music

Cole Porter was an American composer and songwriter born on June 9, 1891 in Peru, Indiana.  By the age of ten, he was playing the violin and piano and had already written his first song!  In 1905, he headed to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, bringing along an upright piano with him.   He once recounted a lesson learned while studying there that would guide his career as a composer: “Words and music must be so inseparably wedded to each other that they are like one.”  Despite being described as “precocious”, Porter became the valedictorian of his class and after graduating, went on to Yale.    At Yale, he left his mark as one of the original members and principal soloists of the famous a-cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs.  Porter wrote over 300 songs while at Yale including many songs that are still sung there today!  By his 30s, after his time spent throwing lavish parties in Paris, he became a widely-known successful Broadway composer.  Some of his best-known songs:  ”Anything Goes”, “Night and Day”, and “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love”.

I love this clip from “Midnight in Paris” when Owen Wilson’s character walks into a 1920s Paris party, having time-traveled from present day, stunned to find Cole Porter playing his 1928 hit “Let’s Do it, Let’s Fall in Love”!

 

Stevie Wonder was born on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan.  Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, was a child prodigy who excelled at a variety of instruments from an early age including piano, harmonica, drums, and bass.  He was discovered when Ronnie White (of The Miracles) was persuaded by his brother to visit a friend’s house to check out Stevie.  At only 11 years old, Berry Gordy signed him to Motown’s Tamla label!    His stage name:  ”Little Stevie Wonder”.  By age 13, he had his first major hit with “Fingertips”.
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Today is Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday! Fitzgerald was born on April 25th, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia. Spend a few minutes today listening to her legendary voice in her honor!  Click through for three Ella videos:

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In the wake of the horrible violence committed this week in Boston and the ongoing manhunt for the second bombing suspect, we wanted to share a song about hope and peace. This is one of our favorites: One Day by Matisyahu.

Matisyahu has said about the song:

‘One Day’ is the song I’ve been wanting to make since I started my career…it is an anthem of hope with a big beat — the kind of song that makes you bob your head and open your heart at the same time. (source)

Take a few minutes today to enjoy and share this message.


 
McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician born 100 years ago today. We love this video of him playing an impromptu show with The Rolling Stones in 1981!

From Pete Welding’s “Muddy Waters: Gone to Mainstreet”:

Waters performed almost uninterruptedly, invariably giving of his best and often, when circumstances conspired to allow it, setting the night on fire with the strength, passion and conviction that only he could muster. He carried his message to countless listeners, first in Chicago, then all the rest of the U.S. and finally, the world. When he died quietly in his sleep on April 30, 1983, in his home in suburban Westmont Illinois, America lost one of the greatest, most influential and enduringly important musicians of the century, one who had reshaped the course of the blues, set it on a new path and, through the influence he exerted on so many other who followed in his trailblazing wake, completely altered the sound, substance and very character of all modern popular music.

The Russian composer was born on March 18, 1844. We love playing his short composition, “The Flight of the Bumblebee” in our music classes.

Watch how fast this pianist’s fingers move!

 

Happy Birthday, Antonio Vivaldi!

The Italian composer and virtuoso violinist was born on March 4, 1678. This is one of our favorite excerpts from “The Four Seasons” played by Joshua Bell on violin!


 
Happy Birthday, Léo Delibes!
Delibes was a French composer, born February 21, 1836.  He was best known for his operas and ballets. “The Flower Duet” is a famous duet from his opera Lakmé. We love these two performances of the piece by The Dublin String Quartet and The Modern Mandolin Quartet.  Gorgeous!

 

In honor of today’s holiday, we’re sharing a list of fourteen of our favorite love songs..  Music is one of the best ways to express love- take some time today to listen to your favorite songs with the ones you love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

1.  L-O-V-E  Nat King Cole cover by Jayme Dee

  

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On February 13, 1967, The Beatles released the double-A sided single “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane”. We love both of these songs! Take a few minutes to enjoy them today.

New Orleans-born Mahalia Jackon was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite singers. The “Queen of Gospel” sang at the 1963 March on Washington before he gave his speech! Take a couple minutes today to listen to her powerful rendition of “How I Got Over”.

 

On January 16, 1938, Benny Goodman became the first Jazz bandleader to play at Carnegie Hall. Goodman, widely known as “The King of Swing”, was an American Jazz and Swing musician, clarinetist, and bandleader. His publicist came up with the idea of performing Jazz at Carnegie in late 1937 and by January of 1938, they made the dream a reality. The concert sold out weeks in advance, with tickets going for a top price of $2.75! The concert has an important place in music history, as it solidified Jazz music’s place in mainstream culture.

Above, listen to one of our favorite Jazz pieces performed by Benny Goodman and his orchestra- “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima.

Marian Anderson became the first African-American member of the Metropolitan Opera when she made her debut on January 7, 1955.  Above, is her beautiful version of “Ave Maria” by Schubert.

Non-musicians are familiar with more classical music than they think.  I often reference pieces of music to friends who aren’t musicians and get a blank stare- but upon humming just a few bars, most say “oh yeah!” and can join along humming the tune.  Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours, and La Donna e Mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto are just a few that most people immediately recognize but can’t easily identify.  For example, you might know The Barber of Seville from Bugs Bunny cartoons, Canon in D from wedding ceremonies, and you may refer to Dance of the Hours as “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”!  Movies, TV shows, commericals, and popular music are always sampling from the wealth of public domain music out there.  Below, are 3 examples we think you’ll recognize.

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On October 18, 1964, The Beatles took a day off from their British tour to finish recording several songs.  I Feel Fine was one of them!

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