March 15 ~ This Day in Music History

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.1897 ~ First performance of Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60.  It is a symphony in four movements.

. 1835 ~ Eduard Strauss, Austrian composer who, together with brothers Johann Strauss II and Josef Strauss made up the Strauss musical dynasty. He was the son of Johann Strauss I and Maria Anna Streim.

. 1873 ~ Lee Shubert, Broadway producer. Theaters in NY and LA named after him. He died in 1953

. 1907 ~ Jimmy McPartland, Jazz musician: cornetist; played for the Wolverine Orchestra, Embassy Four; bandleader; played at Newport Jazz Festival with wife, Marian

. 1916 ~ Harry James, American jazz trumpeter and bandleader, married to Betty Grable (second of four wives)

. 1933 ~ Cecil Taylor, American jazz pianist and composer

. 1944 ~ Sly Stone, American soul-rock singer and instrumentalist

. 1959 ~ The musical, No Strings, opened on Broadway at the 54th Street Theatre. Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll starred in the show. Also featured was the show’s composer in an acting role, singing his own lyrics. The composer was Richard Rodgers.

. 1968 ~ LIFE magazine called Jimi Hendrix, “the most spectacular guitarist in the world.”

. 1987 ~ Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Starlight Express” opened on Broadway. This was the first ever roller-skating musical.

. 1964 ~ My Fair Lady, by Lerner and Loewe, opened on Broadway. It ran for 6-1/2 years before 2,717 audiences. It became, thanks to Rex Harrison and an outstanding cast, the longest-running musical to that time.

. 1970 ~ The musical, Purlie, opened a run of 680 continuous performances on Broadway.

. 2001 ~ Ann Sothern died at the age of 92. She was an actress who starred as the saucy, liberated showgirl in MGM’s “Masie” movies during the 1940s and played single working women on TV in “Private Secretary” and “The Ann Southern Show.”

January 29 ~ This Day in Music History

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. 1715 ~ Georg Christoph Wagenseil, Austrian composer

. 1782 ~ Daniel François Esprit Auber, French composer, primarily of comic operas

. 1784 ~ Ferdinand Ries, German composer. Ries was a friend, pupil and secretary of Ludwig van Beethoven.

. 1862 ~ Frederick (Fritz) Theodor Albert Delius, British composer
Read quotes by and about Delius
More information about Delius

. 1876 ~ Havergal Brian, British classical composer

. 1889 ~ Huddie Ledbetter, Blues singer

. 1924 ~ Luigi Nono, Italian composer

. 1937 ~ Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra waxed the famous Song of India on Victor Records.

. 1942 ~ Claudine Longet, Singer, formerly married to Andy Williams

. 1947 ~ David Byron, Singer

. 1949 ~ Tommy Ramone (Erdelyi), Drummer with The Ramones

. 1953 ~ Teresa Teng, Chinese singer

. 1954 ~ Oprah Winfrey, Entertainer, Emmy Award-winning talk show host

. 1962 ~ Fritz Kreisler died.  He was an Austrian-born violinist and composer

. 1966 ~ “Sweet Charity”, with Gwen Verdon, opened at the Palace Theatre in New York City. The musical, by Neil Simon, was an adaptation of the Federico Fellini film, “Notti di Cabiria”. The play ran for 608 performances. In 1969, Hollywood produced a big-budget version of the Broadway musical starring Shirley MacLaine.

. 1973 ~ Johnny Rivers received a gold record for the hit single, Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu. As is tradition, Rivers removed the fragile gold disk from the wooden frame and, as he was putting it on his stereo, had a ferocious sneezing fit and never did find out how his song sounded in solid gold.

. 1977 ~ From the One-Hit Wonder File, this note: Rose Royce earned the #1 spot on the music charts with Car Wash, from the movie of the same name. The song stayed at the peak of the pop charts for one week, then faded away.
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. 1981 ~ Cozy (William Randolph) Cole passed away

. 2001 ~ Suzanne Bloch, a concert chamber musician and teacher at the Juilliard School, died at her home. She was 94. Bloch played and taught ancient instruments, in particular the lute, a guitar- like instrument common in 18th-century Europe. Mostly self-taught, she also played the recorder and the virginal, a tiny relative of the harpsichord. Beginning in the late 1930s, she performed frequently in concert, often dressed in Renaissance costume. She taught classes at Juilliard from 1942 to 1985. After marrying Paul Smith, a mathematician who became chairman of Columbia University’s mathematics department, Bloch played chamber music with well-known scientists, including Albert Einstein. Born in Geneva, Bloch moved to New York with her family in 1916, when her musician father, Ernest Bloch, began teaching and conducting in the United States. Bloch promoted her father’s music throughout her life, collecting clippings, writing program notes and founding the Ernest Bloch Society in 1967.

Victor Borge’s Birthday!

