.1912 ~ Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye) ‘King of the Cowboys’, singer, married to Dale Evans
.1929 ~ McKinney’s Cotton Pickers picked and fiddled their way to the Victor studios to record Plain Dirt. Among those pickin’ and grinnin’ were luminaries such as Fats Waller (on piano), Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins.
.1931 ~ Ike Turner, American soul-rock singer, pianist and guitarist, duo with Ike and Tina Turner Revue, owner of a recording studio
.1936 ~ Billy Sherrill, Songwriter, musician: saxophone, record producer, VP/Executive Producer of CBS Nashville
.1941 ~ Art Garfunkel, American folk-rock singer, songwriter and actor, duo ~Simon and Garfunkel
1942 ~ George M. Cohan passed away at the age of 64. Cohan was a legendary songwriter whose spirited and star~spangled tunes lit up Broadway and will be a part of Americana forever.
More information about Cohan
.1946 ~ Gram Parsons (Cecil Ingram Connor), Singer with The Byrds, songwriter
.1947 ~ Peter Noone (Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone), Guitarist, piano, singer, Herman of Herman’s Hermits, actor
.1955 ~ The Vienna State Opera House in Austria formally opened, celebrating the end of 17 years of foreign occupation.
.1956 ~ Art Tatum [Arthur Tatum Jr], American jazz pianist and composer, died at the age of 47
.1959 ~ Bryan Adams, Singer, songwriter
.1960 ~ Johnny Horton, American country and rockabilly singer (The Battle of New Orleans), died at the age of 33
.1963 ~ Andrea McArdle, Actress, singer in Annie
.1977 ~ Guy Lombardo passed away at the age of 75. He was a musical fixture for decades, especially on New Year’s Eve. Guy Lombardo, leader of the Royal Canadians, is fondly remembered for many songs he made famous but his most popular remains Auld Lang Syne.
.1986 ~ Dick Clark registered for an initial public stock offering for his TV production company (DCP). On the registration form, he called his product ‘mind candy’.
.2000 ~ Frances Mercer, a leading model of the 1930s who went on to star in films, radio, television and on Broadway, died at the age of 85. Chosen as one of New York’s most beautiful models while still in her teens, Mercer made her film debut in 1938 playing Ginger Rogers’ rival for James Stewart’s affections in “Vivacious Lady.” In the next two years Mercer made eight more movies, including “The Mad Miss Manton” opposite Barbara Stanwyck. In theater work, she had costarring roles in the Broadway musicals “All the Things You Are” and “Something for the Boys.” Mercer also had her own New York-based radio show, “Sunday Night at Nine.” On TV, Mercer played a vituperative mother-in-law on the soap opera “For Better or Worse” and surgical nurse Ann Talbot in the 1955-1957 syndicated series, “Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal.”
.2000 ~ Jack O’Brian, a newspaper columnist and Associated Press critic who wrote about television and Broadway gossip, died at the age of 86. O’Brian chronicled soap opera plot twists and celebrities and the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. The cultural figures who met with his approval included Bert Lahr, Perry Como and Walter Cronkite. He took a job as a cub reporter with a Buffalo newspaper and established a reputation for cantankerousness when he skewered the local orchestra’s young accordionists. He joined the AP as its drama and movie critic in 1943. Later, he wrote about television and Broadway for a string of newspapers and a nationally syndicated column. He also hosted a WOR-AM radio show.
.2012 ~ Elliott Carter, American composer, died at the age of 103
Destined to become one of the world’s greatest pianists, Vladimir Horowitz was born in 1903 in Kiev, Russia. While most young children were playing games, Vladimir was playing with the ivories. His time was well spent as he was fully capable of performing publicly by the time he was sixteen.
Within four years, the young piano virtuoso was entertaining audiences at recitals throughout Leningrad – 23 performances in one year, where he played over 200 different works of music, never repeating a composition. After Leningrad, Horowitz played in concerts in Berlin, Hamburg and Paris.
In 1928, the Russian pianist traveled to the United States to play with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Arturo Toscanini chose Horowitz to perform his first solo with the New York Philharmonic. It was there that Horowitz met his bride-to-be, Toscanini’s daughter, Wanda. The two were wed in Milan in 1933. New York became Horowitz’ permanent home in 1940. He became a U.S. citizen a few years later, devoting the rest of his career to benefit performances, and helping young, aspiring artists.
His return to the concert stage in May of 1965 was a triumphant success, as was his television recital, Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall.
Just three years before his death, Vladimir Horowitz returned to his homeland to perform once again for the Russian people on April 20, 1986. They felt he had been away far too long … close to sixty years.
