October 16 ~ in Music History

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.

August 4 ~ in Music History

today

 

• 1910 ~ William Howard Schuman, Pulitzer Prize-winning American  composer, President of Julliard School of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, educator and music administrator

• 1915 ~ Irving Fields, Composer and pianist (Ilona Massey Show)

• 1921 ~ Herb (Mitchell) Ellis, Guitarist, singer with Soft Winds

• 1927 ~ Radio station 2XAG, later named WGY, the General Electric station in Schenectady, NY, began experimental operations from a 100,000-watt transmitter. Later, the FCC regulated the power of AM radio stations to not exceed 50,000 watts on ‘clear channels’ (where few, if any, stations would cause interference with each other).

• 1927 ~ Singer Jimmie Rodgers recorded his first sides for Victor Records in Bristol, TN. He sang Sleep Baby Sleep and Soldier’s Sweetheart.

• 1929 ~ Gabriella Tucci, Italian soprano

• 1938 ~ Simon Preston, British organist

• 1939 ~ Frankie Ford (Guzzo), Singer

• 1940 ~ Timi (Rosemarie) Yuro, Singer

• 1943 ~ David Carr, Keyboards with The Fortunes

• 1978 ~ Frank Fontaine passed away.  He was an American stage, radio, film and television comedian and singer.

• 2000 ~ Jerome Smith, founding guitarist of KC & The Sunshine Band, died after being crushed in a construction accident. He was 47. KC & The Sunshine Band reached the top of Billboard Magazine’s charts in 1975 with Get Down Tonight. Before Smith left the group, it had five No. 1 songs, including Boogie Shoes and That’s the Way (I Like It), and three Grammys.

May 31 in Music History

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
More information about Paycheck

• 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 Matress,” 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 19 in Music History

today

OCMS 1836 ~ Augustus D. Julliard, American music patron; responsible for founding The Julliard School of Music
More information about Julliard

. 1876 ~ Samuel Sebastian Wesley, composer, died at the age of 65

. 1892 ~ Germaine Tailleferre, French composer

. 1905 ~ Tommy Benford, Drummer with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers

. 1920 ~ Frank Fontaine, Comedian, actor, singer

. 1924 ~ A new show joined the airwaves. The Chicago Barn Dance aired on WLS radio in the Windy City. Later, the famous program would be renamed The National Barn Dance. This program was the first country music jamboree on radio. (The Grand Ole Opry on WSM Radio in Nashville, TN began in 1925.) National Barn Dance continued for many years on the radio station that was owned by retailer, Sears Roebuck & Co. WLS, in fact, stood for ‘World’s Largest Store’. Though the Barn Dance gave way to rock music and now, talk radio, The Grand Ole Opry continues each weekend in Nashville.

. 1927 ~ Don Barbour, Singer with the group, The Four Freshmen

. 1928 ~ Alexis Korner, Musician: guitar, singer

. 1935 ~ Dudley Moore, English pianist and actor

. 1942 ~ Alan Price, Musician: keyboards, singer: groups: Alan Price Combo, The Animals. Some favorites were House of the Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out of This Place

. 1942 ~ Larry (Hilario) Ramos, Jr., Musician, guitar, singer with the group: The Association

. 1943 ~ Eve Graham, Singer with The New Seekers

. 1943 ~ Czeslaw Bartkowski, jazz musician, drums

. 1945 ~ The musical Carousel, based on Molnar’s Liliom, opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. John Raitt and Jan Clayton starred in the show which ran for 890 performances. Music was by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

. 1947 ~ Murray Perahia, American pianist and conductor

. 1947 ~ Mark Volman, Saxophonist, singer

. 1959 ~ Singer Harry Belafonte appeared in the first of two benefit concerts for charity at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

. 1967 ~ Nancy Sinatra and her dad, Frank, received a gold record award for their collaboration on the hit single, Something Stupid.

