• 1924 ~ Theodore Morse, Composer, died at the age of 51
• 1925 ~ Aldo Clementi, Composer
• 1926 ~ Miles Davis III, American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He combined be-bop, modal chord progressions and rock rhythms to create ‘cool jazz’. He was one of the major influences on the art from the late 1940s.
Read quotes by and about Davis
• 1926 ~ Kitty Kallen, Singer
• 1928 ~ Frigyes Hidas, Composer
• 1929 ~ Beverly Sills, American soprano and opera administrator, chairperson of Lincoln Center; National Chair of March of Dimes’ Mothers’ March on Birth Defects
• 1934 ~ Gustav Theodore Holst, English Composer, died at the age of 59
More information about Holst
• 1936 ~ Tom T. Hall, Singer
• 1936 ~ Jan Levoslav Bella, Composer, died at the age of 92
• 1943 ~ Leslie Uggams, Singer
• 1943 ~ John ‘Poli’ Palmer, Musician, sax, flute, keyboard with Family
• 1917 ~ Norman Luboff, Choral leader, The Norman Luboff Choir
• 1925 ~ Patrice Munsel, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera diva at age 17; actress in The Great Waltz, Melba; radio performer: The Great Sopranos – Voices of Firestone Classic Performances; radio host: The Patrice Munsel Show
• 1936 ~ Bobby Darin (Cassotto), Grammy Award-winning singer, inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990
• 1937 ~ Duke Ellington and his band recorded the classic, Caravan, for Brunswick Records.
• 1943 ~ Jack Bruce, Musician: bass with the group Cream
• 1943 ~ Derek Leckenby, Guitarist with Herman’s Hermits
• 1944 ~ Troy Shondell, Singer
• 1945 ~ Gene Cornish, Guitarist with The Young Rascals
• 1952 ~ David Byrne, American rock composer, singer, American rock composer, performance artist and movie director
• 1957 ~ The musical, New Girl in Town, opened at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. Thelma Ritter and Gwen Verdon starred in the Broadway adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. New Girl in Town had a run of 431 performances.
1959 ~ “President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground for Lincoln Center at the site of Avery Fisher Hall, then named Philharmonic Hall. Musicians representing the Lincoln Center constituents participated: Leonard Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard Chorus (Frederick Prausnitz, director), and Leonard Warren and Risë Stevens (Juilliard Graduate School ’36, voice), both of The Metropolitan Opera, performed excerpts from I Pagliacci and Carmen.” ~Jeni Dahmus, archivist at The Juilliard School
• 1971 ~ The Honey Cone received a gold record for the single, Want Ads. The female soul trio was formed in Los Angeles in 1969 and scored two million-sellers, Want Ads and Stick Up. The trio had a total of four songs on the charts that were moderate hits. Only Want Ads, however, made it to the number one position.
• 1971 ~ Danny Wood, Singer with New Kids on the Block
• 1998 ~ Frank Sinatra, one of the world’s greatest popular singers, died.
• 2001 ~ Loften Mitchell, a Tony Award-nominated playwright and early leader of the black theater movement, died at the age of 82. Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” a performance of black music and dance. He also wrote “A Land Beyond the River,” “Star of the Morning,” and the books “Voices of the Black Theater” and “Black Drama.” For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
• 2003 ~ Otto Edelmann, whose dark bass-baritone propelled him to some of the world’s most renowned opera stages over a career spanning more than four decades, died. He was 86. Edelmann was often associated with masterful performances as Ochs in “Der Rosenkavalier,” and Hans Sachs in “Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.” With his powerful voice, Edelmann was a favorite choice for Wagnerian roles. Edelmann trained at the Vienna Music Academy, now the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts, under coaches including Gunnar Graarud. After a 1937 debut as Figaro in Gera, Germany, he sang in Nuremberg until 1940, when he was drafted into Hitler’s army. Captured by the Soviets, he spent several years as a prisoner of war. Edelmann’s postwar debut at the Vienna State Opera, as the hermit in “Der Freischuetz” in 1947, was the first of a 36-year engagement in the Austrian capital that included 430 performances in 36 different roles. He also was a regular for decades at the Salzburg Festival and other annual music events across Europe. Edelmann later turned increasingly to teaching, and in 1982 was appointed singing professor at the Vienna Music Academy.