Victor BorgeVictor Borge was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was an entertainer and pianist – a deliciously funny performer. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, and in Vienna and Berlin.
He made his debut as a pianist in 1926, and as a revue actor in 1933.

From 1940 until his death in 2000 he worked in the USA for radio, television, and theater, and has performed with leading symphony orchestras on worldwide tours since 1956. He was best known for his comedy sketches combining music and narrative. He used his classical training to skew serious music and performers.

 

From his obituary:

Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep Dec 23, 2000 at his Greenwich, Connecticut home, was known as the unmelancholy Dane of international show business. He would have turned 92 on Jan. 3, 2001.

“The cause of death was heart failure,” his daughter, Sanna Feirstein, told Reuters.

“He had just returned from a wonderfully successful trip to Copenhagen … and it was really heartwarming to see the love he experienced in his home country,” she said.

Borge was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.

“He went to sleep, and they went to wake him up this morning, and he was gone,” said his agent, Bernard Gurtman.

“He had so much on the table, and to the day he died he was creative, and practicing piano several hours a day,” Gurtman told Reuters. “He was just a great inspiration.”

Funeral services will be private, his daughter said.

Borge made a career of falling off piano stools, missing the keys with his hands and getting tangled up in the sheet music.

One of his inspirations was a pianist who played the first notes of the Grieg A Minor Concerto and then fell on the keys dead.

He said that the only time he got nervous on stage was when he had to play seriously and adds that if it had not been for Adolf Hitler he probably would never have pursued a career as a concert-hall comedian.

Until he was forced to flee Denmark in 1940 he was a stage and screen idol in his native country.

Lampooned Hitler

But as a Jew who had lampooned Hitler, Borge — his real name was Boerge Rosenbaum — was in danger and fled first to Sweden and then to the United States, where he arrived penniless and unknown and by a fluke got booked on the Bing Crosby radio show. He was an instant success.

He became an American citizen in 1948, but thought of himself as Danish. It was obvious from the numerous affectionate tributes and standing ovations at his 80th birthday concert in Copenhagen in 1989 that Danes felt the same way.

In the concert at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, Borge played variations on the theme of  “Happy Birthday to You in the styles of Mozart, BrahmsWagner and Beethoven — all executed with such wit that the orchestra was convulsed with laughter that a woman performing a piccolo solo was unable to draw breath to play.

“Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing,” Borge told Reuters in an interview after that concert.

“That’s why I’ve never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy or a link with people, what better way is there?

“If I have to play something straight, without deviation in any respect, I still get very nervous. It’s the fact that you want to do your best, but you are not at your best because you are nervous and knowing that makes you even more nervous.”

His varied career included acting, composing for films and plays and writing but he was best known for his comic sketches based on musical quirks and oddities.

Unpredictable Routine

His routines were unpredictable, often improvised on stage as his quick wit responded to an unplanned event — a noise, a latecomer in the audience — or fixed on an unlikely prop — a fly, a shaky piano stool.

Borge was born in Denmark on January 3, 1909, son of a violinist in the Danish Royal Orchestra.

His parents encouraged him to become a concert pianist, arranging his first public recital when he was 10. In 1927 he made his official debut at the Tivoli Gardens.

Borge’s mischievous sense of humor was manifest from an early age. Asked as a child to play for his parent’s friends he would announce “a piece by the 85-year-old Mozart” and improvise something himself.

When his mother was dying in Denmark during the occupation, Borge visited her, disguised as a sailor.

“Churchill and I were the only ones who saw what was happening,” he said in later years. “He saved Europe and I saved myself.”

From 1953 to 1956, he appeared in New York in his own production “Comedy in Music,” a prelude to world tours that often took him to his native Scandinavia.

On radio and television, Borge developed the comedy techniques of the bungling pianist that won him worldwide fame.

Many of his skits were based on real-life events. One of his classics evolved from seeing a pianist playing a Tchaikovsky concerto fall off his seat.

Borge’s dog joined the show after it wandered on stage while he was at the keyboard — an entrance nobody would believe had been unplanned.

One incident could not be repeated. A large fly flew on to Borge’s nose while he was playing. “How did you get that fly to come on at the right time?” people asked. “Well, we train them,” Borge explained.

Borge’s book, “My Favorite Intervals”, published in 1974, detailed little-known facts of the private lives of composers describing Wagner’s pink underwear and the time Borodin left home in full military regalia but forgot his trousers.

In 1975, Borge was honored in recognition of the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and his work as unofficial goodwill ambassador from Denmark to the United States. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 1984 with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall and in Copenhagen.

Borge received a host of honors from all four Scandinavian countries for his contributions to music, humor and worthy causes.

Borge, who had lived in Greenwich since 1964, is survived by five children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. His wife of many years, Sanna, died earlier this year.

