April 9: Today’s Music History

today

. 1886 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer, performed his debut piano concert in Barcelona.

. 1888 ~ Sol Hurok, Impresario

OCMS 1890 ~ Efram Zimbalist, Russian-born American violinist and composer
More information about Zimbalist

. 1898 ~ Paul Robeson, American bass. Known for his sympathy for Russia he had his passport revoked for many years. The song Ole Man River, whose words he changed to fit his views, became his signature song.

. 1906 ~ Antal Dorati, Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He was the first conductor to record all of Haydn’s symphonies.

. 1916 ~ Julian Dash, Jazz musician, tenor sax

. 1928 ~ Tom Lehrer, Songwriter

. 1932 ~ Carl Perkins, early American rock ‘n’ roll figure who originally recorded Blue Suede Shoes. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987

. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, along with singer Helen O’Connell, recorded Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga for Decca Records.

. 1950 ~ Bob Hope hosted a Star-Spangled Review on NBC-TV. Hope became the highest- paid performer for a single show on TV. The Star-Spangled Review was a musical special.

. 1970 ~ Paul McCartney sought a High Court writ to wind up the Beatles business partnership, effectively ending the group’s career.

. 1977 ~ The Swedish pop group Abba made its debut at number one on the American pop charts, as Dancing Queen became the most popular record in the U.S.

. 1988 ~ Brook Benton passed away.  He was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences.

. 2001 ~ Graziella Sciutti, an Italian soprano and opera director best known for her interpretations of Mozart, died at the age of 68. Born in Turin, northern Italy, in 1932, Sciutti made her first operatic appearance at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1951. She went on to perform under Herbert von Karajan at Milan’s La Scala. She was lead soprano at a smaller theater at La Scala called La Piccola Scala for eight years from its inception in 1955. She became a member of the Vienna State Opera in 1960 and the following year made her debut in San Francisco in one of her most celebrated roles, as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. She began her directing career at Covent Garden in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where she directed and performed in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in 1977. She then went on to direct in Canada and for the opera companies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Miami, as well as in Britain, Germany and Italy. She joined London’s Royal College of Music in the mid 1980s and continued to teach there until shortly before her death.

April 3: Today’s Music History

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. 1850 ~ Vaclav Jan Krtitel Tomasek, organist/pianist/composer, died at the age of 75

. 1859 ~ Reginald De Koven, Composer

. 1895 ~ Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Italian-born American composer

. 1897 ~ Johannes Brahms, German composer and pianist, died. He wrote four symphonies as well as concerti for piano and violin and highly-esteemed chamber works.

. 1924 ~ Doris Day, Singer

. 1942 ~ Wayne Newton, American singer of popular music

. 1944 ~ Tony Orlando, Singer, Tony Orlando and Dawn

. 1948 ~ Garrick Ohlsson, American pianist, winner of Poland’s Frederic Chopin piano competition in 1970. More about this competition.

. 1949 ~ Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis debuted on radio in an NBC program that ran until 1952.

. 1950 ~ Kurt Weil, German composer, died, best known for his “Threepenny Opera” and for his collaboration with actress and singer Lotte Lenya whom he married in 1926.

. 1952 ~ Harry Belafonte recorded his first songs for RCA Victor at Manhattan Center in New York City.

. 1952 ~ Hugo Winterhalter backed up the singer with an 18-piece orchestra. Among the sides recorded were Dogs A-Roving and Chimney Smoke.

. 1955 ~ Fred Astaire appeared on television for the first time on The Toast of the Town, with host, Ed Sullivan. Already an established dancer in films, Astaire was quick to become a TV sensation as well.

. 1965 ~ Bob Dylan appeared on the pop music charts for the first time. Subterranean Homesick Blues entered the Top 40 at number 39. The song stayed on the charts for eight weeks. Dylan would chart a total of 12 singles on the pop charts between 1965 and 1979. He appeared in the films Don’t Look Back, Eat the Document and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He made the film Renaldo and Clara in 1978. Dylan co-starred in the film Hearts of Fire in 1987. He became a member of the Traveling Wilburys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Dylan won the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.

. 1972 ~ Ferde Grofe, US composer (Grand Canyon Suite), died at the age of 80
More about Grofe

. 1986 ~ For the first time in six years, major record companies decided to raise prices – between three and five percent.

. 1986 ~ Peter Pears, British operatic tenor, died. He was a collaborator with composer Benjamin Britten and first interpreter of many of Britten’s works, notably “Peter Grimes.”

