• 1961 ~ Roy Hay, Musician, guitar with Culture Club
• 1966 ~ The last tour for The Beatles began at the International Amphitheater in Chicago, and John Lennon apologized for boasting that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. London’s Catholic Herald said Lennon’s comment was “arrogant … but probably true.”
• 1967 ~ Fleetwood Mac made their stage debut at the National Blues and Jazz Festival in Great Britain.
• 1992 ~ John Cage, American composer (Imaginary Landscape No 1/O’O), died of a stroke at the age of 79
Stephen Powers first thought of his grand piano as an impressive piece of furniture.
But he enjoyed listening to music so much when friends played at parties at his home in North Wilmington that he began taking lessons.
“I enjoy having a couple of songs under my belt,” says Powers, a 52-year-old banker. “I play Happy Birthday. I play Getting to Know You for my mom.”
Powers is part of a boomlet of adults who are studying piano. Many took lessons briefly as children and regret giving it up. Some simply enjoy music. Others gravitated toward the keyboard because studies suggest piano improves mental acuity while reducing the odds of dementia.
A Swedish study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when a twin played a musical instrument later in life, he or she was 64 percent less likely to develop dementia than the twin who did not play.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2013 evaluated the impact of piano lessons on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in adults age 60 to 84.
The group that studied piano showed significant improvement in tests that measure executive function, controlling inhibitions and divided attention, as well as enhanced visual scanning and motor ability. Piano students also reported a better quality of life.
Some grownups simply relish a challenge.
In the United Kingdom, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, took to the keyboard at age 56. He chronicled the year he spent learning Chopin’s demanding No. Ballade 1 in G Minor in the book Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.
Richard Swarmer, 57, of Lewes, played the trumpet from grade school through college. He has sung in several choirs. This year, he began piano lessons.
Learning the piano isn’t easy even for someone with a musical background. Still, Swarmer appreciates that the creative thought process is different from the focus required by his job for a medical benefits company.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking piano lessons as an adult,” he says. “It provides a welcome respite from the demands of my job.”
Ethel Thirtel of North Wilmington is 71 and a student at the Music School of Delaware. She is also taking French lessons to help keep her intellect sharp.
“Both pursuits involve active studying and practice to master new skills,” she says.
To meet rising demand, the Music School of Delaware offers adults-only evening group classes to accommodate working people, says Matthew Smith, student and alumni relations officer. The school also provides instruction for adults 50 and older through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Delaware.
“In addition to professionals, we are getting a lot more inquiries from older adults who are retired and have time on their hands,” he says.
Geri Smith, a Julliard-trained singer, musician and composer, has taught piano to children in public schools as well as private arts centers. Her adult students include a 59-year-old writer who took up piano after the death of her husband, a gifted musician.
“Teaching children is a different experience than teaching adults,” says Smith, of Unionville. “Kids pretty much do what you ask them to do but adults ask lots of questions. They want to know why things have to be done a certain way.”
An important part of learning piano is creating new pathways in the brain. A Harvard Medical School study examined the impact of practicing the piano on synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning.
Volunteers practiced two hours a day for five days, playing a five-finger exercise to the beat of a metronome. To learn how that impacted the neurons scientists used transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS), in which a wire coil sends magnetic impulses to the brain.
They discovered that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to the finger exercises had expanded like crabgrass.
“Playing the piano creates new synapses,” Smith says. “Think of it as creating a conduit so your right hand can talk to your left hand.”
Meldene Gruber of Rehoboth Beach, who has taught piano for more than 40 years, has seen a surge in adult students in the past two years. Now, half her students are adults.
“A number of my adults say they think playing the piano will help with mental acuity,” she says. “Playing the piano forces you to use both sides of the brain, which is great for neuron firing.”
Most adults have specific goals in mind, such as learning to play Christmas carols or a few favorite pieces.
“You don’t get adults who are focused on becoming concert pianists,” Gruber says. “They come for the joy of playing, not because their mothers made them.”
