May 16 in Music History

today

• 1892 ~ Richard Tauber (Ernst Seiffert), Austrian-born British tenor. He sang a wide range of music and was as equally at home in opera, notably Mozart, as in Austrian operetta.

• 1913 ~ Woody (Woodrow Charles) Herman, American jazz clarinetist, bandleader and composer

• 1919 ~ Liberace [Wladziu Valentino], American pianist

• 1922 ~ Eddie Bert, Jazz musician, trombone

• 1929 ~ The first Academy Awards were presented on this night, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and William C. de Mille. This first awards ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. It attracted an audience of 200 people.

• 1929 ~ Paul Whiteman and his orchestra backed Bing Crosby for the tune, Sposin’, which ‘Der Bingle’ recorded for Columbia Records. Betty Carter (Lillie Mae Jones) (1930) Jazz singer: toured with Lionel Hampton & Miles Davis

• 1930 ~ Friedrich Gulda, Austrian pianist/composer

• 1946 ~ The Irving Berlin musical, Annie Get Your Gun, at New York’s Imperial Theatre. Once of the most successful shows presented on a Broadway stage, the show ran for 1,147 performances.

• 1947 ~ Barbara Lee, Singer with The Chiffons

• 1947 ~ Darrel Sweet, Drummer, singer

• 1953 ~ Bill Haley and His Comets made it to the Billboard music charts for the first time with Crazy Man Crazy. The tune went to number six and became the first rock ’n’ roll record to make the pop music chart.

• 1965 ~ The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, a Broadway musical starring Anthony Newley, made its premiere at the Shubert Theatre in New York City. Cyril Ritchard appeared in the production which entertained audiences for 231 performances.

• 1966 ~ Janet Jackson, Singer

• 1990 ~ Jim Henson, the famous creator who of the Muppets, a cast of puppets including Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie and Bert, died at the age of 54.

• 1990 ~ The entertainer who could do it all, Sammy Davis, Jr., died this day, in Beverly Hills, California, USA. From vaudeville at age three (with his father and uncle) to the star of Broadway’s “Mr. Wonderful”, from Las Vegas nightclubs to hit records, the actor, singer, dancer, impersonator, and musician performed his way into the hearts of young and old everywhere. The world mourned the passing of Sammy Davis, Jr. at age 64 of throat cancer.

• 1993 ~ Marv Johnson passed away.  He was an American R&B and soul singer.

• 1995 ~ Lola Flores, fiery Spanish dancer and singer, died. She made many films but was best known for her flamenco movements and passionate songs.

• 2010 ~ Hank Jones, American jazz pianist and composer, died at the age of 91

March 22 in Music History

today

 

. 1687 ~ Jean-Baptiste Lully, French composer, died.  He was an Italian-born French composer, instrumentalist, and dancer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French baroque style.

. 1840 ~ Clara Wieck wrote a letter dated today to Robert Schumann.  Part of it said: “When I heard Liszt for the first time…I was overwhelmed and sobbed aloud, it so shook me.”

. 1842 ~ Carl August Nicolas Rosa, German violinist and composer. In 1873 he founded the Carl Rosa Opera Company.

. 1865 ~ Theophile Ysaye, Belgian composer and pianist

. 1868 ~ Hamish Maccunn, Scottish Romantic composer, conductor and teacher

. 1911 ~ Herman Jadlowker became the first opera singer to perform two major roles in the same day at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

. 1920 ~ Fanny Waterman, DBE is a piano teacher and the founder, Chairman and Artistic Director of the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition. She is also president of the Harrogate International Music Festival.

. 1925 ~ The first Japanese radio station, Tokyo Shibaura, began broadcasting.

