Milton Babbitt was both a musical genius and a math whiz kid. He could identify classical music recordings and add up grocery bills when he was only 2 years old. When he was 5, he made his violin debut and composed his first concerto. Babbitt is now an electrical music pioneer and the founder of the Electronic Music Center.
Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach was the second surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach's. He was born in Weimar, Germany. He lived from 1714 until 1788 and was the
leading composer of the pre-Classical period.
He studied at the
Thomasschule, Leipzig, where his father was cantor, and at Frankfurt University. In 1740 he
became cembalist to the future Frederick II, and later became Kapellmeister at Hamburg in 1767.
He was famous for his playing of the organ and clavier, for which his best pieces were composed.
He published The True Art of Clavier Playing in 1753, the first methodical treatment of the subject,
introduced the sonata form, and wrote numerous concertos, keyboard sonatas, church music, and
chamber music. C.P.E. Bach wrote an influential "Essay on Keyboard Instruments".
He is sometimes known
as the "Berlin Bach" or the "Hamburg Bach".
After becoming a Catholic, he was appointed
organist at Milan in 1760, and for a time composed only ecclesiastical music, including two
Masses, a requiem, and a "Te Deum', but later he began to compose opera.
In 1762 he went to London to spend the rest of his life and so became known as the "English Bach" or the "London Bach". He was
appointed composer to the London Italian opera in 1762, and became musician to Queen Charlotte. His influence can be seen in the early orchestral works of Mozart.
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach lived from 1732 until 1795.
He was the ninth son of J S Bach, also a composer and was born in Leipzig, Germany. He studied there at the
Thomasschule and at Leipzig University, and became in 1750 Kapellmeister at Bückeburg. He
was an industrious but undistinguished church composer.
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach is known as the "Bückeburg Bach"
Since 1580 there have been close to 100 musical Bachs in seven generations of distinguished musicians and composers.
Johann Sebastian Bach, the most famous of these, lived between 1685 and 1750. He is considered to be a baroque composer.
Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685. He was orphaned
by the age of 10, and brought up by his elder brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671 to 1721),
organist at Ohrdruf, who taught him the organ and clavier.
Bach sought and got important posts through the years. He attended school in Lüneburg, before
becoming organist at Arnstadt. He found his duties as choirmaster irksome, and angered
the authorities by his innovative chorale accompaniments. In 1707 he married a cousin, Maria
Barbara Bach (1684 to 1720), and left to become organist at Mühlhausen.
By 1708 he has secured himself a position as court organist and chamber musician to the reigning Duke at Weimar, with plenty of opportunity to compose music for the organ and in 1711 became Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of
Anhalt-Cöthen, where he wrote mainly instrumental music, including the "Brandenburg' Concertos
(1721) and The Well-tempered Clavier (1722).
In 1721, about a year and a half after the death of his beloved wife, Bach married again. His new bride, the 20-year old Anna Magdalena Wilcken (1701 to 1760), sang but could not play keyboard instruments, so Bach wrote The Anna Magdalena Notebook with pieces whe could learn. These pieces were charming minuets, marches and polonaises. They had 13 children, of whom six survived.
In 1723 he was appointed cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, where his works
included perhaps about 300 church cantatas, the St Matthew Passion (1727), and the Mass in B
Minor. He later became "Kapellmeister" for the court of Prince Leopold. At age 38 he became "Cantor" of the St. Thomas School in Leipzig and stayed there until his death, alomst totally blind, in 1750.
One of his main achievements was his remarkable
development of polyphony. Known to his contemporaries mainly as an organist, his genius as a
composer was not fully recognized until the following century.
Today he is considered one of the greatest
Baroque masters along with Handel, but the
people of Bach's time considered his compositions too
elaborate. It was not until 100 years later that the world recognized
Bach as one of its greatest composers. The very thought of a majestic old church and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach leaps gloriously to mind.
Bach was one of the finest organists and ablest contrapuntists of his time and the noblest writer of fugues who ever lived. Little of his music was published during his lifetime and it was not until 1829 when Mendelssohn performed the St. Matthew Passion that the general public realized his genius and the music of Bach was "reborn".
His home was filled with music and children: he had 20 children and five early pianos called claviers and many stringed instruments. Bach gave lessons to everyone in the family and wrote many keyboard pieces for family members. All four of Bach's sons became successful musicians.
The period in which he lived came to be known as the baroque period not just in music, but in art and architecture, as well.
Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor (listen to it in the Listening Center) was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia and the new Fantasia 2000.
Bach's most famous works are the Brandenburg Concerti,the
Well-Tempered Clavier (a collection of 48 preludes and fugues.
A fugue is a composition in which different instruments repeat the
same melodies with slight variations), The Art of Fugue, Mass in b minor, St. John Passion,and the
St. Matthew Passion.
J.S. Bach also composed organ music; chamber music; orchestral concertos;
and nearly 300 religious choral works called cantatas.
His timeless religious
are of unique purity.
