May 7: Today’s Music History

today

•  1833 ~ Johannes Brahms, German composer
More information about Brahms

• 1840 ~ Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer
Listen to Tchaikovsky’s music
Read about Tchaikovsky
Read quotes by and about Tchaikovsky
More information about Tchaikovsky

• 1919 ~ Eva (Evita) Peron, Argentina’s spiritual leader and wife of Argentina’s President, Juan Peron; actress on stage, film and radio; the subject of the Broadway musical and film Evita

• 1927 ~ Elisabeth Söderström, Swedish soprano

• 1931 ~ Teresa Brewer (Breuer), Singer

• 1941 ~ Glenn Miller and his Orchestra recorded one of the great American music standards, Chattanooga Choo Choo
More information about Chattanooga Choo Choo

• 1942 ~ Felix Weingartner, Austrian conductor and composer, died; best known for his interpretations of Wagner and Beethoven.

• 1958 ~ Pianist Van Cliburn signed an artist’s contract with RCA Victor Records.

• 1966 ~ The Mamas & The Papas made the climb to the top of the Billboard pop music chart with Monday, Monday.

• 1977 ~ The Eagles went to No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘Hotel California’, the group’s fourth US No.1, a No.8 hit in the UK. The Eagles also won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for ‘Hotel California’ at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards in 1978. The song’s guitar solo is ranked 8th on Guitar Magazine’s Top 100 Guitar Solos and was voted the best solo of all time by readers of Guitarist magazine.

• 1995 ~ Ray McKinley passed away.  He was an American jazz drummer, singer, and bandleader.

• 2002 ~ Buster Brown, a tap star and choreographer who danced on stage, in films and on television, died. He was 88. Brown was one of the last surviving members of the Copasetics, a legendary group of veteran dancers who performed together. Known for his quick rhythms and charm, Brown was a mentor and teacher for a younger generation of dancers. Brown, who was born James Brown in Baltimore, began his dancing career with a trio called the Three Aces and Speed Kings. He eventually began a solo career, appearing in the Hollywood musical “Something to Shout About” in 1943. Brown toured with the bands of Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, and was a featured dancer in Ellington’s concerts in the 1960s. He danced in the films “The Cotton Club” and “Tap” and on two public television specials. He also performed with the original casts of the Broadway musicals “Bubbling Brown Sugar” and “Black and Blue.” Brown toured South America with the Cab Calloway Orchestra and was commissioned by the State Department to perform in several African countries. He also taught master classes throughout Europe. Beginning in 1997, Brown was master of ceremonies at a weekly Sunday tap jam at the Manhattan club Swing 46, where young and old dancers stopped by to perform. He recently received an honorary doctorate from Oklahoma City University.

May 5: Today’s Music History

cinco-de-mayo

Cinco de Mayo

• 1891 ~ New York City was the site of the dedication of a building called the Music Hall. It was quite a celebration. A festival was held for five days, featuring guest conductor Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. The structure is not called the Music Hall anymore. It’s called Carnegie Hall, named in honor of Andrew Carnegie.

• 1900 ~ The Billboard, a magazine for the music and entertainment industries, began weekly publication after six years as a monthly. The name was later shortened to Billboard.

• 1910 ~ Giulietta Simionato, Italian contralto

• 1927 ~ Charles Rosen, American pianist, musicologist, and writer

• 1934 ~ Ace Cannon, Saxophonist

• 1935 ~ The radio program, Rhythm at Eight, made its debut. The star of the show was 24-year-old Ethel Merman. Though Merman would become a legend years later, she didn’t fare so well on radio. Her show was taken off the air after 13 weeks and Miss Merman returned to her first love, Broadway. Tammy Wynette (1942) (Pugh) Grammy Award-winning country singer and songwriter

• 1948 ~ Bill Ward, Musician, drummer

• 1955 ~ The musical, Damn Yankees, opened in New York City for a successful run of 1,019 performances. The show at the 42nd Street Theatre mixed both baseball and ballet. It is an adaptation of the book, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. Gwen Verdon starred in the role of Lola. Whatever Lola wants Lola gets including the Tony for Best Actress in a musical for her performance.

• 1973 ~ 56,800 fans paid $309,000 to see Led Zeppelin at Tampa Stadium. This was the largest, paid crowd ever assembled in the U.S. to see a single musical act. The concert topped The Beatles 55,000-person audience at Shea Stadium in New York ($301,000) on August 15, 1965.

