Carol of the Bells was composed by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych (1877-1921) in 1916. Originally titled Shchedryk, this Ukrainian folk song is sometimes called Ukrainian Bell Carol. “Shchedryk” which was associated with the coming New Year, originally celebrated in April.
Leontovych used this tune in 1904 along with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky to create the version that everyone knows today. It gained popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, and was introduced to an even wider audience when it was used in the movie “Home Alone”.
It was first performed in the Ukraine on the night of January 13, 1916, on the Julian calendar this is considered New Year’s Eve. In the United States the song was first performed on October 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall.
This video is from the Christmas special of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, presented at the BYU channel. The orchestra and choir produce a very beautiful sound.
Not the standard version –
The O’Connor Music Studio has several versions of this Christmas Carol available for loan, including this version from the Mannheim Steamroller:
• 1569 ~ Paul Sartorius, German organist and composer
• 1615 ~ Guillaume Dumanoir, II, French violinist and composer who composed dance music enjoyed by Louis XIV
• 1667 ~ Nathaniel Schnittelbach, composer, died at the age of 34
• 1715 ~ Girolamo Abos, composer of Italian opera and church music.
• 1720 ~ Carlo Antonio Campioni, Italian composer.
• 1757 ~ Daniel Read, American composer of the First New England School, and one of the primary figures in early American classical music.
• 1775 ~ Karl Marian Paradeiser, German composer, died at the age of 28.
• 1780 ~ Robert Archibald Smith, English composer.
• 1829 ~ Anton G Rubinstein, Russian pianist/conductor/composer
• 1840 ~ Frederick Scotson Clark, composer.
• 1848 ~ Frédéric Chopin played his final piano concert at a Polish benefit ball at Guildhall in London.
• 1850 ~ Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Stifellio was first performed at the Teatro Grande in Trieste despite difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes.
• 1852 ~ Minnie Hauk, American soprano
• 1854 ~ First Performance of Anton Rubinstein‘s Ocean Symphony in Leipzig.
• 1860 ~ Edmund Scheucker, Viennese harpist.
• 1861 ~ Vaclav Suk, Czech-born Russian composer and violinist.
• 1861 ~ First Performance of Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Quintet No. 1 in g, Op. 25, at a rehearsal in Hamburg, with pianist Clara Schumann.
• 1862 ~ The work noted above received its official premiere with members of the Hellmesberger Quartet; Brahms at the piano, in Vienna.
• 1870 ~ Alfred Hill, Australian composer
• 1873 ~ David Karl Björling, Swedish tenor
• 1873 ~ W.C. Handy, American blues composer and bandleader
More information about Handy
• 1889 ~ George S. (Simon) Kaufman, Playwright: The Cocoanuts, A Night at the Opera, with Moss Hart, The Man Who Came to Dinner, You Can’t Take It with You
• 1893 ~ George Alexander Osborne, Irish pianist and composer (La Pluie de perles), died of natural causes at the age of 87
• 1894 ~ Debut of opera star Enrico Caruso in Mario Morelli’s L’Amico Francesco at Naples Teatro Nuovo.
• 1895 ~ Paul Hindemith, German-born American composer and conductor
Read quotes by and about Hindemith
More information about Hindemith
• 1896 ~ Lawrence Mervil Tibbett, American baritone
• 1905 ~ Eddie (Albert) Condon, Guitarist, bandleader, promoter of Dixieland Jazz
• 1908 ~ Conductor Arturo Toscanini made his debut in the United States this day. He appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, conducting Aida.
• 1931 ~ Bob Gibson, Singer, songwriter, leader of folk music movement in late ’50s, duo of Gibson and (Bob) Camp
• 1932 ~ The Palace in New York City closed its doors. It was the most famous vaudeville theater in America. Later, it became a movie house with live performances preceding the flicks; most notably: the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their heyday.
• 1935 ~ The Rodgers and Hart musical, Jumbo, opened in New York City for a run of 233 performances.
• 1937 ~ Bob Crosby and his orchestra recorded South Rampart Street Parade on Decca Records.