Perhaps the finest exemplar of the baroque era, Bach composed major, complex works in
every genre of music except opera. Both his sacred and secular compositions are among the finest
ever penned and brilliantly synthesize the various national styles practiced by Bach's contemporaries.
Here are his essential recordings: Goldberg Variations; The 6 Cello Suites; Mass in B minor; The Art of Fugue, Musical Offering; Brandenburg Concertos 1-6, all of which were chosen as Best 100 Classical Pieces of the Millenium
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was the eldest and most gifted son of J S Bach. He was born in Weimar, Germany in 1710 and lived until 1784. He studied at
the Thomasschule and Leipzig University, and in 1733 became organist at Dresden and in 1747 at
Halle. His way of life became increasingly dissolute, and from 1764 he lived without fixed
occupation at Brunswick, Göttingen, and Berlin, where he died. He was the greatest organ player
of his time, but very few of his compositions were published, as he rarely bothered to write them
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is known as
the "Halle Bach"
Béla Bartók lived from 1881 until 1945 and was one of the leading Hungarian and European composers of his time. He was also proficient as a
He collected folk-music in Hungary as did his friend, Zoltán Kodály. His compositions include Mikrokosmos, Concerto for Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste, Solo Sonata
for Violin, and Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra.
Count (William) Basie lived from 1904 until 1984. He was a jazz musician who was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, USA. He received his first piano lessons at age
six from his mother and worked as an accompanist to silent films while still in high school. He
studied organ informally with Fats Waller, whom he replaced in a New York vaudeville act called
Katie Crippin and Her Kids. Between 1924 and 1927, he toured on the Keith Circuit with the Gonzelle
White vaudeville show until it got stranded in Kansas City, then a bustling center of jazz and blues
activity. He played piano at a silent movie theater there, then spent a year (1928 to 1929) with Walter Page's Blue
Devils. When this band broke up, he began a five~year association with Benny
Moten's orchestra, whose sidemen included blues singer Jimmy Rushing, trumpeter Hot Lips
Page, and Lester Young, the highly innovative tenor saxophonist. Upon Moten's death in 1935,
these musicians formed the nucleus of Basie's first band. Under his leadership they broadcast from
the Reno Club in Kansas City, where a radio announcer dubbed him "Count". Through these
broadcasts, he attracted the attention of the well~connected talent scout John Hammond, who set
up his first tour. The band played a residency at the Grand Terrace in Chicago, then opened at the
Roseland in New York in December 1936. Basie began a prolific series of recordings the
following year, and in 1938 he played a long residency at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where
his reputation as leader of one of the premier swing bands was firmly established. He led his band
on a continual series of US tours throughout the 1940s, but in 1950 economic conditions
compelled him to disband and front a sextet for two years. He formed a new 16~piece band in
1952 and began a long association with producer Norman Granz of Verve Records; this outfit
established a new and enduring prototype for big bands and radio and television studio orchestras.
In 1954, the band undertook the first of its many European tours. During the 1960s, the Basie
orchestra accompanied various singers, including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett,
and Sammy Davis Jr, on recordings and concert tours. He made numerous appearances with
all~star groups in the 1970s, but maintained a regular touring schedule with his band until his death.
His autobiography, Good Morning Blues, written with Albert Murray, was published
posthumously in 1985.
Arnold Bax, who lived from 1883 until 1853, was English by birth.
He occupied an important place in English music in his own time
and was knighted in 1937. At its best his music has a compelling charm and power.
Bax wrote scores for the films Oliver Twist, the war-time Malta GC and Journey into History.
Orchestral Music In addition to his seven symphonies Bax wrote a series of evocative tone
poems of Celtic implication, including The Garden of Fand, November Woods and Tintagel.
There are concertos for cello, for viola and for violin and Symphonic Variations for piano and
orchestra in addition to a Concertante for piano left hand and orchestra, written for Harriet
Cohen, with whom he had a long relationship.
Bax wrote string quartets and quintets, an interesting Viola Sonata, three Violin Sonatas and
works for larger instrumental groups, including a Nonet for wind and string instruments and an
Octet for horn, piano and string sextet.
Bax's choral works include settings of traditional carols, while his solo songs allow him to
explore more Celtic ground in a variety of settings, ranging from A Celtic Song Cycle to
settings of poems by James Joyce, J.M. Synge, and by the English writers A.E. Housman and
his brother, the writer Clifford Bax.
Bax wrote seven piano sonatas, some
unpublished, and a number of pieces for piano
solo or duo, many with evocative titles.
Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (Mrs. H.H.A. Beach) was born on September 5, 1867 in Henniker, NH and died on December 27, 1944 in New York, NY.
She was an American composer and pianist and the first significant female
composer in America and one of the leading composers of the "New England
By all measures, young Amy Marcy Cheney was a true prodigy. At one year she
knew forty songs, always singing them at the same pitch. By age two she could
improvise a countermelody to any melody her mother sang, and at age four, she
could not only read four-part hymns at sight, but wrote her first pieces in her head
and then sat down and played them on the piano. She began piano study at age
six with her mother, and then studied with the finest pianists in Boston. She made
her debut at sixteen, and in 1885 played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
From this point on, her career was influenced greatly by society's views of women.
