April 9 in Music History

today

. 1886 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer, performed his debut piano concert in Barcelona.

. 1888 ~ Sol Hurok, Impresario

OCMS 1890 ~ Efram Zimbalist, Russian-born American violinist and composer
More information about Zimbalist

. 1898 ~ Paul Robeson, American bass. Known for his sympathy for Russia he had his passport revoked for many years. The song Ole Man River, whose words he changed to fit his views, became his signature song.

. 1906 ~ Antal Dorati, Hungarian-born American conductor and composer. He was the first conductor to record all of Haydn’s symphonies.

. 1916 ~ Julian Dash, Jazz musician, tenor sax

. 1928 ~ Tom Lehrer, Songwriter

. 1932 ~ Carl Perkins, early American rock ‘n’ roll figure who originally recorded Blue Suede Shoes. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987

. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra, along with singer Helen O’Connell, recorded Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga for Decca Records.

. 1950 ~ Bob Hope hosted a Star-Spangled Review on NBC-TV. Hope became the highest- paid performer for a single show on TV. The Star-Spangled Review was a musical special.

. 1970 ~ Paul McCartney sought a High Court writ to wind up the Beatles business partnership, effectively ending the group’s career.

. 1977 ~ The Swedish pop group Abba made its debut at number one on the American pop charts, as Dancing Queen became the most popular record in the U.S.

. 1988 ~ Brook Benton passed away.  He was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences.

. 2001 ~ Graziella Sciutti, an Italian soprano and opera director best known for her interpretations of Mozart, died at the age of 68. Born in Turin, northern Italy, in 1932, Sciutti made her first operatic appearance at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1951. She went on to perform under Herbert von Karajan at Milan’s La Scala. She was lead soprano at a smaller theater at La Scala called La Piccola Scala for eight years from its inception in 1955. She became a member of the Vienna State Opera in 1960 and the following year made her debut in San Francisco in one of her most celebrated roles, as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. She began her directing career at Covent Garden in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where she directed and performed in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in 1977. She then went on to direct in Canada and for the opera companies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Miami, as well as in Britain, Germany and Italy. She joined London’s Royal College of Music in the mid 1980s and continued to teach there until shortly before her death.

March 27 in Music History

today

. 1771 ~ A review of a concert in Venice given today by 15 year old Mozart read: “He worked out (a fugue theme) for more than an hour with such science, dexterity, harmony and proper attention to rhythm that even the greatest connoisseurs were astounded.

. 1851 ~ (Paul-Marie-Theodore) Vincent d’Indy, French composer and conductor
More information about d’Indy

. 1868 ~ Patty Smith Hill, songwriter, with Mildred Hill, composers of Happy Birthday To You. It’s first title was Good Morning to All

. 1892 ~ Ferde Grofe, Composer
More information about Grofe

. 1914 ~ Snooky Lanson (Roy Landman), Singer, vocalist on Your Hit Parade on radio and TV

. 1920 ~ Richard Hayman, Musician, house conductor for Mercury Records, harmonica player

. 1921 ~ Harold Nicholas, American dancer known as one of the world’s greatest dancers (Nicholas Brothers)

Children: don’t try this at home – never, ever dance on a piano!

 

 

. 1924 ~ Sarah Vaughan, ‘The Divine One’, American jazz singer, pianist, she was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989

. 1927 ~ Mstislav Rostropovich, Soviet cellist and conductor
More information about Rostropovich

. 1931 ~ Burt Collins, Jazz musician, trumpet, flugel horn, played with Jess Roden Band, Lalo Schifrin, T. Rex

. 1945 ~ Ella Fitzgerald and the Delta Rhythm Boys recorded the classic, It’s Only a Paper Moon for Decca Records.

. 1947 ~ Tom Sullivan, Singer, composer

. 1950 ~ Tony Banks, Keyboards with Genesis

. 1950 ~ Jazz pianist Erroll Garner became one of the first jazz instrumentalists to give a solo concert. He played the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH. In 1954, Garner would gain international applause for writing and recording a standard that has been presented many times since: Misty. Johnny Mathis and Sarah Vaughan are but two of many recording artists to offer vocal renditions of this renowned Garner composition. Play Misty for me.

. 1951 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded I’m a Fool to Want You for Columbia.