. 1990 ~ Sarah Vaughan passed away

. 1999 ~ Lionel Bart, British composer of the musical “Oliver!,” died aged 68.

. 2001 ~ Lester “Big Daddy” Kinsey, a blues singer-guitarist known for his croaky voice, died of prostate cancer. He was 74. Kinsey and his sons, Kenneth, Donald and Ralph, became known as “Big Daddy” Kinsey and His Fabulous Sons. The sons now form the Gary-based Kinsey Report and record for Alligator Records, a Chicago blues label. The Kinsey Report has toured with the likes of the Allman Brothers Band. In the early ’90s, the elder Kinsey experienced one of his career highlights with I Am the Blues, a major-label release on Polygram. The album boasted a host of blues standouts backing up Kinsey, including Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Sugar Blue and Pinetop Perkins.

. 2015 ~ Andrew Porter died.  He was a renowned music critic and scholar and translator of opera.

March 30: Today’s Music History

 

. 1674 ~ Pietro Antonio Locatelli died.  He was an Italian Baroque composer and violinist.

. 1872 ~ Sergei Vasilenko, Russian composer

. 1900 ~ Ted (Edward) Heath, Musician, trombonist, bandleader: played big band concerts every Sunday at the Palladium in the 1940s and 1950s

. 1913 ~ Frankie Laine (Frank Paul LoVecchio), Singer

. 1923 ~ The Audubon Ballroom in New York City was the scene of the first dance marathon. Alma Cummings danced the foxtrot, one-step and waltz with half a dozen partners.

. 1932 ~ Leonard Bernstein participated in his first piano recital at New England Conservatory, performing Brahms’ Rhapsody in G Minor.  He was 13.

. 1935 ~ Gordon Mumma, American composer of experimental music

. 1941 ~ Graeme Edge, Drummer with The Moody Blues

. 1942 ~ Bobby Wright, Country artist, actor, son of Johnny Wright of Johnnie and Jack country duo

. 1945 ~ Eric Clapton, British rock guitarist with the Yardbirds; songwriter, Grammy Award-winning singer: Bad Love in 1990

. 1959 ~ Sabine Meyer, German clarinetist

. 1963 ~ The Chiffons began a four-week stay at the top of the pop music charts as their hit single, He’s So Fine, became number one. The song stayed at the top of the top tune tabulation until Little Peggy March came along with I Will Follow Him on April 27th.

. 1964 ~ Tracy Chapman, Grammy Award-winning folk singer-songwriter

. 1964 ~ Willem Andriessen, Dutch composer and pianist (Beethoven), died at the age of 76

. 1968 ~ Celine Dion, Singer

. 1970 ~ Lauren Bacall starred in Applause which opened on Broadway. The show became one of the hardest tickets to get on the Great White Way. Critics called Bacall “a sensation.” The play, at the Palace Theatre, was an adaptation of the film, All About Eve. It continued for 896 performances. A London version of the show, also starring Bacall, opened in 1972.

. 1971 ~ The Bee Gees received a gold record for the single, Lonely Days. When playing it, they heard the song at a faster speed and said, “Hey, this sounds like disco!” and the rest was Saturday Night Fever music history…

. 1974 ~ John Denver reached the top spot on the music charts with his hit, Sunshine on My Shoulders. It was the singer’s first number one song. Three other singles by Denver reached the top of the music world: Annie’s Song, Thank God I’m a Country Boy and I’m Sorry. Take Me Home Country Roads made it to the number two position, while Rocky Mountain High just cracked the Top 10 at number 9. Denver wrote Leaving on a Jet Plane for Peter, Paul and Mary and won an Emmy for the TV special, An Evening With John Denver.

Is Your Tune Piano in Tune?

piano-tuning

 

When it comes to tuning, every piano is different, even two pianos of the same style and make are different, and the humidity of the room makes a big difference, he said.

High humidity causes the sound board to swell, stretching the strings and causing the pitch to go sharp, while low humidity has the opposite effect.

In Minnesota, humidity can easily range from 80 percent in the summertime to 10-15 percent in the winter, if the home doesn’t have a humidifier. Wood-heated homes tend to be especially dry, he said.

“Pianos like it between 40 and 50 percent humidity in the house,” he said.

Even places that are supposedly “climate-controlled,” aren’t always. The heat might get turned down substantially evenings and weekends, for example.