It was suggested that her desire to study composition would best be served by
independent study, in part in the belief that women composed based on feeling
rather than intellect. When she married the physician and amateur musician Henry
Harris Aubrey Beach in 1885, he asked that she limit her concertizing to a few
performances a year. Because of this, she focused on composition. After his death
in 1910, she resumed her concert career in Europe and in this country.
These all had an effect on her musical development, and the results can be seen as
both positive and negative. Her natural abilities made self-study a viable avenue
(she learned orchestration, for example, by translating the famous treatise by
Hector Berlioz). At the same time, this probably accounts for the fact that much of
her music borrows stylistic elements from contemporary composers. Her husband's
desire that she not make a career as a performer may have curtailed that aspect of
her professional life, but it allowed her the rare luxury (rare for both men and
women) of full-time compositional activity.
The body of work that Beach produced stands out for its size as well as its quality.
She also stands out as the first woman to master larger forms. Her Symphony in E
(the "Gaelic") demonstrates this, and is one of the first works by an American to
answer Antonin Dvorák's challenge to use national themes in their compositions.
Beach believed that since a large percentage of Boston's citizens were of Irish
extraction, this would be the most representative source to draw upon. Many of
her works have remained popular in this century, and her music is receiving a fairer
re-evaluation as a result of the general interest in the music of women and the
special circumstances of its creation.
Orchestral music, including Gaelic Symphony (1896) and Piano Concerto
1 opera, Cabildo (1932)
Chamber music, including a violin sonata (1896), piano quintet (1907), string
quartet (1929), and piano trio (1938)
Choral music, including the Mass in E-flat (1890), Festival Jubilate (1891),
and many sacred works (anthems and hymns); secular choral works, including
"The Song of Welcome" (1898) and "The Chambered Nautilus" (1907)
More than 120 songs for voice and piano, including Five Songs to Words by
Robert Burns (1899) and Three Browning Songs (1900); concert aria "Eilende
Wolken" ("Racing Clouds") for voice and orchestra (1892)
Keyboard music, including character pieces (The Hermit Thrush at Morn and
The Hermit Thrush at Eve, 1921); Suite for Two Pianos on Old Irish Melodies
(1924); sets of variations
Numerous articles on composition and pedagogical topics
Ludwig van Beethoven lived between 1770 and 1824. He bridged the gap between the Classical period and the Romantic period Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, but lived most of his life in Vienna, Austria.
Beethoven was born and brought up in Bonn and first studied harpsichord and violin under the direction of his father, who had dreams of fame and fortune for his young prodigy. Alas, Beethoven was a talent "in waiting" - waiting for the right teacher and the right opportunity. This happened in 1783 with the appointment of Christian Gottlob Neefe to the music staff of the ruling prince, where both Beethoven's father and grandfather were employed.
In nine years, Beethoven was ready to pursue his studies in Vienna, with Joseph Haydn. He never returned to Bonn. Beethoven had many influential patrons in Vienna and it was clear he was on the verge of becoming a major force in music. In Vienna he
first made his reputation as a pianist and teacher, and he became famous
Four years later, about 1800, after arriving in Vienna, Beethoven started to become deaf.
By 1820, when he was almost totally deaf, Beethoven composed his greatest works. These include the last five piano sonatas, the Missa solemnis, and the last five string quartets. He experienced the greatest of despair but accepted his fate with a sense of profound greatness: he would show the world! From this point on, he focused all his energy on his compositions. The first work was his Third Symphony, known as the "Eroica," a work of infinite levels of expression. Some of Beethoven's most popular works include the Violin Concerto in D Major, Mass in D Major ("Missa Solemnis"), The Nine Symphonies, including the "Eroica", "Pastorale" and "Choral"), Egmont Overture, Fidelio, Piano Sonata in C-Sharp Minor ("Moonlight"), Sonata in F Minor "Appassionata"), Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat ("Emperor"). Major chamber works include 16 string quartets, 16 piano trios, 10 violin sonatas, and 35 piano sonatas. And what beginning piano student will ever forget "Fër Elise" or many sets of variations, including a set on a theme by Paisiello?
Beethoven waged a constant war with the world he lived in - with his landlords, his debtors, his students, his friends and, of course, his deafness. By the time he wrote his celebrated Fifth Symphony in 1805, he could hear virtually nothing. This symphony has become a musical symbol of victory all over the world.
Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony was featured in the Walt Disney movie Fantasia and his Symphony number 5 in the newly released Fantasia 2000.
Beethoven surpassed himself with his Ninth Symphony, finally finished in 1823. He based his main theme of the choral movement on Friedrich von Schiller's "Ode to Joy". This theme also became an hymn with the words "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. When this symphony was performed in 1824, Beethoven was already deaf and was unaware of the audience applause until he turned around from the conductor's podium to see the audience.
Beethoven composed 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, 10 overtures, 10 sonatas for violin and piano, 9 symphonies, 5 piano concerti, 5 sonatas for cello and piano, 2 masses, 1 violin concerto, 1 opera and several miscellaneous works.
