Nancy Wilson: Born February 20, 1937

Nancy Wilson’s musical style is so diverse that it is hard to classify. Over the years her repertoire has included pop style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes and well known standards. Critics have described her as “a jazz singer,” “a blues singer,” “a pop singer,” and “a cabaret singer.” Still others have referred to her as “a storyteller,” “a professor emeritus of body language,” “a consummate actress,” and “the complete entertainer.” Then who is this song stylist (that’s the descriptive title she prefers) whose voice embodies the nuances of gospel, blues, and jazz? Her colleague and long time friend Joe Williams used to call her “the thrush from Columbus.”
http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/nancywilson

Please note: since we originally posted this, Nancy Wilson passed away, on December 13, 2018.

Leontyne Price: born on February 10, 1927

Leontyne Price received many honorary degrees as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), and the National Medal of Arts (1985). Her many recordings earned nineteen Grammy Awards, and she received a special Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. For her performance on Live From Lincoln Center, Leontyne Price, Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, Price received the 1982 Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

Price has been described as a “lirico-spinto” soprano with a 3-1/2 octave range. Her rock-solid vocal technique and purity and her dramatic flair have been combined to create a mix suitable both for the opera and concert stage.

– See more at: http://www.afrovoices.com/price.html#top

NPR: “Heifetz and Kreisler: Setting Standards for the Violin”

HeifetzKreisler

Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler were both born on Feb. 2 — Kreisler in 1875 and Heifetz in 1901. But the two men share more than just a birthday. Music commentator Miles Hoffman joins Renee Montagne to discuss the two famous fiddlers and how they each set new standards for the art of playing the violin.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7121113

Jackie Robinson: January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972

robinsonLIFE With Jackie Robinson: Rare and Classic Photos of an American Icon

When Jack Roosevelt Robinson stepped onto Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, he not only changed the face of professional baseball in America. In ways subtle and profound — ways that have been debated, dissected and celebrated in books, films, popular songs, academic circles and casual conversations in the long decades since — he changed the nation itself.

Here, LIFE.com offers a selection of both classic and, in some cases, rare pictures that paint a portrait of a man whose dignity, competitive fire and grace under pressure set him indelibly and inevitably apart from his peers and his rivals.

http://time.com/3813840/life-with-jackie-robinson-rare-and-classic-photos-of-an-american-icon/

Maria Callas: Born December 2, 1923

colorCallasMaria made her first professional appearance in von Suppe’s Boccacio in 1939 and sang the leading part in Tosca in 1942. After a series of disappointments and resenting envy by her colleagues, she returned to the American land of her birth. She lived there for two years (1945-1947), met the bass Nicola Rossi – Lemeni and through him came to know the tenor Giovanni Zenatello, artistic director of the Arena of Verona. Maria Kalogeropoulos left for Italy, met the industrialist Giovanni Batista Meneghini, married him, became Maria Callas and experienced her artistic life’s curtain raiser without suspecting that she was about to emerge as the lyric theatre’s most brilliant personality. Her first appearance in Italy as La Gioconda was directed by Tulio Serafin. Her acquaintance with him would lead her to new forms of expression.   http://www.hri.org/MFA/thesis/autumn97/callas.html

Callas’ ability to sing such a wide range of roles was one of the things that led to her meteoric rise. But criticcallasPiano Conrad Osborne says it also contained the seeds of her vocal decline. Callas’ voice was already starting to fail her by the time she was in her 40s — quite young for an opera singer. A number of factors, including a rapid loss of weight, may explain why. But Osborne, who also teaches voice, says Callas lacked the proper technique to sustain her ambitious repertoire.But for Callas fans like James Jorden, the diva more than made up for her vocal flaws with her talent for bringing the music to life. Her imperfections set her apart, and her ability to find the emotional meaning in a role was unsurpassed.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123612228

callasPosingBy the time of her retirement, she had performed more than 40 different roles and had recorded more than 20 complete operas. Callas’s personality and philosophy of performance are powerfully depicted in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (first performed and published 1995), based on her classes at Juilliard.   http://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Callas

Daniel Barenboim: Born November 15, 1942

Official website~ http://danielbarenboim.com/

YoungBarenboim’s parents were both pianists, and his father, Enrique Barenboim, was also a noted music professor. The family moved from Argentina to Salzburg, Austria, when Daniel was nine and then on to Israel in 1952. Barenboim had already debuted as a pianist at age seven, and in Europe he became known as something of a child prodigy. He made his debut in London (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) in 1956 and in the United States (at Carnegie Hall) in 1957…
Barenboim started conducting professionally in 1962, first in Israel and then in Australia with the Melbourne and Sydney symphony orchestras. He thereafter was guest conductor in several cities in European countries as well as in Israel and the United States. He served as music director of the Orchestre de Paris from 1975 to 1989. In 1987 he signed to become musical and artistic director of the new Bastille Opera in Paris, but he fell into disputes with representatives of the socialist government in Paris and was dismissed (in January 1989) before the first season was to commence, in 1990. Almost immediately, in January 1989, he accepted the post of music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in succession to Sir Georg Solti.
http://www.britannica.com/biography/Daniel-Barenboim

In 1999, together with the late Palestinian-born writer and Columbia University professor Edward Said, Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan workshop and orchestra, bringing together talented young musicians from the Arab countries of the Middle East, Israel and Spain to make music under the guidance of some of the world’s finest musicians, enabling dialogue between the various cultures of the Middle East. Musicians of the Berlin Staatskapelle have participated as teachers in the project since its inception. In summer 2005, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra presented a concert of historic significance in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, which was telecast and recorded for DVD. Since then, Barenboim and the orchestra have toured extensively, including appearances at the festivals in Lucerne and Salzburg, the BBC Proms in London and making a debut in the United Arab Emirates. In June 2015 Barenboim celebrated the imminent opening of the future home of the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, an educational institution that will expand uponPortrait the vision of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Barenboim also initiated a project for music education in the Palestinian territories, which includes a music kindergarten as well as a youth orchestra.
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/us/artist/barenboim/biography

Barenboim Piano~
http://www.classicfm.com/artists/daniel-barenboim/news/new-piano-steinway/#TbfiilhDE6RcYGIi.97