• 1874 ~ Reynaldo Hahn, Venezuelan-born French composer, conductor and music critic
• 1902 ~ Solomon Cutner, Classical pianist. A virtuoso performer, he played Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto at the age of 10. His career was stopped after a stroke in 1965.
• 1902 ~ Zino (Rene) Francescatti, French concert violinist; passed away in 1991
• 1910 ~ A.J. Fisher of Chicago, IL received a patent for an invention that moms, grandmas and single guys certainly came to appreciate: the electric washing machine. Previous to Mr. Fisher’s invention, washing machines were cranked by hand (not easily done) – or you used a washboard (also sometimes used as a musical instrument).
• 1919 ~ Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Italian composer and librettist, died. He is famous for the single opera “Pagliacci” but never repeated the success with his other works.
More information about Leoncavallo
• 1932 ~ Helen Morgan joined the Victor Young orchestra to record Bill, a popular tune from Broadway’s Showboat.
• 1934 ~ Merle Kilgore, Songwriter Hall of Famer
• 1939 ~ Billy Henderson, Singer with Spinners
• 1955 ~ Benjamin Orr (Orzechowski), Musician, bass guitar, singer with The Cars
• 1963 ~ The TV program Ready, Set, Go! premiered on the BBC in London, England. The show gave exposure to such music luminaries as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
• 1964 ~ Joan Baez and Bob Dylan shared the stage for the first time when the singers performed in a concert in Forest Hills, NY.
• 1969 ~ Hot Fun in The Summertime, by Sly and the Family Stone, and Easy to Be Hard, from the Broadway production Hair, were released on this day. Hot Fun made it to number two on the music charts and Easy to Be Hard climbed to number four.
• 1975 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch, Russian composer, died. He wrote 15 symphonies as well as operas, ballets and film and theater scores.
More information about Shostakovitch
• 1995 ~ Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead passed away
• 2003 ~ Chester Ludgin, a baritone in the New York City Opera for more than 30 years, died at the age of 78.
Ludgin sang a host of lead baritone parts, but was most recognizable in operas including “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and “Susannah.” He debuted at the City Opera in 1957 in Johann Strauss II’s “Fledermaus.”
He also portrayed the part of Sam for Leonard Bernstein’s “A Quiet Place” at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983. He also sang for the San Francisco Opera and other North American companies.
His last appearance at City Opera was in 1991, but he remained on the stage, singing in musical comedies. His most recent lead was in “The Most Happy Fella.”
• 2003 ~ Gregory Hines, American actor and dancer, died of liver cancer at the age of 57
• 1818 ~ Henry Charles Litolff, French pianist, composer and music publisher
• 1921 ~ Karel Husa, Czech-born American composer and conductor
• 1921 ~ Warren Covington, Bandleader, trombone, played with Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights
• 1925 ~ Felice Bryant, Songwriter with husband Boudleaux
• 1931 ~ Bix Beiderbecke, U.S. Jazz musician and composer, died. The first white musician to make an impact on jazz, he died from pneumonia aged 28.
• 1936 ~ Rahsaan Roland Kirk, American jazz musician
• 1937 ~ Bunny Berigan and his orchestra recorded I Can’t Get Started for Victor Records. The song became Berigan’s longtime theme song.
• 1939 ~ Ron Holden, Singer
• 1942 ~ B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas, Singer
• 1943 ~ Lana Cantrell, Entertainer and singer
• 1952 ~ Andy Fraser, Musician: bass with Free
• 1958 ~ Bruce Dickenson, Singer with Iron Maiden
• 1970 ~ Christine McVie joined Fleetwood Mac as the group’s first female member. McVie was married to bass player John McVie. She quit touring with the group in 1991.
• 1971 ~ Homer (Henry D. Haynes) passed away
• 1975 ~ The Rolling Stones received a gold album for Made in the Shade.
