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

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

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

Ella Fitzgerald: Born April 25, 1917~

In mid 1936, Ella made her first recording. “Love and Kisses” was released under the Decca label, with moderate success. By this time she was performing with Chick’s band at the prestigious Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, often referred to as “The World’s Most Famous Ballroom.”

Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, “(If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It.” During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. “You Have to Swing It” was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art.
Ella Fitzgerald | Official Site~ http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/about/biography

Ella Fitzgerald at 100 (npr)~
http://www.npr.org/2017/04/25/524726767/early-hardship-couldnt-muffle-ella-fitzgeralds-joy

American Masters~
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/ella-fitzgerald-something-to-live-for/590/

21 Dazzling Photos Of Jazz Legend Ella

Fitzgerald Over The Years

National Portrait Gallery

RARE PHOTO of Ella Fitzgerald Goes On Display at Smithsonian

Leopold Stokowski: Born on April 18, 1882

This great conductor was born on 18 April 1882 and died on 13 September 1977. There is much confusion about his life, a lot of it due to his own meddling with his biography, in some ways trying to recreate his life much like it was music. For example, he was not born of Polish and Irish parents as is often stated in notes in discs.
Stokowski’s began his conducting career at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1909, at the young age of 27. Prior to that he had been organist at churches in England and New York. After a few years in Cincinnati, however, Stokowski moved on to the Philadelphia Orchestra and molded it into one of the finest orchestras in the world. In fact, Rachmaninoff claimed that the Philadelphia WAS the finest orchestra in the world.
http://www.classical.net/music/guide/society/lssa/stokybio.php

Stokowski arrived in Los Angeles January 2, 1938 to record the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with a hand-picked orchestra of 85 Hollywood session musicians 3.  These recordings had some technical difficulties as to synchronization, but Stokowski approved them and they were used in the final film.  However, Walt Disney had decided that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice short film needed to be expanded to a full-length movie, in order to be financially viable.  After discussing added musical selections with Stokowski, Disney secured the rights to Le Sacre du Printemps in April, 1938 5.  In December, 1939, Stravinsky visited the Disney studios, and although in later years he was critical of Fantasia, Stravinsky at the time seemed supportive.
Fantasia was issued in 1941 and 1942, and was released again many times over the years, and continues even today to play in some theaters.   It has been widely sold in DVD, in several restored versions.   The music sound track of Fantasia by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra has never been out of the recording catalogues, since it was first issued by Disney Studios on LP in 1957 in stereo on Disney’s newly-formed record label: “Disneyland Records”.
http://www.stokowski.org/1939_1940_Electrical_Recordings_Stokowski.htm

Mickey

Stokowski sought to combat Nazi propaganda touting the wonders of Hitler youth with an artistic statement from young emissaries of the free world.
But his goal was not entirely selfless, as he seized the opportunity to vent his frustration with RCA, his record company, which had refused to sponsor a Stokowski tour but then launched one with Toscanini, its other star conductor. While his Philadelphia Orchestra remained under exclusive contract to RCA, Stokowski would face no such constraints with an entirely new ensemble. And so he created one, arranged a contract with rival Columbia and then proceeded to cut with his new orchestra many of the works that RCA had wanted him to record.
Announcements for the 1940 troupe generated 15,000 applicants. The finalists were selected through five rounds of local, state, regional and national auditions. The members represented all 48 states and included many women, a rarity in orchestras at the time. Intensive, concentrated rehearsals were followed by tours of the US and South America.
http://www.classicalnotes.net/columns/youthweb.html

Leopold Stokowski was a frequent visitor to the [New York] Philharmonic over the years, appearing with the Orchestra on nearly 200 occasions, taking part in Young People’s Concerts, and, in the 1940s, leading the Orchestra on tour. During the 1949-50 season he shared the position of Principal Conductor with Dimitri Mitropoulos. In his last appearance with the Philharmonic, on February 8, 1969, he led a program of music by Bach and two modern works inspired by him: Lukas Foss’s Phorion, and Rock Variations and Fantasy on a Brandenburg Concerto, written and performed by the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble.
https://nyphil.org/about-us/artists/leopold-stokowski

Lowell George (April 13, 1945-June 29, 1979)

Biography~ http://www.littlefeat.net/lowell-george-bio.html
Lowell George’s Last Interview~
https://parade.com/232087/parade/lowell-georges-last-interview-remembering-the-little-feat-founder/
‘Down on the Farm’~ http://ultimateclassicrock.com/little-feat-down-on-the-farm/
More Lowell George Links~ http://www.dmci.com/lowell/lowell.html

April 9, 1939: Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday Lincoln Memorial concert


Marian Anderson, contralto, was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.

The message of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial concert~
http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/04/the-message-of-marian-andersons-lincoln-memorial-concert/
Remembering Marian Anderson~ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26/
Marian Anderson: A Life in Song~ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/anderson/