Music for Halloween: Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique

berlioz-symphony-fantastique
The final movement is the best known part of the symphony, thanks to its use in the Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping With The Enemy. It features a four-part structure, which Hector Berlioz described in his own program notes from 1845 as follows:

“He sees himself at a witches’ Sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the Sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.”

The Dies irae melody is one of the most-quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many diverse composers.

The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a theme or musical quotation in a number of  classical compositions, notable among them:

 

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Dies irae

Free sheet music from IMSLP for the basic Symphonie fantastique (look under Arrangements and Transcriptions)

The basic Gregorian Chant

An animated version of the  Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique.  Can you hear the Dies irae in this?  It starts around 3:18.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the “Orchestre National de France” in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique
5th Movement

Arranged for piano

 

A listening guide

 

Music for Halloween: Dies Irae

 

Although not technically a “halloween piece” this very old Gregorian Chant (from the 300s!) is used in a lot of music that sounds spooky.  Dies Irae is a Latin term that means “Day of Wrath”.

The words of Dies irae have often been set to music as part of a Requiem service. In some settings, it is broken up into several movements; in such cases, Dies irae refers only to the first of these movements.

The traditional Gregorian melody has been used as a theme or musical quotation in many classical compositions, film scores, and popular works, including:

  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Prose des morts – Dies irae H. 12 (1670)
  • Thomas Adès – Totentanz
  • Charles-Valentin Alkan – SouvenirsTrois morceaux dans le genre pathétique, Op. 15 (No. 3: Morte)
  • Ernest Bloch – Suite Symphonique
  • Hector Berlioz – Symphonie fantastiqueRequiem
  • Johannes Brahms – Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118, No. 6, Intermezzo in E-flat minor
  • Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind – Opening theme for The Shining, 1980
  • Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco – 24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195: “XII. No hubo remedio” (plate 24)
  • Michel Chion – “Dies Irae” (on The Roots 2014 album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin)
  • George Crumb – Black Angels (1970)
  • Michael Daugherty – Metropolis Symphony 5th movement, “Red Cape Tango”; Dead Elvis (1993) for bassoon and chamber ensemble
  • Gerald Fried – Opening theme for The Return of Dracula, 1958
  • Donald Grantham – Baron Cimetiére’s Mambo
  • Jerry Goldsmith – scores for The Mephisto Waltz (1971) and Poltergeist (1982) – quoted during the track “Escape from Suburbia”
  • Charles Gounod – Faust opera, act 4
  • Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 103, “The Drumroll”
  • Gustav Holst – The Planets, movement 5, “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age”Ode to Death for chorus and orchestra (1919)
  • Arthur Honegger – La Danse des Morts, H. 131
  • Gottfried Huppertz – Score for Metropolis (1927)
  • Aram Khachaturian – Symphony No. 2
  • Franz Liszt – Totentanz
  • Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Frozen II (soundtrack), “Into the Unknown”
  • Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2, movements 1 and 5
  • Ennio Morricone – “Penance” from his score for The Mission
  • Modest Mussorgsky – Songs and Dances of Death, No. 3 “Trepak”
  • Nikolai Myaskovsky – Symphony No. 6, Op. 23
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 1, Op. 13; Symphony No. 2, Op. 27; Symphony No. 3, Op. 44; Isle of the Dead, Op. 29; The Bells choral symphony, Op. 35; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43; Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, Piano sonata No. 1, Études-Tableaux, Op. 39 No. 2
  • Ottorino Respighi – quoted near the end of the second movement of Impressioni Brasiliane (Brazilian Impressions)[23]
  • Leonard Rosenman – the main theme of The Car (1977)
  • Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre, Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony), Requiem
  • Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 14; Aphorisms, Op. 13 – No. 7, “Dance of Death”
  • Stephen Sondheim – Sweeney Todd – quoted in “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and the accompaniment to “Epiphany”
  • Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji – Sequentia cyclica super “Dies irae” ex Missa pro defunctis and nine other works
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Manfred Symphony, Orchestral Suite No. 3
  • Eugène Ysaÿe – Solo Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Obsession”

 

By itself, it sounds like this:

 

See if you can find it in these other places:

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you watch movies or listen to music, see if you can hear a hidden Dies Irae.