Beethoven developed a completely original style of music, reflecting his sufferings and joys. His work forms a peak in the development of tonal music and is one of the crucial evolutionary developments in the
history of music. Before his time, composers wrote works for religious services, and to entertain people. But people listened to Beethoven's music for its own sake. As a result, he made music more independent of social, or
The story is often repeated that when Beethoven died, his last defiant act was to shake his fist at a raging thunderstorm outside. Many have seen this as symbolic of his triumph over deafness, which was a major turning point in his life.
Bix Beiderbecke taught himself to play the
cornet when he was in his teens and died
in 1931 at the age of 28. During his brief
career, says author Fred Turner, he
became one of the true sensations of the
Jazz Age, unforgettable to anyone who
ever heard him. So unforgettable, in fact,
that the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz
Festival held each July draws some
15,000 jazz aficionados to Davenport, Iowa, where the jazz
legend was born. And the well-known composer Lalo Schifrin
recently premiered a symphonic jazz work, "Rhapsody for Bix,"
based on songs written or popularized by the cornetist.
Bix was also the inspiration for a popular novel of the late '30s,
Young Man With a Horn, and the 1950 movie by the same title
starring Kirk Douglas. He has been the subject of a steady
stream of critical assessments, a full-scale biography, a 1990
feature film and a 1994 film documentary.
But what made this young musician so memorable? The qualities
that strike the modern listener, says Turner, are the ones that
awed his contemporaries: the round, shimmering tone; the
deliberateness of the attack that still manages to flow. "The best
of his solos," said critic Chip Deffaa, "seem absolutely perfect:
one cannot conceive of them being improved upon." Guitarist
Eddie Condon said Bix's horn sounded like a girl saying yes.
Another part of Bix's appeal, says Turner, derives from the way
he lived. Here was a handsome young man who never grew old,
whose frenetic pace matched that of the new music he helped
create. When fans took him partying, they found he liked the
things they liked, especially Prohibition alcohol, which he could
consume in enormous quantities. With the aid of booze, said
Eddie Condon, "he drove away all other things — food, sleep,
women, ambition, vanity, desire. He played the piano and the
cornet, that was all."
Luciano Berio was born in Oneglia, Italy in 1925. He is a composer and teacher of music who studied at the Music Academy in
Milan, and founded an electronic studio. He moved to the USA in 1962, taught composition at the
Juilliard School, New York City, and returned to Italy in 1972. In 1950 he married the US
soprano Cathy Berberian (1925 to 1983), for whom he wrote several works. He is particularly interested in the combining of live and pre-recorded sound,
and the use of tapes and electronic music, as in his compositions Mutazioni (Mutations) in 1955, and
Omaggio a James Joyce (Homage to James Joyce) in 1958. His Sequenza series for solo
instruments (1958 onwards) are striking virtuoso pieces. Other works include Passaggio (1963),
Laborintus II (1965), and Opera (1969 to 1970).
Irving Berlin lived from 1888 until 1989. He was born Israel Baline in Tyumen, Russia.
Little Israel came to the United States with his family at the age of four.
His father passed away several years later, so Israel took to the streets
of New York, singing on street corners and in saloons, and as a singing
waiter, all to earn money to help support his family. It was the
beginning of a wonderful career in song, stage and movies. A printer's
error on the music sheet for his composition, Marie from Sunny Italy,
accidentally changed his name. The change became permanent.
Mr. American Music, better known to us as Irving Berlin, wrote more songs than we care to count including
Alexander's Ragtime Band, Always, Doin' What Comes Naturally, Puttin' on the Ritz, Blue Skies, Oh!
How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning and Play a Simple Melody. This man, who could neither read nor
write music, also composed a song titled, Smile and Show Your Dimple. You probably never heard of that
one; but seventeen years later, when produced, it became a hit as Easter Parade.
Kate Smith was the voice he chose to sing God Bless America, which he wrote in 1917. It became her
signature and a major contender to replace The Star-Spangled Banner as the U.S. national anthem.
Berlin wrote the scores for many Broadway shows (Annie Get Your Gun) and films (Top Hat). Winning an
Oscar for his composition, White Christmas, Irving Berlin had the unique experience of opening the envelope
that contained his name. He was the presenter at this segment of the Academy Awards for 1942 and upon
opening the envelope, said, "This goes to a nice guy; I've known him all my life. The winner is ... me."
Hector Berlioz (1803 until 1869), along with Felix Mendelssohn was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra. Berlioz was generally regarded as the most important
composer. He was also known
as a critic and
conductor. People either really loved him, or
really hated him. His music could be so
powerful and original, or trite and vulgar. His
music is emotional and full of the drama of
the Romantic life, but it also contained the
Classicism of Gluck.
Louis Hector Berlioz's father, a property owner and
a doctor, wanted him to study medicine, but it was clear that the boy
was destined for music. He had an aptitude for music, composing little
bits as a child. But, with his father set against a career as a musician,
young Hector had to piece together a musical education. He never even
learned how to play the piano, the building block for almost every
composer. But Berlioz gave a positive spin to his deficiency, saying that
it allowed him to create music anywhere, piano or not. This freedom gave
Berlioz a voice unlike any other.