• 1945 ~ Martine Van Hammel, Ballet, American Ballet Theatre
• 1955 ~ ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford drove to the top spot on the record charts on this day. Sixteen Tons, where he owed his “soul to the company store…”, became the fastest-selling record in history, jumping to #1 in just 3 weeks. The tune, on Capitol Records, stayed at #1 for eight weeks.
• 1964 ~ Albert Hay Malotte, composer, died at the age of 69
• 1964 ~ Diana Krall, Canadian Jazz pianist and singer
• 1970 ~ Anne Murray received a gold record for Snowbird. She was the first Canadian recording artist to receive a gold record.
• 2000 ~ Russ Conway, a British pianist known as the “Prince Charming of Pop” who sold
More than 30 million records in the 1950s and ’60s, died at age 75. He had 17 consecutive hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and won a silver disc when his record Roulette topped 250,000 sales – a total rapidly equaled by three other hits, Sidesaddle, China Tea and Snow Coach. Conway’s formal piano education consisted of one lesson at age 4. He left school at 14 and got work in a lawyer’s office. But he was sent to juvenile detention for three years for taking money he found in a package. In a detention center, he found a piano to play. While doing a stint as a pianist in a club, he was discovered by choreographer Irving Davies. He went on to provide piano accompaniment to a string of singers. Soon he was composing the songs that made him famous and won him the nicknames “Prince Charming of Pop” and the “Sheik of the Keyboard.”
• 2001 ~ Blue guitarist and singer Isaac Scott, a major figure in the city’s music scene for more than a quarter century, died of complications from diabetes. He was 56. A stream of musicians paid their respects to Scott, said his ex-wife, Eloise DePoe. He was found in his apartment Nov. 4 and never regained consciousness. Scott recorded several albums, including “The Isaac Scott Band,” “Big Time Blues Man” and “High Class Woman.” He also appeared on the compilation albums “Live at the San Francisco Jazz Festival” and “Live at the Roadhouse.” Primarily a “cover artist,” Scott did not write his own songs, which hindered national recognition. But he received several local honors, including the Washington Blues Society’s Hall of Fame (1991) and lifetime-achievement (2000) awards. He also performed at last year’s opening of the Experience Music Project. Scott taught himself piano and guitar, and started out playing gospel music, once touring the West Coast with the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. In 1974, he turned his attention to blues, with a sound flavored by his love of Seattle-born guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. Like Albert Collins, an early influence, Scott played electric guitar with his thumb instead of a pick, which contributed to his distinctive sound. He also was known for his stamina, often playing two- and three-hour sets.
• 2001 ~ Tommy Flanagan, a jazz pianist who worked with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, died of an arterial aneurysm. He was 71. Flanagan, part of his own classic jazz trio, accompanied Fitzgerald for 20 years, also acting as her musical director. He also worked for Tony Bennett. He became a celebrated figure in jazz with such trio albums as “Jazz Poet” (1989) and “Let’s” (1993). Flanagan’s trio included bassists George Mraz and Peter Washington, and drummers Kenny Washington, Lewis Nash and Albert Heath. Flanagan won the distinguished Danish Jazzpar Prize in 1993. Born in Detroit, Flanagan was the youngest of six children. He recorded “Sunset and the Mockingbird: The Birthday Concert,” live at the Vanguard in 1998. He was to appear at Iridium this holiday season.
Modest Mussorgsky composed this multi-movement work in memory of his friend, artist Viktor Hartmann. Each movement corresponds to a picture in Hartmann’s gallery, with one pairing with Hartmann’s Paris catacombs. The painting depicts Hartmann and two other men walking through the labyrinthine catacombs, illuminated only by lamplight.
The movement is in two distinct parts. Its two sections consist of a nearly static Largo consisting of a sequence of block chords with elegiac lines adding a touch of melancholy and a more flowing, gloomy Andante that introduces the Promenade theme into the scene.