. 1930 ~ Stephen Sondheim, American composer and lyricist of musicals
More information about Sondheim

. 1936 ~ Glen Campbell, Singer and studio guitarist

. 1937 ~ Johnny Ferguson, Singer

. 1943 ~ Keith Relf, Recording artist of The Yardbirds

. 1943 ~ George Benson, American jazz and pop guitarist and singer

. 1944 ~ Jeremy Clyde, Singer with Chad & Jeremy

. 1947 ~ Harry Vanda, Guitarist with The Easybeats

. 1948 ~ Andrew Lloyd Webber, British composer
More information about Lloyd Webber

. 1948 ~ Randy Hobbs, Bass with The McCoys

. 1948 ~ The Voice of Firestone was the first commercial radio program to be carried simultaneously on both AM and FM radio stations.

. 1956 ~ Sammy Davis, Jr. starred in the play, Mr. Wonderful, in New York City. The critics were unkind, saying that they didn’t care for the production. Audiences, however, gave it ‘thumbs up’ and the show went on to be one of Broadway’s more popular musicals — catapulting Davis into the limelight. His father had already launched him into the vaudeville spotlight when Sammy was just three years old. By the time he was Mr. Wonderful, Sammy Davis, Jr. had played vaudeville and the nightclub circuit singing and dancing his way to the top over a twenty-eight-year period. He entertained us for sixty-two years!

. 1956 ~ Perry Como became the first major TV variety-show host to book a rock and roll act on his program. The ‘Incomparable Mr. C.’ booked Carl Perkins for the show and Perkins sang Blue Suede Shoes. 1962 ~ The play, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, opened on Broadway. It featured a 19-year-old named Barbra Streisand. She stopped the show at the famed Shubert Theatre in New York City. Streisand starred as Miss Marmelstein. Audiences kept coming back for more of Barbra for 300 performances.

. 1980 ~ The first CD (compact disc) was put on sale by RCA.  The first major artist to have his entire catalog converted to CD was David Bowie, whose 15 studio albums were made available by RCA Records in February 1985, along with four greatest hits albums.

. 1980 ~ Pink Floyd started a 4-week run in the #1 slot on the pop charts with their smash, Another Brick in the Wall. When the boys popped open their gold record and threw it on the stereo, they heard Flowers on the Wall by the Statler Brothers.

. 2015 ~ Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died

February 12 in Music History

today

. 1728 ~ Mysterious priest-composer Agostino Steffani died.

. 1760 ~ Jan Ladislav Dussek, Czech composer and pianist.  Along with his friend, famed piano maker John Broadwood, Dussek made important design improvements to the piano, allowing for the more dynamic style of playing that his highly original compositions required. Beethoven himself later used a Broadwood piano with Dussek’s innovations. This helped pave the way for Romanticism and Dussek’s influence on Beethoven’s piano writing has been well documented.

Dussek’s Piano Sonata Op. 77 in F minor (“L’invocation”), from 1812, is the last work he ever composed, and he saved the best for last. This is a neglected masterpiece that foreshadows Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.

. 1881 ~ Anna (Pavlovna) Pavlova, Russia’s premier ballerina

. 1894 ~ Hans von Bülow, German pianist and composer died (b. 1830)
More about von Bulow

. 1898 ~ Roy Harris, American composer

. 1904 ~ Ted Mack (William Maguiness), TV host of The Original Amateur Hour, The Ted Mack Family Hour

. 1914 ~ (Gordon) Tex Beneke, Bandleader, singer, tenor sax in the Glenn Miller Orchestra

, 1915 ~ Charles Emile Waldteufel, composer, died at the age of 77

. 1918 ~ All theatres in New York City were shut down in an effort to conserve coal.

. 1923 ~ Mel Powell, American jazz pianist and composer. One of his works is Mission to Moscow for Benny Goodman. He was also Dean of Music at California Institute of Arts.

. 1923 ~ Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director and producer of opera, theatre, film and television

. 1924 ~ Bandleader Paul Whiteman presented his unique symphonic jazz at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. The concert marked the first public performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The composer, himself, was at the piano this night. Distinguished guests included John Philip Sousa and Jascha Heifetz.

