. 1731 ~ Johann Sebastian Bach‘s first performance of the St. Mark Passion. It was Good Friday that year.
. 1743 ~ It was the first London performance of Handel’s “Messiah”, and King King George II was in the audience. In the middle of the “Hallelujah Chorus, the King rose to his feet in appreciation of the great piece! The entire audience followed suit out of respect for the King. And so began the custom of standing during the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus”.
More about Handel’s Messiah
. 1750 ~ Johann Matthias Sperger, Austrian contrabassist and composer.
. 1878 ~ Franz Schreker, Austrian composer and conductor
. 1887 ~ Anthony von Hoboken, Dutch music bibliographer; cataloguer of the works of Haydn
. 1917 ~ Johnny Guarnieri, Pianist, played with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw; played at the Tail O’ The Cock in LA for a decade
. 1926 ~ Martha Wright (Wiederrecht), Singer on The Martha Wright Show
. 1927 ~ Régine Crespin, French soprano
. 1949 ~ Ric Ocasek (Richard Otcasek), Guitarist, singer with The Cars
. 1950 ~ Aaron Copland won an Oscar for his score to the movie The Heiress
. 1953 ~ Chaka Khan (Yvette Marie Stevens), Singer
. 1974 ~ Cher reached the top of the music charts as Dark Lady reached the #1 spot for a one-week stay. Other artists who shared the pop music spotlight during that time included: Terry Jacks, John Denver, Blue Swede, Elton John and MFSB.
. 1985 ~ Singer Billy Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley in private ceremonies held in New York City.
. 1985 ~ Zoot (John Haley) Sims passed away. He was an American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor and soprano.
. 1985 ~ We Are the World, by USA for Africa, a group of 46 pop stars, entered the music charts for the first time at number 21.
. 2000 ~ Ed McCurdy, a leading 1950s folk music figure whose songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was 81.
. 1872 ~ Sergei Diaghilev, Russian impresario; founder of the Ballets Russes
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. 1873 ~ Max Reger, German composer
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. 1900 ~ Charles-Louis Hanon, French piano pedagogue and composer, died
More about Hanon’s exercises
. 1917 ~ Dinu Lipatti, Rumanian pianist and composer
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. 1923 ~ Janine Dacosta, French pianist
. 1930 ~ Ornette Coleman, American jazz alto saxophonist and composer
More information about Coleman
. 1941 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded one of their biggest musical successes. It became one of Decca Records’ all-time greats. Green Eyes featured vocalists Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly.
. 1946 ~ Ruth Pointer, Singer from The Pointer Sisters
. 2001 ~ Cuba-born entertainer Tony Alvarez of “El Show de Olga y Tony” died at age 85. Alvarez was best known for the television and radio programs he hosted with his wife, singer Olga Chorens. He began his career in Cuba in the 1940s as a singer and model, starring in a tango program on Channel Azul. In the 1960s, Alvarez and Chorens moved to Puerto Rico, where they began “El Show de Olga y Tony.” They later moved to New York, where they performed on WABC-TV, WPIX-TV and WNJU-TV from 1965 to 1972.
. 2001 ~ Elena Del Rubio, whose 60-year singing career with her sisters as the Del Rubio Triplets got a boost with campy covers of 1980s tunes, died of cancer. She was believed to be in her 70s. “It was a terrible blow to me,” said Milly, the only surviving sister. “Now I’m left alone.” Another triplet, Eadie, died in 1996. The sisters lived together in a mobile home overlooking the ocean. The trio that promoted itself as “3 Gals 3 Guitars 1 Birthday” performed for six decades in showcases ranging from television comedy to retirement homes. The three were in their 60s when they hit the Hollywood scene, dressed in identical miniskirts, go-go boots and big blonde hairdos. Calling themselves “song stylists,” the sisters’ diverse acts included mariachi strolling, country western music, Hawaiian-Calypso and holiday theme music.