• 2015 ~ B.B. King, “the King of the Blues,” whose stinging guitar solos and husky, full-throated vocals made him an international music icon and the most commercially successful performer in blues history, died at the age of 89.
. 1712 ~ John Stanley, English composer and organist
. 1728 ~ Johann Gottfried Muthel, German composer and noted keyboard virtuoso
. 1734 ~ François-Joseph Gossec, Belgian composer
More information about Gossec
. 1750 ~ Tomaso Albinoni, Italian composer (Adagio in G Minor), died at the age of 78
. 1876 ~ The saxophone was played by Etta Morgan at New York City’s Olympic Theatre. The instrument was little known at the time in the United States.
. 1913 ~ Vido Musso, Reed instruments, played with Benny Goodman, bandleader: Stan Kenton was his pianist
. 1917 ~ Ulysses Simpson Kay, US composer, born in Tucson, Arizona (d. 1995)
. 1920 ~ George Handy (George Joseph Hendleman), Pianist, composer, arranger for the Boyd Raeburn band, Alvino Rey band, Paramount Studios
. 1922 ~ Betty White, Emmy Award-winning actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, singer
. 1926 ~ Moira Shearer, Ballerina
. 1927 ~ Eartha Kitt, Singer. Kitt’s birth certificate listing her actual birthdate as 1/17/27 was found in 1997. She has celebrated her birthday as Jan. 26 (1928) all of her life and says, “It’s been the 26th of January since the beginning of time and I’m not going to change it and confuse my fans.”
. 1941 ~ Gene Krupa and his band recorded the standard, Drum Boogie, on Okeh Records. The lady singing with the boys in the band during the song’s chorus was Irene Daye.
. 1944 ~ Chris Montez, Singer
. 1948 ~ Mick Taylor, Singer, rhythm guitar with The Rolling Stones
. 1955 ~ Steve Earle, Songwriter, singer, guitar
. 1956 ~ Paul Young, Singer
. 1959 ~ Susanna Hoffs, Singer, guitar with The Bangles
. 1960 ~ John Crawford, Singer, bass with Berlin
. 1969 ~ Lady Samantha, one of the very first recordings by Reginald Kenneth Dwight (aka Elton John), was released in England on Philips records. The song floundered, then bombed. The rock group, Three Dog Night, however, recorded it for an album.
. 2001 ~ Pianist and singer Emma Kelly, the “Lady of 6,000 Songs” made famous by the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” died from a liver ailment at the age of 82. Kelly’s nightclub act, in which she tapped her vast repertoire of American popular standards five nights a week until she became ill a month ago, was a must-see for Savannah tourists itching to meet a real-life character from author John Berendt’s Southern Gothic best seller. Though the book helped her book performances from New York to Switzerland, Kelly continued to crisscross south Georgia to play church socials and high school graduations, Kiwanis luncheons and wedding receptions. Berendt devoted an entire chapter to Kelly in the 1994 book, describing her as a teetotaling Baptist who would play smoky cocktail lounges Saturday nights and Sunday school classes the next morning. Kelly performed at her own nightclub, Emma’s, in Savannah, for five years in the late 1980s. She then bounced between lounges near the downtown riverfront. She also independently recorded three albums, the last of which were released posthumously, her son said.
. 2001 ~ Jazz musician, composer and conductor Norris Turney, who played alto sax and flute with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and led the Norris Turney Quartet, died of kidney failure at the age of 79. Turney recorded with a number of bands over the years, and toured with Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles and others. He was an original member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. Turney’s lone CD as a bandleader, “Big, Sweet ‘N Blue,” was warmly received by jazz critics.