Borge’s birthday

Anniversary of Borge’s death

December 16, 2016 ~ Today in Music History

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Christmas Music, Part 16 – We Three Kings

OCMS 1770 ~ Ludwig van Beethoven, Composer Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia and his Symphony Number 5 in Fantasia 2000
Listen to Beethoven’s music
More information on Beethoven
Grammy winner
If composers had Facebook: Beethoven’s profile

OCMS 1882 ~ Zoltán Kodály, Hungarian composer and collector of folk songs
More information on Kodály

• 1893 ~ Antonin Dvorák attended the first performance of his New World Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

• 1899 ~ Sir Noel Coward, British composer of musical comedies, actor and producer

• 1905 ~ Sime Silverman published the first issue of Variety, the weekly show biz magazine. The first issue was 16 pages in length and sold for a nickel. Variety and Daily Variety are still going strong.

• 1907 ~ Eugene H. Farrar became the first singer to broadcast on radio. He sang from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. The song was Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

• 1940 ~ Bob Crosby and his Bobcats backed up brother Bing as San Antonio Rose was recorded on Decca Records.

• 1960 ~ Lucille Ball took a respite from her weekly TV series to star in the Broadway production of Wildcat, which opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York City. The show ran for 171 performances.

• 1967 ~ The Lemon Pipers released Green Tambourine on an unsuspecting psychedelic world this day. The tune made #1 on February 3, 1968.

• 1971 ~ Melanie (Safka) received a gold record for the single, Brand New Key, about roller skates and love and stuff like that. This one made it to #1 on Christmas Day, 1971.

• 1971 ~ Don McLean’s eight-minute-plus (8:32) version of American Pie was released. It became one of the longest songs with some of the most confusing (pick your favorite interpretation) lyrics to ever hit the pop charts. American Pie hit #1 on January 15, 1972.

• 1972 ~ Paul McCartney’s single, Hi, Hi, Hi, was released. It peaked at #10 on the top tune tabulation (February 3, 1973).

• 2003 ~ Singer and guitarist Gary Stewart, who had a No. 1 country hit in 1975 with She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles), died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 58. A native of Letcher County, Ky., Stewart was a compelling songwriter and performer of guitar-driven, honky tonk country. His last album, Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, was released in 2003. Besides the 1975 chart-topper, his hits included Drinkin’ Thing and Out of Hand. He worked with Southern rock greats Dickie Betts and Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band on the 1980 album Cactus and a Rose.

December 7, 2016 ~ Today in Music History

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Pearl Harbor Day

Christmas Music, Part 7 – Hark the Herald Angels Sing

• 1637 ~ Bernardo Pasquini, Italian composer of operas, oratorios, cantatas and keyboard music.

• 1840 ~ Hermann Goetz, German Composer

• 1842 ~ The Philharmonic Society of New York, the first permanent orchestra in the U.S., held its first concert. Despite uncomfortable seating, the event was a huge success. They performed works of Beethoven.

OCMS 1863 ~ Pietro Mascagni, Italian composer and conductor
More information about Mascagni

• 1879 ~ Rudolf Friml, Musician, composer

• 1887 ~ Ernst Toch, Austrian-born American composer

• 1911 ~ Louis Prima, Trumpeter, bandleader with Louis Prima and His New Orleans Gang, Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra; songwriter, singer, married to Keely Smith

• 1931 ~ Bobby Osborne, Musician, mandolin, singer with the duo – Osborne Brothers

• 1942 ~ Harry Chapin, American folk-rock singer and songwriter, Recipient of Special Congressional Gold Medal, Worldwide Humanitarian for the Hungry, Needy and Homeless

• 1948 ~ NBC presented Horace Heidt’s Youth Opportunity Program for the first time. The talent show earned Dick Contino, an accordionist, the $5,000 prize as the program’s first national winner.

• 1949 ~ Tom Waits, Singer, songwriter, playwright, married to Kathleen Brennan

• 1954 ~ Mike Nolan, Singer with Bucks Fizz

• 1957 ~ Pat Boone was at the top of the pop charts for the first of six weeks withApril Love. His other number one hits included Ain’t That a Shame, I Almost Lost My Mind, Don’t Forbid Me and Love Letters in the Sand.

• 1984 ~ Michael Jackson was in Chicago to testify that the song, The Girl is Mine, was exclusively his and he didn’t swipe the song, Please Love Me Now. It was a copyright infringement case worth five million dollars. He won.

• 1990 ~ Dee (Delectus) Clark passed away

November 19, 2016 ~ Today in Music History

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• 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.

2004 ~ Composer Cy Coleman, who wrote the musical “Sweet Charity” and whose songs included such Frank Sinatra classics as WitchcraftBig Spender and The Best is Yet to Come, died at the age 75
More information about Cy Coleman

Happy Birthday to 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