• 2000 ~ Hugh N. Pruett, the wardrobe director for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, died at 68. Pruett worked with countless international opera singers, directors and designers on 329 productions in his more than 40 years with the Lyric Opera.

• 2002 ~ Veteran movie director George Sidney, famed for such musicals as “Anchors Aweigh,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” died at his Las Vegas home. Born into a show business family, the Long Island, New York, native shot 28 features in 27 years, and worked with such stars as Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Tony Curtis, Lana Turner, Dick Van Dyke, Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. He once defined a star as “someone who attracts your attention even when he or she isn’t doing anything.” After making his mark in short films, Sidney moved to features in 1941 with “Thousands Cheer,” a hit musical starring Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly. “Anchors Aweigh” (1945), which starred Sinatra and Gene Kelly as sailors on liberty, received five Oscar nominations including best picture. In 1950, Sidney took over the troubled production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” which was a major success — as was his 1951 remake of “Show Boat” and his 1953 film version of Cole Porter’s musical “Kiss Me Kate.” In 1963, he directed Presley and Ann-Margret in “Viva Las Vegas,” considered one of the better entries in the rock legend’s woeful Hollywood career. Sidney’s last film was the 1968 British musical “Half a Sixpence,” starring Tommy Steele. Sidney served two stints as president of the Directors Guild of America, and helped animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera set up what would become a cartoon powerhouse.

 

May 6: Today’s Music History

today

 

1896 ~ Puccini’s opera La Bohème made its world premiere in Venice

 

 

• 1913 ~ Chopin’s Polonaise, films: The Eddy Duchin Story, Hollywood Canteen, Out of this World, Diamond Horseshoe

• 1913 ~ Carmen Cavallaro, American actor and pianist (Hollywood Canteen, Diamond Horseshoe)

Yes!  Same video!

• 1915 ~ George Perle, American composer and theorist

• 1918 ~ Godfrey Ridout, Canadian composer

• 1926 ~ Marguerite Piazza (Luft), Soprano and regular on TV’s Your Show of Shows

• 1942 ~ Richard Stilwell, American baritone

• 1945 ~ Bob Seger, Singer

• 1963 ~ Ted Weems passed away. He was an American bandleader and musician.

• 1983 ~ Kai Winding passed away. He was a Danish-born American trombonist and jazz composer.

• 2002 ~ Otis Blackwell, American pianist, singer and songwriter died

May 4: Today’s Music History

may4th

 

•  1655 ~ Bartolomeo Cristofori, Italian instrument maker, inventor of the piano. He was credited with designing the first pianoforte, which he called “the harpsichord that plays soft and loud”.
More information about Cristofori

• 1886 ~ The first practical phonograph, better known as the gramophone, was patented.

• 1920 ~ The Symphony Society of New York presented a concert at the Paris Opera House. It was the first American orchestra to make a European tour.

• 1928 ~ Maynard Ferguson, Canadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader

• 1930 ~ Roberta Peters (Peterman), American soprano, Metropolitan Opera, Jewish Cultural Achievement Awards in Performing Arts in 1997.

• 1931 ~ Ed Cassidy, Drummer

• 1945 ~ June Christy sang with the Stan Kenton band on one of the most famous of all big band hits, Tampico.

• 1951 ~ Jackie (Sigmund) Jackson, Singer with The Jackson Five

• 1955 ~ Danny Brubeck, Drummer, Dave Brubeck’s son

• 1956 ~ Pia Zadora, Singer

• 1956 ~ Gene Vincent and his group, The Blue Caps, recorded Be-Bop-A Lula for Capitol Records in Los Angeles. Interesting note: Vincent had written the tune only three days before he auditioned in a record company talent search that won him first place. The record was rush-released just two days later and became a rock and roll classic.

• 1959 ~ Randy Travis (Traywick), Singer

• 1996 ~ Alanis Morissette started a six-week run at No.1 on the UK album chart with Jagged Little Pill. The record produced six successful singles, including ‘You Oughta Know’, ‘Ironic’, ‘You Learn’, ‘Hand in My Pocket’, and ‘Head over Feet’. Do you have a favorite track from the album?

May 3: Today’s Music History

today

• 1844 ~ Richard D’Oyly Carte, British impresario; producer of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He also founded the Savoy Theater in London.

