there, front and center, to see them.  Some of the acts seemed like they would land in our laps.

This is one of the clown acts:

A sample of some of the other acts.  I loved the Wheel of Wonder, about 1:20:

And, a short TV interview:

This video is so cool – “Our performers give a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to perform under the Big Top! Get your tickets today and see the joy and wonder of this season’s show for yourself!

WINDJAMMERS

Circus marches are called “screamers” because they are traditionally so high, loud & fast!! Circus Band members are often called “windjammers” because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers. Playing the circus requires incredible endurance & skills on your instrument. The windjammers play almost none stop and much of the music is really difficult!

The greatest circus bands were about 100 years ago in the heyday of the circus. At that time the big top band could be 25 or so, plus there were often sideshow musicians as well. Cowboy bands, women’s bands and bands of Blacks were often part of the sideshows.

Contemporary circuses are much smaller all the way around, and some don’t use live musicians at all, just “canned” music (recordings). Others carry 3 musicians, a drummer, a trumpet player and a keyboard (synthesizer) player. A few, like the Big Apple Circus, still have bands. The Big Apple Circus has 8 musicians on its bandstand: a conductor/trumpet, a person who plays alto sax and clarinet, one who plays tenor sax and flute, a violin, a trombone, a bass player, a keyboard player and a drummer.

In the “old days,” being a circus musician was one of the most strenuous jobs a musician could have. In the days before musicians’ unions, the windjammer would be expected to play for the circus parade, play a pre-show free concert for the townspeople, ballyhoo around the grounds before the big top show, play the show itself (nonstop for two or three hours!), play post show concerts on the grounds or play sideshows. Then after everyone left, they helped take down the tents or do other chores around the grounds. It was a busy day and the pay was not very good, but it was an exciting life with lots of great music, and many musicians loved it!

THE MUSIC

Entry of the Gladiators (Thunder and Blazes) was written in 1897 by, the Czechoslovakian composer, Julius Fucik (1872-1916). This march is a classic circus march & one that just about everyone will think, “Ah, circus!” when they hear it. Thunder and Blazes (as it is most frequently called) and Fucik’s Florentiner March are probably his most well known marches.

Most circus marches follow the standard American military march form, but often abbreviated (no repeats in the second half):

  • Introduction (a bit longer than military marches)
  • First strain (repeated)
  • Second strain (repeated)
  • Trio (more mellow and the key changes)
  • Breakup strain (often called the dogfight in military marches)
  • Last strain

In a circus march, the last strain is often the same as the trio, but louder, and often the trio, breakup strain and last strain are not repeated like they are in a military march (in military marches, the trio and breakup strain are often reversed & the way they repeat may vary).

The music sets the scene for the performer’s act. Different music is needed for different kinds of acts: the bareback riders galloping around the hippodrome need a lively tune, the trapeze artists want something more peaceful, and of course the clowns need music that sounds humorous (like trombone smears!).

In the early days of the circus, the band masters would take some of the European classical music and arrange it for the circus band. “The most obvious example would be the beautiful, flowing waltz music that is essential to the trapeze artists (‘flyers’ and ‘catchers’). The bandmaster and musicians must be precise in coordinating the music and the timing of the artists, requiring rehearsal with the artists and the musicians.  Similarly, it may be interesting to note that the bareback riders perform in a smaller ring because of the gait of the horses. The centrifugal effect requires a ring of a certain diameter for timing. Thus, the conductor must follow the gait of the horses, whereas the aerialists depend on the tempo of the music for timing their act.”

Modern circuses also play a lot of popular tunes, jazz and other songs that people will recognize. You will likely hear fewer of the standard circus marches at a circus today.

The drummer has a particularly challenging and important role in the circus music. He/she must “play the tricks.” Usually the drummer is situated so that he can see the ring because it is his job to accent and intensify what is happening in the ring. This was true 100 years ago, and it is true today. If the act is getting tense, the drummer will get intense. If someone slides down a rope or vaults off the trampoline, there will be a cymbal crash or drum hit when the performer reaches the floor. Sometimes the cues come from the conductor or from the ringmaster, but sometimes it is the drummer who is really in charge!

Circus bands occasionally play a John Philip Sousa composition during the traditional Center Ring Concert, but his melodic marches are not the right structure for most circus acts.

Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of the regular program. It is reserved for emergency use – sometimes called the “Disaster March”. If a major problems happens — an animal gets loose, a high wind threatens the tent, or a fire breaks out — the band plays the march as warning signal to every worker on the circus lot that something is wrong.

(Click here for information on the Hartford fire of 1944)

For lesser problems, the 12th Street Rag was played to alert the clowns to come out and divert attention during the more common mishaps.

Edward F. Shevlin describes what goes on in the circus band as follows:

“Our music is usually by Karl King,  Alexander, Fred Jewell, C. E. Duble and other old time circus bandmasters and musicians.  Much of the music by these circus musician-composers is amenable to quick cut-offs and tempo changes as necessary to fit particular acts. Hence, Windjammers usually play two musicians to a stand so that when the conductor cuts to a new piece and tempo, one musician can quickly move the music to expose the next piece while the other continues without skipping a beat! We might quickly go from a march to a Samba or rhumba or galop; or from a waltz to an up-tempo march or galop for the “come down” when the aerialists quickly descend into the net or slide down a rope at the conclusion of their act . . .followed by that ubiquitous B-flat chord! The old circus bands would play anything from Ragtime to a Polonaise or a tone poem!”

*Information from an email from Edward F. Shevlin, a Windjammer who happened upon this page! Many thanks, Mr. Shevlin!

THE BANDWAGON

ParadeWagon

When the circus came to town, there was always a circus parade — the parade served to get the wagons filled with people, equipment, baggage, tents and animals to the location of the circus, but it also provided some free advertisement. The wagons were very elaborate & were intended to get people interested in the circus so they would come and see the acts. The band road on top of a bandwagon and inside the bandwagon was luggage, tents and other necessities.

Hey, have you ever heard the term, “jump on the bandwagon”? Here’s the story. In 1848, when Zachary Taylor won the Whig party nomination for president, Dan Rice, a famous clown whose attire inspired the image of Uncle Sam, invited Mr. Taylor to ride on the bandwagon that Dan Rice had. When the bandwagon arrived at the center of town, Dan Rice stopped his parade and made a very emotional speech supporting Zachary Taylor’s candidacy. Someone noted that Dan Rice was on Mr. Taylor’s bandwagon and the term stuck, so that to jump on the bandwagon means to get involved with whatever the issue is. “He jumped on the ecology bandwagon.” “She is definitely on the civil rights bandwagon.”

Below you will find some links to pictures of bandwagons.

PT Barnum’s Bandwagon http://www.vintageviews.org/vv-3/t_land/pages/trl02_002.html

Windjammers in a Bandwagon http://www.circusparade.com/album/albmusic.htm

Pawnee Bill Bandwagon No. 80 http://www.circusparade.com/wagons/w_pawnee.htm

The Columbia Bandwagon– purchased by James Bailey for the Barnum & Bailey Circus — and see this wagon hitched to FORTY horses!!! The picture including the wagon & the band is at the bottom of the page.

The Mirror Bandwagon http://www.circusmodelbuilders.org/twohemis.htm

A clown marching band (Baraboo, WI High School) http://www.circusparade.com/album/albpic22.htm

THE CALLIOPE

Most people pronounce this instrument “cal eye’ o pee”. Circus people pronounce it “cal’ ee ope” (last syllable like “rope”). What is a calliope?? It is a huge instrument made of whistles with a steam engine that blows steam through the whistles when you press the key. Most calliopes are played with a keyboard like a piano keyboard & each key controls one whistle. It is LOUD!!!! Some can be heard up to 3 – 5 miles! Don’t stand too close to one!

The calliope traditionally brought up the rear in a circus parade.

Here is a picture of an early calliope – this one is not on wheels like a circus instrument would be. http://mmd.foxtail.com/Calliope/index.html

Go to this site to see an instrument built recently and see how it works. http://mmd.foxtail.com/Calliope/davis.html

 

SUPERSTITIONS!

Most performing entities have some superstitions. One of the superstition in circus bands is that you can not play Franz von Suppe’s Light Cavalry March. Quoting from Mr. Beal’s book:

“To play it on the circus lot means disaster and sudden death.”You may not believe this but most circus folks do, at least those who know the facts. Played once in Oklahoma, a train wreck followed and sixteen were killed. Played again, this time while [Merle] Evans was on tour with Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West, a blowdown followed and 38 fatalities resulted. [A blow down is a wind that destroys all or part of the tents.]