• 1987 ~ Back to the Beach opened at theatres around the country. The film reunited Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, who played middle-aged parents with rebellious kids — kids like Frankie and Annette had played in their Bikini Beach movies in the 1960s.
• 2001 ~ Larry Adler, acknowledged as the king of the harmonica, died at the age of 87 at a London hospital after a long illness. Adler, born in Baltimore in February 1914, was a musical prodigy whose career covered seven decades during which he worked with a veritable who’s who of the 20th century’s entertainment industry.
From George Gershwin to Elton John, the classically trained Adler had worked with and inspired generations of musicians, touring as late as 1994 and even planning an update of his 1985 biography “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
“He was without doubt one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century,” said musical agent Jonathan Shalit.
“Larry was a man who believed the show must always go on, even to the point of playing from his wheelchair,” he added.
Adler learned to play the piano and mouth organ by ear from listening to records and could not actually read music until 1941.
He won the Maryland Harmonica Championship in 1927 after being expelled from a music conservatory and promptly ran away to New York and got a job playing in film theaters between features.
In 1936 he played harmonica on George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, prompting the composer to exclaim that it sounded as though he had written the haunting melody especially for Adler.
During World War Two Adler toured extensively in Africa and the Middle East, entertaining troops, and insisting on a non-segregation policy between whites and blacks at concerts.
He also entertained in the South Pacific with artists including comedian Jack Benny, and worked consistently for the war effort and the Allied forces.
In 1945 he went to Berlin where he played The Battle Hymn of the Republic on harmonica on the balcony of Adolf Hitler’s ruined chancellery after Germany capitulated.
He left the U.S. for Britain in the early 1950s after being blacklisted during the McCarthy communist witch hunt.
Adler’s most familiar composition is the music for the film comedy “Genevieve,” but he composed the music for other films.
In 1967 and 1973, gave his services to Israel in aid of those affected by the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars.
After Adler guested on Sting’s 1993 album “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” the rock singer returned the compliment and appeared on Adler’s 80th birthday celebration, The Glory Of Gershwin.
They were joined by other stars from the rock world such as Meat Loaf, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Sinead O’Connor.
A tennis fanatic, Adler once played in a doubles match with Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Salvador Dali.
• 2001 ~ Billy Byrd, who once played lead guitar for Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours, died at the age of 81.
William Lewis Byrd was born in Nashville, and taught himself guitar by copying the records of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.
In the 1940s, Byrd backed the Oak Ridge Quartet (predecessor of the Oak Ridge Boys), Little Jimmy Dickens, George Morgan and others.
In 1949, Byrd succeeded Tommy “Butterball” Paige as lead guitarist in Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours.
On many of Tubb’s hit records, Tubb would introduce Byrd’s tight melodic solos by exclaiming, “Aw, Billy Byrd now,” or “Play it pretty, Billy Byrd.” Byrd played on scores of Tubb hits, including Jealous Loving Heart,Two Glasses Joe and Answer the Phone.
Byrd also drove Tubb’s bus during his first tenure with the Texas Troubadours, which lasted a decade. He returned twice to the band, from 1969-70 and 1973-74.
Byrd released three solo instrumental albums, and during a brief stint in California backed Tab Hunter and Tex Ritter. In 1950,
Byrd and guitarist Hank Garland designed the popular Byrdland guitar for Gibson Guitars.
• 2017 ~ David Henry Maslanka, American composer, died at the age of 73
• 1834 ~ Hermann Mendel, German music lexicographer
• 1909 ~ Karl Ulrich Schnabel, German pianist and composer
• 1912 ~ Marina Koshetz, who followed her famous Russian diva mother Nina to the opera and concert stage and into the movies, was born. Koshetz was born in Moscow, trained in France and came to the United States as a teenager. She made her debut substituting for her mother Nina Koshetz on radio’s “Kraft Music Hall.” Using her father’s surname, she began appearing in films in the early 1930s as Marina Schubert. Among her early films were “Little Women,” “All the King’s Horses” and “British Agent.”