1987 ~ The Simpsons TV show was born
John Brunning celebrates tonight with Danny Elfman’s theme to the series

. 2000 ~ Richard L. Campbell, a classical music announcer on WCPE-FM died during his on-the-air shift, apparently of a massive heart attack. He was 67. On the air, Campbell catered to his audience by using his warm baritone voice to soothing effect. Before coming to WCPE about 10 years ago, he was a computer programmer and helped design the station’s traffic system.

. 2012 ~ Greg Ham, Australian rock saxophonist and flutist (Men At Work), died at the age of 58

March 11 in Music History

today

. 1851 ~ The first performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” was given in Venice.

Rigoletto lacks melody.  This opera has hardly any chance of being kept in the repertoire.” ~ Gazette Musicale de Paris, reviewing Rigoletto shortly after its premiere.

. 1876 ~ Carl Ruggles, American composer

. 1897 ~ Henry Dixon Cowell, American composer
More information about Cowell

. 1903 ~ Lawrence Welk, American accordionist and conductor of “champagne” music
More information about Welk

. 1914 ~ William Lloyd Webber, English composer

. 1919 ~ Mercer Ellington, Trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter, only son of Duke Ellington. He led the Duke’s band after he died.

. 1921 ~ Astor Piazzola, Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger

and

. 1942 ~ Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra recorded the classic, Sleepy Lagoon. It was the last song Monroe would record for Bluebird Records. Vaughn sang on the track while Ray Conniff played trombone. Both later moved to different record companies. Monroe went with RCA and Conniff to Columbia. The big-voiced baritone of Monroe was regularly heard on radio and he was featured in several movies in the 1950s. He died in May 1973. Racing With the Moon and Ghost Riders in the Sky were two of his greatest contributions to popular music.

. 1950 ~ Bobby McFerrin, Singer, pianist, jazz musician, songwriter, improvisational solo, McFerrin can sing all vocal parts and imitate instruments.

. 1968 ~ Otis Redding posthumously received a gold record for the single, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay. Redding was killed in a plane crash in Lake Monona in Madison, WI on December 10, 1967. The song was recorded just three days before his untimely death. He recorded 11 charted hit songs between 1965 and 1969. Otis Redding was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

. 1975 ~ Philip Bezanson, composer, died at the age of 59. He helped guide the Department of Music at UMass Amherst through its period of rapid expansion in the late 1960s and early 1970s (when Mrs. O was a student there!). After graduate study (PhD 1954) and appointment to the faculty at the University of Iowa, Bezanson was brought to UMass in 1964 to become Head of the Music Department and helped to expand and reorient the program, recruiting an increasingly accomplished faculty, including his former student Frederick Tillis.

. 1985 ~ DJs around the U.S. began questioning listeners to see which ones could name the 46 pop music stars who appeared on the hit, We Are the World. The song, airing first on this day as a single, contains a “Who’s Who” of contemporary pop music.

. 2000 ~ Roy Henderson, a baritone famed for his performances of Frederick Delius’ works and a teacher of Kathleen Ferrier, died. He was 100.

. 2003 ~ Sidney Lippman, a songwriter who helped compose hits for Nat King Cole and other artists, died. He was 89. Lippman, who studied musical composition at the Juilliard School in New York, wrote or co-wrote several well-known songs, including Too Young, a song Cole took to the top of the charts in 1951. That hit, co-written by longtime collaborator Sylvia Dee, came two years after he teamed up with Buddy Kaye and Fred Wise on ‘A’ You’re Adorable (The Alphabet Song), a No. 1 hit performed by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters.

. 2007 ~ Betty Hutton [Elizabeth June Thornburg], American actress, dancer, singer and comedian (Greatest Show on Earth), died of colon cancer at the age of 86

and

. 2015 ~ Jimmy Greenspoon died.  He was an American keyboard player and composer, best known as a member of the band, Three Dog Night.

March 4 in Music History

 

March Forth is also known as Marching Music Day.  Find out more at http://www.maryo.co/march-forth-on-marching-music-day/

Today is also  National Grammar Day.