. 1952 ~ “Singin’ in the Rain”, a musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City

. 1958 ~ CBS Laboratories announced a new stereophonic record that was playable on ordinary LP phonographs, meaning, monaural. In stereo, on the proper equipment, a new rich and fuller sound was heard. It eventually became a standard for record and equipment buyers.

. 1959 ~ Andrew Farriss, Keyboards with INXS

. 1967 ~ Pop hit Happy Together by The Turtles became the No. 1 song in America.

. 1970 ~ Mariah Carey. Grammy Award-winning singer. She has sold more than 120 million albums and singles since her debut in 1990, only artist with a #1 single in every year of the 1990s. She has spent more weeks at #1 than any other artist

. 1971 ~ Janis Joplin started her second (and final) week at the top of the pop music charts with the hit, Me and Bobby McGee, written by Kris Kristofferson.

. 1975 ~ Sir Arthur Bliss, English composer and Master of the Queen’s Music, died. Master of the Queen’s Music (or Master of the King’s Music) is a post in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. The holder of the post originally served the monarch of England.

The post is roughly comparable to that of Poet Laureate. It is given to people eminent in the field of classical music; they have almost always been composers (George Frederick Anderson was one exception; he was a violinist who is not known to have ever composed any music). Duties are not clearly stated, though it is generally expected the holder of the post will write music to commemorate important royal events, such as coronations, birthdays, anniversaries, marriages and deaths, and to accompany other ceremonial occasions. The individual may also act as the Sovereign’s adviser in musical matters.

. 2015 ~ Tomas Tranströmer, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, died at the age of 83.
His poems, translated into 60 languages, have been set to music by some of Sweden’s foremost composers.

A passionate pianist, Tomas Tranströmer had to relearn how to play after a stroke in 1990 left him paralyzed down his right side. He said that playing the piano every day was the key to saving his life.

March 24 in Music History

today

. 1784 ~ Mozart‘s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat, K. 450 in B flat, K. 450 was first performed.  Mozart was the soloist.

It is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra.  Mozart composed the concerto for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater. In a letter to his father, Mozart compared this concerto with the 16th concerto in D:

“I consider them both to be concertos which make one sweat, but the B flat one beats the one in D for difficulty.” Indeed, many pianists consider this to be the most difficult of all of Mozart’s piano concertos. The concerto is primarily difficult from its many quick scale patterns which must be played perfectly and also from its many fast chord patterns moving up and down.

Beginning with this concerto, Mozart began to use the term “grand” to describe his concerti such as K.450 which feature a prominent and required wind section for the ensemble. The work is orchestrated for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings.

The concerto is in three movements:
1. Allegro
2. Andante in E-flat major
3. Allegro

. 1808 ~ María Felicità Malibran, Spanish contralto

. 1895 ~ Arthur Murray, dancer

. 1900 ~ June (Algeria Junius) Clark, Musician, trumpeter

. 1916 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish composer, died in the English Channel. Best known for his piano suite “Goyescas” after paintings by Goya.

. 1920 ~ Gene Nelson (Eugene Leander Berg), Actor, dancer in Lullaby of Broadway, Oklahoma, Tea for Two, The West Point Story

. 1922 ~ Dave Appell, Arranger for big bands: Benny Carter, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines; TV music director, record producer, singer, songwriter, musician with Dave Appell and the Applejacks

. 1928 ~ Byron Janis (Yanks), American pianist, NBC Symphony Orchestra; well-known piano performance on Hugo Winterhalter’s Rhapsody in Blue recording, composed by George Gershwin.

. 1935 ~ After a year as a local show from New York City, “Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour” was heard on the entire NBC radio network. The show stayed on the air for 17 years. Later, Ted Mack took over for Bowes and made the move from radio to television.

. 1937 ~ Benjamin Luxon, British baritone

. 1941 ~ Glenn Miller began work on his first motion picture for 20th Century Fox. The film was Sun Valley Serenade.

. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley reported to local draft board 86 in Memphis, TN. He became US 53310761. Oddly, since Elvis was now ‘government property’ serving his time in the Army, Uncle Sam stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes each year that Private Presley was in the Army.

. 1980 ~ Capitol Records released some rare Beatles tracks. Included in the album were stereo versions of Penny Lane and She Loves You, sung by the group in German, under the title, Sie Liebt Dich. Also included was a German version of I Want to Hold Your Hand or, in the Teutonic tongue, Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand.

