June 15, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

liszt-hungarian

Today’s assignment is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor. It is the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by composer Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set.

In both the original piano solo form and in the orchestrated version this composition has enjoyed widespread use in animated cartoons. Its themes have also served as the basis of several popular songs.

Above, Danish comedian and pianist Victor Borge gives every impression of having been asked to play a duet with someone whom he not only doesn’t know but doesn’t particularly like. Forced to come up with a mutually agreeable way of sharing the musical workload, he settles on the most difficult route possible.

It’s not clear why two pianists were needed for this performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, S.244/2.  I think that they did it just for the fun of it.  The result is hilarious.

They’re not the only ones to tackle Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 as a piano duo.

We also have these guys:

 

The “history” of this piece in several cartoons:

This is very interesting:

As he often did, Horowitz arranged it more for his liking:

 

Finally, for real:

Victor Borge’s Birthday

Victor BorgeVictor Borge was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was an entertainer and pianist – a deliciously funny performer. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, and in Vienna and Berlin.

He made his debut as a pianist in 1926, and as a revue actor in 1933. From 1940 until his death in 2000 he worked in the USA for radio, television, and theatre, and has performed with leading symphony orchestras on worldwide tours since 1956.

He was best known for his comedy sketches combining music and narrative. He used his classical training to skew serious music and performers.

From his obituary:

Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep Dec 23, 2000 at his Greenwich, Connecticut home, was known as the unmelancholy Dane of international show business. He would have turned 92 on Jan. 3, 2001.

“The cause of death was heart failure,” his daughter, Sanna Feirstein, told Reuters.

“He had just returned from a wonderfully successful trip to Copenhagen … and it was really heartwarming to see the love he experienced in his home country,” she said.

Borge was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.

“He went to sleep, and they went to wake him up this morning, and he was gone,” said his agent, Bernard Gurtman.

“He had so much on the table, and to the day he died he was creative, and practicing piano several hours a day,” Gurtman told Reuters. “He was just a great inspiration.”

Funeral services will be private, his daughter said.

Borge made a career of falling off piano stools, missing the keys with his hands and getting tangled up in the sheet music.

One of his inspirations was a pianist who played the first notes of the Grieg A Minor Concerto and then fell on the keys dead.

He said that the only time he got nervous on stage was when he had to play seriously and adds that if it had not been for Adolf Hitler he probably would never have pursued a career as a concert-hall comedian.

Until he was forced to flee Denmark in 1940 he was a stage and screen idol in his native country.

Lampooned Hitler

But as a Jew who had lampooned Hitler, Borge — his real name was Boerge Rosenbaum — was in danger and fled first to Sweden and then to the United States, where he arrived penniless and unknown and by a fluke got booked on the Bing Crosby radio show. He was an instant success.

He became an American citizen in 1948, but thought of himself as Danish. It was obvious from the numerous affectionate tributes and standing ovations at his 80th birthday concert in Copenhagen in 1989 that Danes felt the same way.

In the concert at Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, Borge played variations on the theme of “Happy Birthday to You” in the styles of Mozart, BrahmsWagner and Beethoven — all executed with such wit that the orchestra was convulsed with laughter that a woman performing a piccolo solo was unable to draw breath to play.

“Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing,” Borge told Reuters in an interview after that concert.

“That’s why I’ve never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy or a link with people, what better way is there?

“If I have to play something straight, without deviation in any respect, I still get very nervous. It’s the fact that you want to do your best, but you are not at your best because you are nervous and knowing that makes you even more nervous.”

His varied career included acting, composing for films and plays and writing but he was best known for his comic sketches based on musical quirks and oddities.

Unpredictable Routine

His routines were unpredictable, often improvised on stage as his quick wit responded to an unplanned event — a noise, a latecomer in the audience — or fixed on an unlikely prop — a fly, a shaky piano stool.

Borge was born in Denmark on January 3, 1909, son of a violinist in the Danish Royal Orchestra.

His parents encouraged him to become a concert pianist, arranging his first public recital when he was 10. In 1927 he made his official debut at the Tivoli Gardens.

Borge’s mischievous sense of humor was manifest from an early age. Asked as a child to play for his parent’s friends he would announce “a piece by the 85-year-old Mozart” and improvise something himself.

When his mother was dying in Denmark during the occupation, Borge visited her, disguised as a sailor.

