Happy Birthday to Felix Mendelssohn
Monday, February 3, 2020 by Mary O'Connor | birthday
Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn lived between 1809 and 1847. He is considered to be a romantic composer and pianist best known for his symphonies and concert overtures. Mendelssohn played the piano in public by the age of nine, so he was often compared to Mozart.
He composed works for solo instruments and orchestra, and German songs. Some of his better-known works are the Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave. Felix Mendelssohn, along with Hector Berlioz was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra.
Mendelssohn harmonized the works of other composers, including Johann Crüger. Listen to Mendelssohn's harmonization of Now Thank We All our God:
One of my favorites, Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 in g minor, op. 25:
Read more about Mendelssohn in the Baroque section
Listen to Mendelssohn's music.
Read information about Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
First performance date of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the Wedding March
Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.
Happy Birthday, Gene Krupa
Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Mary O'Connor | birthday
Eugene Bertram "Gene" Krupa lived from January 15, 1909 to October 16, 1973. He was an American jazz and big band drummer, actor and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.
One of my all-time favorite non-piano songs is Sing Sing Sing. Krupa joined Benny Goodman's band in 1934, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on their hit "Sing, Sing, Sing" were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.
The Benny Goodman big band playing Sing Sing Sing, featuring Gene Krupa at the end. We get the added benefit of hearing Mr. Harry James play a trumpet solo.
Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich: Famous Drum Battle
Happy Birthday, George Gershwin!
Thursday, September 26, 2019 by Mary O'Connor | birthday
George Gershwin lived between September 26, 1898 and July 11, 1937. He is considered to be a twentieth century composer.
If you hate homework but like roller skating, you have something in common with American composer George Gershwin. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian immigrant parents, George loved to play street hockey, 'cat', and punch ball. He didn’t even have an interest in music until his family got him a piano when he was twelve. Nine years later he had his first hit, "Swanee", with lyrics written by Irving Caesar. No one else in the Gershwin family was musical, but George was fascinated by music. When he heard a schoolmate play the violin, George struck up a friendship with the boy who introduced him to the world of concert music.
Gershwin's American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue (featured in Disney's newly released Fantasia 2000) proved that jazz was powerful enough to combine will with symphonic music. Gershwin was only 26 years old at the time when he composed Rhapsody in Blue. No matter how you hear it, "Rhapsody in Blue" will remain the signature of one of the most influential of composers, songwriters and pianists in American music history.
His play Porgy and Bess has been produced as both a film and an opera.