• 1966 ~ I Love My Dog was released by Cat Stevens. He was 19 years old. Five years later, he recorded such hits as Wild World, Morning Has Broken, Peace Train and Oh Very Young. By 1979, Cat Stevens (born Steven Demitri Georgiou), disenchanted with the music business, converted to the Islamic religion and changed his name to Yusef Islam. He may not have liked the music biz anymore but Cat still loves his dog.
• 2000 ~ Robert Allen, who composed songs performed by Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Billie Holiday, died at the age of 73. Allen wrote his biggest hits with lyricist Al Stillman. The two collaborated on “Chances Are”, and “It’s Not for Me to Say”, which were major hits for Mathis, as well as a series of hits for the group The Four Lads in the mid-1950s. They also wrote “Home for the Holidays”, which has been recorded by dozens of performers, such as Garth Brooks and Andy Williams. On his own, Allen wrote the fight song for Auburn University and soundtrack music for the movies “Lizzie”, ” Enchanted Island”, and “Happy Anniversary.” In 1963, he wrote the music for and produced “Three Billion Millionaires”, a benefit album for the United Nations by Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Benny and Carol Burnett.
• 2018 ~ Charles Aznavour, French singing star, died at the age of 94
Today is a great day for patriotic music and there’s nothing better than John Philip Sousa’sStars and Stripes Forever
A part of every Fourth of July program at the Esplanade in Boston involves a giant American flag unfurling from the ceiling during the Stars and Stripes. Can you find it?
Piano arrangement by Vladimir Horowitz:
With Horowitz playing:
The Muppets version of Stars and Stripes forever
The animated graphical score:
The Band of the Grenadier Guards
The same melody can be heard with these words:
John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of a regular circus 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.
Find piano arrangements of the Stars and Stripes Forever in Movement 2
Closing out today, enjoy The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E♭ major, Op. 49, popularly known as the 1812 Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.
Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, “This Land Is Your Land”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.
A bit of audio for your listening pleasure, as played by Vladimir Horowitz…
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:
Since we had the Bridal Chorus a couple days ago, it’s time to march the bride and groom back up the aisle with the Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn.
This Wedding March comes from Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It became customary to play this at marriage ceremonies from about the mid 19th Century, and particularly after the daughter (also called Victoria) of Queen Victoria chose the piece for her own wedding in 1858.
Notice all the triplets (3)! If you don’t know what they are, be sure to ask at your next lesson.
Find this in Movement 2 and Piano Maestro.
Franz Liszt and Vladimir Horowitz added some variations
Today we’re going to listen and learn about the opera Carmen.
I chose this for today since it’s the anniversary of French composer Georges Bizet‘s death.
Georges Bizet was born in Paris, France. Both his parents were musicians, and they actually wanted their son to become a composer when he grew up! Bizet loved music, but he also loved to read books. His parents wound up hiding his books so that he would spend more time on his music.
When Georges was 10 years old, his father enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory. While he was there, he wrote his only symphony, but it wasn’t performed until many years after he died. Bizet graduated from the Conservatory with awards in both composition and piano.
Bizet also composed operas. His most famous opera is Carmen. When Carmen first opened in Paris, the reviews were terrible. Many critics said there were no good tunes in it, so audiences stayed away.
In the middle of the night during the first round of Carmen performances, Bizet died. He was only 36. Four months later, Carmen opened in Vienna, Austria, and was a smash hit. It is now one of the most popular operas ever written. Bizet never knew that audiences would come to consider it his masterpiece.
Vladimir Horowitz made Carmen his own by turning it into a fantasy (or the more musical spelling – fantasie).
The fantasia (Italian; also English: fantasy, fancy, fantazy, phantasy, German: Fantasie, Phantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, like the impromptu, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form.
When you play wrong notes for an audience, just tell the audience it’s a “Fantasie”, not the original work!
As you can see, Carmen is a popular work. Here it is for two pianos, played by Anderson and Roe.
The Canadian Brass tell the story of Carmen in their own humorous words.
• 1707 ~ Dietrich Buxtehude, German organist/composer, died at about the age of 69
• 1740 ~ Giovanni Paisiello, Italian composer (Barber of Seville)
• 1880 ~ Johann Hermann Berens, composer, died at the age of 54
• 1905 ~ Ernst Pauer, Austrian composer and pianist, died at the age of 78
• 1914 ~ Carlo Maria Guilini, Italian conductor
• 1914 ~ Hank Snow (Clarence Eugene), Canadian-born American country-music singer, guitarist and songwriter, Country Music Hall of Fame
• 1937 ~ Sonny Curtis, Guitarist with Buddy Holly & The Crickets, songwriter
• 1939 ~ Nokie Edwards, Guitarist with The Ventures
• 1939 ~ Ray Eberle recorded Stairway to the Stars with the Glenn Miller Orchestra for Bluebird records.