But Hector's father still insisted that the boy
study medicine, so at 16, Berlioz began his
medical studies. In 1821, he went to the
Medical School in Paris, but the city of Paris
was the wrong place for a frustrated
musician stuck in medical school. Berlioz
attended the opera and heard Gluck's work,
Iphigenie en Tauride. He fell in love with the
music, and soon became obsessed with it.
He went to the library at the Paris
Conservatoire, studying all of Gluck's opera
scores. A year later, he was writing his first
opera, and in 1823, he wrote an oratorio. He
still managed to receive his Bachelor of Science in 1824, but this would
be as far as he would go in his medical career.
He enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire, and
lived the life of the starving artist. To earn
extra money, he worked at the theatre,
where he met Harriet Smithson. She was
an Irish lass, an actress, and the
26-year-old Berlioz fell in love with her, but
she rejected him. For the next three
months, he poured all of his heartbreak into
his Symphonie Fantastique, subtitled An
Episode in the Life of an Artist. The
symphony became his first success.
Eventually, though, true love would conquer
all and Berlioz and his beloved Harriet would marry, and then separate.
But, Berlioz wasn't satisfied with success as a composer of orchestral
works. He wanted to conquer the stage. Paris at the time of Berlioz was
a difficult place for anyone who did not compose operas. Regular concert
orchestras were such a rarity that an audience didn't exist, and
composers wanting to give concerts usually ended up losing money. The
old patronage system that supported the likes of Mozart and Haydn was
drying up, and making a living as a composer was almost impossible,
unless you composed operas. But another reason for Berlioz's
enthusiasm for the stage was his own dramatic personality. One listen to
his Requiem, and you get the feeling that his aim was more theatrical
than religious. His Symphonie Fantastique also contains operatic
elements. After writing his first opera in 1823, Berlioz tried again in 1826,
and again in 1838 with Benvenuto Cellini. It failed after only 4
performances. His next opera, The Damnation of Faust (1846), premiered
in Paris, did not do any better. According to Berlioz, it had only two
performances, and both were before a half-empty house.
Frustrated, Berlioz left Paris and went
travelling to Russia, Berlin, and London. The
British and the Germans loved his music,
and Berlioz regularly visited them for the
next 15 years. His once beloved Paris was
changing, embracing the new music of Liszt
and Wagner. Liszt tried to help Berlioz's
cause, reviving Berlioz's opera Benvenuto
Cellini in 1852 and later that year having a
Berlioz Week featuring performances of
Berlioz works. Berlioz reciprocated by
dedicating the published version of his
Damnation of Faust to Liszt in 1854.
January 11, 1981 Leonard Bernstein began conducting the BR - Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra in Richard Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" in Munich's Hercules Hall. Performed one act at a time, in January, April, and November of 1981, respectively, Bernstein's "Tristan und Isolde" was telecast live and later released as an audio recording by Philips--to some controversy.
Karl Bohm remarked, with regards to Bernstein's exaggeratedly slow tempi, "For the first time, someone dares to perform this music as Wagner wrote it." Bšhm's own recording of the Prelude was four minutes faster.
Upon completion of the project, Bernstein declared, "My life is complete... I don't care what happens after this. It is the finest thing I've ever done."
Georges Bizet, 1838 to 1875, was a French composer who
wrote piano music,
orchestral works and
eight operas. Best
known for his opera
Carmen. He was asked to compose music for Daudet's play L'Arlésienne when he was only 33. This play needed 27 musical pieces, which Bizet amazingly produced, even though he had little time and his health was poor. He died 3 years later.
Arnold Black was a composer and violinist who started a beloved classical music program in the rural Berkshires. He died in 2000 at the age of 77, two days after the Mohawk Trails Concert series opened its 31st year.
Black moved to the Berkshires in 1970 to escape his hectic life in New York. Born in Philadelphia, he attended the Julliard School of Music and wrote music for theater, film, television and concert halls.
Black engaged world-renowned artists for the concert series, which could satisfy the most discriminating classical music fan.
Black was composer-in-residence at The Circle in the Square in New York City in the 1950s. He wrote the score for the production of James Joyce's "Ulysses in Nighttown," starring Zero Mostel.
He also wrote music for the National Shakespeare Company and for films including "River Song," "Black Harvest," "Memorial Day," "Empire of Reason," and "Peace for Our Time," which he co-composed with Eric Clapton.
In 1995, his opera "The Phantom Tollbooth," based on the children's classic, premiered with Opera Delaware.