. 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

. 1875 ~ Bizet’s Carmen premier, Paris

. 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

and

. 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 ThanWater 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 the Navy 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.

Van Cliburn, American Classical Pianist

cdcovers/tchaikovsky/concerto no 1 van cliburn.jpg

Van Cliburn was just a pianist much the way Neil Armstrong was merely an astronaut. Simply put, the tall Texan’s musical talent and successes were out of this world.

Cliburn, who died Wednesday February 27, 2013 at age 78 at his Fort Worth home due to complications from bone cancer, was 23 when he strode into Moscow for the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition, created to showcase Soviet cultural superiority.

Playing with unerring precision and sublime emotion, he took the top prize and was given a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, the first and last time a pianist won such an honor.

“Imagine galvanizing the attention of the entire world in the pre-Internet, pre-global TV year of 1958,” says Howard Reich, who got to know the Texas-based pianist while researching his 1993 biography, Van Cliburn. “As a Texan, he was so emblematic of the United States. But the Russians fell in love with his romanticism.”

In many ways, however, that seminal performance both made his name and sealed his fate.

The pieces that won him the competition — Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 — sold countless records (his Tchaikovsky No. 1 was the first classical record to sell more than a million copies) and became required concert staples.

“Playing on that treadmill for the next 20 years led him to burn out, and by 1978 he looked terrible and bowed out of public life,” says Reich. “He was a gentle soul, and that harsh public spotlight had a negative effect on him.”

It would be nine years before Cliburn performed again, at the White House for Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Although he made occasional appearances in the following decades, he spent most of his time overseeing his foundation and a quadrennial competition that bears his name.

“I can’t think of anyone who has done more to help promote the instrument and young performers than Van,” says Cliburn’s friend Yoheved Kaplinsky, chairman of the piano department at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, which Cliburn attended. “He was an icon in Fort Worth, and a person of great humility.”

Born Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. in Shreveport, La., Cliburn started piano lessons at age 3 and immediately showed prowess under the watchful eye of his mother, who had trained on the instrument under a teacher who had studied with Franz Liszt.

After moving to Texas, Cliburn played with Houston’s symphony at age 12, and at 17 entered Juilliard. At 20, he performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, setting the stage for his triumphant coup in Russia.

No one can imagine a ticker-tape parade for a pianist in this era, but in Cliburn’s heyday he was as much an inevitable cultural icon as he was a reluctant political figure. In the late ’50s, the Cold War was raging, the Beatles were still practicing and classical music still held sway.

But what truly made Cliburn unique was the humble ease with which he went about seducing the alleged enemy.

“Van marched in full of the musical values of the Old World, full of tremendous sincerity and with a remarkable ability to connect with audiences,” says Kaplinsky. “He may have transcended the boundaries of the art world and breached into the political world, but foremost Van was a consummate artist.”

That artistry is on display in various YouTube clips of Cliburn reprising his competition-winning form in Moscow in 1962. The pianist’s eyes are often closed as massive hands fly across the length of the keyboard. Utterly lost in the music, Cliburn seems almost oblivious to his audience.

“He had more of everything,” says Reich. “More height, more smiles, more sweep on the piano.”

In his later years, Cliburn collected the usual array of awards accorded cultural heroes. A Kennedy Center Honors tribute in 2001, a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and in 2004 Russia’s equivalent, the Russian Order of Friendship. In 2004, there was a predictable Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1994 a less-expected guest appearance as himself in the TV cartoon Iron Man.

On the personal front, Cliburn was a devout Baptist but also quietly gay; in the late ’90s, his longtime partner, Thomas Zaremba, unsuccessfully sued the pianist over compensation claims.

Ultimately, Cliburn will be remembered not just as a performer of startling skill, but also as a global cultural sensation in the age of shortwave radio.

“He did something that no one could have ever imagined back then,” says Reich. “He was ubiquitous.”

Adapted from USA Today