. 2001 ~ Randall Hylton, a bluegrass performer who wrote Room at the Top of the Stairs, died in St. Thomas Hospital after suffering an aneurysm. He was 55. Hylton, who played guitar in the fingerpicking style of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, was known for his ability to instantly write songs to fit any occasion. The 6-foot-6-inch performer also told jokes, did impersonations and could do guitar tricks, such as playing a song backward or two songs at once. Hylton’s songs were performed by more than 150 singers, including Ralph Stanley, Vern Gosdin, Mac Wiseman, Leo Kottke and Lester Flatt.
. 2001 ~ Herbie Jones, a jazz musician who worked with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, died of complications from diabetes. He was 74. Jones, a jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger and educator, toured five continents with the Ellington band. His recorded arrangements for the band were El Busto, Cootie’s Caravan, The Prowling Cat and The Opener, and he contributed to Ellington’s first and second Sacred Concerts. After leaving the Ellington band, Jones became the first director of Arts and Culture Inc., a New York City alternative school, and as a volunteer directed the Bugle Corps of the Police Athletic League in Harlem. In Ellington’s 1973 memoir, “Music Is My Mistress,” he called Jones “a great asset” to his orchestra in the 1960s. Jones often played first trumpet but rarely soloed.
. 2015 ~ Peter Katin died. He was a British classical pianist and pedagogue.
. 1884 ~ Joseph Bonnet, French organist and composer. He founded the organ department at the Eastman School of Music during his time in the U.S.
. 1901 ~ Alfred Newman, Conductor
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. 1917 ~ Nat “King” Cole, American jazz singer and pianist
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. 1930 ~ Paul Horn, American jazz flutist, saxophonist, clarinetist and composer
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. 1938 ~ Rudolf Nureyev, Dancer
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. 1944 ~ John Lill CBE, English classical pianist
. 1944 ~ John Sebastian, American pop-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, His group, The Lovin’ Spoonful performed Do You BelieveIn Magic, Summer In The City, Daydream, You Didn’t Have to be SoNice, Nashville Cats His solos include Darling Be Home Soon and Welcome Back
Presidents’ Day (celebrated on the third Monday in February), was originally established in 1885 in recognition of George Washington. The holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.
Wondering how many U.S. Presidents played musical instruments?
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) Third president of the United States, drafted the Declaration of Independence, and played the violin and cello.
John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) The sixth president of the United States formulated the Monroe Doctrine, and played the flute.
John Tyler (1790-1862) The tenth president of the United States was the first Vice President to become President by the death of his predecessor. He played the violin.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) The sixteenth president of the United States issued the Emancipation Proclamation and played the violin.
Ulysses S. Grant (1822- 1884) The eighteenth president of the United States certainly scrapes the bottom of the list. He was tone deaf and famously commented, “I only know two tunes. One of them is Yankee Doodle and the other isn’t.”
Chester Alan Arthur (1829 – 1886) Became the 21st president of the United States following the assassination of President James A. Garfield. He played the banjo.
Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) The 32nd President of the United States and the fifth cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt, played the piano and sang soprano in his school choir.
Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) The 28th president of the United States and creator of the League of Nations, played the violin and sang tenor in his college glee club.
Warren Harding (1865-1923) The 29th president of the United States organized the Citizen’s Cornet Band, available for both Republican and Democratic rallies. He once remarked that, “I played every instrument but the slide trombone and the E-flat cornet.”
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) The 30th president of the United States was determined to preserve old moral and economic precepts amid American prosperity. He played the harmonica.
Harry Truman (1884 – 1972) The 33rd president of the United States who served during the conclusion of World War II, played the piano.
Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994) The 37th president of the United States, who ended American fighting in Vietnam and later resigned from office in the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal, was a classically-trained pianist and also played the accordion. He composed and played this piece, set to concerto form with “15 Democratic violinists.” Nixon takes a dig at Harry Truman just before playing.:
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) The 40th president of the United States implemented the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. He played the harmonica.
Bill Clinton (born 1946) The 42nd president of the United States and the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term, plays the saxophone.