. 2002 ~ Edouard Nies-Berger, the veteran organist and protege of Albert Schweitzer, died at the age of 98. Nies-Berger, who played with the New York Philharmonic, was a native of Strasbourg in Alsace. His father, a church organist, was an associate of Schweitzer. The doctor, philosopher and Nobel laureate was pastor of a nearby church where the teenage Nies-Berger played occasionally. Nies-Berger moved to New York in 1922 and for the next 15 years played the organ in houses of worship across the country. By the mid-’30s he settled in Los Angeles and performed in the soundtracks of several films, including “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “San Francisco.” He returned to Europe in 1937 to study conducting with Bruno Walter in Salzburg, Austria. After conducting for two years in Latvia and Belgium he returned to the United States. He was named organist of the New York Philharmonic, where he played under the direction of such conductors as Walter, George Szell and Leonard Bernstein. Nies-Berger was reunited with Schweitzer in 1949, when the humanitarian visited the United States. For six years they collaborated on the completion of Schweitzer’s edition of the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach. After serving at St. Paul’s in Richmond, Nies-Berger returned to Europe for several years to perform as a recitalist and write several books, including a memoir of Schweitzer. In 1991 he was awarded the gold medal of the Art Institute of Alsace, and in 1993 was named a knight of the arts and letters by the French Ministry of Education and Culture.
. 2013 ~ Lizbeth Webb, English soprano, died at the age of 86
. 1932 ~ “Mickey Mouse” and “Silly Symphony” comics were syndicated
. 1935 ~ Sherrill Milnes, American baritone
. 1939 ~ Sal Mineo (Salvatore Mineo, Jr.), Singer, actor in The Gene Krupa Story
. 1943 ~ Jim Croce, Singer, songwriter
. 1944 ~ Frank Sinatra, Jr., Singer, bandleader
. 1945 ~ Ronny Light, Songwriter, Nashville studio musician
. 1945 ~ Rod Stewart, British rock singer
. 1945 ~ Erskine Hawkins waxed a classic for Victor Records. The tune, with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, was titled Tippin’ In.
. 1946 ~ Bob Lang, Bass with Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
. 1947 ~ “Finian’s Rainbow” opened on the Great White Way in New York City. The musical played for 725 performances. Years later, Petula Clark would star and sing in the movie version.
. 1948 ~ Donald Fagen, Keyboard with Steely Dan
. 1948 ~ Cyril Neville, Percussion, singer with The Neville Brothers
. 1949 ~ The Radio Corporation of America, sometimes known as RCA, announced a new 7-inch, 45 rpm phonograph record. Soon, the 45, the record with the big hole in the middle, would change the pop music business. RCA even manufactured a record player that played only 45s – with a fat spindle that made “stacking wax” real simple and automatic.
. 1953 ~ Theo Mackeben, German pianist/composer (Golden Cage), died at the age of 56
. 1956 ~ Elvis Presley recorded his first tunes as an RCA Victor artist. Recording in Nashville, Elvis sang Heartbreak Hotel, I Was the One, I’m Counting On You, I Got a Woman and Money Honey. Heartbreak Hotel was #1 by April 11, 1956 and stayed there for eight weeks. It was #1 on the pop and rhythm and blues charts and number five on the country music list.
. 1960 ~ Marty Robbins’ hit tune, El Paso, held the record for the longest #1 song to that time. The song ran 5 minutes and 19 seconds, giving many radio station Program Directors fits; because the average record length at that time was around 2 minutes, and formats didn’t allow for records much longer than that, (e.g., 2-minute record, 3 minutes for commercials, 60 seconds for promo, 2-minute record, etc.). DJs got used to the longer length quickly, however, realizing it gave them time, before the record ended, to actually think of something to say next.
. 1969 ~ Elvis Presley’s single, Don’t Cry Daddy, entered the Top 10 on the pop charts this day. If you listened to this song carefully, you’d hear a vocal duet with country artist Ronnie Milsap.
. 1976 ~ Howlin’ Wolf passed away. Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an African-American Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, from Mississippi. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.
. 1984 ~ Cyndi Lauper became the first female recording artist since Bobbie Gentry in 1967 to be nominated for five Grammy Awards: Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female), Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
. 1986 ~ The uncut version of Jerome Kern’s musical, “Showboat”, opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It marked the first time in almost 60 years that the four-hour version of the classic production had played before a mostly awake audience.
. 2000 ~ Gospel singer Willie Neal “The Country Boy” Johnson died of a stroke at the age of 65. Johnson was a longtime member of the Gospel Keynotes, which produced more than 20 albums, including Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, and signature song That’s My Son. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now received a Grammy nomination in 1981. The group signed with Malaco Records in 1985 and changed its name to Willie Neal Johnson and the New Keynotes. The group received a Stellar Award for Lord Take Us Through, The Country Boy Goes Home and a Stellar nomination for The Country Boy Goes Home II. Johnson’s group was inducted into The American Gospel Quartet Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Ala., and The Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Detroit in 1999.