“Churchill and I were the only ones who saw what was happening,” he said in later years. “He saved Europe and I saved myself.”

From 1953 to 1956, he appeared in New York in his own production “Comedy in Music,” a prelude to world tours that often took him to his native Scandinavia.

On radio and television, Borge developed the comedy techniques of the bungling pianist that won him worldwide fame.

Many of his skits were based on real-life events. One of his classics evolved from seeing a pianist playing a Tchaikovsky concerto fall off his seat.

Borge’s dog joined the show after it wandered on stage while he was at the keyboard — an entrance nobody would believe had been unplanned.

One incident could not be repeated. A large fly flew on to Borge’s nose while he was playing. “How did you get that fly to come on at the right time?” people asked. “Well, we train them,” Borge explained.

Borge’s book, “My Favorite Intervals”, published in 1974, detailed little-known facts of the private lives of composers describing Wagner’s pink underwear and the time Borodin left home in full military regalia but forgot his trousers.

In 1975, Borge was honored in recognition of the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and his work as unofficial goodwill ambassador from Denmark to the United States. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 1984 with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall and in Copenhagen.

Borge received a host of honors from all four Scandinavian countries for his contributions to music, humor and worthy causes.

Borge, who had lived in Greenwich since 1964, is survived by five children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. His wife of many years, Sanna, died earlier that year.

Borge’s birthday

Anniversary of Borge’s death

 

On January 3 in Music History

 

• 1710 (or January 4th?) ~ Giovanni Pergolesi, in Jesi, near Ancona, Italy

• 1898 ~ Zasu Pitts, Actress in Busby Berkeley’s 1933 musical, Dames

• 1900 ~ Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” was performed in New York.

• 1909 ~ Victor Borge (Borge Rosenbaum), Danish pianist and comedic performer
More information about Borge

• 1918 ~ Maxine (Angelyn) Andrews, Singer with the Andrews Sisters
More information about the Andrews Sisters

• 1926 ~ George Martin born, Record producer, arranger, keyboard for The Beatles; AIR Studios; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999

• 1940 ~ The Southland Shuffle was recorded on Bluebird Records by Charlie Barnet and his orchestra. A young trumpet player named Billy May was featured.

• 1945 ~ Stephen Stills born, American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter for Buffalo Springfield and also Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

• 1946 ~ John Paul Jones (Baldwin), Bass with Led Zeppelin

• 1969 ~ 30,000 copies of the John Lennon, Yoko Ono album, “Two Virgins”, were confiscated by police in Newark, NJ. John and Yoko were nude on the cover.

• 1970 ~ “Mame” closed at Winter Garden Theater New York City after 1508 performances

• 1972 ~ Don McLean received a gold record for his 8-minute-plus hit, American Pie.

• 1974 ~ Following eight years of inactivity, Bob Dylan toured for 39 dates in 25 cities. His first stop was in Chicago, IL. The tour was recorded and later released as a double-LP set titled, “Before the Flood”.

• 1975 ~ Milton J Cross, TV announcer (Met Opera Auditions), died at the age of 87

• 1981 ~ John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over and the album “Double Fantasy” topped the pop music charts just weeks after the death of the former Beatle.

• 1985 ~ Soprano Leontyne Price bid adieu to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She sang the title role of “Aida”. Price had been part of the Met since 1961.

• 1987 ~ The first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was ‘Lady Soul’: Aretha Franklin. Bill Haley was among the 14 others inducted on this date.

December 23 ~ in Music History

today

Christmas Countdown: Adeste Fideles

OCMS Michael’s Birthday 🙂 OCMS

• 1689 ~ Joseph Bodin De Boismortier, French baroque composer of instrumental music, cantatas, opéra-ballets, and vocal music.

• 1893 ~Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel premiered on this day in Weimar in 1893, with Richard Strauss conducting. Is there any better opera for Christmas time?