• 1912 ~ Virgil Fox, Organ virtuoso: credited for bringing the organ “to the forefront among classical concert instruments”

• 1919 ~ Betty Comden, Composer

• 1919 ~ Pete Seeger, American folk singer, banjo player, guitarist and songwriter

• 1924 ~ Joe Ames, Singer with The Ames Brothers

• 1926 ~ Jimmy Cleveland, Composer, musician, trombone

• 1928 ~ Dave Dudley (Pedruska), Country singer

• 1933 ~ James Brown, American rhythm-and-blues singer songwriter, dancer and instrumentalist, The Godfather of Soul, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986

• 1937 ~ Frankie Valli (Francis Castellucio), Falsetto singer with The Four Seasons

• 1939 ~ Beer Barrel Polka, one of the standards of American music, was recorded by The Andrews Sisters for Decca Records. Patti, Maxine and LaVerne turned this song into a giant hit.

 

• 1951 ~ In Britain, the King and Queen inaugurated the Festival of Britain on London’s South Bank and also opened the Festival Hall.

• 1956 ~ Most Happy Fella, a musical by Frank Loesser, opened at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. The show, an adaptation of They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard, ran for 676 performances on Broadway.

• 1960 ~ The play, The Fantasticks, opened at the Sullivan Playhouse in New York City. It would later become the longest-running off-Broadway play.

 

• 1971 ~ NPR, National Public Radio, the U.S. national, non-commercial radio network, was born.

• 1997 ~ Narciso Yepes, famous Spanish classical guitarist, died.

• 2001 ~ Legendary jazz drummer Billy Higgins died at the age of 64. Higgins was one of the most recorded figures in the history of jazz, performing with John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Milt Jackson, Charles Lloyd, Pat Metheny, Lee Morgan, Art Pepper and Joshua Redman, among others. He played with pianist Cedar Walton and was involved with the first edition of bassist Charlie Haden’s innovative Quartet West. Higgins came to prominence in the 1950s with saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s free jazz group, which included Haden and trumpeter Don Cherry. Higgins’ drumming laid the foundation for the group’s free jazz flights of fancy. That group sparked a decade of innovation in jazz that was carried on by the Coleman Quartet, Coltrane, George Russell, Charles Mingus and Albert Ayler, among others. Higgins’ ability to adapt his sense of swing to any genre made him one of the most in-demand drummers of the past four decades. Higgins helped found World Stage, a storefront performance space and teaching venue in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park. He was also on the jazz faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles. Higgins was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master’s Fellowship in 1997.

• 2002 ~ Yevgeny Svetlanov, a renowned Russian pianist, composer and former chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theater, died. He was 73. He was born in Moscow in 1928. He graduated from the Gnesinykh Musical- Pedagogical Institute and from the Moscow Conservatory. For several years he was conductor and chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre. From 1965 on he was artistic director and chief conductor of the State Symphonic Orchestra of USSR. He composed several symphonies, symphonic poems, chamber music works, and vocal-instrumental works. Svetlanov was the chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theater from 1963 to 1965, when he was named artistic director and chief conductor of the Soviet State Symphony. He was named a People’s Artist of the Soviet Union in 1968 and was awarded the Lenin prize in 1972 and the Order of Lenin 1978. He was given the Soviet State prize for creative achievement in 1983. Svetlanov was born in the Soviet Union in 1928. In 1951, he graduated from the Gnesin Institute of Music. Svetlanov graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1955 as a pianist, composer and conductor.

May 2: Today’s Music History

today

• 1660 ~ Alessandro Scarlatti, Italian composer
More information about Alessandro Scarlatti

• 1895 ~ Lorenz Hart, American lyricist and librettist
More information about Hart

• 1901 ~ Bing Crosby, American actor and singer of popular music

• 1924 ~ Theodore Bikel, Entertainer, singer, actor

• 1938 ~ Ella Fitzgerald recorded one of her biggest hits, A-Tisket, A-Tasket, with Chick Webb’s band. Following Webb’s death, Fitzgerald took over the band for some three years.

• 1939 ~ “Peter and the Wolf” first heard in Moscow.

• 1946 ~ Leslie Gore, Singer

• 1960 ~ Harry Belafonte presented his second Carnegie Hall concert in New York City.

• 1965 ~ Ed Sullivan had said he would not have this British rock group on his CBS- TV Sunday night show again. This night, however, Ed softened up — and allowed Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones to make a second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

• 1985 ~ Larry Clinton passed away.  He was a trumpeter who became a prominent American bandleader and arranger.