“And the last time Merle played it a cornet player died immediately after the performance. That was enough for Evans. He collected the parts, tied them up in a neat bundle, and dropped them over the nearest bridge…

“From that day to this the music of Suppe’s Light Cavalry march is taboo. Even its presence in the music trunk would be considered a serious menace to the life and safety of the circus musicians.”

A second superstition about the music played, is that the only time you can play Home Sweet Home is during the very last performance of the season, the very last song. Otherwise it could mean the immediate closing of the show.

Information from:
Beal, George Brinton. Through the Back Door of the Circus with George Brinton Beal. Springfield, Massachusetts: McLoughlin Bros., Inc., 1938. p. 1-20.

Some important Windjammers and composers of circus music

Links to other Circus Band Websites

Definitions & Explanations

Screamers – Circus marches are called screamers because they are so loud, fast & often very high!

Windjammers – Circus musicians are often called windjammers because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers.

Ballyhooing – The dictionary defines the verb “ballyhoo” as a vigorous attempt to win customers. When not playing, the musicians went around the grounds & the town shouting about the circus & trying to get people to come see it. Ex: “Come to the circus tonight! See flying trapeze artists and the ….”

Hippodrome – The hippodrome is the track around the inside of the ring where the horses were run.

Trombone Smears – Smear refers both to a trombone technique and to a type of music. The technique (officially called a glissando) where the trombonist pulls the slide in or out without tonguing and you get a smearing sound as the notes move up or down, rather than a distinct set of individual notes. Smear also refers a type of music that includes and features these smear techniques. These pieces are often used as clown music. Henry Fillmore wrote many trombone smears and they had an African-American minstrel sound to them.

Adapted from http://bandnotes.info/tidbits/circus.htm

November 6 ~ This Day in Music History

today

OCMS 1814 ~ Adolphe Sax, Belgian instrumentalist, inventor of the saxophone and saxotromba
More information about Sax

OCMS 1854 ~ John Phillip Sousa, American bandmaster and composer; “The March King”
Read quotes by and about Sousa
More information about Sousa

OCMS 1860 ~ Ignace Jan Paderewski, Composer, pianist, Polish patriot, First Premier of Poland (1919), brought white Zinfandel wine grapes to U.S. for the first time
More information about Ignace Jan Paderewski

.1916 ~ Ray Conniff, American conductor, arranger and composer of popular music, trombonist

.1932 ~ Stonewall Jackson, Singer

.1936 ~ This was the day that big band icon Woody Herman played in his first recording session. He recorded Wintertime Dreams on Decca disc #1056.

.1937 ~ Eugene Pitt, Singer

.1938 ~ P.J. Proby (James Smith), Singer

.1940 ~ Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians recorded one of their lesser-known songs for Decca. It was The Moon Fell in the River.

.1941 ~ Doug Sahm, Singer, founded Sir Douglas Quintet

.1943 ~ Mike Clifford, Singer

.1947 ~ George Young, Guitarist with The Easybeats

.1948 ~ Glenn Frey, Songwriter, singer with The Eagles

.2001 ~ John Denman, a clarinetist who was most recently artistic adviser to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s pops division, died from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 68. Denman, a native of London, was a principal clarinetist for the orchestra for more than 20 years. Denman also played principal clarinet with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He taught music at Trinity College in England before coming to teach at the University of Arizona. He joined the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in the late 1970s. In 1984, Denman left the University of Arizona after failing to receive tenure. For the rest of his life, he focused on his performing career. He also designed a small clarinet, the Kinder-Klari, to make practicing easier for young hands. Denman performed and recorded with jazz icon Buddy DeFranco and was a member of several jazz bands.

.2002 ~ Maria Johansson, an organist who became a local legend for singing religious songs and hymns in one of Stockholm’s main squares every day for nearly three decades, died at the age of 84. The daughter of a preacher, Johansson often served homemade sandwiches to the poor during breaks in her daily performance. At one point, she went to work at a bakery to help pay for the sandwiches, her husband said.