. 1935 ~ Gene McDaniels (Eugene Booker McDaniels), Singer

. 1939 ~ Ray Manzarek, Keyboards with The Doors

. 1942 ~ Mildred Bailey recorded More Than You Know on Decca Records.

. 1948 ~ Joe Schermie, Bass with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ “Annie Get Your Gun” closed at the Imperial Theater in New York City after 1147 performances

 

. 1964 ~ The Beatles played two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City, concluding a very successful American tour.

. 1968 ~ Singer and famed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, received an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, WA, where he had dropped out at the age of 14.

. 1972 ~ Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together knocked American Pie out of the top spot on the music charts. The record stayed at the top for one week, before giving way to Nilsson’s Without You. Green returned to his gospel roots in 1980 and is a minister in Memphis, TN. Green recorded 14 hit songs with six of them making it to the Top 10.

. 1976 ~ Sal Mineo, singer, died

. 1983 ~ Eubie Blake, US ragtime-composer/pianist (Memories of You), died at the age of 96

Happy Birthday to Franz Schubert!

Franz Peter SchubertFranz Peter Schubert lived between 1797 and 1828. He is considered to be a romantic composer. He was an Austrian composer who was one of the greatest creators of melody and foremost writer of ‘lieder’ (German songs).

Although he only lived for 31 years, Schubert composed more than 600 songs, 22 piano sonatas and many short piano pieces. This melodic output has never been equaled either in quantity of quality. He was one of the first musicians to earn a living from the sale of his music.

Schubert’s Ave Maria was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia.


This is from Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical.

Schubert’s musical genius went well beyond his incomparable gift for melody

During Beethoven’s funeral in 1827, one of the torchbearers was a young composer who would himself die the following year. There’s a poignant irony in this image of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) paying homage to the master, for the extent of Schubert’s own accomplishment was to remain one of music’s best-kept secrets for decades after his death. He had indeed struck out on a uniquely personal creative path, however intense his hero worship of Beethoven was. As often happens in such periods of transition–in this case, the evolution in style and attitude from classical balance toward romantic experimentation–Schubert simply slipped through the cracks, not easily fitting into his contemporaries’ sense of the direction music was taking.

Yet the fact that the only recognition that came his way was mostly confined to a tight-knit circle of musical friends didn’t deter Schubert from pursuing his inspiration. Even though an astonishing number of compositions were never performed during his short lifetime, the prolific composer produced a wide body of material, all with a seemingly effortless swiftness reminiscent of Mozart (another of the composer’s idols). His style is most frequently associated with an uncanny gift for melody, but that’s a shortsighted view of the true nature of Schubert’s genius.

The selections on our featured disc represent two key but divergent aspects of his music: the gemlike miniaturism of his songwriting and his preoccupation with large-scale forms from the classical period. “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”)–sung here with a silvery, seductive grace by Barbara Bonney–is an example of how Schubert elevated the art of song to an opera in miniature, rich in evocative scene-painting. Pay attention not just to the beguiling melody but to how perfectly Schubert mirrors the text’s images in the details of the burbling piano accompaniment.

The cheerful quintet that takes its name from the song makes an excellent introduction to the composer’s longer works. Most of these belong to the realm of “chamber music”; that is, pieces written for small groups of musicians to be performed in people’s homes. From the high-spirited interplay of the ensemble gathered here–all virtuosos on their respective instruments but clearly merging their voices into a common goal–it’s easy to imagine a typical evening of Schubert making music with his friends. There’s a flowing sense of conversation in the music, and just as you think you’ve heard one untoppable melody, Schubert obliges with another, taking it down an unexpected course with a sudden harmonic surprise–another of the composer’s trademarks–and spinning it out as it suits his fancy. Schumann once characterized the composer’s tendency to make us want the music to last, following its multiple digressions, as Schubert’s “heavenly lengths.”

