November 19 ~ On This Day in Music

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

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt!

liszt-quote

Franz Liszt was born in Raiding, near Ödenburg, October 22, 1811 and died in Bayreuth, July 31, 1886. He was a Hungarian composer and pianist who was a major influence during the romantic period. Liszt was an outstanding pianist at seven, composed at eight and made concert appearances at nine. In addition to being a piano virtuoso, he was also a critic, conductor, city music director, literary writer and transcriber of the works of other composers. He transcribed Beethoven’s Symphonies for the piano.

Franz Liszt began his career as the outstanding concert pianist of the century, who, along with the prodigious violinist Niccoló Paganini (1782-1840), created the cult of the modern instrumental virtuoso. To show off his phenomenal and unprecedented technique, Liszt composed a great deal of music designed specifically for this purpose, resulting in a vast amount of piano literature laden with dazzling, and other technical marvels. In this vein, Liszt composed a series of virtuosic rhapsodies on Hungarian gypsy melodies, the best-known being the all too familiar Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. Liszt developed the rhapsody as a form of serious music. This kind of music is worlds apart from the generally more introspective, poetic music of pianist-composer Frédéric Chopin.

Liszt was wildly handsome and hugely talented. He was extremely popular in Paris during the 1830’s. It is said that women actually fainted at his piano recitals. He was the first to position the piano so that its lid reflected the sound and the audience could see his profile as he performed.

Liszt was the first to write a tone poem, which is an extended, single-movement work for orchestra, inspired by paintings, plays, poems or other literary or visual works, and attempting to convey the ideas expressed in those media through music. Such a work is Les Préludes, based on a poem in which life is expressed as a series of struggles, passions, and mysteries, all serving as a mere prelude to . . .what? The Romantic genre of the symphonic poem, as well as its cousin the concert overture, became very attractive to many later composers, including Saint-Saëns, TchaikovskyDvorák, Sibelius, and Richard Strauss.


     Liszt’s birthday

     anniversary of Liszt’s death

    Listen to Liszt’s transcription of Meyerbeer’s Hellish Waltz from Robert du Diable, which probably caused more public commotion than any other piano piece in history.


     Read quotes by and about Liszt

     Liszt was the first recitalist

     In Praise of Pianos and the Artists Who Play Them

     History of the Piano

     Franz Liszt

October 9 ~ On This Day in Music

 

• 1813 ~ Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer
Read quotes by and about Verdi
More information about Verdi

• 1835 ~ Camille Saint-Saëns, French composer, organist and conductor Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals is featured in Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
Read quotes by and about Saint-Saëns
More information about Saint-Saëns

• 1863 ~ Alexander Siloti, Russian pianist and composer, born in Kharkiv, Ukraine

• 1931 ~ Russ Columbo’s Prisoner of Love was recorded on Victor Records.

• 1940 ~ John Lennon, British rock singer, songwriter and guitarist
More information about Lennon

• 1935 ~ Cavalcade of America was first broadcast on radio this very day. The CBS show featured some of Hollywood and Broadway’s most famous stars in leading roles in the half-hour radio dramas. Thomas Chalmers narrated the stories about obscure incidents and people in American history. The orchestra (yes, radio shows had live orchestras back then) was led by Donald Voorhees. The show aired from 1935 to 1953, changing from CBS to NBC in 1939; with one sponsor for its entire duration. The DuPont Company introduced its slogan on Cavalcade of America …”Better things for better living through chemistry…”

• 1941 ~ Helen Morgan passed away

• 1944 ~ John Entwistle, Bass, French horn with The Who

• 1947 ~ “High Button Shoes”, opened on Broadway in New York City with an entertainer named Phil Silvers in the lead. The popular show ran for 727 performances.

• 1948 ~ Jackson Browne, Songwriter, singer

• 1967 ~ “And now…heeeeeeeeerrrree’s the Doctor!” Coming out of the NBC Tonight Show Orchestra to become musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Doc Severinsen replaced Skitch Henderson on this night. Doc became famous for an eccentric wardrobe, quick wit, great trumpet solos and fabulous charts. Tommy Newsome became Doc’s backup arranger for many of the tunes the band played. Later, Doc and the band would move to solo albums, group CDs and incredibly successful concert tours. Doc went on to play with various symphony orchestras and even became the owner of a custom trumpet company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

• 1973 ~ Priscilla Presley, was divorced from Elvis in Santa Monica, CA. Ms. Presley got $1.5 million in cash, $4,200 per month in alimony, half interest in a $750,000 home plus about 5% interest in two of Elvis’ publishing companies.

• 1973 ~ Paul Simon got a gold record this day for his hit, Loves Me like a Rock.

• 1975 ~ John Lennon turned 35. To celebrate, Yoko Ono Ono presented John with a newborn son, Sean Ono Lennon.

• 1976 ~ Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony Number 5 in c minor” landed for a twenty-two-week stop in the first spot on the Top 5. Beethoven is dead and this isn’t a ghost story. It’s simply a case of Beethoven being updated with a disco-rock beat and a catchy new title: A Fifth of Beethoven.