. 2002 ~ Moe Foner, a labor official who brought art, theater and music to the largest health care workers union in New York City, died at the age of 86. As an executive secretary for New York’s Health and Human Service Union, Foner worked as a lobbyist, strategist and slogan writer for the city’s hospital workers for several decades. Foner was also the founder of Bread and Roses, a cultural program which organized art exhibitions and performances for union members, often during workers’ lunch hours. Under his direction, Bread and Roses recruited performers from folksingers Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to the ventriloquist Shari Lewis. He hired rising stars like Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier to put on annual shows about civil rights for hospital workers. Foner also installed the only art gallery at a union headquarters. Born in Brooklyn, Foner graduated from Brooklyn College in 1936 and was employed by several other unions, including the now-defunct Department Store Local 1250, before going to work for the health care workers union.
. 2016 ~ David Bowie died after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. Bowie was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor.
. 2017 ~ Buddy Greco, American jazz singer (Away We Go, Broadway Open House), died at the age of 90
. 1830 ~ Hans von Bulow, German pianist and conductor
More information about von Bulow
. 1906 ~ Arthur Rubinstein made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The concert received only a few favorable reviews.
. 1912 ~ Jose Ferrer (Cintron), Academy Award-winning actor, Rosemary Clooney’s husband
. 1922 ~ Abbey Simon, American pianist
. 1924 ~ Ron Moody, Actor, singer in Oliver Twist
. 1925 ~ Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, appeared in his first American concert, as he conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of his own compositions.
. 1935 ~ Elvis Presley, American rock-and-roll singer and guitarist. He had 90 top-20 hits.
. 1937 ~ Shirley Bassey, Singer
. 1940 ~ Anthony Gourdine, Singer with Little Anthony and The Imperials
. 1940 ~ Vincent Lopez and his orchestra recorded the third version of Lopez’ theme song titled Nola. This version, recorded in Hollywood on Bluebird Records, is recognized as his best rendition of the classic song.
. 1946 ~ Robbie Krieger, Guitarist with The Doors
. 1947 ~ David Bowie, British rock singer and actor
. 1947 ~ Terry Sylvester, Musician with the groups Swinging Blue Jeans and the Hollies
. 1952 ~ Vladimir Feltsman, Pianist
. 1961 ~ Robert Goulet made his national TV debut this night on “The Ed SullivanShow” on CBS.
. 1965 ~ The TV dance show, “Hullabaloo”, debuted on NBC~TV. The show, a weekly trip into the world of rock and roll, featured plenty of mini-skirted go~go girls; which didn’t hurt ratings any. ABC countered with “Shindig”, a similar show, similar concept, similar everything.
. 1966 ~ The Beatles LP, “Rubber Soul”, began a 6-week reign at the top of the album chart. This was the seventh Beatles LP to reach the #1 position since February, 1964. “Rubber Soul” stayed on the charts for 56 weeks. The other #1 albums for the Fab Four to that date were: “Meet The Beatles“, “The Beatles Second Album”, “A Hard Day’s Night”,“Beatles ’65”, “Beatles VI” and “Help!”.
. 1973 ~ Carly Simon received a gold record for the single, You’re So Vain.
. 1997 ~ George Handy died. Handy was a jazz music arranger, composer and pianist whose musical beginnings were fostered under the tutelage of pianist Aaron Copland.
. 1998 ~ Sir Michael Tippett, British Composer and librettist, died
More information about Tippett
. 2000 ~ Pianist Jeffrey Biegel appeared on Good Morning America. He discussed his performance of the New York Premiere with Maestro Vakhtang Jordania and the American Symphony Orchestra and performed selections from the manuscript edition of Rhapsody in Blue, with more than 50 bars restored that hadn’t been heard in New York since the famous 1924 premiere concert at Aeolian Hall.