Barack Obama (born 1961) The 44th president of the United States and first African American president has broken into song on several recent occasions. President Obama sang Amazing Grace at the funeral for South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney:
• 1876 ~ Pablo Casals, Spanish cellist and conductor
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• 1912 ~ Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Australian composer and music critic
• 1922 ~ Rose Lee Maphis, Entertainer, half of the team: Mr. and Mrs. Country Music with husband Joe, Hee Haw regular
• 1942 ~ Ray Thomas, Flute, saxophone, harmonica, singer with The Moody Blues
• 1943 ~ San Fernando Valley was recorded by Bing Crosby. He chose the tune because he felt it would be a big hit. He was right. Within a week after its release, the song became a popular favorite everywhere, including the San Fernando Valley in California.
• 1945 ~ Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville, TN. The song was recorded on the Bullet label; but it was 13 years before Wooley would finally score with a big hit (The Purple People Eater was #1 for six weeks in June and July, 1958). Wooley (whose first name is Shelby) played the part of Pete Nolan on TV’s Rawhide, recorded novelty tunes under the name, Ben Colder, and acted in High Noon, Rocky Mountain, Giant and Hoosiers.The Country Music Association honored him with the title of Comedian of the Year in 1968. If you remember the TV show Hee Haw, with Buck Owens and Roy Clark, it was Sheb Wooley who wrote the theme song.
• 1951 ~ Yvonne Elliman, Actress, singer joined Eric Clapton in his 1974 comeback tour
• 1952 ~ Beryl Rubinstein, American pianist and composer, died at the age of 54
• 1957 ~ Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married. They became popular singers on the The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, and as Las Vegas showroom regulars and recording artists. They remained married until Eydie’s death in 2013. Lawrence issued a statement: “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”
• 1961 ~ Mark Day, Guitarist with Happy Mondays
• 1963 ~ Much to the chagrin of the disc jockeys at 50,000-watt WABC in New York, the 5,000-watt blowtorch known as WMCA and its famed ‘Good Guys’ became the first New York radio station to play The Beatles’I Want to Hold Your Hand. It didn’t take long for WABC to get revenge. It started calling itself the ‘official’ Beatles station (W-A-Beatle-C).
• 1967 ~ Orchestra leader Paul Whiteman passed away at the age of 76. Known as the King of Jazz, Whiteman had 28 #1 hits between 1920 and 1934 including Three O’Clock in the Morning, My Blue Heaven, All of Me and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
• 1980 ~ American singer, songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose. Hardin wrote the songs ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ (covered by Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Four Tops, Leon Russell, Small Faces, Robert Plant and Bob Seger,) and ‘Reason To Believe’, (covered by Rod Stewart). Hardin appeared at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
• 2001 ~ Cassia Eller, one of the most irreverent singers of Brazilian rock music, died at the age of 39. Eller’s fame peaked in 2001 with the sale of about 250,000 copies of her “MTV Unplugged” album and a performance in January’s Rock in Rio festival in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, singing along with one of her hits, I just ask God for a little indecency.
• 2001 ~ Jazz pianist Ralph Sutton, a leading practitioner of the stride piano, died at the age of 79. Born in St. Charles, Mo., in 1922, Sutton made his professional debut at age 11 with his father’s band. He later signed on with trombone great Jack Teagarden, and played at several clubs along New York’s famed 52nd Street. To create his eclectic style, Sutton drew from the jazz piano, from ragtime and the blues to stride, in the style made famous by James P. Johnson, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Fats Waller. Critics hailed Sutton as one of the best contemporary jazz pianists with a mastery of his instrument. He was a founding member of the 1968 World’s Greatest Jazz Band, which performed at Elitch Gardens in Denver.
• 2003 ~ Manny Dworman, who owned a Greenwich Village nightspot where comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano and Jon Stewart performed, died. He was 73. Dworman, a musician who played the oud, guitar and mandolin, owned the Comedy Cellar and the Olive Tree Cafe upstairs. The club was previously the site of Cafe Feenjon, a Middle Eastern nightclub that originally opened as a coffeehouse in 1960. Dworman performed at Cafe Feenjon with his band, the Feenjon Group, which recorded five albums, performed at Carnegie Hall and inspired the radio show “Music From Around the World.” Comedy Cellar, which opened in 1980, also hosted performances by Chris Rock and Colin Quinn. Discussions at the club inspired the Comedy Central show “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.” Dworman was featured in the 2002 documentary “Comedian” by Jerry Seinfeld.