 

 

 

 

October 16 ~ On This Day in Music

today

• 1855 ~ William Barclay Squire, British musicologist

• 1893 ~ On this day a song called “Goodmorning to All” was copyrighted by two teachers who wrote it for their kindergarten pupils. The title was later changed to “Happy Birthday to You”.  The copyright was claimed illegal in September, 2015.

• 1923 ~ Bert Kaempfert, Musician

• 1941 ~ Fry Me Cookie, with a Can of Lard was recorded by the Will Bradley Orchestra on Columbia. Ray McKinley was featured.

• 1942 ~ Dave Lovelady, Drummer with The Fourmost

• 1943 ~ C.F. (Fred) Turner, Musician with Bachman~Turner Overdrive

• 1947 ~ Bob Weir (Hall), American rock guitarist and singer with The Grateful Dead

• 1953 ~ Tony Carey, Keyboards with Rainbow

• 1959 ~ Gary Kemp, Guitarist with Spandau Ballet, brother of musician Martin Kemp

• 1969 ~ Wendy Wilson, Singer with Wilson Phillips, daughter of Beach Boys singer, Brian Wilson

• 1972 ~ John C. Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival called it a career … and the group disbanded. Fogerty continued in a solo career with big hits including, Centerfield and The Old Man Down the Road.

• 1976 ~ Memphis, TN disc jockey Rick Dees and his ‘Cast of Idiots’ made it all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with the immortal Disco Duck (Part 1). Dees is still around, but not as a recording artist. He’s a DJ in Los Angeles and is hosting several varieties of the Weekly Top 40 show, syndicated around the world.

• 1983 ~ George Liberace passed away.  He was an American musician and television performer. Born in Menasha, Wisconsin, he was the elder brother and business partner of famed U.S. pianist Liberace.

• 1990 ~ Art Blakey passed away.  He was an American jazz drummer and bandleader.

• 2000 ~ David Golub, American pianist and chamber music conductor, passed away at the age of 50. Born in Chicago, Golub grew up in Dallas, where he began learning the piano. In 1969 he moved to New York and spent his student years honing his technique at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. He also began conducting during summer breaks at Vermont’s Marlboro festival. In 1979, he accompanied violinist Isaac Stern on a tour of China. A film about the tour, “From Mao to Mozart,” won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Documentary. As a performer, Golub was perhaps best known for his work with violinist Mark Kaplan and cellist Colin Carr in the trio they formed in 1982. In the late 1990s, Golub began cultivating his interest in opera. Under his leadership, the Padua Chamber Orchestra recorded some of Haydn’s least-known work for opera. An acclaimed chamber ensemble performer – most notably with the Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio – Golub led the Padua Chamber Orchestra during the 1994-95 season and took it on tour in the United States in 1999. He is survived by his wife, Maria Majno.

• 2001 ~ Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Jay Livingston, whose collaboration with Ray Evans led to such hits as Silver Bells, Que Sera, Sera and Mona Lisa, died of pneumonia. He was 86. Livingston’s songwriting partnership with Evans spanned 64 years. Often called the last of the great songwriters, Livingston and Evans had seven Academy Award nominations and won three – in 1948 for Buttons and Bows in the film The Paleface, in 1950 for Mona Lisa in Captain Carey, USA, and in 1956 for Que Sera, Sera in The Man Who Knew Too Much. They wrote the television theme songs for Bonanza and Mr. Ed, and were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for the most performed music for film and TV for 1996. Livingston was born on March 28, 1915, in the Pittsburgh suburb of McDonald. He met Evans in 1937 at the University of Pennsylvania, where they were both students. The team’s final project was the recording, Michael Feinstein Sings the Livingston and Evans Song Book, due for 2002 release.