The concert that evening was at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The Rhapsody was the feature piece in an evening of premieres by American composers and Russian orchestral masterpieces. Works on the program included Variations on The Wayfaring Stranger (New York Premiere) by James Cohn; Peanuts Gallery for Piano and Orchestra by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich; the Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin; Islamey by Balakirev (World Premiere-transcription for piano and orchestra by Jeffrey Biegel), and Mussorgsky’sPictures at an Exhibition.
During the holiday period, the entire Company is immersed in activities surrounding George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. All 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. Children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by the lure of Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, based on the Alexandre Dumas pere version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production.
The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes (which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse).
While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.
Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.
Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular, the pieces featured in the suite.
• 1695 ~ Henry Purcell, English composer (Indian Queen), died at the age of 36
. 1710 ~ Bernardo Pasquini died. He was an Italian composer of operas, oratorios, cantatas and keyboard music. A renowned virtuoso keyboard player in his day, he was one of the most important Italian composers for harpsichord between Girolamo Frescobaldi and Domenico Scarlatti, having also made substantial contributions to the opera and oratorio.
. 1877 ~ Thomas A. Edison, who really enjoyed the jazz he heard coming from his newest invention, told those gathered that he just invented the ‘talking machine’ (phonograph). On February 19, 1878, Edison received a patent for the device.
. 1904 ~ Coleman Hawkins, American jazz tenor saxophonist, solo with the Fletcher Henderson band, jazz bandleader
• 1912 ~ Eleanor Powell, American actress and tap dancer (Born to Dance, Born to Dance)
. 1931 ~ Malcolm Williamson, Australian composer
. 1933 ~ Jean Shepard, Country singer
. 1934 ~ Cole Porter’s Anything Goes opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York City. The show ran for 420 performances.
. 1936 ~ James DePreist, Orchestra leader with the Oregon Symphony
1937 ~ Following Carnegie Hall performances in both 1906 and 1919, Arthur Rubinstein presented another historic and highly acclaimed performance at the arts center this day.
More information about Rubinstein
• 1938 ~ Leopold Godowsky, pianist/composer, died at the age of 68
. 1940 ~ Dr. John (‘Mac’ Malcolm John Rebennack), Organ, guitar, singer, songwriter
. 1940 ~ Natalia Makarova, Ballerina with the Kirov Ballet (now Saint Petersburg Ballet) from 1959 until 1970
. 1944 ~ Happy trails to you, until we meet again….The Roy Rogers Show was first heard on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Singing along with Roy (‘The King of the Cowboys’), were the Whippoorwills and The Sons of the Pioneers.
. 1944 ~ I’m Beginning to See the Light, the song that would become the theme song for Harry James and his orchestra, was recorded this day. The song featured the lovely voice of Kitty Kallen (Little Things Mean a Lot).
. 1948 ~ Lonnie (LeRoy) Jordan, Keyboards, singer
. 1950 ~ Livingston Taylor, American folk singer, songwriter and guitarist, brother of singer James Taylor
. 1952 ~ Lorna Luft, Singer, actress, daughter of singer-actress Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft; sister of singer-actress Liza Minnelli
. 1955 ~ The first lady of the American stage, Helen Hayes, was honored for her many remarkable years in show business, as the Fulton Theatre in New York City was renamed the Helen Hayes Theatre.
. 1959 ~ Following his firing from WABC Radio in New York the day before, Alan Freed refused “on principle” to sign a statement that he never received money or gifts (payola) for plugging records. Incidentally, few may remember, but Freed left WABC while he was on the air. He was replaced in mid~record by Fred Robbins, who later became a nationally~known entertainment reporter for Mutual Radio.
. 1962 ~ Leonard Bernstein broadcast his Young People’s Concert “Sound of a Hall” from the New York Philharmonic’s new home at Lincoln Center (now David Geffen Hall). He spoke about the science of sound; acoustics, vibration, sound waves, echo and reverberation. ÒWell, the best test of dynamic range I can think of is that great piece of fireworks – Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812, because it begins as softly as possible with only 6 solo strings, and runs the whole dynamic range to a full orchestra, plus at the end, an extra brass band…plus the deafening roar of cannon plus the jangle of church bells…” We share with you this excerpt of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic performing the 1812 Overture.
. 1981 ~ Olivia Newton-John started the first of 10 weeks at the top of the pop music charts when Physical became the music world’s top tune.
