. 1566 ~ Alessandro Piccinini born. He was an Italian lutenist and composer who died sometime in 1638
. 1697 ~ Johann Joachim Quantz, German flutist, flute maker and composer
. 1861 ~ Charles Martin Tornow Loeffler, Alsatian-born American composer
. 1862 ~ Walter Johannes Damrosch, German conductor and composer
. 1911 ~ (David) Roy ‘Little Jazz’ Eldridge, Trumpeter and soloist with Gene Krupa’s Band, U.S. President Carter’s White House jazz party in 1978
. 1917 ~ The Original DixielandJazzBand recorded a classic for Columbia Records titled, The Darktown Strutters’ Ball. It was one of the first jazz compositions recorded.
. 1921 ~ Bernie Leighton, Jazz pianist
. 1928 ~ Ruth Brown, R&B and jazz singer
. 1928 ~ Harold Prince, Broadway producer and director of A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
. 1936 ~ Horst Jankowski, Pianist, most famous work was A Walk In The Black Forest
. 1938 ~ Norma Jean (Beasler), Country singer
. 1941 ~ Joe Terranova, Singer with Danny and the Juniors
. 1943 ~ Marty Balin (Buchwald), Singer with Jefferson Airplane/Starship
. 1943 ~ The Nat King Cole Trio reached the top of the charts with the song “That Ain’t Right.” It stayed there for one week before dropping off the top spot.
. 1944 ~ Lynn Harrell, American cellist
. 1947 ~ Steve Marriott, Singer, songwriter, guitarist
. 1949 ~ William King, Trumpeter, keyboard with The Commodores
. 1951 ~ Phil Collins, English singer-songwriter, drummer, keyboard player with Genesis. As a solo performer he had a number of world wide singles to his credit including “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “Take a Look at Me Now)” “One More Night”, “A Groovy Kind of Love” and “Another Day in Paradise”. He is also remembered for his role in Live Aid 1985 when he performed at Wembley Stadium, England and JFK Stadium Philadelphia using the Concorde to fly from England to the US.
. 1969 ~ The Beatles made their last public appearance. It was at a free concert at their Apple corporate headquarters in London. The group recorded Get Back and also filmed the movie “Let It Be”.
. 2004 ~ Jazz bassist Malachi Favors, who played with such bandleaders as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Hubbard before beginning a 35-year association with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, died. After service in the Army during the Korean War, he studied with the bassists Wilbur Ware and Israel Crosby, and worked with the pianists Andrew Hill and King Fleming. After playing with Gillespie, Hubbard, and other members of the bebop revolution, Favors joined the band of Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and played a major part on Mitchell’s influential free-jazz album, “Sound”, in 1966. Mitchell’s band soon evolved into the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which combined traditional elements of jazz and blues, West African music, chanting, ritual, abstract sound and silence. Although founded in Chicago, the group was based in Europe until 1971. In addition to his distinctive bass sound, Favors also added vocals and such folk instruments as banjo, zither and harmonica to group’s compositions. He also recorded a solo bass album, “Natural and the Spiritual”.
. 2011 ~ John Barry, English film score composer died at the age of 77
. 2013 ~ Patty Andrews, American singer (Andrews Sisters), died at the age of 94
You’ve all heard it before. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
We took the easier route with the tour December 1, 2014. Unfortunately, I wasn’t posting much on my travel blog yet so I don’t remember everything that happened. I do highly recommend the tour if you’re in New York City.
If you want to go, other than practicing, Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.
The tour was very inexpensive, maybe $10 each. We were taken by elevator up to the Main Hall (Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage) first. The stories that were told were fascinating! I don’t remember most but I remember the guide telling us that after renovations audience members complained of a buzzing sound. The floor had to be removed…
SOURCE OF CARNEGIE HALL COMPLAINTS DISCOVERED: CONCRETE UNDER STAGE
MARY CAMPBELL , Associated Press
Sep. 13, 1995 11:53 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ For nine years, the people who run Carnegie Hall insisted there was nothing wrong with the acoustics at the famed concert hall.