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Archduke Trio

beethoven

Beethoven’s first published works—his Opus No.1—were three trios for piano, violin and cello and already they show a marked advance on Haydn’s trios in the comparative interdependence of the three parts. Their freedom from Haydn’s oppressive formality looks forward to the first mature trios, the pair that comprises Opus 70, displaying all sorts of harmonic twists, thematic innovations and structural idiosyncrasies, these trios make much of the piano part and contain plenty of dramatic outbursts that are typical of Beethoven’s middle period.

Even more arresting is the first of the Opus 70 trios (1808) nicknamed ”The Ghost” because of its mysterious and haunting Largo. Its sibling boasts a cheerful bombastic finale that is the most entertaining music that Beethoven composed for this combination of instruments.

The “Archduke” Trio Opus 97 (1811) was Beethoven’s last full-scale work for piano trio and is typically conclusive. The third movement is its center of gravity, a highly moving set of variations with the cello dominating the thematic content. It opens with a hymn-like theme and progresses to a coda which magnificently sums up the movements ideas. The finale might be less powerful than that of Opus 70 No. 2, but it nevertheless has a sweeping rhythmic power. Again, it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that Beethoven defined the piano trio form that it retained throughout the 19th century by allowing the string instruments the status of genuinely equal partners in this superlative performance.

Read more at Ludwig Van Beethoven Piano Trios Opus 70 No. 2, Opus 97 “Archduke” | World Music Report.

Piano Puzzlers!

puzzlers

 

The Piano Puzzlers book is available in the O’Connor Music Studio library if you’d like to give any a try.  Piano Puzzlers as heard on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.” Includes 32 tunes with songs by Gershwin, Berlin, Arlen, Porter, Rodgers, Fats Waller, Lennon & McCartney, and others disguised in the styles of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Janacek, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, and Copland.

Includes an introduction by Fred Child, host of “Performance Today” as well as background info by Bruce Adolphe. “Bruce Adolphe has taken a common musician’s party game and elevated it to high art and truly funny musical slapsticks. The Piano Puzzlers are a unique combination of extraordinary insight into the styles of many composers subtle, expert workmanship and great, great fun!”

 

From http://jasonmorris.blogsome.com/2008/08/08/piano-puzzlers/

If you’re a music geek (like me), I have a program for you. Now, let me be clear, to fully qualify as a music geek…you must have a fond appreciation for classical music (no, Poison, Quiet Riot, and Zepplin do not count as classical music). So, if you’re a “music geek” without an appreciation for classical music…well, I hate to burst your bubble…but, you’re not truly a music geek. Instead, you’re a music appreciator, but not a geek. So, if you just listen to indie music and scowl at anything on a label larger than Matador…don’t bother following the link I’ll provide…the fun will be lost on you…And, you probably won’t have a chance.

 

Every Wednesday night, on my way home from WNL, I turn on my local NPR station to listen to Piano Puzzlers on Performance Today. It’s absolutely incredible. A pianist/composer (Bruce Adolphe) takes a familiar folk or pop tune and sets it inside a classical masterpiece (or in the style of a particular composer). Sometimes it’s easy…sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult. There are days when I say, “got it” on the first pass. Then there are days when I say, “what the heck?” And, more often than not, I’m able to get either the popular/folk tune or the composer.

 

This is sad to admit, but there are nights when I’ll slow down on the drive home or sit in the car in the driveway to finish an episode. In fact, I get a little worked up if someone stops me after WNL…as I might miss the beginning of Piano Puzzlers (it usually hits around 8:20pm on our local station).

 

Take a listen to some of the archives and see if you can figure it out! It’s really cool…but probably only appreciated by music geeks (the kind of people that listen to NPR for their musical programs and not just the snipets of cool indie rock between segments on All Things Considered…which is a great show too).

 

Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!

Daily Listening Assignments ~ June 9, 2020

 

Joseph Haydn’s music contains many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony includes probably the most famous of all: a sudden very loud (fortissimo chord) at the end of the otherwise soft (piano) opening theme in the variation-form second movement. The music then returns to its original quiet dynamic, as if nothing had happened, and the ensuing variations do not repeat the joke. (In German it is commonly referred to as the Symphony “mit dem Paukenschlag”—”with the kettledrum stroke”).