. 1990 ~ Instrument lovers have paid some pretty awesome prices for violins made by Antonio Stradivari. But a red Strad owned by the family of composer Felix Mendelssohn sold on this day for an all-time high of $1,700,00.
. 2001 ~ Ralph Burns, who won Academy Awards, an Emmy and a Tony as a music arranger after making a name for himself in jazz as a piano player in the Woody Herman band, died at the age of 79. Burns collected his first Academy Award for adapting the musical score of the 1972 movie “Cabaret.” He won another Oscar for adapting the musical score for “All That Jazz,” an Emmy for television’s “Baryshnikov on Broadway” and a Tony in 1999 for the Broadway musical “Fosse.” His other film credits included “Lenny,” “In The Mood,” “Urban Cowboy,” “Annie,” “My Favorite Year” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” He also collaborated with Jule Styne on “Funny Girl” and Richard Rodgers on “No Strings.” The Massachusetts native, who took up piano as a child, was playing in dance bands in Boston when he was 12, graduating to jazz orchestras by his teens. He worked with Herman band’s for 15 years as both a writer and piano player, composing some of the group’s biggest hits. Among them were “Apple Honey,” “Bijou” and the three-part “Summer Sequence.” “Early Autumn,” written later as a fourth movement for “Summer Sequence,” became a hit with singers after Johnny Mercer supplied words for it. Later, Burns worked in the studio with such popular singers as Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole.
. 2003 ~ Teddy Randazzo, co-author of more than 600 songs for acts including The Temptations and Frank Sinatra, died at the age of 68. With co-author Bobby Weinstein and others, Randazzo wrote hits such as Goin’ Out of My Head,Hurt So Bad and It’s Gonna Take a Miracle for acts such as Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Lettermen, Linda Ronstadt, The Temptations and Sinatra. Randazzo began his career at age 15 as lead singer of the group The Three Chuckles. The group’s first hit, Runaround, rose to No. 20 on the Billboard charts and sold more than 1 million copies. Randazzo started a solo career in 1957 and found modest success over the next seven years before meeting Weinstein. The duo’s songs have been recorded by more than 350 artists, including Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah and Luther Vandross. They parted ways in 1970 and Weinstein became an executive for Broadcast Music Inc. and Randazzo became a producer for Motown Records.
• 1925 ~ June Christy (Shirley Luster), Singer, sang with Stan Kenton band
• 1929 ~ Leo Reisman and his orchestra recorded Happy Days are Here Again for Victor Records. The classic was recorded just three weeks after the stock market crash that plunged the nation into the Great Depression.
• 1937 ~ Ruth Laredo, American pianist
• 1940 ~ Tony Butala, Singer with The Lettermen
• 1942 ~ Norman Greenbaum, Singer
• 1943 ~ Meredith Monk, American composer, dancer, choreographer and singer
• 1946 ~ Duane Allman, Guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band
• 1946 ~ Ray Stiles, Bass, singer with Mud
• 1947 ~ George Grantham, Drummer, singer with Poco
• 1947 ~ Joe Walsh, Guitarist, singer with the Eagles; James Gang
• 1948 ~ Barbara Hendricks, American soprano
• 1957 ~ Jimmy Brown, Drummer with UB40
• 1959 ~ One of America’s great rock jocks was fired from WABC radio in New York. The ‘Moondoggy’ himself, Alan Freed, was axed in the midst of the payola music scandal.
• 1966 ~ Cabaret opened on Broadway for the first of 1,166 stellar performances. Joel Gray starred in the hugely successful musical that is an adaptation of both the play, “I Am a Camera”, and the novel, “Goodbye to Berlin”.
• 1971 ~ Isaac Hayes of Memphis, TN got his first #1 hit as the Theme from Shaft began a two-week stay at the top of the charts.
• 1973 ~ Allan Sherman, American parody singer and songwriter (Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah), died from emphysema at the age of 48
• 1984 ~ The largest crowd to see the unveiling of a Hollywood Walk-of-Fame star turned out as Michael Jackson got his piece of the sidewalk right in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. ‘The Gloved One’ became star number 1,793 on the famed walk.