• 1907 ~ Don McNeill, Radio host

OCMS 1918 ~ José Greco, Italian flamenco dancer

• 1929 ~ Chet Baker, American jazz trumpeter and singer

• 1934 ~ Claudio Scimone, Italian conductor and musicologist

• 1935 ~ ‘Little’ Esther Phillips (Esther Mae Jones), Pianist, singer, Grammy nomination for Best female R & B vocalist in 1973. Aretha Franklin won but she gave the award to Esther

• 1939 ~ Johnny Kidd (Frederick Heath), Singer, songwriter with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

• 1940 ~ Tim Hardin, Singer, composer

• 1940 ~ Jorma Kaukonen, Guitarist with Jefferson Airplane and also Hot Tuna

• 1940 ~ Eugene Record, Singer with Chi-Lites

• 1942 ~ Bob Hope agreed to entertain U.S. airmen in Alaska. It was the first of his many famous Christmas shows for American armed forces around the world. The tradition continued for more than three decades.

• 1943 ~ The first complete opera to be televised was aired on WRBG in Schenectady, NY. (WRGB was named after GE engineer Dr. W.R.G. Baker. It was not named, as many have thought over the years, for red, blue and green, the three primary colors of a TV picture tube.) Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” was the opera presented.

• 1945 ~ Ron Bushy, Drummer with Iron Butterfly

• 1951 ~ Johnny Contardo, Singer with Sha-Na-Na, formerly Eddie and The Evergreens

• 1964 ~ Eddie Vedder (Mueller), Songwriter, singer with Pearl Jam

• 1964 ~ Rock ’n’ roll radio, in the guise of Pirate Radio, went to the U.K. Radio London began its regular broadcasts. It was joined, at sea, by other pirates like Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. It was a gallant effort to broadcast commercial radio, which was illegal in Great Britain. On England’s mainland, one had to listen to ‘Auntie Beeb’ (the BBC) or nothing at all. It was generally like a battle. Government agents would attempt to board a floating radio station, take it over, and shut it down. Many times the ships would broadcast from different locales to foil the governmental crackdown on the high seas. Later, the BBC split into four different radio networks, Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4, to stem the tide of the pirates who gained huge audiences by playing popular music. Eventually, limited commercial broadcasting came to Great Britain.

• 1969 ~ B.J. Thomas received a gold record for the single, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head from the motion picture, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Raindrops hit number one on the pop charts on January 3, 1970 and stayed there for 4 weeks.

• 1969 ~ Elton John met with arranger Paul Buckmaster, writer Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon. The collaboration marked the start of one of the most successful milestones of music in the 1970s. Together, they created Your Song, Friends, Levon, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and many more.

• 2000 ~ Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep.

• 2001 ~ Anthony Charles Chavis, Zydeco musician and son of the late Zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis, died after suffering a heart attack He was 45. His death came just eight months after his father’s. Charles Chavis, in addition to playing the washboard, was lead vocalist on numerous recordings with Boozoo, including his 1996 hit What You Gonna Do? After Boozoo Chavis’ death, his sons had agreed to continue the Magic Sounds Band. It was not clear how Charles Chavis’s death would affect the group. In addition to his music, Charles Chavis had worked with his father as a jockey and trainer at Chavis stables.

• 2018 ~ Liza Redfield, who broke a barrier on July 4, 1960, when she raised her baton at the Majestic Theater to start a performance of “The Music Man,” becoming the first woman to be the full-time conductor of a Broadway pit orchestra, died at the age of 94.

September 25 ~ in Music History

today

OCMS 1683 ~ Jean-Philippe Rameau, French composer, theorist and organist
Read more about Rameau

 

 

OCMS 1906 ~ Dmitri Shostakovich, Soviet composer
Read more about Shostakovich
Grammy winner
Shostakovich’s music was once condemned as being “un-Soviet” Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto number 2 is featured in Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Read more about Shostakovich

• 1932 ~ Glenn (Herbert) Gould, Canadian pianist, composer, wrote a piano essay about Petula Clark
Read quotes by and about Gould
Read news items about Gould

• 1933 ~ Erik Darling, Folk singer with The Weavers and also The Tarriers

• 1934 ~ Hot Lips was recorded by Henry Busse and his orchestra in Chicago, IL.

• 1943 ~ Gary Alexander, Guitar, singer with The Association

• 1945 ~ Onnie McIntyre, Guitar with Average White Band

• 1950 ~ NBC~TV introduced a new concept in daytime programming. Kate Smith debuted an hourlong show. Her theme song for the show was When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain. Kate’s daytime show ran for four years. God Bless America.

• 1953 ~ John Locke, Keyboards with Spirit

• 1953 ~ Following in the footlights of musical greats like Ignace Jan Paderewski and Victor Borge, a piano player named Liberace made his debut at Carnegie Hall. Liberace performed before a sellout audience. His candelabra and concert grand piano were instant trademarks that lasted throughout his career.