In Haydn’s old age, his biographer George August Griesinger asked him whether he wrote this “surprise” to awaken the audience. Haydn replied:

No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new, and in making a brilliant debut, so that my student Pleyel, who was at that time engaged by an orchestra in London (in 1792) and whose concerts had opened a week before mine, should not outdo me. The first Allegro of my symphony had already met with countless Bravos, but the enthusiasm reached its highest peak at the Andante with the Drum Stroke. Encore! Encore! sounded in every throat, and Pleyel himself complimented me on my idea.

The first time I saw this video during a piano lesson, both my students and I were surprised, too!

 

The melody is pretty basic and sometimes used to teach skips. I remember having it in one of my first books with words similar to See the Happy Little Frog, Hopping now from Log to Log.

Here’s a piano version.

Can you find the “surprise” indicated by the sforzando?  Hint.  It looks like this: Sforzando is one of those Italian words you get to learn in music and means a strong, sudden accent on a note or chord. Sforzando literally means subito forzando (fz), which translates to “suddenly with force.”

 

There’s some information about Haydn and this symphony in this video.

and this one

Beethoven’s Wig added some words

For 2 pianos, 8 hands.  They’ve added their own surprise around minute 3.

 

Have a surprisingly nice day!

May 31: On This Day in Music

today

• 1656 ~ Marin Marias, Composer

• 1674 ~ Friedrich Erhard Niedt, Composer

• 1696 ~ Heinrich Schwemmer, Composer, died at the age of 75

• 1802 ~ Cesare Pugni, Composer

• 1804 ~ Jeanne-Louise Farrenc, Composer

• 1809 ~ Franz Joseph Haydn died at the age of 77

• 1817 ~ Edouard Deldevez, Composer

• 1854 ~ Vatroslav Lisinski, Composer, died at the age of 34

• 1866 ~ Vladimir Ivanovich Rebikov, Composer

• 1875 ~ Italo Montemezzi, Composer

• 1879 ~ Mark Hambourg, Composer

• 1892 ~ Louis Fourestier, Composer

• 1892 ~ Willem Ravelli, baritone singer

• 1898 ~ Johan Brouwer, Dutch pianist, writer and resistance fighter

• 1902 ~ Billy Mayerl, Composer

• 1902 ~ Ralph Walter Wood, Composer

• 1912 ~ Alfred Deller, British countertenor

• 1914 ~ Akira Ifukube, Composer

• 1917 ~ First jazz record released (Dark Town Strutters Ball)

• 1919 ~ Chet Gierlach, Music publisher and composer

• 1919 ~ Emmanual Tettey Mensah, Musician

• 1923 ~ Wolfgang Lesser, Composer

• 1928 ~ Jacob Lateiner, Cuban pianist and professor at Juilliard

• 1929 ~ Aladar Zoltan, Composer

• 1933 ~ Shirley Verrett, American mezzo-soprano, New York Met

• 1934 ~ Karl-Erik Welin, Composer

• 1938 ~ Peter Yarrow, American folk singer and guitarist
More information on Yarrow

• 1939 ~ Charles Drain, singer

• 1940 ~ Augie Meyers, Keyboardist with Texas Tornados

• 1941 ~ Johnny Paycheck (Don Lytle), Country singer

• 1944 ~ Mick Ralphs, Guitarist with Mott the Hoople

• 1947 ~ Henri G Casadesus, French alto violist (viola d’amour) and composer, died at the age of 66

• 1948 ~ Jose Vianna da Motta, Composer, died at the age of 80

• 1955 ~ Raoul Gunsbourg, Composer, died at the age of 95

• 1961 ~ Rock ’n’ roll fans were ready for a good old-fashioned summertime as Chuck Berry’s amusement park, Berryland, opened near St. Louis, MO.

• 1962 ~ Eduardo Toldra, Composer, died at the age of 67

• 1967 ~ Billy Strayhorn, American composer, pianist and arranger died at the age of 51 of esophageal cancer

• 1969 ~ Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour was released by Tamla Records. The song made it to number four on the pop music charts on July 26 and stayed on the nation’s radios for eleven weeks.