. 2000 ~ French Quarter pianist and chanteuse Lily Simha Hood, whose fans included Tennessee Williams, died of kidney failure. She was cagey about revealing her age, and her husband asked that the secret remain with her death. Her musical career began on a whim. After dinner one night in 1976, the Hoods and a friend stopped at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a Bourbon Street bar across from their house. Mrs. Hood played a few tunes on the piano for her friend and was hired on the spot, even though she wasn’t looking for a job. Soon, “Miss Lily” had a crowd of regulars including Tennessee Williams, who would bring in a songbook for her to sing from. Mrs. Hood never formally studied the piano and never learned to read music. She was self-taught and learned by listening. She performed at Lafitte’s for 16 years, but health problems ended her career about 1993.

March 7 in Music History

today

. 1809 ~ Johann Georg Albrechtsberger passed away.  He was was an Austrian musician.

. 1824 ~ “I am convinced that the soul and spirit of Mozart have passed into the body of young Liszt” ~ Review of a concert given on this day by Franz List in Paris.

. 1875 ~ Maurice Ravel, French composer
More information on Ravel

. 1907 ~ Victor Alphonse Duvernoy, French piano virtuoso,  composer and professor of piano at the Conservatoire de Paris, died at the age of 64

. 1917 ~ In the United States, RCA released the first jazz record ever: The Dixie Jazz Band One Step by Nick LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

. 1917 ~ Robert Erickson, American composer

. 1939 ~ Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians recorded one of the most popular songs of the century. The standard, “Auld Lang Syne”, was recorded for Decca Records.

. 1955 ~ “Peter Pan”, with Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Richard as Captain Hook, was presented as a television special for the first time.
More about Mary Martin

. 1969 ~ The Apollo astronauts began this day of their space voyage by singing Happy Birthday.

. 1985 ~ The song We Are the World, from the album of the same name, was played on the radio for the first time. Forty-five of pop music’s top stars gathered together to combine their talents to record the music of Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. Richie and Jackson sang, too, while Quincy Jones did the producing of the USA for Africa record. The proceeds of the multimillion-selling recording went to aid African famine victims. The project, coordinated by Ken Kragen, was deemed a huge success.

. 2001 ~ Frankie Carle, a big-band leader best known for Sunrise Serenade, at the age of 97. Carle, who died in Mesa, Ariz., reached the high point of his popularity during World War II, when he was the focus of a bidding war among bands. His repertory was wide, ranging from classics like a revival of Stephen Foster’s Swanee River, to a World War II release that anticipated the Allied victory called I’m Going to See My Baby. Although Carle’s music did not rank high on record industry charts after the 1940s, he still toured and played concerts into the 1980s, some 70 years after he began his musical career.

. 2015 ~ Steve Zegree died.  He was a legendary jazz educator and former Western Michigan University Gold Company director.

February 24 in Music History

today

. 1766 ~ Samuel Wesley, English organist and composer in the late Georgian period. Wesley was a contemporary of Mozart (1756–1791) and was called by some “the English Mozart.”

. 1771 ~ Johann Baptist Cramer,  English musician of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer, a famous London violinist and musical conductor, one of a numerous family who were identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries.

. 1832 ~ Frederic Chopin’s first Paris concert. The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that “As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances—few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime.

. 1842 ~ Arrigo Boito, Italian composer, librettist and poet

. 1858 ~ Arnold Dolmetsch, British music antiquarian and musician

. 1932 ~ Michel Legrand, Academy Award-Winning composer for Best Original Score: Yentl in 1983, Brian’s Song, Ice Station Zebra

. 1934 ~ Renata Scotto, Italian soprano. She made her operatic debut at age 18 and is best known for performances as Violetta in La Traviata, Cio-Cio- San in Madama Butterfly, Mimi (and the occasional Musetta) in La Bohème, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Francesca in Francesca da Rimini. She is also an opera director.

. 1940 ~ Frances Langford recorded one of the classic songs of all time — and one that would become a Walt Disney trademark. When You Wish Upon a Star was recorded on Decca Records during a session in Los Angeles. Many artists have recorded the song, including pop diva Linda Ronstadt (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the early 1980s). One can hear the song not only on record, but as the theme in the opening credits of any Disney movie, video and TV program and those “I’m going to Disneyland/World!” commercials, too.