Wednesday, they sang a different tune
This summer, a layer of concrete, apparently left over from a major renovation job in 1986, was discovered under the stage. The concrete was ripped out and a new floor was installed that administrators say should improve acoustics.
Since the renovation, musicians and critics have complained about the acoustics, saying the sound the hall was world famous for wasn’t the same, that the bass had become washed out and the higher instruments harsh.
Executive Director Judith Arron said Wednesday she had been assured there was no concrete under the stage since arriving at the hall in 1986.
But the tongue-in-groove maple stage floor, which usually lasts 20 years, had warped so badly after just nine years, it was difficult to push a piano across it.
The hall closed for repairs after three Frank Sinatra tribute concerts the last week in July. “As we tore the whole floor up,” Arron said, “we learned we had a lot more hard substance than we had anticipated.”
She speculated the concrete was added to reinforce the stage while scaffolding was on it during the 1986 renovation and then simply left there in workers’ haste to finish.
The concrete had been placed under two layers of plywood, on which the maple stage floor rests.
“Concrete retains moisture,” Arron said. “As the moisture collected in the concrete, it went into the plywood, which expands with moisture and pushed up the floor.”
Jim Nomikos, the hall’s director of operations, compared the removal of hundreds of pounds of concrete to “an archeological dig.”
Nomikos said the floor is now constructed the way it was from Carnegie Hall’s opening in 1891 until 1986.
“In my opinion we’re not reconstructing the floor. We just restored it,” he said. “I think what we have now is a floor that will have some resonance, as opposed to a floor that was dead.”
The project cost $180,000.
Aaron said there are no plans to sue anybody for the way the floor was laid in 1986. “We’ve been focused on doing the job right,” she said. “We think this is going to be great.”
The new floor will meet its first test Sept. 26, when the Philadelphia Orchestra plays. The hall’s official gala opening for its 105th season will be Oct. 5 by the Boston Symphony.
I remember the guide not being happy with us because I knew the answers to some of the questions she asked such as Tchaikovsky conducting at the opening. When she mentioned that Ignacy Jan Paderewski had made his debut there, Tom piped up that he had lived near Steinway Hall (and that Michael and I had just played there in the final concert in the old building). She gave us the evil eye and we stopped talking so much 🙂
Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building). This was just after Michael and I played there.
Plaque on Steinwall Hall (old building).
There were many, many pictures on the walls of people who had performed there. All in all, a fantastic tour. Take it if you’re in NYC!
1891 Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened
Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opened with a five-day music festival beginning on May 5.
Guest of honor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted his Marche Solennelle on Opening Night and his Piano Concerto No. 1 several days later.
William Tuthill’s design reflects Gilded Age architectural tastes and engineering. Since the Hall was built shortly before the advent of structural steel construction, its walls are made of fairly heavy brick and masonry, to carry the full load of the structure without the lighter support that a steel framework soon made possible. The Italian Renaissance design of the exterior reflects the eclectic architectural tastes of the period, which look to European models of earlier centuries for inspiration. Tuthill deliberately chose to keep the styling and decorative elements simple, elegant, and functional, focusing his energies on designing an excellent acoustic environment.
I came across this interesting 1947 movie about Carnegie Hall for my Music Studio Blog and I’m posting it here, as well.