Marina concentrated more on her voice in the 1940s. Adopting the professional name Marina Koshetz, she went on to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Koshetz made her Los Angeles recital debut at the old Philharmonic Auditorium in 1947.
• 1921 ~ Buddy (William) Collette, Musician. reeds, piano and composer
• 1939 ~ After becoming a success with Ben Bernie on network radio, Dinah Shore started her own show on the NBC Blue radio network. Dinah sang every Sunday evening. Dinah also had a successful TV career spanning over two decades.
• 1940 ~ Columbia Records cut the prices of its 12-inch classical records. The records were priced to sell at $1. Within two weeks, RCA Victor did the same and ended a record-buying slump brought on by disinterested consumers.
• 1958 ~ Randy DeBarge, Musician, bass, vocals with DeBarge
• 1973 ~ Stevie Wonder came close to losing his life, following a freak auto accident. Wonder, one of Motown’s most popular recording artists, was in a coma for 10 days. Miraculously, he recovered and was back in the recording studio in less than eight weeks.
• 1981 ~ Stevie Nicks’ first solo album, Bella Donna, was released. The lead singer for Fleetwood Mac scored a top-three hit with Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around from the album. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were featured on the track. Nicks went on to record a total of 11 hits for the pop-rock charts through 1988.
• 1996 ~ “The Macarena” began its reign atop the U.S. pop charts
• 2012 ~ Marvin Hamlisch, American composer and conductor, died at the age of 68
• 2016 ~ Pete Fountain, the famed New Orleans jazz clarinetist whose 60-year career was marked by performances for presidents and a pope, making him an international ambassador for the music and culture of his hometown, died at the age of 86.
• 1949 ~ B.B. (Morris) Dickerson, Bass and singer with War
• 1951 ~ Johnny Graham, Guitarist with Earth, Wind and Fire
• 1963 ~ The Beatles made their final appearance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. The group was about to leave its hometown behind for unprecedented worldwide fame and fortune.
• 1963 ~ The Beach Boys’ Surfer Girl, was released on Capitol Records. It became one of their biggest hits. Surfer Girl made it to number seven on the hit music charts on September 14, 1963
• 1963 ~ Comedian Allan Sherman’s summer camp parody, Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter from Camp) was released on Warner Brothers Records. The melody was based on the Dance of the Hours from Ponchielli’s opera La Giaconda. This dance was also performed in the original Disney movie Fantasia.
• 1971 ~ Paul McCartney formed a new band called Wings. Joining McCartney in the group were Denny Laine, formerly of The Moody Blues, Denny Seilwell and McCartney’s wife, Linda.
• 1998 ~ Alfred Schnittke, one of the most original and influential composers to emerge from the Soviet Union, died. He was 63.
• 2001 ~ Jeanne Loriod, the leading performer of an electronic instrument used in film scores and symphonic works to produce mysterious glassy tones, died in southern France. She was 73. Loriod, who played the ondes martenot – invented by the French musician Maurice Martenot – died of a stroke in Juan-les-Pins, Le Monde newspaper reported.
She was the younger sister of pianist Yvonne Loriod, who was married to composer Olivier Messiaen. The three musicians often collaborated.
The ondes martenot – which translates as “Martenot waves” – produces electronic waves from a system of transistors, a keyboard and a ribbon attached to a ring on the performer’s forefinger.
Loriod’s career took her all over the world. She performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic, among others.
Composers such as Tristan Murail, Jacques Charpentier and Michael Levinas wrote works for her, according to Le Monde. Loriod had also been planning to collaborate with the pop group Radiohead, the paper wrote.
• 2008 ~ Louis Teicher died at 83. He was half of the piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, which toured for four decades and released 150 albums, some as suitable for elevators as for concert halls.
• 2016 ~ Ricci Martin, an entertainer/musician son of Dean Martin, died at the age of 62.