• 2004 ~ Jerry Orbach, American singer and actor for the musical theater and longtime star of the “Law & Order” television series, died at 69. Orbach, a lanky actor with a deep voice and a slicked mop of black hair, first made his name on Broadway, winning a Tony for “Promises, Promises.” He was also in the original cast of “Chicago” and “42nd Street.”
• 1944 ~ The musical, On the Town, opened in New York City for a run of 462 performances. It was Leonard Bernstein’s first big Broadway success. The show’s hit song, New York, New York, continues to be successful.
• 1946 ~ Edgar Winter, American rock vocalist, saxophonist, guitarist and keyboardist
• 1946 ~ Carrie Jacobs Bond passed away. She was an American singer, pianist, and songwriter who composed some 175 pieces of popular music from the 1890s through the early 1940s
• 1947 ~ Dick Diamonde (Dingeman Van Der Sluys), Bass with The Easybeats
• 1950 ~ Alex Chilton, Guitarist, singer
• 1952 ~ Fletcher Henderson, American musician died
• 1953 ~ Richard Clayderman, Pianist
• 1953 ~ Joe Diffie, Country Singer
• 1957 ~ At The Hop, by Danny and The Juniors, hit #1 on the music charts. It stayed at the top spot for seven weeks. The title of the tune was originally Do the Bop, but was changed at the suggestion of ‘America’s Oldest Living Teenager’ Dick Clark. Trivia: Danny and The Juniors filled in for a group that failed to appear on Clark’s American Bandstand show in Philadelphia. He called The Juniors to come into the studio immediately. They did and lip-synced At The Hop (written by Junior, Dave White and a friend, John Medora). It took off like a rocket to number one. (A few years later, Danny and The Juniors handed stardom to Chubby Checker when they failed to appear on Clark’s show.)
• 1964 ~ Principal filming of the movie classic, Dr. Zhivago, began on location near Madrid, Spain. When completed, the film was 197 minutes long and so spectacular that it received ten Oscar nominations, winning five of the Academy Awards, including Best Original Score. Lara’s Theme was first heard in this movie.
• 1971 ~ Max Steiner, Austrian composer (Gone With the Wind), died at the age of 83
• 1990 ~ David Archuleta, American singer
• 1981 ~ WEA Records (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) raised the price of its 45 rpm records from $1.68 to $1.98 this day. The company was the leader of the pack with other labels soon boosting their prices. Within a few years, the 45 rpm record was boosted right out of existence.
• 2001 ~ Frankie Gaye, whose combat experience during the Vietnam War was credited with influencing his older brother Marvin’s legendary Motown album “What’s Going On,” died of complications following a heart attack. He was 60. Gaye was a radio operator stationed in Vietnam in the 1960s when he wrote letters to his brother expressing his dissatisfaction with the war. His experiences influenced several songs on his brother’s 1971 album, including Save The Children, Inner City Blues and Mercy Mercy Me, according to Ralph Tee in the book “Soul Music Who’s Who.” Gaye, like his brother, had begun singing in church as a youngster. He went on to work with several Motown artists, including Mary Wells and Kim Weston and provided background vocals on many of his brother’s albums, including “What’s Going On” and 1977’s “Marvin Gaye, Live at the London Palladium.” On his own, Gaye composed the soundtrack to the 1972 film “Penitentiary 1” and toured extensively, both in the United States and England. He also released the singles Extraordinary Girl in 1989 and My Brother in 1990.
• 2016 ~ Debbie Reynolds, 84, died one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. She was an American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian.
• 2017 ~ Rose Marie [Mazzetta], American actress, comedienne and singer, died at the age of 94
• 2018 ~ Christine McGuire, the eldest of the singing McGuire Sisters, who struck gold on the pop charts in the 1950s with “Sincerely,” “Sugartime” and other close-harmony hits that won young American hearts not quite ready for rock ′n’ roll, died at the age of 92.
• 1889 ~ Václav Štěpán, Czech pianist and composer
• 1900 ~ Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice & Sing”, composed. It was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1905.