Jascha Heifetz (violinist) Tchaikovsky – “Violin Concerto in D, First Movement” – New York Philharmonic, Fritz Reiner, conductor
Harry James (trumpeter)
Vaughn Monroe (band leader)
Jan Peerce (vocalist)
Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist)
Ezio Pinza (vocalist)
Lily Pons (vocalist)
Fritz Reiner (conductor)
Artur Rodzinski (conductor)
Arthur Rubinstein (pianist)
Rise Stevens (vocalist)
Leopold Stokowski (conductor)
Bruno Walter (conductor)
Walter Damrosch (conductor)
Olin Downes (music critic)
New York Philharmonic Quintette (John Corigliano Sr., William Lincer, Nadia Reisenberg, Leonard Rose, Michael Rosenker)
New York Philharmonic
A mother (Marsha Hunt) wants her son (William Prince) to grow up to be a pianist good enough to play at Carnegie Hall but, when grown, the son prefers to play with Vaughan Monroe’s orchestra. But Mama’s wishes prevail and the son appears at Carnegie Hall as the composer-conductor-pianist of a modern horn concerto, with Harry James as the soloist. Frank McHugh is along as a Carnegie Hall porter and doorman, and Martha O’Driscoll is a singer who provides the love interest for Prince. Meanwhile and between while a brigade of classical music names from the 1940’s (and earlier and later) appear; the conductors Walter Damrosch, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner and Leopold Stokowski; singers Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza, plus pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Jascha Heifetz.
• 1926 ~ Benny Goodman played a clarinet solo. This was not unusual for Benny except that it was his first time playing solo within a group recording session. Goodman was featured with Ben Pollack and His Californians on He’s the Last Word.
• 1930 ~ Peter Warlock [Philip Heseltine], British composer and music critic, died of a probable suicide at the age of 36
• 1936 ~ Tommy Steele (Hicks), Singer, actor
• 1937 ~ Art Neville, Keyboards, percussion, singer with The Neville Brothers
• 1937 ~ Nat Stuckey, Country singer, songwriter
• 1939 ~ Eddie Kendricks, Singer with The Temptations
• 1942 ~ Paul Butterfield, American blues singer and harmonica player with Paul Butterfield Blues Band
• 1943 ~ Dave Dee (Harmon), Tambourine, singer, record promoter
• 1955 ~ Carl Perkins wrote Blue Suede Shoes. Less than 48 hours later, he recorded it at the Sun Studios in Memphis. The tune became one of the first records to be popular simultaneously on rock, country and rhythm & blues charts.
• 1958 ~ Mike Mills, Bass with R.E.M
• 1961 ~ Sarah Dallin, Singer with Bananarama
• 1969 ~ Tiny Tim (Herbert Buchingham Khaury) married Miss Vickie (Victoria Budinger) on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. This is the Tiny Tim of the falsetto version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips fame. The NBC-TV program earned the second-highest, all-time audience rating; second only to Neil Armstrong’s walking on the moon. Mr. Tiny Tim and Miss Vickie had a daughter, Tulip. Then in 1977 they stopped tiptoeing together.
• 1969 ~ Chicago Transit Authority became a gold record for the group of the same name (they later changed their name to Chicago). When the album was released by Columbia Records, it marked the first time an artist’s debut LP was a double record.
• 1970 ~ The Beach Boys played to royalty at Royal Albert Hall in London. Princess Margaret was in attendance and shook the royal jewelry to such classics as Good Vibrations, I Get Around and Help Me, Rhonda.
• 1977 ~ Elvis Costello, making a rare TV appearance, agreed to perform on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
• 1978 ~ Don Ellis passed away
• 1999 ~ Rex Allen passed away
• 2004 ~ Johnnie Carl, Crystal Cathedral Orchestra conductor, took his life. Mr. Carl has been in the employment of the Crystal Cathedral for nearly 30 years and was internationally renowned as a conductor and as a composer and arranger of over 3,500 musical pieces. He was 57 years old.
• 2018 ~ Galt MacDermot, Canadian musician and composer (Hair), died at the age of 89
• 2018 ~ Raven Wilkinson, American ballerina, first African American woman to dance with a major ballet company, died at the age of 83
.1918 ~ This is Armistice Day or Remembrance Day or Veterans Day or Victory Day or World War I Memorial Day. The name of this special day may be different in different places throughout many nations; but its significance is the same. It was on this day, at 11 a.m., that World War I ceased. The Allied and Central Powers signed an armistice agreement at 5 a.m. in Marshal Foch’s railway car in the Forest of Compiegne, France. Even today, many still bow their heads in remembrance at the 11th hour of this the 11th day of the 11th month.