The first section’s alternating loud and soft chords evoke the grandeur, stillness, and echo of the catacombs. The second section suggests a merging of observer and scene as the observer descends into the catacombs. Mussorgsky’s manuscript of “Catacombs” (shown right) displays two pencilled notes, in Russian: “NB – Latin text: With the dead in a dead language” and, along the right margin, “Well may it be in Latin! The creative spirit of the dead Hartmann leads me towards the skulls, invokes them; the skulls begin to glow softly.”
• 1820 ~ Jenny (Johanna) Lind, Swedish coloratura soprano, “The Swedish Nightengale”
• 1882 ~ Karol Szymanowski, Polish composer
• 1917 ~ A new word cropped up in the American lexicon: Jazz. The Literary Digest described jazz as music that caused people to, “shake, jump and writhe in ways to suggest a return to the medieval jumping mania.”
• 1927 ~ Paul Badura-Skoda, Austrian pianist and music editor
• 1927 ~ “Mammy, how I love you, how I love you, my dear old mammy!” It was Al Jolson in blackface, singing in the first full-length talking picture, The Jazz Singer, as it opened in New York City. In reality, The Jazz Singer was not a true talkie. There were only 291 spoken words in the landmark film; however, it was the first to integrate sound and this small amount of dialogue into a story through the Vitaphone disk process; and the first to entertain a large audience. The talking part was mostly singing, and it was Al Jolson who made the flick a success, proving to the critics that an all-talking film could work. (Because he didn’t think the pioneer of talkies would be all the rage, George Jessel actually turned down the starring role; as did Eddie Cantor.) A silent version of the film was released to movie theaters who had not yet popped for the $20,000 or so that it cost to rewire their venue. The audience was thrilled with Jolson’s sound performance as a cantor’s son, Jake Rabinowitz, rejecting the world he came from to become a singer of popular music, changing his name to Jack Robin in the process. Although not jazz as we know it, the songs Jolson sang became part of American music culture: Toot Toot Tootsie (Goodbye), Blue Skies, Waiting for the RobertE. Lee and, of course, My Mammy. For those truly with a need to know, Neil Diamond did not audition for Jolson’s part when finding out that Jessel had turned it down. Diamond performed in a remake of The Jazz Singer in 1980. As Jolson said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” Maybe, through the wonders of modern technology, we could hear Jolson and Diamond together, in concert. That would be the Mammy of all jazz singin’.
• 1941 ~ Claude Thornhill and his orchestra recorded Autumn Serenade on Columbia Records.
• 1946 ~ Millie Small (Smith), Singer, known as ‘The Blue Beat Girl’ in her native Jamaica
• 1949 ~ Bobby Farrell, Singer
• 1950 ~ Thomas McClary, Guitarist with The Commodores
• 1951 ~ Kevin Cronin, Singer with REO Speedwagon
• 1960 ~ Steve Lawrence and partner, Eydie Gorme, starred at the new Lotus Club in Washington, DC.
• 1962 ~ Robert Goulet stepped out of the role of Sir Lancelot after singing/acting the part since 1960. The fabulously successful Broadway musical, Camelot, also starred Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere.
• 1964 ~ Matthew Sweet, Guitarist, singer, songwriter
• 1969 ~ George Harrison‘s song ‘Something’ was released as the “A” side of a Beatles’ 45, a first for Harrison. Along with Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Come Together’, the single went on reach No.1 on the US chart the following month. Both tracks were lifted from the Abbey Road album.
• 1973 ~ Gene Krupa (1909) passed away. He was an American jazz drummer, bandleader, actor, and composer known for his energetic style and showmanship. His drum solo on “Sing, Sing, Sing” (1937) elevated the role of the drummer as a frequently used solo voice in the band.
• 1974 ~ “Mack & Mabel” opened at Majestic Theater NYC for 66 performances
• 1985 ~ Nelson Riddle, Grammy Award-winning orchestra leader passed away
• 2001 ~ Blues singer Mamie “Galore” Davis died of a stroke. She was 61. Davis was born Sept. 24, 1940, in Erwin, where she started singing the blues. She graduated from O’Bannon High School and joined a local band. She performed with such musicians as Little Johnny Burton, Buddy Hicks, Little Milton and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Her first solo recording, Special Agent 34-24-38, was recorded on the St. Lawrence label in 1965. Under her first producer, Monk Higgins, she recorded two more singles for St. Lawrence, including her biggest hit, It Ain’t Necessary, in 1966.