• 1877 ~ Angela Diller, American pianist and educator
• 1919 ~ Oscar Hammerstein I passed away
• 1930 ~ Lionel Bart, Broadway Composer
• 1930 ~ Geoffrey Holder, Dancer
• 1939 – American bandleader Glenn Miller recorded In the Mood which later became his theme tune.
• 1942 ~ Jerry Garcia, American rock guitarist, banjo, lyricist and singer with The Grateful Dead
• 1942 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded Charleston Alley, on Decca Records.
• 1942 ~ The American Federation of Musicians went on strike. Union president James C. Petrillo told musicians that phonograph records were “a threat to members’ jobs.” As a result, musicians refused to perform in recording sessions over the next several months. Live, musical radio broadcasts continued, however.
• 1947 ~ Rick Anderson, Musician, bass with The Tubes
• 1947 ~ Rick Coonce, Singer, drummer with The Grassroots
• 1953 ~ Robert Cray, Guitar
• 1960 ~ Chubby Checker’s The Twist was released. The song inspired the dance craze of the 1960s.
• 1971 ~ The Concert for Bangladesh was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar and Billy Preston performed. A multi-record set commemorating the event was a super sales success. Together, the concert and the album raised over $11 million to help the starving minions of Bangladesh.
• 1981 ~ MTV (Music Television) made its debut at 12:01 a.m.
• 1984 ~ Singer Jermaine Jackson made a guest appearance on the TV soap opera, As the World Turns.
• 1997 ~ Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter died of a heart attack in a Moscow hospital. He was 82.
• 2007 ~ Tommy Makem, Irish folk singer died
• 2017 ~ Goldy McJohn, Canadian musician (Steppenwolf), died at the age of 72
• 1911 ~ George Liberace, Violinist, conductor; administrator of Liberace Museum; brother of pianist/entertainer Liberace
• 1918 ~ Jan La Rue, American musicologist
• 1918 ~ Hank Jones, Pianist. He accompanied Billy Eckstine and Ella Fitzgerald. He led the Hank Jones Trio
• 1919 ~ Mornam Del Mar, British conductor
• 1923 ~ Ahmet Ertegun, Recording Executive
• 1939 ~ John West, Musician, guitarist with Gary Lewis and the Playboys
• 1942 ~ Harry James and his band recorded the classic I’ve Heard that Song Before, for Columbia Records. Helen Forrest sang on the million-seller.
• 1943 ~ Lobo, Singer
• 1946 ~ Gary Lewis (Levitch), Singer with Gary Lewis and the Playboys, entertainer Jerry Lewis’ son
• 1946 ~ Bob Welch, Guitarist and singer with Fleetwood Mac
• 1947 ~ Karl Green, Musician, guitar and harmonica with Herman’s Hermits
• 1964 ~ Jim Reeves, popular U.S. country music singer, died in an air crash near Nashville.
• 1985 ~ Prince was big at the box office with the autobiographical story of the Minneapolis rock star, Purple Rain. The flick grossed $7.7 million in its first three days of release on 917 movie screens. The album of the same name was the top LP in the U.S., as well.
• 2019 ~ Hal (Harold Smith) Prince died at the age of 91, He was an American theatrical producer and director associated with many of the best-known Broadway musical productions of the 20th century.
Over the span of his career, he garnered 21 Tony Awards, more than any other individual, including eight for directing, eight for producing the year’s Best Musical, two as Best Producer of a Musical, and three special awards.
• 1751 ~ Maria Anna Mozart, Austrian pianist and Wolfgang’s sister, born in Salzburg, Austria
• 1899 ~ Gerald Moore, British pianist and accompanist
• 1909 ~ Adolph Baller, Pianist
• 1926 ~ Martin Bookspan, American music critic, administrator and broadcaster
• 1929 ~ Christine McGuire, Singer with The McGuire Sisters
• 1936 ~ Buddy (George) Guy, Blues guitar, singer, on BBC TV
• 1941 ~ Buddy Guy, Blues Musician
• 1941 ~ Paul Anka, Canadian singer and songwriter of popular music. He composed Johnny’s Theme (Tonight Show Theme) and had 33 hits over 3 decades, including “Diana” and “Puppy Love”.