• 1915 ~ Frank (Francis Albert) Sinatra, American actor and singer of popular music
• 1918 ~ Joe Williams (Joseph Goreed), Jazz singer, sang with Count Basie, actor on The Bill Cosby Show
• 1938 ~ Connie Francis (Concetta Franconero), American singer and actress
• 1941 ~ Terry Kirkman, Wind instruments, keyboards with The Association
• 1941 ~ Dionne Warwick, American Grammy Award-winning of popular music
• 1942 ~ Mike Pindar, Keyboards with The Moody Blues
• 1943 ~ Dickie Betts, Guitar with The Allman Brothers and also Great Southern
• 1943 ~ Mike Smith, Organs, singer with The Dave Clark Five
• 1943 ~ Grover Washington, Jr., American jazz saxophonist
• 1946 ~ Clive Bunker, Drummer with Jethro Tull
• 1949 ~ Paul Rodgers, Piano, vocals with Free, Bad Company, The Firm
• 1959 ~ Sheila E. (Escovedo), Drummer, singer
• 1959 ~ Paul Rutherford, Singer with Frankie Goes to Hollywood
• 1984 ~ The group known as Band Aid, 38 of Britain’s top rock musicians, recorded Do They Know This is Christmas? for Ethiopian famine victims. Despite the best of intentions, much of the food raised never got to the starving Ethiopians. In fact, much of it was found rotting on docks, not fit for human consumption. More than a Band-Aid was needed to fix that political mess.
• 1989 ~ Lindsay Crosby, son of crooner Bing Crosby, died
• 2002 ~ Actor Brad Dexter, who rode with Yul Brynner as one of the “Magnificent Seven” and became a confidant of both Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, died. He was 85. Burly and handsome, he was often cast as a tough guy in supporting roles, which included 1958’s “Run Silent, Run Deep,” starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable, and 1965’s “None but the Brave,” starring Sinatra. He made his film debut in the “The Asphalt Jungle” in 1950, but his most prominent role came in 1960’s “The Magnificent Seven,” in which he starred with Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Born Boris Milanovich in Goldfield, Nev., Dexter made guest appearances on the 1950s television shows “Zane Gray Theater,” “Death Valley Days” and “Wagon Train.” In January 1953, he married singer Peggy Lee, but they divorced eight months later. Soon after his divorce, Dexter befriended Monroe. In 1954, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to stay with her husband, Joe DiMaggio. His friendship with Sinatra took on legendary proportions during the filming of “None but the Brave” in 1964. On location in Hawaii, Sinatra nearly drowned and Dexter saved his life.
• 2002 ~ Marvin O. Herzog, who traveled the world with his for 58 years, died of pancreatic cancer. He was 70. Herzog was a polka celebrity who regularly booked 170 appearances a year. He and his band would travel more than 75,000 miles a year in a converted Greyhound bus. For years, Herzog was the star and co-sponsor of Frankenmuth’s Summer Music Fest, which drew about 25,000 visitors annually to the town known for its Bavarian events and shopping. Born in Frankenmuth, Herzog lived there his entire life. He quit his job at Star of the West Milling in 1973 to concentrate full-time on polka music. He played a Cordovox – a mix of organ and accordion. Herzog recorded 32 albums, including his Schnitzelbank and Octoberfest records in German as well as Polish, Italian and English polkas. He had a radio show and co-hosted a television show. Herzog was inducted into the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in 1979.
• 2020 ~ Charlie Pride died at the age of 86 of complications from COVID-19. He was an American singer, musician, guitarist, business owner, and professional baseball player.