• 1985 ~ A 2½ acre garden memorial was dedicated to John Lennon by his widow, Yoko Ono, this day. The memorial in New York City’s Central Park is named Strawberry Fields.

• 1988 ~ Elmer J. ‘Mousey’ Alexander passed away

• 2000 ~ Yoko Ono Opened John Lennon Museum in Japan

• 2001 ~ Herbert Ross died at the age of 76. He was a director and choreographer whose credits include the hit movies “The Goodbye Girl,” “The Sunshine Boys” and “The Turning Point.”

• 2003 ~ Don Lanphere, a saxophone player who came on strong at the dawn of bebop, nearly succumbed to drugs and drinking, then recovered to become the city’s jazz “grandpop,” died of hepatitis C. He was 75. As lead tenor in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and in smaller groups, Lanphere’s versatility and virtuosity ranged from blazing riffs on the tenor to a solo jazz rendition of the Lord’s Prayer on the soprano sax. Many who were born long after Lanphere’s boyhood gigs with such legends as Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro and Max Roach hailed him as a jazz patriarch or, as his Web site proclaimed, “Seattle jazz grandpop.” Born in the apple country of central Washington about 95 miles east of Seattle, Lanphere played as a teenager with touring bands in Seattle, then studied music briefly at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. By the time he got to New York, captivated by the post-World War II bebop revolution, he was hooked on heroin. By his early 20s he had recorded with Navarro and Roach and played gigs with Parker, Woody Herman and top big bands, including one led by Artie Shaw. He could write a chart, the chord arrangement on which jazz improvisation is based, from the sound of water dripping in a tub. Battling alcohol and narcotics addictions that resulted in at least one arrest, he was back at his father’s store in Wenatchee – “from the Big Apple to the little apple,” he once said – by 1960. Only after he and his wife Midge became born-again Christians in 1969 did he dust off his horn. In an interview in 1998, he said that without the conversion, “I would be dead by now.”

 

• 2018 ~ Montserrat Caballé died at the age of 85. She was a was a Spanish operatic soprano.

 

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Archduke Trio

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

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

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

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

Pianists Hands

pianist-hands

Redditor NeokratosRed had an idea: depict the hands of great composers and pianists, according to the characteristics of their music. He shared it on the social media site, and also punted for suggestions of more. It has since received over 300,000 images views, and lots of further suggestions from fellow Redditors and piano geeks.

Whisks for Chopin’s elegant pianistic souffles, feather dusters for the gentle impressionism of Debussy, instruments of trade for the composer of the thunderous Hammerklavier sonata.

Piano, and the internet – top marks to the both of you.

via This infographic of composers’ hands is painfully (and hilariously) accurate | Classic FM.

Piano Puzzlers!

puzzlers

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!

Daily Listening Assignments ~ August 3, 2022

 

Today’s piece is Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Penny found in Piano Pronto Movement 4, Songs I Love to Play 2 and Beethoven: Exploring His Life and Music. The official title is The “Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio” in G major, Op. 129 (Italian for “Rondo in the Hungarian [i.e. gypsy] style, almost a caprice”).

The story goes –

At one point Beethoven was composing this piece, a booming and boisterous piece that exuded energy and vitality.

One night a neighbor heard a loud dispute.

Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny. The maid ran out and was never heard from again.

The neighbor then heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the great Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny.

The story spread through the neighborhood and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods and curmudgeonly behavior.

 

 

An easier version

A tad faster

 

From Piano Pronto

 

Orchestra

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ July 23, 2022

 

Today we will listen to Minuet in G.  Several people composed a Minuet (a slow, stately ballroom dance for two in 3/4 time, popular especially in the 18th century) in the key of G including Beethoven, Mozart and Bach.

How are the same?  How are they different?

JS Bach’s version

 

The Bach version also was “acquired” for a popular song in the 1960s

 

Beethoven

Rowlf from the Muppets plays the Beethoven Minuet

 

Mozart

 

So – never say to your teacher that “I already played that” – you never know which version s/he has in mind!

 

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ July 22, 2022

 

Today we listen to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. The real name for this work is The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2. It was completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

The piece is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano, and it was a popular favorite even in his own day.

It’s in the Piano Pronto Beethoven book as well as many compilations of classical music.

 

Arranged for piano and orchestra

An animation

 

The above were all of the first movement only.  Here’s the whole sonata played by Valentina Lisitsa:

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ July 8, 2022

 

Today, we’ll listen to the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, of Ludwig van Beethoven.  It was written between 1804–1808. It is one of the best-known compositions in classical music, and one of the most frequently played symphonies. As is typical of symphonies in the classical period, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is in four movements.

I’m sure you’ve heard the first 8 notes before…

 

Since it was written for orchestra, each instrument has its own line:

A piano version, transcribed by Liszt

From Disney’s Fantasia 2000:

Pink learns to play the violin, and interrupts a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with the Pink Panther theme played on various instruments.

Beethoven’s Wig:

 

Arrangements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony can be found in Piano Maestro and lots of books including Piano Pronto’s Movement 2, Movement 5 (Victory Theme) and Beethoven: Exploring His Life and Music.