• 2001 ~ Robert McKinley “Uncle Bob” Douglas, a renowned mountain fiddler who debuted at the Grand Ole Opry at age 100 last year, died of pneumonia. He was 101. He was scheduled to receive the state’s highest arts award, the Governor’s Folklife Heritage Award, on May 15 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Douglas, a retired steamfitter who never pursued a lucrative commercial career, won the Smithsonian Institution’s national fiddling contest in 1975 and performed at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville.

• 2003 ~ George Wyle, 87, who wrote the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island,” the Christmas classic “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and more than 400 other songs, died. “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island,” which he wrote with the show’s creator and producer, Sherwood Schwartz, became one of the most popular television theme songs. The show debuted on CBS in 1964 and ran until 1967, and its reruns have remained popular. The New York native moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to write and conduct music for “The Alan Young Radio Show.” He went on to work as choral director for television shows including “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Jerry Lewis Show” and “The Andy Williams Show.” He also handled music for specials by magician David Copperfield and Carol Channing and for the People’s Choice Awards presentations.

May 1: Today’s Music History

 

Hooray, Hooray – it’s May Day

• 1786 ~ The Marriage of Figaro premiere in Vienna

• 1904 ~ Czech composer Antonin Dvorák, noted for his ninth symphony, “From the New World”, died.

• 1909 ~ Kate Smith, American singer of popular music, God Bless America, When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain

• 1928 ~ Sonny James (James Loden), The Southern Gentleman, singer

• 1931 ~ Singer Kate Smith began her long and illustrious radio career with CBS on this, her birthday. The 22-year-old Smith started out with no sponsors and a paycheck of just $10 a week for the nationally broadcast daily program. However, within 30 days, her salary increased to a more respectable $1,500 a week!

• 1939 ~ Judy Collins, American guitarist, songwriter and singer of folk and popular music

• 1939 ~ The two-part Sy Oliver arrangement of Lonesome Road was recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Listening carefully, one might note that the lead trombone is not that of Tommy Dorsey, but of Dave Jacobs, instead.

• 1945 ~ Rita Coolidge, American rhythm-and-blues and country music singer

• 1967 ~ Elvis Presley got hitched to a girl he had dated since his army days in West Germany. Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu married in Las Vegas, NV. The wedding cake, incidentally, cost $3,500. The marriage lasted until 1973.

• 1970 ~ Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin combined for the first time on Elton’s first American album simply titled, Elton John. The LP contained Elton’s first hit, Your Song, which made it to the top ten on the music charts in December.

• 1975 ~ Willie Nelson released his iconic album, “Red Headed Stranger”.

• 1978 ~ Aram (Ilyich) Khachaturyan passed away
More information about Khachaturyan

• 2001 ~ Fred Alley, a 38-year-old performer and playwright who was due to receive an award this month from Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, collapsed while jogging and died. Alley and Milwaukee native James Valcq co-wrote a stage musical version of the film “The Spitfire Grill,” which won the Academy of Arts and Letters 2001 Richard Rodgers Production Award in February. The award, which was to be presented later this month in New York, included a $100,000 grant that is being used to partially finance an off-Broadway production of the show. “The Spitfire Grill” had a successful run last fall at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey. Alley also co-wrote with James Kaplan “The Bachelors” and “Guys on Ice,” both musicals.

• 2003 ~ Barry White, American soul singer, suffered a stroke while being treated for kidney failure. The singer died two months later on July 4th, 2003.

• 2005 ~ Bruce Springsteen went to No.1 on the UK album chart with ‘Devils & Dust’ the American singer-songwriters sixth UK No.1.

• 2015 ~ Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars gave The Gap Band a writing credit on their huge hit ‘Uptown Funk’, due to its similarities with their 1979 track ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’. ‘Uptown Funk’, which had topped the UK chart for seven weeks and the US chart for 14, originally had six songwriters but was now credited to The Gap Band as well.

April 30: Today’s Music History

today

. 1717 ~ Guillaume Gommaire Kennis, composer

. 1792 ~ Johann Friedrich Schwencke, composer

. 1837 ~ Alfred Gaul, composer

. 1852 ~ Anton Rubinstein’s opera “Dmitri Donskoi”, premiered in St Petersburg

. 1870 ~ Franz Lehar, Austrian composer of operettas. He achieved worldwide recognition for “The Merry Widow”.
More information about Lehar

. 1883 ~ David John de Lloyd, composer

. 1884 ~ Albert Israel Elkus, composer

. 1885 ~ The Boston Pops Orchestra formed

. 1885 ~ Luigi Russolo, composer

. 1886 ~ Frank Merrik, composer

. 1900 ~ Train engineer Casey Jones was killed when trying to save the Cannonball Express as it highballed its way through Vaughn, MS. The famous song about Jones is based on this train accident.