• 1918 ~ Milton DeLugg, Bandleader on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; Milton DeLugg and His Orchestra: Abe Burrows’ Almanac, The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show, Dagmar’s Canteen, Doodles Weaver, The Gong Show, Judge for Yourself, Your Hit Parade; played accordion in The Milton DeLugg Quartet and songwriter
• 1928 ~ Jörg Demus, Austrian pianist
• 1934 ~ Billy Paul (Paul Williams), Singer
• 1941 ~ Tom McGuinness, Bass, guitar with Manfred Mann; McGuinness Flint; and Blues Band
• 1942 ~ Ted Bluechel, Jr., Singer, drummer with The Association
• 1944 ~ Eric Bloom, Singer, guitarist
• 1945 ~ John Densmore, Musician with The Doors
• 1950 ~ Dino Lipatti, classical pianist and composer whose career was cut short from causes related to Hodgkin’s disease, died at the age of 33
• 1952 ~ Michael McDonald, Singer, songwriter, keyboard with The Doobie Brothers
• 1960 ~ Rick Savage, Bass with Def Leppard
• 1972 ~ Motown’s Temptations reached the #1 spot on the top 40 charts with Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone. It was the fourth #1 hit for the Temptations, joining My Girl, I Can’t Get Next to You and Just My Imagination.
• 1981 Hershy Kay, composer, died at the age of 62. Union Jack is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to traditional British tunes, hornpipe melodies and music-hall songs, ca. 1890–1914, adapted by Hershy Kay. The premiere took place on 13 May 1976, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, to honor British heritage in the United States its bicentennial with costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, original lighting by Ronald Bates and current lighting by Mark Stanley. At the finale, the ensemble spells out “God Save the Queen” in semaphore code and the Union Jack unfurls. Principal dancer Jock Soto included an excerpt from Union Jack in his farewell performance in June 2005.
. 1787 ~ Franz Gruber, composer of Silent Night. The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816.
The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.
1896 ~ Virgil Thomson, American composer, conductor and music critic
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. 1924 ~ Paul Desmond, was an American jazz alto saxophonist and composer, best known for the work he did in the Dave Brubeck Quartet and for composing that group’s greatest hit, “Take Five”.
. 1925 ~ Derroll Adams, Country singer, played with Jack Elliott
. 1931 ~ Nat Adderley, Musician, cornet, mellophone, French horn, trumpet, brother of Cannonball Adderley
. 1941 ~ Percy Sledge, Singer
. 1949 ~ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, by Johnnie Marks, appeared on the music charts and became THE musical hit of the Christmas season. Although Gene Autry’s rendition is the most popular, 80 different versions of the song have been recorded, with nearly 20,000,000 copies sold.
. 1955 ~ Following a summer at the top of the American pop charts, Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets became the #1 song in Great Britain.
• 1695 ~ Henry Purcell, English composer (Indian Queen), died at the age of 36
. 1710 ~ Bernardo Pasquini died. He was an Italian composer of operas, oratorios, cantatas and keyboard music. A renowned virtuoso keyboard player in his day, he was one of the most important Italian composers for harpsichord between Girolamo Frescobaldi and Domenico Scarlatti, having also made substantial contributions to the opera and oratorio.
. 1877 ~ Thomas A. Edison, who really enjoyed the jazz he heard coming from his newest invention, told those gathered that he just invented the ‘talking machine’ (phonograph). On February 19, 1878, Edison received a patent for the device.
. 1904 ~ Coleman Hawkins, American jazz tenor saxophonist, solo with the Fletcher Henderson band, jazz bandleader
• 1912 ~ Eleanor Powell, American actress and tap dancer (Born to Dance, Born to Dance)
. 1931 ~ Malcolm Williamson, Australian composer
. 1933 ~ Jean Shepard, Country singer
. 1934 ~ Cole Porter’s Anything Goes opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York City. The show ran for 420 performances.
. 1936 ~ James DePreist, Orchestra leader with the Oregon Symphony
1937 ~ Following Carnegie Hall performances in both 1906 and 1919, Arthur Rubinstein presented another historic and highly acclaimed performance at the arts center this day.
More information about Rubinstein
• 1938 ~ Leopold Godowsky, pianist/composer, died at the age of 68
. 1940 ~ Dr. John (‘Mac’ Malcolm John Rebennack), Organ, guitar, singer, songwriter
. 1940 ~ Natalia Makarova, Ballerina with the Kirov Ballet (now Saint Petersburg Ballet) from 1959 until 1970
. 1944 ~ Happy trails to you, until we meet again….The Roy Rogers Show was first heard on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Singing along with Roy (‘The King of the Cowboys’), were the Whippoorwills and The Sons of the Pioneers.