A new piano needs a few weeks to settle into its new home before tuning, Fry said.

“If they get a new piano, generally they call us the day before it gets in the house,” he said. “It should sit in the house a couple weeks just to acclimatize it to its new surroundings … brand new pianos stretch for a while. They go out of tune quicker. The wire stretches and they settle into themselves.”

Some people think they have to let a new, or recently moved older piano, sit six months or a year before it gets tuned. That’s not true, Fry said, but it does need a few weeks.

He recommends that pianos be tuned at least once a year (he tunes his own piano once a year, even though he no longer gives lessons) and the busiest time for him is before the holidays — September through December.

“Piano-tuning is something people can put off,” he said. “We noticed a real drop in tuning when gas got over $3 a gallon. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but it did.”

Fry said he is looking for some kind of work to do in the summertime when his other businesses are slow.

He doesn’t give piano or guitar lessons anymore, but does enjoy tuning all types of pianos.

“It takes me a couple of hours. I have time,” Fry said. “I’m going to do the job that I like to do, and do it right.”

Read the entire article at Keeping pianos, life in tune | Detroit Lakes Online.

All About Music Theory

theory

 

As all my students know, I teach theory with all piano and organ lessons.  Sometimes, it’s from a theory book that matches a lesson book, sometimes on the fly on an “as needed” basis.

This book looks like it would be interesting to use as a review or to look ahead and see what’s coming.  I have just ordered a copy for the studio if you want to check it out at the next lesson.

From amazon.com:

 If you wish there was a fun and engaging way to help you understand the fundamentals of music, then this is it. Whether it’s learning to read music, understanding chords and scales, musical forms, or improvising and composing, this enjoyable guide will help you to finally start understanding the structure and design of music.

This fun-filled, easy-to-use guide includes:
* Music notation
* Scales and modes
* Melody harmonization and counterpoint
* Chord progressions
* Song form and structure

Listen and learn with the CD that has 90 tracks, including over 50 popular songs such as:
* Beauty and the Beast
* Candle in the Wind
* Imagine
* In the Air Tonight
* Killing Me Softly with His Song
* Let It Be
* Message in a Bottle
* Misty
* Satin Doll
* Take the ‘A’ Train
* Unchained Melody
* What’d I Say
* and more!

maryOivoryandroses

George Gershwin’s Steinway

gershwinpiano

The Gershwin family donated the Steinway to the University as part of the George and Ira Gershwin initiative that is focused on research and study of the brothers’ music.

According to Marc Gershwin, George and Ira’s nephew, “I wanted the instrument to be accessible to the students and faculty who would be preserving the legacy of George and Ira Gershwin’s music… I’m delighted that the piano will once again be in regular use [by students and faculty], and am thrilled that it has been restored to performance condition.” [Two other Gershwin Steinways are in museums.]

From what I know of George he would have wanted it this way. Unlike some composers George was a gifted pianist. He had a rich social life and enjoyed playing his music for anyone who would listen.

There’s a lesson in that thought. If you have something valuable, sometimes it becomes more valuable – or at least more appreciated – when people can see it and use it. If you look at the piano as an instrument of technology that is it, then it makes sense that organizations give people access to technology – as well as resources – to do their work.

Adapted from  What George Gershwin’s Piano Teaches Us About Technology.

March 16: Today’s Music History

today

. 1736 ~ Giovanni Battista Pergolesi died.  He was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.

. 1894 ~ Jules Massenet’s opera “Thaïs” premiered in Paris

. 1905 ~ Nadia Boulanger made her public concert debut at the piano.

. 1924 ~ Christa Ludwig, German mezzo-soprano

. 1935 ~ Theresa Berganza, Spanish mezzo-soprano

. 1937 ~ David Del Tredici, American composer

. 1942 ~ Fats Waller recorded The Jitterbug Waltz in New York for Bluebird Records.  The Jitterbug Waltz was inspired by some piano exercises that Waller’s son Maurice had been practicing on the piano.

. 1955 ~ The Ballad of Davy Crockett, by Bill Hayes, reached the number one spot on the pop music charts and stayed for five weeks beginning this day. The smash hit song sold more than 7,000,000 records on more than 20 different labels. Everyone seemed to be singing the song that saluted the frontier hero who was “Born on a mountain top in Tennessee…” Coonskin caps were seen everywhere as the Crockett craze spread like a frontier fire.