The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had eliminated Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the war.
Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed, it came into force at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”) and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender.
.1883 ~ Ernst Ansermet, Swiss conductor
.1927 ~ Mose Allison, American jazz pianist, trumpeter and singer
.1929 ~ Dick Clark, TV producer, host of American Bandstand, former Philadelphia DJ
.1929 ~ Andy Kirk and his orchestra recorded “Froggy Bottom” in Kansas City.
.1931 ~ Leslie Parnas, American cellist
.1932 ~ The National Broadcasting Company opened its new studios at Radio City in New York City. They celebrated with a gala program at Radio City Music Hall.
.1938 ~ Kate Smith sang God Bless America for the very first time. It would later become her signature song. Irving Berlin penned the tune in 1917 but never released it until Miss Smith sang it for the first time on her radio broadcast. Actually, the song was then 20 years old, but it had never been publicly performed before.
.1944 ~ Frank Sinatra began a long and successful career with Columbia Records.
.1964 ~ Edward Steuermann, composer, died at the age of 72. Howard Lebow, one of Mrs. O’Connor’s teachers studied under Steuermann
.1974 ~ Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor
.1979 ~ Dimitri Tiomkin passed away. He was a Russian-American film score composer and conductor.
.1992 ~ Erskine Hawkins passed away. He was an American trumpet player and big band leader.
.2000 ~ Isadore Granoff, a Ukrainian immigrant who started teaching violin lessons as a teenager and built a famed music school in Philadelphia, died in his sleep at the age of 99. Granoff taught Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and others during more than a half-century at the Granoff School of Music. Granoff taught amateurs and professionals. Some of his students went on to become prominent players of classical music, jazz, swing, big band and Latin sounds. Granoff sold the school in 1970 and later stepped down from the board of directors, renouncing the new owner’s promotional tactics.
.2015 ~ Dr. Maurice Hinson died. He was one of America’s most respected authorities on piano literature. Many of the books in the OCMS library were edited by Dr. Hinson. Mrs. O’Connor took a piano pedagogy class with him several years ago and learned so much from him.
Among his outstanding achievements, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Teachers National Association at it Washington, D.C. convention in the spring of 1994, the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Florida in 1990, and the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Michigan in the fall of 1995. Dr. Hinson has performed, lectured and given master classes worldwide. His books and editions have become classic standards in the studios of serious piano teachers and students the world over. He was awarded the Franz Liszt Medal by the Hungarian Government in 1986. Hailed as a specialist in American piano music, some of his most recent articles appear in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music in the United States.
. 2021, Graeme Charles Edge died at the age of 80. He was an English musician, songwriter, and poet, best known as the co-founder and drummer of the English band the Moody Blues. In addition to his work with the Moody Blues, Edge worked as the bandleader of his own outfit, the Graeme Edge Band. He contributed his talents to a variety of other projects throughout his career. In 2018, Edge was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues.
• 1979 ~ Following extensive renovation to return Radio City Music Hall to the look and feel of its 1931 art deco glory, the venerable New York City theatre reopened. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was the first live presentation.
• 1983 ~ Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton received a gold record to add to their collections for their smash, Islands in the Stream.
• 2000 ~ Julie London, American singer and actress (Nurse McCall-Emergency), died at the age of 74
• 2000 ~ Gwyneth “Gwen” Verdon, American actress, singer and dancer (Cotton Club, Sweet Charity), died at the age of 75
• 2006 ~ Anna Russell, English music satirist and composer, died at the age of 94
• 1881 ~ Georges Enesco, Rumanian composer, violinist and conductor
• 1918 ~ Sgt. Irving Berlin’s musical about army life in World War I opened at the Century Theatre in New York City. Yip Yip Yaphank included songs, such as Mandy and Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.