. 1903 ~ Victor Records made its first Red Seal recording this day. The premiere disk featured Ada Crossley, an opera contralto.

. 1916 ~ Robert Shaw, American conductor, Robert Shaw Chorale; music director of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

. 1923 ~ Percy Heath, Jazz musician: bass: founder of Modern Jazz Quartet, The Heath Brothers

. 1933 ~ Willie Nelson, American country music singer, songwriter and guitarist

. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his band recorded the bandleader’s signature song, Contrasts, for Decca Records. The song went on to become one of the most familiar big band themes of the era.

. 1941 ~ Johnny Farina, Musician: rhythm guitar with Santo & Johnny

. 1943 ~ Bobby Vee (Velline), Singer

. 1944 ~ Richard Schoff, Singer with The Sandpipers

. 1953 ~ Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle became a team this day at Capitol Records in Hollywood. Sinatra’s new musical style, under Riddle’s direction, brought the crooner to the top of the record world for the second time in his illustrious career.

. 1953 ~ Merrill Osmond, Singer with The Osmonds: Alan, Donny, Jay, Marie, Wayne, Jimmy

. 1954 ~ Darius Milhaud’s Fourth Concerto for piano and orchestra premiered in Haifa

. 1956 ~ Richard Farina, folk singer: Reflections in a Crystal Wind

. 1983 ~ Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) passed away.  He was an American blues musician.

. 1987 ~ Three more compact discs of music by The Beatles went on sale for the first time. The discs were Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver. All became hits again for the Fab Four.

. 2000 ~ Bill Woods, a bandleader who helped Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and other country music stars launch their careers, died. He was 76. In the 1950s, Woods ran The Blackboard country music club in Bakersfield. The club attracted many country music stars and helped develop what became known as the Bakersfield Sound. Woods also could play many instruments, including piano, guitar, fiddle, drums, and the banjo.

. 2000 ~ Jonah Jones, a Grammy award-winning jazz trumpet player who began his career on a Mississippi riverboat and became a star playing with Cab Calloway, died at the age of 90.

. 2001 ~ Herman “Rock” Johnston, a musician known for his innovative work on steel drums, died of prostate cancer. He was 63. Johnston gained acclaim in the early 1960s with an innovation that stretched the musical range of the instrument from 24 to 36 notes. During his career, the Trinidad native appeared at the United Nations, Lincoln Center and Radio City Musical Hall in New York City, and with the Boston Symphony at its summer festival in Tanglewood. His repertoire spanned rock, spiritual, classical, show tunes and Caribbean folk music.

. 2003 ~ Bill Napier, a clarinetist who rose to prominence with the premier San Francisco jazz bands of the 1940s and 50s, died. He was 76. Napier helped create a catchy West Coast style with a Dixieland sound and a San Francisco vibe. He played with jazz stars including trombonist Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band. Though he took some lessons, Napier essentially taught himself to play. His talent, and his love of music brought him to an eclectic mix of venues – from cable car turnabouts to halftime of Harlem Globetrotters’ games to Silicon Valley soirees at the height of the dot-com boom. His last show was December 30, 2002.

. 2015 ~ Ben E. King [Benjamin Earl Nelson], American soul singer (Stand by Me), died at the age of 76

.2016 ~ Phil Ryan, Welsh keyboardist and composer (Man, Pete Brown), died at the age of 69

April 29: Today’s Music History

today

OCMS 1879 ~ Sir Thomas Beecham, English conductor. Founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947 and did much to promote the works of Delius, Sibelius and Richard Strauss.
Read quotes by and about Beecham

. 1895 ~ Sir Malcolm Sargent, English conductor, born. He was in charge of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 1942 until 1948 and of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1950 until 1957.

OCMS 1899 ~ Duke Ellington, American jazz pianist, bandleader and composer
Read quotes by and about Ellington
More information about Ellington
Grammy winner

. 1913 ~ Donald Mills, Singer with The Mills Brothers.