. 1963 ~ Peter, Paul and Mary released the single, Puff The Magic Dragon.

. 1971 ~ Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water LP and single won six Grammys including Record, Song and Album of the Year. Aretha Franklin won the Best Female R&B Performance Grammy for Don’t Play That Song. B.B. King won the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy for The Thrill Is Gone.

. 1983 ~ Arthur Godfrey passed away

. 1985 ~ A Chorus Line played performance number 4,000 this night at New York’s famed Shubert Theatre. The show originally opened in July, 1975, and became the longest-running show to light up the Great White Way in September, 1983.

. 1999 ~ Honoring a roster of music artists that range from The Beatles to the Backstreet Boys, the Recording Industry Association of America presented the first Diamond Awards, given in recognition of albums and singles that have sold a million copies or more.

. 1999 ~ Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and the late Roosevelt Sykes were inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.

. 2014 ~ Mitch Leigh, American musical composer (Man of La Mancha), died at the age of 86

. 2017 ~ James Cotton, American blues vocalist and harmonica player, died at the age of 81

March 12: Today’s Music History

today

. 1563 ~ John Bull, English composer, musician and organ builder, credited with composing Britain’s national anthem “God Save The King/Queen” (debated), died about the age of 68

. 1710 ~ Thomas Arne, English composer
More information about Arne

. 1890 ~ Vaslav Nijinsky, Ukrainian ballet dancer

. 1891 ~ Clara Schumann gave her final piano performance.

. 1921 ~ Gordon MacRae, Singer

. 1923 ~ Dr. Lee DeForest demonstrated his putting sound on motion picture film. One of the pioneers of radio in the early 1900s, DeForest came up with a snappy name for his invention; he called it phonofilm. Today, we call it a soundtrack.

. 1937 ~ Charles-Marie Widor died.  He was a was a French organist, composer and teacher.

. 1939 ~ Artie Shaw and his band recorded the standard, Deep Purple, in New York for the Bluebird label. Listening carefully after the first minute or so, one can hear Helen Forrest sing the vocal refrain. Larry Clinton and his orchestra had a number one song with a similar arrangement of the same tune that same year. It later was a hit for saxophonist, Nino Tempo and his sister, April Stevens in 1963. Hundreds of versions of this song have been recorded through the years, making it one of the most popular standards of all time.

. 1940 ~ Al Jarreau, Singer

. 1946 ~ Liza Minnelli, American actress and singer of popular music
More information about Minnelli

. 1948 ~ James Taylor, American folk-rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist

. 1955 ~ Charlie “Bird” Parker, an influential U.S. jazz saxophonist, died.

. 1955 ~ One of the great groups of jazz appeared for the first time at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Dave Brubeck Quartet presented a magnificent concert for jazz fans.

. 1969 ~ Wedding bells rang in London for singer, Paul McCartney and his new bride, photographer, Linda Eastman.

. 1985 ~ Eugene Ormandy, U.S. conductor, died. He directed the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1936-1980 and was especially noted for his performances of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.

. 1987 ~ The famous musical play “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo opened on Broadway in New York.

. 1991 ~ Jimmy McPartland passed away

. 1993 ~ June Valli, singer (Crying in the Chapel), died at the age of 62

. 1999 ~ World-famous violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin died in Berlin.

March 4: Today’s Music History

 

March Forth is also known as Marching Music Day.  Find out more at https://www.maryo.co/march-forth-fourth/

Today is also  National Grammar Day.

. 1678 ~ Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, Italian Baroque composer. The creator of hundreds of spirited, extroverted instrumental works, Vivaldi is widely recognized as the master of the Baroque instrumental concerto, which he perfected and popularized perhaps more than any of his contemporaries. A group of four violin concerti from Vivaldi’s Op. 8, better known as “The Four Seasons”, may well be the most universally recognizable musical work from the Baroque period. Perhaps the most prolific of all the great European composers, he once boasted that he could compose a concerto faster than a copyist could ready the individual parts for the players in the orchestra.
More information about Vivaldi

(MaryO’Note:  Spring from The Four Seasons is available in the Piano Maestro App for piano students)

. 1801 ~ The U.S. Marine Band performed for the first time at a presidential nomination. That president was Thomas Jefferson.