• 1941 ~ Pete Birrell, Guitarist with Freddie & The Dreamers
• 1942 ~ Tommy Roe, Singer, songwriter
• 1944 ~ Richie Furay, Musician with Poco and Buffalo Springfield
• 1945 ~ Steve Katz, Record producer; musician: guitar, harmonica, singer with Blood, Sweat and Tears
• 1949 ~ Billy Joel, Grammy Award-winning American rock singer, songwriter and pianist Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 3/15/99
More information on Joel
• 1962 ~ The Beatles signed their first recording contract. George Martin was hired to be the group’s producer and the band would record for EMI Parlophone.
• 1964 ~ Hello Dolly! became the nation’s top pop record. The milestone put Louis Armstrong on the Billboard music chart in the top spot for the first time in his 41-year music career. Later, ‘Satchmo’ was cast in the movie version of Hello Dolly!
• 1965 ~ Vladimir Horowitz played his first public concert in 12 years at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The audience applauded the piano virtuoso with a standing ovation that lasted for 30 minutes.
• 1970 ~ Guess Who started a three-week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘American Woman’, it was the group’s sixth Top 30 hit and only chart-topper. The song was born by accident when guitarist Randy Bachman was playing a heavy riff on stage after he had broken a string, the other members joined in on the jam. A fan in the audience who had recorded the gig on tape presented it to the group after the show and they developed it into a full song.
• 1991 ~ Rudolph Serkin passed away. He was a Bohemian-born pianist who was widely regarded as one of the greatest Beethoven interpreters of the twentieth century.
• 2001 ~ James Myers, whose two-minute, eight-second tune Rock Around the Clock is considered the granddaddy of all rock ‘n’ roll songs, died of leukemia. He was 81. The song was No. 1 for eight weeks and went on to sell 22 million copies worldwide. It has been recorded by more than 500 artists, from Mae West to the Sex Pistols, and has been used in more than 40 movies. Myers, who also wrote under the name Jimmy DeKnight, penned more than 300 songs and had bit parts in movies and TV shows, but Rock Around the Clock remained his most famous work.
• 2010 ~ Lena Horne, American singer and actress died
• 2020 ~ Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman), American singer, songwriter, and musician died. An influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, he was nicknamed “The Innovator”, “The Originator”, and “The Architect of Rock and Roll”. Penniman’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding backbeat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll.
. 1715 ~ Jacques Duphly, French harpsichordist and composer.
.1782 ~ On this day Mozart wrote a letter to his father about Muzio Clementi. He said: “Clementi plays well, as far as execution with the right-hand goes. His greatest strength lies in his passages in 3rds. Apart from that, he has not a kreuzer’s worth of taste or feeling – in short he is a mere mechanicus.”
. 1876 ~ Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Italian Opera Composer
. 1905 ~ Tex (Woodward Maurice) Ritter, Country singer, actor, John Ritter’s father
. 1921 ~ The opening of Town Hall in New York City, an important new concert hall
. 1926 ~ Ray Price, Singer
. 1926 ~ Morton Feldman, American composer, born in NYC, New York
. 1928 ~ Vladimir Horowitz debuted as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was the very same night that Sir Thomas Beecham gave his first public performance in the United States.
. 1930 ~ Glenn Yarbrough, Singer with The Limeliters
. 1933 ~ Václav Suk, Czech-born Russian composer and violinist, died at the age of 71
. 1939 ~ William Lee Golden, Singer with The Oak Ridge Boys
. 1939 ~ The Ink Spots gained national attention after five years together, as they recorded If I Didn’t Care. Many other standards by the group soon followed.
. 1946 ~ Cynthia Robinson, Singer, trumpeter with Sly and the Family Stone
. 1949 – Arthur Godfrey and His Friends was first seen on CBS-TV this day. The program stayed on the network for seven years.
. 1959 ~ Per Gessle, Guitarist, singer with Roxette
. 1963 ~ Songwriter Bob Dylan sang Blowin’ In the Wind on the BBC radio presentation of “The Madhouse on Castle Street”. The song soon became one of the classics of the 1960s protest movement.
. 1985 ~ After a record 24 weeks as the #1 album in the nation, Prince (now known as The Artist Previously Known as Prince) slipped to the #2 spot with Purple Rain. Replacing Prince at the top spot: ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springsteen’s Born In the USA, which spent 24 weeks waiting for Purple Rain to fall.