• 1939 ~ Ginger (Peter) Baker, Trumpeter, drummer with Cream
• 1939 ~ The Dick Jurgens Orchestra recorded Day Dreams Come True at Night on Okeh Records. Eddy Howard was the vocalist on the piece. It became Jurgens’ theme song.
• 1940 ~ Johnny Nash, American pop-reggae singer, songwriter and guitarist
• 1943 ~ Billy J. Kramer (William Ashton), Singer with The Dakotas
• 1945 ~ Ian Gillan, Singer with Deep Purple
• 1947 ~ Gerard Schwarz, American trumpeter and conductor
• 1951 ~ John Deacon, Bass with Queen, score of Flash Gordon
• 1964 ~ The Beatles began their first North American concert tour. They would visit 26 cities.
• 1972 ~ NBC-TV presented The Midnight Special for the first time. John Denver was the host for the first show. Wolfman Jack was the show’s announcer. The Midnight Special proved to be a ratings success.
• 1991 ~ Richard Maltby passed away. He was an American musician, conductor, arranger and bandleader.
• 2001 ~ Singer Betty Everett, whose recording of The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) made Billboard’s Top 10 in 1964, died Sunday. She was 61.
Everett is remembered primarily for one huge hit song in the 1960s, but she also recorded many other songs and was recognized as one of the top soul singers of her time.
Starting at age 9, Everett played the piano and sang in church. She continued to sing in gospel choirs before moving to Chicago in 1957, where she recorded a string of hits on local record labels such as C.J. Cobra and OneDerful that included I’ll Be There and I’ve Got a Claim On You.
Everett signed a contract in the early 1960s with VeeJay, a record label that was then issuing recordings by The Beatles.
Everett recorded The Shoop Shoop Song in the spring of 1964, and it soared to Billboard’s Top 10.
The song was later recorded by Cher in the soundtrack for the 1990 movie Mermaids and more recently by Vonda Shepard of the Fox television show Ally McBeal.
• 2017 ~ Bea Wain, American singer and radio host (Deep Purple, Heart and Soul), died at the age of 100
• 1939 ~ Philip Balsley, Singer with The Statler Brothers
• 1941 ~ Les Brown and His Band of Renown paid tribute to baseball’s “Yankee Clipper”, Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, with the recording of Joltin’ JoeDiMaggio on Okeh Records. From that time on, DiMaggio adopted the nickname, Joltin’ Joe.
• 1949 ~ Keith Carradine, Actor and composer, whose recording of I’m Easy reached No. 17 on the U.S. charts in 1976.
• 1950 ~ Andy Fairweather-Low, Musician, guitar, singer with Amen Corner
• 1958 ~ Harry (Harry Lillis III) Crosby, Singer and actor, son of Bing Crosby and Kathryn Grant
• 1958 ~ Chris Foreman, Musician, guitar with Madness
• 1960 ~ Tell Laura I Love Her, by Ray Peterson, wasn’t a big hit in Great Britain. Decca Records in England said the song was “too tasteless and vulgar for the English sensibility.” They destroyed 25,000 of the platters this day.
• 1961 ~ The Edge (David Evans), Musician, guitar with U2
• 1974 ~ Roberta Flack received a gold record for the single, Feel Like Makin’ Love. Flack, born in Asheville, NC and raised in Arlington, VA, was awarded a music scholarship to Howard University in Washington, DC at the age of 15. One of her classmates became a singing partner on several hit songs. Donny Hathaway joined Flack on You’ve Got a Friend, Where is the Love and The Closer I Get to You. She had 10 hits on the pop charts in the 1970s and 1980s.
• 1975 ~ Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderly passed away
• 1997 ~ Duncan Swift, jazz pianist, died at the age of 74
• 2017 ~ Glen Campbell died at the age of 81. He was an American singer, songwriter, musician, television host, and actor.