. 1944 ~ I’m Beginning to See the Light, the song that would become the theme song for Harry James and his orchestra, was recorded this day. The song featured the lovely voice of Kitty Kallen (Little Things Mean a Lot).
. 1948 ~ Lonnie (LeRoy) Jordan, Keyboards, singer
. 1950 ~ Livingston Taylor, American folk singer, songwriter and guitarist, brother of singer James Taylor
. 1952 ~ Lorna Luft, Singer, actress, daughter of singer-actress Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft; sister of singer-actress Liza Minnelli
. 1955 ~ The first lady of the American stage, Helen Hayes, was honored for her many remarkable years in show business, as the Fulton Theatre in New York City was renamed the Helen Hayes Theatre.
. 1959 ~ Following his firing from WABC Radio in New York the day before, Alan Freed refused “on principle” to sign a statement that he never received money or gifts (payola) for plugging records. Incidentally, few may remember, but Freed left WABC while he was on the air. He was replaced in mid~record by Fred Robbins, who later became a nationally~known entertainment reporter for Mutual Radio.
. 1962 ~ Leonard Bernstein broadcast his Young People’s Concert “Sound of a Hall” from the New York Philharmonic’s new home at Lincoln Center (now David Geffen Hall). He spoke about the science of sound; acoustics, vibration, sound waves, echo and reverberation. ÒWell, the best test of dynamic range I can think of is that great piece of fireworks – Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812, because it begins as softly as possible with only 6 solo strings, and runs the whole dynamic range to a full orchestra, plus at the end, an extra brass band…plus the deafening roar of cannon plus the jangle of church bells…” We share with you this excerpt of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic performing the 1812 Overture.
. 1981 ~ Olivia Newton-John started the first of 10 weeks at the top of the pop music charts when Physical became the music world’s top tune.
. 1990 ~ Instrument lovers have paid some pretty awesome prices for violins made by Antonio Stradivari. But a red Strad owned by the family of composer Felix Mendelssohn sold on this day for an all-time high of $1,700,00.
. 2001 ~ Ralph Burns, who won Academy Awards, an Emmy and a Tony as a music arranger after making a name for himself in jazz as a piano player in the Woody Herman band, died at the age of 79. Burns collected his first Academy Award for adapting the musical score of the 1972 movie “Cabaret.” He won another Oscar for adapting the musical score for “All That Jazz,” an Emmy for television’s “Baryshnikov on Broadway” and a Tony in 1999 for the Broadway musical “Fosse.” His other film credits included “Lenny,” “In The Mood,” “Urban Cowboy,” “Annie,” “My Favorite Year” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” He also collaborated with Jule Styne on “Funny Girl” and Richard Rodgers on “No Strings.” The Massachusetts native, who took up piano as a child, was playing in dance bands in Boston when he was 12, graduating to jazz orchestras by his teens. He worked with Herman band’s for 15 years as both a writer and piano player, composing some of the group’s biggest hits. Among them were “Apple Honey,” “Bijou” and the three-part “Summer Sequence.” “Early Autumn,” written later as a fourth movement for “Summer Sequence,” became a hit with singers after Johnny Mercer supplied words for it. Later, Burns worked in the studio with such popular singers as Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole.
. 2003 ~ Teddy Randazzo, co-author of more than 600 songs for acts including The Temptations and Frank Sinatra, died at the age of 68. With co-author Bobby Weinstein and others, Randazzo wrote hits such as Goin’ Out of My Head,Hurt So Bad and It’s Gonna Take a Miracle for acts such as Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Lettermen, Linda Ronstadt, The Temptations and Sinatra. Randazzo began his career at age 15 as lead singer of the group The Three Chuckles. The group’s first hit, Runaround, rose to No. 20 on the Billboard charts and sold more than 1 million copies. Randazzo started a solo career in 1957 and found modest success over the next seven years before meeting Weinstein. The duo’s songs have been recorded by more than 350 artists, including Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah and Luther Vandross. They parted ways in 1970 and Weinstein became an executive for Broadcast Music Inc. and Randazzo became a producer for Motown Records.