• 1942 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded the last of 90 recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra on Victor Records. His last side was There are Such Things, which became number one in January of 1943. Sinatra moved on as a solo singing sensation.
• 1942 ~ Stagedoor Canteen was first heard on CBS radio. The show was broadcast live from New York City and 500 servicemen were entertained each week by celebrities who freely donated their time for the war (WWII) effort.
• 1945 ~ David Sanborn, Grammy Award-winning musician, saxophone, flute, composer of the TV movie score to Finnegan Begin Again
• 1947 ~ Marc Bolan (Feld), Singer with T. Rex
• 1956 ~ Singer Brenda Lee recorded her first hit for Decca Records. Jambalaya and Bigelow 6-500 started a new career for the petite 11-year-old from Lithonia, GA (near Atlanta). Brenda Mae Tarpley (Brenda Lee) had been singing professionally since age six. She recorded 29 hit songs in the 1960s and became a successful country singer in 1971. Brenda Lee had a pair of number one tunes with I’m Sorry and I Want to be Wanted. She recorded a dozen hits that made it to the top 10.
• 1958 ~ Kate Bush, Singer
• 2002 ~ Leonard Litman, who ran two top Pittsburgh entertainment venues in the 1940s and ’50s that attracted stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Bill Haley’s Comets, died of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88. Litman owned Lenny Litman’s Copa, a nightclub that flourished in the city’s downtown from 1948 to 1959. Earlier, he ran the influential Mercur’s Music Bar. After the Copa closed in 1959, Litman continued to promote concerts and made a brief foray into sports in the 1960s when he and his brothers invested in an American Basketball League team. Litman worked as the Pittsburgh correspondent for Billboard Magazine from 1948 to 1960 and as a correspondent for Variety for decades.
• 2003 ~ Sam Phillips, American record producer and founder of Sun Records and Sun Studios, died at the age of 80
• 2016 ~ Gloria DeHaven, American musical actress (Step Lively), died at the age of 91
• 1856 ~ Robert Schumann passed away. Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist.
More information about Schumann
• 1887 ~ Sigmund Romberg, Hungarian-born American operetta composer, founding member of ASCAP. He was famous for his operettas “Desert Song”, “Maytime” and “Student Prince”
• 1916 ~ Charlie Christian, American guitarist and blues singer
• 1917 ~ Homer (Henry D. Haynes), Comedy singer, duo: Homer and Jethro
• 1925 ~ Mikis Theodorakis, Composer
• 1930 ~ Paul Taylor, Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Emmy Award-winning choreographer, Kennedy Center Honors in 1992 “…for enhancing the lives of people around the world and enriching the culture of our nation.”
• 1933 ~ Randy Sparks, Folk singer, songwriter with the New Christy Minstrels
• 1935 ~ Peter Schreier, German tenor
• 1946 ~ Neal Doughty, Keyboards with REO Speedwagon
• 1953 ~ Geddy Lee, Bass, singer with Rush
• 1965 ~ The Queen of England attended the premiere of the motion picture, Help!, starring The Beatles. The command performance was held at the London Pavilion. The film later earned first prize at the Rio De Janeiro Film Festival in Brazil. The Beatles later said the film was shot in a “haze of marijuana”. According to Starr’s interviews in The Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting, he and McCartney ran off over the hill from the “curling” scene set to smoke a joint.
• 1966 ~ Martina McBride, Country singer
• 1967 ~ The Doors score their first #1 hit with “Light My Fire”
• 1970 ~ Sir John Barbirolli died. He was the British conductor of the Halle Orchestra, and was a famous interpreter of English music, Mahler and Italian opera.