Isaac Stern: Born July 21, 1920

stern1Stern’s family moved to the United States and settled in San Francisco when he was one year old. His mother, a professional singer, gave him his first music lessons. He began studying the violin at the San Francisco Conservatory in 1928. In 1932 he became the third immensely talented San Francisco-area boy to train with the San Francisco Symphony concertmaster Louis Persinger (the others were Menuhin and Ruggiero Ricci). However, he considered Naoum Blinder, with whom he studied until the age of 15, his only true teacher. Stern made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony on February 18, 1936, with Pierre Monteux conducting the Third Concerto by Saint-Saëns.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/isaac-stern-mn0000965898/biography

However, Stern was to become as famous internationally for his contribution to public causes as he was Stern2for his concert performances and recordings. His social contributions took many forms: his most noted involvement as a cultural activist was his pivotal role in the 1960 salvation of Carnegie Hall, then facing demolition. Elected president of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, he guided the affairs of the edifice he called “our country’s affirmation of the human spirit” (Stern and Potok, p. 141) until the end of his life. He was chairman of the board of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and founder and chairman of the Stern3Jerusalem Music Center, and in the United States he campaigned for and became a founding member of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1964. In 1975 he received the first Albert Schweitzer Award for “a life’s work dedicated to music and devoted to humanity” and two years later was made a member of the French Légion d’Honneur.
http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-03785.html

Obituary, New York Times~ http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/nyregion/violinist-isaac-stern-dies-at-81-led-efforts-to-save-carnegie-hall.html

Van Cliburn: Born July 12, 1934

But if the Tchaikovsky competition represented Mr. Cliburn’s breakthrough, it also turned out to be his undoing. Relying inordinately on his keen musical instincts, he was not an especially probing artist, and his growth was stalled by his early success. Audiences everywhere wanted to hear him in his prizewinning pieces, the Tchaikovsky First Concerto and the Rachmaninoff Third. Every American town with a community concert series wanted him to come play a recital.
“When I won the Tchaikovsky I was only 23, and everyone talked about that,” Mr. Cliburn said in 2008. “But I felt like I had been at this thing for 20 years already. It was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/arts/music/van-cliburn-pianist-dies-at-78.html

TickerTape

 

July 1~ Willie Dixon & James Cotton

 

Willie Dixon was born July 1, 1915, in Vicksburg, MS.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/willie-dixon-mn0000959770/biography
Illustration: William Stout  / Legends of the Blues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Cotton was born July 1, 1935, in Tunica, MS.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/james-cotton-mn0000131841/biography
Illustration: Jack Coughlin / A Brush with the Blues: 26 Portraits

 

 

 

 

Willie Dixon and James Cotton with Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Slim, Otis Spann, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Mable Hillery in 1966 at the Canadian CBC Television studio, recording a portion of a CBC “Festival” series:

http://www.allmovie.com/movie/masters-of-the-blues-v204117

Paul McCartney: Born June 18, 1942

youngpaul

I was saying to someone the other day that one of the very first gigs we did – I don’t even think we were Beatlesthe Beatles, it was the Quarrymen – one the very first times I ever played with John, we did a very early gig at a thing called a Co-Op Hall, and I had a lead solo in one of the songs and I totally froze when my moment came. I really played the crappiest solo ever. I said, “That’s it. I’m never going to play lead guitar again.” It was just too nerve-wracking onstage. So for years, I just became rhythm guitar and bass player and played a bit of piano, do a bit of this, that and the other. But nowadays, I play lead guitar, and that’s the thing that draws me forward. I enjoy it. So, yeah, that means the answer to “Are you going to retire?” is “When I feel like it.” But that’s not today.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/paul-mccartney-the-long-and-winding-q-a-20140717?page=2

At the deepest level, McCartney has little idea where all the olderpaulmelodies come from. He still hasn’t figured out how he wrote “Yesterday” in his sleep. “I don’t like to use the word ‘magic,’ unless you spell it with a ‘k’ on the end, because it sounds a bit corny. But when your biggest song – which 3,000 people and counting have recorded – was something that you dreamt, it’s very hard to resist the thought that there’s something otherworldly there.”
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/paul-mccartney-yesterday-today-20120618

George Szell: Born June 7, 1897

1978 SPECIAL CITATION for distinguished service to the arts (Posthumous)~
http://clevelandartsprize.org/awardees/george_szell.html
NAXOS: George Szell~ http://www.naxos.com/person/George_Szell_38224/38224.htm

“Szell stories”—tales of his irascibility, hauteur and genius—are still popular when musicians gather to drink and dish after concerts. Pianist Glenn Gould referred to Szell’s “Dr. Cyclops” reputation and nearly walked out of his one and only collaboration with the conductor. (“That nut’s a genius” was Szell’s personal appraisal of Gould.) In 1946, his first year as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, Szell fired 22 of the 94 musicians in the group, and he later dismissed his brilliant principal oboist of almost two decades for a single insubordinate comment at a rehearsal. Most of his players were terrified of him; some frankly despised him. After Szell’s death, one Cleveland violinist refused to cut his hair, letting it grow down to his waist in posthumous rebuke to the martinet who could no longer object.

And yet Szell’s accomplishments in Cleveland cannot be overstated. He summed up his approach succinctly three years before his death. “My aim in developing the Cleveland Orchestra has been to combine the finest virtues of the great European orchestras of pre-World War II times with the most distinguished qualities of our leading American orchestras,” Szell wrote. “We put the American orchestra’s technical perfection, beauty of sound, and adaptability to the styles of various national schools of composers into the service of warmhearted, spontaneous music-making in the best European tradition.” And indeed, such was his legacy.
http://www.gramilano.com/2011/07/conductor-george-szell-was-his-own-worst-enemy-not-while-rudolf-bing-was-alive/

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