• 1969 ~ John Lennon, Yoko Ono recorded Give Peace a Chance

• 1974 ~ William DeVaughn, a soul singer, songwriter and guitarist from Washington, DC, received a gold record for his only hit, Be Thankful for What You Got.

• 1976 ~ Ear doctors didn’t have to drum up business this day. There were plenty of walk-ins as The Who put out a total of 76,000 watts of power at 120 decibels. They played the loudest concert anyone had ever heard, making it into “The Guinness Book of World Records”.

• 1977 ~ “Beatlemania” opened at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 920 performances

• 1979 ~ Radio City Music Hall (NYC) reopened

• 1989 ~ First presentation of rock n roll Elvis awards

• 1994 ~ Herva Nelli, Soprano, died at the age of 85

• 1997 ~ “Once Upon a Mattress,” closed at Broadhurst Theater NYC after 187 performances.

• 2002 ~ Mario Lago, an influential composer, actor and political dissident, died of lung failure. He was 90. Throughout a multifaceted career, Lago wrote more than 200 popular songs and appeared in 20 films and more than 30 telenovelas, Brazil’s version of television soap operas. He was also an active member of Brazil’s Communist Party, and was imprisoned six times during Brazil’s 1964-86 military regime. One of Lago’s most successful songs, Amelia, sang the praises of a woman happy with very little from her husband. The name came to signify a submissive woman in Brazilian slang. Lago continued acting until January, 2002 when he was hospitalized for a month with emphysema.

April 9: On This Day in Music

today

. 1886 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer, performed his debut piano concert in Barcelona.

. 1888 ~ Sol Hurok, Impresario

OCMS 1890 ~ Efram Zimbalist, Russian-born American violinist and composer
More information about Zimbalist

. 1898 ~ Paul Robeson, American bass. Known for his sympathy for Russia he had his passport revoked for many years. The song Ole Man River, whose words he changed to fit his views, became his signature song.

. 1906 ~ Antal Dorati, Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He was the first conductor to record all of Haydn’s symphonies.

. 1916 ~ Julian Dash, Jazz musician, tenor sax

. 1928 ~ Tom Lehrer, Songwriter

. 1932 ~ Carl Perkins, early American rock ‘n’ roll figure who originally recorded Blue Suede Shoes. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987

. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, along with singer Helen O’Connell, recorded Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga for Decca Records.

. 1950 ~ Bob Hope hosted a Star-Spangled Review on NBC-TV. Hope became the highest- paid performer for a single show on TV. The Star-Spangled Review was a musical special.

. 1970 ~ Paul McCartney sought a High Court writ to wind up the Beatles business partnership, effectively ending the group’s career.

. 1977 ~ The Swedish pop group Abba made its debut at number one on the American pop charts, as Dancing Queen became the most popular record in the U.S.

. 1988 ~ Brook Benton passed away.  He was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences.

. 2001 ~ Graziella Sciutti, an Italian soprano and opera director best known for her interpretations of Mozart, died at the age of 68. Born in Turin, northern Italy, in 1932, Sciutti made her first operatic appearance at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1951. She went on to perform under Herbert von Karajan at Milan’s La Scala. She was lead soprano at a smaller theater at La Scala called La Piccola Scala for eight years from its inception in 1955. She became a member of the Vienna State Opera in 1960 and the following year made her debut in San Francisco in one of her most celebrated roles, as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. She began her directing career at Covent Garden in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where she directed and performed in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in 1977. She then went on to direct in Canada and for the opera companies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Miami, as well as in Britain, Germany and Italy. She joined London’s Royal College of Music in the mid 1980s and continued to teach there until shortly before her death.

March 31: On This Day in Music

 

. 1732 ~ Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer
Listen to Haydn’s music
More information about Haydn

. 1872 ~ Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev.  He was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes.

. 1880 ~ Henryk Wieniawski, Polish violist/composer, died at the age of 44

. 1901 ~ John Stainer died.  He was an English composer and organist whose music, though not generally much performed today, was very popular during his lifetime.