• 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.
• 1946 ~ Alan Gorrie, Rock Singer with the Average White Band
• 1947 ~ Bernie Leadon, Musician, guitar with The Eagles
• 1947 ~ Brian Harold May, Musician, guitarist, singer and songwriter with Queen, who had the 1975 UK No.1 single Bohemian Rhapsody, which returned to No.1 in 1991. Queen scored over 40 other UK Top 40 singles, and also scored the 1980 US No.1 single Crazy Little Thing Called Love. May had the solo 1992 UK No.5 single Too Much Love Will Kill You. May was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for ‘services to the music industry and his charity work’. May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College, London, in 2007.
• 1949 ~ Singer Harry Belafonte began recording for Capitol Records on this day. The first sessions included They Didn’t Believe Me and Close Your Eyes. A short time later, Capitol said Belafonte wasn’t “commercial enough,” so he signed with RCA Victor (for a very productive and commercial career).
• 1952 ~ Allen Collins, Musician, guitar with Lynyrd Skynyrd
• 1952 ~ “Paint Your Wagon” closed at Shubert Theater New York City after 289 performances
• 1966 ~ Frank Sinatra married actress Mia Farrow this day.
• 1963 ~ Kelly Shiver, Country Singer
• 1980 ~ Billy Joel, pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer, earned his first gold record with It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, which reached the top of the Billboard pop music chart. He would score additional million-sellers with Just the Way You Are, My Life, Uptown Girl (for girlfriend and later, wife and supermodel Christie Brinkley) and We Didn’t Start the Fire. Joel reached the top only one other time, with Tell Her About It in 1983.
• 2000 ~ H. LeBaron Taylor, a Sony executive who pioneered the mass marketing of music rooted in black culture and fostered minority development in the corporate world, died at the age of 65 of a heart attack. He was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the top 50 black executives in corporate America. In the 1970s, Taylor was at CBS Records, leading its Black Music Marketing department, which sold music originating in black culture and styles that sprang from it, such as blues, soul, rap and hip-hop.
• 2015 ~ Van Alexander, American composer and bandleader (A-Tisket, A-Tasket), died at the age of 100
Circus marches are called “screamers” because they are traditionally so high, loud & fast!! Circus Band members are often called “windjammers” because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers. Playing the circus requires incredible endurance & skills on your instrument. The windjammers play almost none stop and much of the music is really difficult!
The greatest circus bands were about 100 years ago in the heyday of the circus. At that time the big top band could be 25 or so, plus there were often sideshow musicians as well. Cowboy bands, women’s bands and bands of Blacks were often part of the sideshows.
Contemporary circuses are much smaller all the way around, and some don’t use live musicians at all, just “canned” music (recordings). Others carry 3 musicians, a drummer, a trumpet player and a keyboard (synthesizer) player. A few, like the Big Apple Circus, still have bands. The Big Apple Circus has 8 musicians on its bandstand: a conductor/trumpet, a person who plays alto sax and clarinet, one who plays tenor sax and flute, a violin, a trombone, a bass player, a keyboard player and a drummer.
In the “old days,” being a circus musician was one of the most strenuous jobs a musician could have. In the days before musicians’ unions, the windjammer would be expected to play for the circus parade, play a pre-show free concert for the townspeople, ballyhoo around the grounds before the big top show, play the show itself (nonstop for two or three hours!), play post-show concerts on the grounds or play sideshows. Then after everyone left, they helped take down the tents or do other chores around the grounds. It was a busy day and the pay was not very good, but it was an exciting life with lots of great music, and many musicians loved it!
Entry of the Gladiators (Thunder and Blazes) was written in 1897 by, the Czechoslovakian composer, Julius Fucik (1872-1916). This march is a classic circus march & one that just about everyone will think, “Ah, circus!” when they hear it. Thunder and Blazes (as it is most frequently called) and Fucik’s Florentiner March are probably his most well-known marches.