. 1925 ~ Danny Davis (George Nowland), Grammy Award-winning bandleader with Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass. Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1969, Country Music Awards Instrumental Group of the Year 1969 to 1974

. 1927 ~ Carl Gardner, Singer with The Coasters

. 1931 ~ (Anthony James) Lonnie Donegan, Folk singer, musician: guitar, banjo

. 1933 ~ Rod McKuen, Singer, poet-songwriter

. 1936 ~ Zubin Mehta, Indian conductor, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and violinist

. 1936 ~ April Stevens (Carol Lo Tempio), Singer

. 1943 ~ Duane Allen, Singer with the Oak Ridge Boys

. 1947 ~ Tommy James (Jackson), Singer with Tommy James and The Shondells

. 1949 ~ Francis Rossi, Musician, guitar and singer with Status Quo

. 1968 ~ Hair made its way from Greenwich Village to Broadway. The show certainly opened eyes. It was the first time that actors appeared nude in a Broadway musical. Hair ran for 1,844 shows on and off Broadway. It was even more successful in its London run later. Big songs from the show: Hair (The Cowsills) and Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The 5th Dimension).

. 1969 ~ Sir Duke, Duke Ellington, celebrated his 70th birthday. He was honored with the presentation of the Medal of Freedom, the U.S. government’s highest civilian honor.

. 2001 ~ Opera diva Rita Nellie Hunter, a powerful soprano celebrated for her fine Wagnerian performances, died at the age of 67. Hunter, originally from Wallasey, England, was best remembered as the quintessential Brunnhilde of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, which she performed in London, New York, Germany and Sydney. Hunter’s agile voice led her through performances of Verdi’s “Aida,” and “Macbeth,” Puccini’s “Turandot” and Strauss’ challenging “Elektra.” Despite her remarkable voice, Hunter did not reach international stardom. Her physical size, at a time when the opera was seeking slimmer performers, and the fact that she sang roles primarily in English, kept her from achieving global fame. Hunter married tenor John Darnley Thomas in 1960, and after his death in 1994, took over management of his Singing Academy in Sydney.

April 28: Today’s Music History

today

. 1870 ~ Hermann Suter, Swiss composer and conductor

. 1871 ~ Louise Homer, American opera singer, contralto at the NY Metropolitan Opera House

. 1873 ~ Harold Bauer, English/US pianist

 

. 1892 ~ John Jacob Niles, Composer

. 1917 ~ “Papa” John Creach, Singer

. 1920 ~ Nan Merriman, American mezzo-soprano

. 1940 ~ Pennsylvania 6-5000, the classic Glenn Miller signature song, was recorded on Bluebird Records.

. 1940 ~ Luisa Tetrazzini, Italian soprano, died.

. 1941 ~ Ann-Margaret, Entertainer

. 1950 ~ Jay Leno, TV personality

. 1987 ~ For the first time, a compact disc of an album was released before its vinyl counterpart. The Art of Excellence by Tony Bennett, his first recorded work in a decade, went on sale.

. 2001 ~ Evelyn Kuenneke, a Berlin singer and cabaret artist whose tune Sing Nightingale Sing was a hit among German soldiers during World War II, died of lung cancer at the age of 79. Kuenneke started out as a dancer at Berlin’s State Opera in the late 1930s. When the Nazis banned her from appearing in cabaret shows under her artist name Evelyn King in 1939, she turned to movies and pop songs that also took her on the wartime military entertainment circuit. With the war started by Adolf Hitler in full fury, Kuenneke scored her biggest success in 1941 with Sing Nightingale Sing, a nostalgia-laced ditty set to a slow swing beat. She continued her career after the war with pop recordings and films, dropping out of the public eye in the 1960s but staging a comeback in the 1970s. Since then, she regularly appeared on stage in small productions or variety shows until a few months ago. Born Dec. 15, 1921 in Berlin, Kuenneke was the daughter of German operetta composer Eduard Kuenneke and the opera singer Katarina Krapotkin.

. 2002 ~ Noel Da Costa, a composer and professor at Rutgers University, died. He was 82. Da Costa also wrote music that drew from African folk music. His piece, Primal Rites, was performed in 1983 by the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra under John Williams, with Max Roach as the soloist. Born in Nigeria, Da Costa’s family moved to Harlem as a young boy. He attended Queens College and Columbia University. He won a Fulbright Scholarship to study music with Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Italy. Da Costa joined the faculty of Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J. in 1970 after teaching for the city universities of New York. He retired from Rutgers last year.

. 2007 ~ Tommy Newsom, American saxophonist and bandleader (Tonight Show), died at the age of 78