Richard Wagner~ Born May 22, 1813

Early in his career, Wagner learned both the elements and the practical, political realities of his craft by writing a handful of operas which were unenthusiastically, even angrily, received. Beginning with Rienzi (1838-40) and The Flying Dutchman (1841), however, he enjoyed a string of successes that propelled him to immortality and changed the face of music. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas — Das Rheingold (1853-54), Die Walküre (1854-56), Siegfried (1856-71) and Götterdämmerung (1869-74) — remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/richard-wagner-mn0000958980/biography

The Brilliant, Troubled Legacy of Richard Wagner

A great music lover, Renoir was one of the first admirers of Wagner in France. At the beginning of 1882, when the painter was travelling in the south of Italy, he had the opportunity to visit Palermo where Wagner was staying. After two fruitless attempts, Renoir was finally introduced to the “maestro” who, the day before, had put the final notes to Parsifal.
The course of this meeting is well known thanks to a letter from Renoir to one of his friends, dated 15 January 1882:
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire/commentaire_id/richard-wagner-11042.html?no_cache=1

Fats Waller: Born May 21, 1904

Waller, Fats (21 May 1904-15 Dec. 1943), jazz and popular pianist, singer, and songwriter, was born Thomas Wright Waller in New York City, the son of Edward Martin Waller, a Baptist preacher, and Adeline Lockett. From age six Waller was devoted to the piano but initially failed to practice properly or learn to read music well, because he could memorize lessons immediately. In his youth he also played reed organ in church. He studied piano, string bass, and violin at P.S. 89, which he attended to about age fourteen or fifteen. Although his girth had earned him a nickname by this time, the names Thomas and Fats appeared interchangeably (and sometimes together, as Thomas “Fats” Waller) in his professional work until at least 1931. Later in his career, and posthumously, the nickname prevailed.

Intermittently from 1919 into the mid-1920s he played organ at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem. After his mother’s death in 1920, he moved in with the family of pianist Russell Brooks, who introduced Waller to James P. Johnson. Upon discovering that Waller had learned “Carolina Shout” from Johnson’s piano roll, Johnson offered Waller piano lessons and in turn introduced him to Willie “the Lion” Smith, whom Waller replaced at Leroy’s saloon. Johnson, Smith, and Waller became the leading figures in the jazz style that came to be called stride piano, and through the decade their improvisational competitions were a fixture of Harlem rent parties.
http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-01201.html

May 19~

Pete Townshend (1945)

art: John Entwistle
bio: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/pete-townshend/biography
video: https://youtu.be/slhQOjMHaDY

 

Grace Jones (1948)
art: Keith Haring
photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe
bio: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/grace-jones-mn0000161920/biography
video: https://youtu.be/EMypXV1YJfw

Erik Satie~ Born May 17, 1866

Erik Satie, original name in full Eric Alfred Leslie Satie (born May 17, 1866, Honfleur, Calvados, France—died July 1, 1925, Paris), French composer whose spare, unconventional, often witty style exerted a major influence on 20th-century music, particularly in France.

During his last 10 years Satie’s best friends were painters, many of whom he had met while a café pianist. Satie was nonetheless deeply admired by composers of the rank of Darius Milhaud, Maurice Ravel, and, in particular, Claude Debussy—of whom he was an intimate friend for close to 30 years.

His ballet Parade (1917; choreographed by Léonide Massine, scenario by Jean Cocteau, stage design and costumes by Pablo Picasso) was scored for typewriters, sirens, airplane propellers, ticker tape, and a lottery wheel and anticipated the use of jazz materials by Igor Stravinsky and others. The word Surrealism was used for the first time in Guillaume Apollinaire’s program notes for Parade.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Erik-Satie

Erik Satie (1866-1925)          Suzanne Valadon          La Belle Époque
videos: https://youtu.be/aZmBiiYLMRE  https://youtu.be/GreaN1ljqGY
Happy Birthday To Erik Satie, Father Of Dada

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Woody Herman: Born May 16, 1913

A fine swing clarinetist, an altoist whose sound was influenced by Johnny Hodges, a good soprano saxophonist, and a spirited blues vocalist, Woody Herman’s greatest significance to jazz was as the leader of a long line of big bands. He always encouraged young talent and, more than practically any bandleader from the swing era, kept his repertoire quite modern. Although Herman was always stuck performing a few of his older hits (he played “Four Brothers” and “Early Autumn” nightly for nearly 40 years), he much preferred to play and create new music.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/woody-herman-mn0000958076/biography

William Grant Still~ Born May 11, 1895


William Grant Still (1895-1978)
African American Composer, Arranger, Conductor & Oboist
Dean of African American Composers
http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/still.html

On this date in 1895, William Grant Still was born. He was an African American musician and composer.

