November 19 ~ in Music History

today

• 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.

• 1739 ~ First Performance of Jean-Philippe Rameau‘s opera Dardanus in Paris.

• 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‘s Five Dances and Zoltán Kodály‘s Psalums 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

May 25 in Music History

tap-dance-day

 

Read more about National Tap Dance Day.

• 1688 ~ Christian August Jacobi, Composer

• 1726 ~ Giuseppi Paolucci, Composer

• 1765 ~ Pierre-Joseph Le Blan, Composer, died at the age of 53

• 1767 ~ Ferdinand Franzl, Composer

• 1767 ~ Friedrich Johann Eck, Composer

• 1821 ~ Diederich Krug, Composer

• 1826 ~ Christian Friedrich Ruppe, Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1847 ~ Alphonse Goovaerts, Composer

• 1878 ~ Bill “Bojangles” (Luther) Robinson, Vaudeville dancer, tap-dancing coach for Sammy Davis, Jr. and Shirley Temple
More information about Robinson

• 1878 ~ Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera “HMS Pinafore” premiered in London

• 1887 ~ Gas lamp at Paris Opera caught fire, 200 died

• 1889 ~ Hans Joachim Moser, German musicologist

• 1889 ~ Gilardo Gilardi, Composer

• 1889 ~ Sverre Jordan, Composer

• 1898 ~ Mischa Levitzki, Composer

• 1901 ~ Milenko Zivkovic, Composer

• 1902 ~ Helvi Lemmikke Leiviska, Composer

• 1904 ~ Kurt George Hugo Thomas, Composer

• 1912 ~ Eddie Maxwell, Singer

• 1914 ~ Paolo Giorza, Composer, died at the age of 81

• 1915 ~ Ginny Simms, Singer with Kay Kyser Band

• 1917 ~ Jimmy Hamilton, Saxophonist

• 1917 ~ Leon Felix Augustin Joseph Vasseur, Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1919 ~ Gino Negri, Composer

• 1921 ~ Hal David, Oscar-winning songwriter with Burt Bacharach

• 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

• 1946 ~ Patty Smith Hill, Songwriter (“Happy Birthday To You”) died at the age of 78

• 1947 ~ Jessi Colter (Mirian Johnson), Country singer

• 1947 ~ Mitch Margo, Singer with Cross Country and also The Tokens

• 1964 ~ Vasily Andreyevich Zolotaryov, Composer, died at the age of 92

• 1965 ~ Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck Miller), Blues player, died at the age of 65

• 1971 ~ Mark Brunswick, Composer, died at the age of 69

• 1981 ~ Rosa Ponselle, US singer at the Metropolitan Opera, died at the age of 84

• 1984 ~ Piet Ketting, Dutch pianist, conductor and Composer, died at the age of 79

• 1986 ~ 30 million people worldwide joined in pop singer Bob Geldof’s “Race Against Time” to raise money for the starving in Africa.

May 14 in Music History

today
• 1885 ~ Otto Klemperer, German conductor, In his early career he championed modern works.

• 1916 ~ Skip (Lloyd) Martin, Bandleader, composer, arranger

• 1916 ~ Lance Dossor, British-born concert pianist

• 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

• 1925 ~ Al Porcino, Jazz musician, trumpet

• 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.

•  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.

January 17 in Music History

today

. 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 Albinioni, 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 target=”_blank”Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis. Turney’s lone CD as a band leader, “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 teen- age 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

January 10 in Music History

today

. 1904 ~ Ray Bolger (Raymond Wallace Bulcao), Dancer, actor in The Wizard of Oz

. 1910 ~ Galina Ulanova, Russian-born ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet from 1944 to 1962

. 1917 ~ Jerry Wexler, Record producer, Atlantic Records

. 1925 ~ Max Roach, Jazz musician/drummer, composer: Freedom Now Suite; educator: taught at Lennox, MA School of Jazz and Yale; Professor of Music at University of Massachusetts, Amherst  Note: This is my Alma Mater, and Michael’s as well.

. 1927 ~ Gisele MacKenzie (LaFleche), Singer

. 1927 ~ Johnnie Ray, Singer

. 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

. 1953 ~ Pat Benatar, Grammy award-winning singer

. 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.

. 1991 ~ It was announced that jazz would become a regular part of New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts repertoire.

. 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 Homeand 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.

January 8 in Music History

today

. 1713 ~ Death of Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli in Rome age 59

. 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

. 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 Sullivan Show” 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 be 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’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Christmas Music: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

nutcracker

A few years ago, we went to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

From http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/N/George-Balanchine-s-The-Nutcracker.aspx

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.