Much of the pleasure here can also be heard in the way Schubert plays sonorities off each other, above all in the fourth movement. It offers a set of variations on the melody from the “Trout” song, presaging how Mahler would later incorporate material from his own songs into vast symphonic structures. You can notice this both in the interwoven yet contrasting timbres from the keyboard against four strings and in the opposition between double bass and sparkling passages high in the register. And within the spontaneity of the moment, there’s something else: emerging within all the joie de vivre are ambivalent shadows hinting at Schubert’s darker side, particularly in the intensity of the slow movement’s middle core. This is also apparent in the opening of the “Arpeggione” Sonata (nicknamed after a short-lived invention that was a sort of cross between a guitar and a cello), which unfolds a kind of aching, spun-out lyricism that could belong to no one but Schubert.

In his final decade, when intense poverty and a debilitating case of syphilis began to take their toll, Schubert would mine this vein of profound self-expression. His last quartets and piano sonatas, the String Quintet, and his despairing song cycle Winterreise, he touches in his own way on the inwardness probed by Beethoven’s late-period creations. Thomas May, Classical Editor

More Schubert can be found in Musical Information and Recommendations for Adults.

Schubert’s birthday

Schubert’s works were played in an Grammy Winning performance, Forty-Second Annual Awards

Listen to Schubert’s music.

     Read quotes by and about Schubert

     Guess what my li’l Chopin played today

     Information about Schubert’s Symphony in D

     Schubert MIDI Section

     Read Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical feature

January 2 in Music History

today

• 1732 ~ Franz Xaver Brixi, Czech classical composer of the 18th century

• 1837 ~ Mily Balakirev, Russian Composer and collector of Russian Music
More information about Balakirev

• 1904 ~ James Melton, Singer in La Traviata

1905 ~ Sir Michael Tippett, British Composer and librettist
More information about Tippett

• 1917 ~ Vera Zorina (Eva Hartwig), Dancer, actress

• 1922 ~ Renata (Ersilia Clotilde) Tebaldi, Opera diva, lyric soprano. She debuted as Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele in 1944 and at the Metropolitan Opera in Verdi’s Otello in 1955
More information about Tebaldi
Anniversary of Tebaldi’s death

• 1930 ~ Julius LaRosa, Singer

• 1932 ~ Freddy Martin formed a new band and was hired to play the Roosevelt Grill in New York City. Martin became one of the big names in the music business. Merv Griffin later became Martin’s lead vocalist.

• 1936 ~ Roger Miller. American country-music singer, guitarist and songwriter, 11 Grammys in 1964-65

• 1941 ~ The Andrews Sisters recorded Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy on Decca Records. LaVerne, Maxine and Patti Andrews recorded in Los Angeles and the song was heard in the movie, “Buck Privates”, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

• 1949 ~ Chick Churchill, Keyboards with Ten Years After

• 1958 ~ Leonard Bernstein conducted his first concert as Joint Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, a title he shared with Dimitri Mitropoulos during the 1957-58 season.  At this concert, Bernstein conducted a program similar to that of his November 1943 New York Philharmonic debut: Schumann’s “Manfred” Overture and ‪‎Strauss‬’ “Don Quixote.” Additionally, Bernstein led the New York Philharmonic from the piano in the U.S. premiere of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

• 1971 ~The George Harrison album ‘All Things Must Pass’ started a seven-week run at No.1 on the US album chart, making Harrison the first solo Beatle to score a US No.1 album. The triple album included the hit singles ‘My Sweet Lord’ and ‘What Is Life’, as well as songs such as ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and the title track that were turned down by The Beatles.

• 1974 ~ Singing cowboy Tex Ritter died of a heart attack at the age of 67. His son, John, became a significant television star in “Three’s Company”, and in movies, including “Problem Child”.

• 1977 ~ Erroll Garner passed away.  He was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads.

• 1980 ~ Officials of the Miss America Pageant announced that Bert Parks would not return as host of the annual beauty contest in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Parks sang There she is, Miss America for 25 years. He was replaced by Gary Collins.