Herbert "Eubie" Blake, 1883 to 1983, was an American jazz pianist,
vaudevillian, songwriter and composer of 1,000 songs. Some of them are: Charleston, Chocolate Dandies,
Blackbirds of 1930, Memories of You, Shuffle Along of 1932, Atrocities of 1932, Swing It, Tan Manhattan, Brownskin
Models and Hit the Stride. He teamed up with Noble Sissle to write: It's All Your Fault, Shufflin' Along, Love Will Find a Way, I'm Just Wild About
Andrea Bocelli was born in 1958 in rural Tuscany. Music has been a lifelong passion
and it was noted at an early age how enthralled Andrea was by opera. Through a
growing collection of 78s, Bocelli spent his childhood attempting to emulate his heroes,
great Italian tenors including Gigli and particularly Franco Corelli. As a child Andrea
learned whole operas, dreaming of performing the great heroic and tragic roles on famous
Bocelli's musical talents were nurtured, with classical tuition for instruments including
flute and piano. However, despite a clearly beautiful natural vocal talent, formal study of
the voice was not to come until later in life. While harbouring deep operatic ambitions,
Bocelli's family were sceptical that music was a realistic or secure career for any young
man. Respecting his parent's wishes, Bocelli studied law at the University of Pisa. After
graduation Andrea practiced law in Pisa, but having achieved future security, turned his
attention to formal training for his mature voice and the ambitions of his youth.
Andrea first studied under the maestro Luciano Bettarini of Prato, known for working
with some of Italy's finest voices. Bocelli discovered that Franco Corelli was to give
master classes. Performing for his childhood idol was a daunting prospect and
acceptance as a pupil of Corelli vindicated Bocelli, strengthening the confidence to
pursue his goals. Bocelli put his legal career on hold to devote his life to music.
"I don't think that one really decides to be a singer. It's decided for you, by the reaction of those around you. Perhaps one shouldn't sway 'listen to me, I want to sing for you', but if people say 'please sing for us', well...."
Andrea Bocelli is a true phenomenon. The manner in which the voice of one man
captured the hearts of music lovers across five continents, is truly unprecedented. In just
five years since the Italian public were introduced to the voice of Andrea Bocelli,
through his remarkable triumph at the Sanremo Festival, this amazing talent has become
the biggest selling classical performer to emerge in several decades. His two classical
discs, "Viaggio Italiano" and "Aria", have achieved international success. Just one
illustration of the huge scale of Bocelli's international popularity occurred in the US in
1999, when four of his albums featured simultaneously on the official Billboard album
chart. Such a feat had been achieved only twice in recent memory, in the early 1990s by
Garth Brooks and before this in the mid 1980s by U2.
Following the success of his first three albums in Italy, the contemporary album
"Romanza" became Andrea Bocelli's international debut release. In just twelve months,
"Romanza" transformed Bocelli into one of the globe's most popular recording artists.
Conquering Europe, "Romanza" was released throughout 1997 in North and South
America, Asia, Africa and Australia & New Zealand. "Romanza" has sold over 15
million copies to date, introducing millions of the world's music lovers to the passionate
voice of Andrea Bocelli. Andrea Bocelli has since acquainted them with his passion for
Léon Boëllmann lived from 1862 until 1897.
His name is known to all organists because of his brilliant Toccata
for the instrument, the final movement of a Suite gothique. Born in Alsace in 1862, he served as
organist at the church of St. Vincent-de-Paul in Paris from 1881 until his early death in 1897.
In addition to the Toccata from the Suite
gothique, Op. 25, the Douze Pi'ces (Twelve
Pieces), Op. 16, and Heures mystiques, Opp.
29 & 30, are well enough known.
Victor Borge was born in 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He wass an entertainer and pianist - a deliciously funny performer. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music,
Copenhagen, and in Vienna and Berlin. He made his debut as a pianist in 1926, and as a revue
actor in 1933. From 1940 until his death in 2000 he worked in the USA for radio, television, and theatre, and has
performed with leading symphony orchestras on worldwide tours since 1956. He was best known
for his comedy sketches combining music and narrative. He used his classical training to skew serious music and performers.
From his obituitary:
Pianist Victor Borge, died in his sleep Dec 23, 2000 at his Greenwich, Connecticut
home, was known as the unmelancholy
Dane of international show business. He would have
turned 92 on Jan. 3, 2001.
"The cause of death was heart failure," his daughter,
Sanna Feirstein, told Reuters.
"He had just returned from a wonderfully successful trip to Copenhagen ... and
it was really heartwarming to see the love he experienced in his home country,"
Borge was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in
"He went to sleep, and they went to wake him up this morning, and he was
gone," said his agent, Bernard Gurtman.
"He had so much on the table, and to the day he died he was creative, and
practicing piano several hours a day," Gurtman told Reuters. "He was just a
Funeral services will be private, his daughter said.
Borge made a career of falling off piano stools, missing the keys with his hands
and getting tangled up in the sheet music.
One of his inspirations was a pianist who played the first notes of the GriegA Minor Concerto and then fell on the keys dead.
He said that the only time he got nervous on stage was when he had to play
seriously and adds that if it had not been for Adolf Hitler he probably would
never have pursued a career as a concert-hall comedian.
Until he was forced to flee Denmark in 1940 he was a stage and screen idol in
his native country.
But as a Jew who had lampooned Hitler, Borge -- his real name was Boerge
Rosenbaum -- was in danger and fled first to Sweden and then to the United
States, where he arrived penniless and unknown and by a fluke got booked on
the Bing Crosby radio show. He was an instant success.