. 1942 ~ Paul Jones, Harmonica, singer with Manfred Mann

. 1943 ~ Stephen Douglas Burton, American composer and teacher

. 1947 ~ Rupert Holmes, Songwriter: over 300 songs & jingles, singer, producer

. 1947 ~ Lonnie Turner, Bass, singer with The Steve Miller Band

. 1964 ~ The musical, “What Makes Sammy Run”, opened in New York at the 54th Street Theatre. Making his Broadway debut in the show was Steve Lawrence. The production ran for 540 performances.

. 1985 ~ Yul Brynner reprised his role in “The King and I” setting a box office record for weekly receipts. The show took in $520,920.

. 1990 ~ Johnnie Ray died.  He was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist.

. 1991 ~ Webb Pierce passed away.  He was one of the most popular American honky tonk, rockabilly vocalists, guitarists of the 1950s

. 1994 ~ Donald Phillips, pianist/composer, died at the age of 80

February 22 in Music History

today

. 1817 ~ Niels Wilhelm Gade, Danish composer

. 1834 ~ Albert Heinrich Zabel, harpist and composer

. 1857 ~ Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts

. 1923 ~ Frederick A. Julliard set up a million-dollar fund to establish a music school. Today, Juilliard is one of the world’s leading music and dance schools.

. 1927 ~ David Ahlstrom, American composer

. 1931 ~ Maurice Chevalier recorded Walkin’ My Baby Back Home for Victor Records in New York City. The same tune was recorded 21 years later by Nat ‘King’ Cole and Johnny Ray. It became a major hit for both artists.

. 1945 ~ Oliver (Swofford), Singer

. 1956 ~ Elvis Presley entered the music charts for the first time. Heartbreak Hotel began its climb to the number one spot on the pop listing, reaching the top on April 11, 1956. It stayed at the top for eight weeks.

. 1958 ~ Roy Hamilton’s record, Don’t Let Go, became #13 in its first week on the record charts. The song was the first stereo record to make the pop music charts. 1958 was the year for several stereo recordings, including Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes by Chuck Willis, Yakety Yak by the Coasters, Born Too Late by The Poni-Tails, It’s All in the Game by Tommy Edwards and What Am I Living For by Chuck Willis.

. 1965 ~ Filming began for The Beatles’ second movie, “HELP!”, in the Bahamas.

. 1976 ~ Florence Ballard passed away.  She was an American vocalist, one of the founding members of the popular Motown vocal group the Supremes. Ballard sang on sixteen top forty singles with the group, including ten number-one hits.

. 1985 ~ Efrem A Zimbalist, Russian/US composer/violinist, died at the age of 95

. 2001 ~ Ray Hendricks, a singer of the Big Band era who performed with Benny Goodman and Betty Grable, died at the age of 88. His career took him to Hollywood and across the country with stars including Goodman, Grable, Hoagy Carmichael, Ben Bernie, Ray Noble and Sid Lippman. His earliest performances were on Spokane radio station KFPY. He soon set out for California with Bob Crosby, brother of Bing Crosby. After serving as a flying instructor in the Air Force during World War II, he returned to Spokane and formed his own orchestra. He continued playing local venues for several decades, but said he regretted not pushing his career after the war.

. 2001 ~ Herbert Kupferberg, a music critic and a senior editor of Parade magazine, died at the age of 83. For more than 20 years, Kupferberg was an editor and critic for The New York Herald Tribune. After it folded in 1966, he joined Parade. He also wrote reviews for The Atlantic Monthly, and The National Observer. Kupferberg, born in New York in 1918, published several books including Amadeus: A Mozart Mosaic and Those Fabulous Philadelphians: The Life and Times of a Great Orchestra, a history of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

. 2013 ~ Wolfgang Sawallisch, German conductor and pianist died at the age of 89

Happy Birthday to Felix Mendelssohn

mendelssohn-birthday

 

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn lived between 1809 and 1847. He is considered to be a romantic composer and pianist best known for his symphonies and concert overtures. Mendelssohn played the piano in public by the age of nine, so he was often compared to Mozart.

He composed works for solo instruments and orchestra, and German songs. Some of his better known works are the Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave. Felix Mendelssohn, along with Hector Berlioz was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra.

Mendelssohn harmonized the works of other composers, including Johann Crüger. Listen to Mendelssohn’s harmonization of Now Thank We All our God:

One of my favorites, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in g minor, op. 25:

     Read more about Mendelssohn in the Baroque section

     Mendelssohn’s birthday

     Listen to Mendelssohn’s music.

     Read information about Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

     First performance date of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the Wedding March

     Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.