• 2003 ~ Katherine Bidwell, who supported performing arts programs and held positions at the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Lincoln Center, died. She was 66. A musician herself, Bidwell joined the St. Louis Municipal Opera when she was 18. She became a trustee at Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater, and sponsored performing arts programs there. In 1966, Bidwell joined the board of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. She was its president and chief executive from 1979 to 1986, and for the next 10 years, she was director of special projects for Lincoln Center. Bidwell founded the Katherine Bidwell Foundation for Young Singers and the patrons’ program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She was a trustee of several other organizations, including Westminster Choir College and the London School of Music and Dramatic Arts.
• 1724 ~ First Performance of J. S. Bach’s Sacred Cantata No. 26 Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig performed on the 24th Sunday following Trinity. A portion of Bach’s second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig, 1724-25.
• 1736 ~ J. S. Bach named court composer by Poland’s King Agustus III.
• 1826 ~ Composer Felix Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny performed his overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the first time.
• 1828 ~ Death of Austrian composer Franz Schubert in Vienna, at the age of 31 from typhus. He is buried near Beethoven.
• 1859 ~ Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, Russian composer and conductor
More information about Ippolitov-Ivanov
• 1874 ~ Birth of composer Karl Adrian Wohlfahrt.
• 1875 ~ First Performance of Tchaikovsky‘s Third Symphony, in Moscow.
• 1888 ~ Piano Debut in Boston of composer Edward MacDowell with the Kneisel Quartet.
• 1905 ~ Tommy Dorsey, American trombonist and bandleader
• 1923 ~ First Performances of Béla Bartók‘sFive Dances and Zoltán Kodály‘sPsalums Hungaricus in Budapest, marking the 50th anniversary of the union of cities Buda and Pest.
• 1936 ~ Birth of classical music commentator (Detroit Symphony broadcasts) Dick Cavett, in Kearney, Nebraska. ABC-TV talk show host (Dick Cavett Show).
• 1936 ~ First concert recorded on magnetic tape with the London Philharmonic orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham at BASF’s own concert hall in Ludwigshaven, Germany.
• 1937 ~ Ray Collins, Songwriter
• 1938 ~ Hank Medress, Singer with The Tokens, record producer
• 1943 ~ Fred Lipsius, Piano, sax with Blood Sweat & Tears
• 1943 ~ Stan Kenton and his orchestra recorded Artistry in Rhythm, the song that later become the Kenton theme. It was Capitol record number 159. The other side of the disk was titled, Eager Beaver.
• 1944 ~ Agnes Baltsa, Greek mezzo-soprano
• 1954 ~ Sammy Davis, Jr. was involved in a serious auto accident in San Bernardino, CA. Three days later, Davis lost the sight in his left eye. He later referred to the accident as the turning point of his career.
• 1957 ~ American conductor Leonard Bernstein named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. First American-born and educated conductor named to head an important American Orchestra.
• 1961 ~ A year after Chubby Checker reached the #1 spot with The Twist, the singer appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to sing the song again. The Twist became the first record to reach #1 a second time around, on January 13, 1962.
• 1962 ~ For the first time, a jazz concert was presented at the White House. Jazz had previously been served as background music only.
• 2000 ~ First Performance of Philip Glass‘ Double Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, by the American Composers Orchestra. Lincoln Center in New York.
• 2017 ~ Della Reese [Delloreese Patricia Early], American singer and actress (Della Reese Show, Royal Family), died at the age of 86
• 2017 ~ Mel Tillis [Lonnie Melvin Tillis], American country singer (Who’s Julie, M-M-Mel), died of respiratory failure at the age of 85
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!
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)
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 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.
Charles Nelson Reilly – who grew up to be a famous actor, comedian, director and drama teacher – was attending the Ringling Bros. circus, in Hartford, on the day the big top burned to the ground. Listen as he recalled his memories of the fire.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Most performing entities have some superstitions. One of the superstitions in circus bands is that you can not play Franz von Suppe’sLight 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.
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
Sounds of the Circus — This is the site of the South Shore Circus Concert Band which is ” one of the few bands in the country dedicated to preserving authentic music from the golden age of the American Circus.” The site includes pictures, CDs to purchase and a few RealAudio files for circus music. http://world.std.com/~tsh/circus.html
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 to 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 to 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.