. 1839 ~ Ignace Antoine Ladurner, pianist/composer, died at the age of 72

. 1875 ~ Bizet’s Carmen premier, Paris

. 1877 ~ The ballet of Swan Lake, composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was performed for the first time in the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia

and

. 1915 ~ Carlos Surinac, Catalan Spanish-born composer and conductor

. 1918 ~ Frank Wigglesworth, American composer

. 1925 ~ Enzo Stuarti, Opera singer

. 1928 ~ Samuel Adler, German-born American composer

. 1929 ~ Bernard Haitink, Dutch conductor

. 1932 ~ Miriam (Zensile) Makeba, South African born singer who was the first black South African to attain international stardom.

. 1934 ~ Barbara McNair, Singer, TV hostess of The Barbara McNair Show, actress

. 1942 ~ Dick Jurgen’s orchestra recorded One Dozen Roses on Okeh Records in Chicago.

. 1942 ~ The Stage Door Canteen opened on West 44th Street in New York City. The canteen became widely known as a service club for men in the armed forces and a much-welcomed place to spend what would otherwise have been lonely hours. The USO, the United Service Organization, grew out of the ‘canteen’ operation, to provide entertainment for American troops around the world.

. 1943 ~ Irving Berlin picked up the Best Song Oscar for a little ditty he had written for the film, Holiday Inn: White Christmas at the 15th Academy Awards.

. 1944 ~ Bobby Womack, Songwriter, singer

. 1948 ~ Chris Squire, Bass with Yes

. 1948 ~ Shakin’ Stevens (Michael Barratt), Singer, actor

. 1951 ~ Chris Rea, Guitarist with these groups Chris Rea Band and Ambrosia; singer, songwriter

. 1969 ~ Chastity Bono, Singer, daughter of Sonny & Cher

. 1978 ~ Andy Gibb reached the top of the music charts as (Love is) Thicker Than Water reached #1 for a two-week stay. The Bee Gees also set a record on this day as their single, How Deep Is Your Love, from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack stayed in the top 10 for an unprecedented 17 weeks.

. 1981 ~ Lyricist E.Y. ‘Yip’ Harburg died in an auto accident in Hollywood, CA at the age of 82. Two of his most successful hits were Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz and It’s Only a Paper Moon, popularized by Nat King Cole and many others.

. 2001 ~ Glenn Hughes, a singer who performed as the mustachioed, leather-clad biker in the disco band the Village People, died at the age of 50. The group, which was the brainchild of producer Jacques Morali, featured men dressed as an Indian, a soldier, a construction worker, a police officer, a cowboy and Hughes’ character, a biker. The band released its first single, San Francisco (You’ve Got Me), in 1977. It followed the next year with its first hit, Macho Man. The band then produced a string of hits, including Y.M.C.A., In the Navy and Go West. Collectively the Village People sold 65 million albums and singles. Although disco fell out of fashion in the 1980s, Hughes stayed with the band until 1996, when he left to sing in Manhattan cabarets.

. 2003 ~ Fedora Barbieri, a mezzo-soprano whose passionate singing sometimes stole the scene from opera diva Maria Callas, died. She was 82. Born in Trieste in 1920, Barbieri performed on stages ranging from Milan’s La Scala to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House to London’s Covent Garden. Barbieri’s career started in 1940 and for her 80th birthday, she sang the role of Mamma Lucia in Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” in Florence. Her repertoire included roles in operas by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Barbieri died in Florence, which she had adopted as her home and where she gave many performances.

. 2003 ~ Emilio Estefan Sr., father of the Latin music mogul, died at the age of 83. Estefan Sr. played the plump and comical ambassador in a music video for the Miami Sound Machine’s hit song Conga, which featured singer Gloria Estefan, wife of Estefan Jr. The Miami Sound Machine’s office was once located in Estefan Sr.’s garage. His son later built a home for his parents on his Star Island compound. Estefan Sr. was born in Santiago de Cuba and moved to Spain with Estefan Jr. in 1966. His wife and another son stayed in Cuba because the boy was of military draft age and couldn’t leave until 1980. Estefan Sr. came to Miami in 1968, a year after Estefan Jr., and opened a clothing business in Hialeah.

. 2009 ~ Joseph Bloch died. He was an American concert pianist and professor of piano literature at the Juilliard School in New York City. During a career at Juilliard that spanned five decades, Bloch’s students included Emanuel Ax, Van Cliburn, Misha Dichter, Garrick Ohlsson, Jeffrey Siegel and Jeffrey Swann.

. 2011 ~ Johnny Preston, American pop singer (Running Bear), died at the age of 71