. 1995 ~ Laurel McGoff, American singer
. 2001 ~ Luis Floriano Bonfa, the master guitarist and composer who helped found Bossa Nova music, died of cancer at the age of 78. Bonfa, who was born in Rio de Janeiro in Oct. 17, 1922, began composing in the 1940s and launched his career as a solo artist in 1952. Better known abroad than at home, Bonfa became internationally famous for his contributions to the soundtrack of Marcel Camus’ 1959 classic film “Black Orpheus.” The film introduced an international audience to Bossa Nova – a more sophisticated and less percussive samba style – and made Bonfa and fellow composer Antonio Carlos Jobim stars. “Bonfa plays the guitar like no other, in a very personal, charismatic style. His guitar is a little orchestra,” the late composer Jobim once said. His reputation grew further when he was a featured performer at the Bossa Nova festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1962. He was even more famous for his more than 500 compositions especially Manhade Carnaval andSamba de Orpheu. Placido Domingo, Julio Iglesias, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley recorded songs written by Bonfa. In recent years, his productivity slowed. His last major label release “The Bonfa Magic,” was recorded in 1991.
. 2001 ~ Opera singer Kyra Vayne, a star of the 1940s and 1950s whose talents were rediscovered in the 1990s, died at age 84. The Russian-born soprano was born in St. Petersburg. Vayne fled the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution with her family and was eight years old when her family settled in London. She began a successful opera career in the 1940s, and sang for allied troops during World War II. She later joined the Russian Opera Company, then based at London’s Savoy Theater. Her career collapsed in 1957 when her agent, Eugene Iskoldoff, committed suicide, and for the next 35 years she worked as a secretary for the British Broadcasting Corp.
In the early 1990s, a music company released four recordings of her voice, leading the U.S. music magazine “Fanfare” to ask, “How is it possible that such a singer has not come down to us as one of the century’s most celebrated sopranos?” Soon afterward, Arcadia Books published her autobiography, “A Voice Reborn,” which tenor Placido Domingo described as having “all the elements of an opera.” At the end of 1999, nearly 80 years after she fled Russia, Vayne was invited to perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater to mark the new millennium – her first public performance in 40 years. “For me to sing at the Bolshoi is beyond any fairy tale,” she said at the time. “I am not worried about singing in public again after so long, but I am fearful of the emotional impact.” Vayne never married and had no children.
. 2003 ~ Maurice Gibb, a member of the famed disco band the Bee Gees, died at a Miami Beach hospital. He was 53. Gibb, joined with his older brother and his twin to harmonize their way to becoming one of the best selling musical groups ever. Gibb played bass and keyboard for the group, whose name is short for the Brothers Gibb. In a 1978 interview with TG Magazine, Gibb lamented the perception that the Bee Gees were only a disco band. “People accuse us of being nothing more than a disco band now,” Gibb said. “But they don’t know what they’re talking about. If you listen to our records, you’ll find that there’s dance music. But there are also ballads like More Than A Woman. And there are some very beautiful, undanceable songs, too.” The Bee Gees – twins Maurice and Robin, and their older brother Barry – have lived in South Florida since the late 1970s. Their younger brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, died in 1988 at age 30 from a heart ailment. Chris Hutchins, a writer and former press agent for the Bee Gees, said Maurice was “very much a tormented soul.” “He was not the star (of the Bee Gees), and he knew it, he felt it,” Hutchins told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. Known for their close harmonies and original sound, the Bee Gees are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their 1977 contributions to the “Saturday Night Fever” album made it the best selling movie soundtrack ever with more than 40 million copies sold. Among their disco hits on that album are Stayin’ Alive, More Than a Woman and How Deep Is Your Love and Night Fever. The group won seven Grammy Awards. The Bee Gees last album was in 2001, entitled “This Is Where I Came In.” The family emigrated from England to Australia in 1958, and the brothers soon gained fame as a teen pop group. They returned to England in the 1960s, and their first four albums contained hits such as 1941 New York Mining Disaster, To Love Somebody and their first U.S. number one song, 1971’s How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
The Bee Gees followed “Saturday Night Fever” with the 1978 album “Spirits Having Flown” which sold 20 million copies. The brothers wrote and produced songs for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick in the 1980s. They also wrote the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hit Islands in the Stream. The Bee Gees released three studio albums and went on a world tour in the 1990s. The live album from the tour “One Night Only,” sold more than 1 million albums in the United States. The Bee Gees run a music production company in Miami called Middle Ear Studios. Gibb’s first wife was British singer Lulu. He and his second wife, Yvonne, were married for more than 20 years and had two children.