• 1983 ~ The smash musical, “Annie”, closed on Broadway at the Uris Theatre after 2,377 performances: the sixth longest-running show on the Great White Way. The five longest-running shows at the time were: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Life With Father”, “Tobacco Road”, “Hello Dolly” and “Music Man”.

• 2003 ~ Bluegrass music veteran James McReynolds, who with his mandolin-playing brother Jesse formed the legendary “Jim & Jesse” duo honored in the Country Music Hall of Fame, has died. Backed by their band, “The Virginia Boys,” their first single The Flame of Love, backed byGosh I Miss You All the Time, spent weeks on the national charts. Other songs regarded as Jim & Jesse classics are Cotton Mill Man, Diesel on My Tail, Are You Missing Me and Paradise. Jim’s enhanced high tenor and guitar playing combined with Jesse’s deep-voiced singing and unique mandolin style to produce their distinctive sound. Jesse developed a cross-picking technique and “split-string” style few could duplicate. The brothers’ performing career was interrupted by service in both World War II and the Korean War. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1964, and their numerous honors included induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Walkway of Stars” and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor.

• 2004 ~ Pioneering black actress and singer Etta Moten Barnett, who sang at the White House and appeared with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio, died. She was 102. Barnett was unique because of the romantic, sexy figures she portrayed – as opposed to the motherly nannies and maids that most black actresses were cast as in early Hollywood films. Barnett moved to New York City in her 30s and quickly landed a spot singing with the Eva Jessye Choir. The lead in the Broadway show Zombie followed. She later dubbed songs for actresses and was cast in the Busby Berkeley film Gold Diggers of 1933. In the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio, Barnett was cast as a Brazilian entertainer who sang The Carioca while Astaire and Rogers danced. The song was nominated for an Academy Award as best song. Her voice caught the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who invited her to sing at his White House birthday party. In 1942, she appeared as Bess in Porgy and Bess on Broadway and then toured with the show until 1945. Suffering from a strained voice, she gave her last formal concert in 1952

December 21 ~ This Day in Music History

today

Christmas Music: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

• 1810 ~ Ludwig Schuncke, German pianist and composer, and close friend of Robert Schumann.

• 1850 ~ Zdenek Fibich, Czech composer of classical music

• 1913 ~ Andor Foldes, Pianist who played with Budapest Philharmonic at eight years of age

• 1921 ~ Alicia Alonso (Martinez Hoyo), Dancer

• 1933 ~ Freddie Hart, Country singer

• 1940 ~ Frank Zappa, American rock guitarist, composer, arranger and songwriter, with Mothers of Invention, father of Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa

OCMS 1944 ~ Michael Tilson Thomas, American conductor and pianist, jazz band conductor, led the London Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic
More information about Tilson Thomas

• 1946 ~ Carl Wilson, Guitarist with The Beach Boys, brother of Brian and Dennis, his original group was Carl and the Passions

• 1953 ~ Andras Schiff, Hungarian pianist

• 1966 ~ The Beach Boys received a gold record for the single, Good Vibrations.

• 1985 ~ Springsteen’s album, Born in the USA, passed Michael Jackson’s Thriller to become the second longest-lasting LP in the top 10. It stayed there for 79 weeks. Only The Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews, lasted longer at 109 weeks.

Happy Birthday, Clara Schumann

cschumann

 

Clara Schumann (1819-96) was much more than the wife of composer Robert Schumann. She was, quite simply, one of the greatest pianists of all time. A child prodigy, her technique and musicianship as a mature artist led to her being regarded as the equal of giants of the keyboard such a Franz Liszt, Sigismond Thalberg and Anton Rubinstein.

And from her girlhood until the end of her marriage she composed wonderful music, mostly solo piano music, but other works as well, including a concerto, a large number of songs and a sublime piano trio.

In her later years she was an internationally famous teacher, and her performing career lasted more than six decades. She was, quite simply, a phenomenon.