He became an American citizen in 1948, but thought of himself as Danish. It
was obvious from the numerous affectionate tributes and standing ovations at his 80th birthday concert in
Copenhagen in 1989 that Danes felt the same way.
In the concert at Copenhagen's Tivoli gardens, Borge played variations on the theme of "Happy Birthday to You"
in the styles of Mozart, Brahms, Wagner and Beethoven -- all executed with such wit that the orchestra was
convulsed with laughter that a woman performing a piccolo solo was unable to draw breath to play.
"Playing music and making jokes are as natural to me as breathing," Borge told Reuters in an interview after that
"That's why I've never thought of retiring because I do it all the time whether on the stage or off. I found that in a
precarious situation, a smile is the shortest distance between people. When one needs to reach out for sympathy
or a link with people, what better way is there?
"If I have to play something straight, without deviation in any respect, I still get very nervous. It's the fact that you
want to do your best, but you are not at your best because you are nervous and knowing that makes you even
His varied career included acting, composing for films and plays and writing but he was best known for his comic
sketches based on musical quirks and oddities.
His routines were unpredictable, often improvised on stage as his quick wit responded to an unplanned event -- a
noise, a latecomer in the audience -- or fixed on an unlikely prop -- a fly, a shaky piano stool.
Borge was born in Denmark on January 3, 1909, son of a violinist in the Danish Royal Orchestra.
His parents encouraged him to become a concert pianist, arranging his first public recital when he was 10. In 1927
he made his official debut at the Tivoli Gardens.
Borge's mischievous sense of humor was manifest from an early age. Asked as a child to play for his parent's
friends he would announce "a piece by the 85-year-old Mozart" and improvise something himself.
When his mother was dying in Denmark during the occupation, Borge visited her, disguised as a sailor.
"Churchill and I were the only ones who saw what was happening," he said in later years. "He saved Europe and
I saved myself."
From 1953 to 1956, he appeared in New York in his own production "Comedy in Music," a prelude to world tours
that often took him to his native Scandinavia.
On radio and television, Borge developed the comedy techniques of the bungling pianist that won him worldwide
Many of his skits were based on real-life events. One of his classics evolved from seeing a pianist playing a
Tchaikovsky concerto fall off his seat.
Borge's dog joined the show after it wandered on stage while he was at the keyboard -- an entrance nobody
would believe had been unplanned.
One incident could not be repeated. A large fly flew on to Borge's nose while he was playing. "How did you get
that fly to come on at the right time?" people asked. "Well, we train them," Borge explained.
Borge's book, "My Favorite Intervals", published in 1974, detailed little-known facts of the private lives of
composers describing Wagner's pink underwear and the time Borodin left home in full military regalia but forgot
In 1975, Borge was honored in recognition of the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the United States and his work
as unofficial goodwill ambassador from Denmark to the United States. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 1984
with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall and in Copenhagen.
Borge received a host of honors from all four Scandinavian countries for his contributions to music, humor and
Borge, who had lived in Greenwich since 1964, is survived by five children, nine grandchildren, and one great
grandchild. His wife of many years, Sanna, died earlier this year.
One of the most beautiful string quartets ever written was Borodin's Second String Quartet in D Major, composted in the 1880's. Two of the melodies in the 1953 production of Kismet were based on themes from this quartet.
Lili Boulanger lived from 1893 until 1918.
Encouraged by her elder sister Nadia, the French composer Lili Boulanger was the first woman
to win the Prix de Rome and was prolific, during her short life, writing music very much in the
prevailing style of the period.
Lili Boulanger's compositons for orchestra include Pi'ce, Sicilienne and Marche gaie for small
orchestra and a fuller Po'me symphonique.
Nadia Boulanger (1887 - 1979) is better known as a teacher and conductor than as a composer. In the first
capacity she was responsible for the musical training of a generation of distinguished composers
from Europe and America. Her work as an interpreter influenced many, not least by the part she
played in the revival of interest in Monteverdi.
Nadia Boulanger's few compositions include
Les heures claires, settings of poems by
Verhaeren completed in 1912, after which she
wrote little, although in 1908 she had won the
second Prix de Rome.
Pierre Boulez was born in 1925 in Montbrison, France. He is a conductor and composer. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire
from 1943 until 195), and became musical director of Barrault's Théâtre Marigny (1948), where he
established his reputation as an interpreter of contemporary music. During the 1970s he devoted
himself mainly to his work as conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1971 to 1975) and of the
New York Philharmonic (1971 to 1977), and in 1977 he became director of the Institut de Recherche
et de Co-ordination Acoustique Musique at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. His early work as a
composer rebelled against what he saw as the conservatism of such composers as Stravinsky and
Johannes Brahms lived between 1833 and 1897. He is considered to be the foremost romantic composer of instrumental music in the
late 19th century. As well as being a fine composer, he was also a pianist. Brahms' father discouraged his talent for music but Robert Schumann gave him help in reaching his goal of becoming a musician and the two remained close friends until Schumann's death.