Most circus marches follow the standard American military march form, but often abbreviated (no repeats in the second half):
Introduction (a bit longer than military marches)
First strain (repeated)
Second strain (repeated)
Trio (more mellow and the key changes)
Breakup strain (often called the dogfight in military marches)
In a circus march, the last strain is often the same as the trio, but louder, and often the trio, breakup strain and last strain are not repeated like they are in a military march (in military marches, the trio and breakup strain are often reversed & the way they repeat may vary).
The music sets the scene for the performer’s act. Different music is needed for different kinds of acts: the bareback riders galloping around the hippodrome need a lively tune, the trapeze artists want something more peaceful, and of course the clowns need music that sounds humorous (like trombone smears!).
In the early days of the circus, the band masters would take some of the European classical music and arrange it for the circus band. “The most obvious example would be the beautiful, flowing waltz music that is essential to the trapeze artists (‘flyers’ and ‘catchers’). The bandmaster and musicians must be precise in coordinating the music and the timing of the artists, requiring rehearsal with the artists and the musicians. Similarly, it may be interesting to note that the bareback riders perform in a smaller ring because of the gait of the horses. The centrifugal effect requires a ring of a certain diameter for timing. Thus, the conductor must follow the gait of the horses, whereas the aerialists depend on the tempo of the music for timing their act.”
Modern circuses also play a lot of popular tunes, jazz and other songs that people will recognize. You will likely hear fewer of the standard circus marches at a circus today.
The drummer has a particularly challenging and important role in the circus music. He/she must “play the tricks.” Usually the drummer is situated so that he can see the ring because it is his job to accent and intensify what is happening in the ring. This was true 100 years ago, and it is true today. If the act is getting tense, the drummer will get intense. If someone slides down a rope or vaults off the trampoline, there will be a cymbal crash or drum hit when the performer reaches the floor. Sometimes the cues come from the conductor or from the ringmaster, but sometimes it is the drummer who is really in charge!
Circus bands occasionally play a John Philip Sousa composition during the traditional Center Ring Concert, but his melodic marches are not the right structure for most circus acts.
Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of the regular program. It is reserved for emergency use – sometimes called the “Disaster March”. If a major problem happens — an animal gets loose, a high wind threatens the tent, or a fire breaks out — the band plays the march as a warning signal to every worker on the circus lot that something is wrong.
Charles Nelson Reilly – who grew up to be a famous actor, comedian, director and drama teacher – was attending the Ringling Bros. circus, in Hartford, on the day the big top burned to the ground. Listen as he recalled his memories of the fire.
For lesser problems, the 12th Street Rag was played to alert the clowns to come out and divert attention during the more common mishaps.
Edward F. Shevlin describes what goes on in the circus band as follows:
“Our music is usually by Karl King, Alexander, Fred Jewell, C. E. Duble and other old time circus bandmasters and musicians. Much of the music by these circus musician-composers is amenable to quick cut-offs and tempo changes as necessary to fit particular acts. Hence, Windjammers usually play two musicians to a stand so that when the conductor cuts to a new piece and tempo, one musician can quickly move the music to expose the next piece while the other continues without skipping a beat! We might quickly go from a march to a Samba or rhumba or galop; or from a waltz to an up-tempo march or galop for the “come down” when the aerialists quickly descend into the net or slide down a rope at the conclusion of their act . . .followed by that ubiquitous B-flat chord! The old circus bands would play anything from Ragtime to a Polonaise or a tone poem!”
*Information from an email from Edward F. Shevlin, a Windjammer who happened upon this page! Many thanks, Mr. Shevlin!
When the circus came to town, there was always a circus parade — the parade served to get the wagons filled with people, equipment, baggage, tents and animals to the location of the circus, but it also provided some free advertisement. The wagons were very elaborate & were intended to get people interested in the circus so they would come and see the acts. The band road on top of a bandwagon and inside the bandwagon was luggage, tents and other necessities.
Hey, have you ever heard the term, “jump on the bandwagon”? Here’s the story. In 1848, when Zachary Taylor won the Whig party nomination for president, Dan Rice, a famous clown whose attire inspired the image of Uncle Sam, invited Mr. Taylor to ride on the bandwagon that Dan Rice had. When the bandwagon arrived at the center of town, Dan Rice stopped his parade and made a very emotional speech supporting Zachary Taylor’s candidacy. Someone noted that Dan Rice was on Mr. Taylor’s bandwagon and the term stuck, so that to jump on the bandwagon means to get involved with whatever the issue is. “He jumped on the ecology bandwagon.” “She is definitely on the civil rights bandwagon.”
Below you will find some links to pictures of bandwagons.
The Columbia Bandwagon– purchased by James Bailey for the Barnum & Bailey Circus — and see this wagon hitched to FORTY horses!!! The picture including the wagon & the band is at the bottom of the page.
Most people pronounce this instrument “cal eye’ o pee”. Circus people pronounce it “cal’ ee ope” (last syllable like “rope”). What is a calliope?? It is a huge instrument made of whistles with a steam engine that blows steam through the whistles when you press the key. Most calliopes are played with a keyboard like a piano keyboard & each key controls one whistle. It is LOUD!!!! Some can be heard up to 3 – 5 miles! Don’t stand too close to one!
The calliope traditionally brought up the rear in a circus parade.
Most performing entities have some superstitions. One of the superstitions in circus bands is that you can not play Franz von Suppe’sLight Cavalry March. Quoting from Mr. Beal’s book:
“To play it on the circus lot means disaster and sudden death.”You may not believe this but most circus folks do, at least those who know the facts. Played once in Oklahoma, a train wreck followed and sixteen were killed. Played again, this time while [Merle] Evans was on tour with Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West, a blowdown followed and 38 fatalities resulted. [A blow down is a wind that destroys all or part of the tents.]
“And the last time Merle played it a cornet player died immediately after the performance. That was enough for Evans. He collected the parts, tied them up in a neat bundle, and dropped them over the nearest bridge…
“From that day to this the music of Suppe’s Light Cavalry march is taboo. Even its presence in the music trunk would be considered a serious menace to the life and safety of the circus musicians.”
A second superstition about the music played is that the only time you can play Home Sweet Home is during the very last performance of the season, the very last song. Otherwise, it could mean the immediate closing of the show.
Beal, George Brinton. Through the Back Door of the Circus with George Brinton Beal. Springfield, Massachusetts: McLoughlin Bros., Inc., 1938. p. 1-20.
Some important Windjammers and composers of circus music
Sounds of the Circus — This is the site of the South Shore Circus Concert Band which is ” one of the few bands in the country dedicated to preserving authentic music from the golden age of the American Circus.” The site includes pictures, CDs to purchase and a few RealAudio files for circus music. http://world.std.com/~tsh/circus.html
Screamers – Circus marches are called screamers because they are so loud, fast & often very high!
Windjammers – Circus musicians are often called windjammers because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers.
Ballyhooing – The dictionary defines the verb “ballyhoo” as a vigorous attempt to win customers. When not playing, the musicians went around the grounds & the town shouting about the circus & trying to get people to come to see it. Ex: “Come to the circus tonight! See flying trapeze artists and the ….”
Hippodrome – The hippodrome is the track around the inside of the ring where the horses were run.
Trombone Smears – Smear refers both to a trombone technique and to a type of music. The technique (officially called a glissando) where the trombonist pulls the slide in or out without tonguing and you get a smearing sound as the notes move up or down, rather than a distinct set of individual notes. Smear also refers to a type of music that includes and features these smear techniques. These pieces are often used as clown music. Henry Fillmore wrote many trombone smears and they had an African-American minstrel sound to them.