Still was the first African American to conduct a major symphony orchestra, the first African-American to have an opera, “Troubled Island” (1949) performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera, “A Bayou Legend,” performed on national television (1981).

The period from 1926 to the early 1940s was Still’s most prolific. During this time he wrote “Levee Land” (1925), a suite for orchestra and soprano that combines traditional western musical elements with jazz; “From the Black Belt” (1926), a work for chamber orchestra based on seven short character sketches; “Sahdji” (1930), a choral ballet based on an African story, and “Afro-American Symphony.”
http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/william-grant-still-symphonic-composer

https://william-grant-still-music.myshopify.com/pages/biography

Irving Berlin~ Born May 11, 1888

“Irving Berlin has no place in American music
– he is American music.”  ~Jerome Kern

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888. In 1907 he published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy,” and by 1911 he had his first major international hit — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Over the next five decades, Irving Berlin produced an outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs that defined American popular song for much of the century. He wrote seventeen complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and contributed material to six more. His songs have provided memorable moments in dozens of…films. An intuitive business man, Irving Berlin was a co-founder of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), founder of his own music publishing company, and with producer Sam Harris, builder of his own Broadway theatre, The Music Box.
http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/bio/C3

Biography of Irving Berlin

In the late 19th century the sheet music business dominated the music industry in the United States. Parlor music took over the scene as the piano became a part of the middle class home.  This led to a demand for sheet music for home consumption.  The genre that grew out of this demand was called Tin Pan Alley, from the area of New York City where most of the song publishers were located. Success was measured by the sale of sheet music.  To attract business, sheet music publishers hired artists to make beautiful covers…In the early 20th century the phonograph and recorded music grew in popularity and began to replace sheet music.  In the 1920s, radio became the rage and eventually the record industry replaced the sheet music publishers as the prevailing music medium.
http://researchguides.gonzaga.edu/c.php?g=67703&p=436739

Irving Berlin Sheet Music Covers            Sheet Music Illustrators

Nora Clench~ May 6, 1867-May 17, 1938

World renowned violinist Nora Clench was a child prodigy, born Esther Leonora Clench in what is now Ontario, Canada. Nora made her debut as a violinist at the age of 8. When she was fifteen she entered the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, and after graduating in 1889 she became first violinist and leader of an orchestra in Buffalo, New York. She later toured Europe and eventually moved to London. In 1900 Clench temporarily gave up playing the violin in order to go to Paris to paint. When she returned to music she founded the all-female “Nora Clench Quartet”, which played a prominent role in the music of fin de siecle London.  Clench again retired from the violin in 1908, at the age of 41, when she married the Australian landscape painter Arthur Streeton. The Nora Clench Quartet continued without her. In 1923, the Streeton family moved to Australia. In 1937 Streeton was given a knighthood for his services to fine art, and Clench became Lady Streeton.  Nora Clench died in Australia in 1938; her husband died in September 1943 after a long illness. The couple’s property with its house, studio and cottage, in 5 acres of garden, remains in the ownership of the Streeton family today.

Biography~ http://www.yso.org.uk/biographies/clench.html
Biography & Photos~
http://www.riversidestmarys.biz/2015/05/14/story-of-nora-clench/
Program of her farewell appearance~ https://archive.org/details/cihm_36309


Nude Study (1903) attributed to Nora Clench

Saluting Sergeant Pepper

Good Music Speaks

Abbey Road Studios Abbey Road Studios

Recently, the busy folks at Google made available an online tour of the famed Abbey Road Studios.  Anyone with internet access can go online and see inside the place where some of the most famous recordings were made.   The building at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, City of Westminster, London was originally a townhouse.  It was already 100 years old when it was converted into a recording studio by the Gramophone company in 1931.  The list of artists who have recorded at Abbey Road Studios is extremely long, but by far the most famous group to work there is the Beatles.

Tour Abbey Road Studios on Google.

There is hardly a hearing person on the planet that needs any introduction to the Beatles.  If there were such a person, I can assure you that there are many more qualified than me to make such an introduction…

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