Brahms wrote four symphonies, two piano concerti, chamber music, piano works, and over 200
songs. Some of his most famous works are Requiem, Symphony #1 in C Minor and his Symphony #4 in E Minor.
Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in Wiesenberg, Czech Republic.
After World War II, Brendel composed music, as well as continuing to play the piano, to write and to paint. However, he never had more formal piano lessons and, although he attended master classes with Edwin Fischer and Eduard Steuermann, he was largely self-taught after the age of six.
He made his debut in Graz (1948), and has since performed widely throughout Austria, where he lives.
Fanny Brice, was born Fannie Borach in 1891. She debuted in the New York production of
the Ziegfeld Follies in 1910. It wasn't long before Brice
became known as America's funny girl.
Brice was originally noticed by composer Irving Berlin; but was truly
discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld, appearing as a Ziegfeld show girl, and then
as the star of the Follies over the next 26 years. The comedienne, who
sang novelty and dialect songs, also wowed the audience with her torch
numbers such as, I'd Rather Be Blue, When a Woman Loves a Man, My
Man and Second Hand Rose.
A regular on Rudee Vallee's radio show, The Fleischmann Hour, in the
1920s, Brice joined The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air at age 45. The show
on CBS radio was the introduction of her funny-voiced character, Baby
Snooks. In 1937 she joined NBC radio and continued as the Snooks kid, a seven-year old spoiled brat.
Brice's most famous line was, 'Whyyyyyy, daddy, whyyyyy?' From 1936 through 1951, Brice was one of
radio's biggest draws.
Fanny Brice died on May 29, 1951 at the age of 59 but she is still with us the Broadway show (1964) and
film (1968), Funny Girl, based on her life. Barbra Streisand gained recognition and acclaim for her role in
both, as Fanny Brice, Funny Girl.
Baron (Edward) Benjamin Britten (of Aldeburgh) was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, November 22, 1913 and died in Aldeburgh, December 4, 1976 was a British composer,
conductor, and pianist. He was especially admired for
his skillful setting of words in his dramatic operas.
Britten began his musical studies at an early age, and although his earliest works are mostly for
instrumental forces, he is perhaps best known for his choral and vocal music, especially his operas.
Much of his vocal music was composed for tenor Peter Pears, and their
artistic collaboration is one of the greatest in music history. Britten's musical idiom is largely in a
post-romantic style, with liberal doses of pungent dissonances.
During the 1930s he wrote incidental
music for plays and documentary films. He then went to the USA (1939-1942), where he wrote his
violin concerto and the Sinfonia da Requiem. Back in the UK, his works were largely vocal and
choral - exceptions include the famous Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell (also known
as The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra).
Britten's greatest work is most likely his first opera, Peter Grimes, and the Four Sea Interludes
are well-known. Premiered in 1945, it was with this work that Britten scored his first international
triumph. The opera tells the story of a social outcast, the fisherman Grimes, who, suffering at the
hands of an unsympathetic society and in attempting to find acceptance by that society, brings
about his own tragic downfall. The theme of the individual against society is one that recurs in
many of Britten's operatic works.
A pacifist, Britten composed the War Requiem to express his hope that the world can lay war to
rest. The work is comprised of a setting of the Catholic Mass, juxtaposed with nine poems by the
English poet Wilfred Owen, a soldier killed during the last days of World War I. The Requiem is
scored for chorus, orchestra, children's chorus, chamber orchestra, and three vocal soloists. It was awarded a Grammy Award.
Britten's intention was to have a Russian soprano singing the sections of the Latin Mass, while the
English poems were to be sung by a British tenor and a German baritone.
Britten helped to
found the annual Aldeburgh Festival in 1948, and became a life peer in 1976.
Hans von Bulow lived from 1830 until 1894. He is distinguished as a pianist and as a conductor, became a piano pupil of Liszt,
whose daughter Cosima he married, and was encouraged as a conductor by Wagner, who
married Cosima after her divorce from her first husband. Von Bulow's compositions for piano
are technically demanding, as befits one of Liszt's most distinguished pupils.
(Melzia Ann) Grace Bumbry was born in 1937 in St Louis, Missouri, USA. She is a mezzo~soprano who made an acclaimed debut at the Paris
Opera in 1960 and the next year sang Venus at Bayreuth; her Metropolitan Opera debut came in
1965. She went on to a distinguished international career singing both mezzo and soprano roles.
Ferruccio Busoni lived from 1866 until 1924.
The son of an Italian musician father and a German pianist mother,
he represented a remarkable synthesis of two differing
attitudes to music, while winning an outstanding reputation as a piano
virtuoso. Busoni composed operas, including Turandot and Doktor
Faust, a series of orchestral works, including a piano concerto that
also uses a male chorus in the finale, and various pieces of chamber
Of the various works Busoni composed or transcribed for the piano one of the most
impressive is the famous arrangement of Bach's Chaconne for unaccompanied violin, one of a
number of works based on Bach. His Fantasia after Bach and the much revised Fantasia
Contrappuntistica demonstrate something of his musical preoccupations.