• 1955 ~ Steve Severin (Bailey), Bass with Siouxsie & The Banshees

• 1979 ~ The third musical resulting from the collaboration of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber lit up the Great White Way. Evita opened on Broadway to rave reviews.

• 2002 ~ Bob Radonich, who for 47 years owned a local landmark cafe shaped like a coffee pot, died after suffering a series of strokes. He was 83. His cafe, Bob’s Java Jive, evokes a largely forgotten era of architecture. The street where it sits once featured toy factories shaped like castles, a gas station resembling a colossal neon gas pump and a yellow, lemon-shaped restaurant called the Lemon Lunch. Those other buildings vanished, but the Java Jive survived. Java Jive was originally known as the Coffee Pot Restaurant, built in 1927 by local veterinarian Otis G. Button and designed by an artist, inventor and promoter named Bert Smyser. Radonich bought the cafe in 1955. His wife Lylabell renamed the business for an Ink Spots’ song whose lyrics included I love coffee, I love tea, I love java jive, it loves me. The Java Jive, which was used for a scene in the 1990 movie “I Love You to Death,” was renowned for a pair of chimpanzees, Java and Jive, who played drums while Bobby Floyd, who was Bob and Lylabell’s son, entertained on the organ. Radonich’s daughter now owns and runs Bob’s Java Jive.

• 2009 ~ Alicia de Larrocha, Catalan pianist died. She was considered one of the great piano legends of the 20th century.

• 2012 ~ Andy Williams, American singer, died from bladder cancer at the age of 84

June 30 in Music History

today

 

Be sure your student reads and listens to Today’s Daily Listening Assignment

 

• 1666 ~ Adam Krieger, German Composer, died at the age of 32

• 1669 ~ Mauritius Vogt, Composer

• 1722 ~ Jiri Antonin Benda, Composer

• 1723 ~ Christian Ernst Graf, Composer

• 1743 ~ Niels Schiorring, Composer

• 1792 ~ Francesco Antonio Rosetti, Composer, died

• 1818 ~ Edward John Hopkins, English organist and composer

• 1819 ~ Ernst Ludwig Gerber, Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1846 ~ Ricardo Drigo, Composer

• 1889 ~ Eugenio Terziani, Composer, died at the age of 64

• 1890 ~ Samuel Parkman Tuckerman, Composer, died at the age of 71

• 1896 ~ Wilfred Pelletier, Canadian conductor for Voice of Firestone

• 1908 ~ Lucino Tinio Sacramento, Composer

• 1914 ~ Natko Devcic, Composer

• 1917 ~ Lena Horne, American singer of popular music

• 1917 ~ “Buddy” Rich, American jazz drummer and bandleader

• 1918 ~ Stuart Foster, American singer

• 1921 ~ Gordon Reynolds, Musician

• 1923 ~ Claude Antoine Terrasse, Composer, died at the age of 56

• 1925 ~ Will Gay Bottje, Composer

• 1929 ~ Alexander Kelly, Pianist and teacher

• 1930 ~ June Valli, American singer on Your Hit Parade

• 1931 ~ James Loughran, British conductor

• 1932 ~ Martin Mailman, American composer

• 1936 ~ Pauls Dambis, Composer

• 1939 ~ Chris Hinze, Dutch flutist

• 1939 ~ Lindembergue Cardoso, Composer

• 1939 ~ Frank Sinatra made his first appearance with Harry James’ band. Sinatra was center stage at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, MD, where he sang My Love for You

• 1941 ~ Micki Grant, Composer

• 1941 ~ Mike Leander Farr, Record producer

• 1943 ~ Florence Ballard, Singer with the Supremes

• 1944 ~ Glenn Shorrock, Australian singer with Little River Band

• 1946 ~ Billy Brown, singer with Ray, Goodman, Brown

• 1946 ~ Michael Zadora, Composer, died at the age of 64

• 1947 ~ Jasper van’t Hof, Dutch jazz pianist (Live in Montreux)

• 1951 ~ Andrew Scott, Welch rock guitarist

• 1951 ~ “Victor Borge Show,” last aired on NBC-TV
More information about Borge

• 1953 ~ Gote Carlid, Composer, died at the age of 32

• 1956 ~ “Pipe Dream” closed at Shubert Theater New York City after 245 performances