• 2003 ~ Victor Buelow, who made it into the record books as the longest-serving community band director, died os an apparent heart attack. He was 94. Buelow directed the Jefferson American Legion Band for 72 years, from 1931 through the 2002 band season. Guinness World Records declared him the longest-serving director anywhere after he retired. Buelow stayed with the band even in retirement, playing the alto horn this summer
• 2007 ~ Queen’s groundbreaking promo for their 1975 hit Bohemian Rhapsody was named the UK’s best music video in a survey of music fans. Out of 1,051 adults polled by O2, 30% named the six-minute video, (which took only three hours to shoot and cost a mere £3,500 to make), their favorite.
• 2018 ~ Montserrat Caballé, Spanish soprano, died at the age of 85
• 2020 ~ Eddie Van Halen (Edward Lodewijk Van Halen) died at the age of 65. was a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, producer, and inventor.
• 2020 ~ John Lester Nash Jr. was an American singer-songwriter, best known in the United States for his 1972 hit “I Can See Clearly Now”. Primarily a reggae and pop singer, he was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to record reggae music in Kingston.
I have purchased a set of Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Halloween for the studio.
Each week, I will print out some of the pages for your student and put them in his/her notebook. They are also available in your Parent/Student Portal. After listening to the music on YouTube, the student may color the pages.
After they are colored, please return them to the notebook so that there will be a complete book when finished.
If you are an adult and want to listen and color, too, just let me know and I’ll print you a set.
The Shades of Sound Listening and Coloring Books are a great way to encourage students to listen to great piano and orchestral repertoire. Students of all ages will love coloring the fun pictures while listening to and learning from the music of the great composers.
This Shades of Sound Halloween edition includes 13 spooky pieces of piano and orchestral literature, ranging from the Baroque to the Modern period. By spending just 5-10 minutes per day listening for just a few days per week, students can listen to and complete the whole book in a few weeks.
Aspiring pianists need to know the literature, hear the greats perform, and be inspired and excited by the great music that is available! Just as writers need to read, read, read, pianists need to listen! Through this fun curriculum, students will learn about the musical periods and the great composers and their works. Listening repertoire selected includes selections from the standard solo piano literature, as well as solo piano and orchestra literature and orchestral works.
My hope is that students can add just 5-10 minutes of listening per day to their normal practicing. Listening to great music will change their understanding of music and will vastly increase their music history knowledge. It will excite and inspire them, encourage further study and listening, give them new pieces to add to their own repertoire wish list, infuse more great music into their lives, homes and families, and will boost their musicianship and expression to the next level.
The Halloween Shades of Sound book includes 13 different pieces, including:
Totentanz by Liszt
Le Cimetiere, from Clairs de Lune by Abel Decaux
Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov
Tarantelle, from Music for Children Op. 65 No. 4 by Prokofiev
Tarantella by Albert Pieczonka
In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Bach
Funeral March, from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor by Chopin
Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens
The Banshee by Henry Cowell
Scarbo, from Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas
Students may use The Playful Piano – Halloween Listening YouTube playlist to listen along with their book using quality recordings. The playlist is ordered to go right along with the book, and also includes 5 extra pieces (some pages include optional “Further Listening” examples students may listen to).
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.
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.
Humoresques Op. 101 (B. 187), is a piano cycle by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, written during the summer of 1894. One writer says “the seventh Humoresque is probably the most famous small piano work ever written after Beethoven’s Für Elise.
Jazz with Wynton Marsalis on trumpet
Zez Confrey gave this a makeover and included Way Down Upon the Swanee River:
Find the original Humoresque on IMSLP. The O’Connor Music Studio Lending Library has versions of Humoresque available at several levels and Confey’s Humorestless played in the video above.