. 1922 ~ Richard Kiley, American actor and singer (Kismet, Man of La Mancha, Endless Love)

. 1928 ~ Lefty (William Orville) Frizzell, Country Music Hall of Famer

. 1934 ~ Shirley Jones, Singer, actress

. 1935 ~ Herb Alpert, American trumpeter, bandleader (Tijuana Brass), composer, record company executive: the “A” of A&M Records

. 1937 ~ Phil Harris recorded one of his best-known songs in Los Angeles, CA. That’s What I Like About the South was recorded on a 78 RPM disk. Harris would move to TV stardom and continue as a popular vocalist during the 1950s with such hit songs as The Thing.

. 1943 ~ The show, Away We Go, was renamed. The show opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City and, thanks to the talents of stars like Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts and Howard DeSilva, it became an instant hit. The show ran for 2,248 performances, until 1948. The musical, which has grossed millions of dollars on stage and as a blockbuster movie was initially produced for the sum of $75,000. It is still legendary among musical productions – especially after it was retitled Oklahoma!

. 1944 ~ Rod Allen (Rodney Bainbridge), Bass, singer with The Fortunes

. 1944 ~ Mick Ralphs, Guitarist

. 1945 ~ Al Nichol, Guitarist, keyboards with The Turtles

. 1953 ~ Sean Hopper, Keyboards with Clover and Huey Lewis and The News

. 1959 ~ Angus Young, Guitarist with AC/DC

. 1967 ~ Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar for the first time in a public performance at Finsbury Park in London.

. 1985 ~ Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, long a favorite of country music stars, closed its doors in Nashville, TN.

March 25: On This Day in Music

. 1699 ~ Johann Adolph Hasse, German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music.

. 1784 ~ François-Joseph Fetis, Belgian musicologist, composer, teacher, and influential music critic.

. 1851 ~ The Playel piano factory in Paris was destroyed by fire.  Playel was the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, and it was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy.

Pleyel was founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn.

. 1867 ~ Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor and musical director. Famed for his temper in rehearsals, he was director of La Scala and the Metropolitan opera houses. He also conducted the NBC symphony orchestra. With a career spanned 68 years, he was a cellist at age 19
Read quotes by and about Toscanini
More information on Toscanini

. 1881 ~ Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer and pianist, born. His knowledge of western musical techniques allied to the inspiration he derived from Hungarian peasant songs enabled him to become a unique musical force.
More information about Bartók

. 1903 ~ Grammy winner Frankie Carle (Carlone), Pianist and bandleader

. 1913 ~ The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.

. 1918 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer, died. His music, described as “musical Impressionism”, explored original avenues of expression.

. 1931 ~ Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Whistles, with Skinnay Ennis, for Brunswick Records. Both Kemp and Ennis sang in the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Ormandy (later, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra). The pair were part of the orchestra vocal quartet that also featured Nye Mayhew and Saxey Dowell in 1928.

. 1934 ~ Johnny Burnette, ‘The Master’, singer, brother of singer Dorsey Burnette

. 1938 ~ Hoyt Axton, Singer, musician and songwriter. Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel

. 1940 ~ Anita Bryant, Singer

. 1942 ~ Aretha Franklin, American soul singer, known as the “Queen of Soul” and “Lady Soul”, she won 15 Grammy Awards and was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)

. 1947 ~ Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight), Entertainer
More information about John

. 1948 ~ Kelly Garrett, Actress, singer

. 1949 ~ Neil Jones, Musician with Amen Corner

. 1951 ~ Maizie Williams, Singer with Boney M

. 1961 ~ “Gypsy” closed at the Broadway Theater in New York City after 702 performances

. 1966 ~ Jeff Healey, Guitarist, singer, songwriter with the Jeff Healey Band, CBC radio show: My Kind of Jazz

. 1971 ~ Tom Jones went gold with his single, She’s a Lady.

. 1972 ~ The group, America, rode to the top of the pop music charts with their LP, America, and the single (included on the LP), A Horse with No Name. A Horse With No Name would be the group’s only gold record.

. 1991 ~ Eileen Joyce, pianist, died at the age of 78