• 1956 ~ “Shangri-La” closed at Winter Garden Theater New York City after 21 performances

• 1959 ~ Lazare Saminsky, Composer, died at the age of 76

• 1960 ~ Clarence Cameron White, Composer, died at the age of 79

• 1969 ~ Jan Evangelista Zelinka, Composer, died at the age of 76

• 1982 ~ “Lena Horne: Lady, Music” closed at Nederlander New York City after 333 performances

• 1983 ~ Bo Gentry, Songwriter and producer, died

• 1985 ~ Yul Brynner left his role as the King of Siam after 4,600 performances in The King and I at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. The show had run, on and off, for over 34 years and 191 performances.

• 1987 ~ Federico Mompou, Composer, died at the age of 94

• 1993 ~ “Les Miserables” opened at Point Theatre, Dublin

• 1995 ~ Phyllis Hyman, Rhythm and Blues Jazz singer, died at 45

• 1996 ~ “State Fair,” closed at Music Box Theater New York City after 118 performances

• 2001 ~ Chet Atkins, whose guitar style influenced a generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country style to compete with it, died at the age of 77.

Atkins recorded more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and sold more than 75 million albums. He played on hundreds of hit records, including those of Elvis Presley (Heartbreak Hotel), Hank Williams Sr. (Your Cheatin’ HeartJambalaya) and The Everly Brothers (Wake Up Little Susie). As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957, Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many others. “It’s impossible to capsulize his life – due to the profound impact he’s had as a wonderful human being and incredible member of our industry,” said Joe Galante, chairman of the RCA Label Group in Nashville. “His artistry and his influence as an industry leader have impacted so many. “There is no way to replace him nor what he has meant to music and our Nashville community.” Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in rock music. Among his notable productions are The End of the World by Skeeter Davis and He’ll Have to Go by Reeves. “I realized that what I liked, the public would like, too,” Atkins said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press. ‘”Cause I’m kind of square.”

Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell, Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins’ first professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was singer Bill Carlisle. “He was horrible,” Carlisle said at a tribute concert to Atkins in 1997. “But I heard him during a break playing guitar and decided to feature him on that.” Atkins’ unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes joked that early on his playing sounded “like two guitarists playing badly.” During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording sessions. RCA began issuing instrumental albums by Atkins in 1953. George Harrison, whose guitar work on early Beatles records is heavily influenced by Atkins, wrote the liner notes for “Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles.” Sholes put Atkins in charge of RCA Nashville when he was promoted in 1957. There, he helped Nashville survive the challenge of rock ‘n’ roll with the Nashville Sound. The lavish sound has been criticized by purists who prefer their country music raw and unadorned. Atkins was unrepentant, saying that at the time his goal was simply “to keep my job.” “And the way you do that is you make a hit record once in a while,” he said in 1993. “And the way you do that is you give the audience something different.” Atkins quit his job as an executive in the 1970s and concentrated on playing his guitar. He’s collaborated with a wide range of artists on solo albums, including Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Eric Johnson, George Benson, Susie Bogguss and Earl Klugh. At the time he became ill, Atkins had just released a CD, “The Day Finger Pickers took over the World.” He also had begun regular Monday night performances at a Nashville club. “If I know I’ve got to go do a show, I practice quite a bit, because you can’t get out there and embarrass yourself.” Atkins said in 1996. “So I thought, if I play every week I won’t be so rusty and I’ll play a lot better.”

 

June 15 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

liszt-hungarian

Today’s assignment is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor. It is the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by composer Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set.

In both the original piano solo form and in the orchestrated version this composition has enjoyed widespread use in animated cartoons. Its themes have also served as the basis of several popular songs.

Above, Danish comedian and pianist Victor Borge gives every impression of having been asked to play a duet with someone whom he not only doesn’t know but doesn’t particularly like. Forced to come up with a mutually agreeable way of sharing the musical workload, he settles on the most difficult route possible.

It’s not clear why two pianists were needed for this performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, S.244/2.  I think that they did it just for the fun of it.  The result is hilarious.

They’re not the only ones to tackle Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 as a piano duo.

We also have these guys:

 

The “history” of this piece in several cartoons:

This is very interesting:

As he often did, Horowitz arranged it more for his liking:

 

Finally, for real: