Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lehár (1870-1948)
Louise Homer (1871-1947)
Frank Merrick (1886-1981)
Robert Shaw (1916-1999)
Günter Raphael (1903-1960)
Willie Nelson (1933)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1939)
Garcia Navarro (1940-2002)
Vladimir Tarnopolsky (1955)


Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967)
John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)
Winfield Townley Scott (1910-1968)
Annie Dillard (1945)
Josip Novakovich (1955)

And from the New Music Box:

On April 30, 1932, the very first Yaddo Festival of Contemporary Music began in Saratoga Springs, NY. Works programmed that year included Aaron Copland's Piano Variations as well as piano works by Roger Sessions, Henry Brant, Vivian Fine and Roy Harris, songs by Charles Ives and Paul Bowles, string quartets by Marc Blitzstein and Louis Gruenberg, and a suite for unaccompanied flute by Wallingford Riegger.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)
Wallingford Riegger (1885-1961)
Sir Malcom Sargent (1895-1967)
Edward "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974)
Peter Sculthorpe (1929)
Klaus Voormann (1938)
Leslie Howard (1948)
Eero Hämeenniemi (1951)
Gino Quilico (1955)


Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947)

From the New Music Box:
On April 29, 1969, Duke Ellington was invited to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his 70th birthday. At the event, U.S. President Richard Nixon played "Happy Birthday" on the piano accompanied by the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Paul Sacher (1906-1999)
Margaret Vardell Sandresky (1921)
Zubin Mehta (1936)
Jeffrey Tate (1943)
Nicola LeFanu (1947)
Elise Ross (1947)
Jeffrey Tate (1948)
Michael Daugherty (1954)


James Monroe (1758-1831)
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Harper Lee (1926)
Carolyn Forché (1950)

From the New Music Box:
On April 28, 2003, Apple Computer launched its iTunes Music Store and sold 1 million songs in its first week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adam Reinken (1623-1722
Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)
Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Nicolas Slonimsky (1894-1995)
Guido Cantelli (1920-1956)
Igor Ostriakh (1931)
Hamish Milne (1939)
Jon Deak (1943)
Christian Zacharias (1950)


Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
Samuel Morse (1791-1872)
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
C(ecil) Day Lewis (1904-1972)
August Wilson (1945-2005)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1667, the poet John Milton (books by this author) sold the copyright for his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, for 10 pounds. Milton had championed the cause of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament over the king during the English Civil War, and published a series of radical pamphlets in support of such things as Puritanism, freedom of the press, divorce on the basis of incompatibility, and the execution of King Charles I. With the overthrow of the monarchy and the creation of the Commonwealth, Milton was named Secretary of Foreign Tongues, and though he eventually lost his eyesight, he was able to carry out his duties with the help of aides like fellow poet Andrew Marvell.

When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Milton was imprisoned as a traitor and stripped of his property. He was soon released, but was now impoverished as well as completely blind, and he spent the rest of his life secluded in a cottage in Buckinghamshire. This is where he dictated Paradise Lost — an epic poem about the Fall of Man, with Satan as a kind of antihero — and its sequel, Paradise Regained, about the temptation of Christ.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Erland von Koch (1910-2009)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Teddy Edwards (1924-2003)
Wilma Lipp (1925)
Ewa Podleś (1952)
Patrizia Kwella (1953)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
David Hume (1711-1776)
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)

And from the New Music Box:
On April 26, 1965, Charles Ives's Fourth Symphony, which was composed mostly between 1910 and 1916, is given its first complete performance by the American Symphony Orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski and two assistant conductors.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1998)
Astrid Varnay (1918-2006)
Siegfried Palm (1927-2005)
Digby Fairweather (1946)
Truls Mørk (1961)


Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
David Shepherd (1931)
Ted Kooser (1939)
Padgett Powell (1952)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Martini (1706-1784)
Charles O'Connell (1900-1962)
Violet Archer (1913-2000)
John Williams (1941)
Barbara Streisand (1942)
Norma Burrowes (1944)
Ole Edvard Antonsen (1962)
Augusta Read Thomas (1964)
Catrin Finch (1980)


Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Stanley Kauffmann (1916)
Clare Boylan (1948-2006)
Eric Bogosian (1953)

From the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1800, the Library of Congress was established. In a bill that provided for the transfer of the nation's capital from Philadelphia to Washington, Congress included a provision for a reference library containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress — and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein ..." The library was housed in the Capitol building, until British troops burned and pillaged it in 1814. Thomas Jefferson offered as a replacement his own personal library: nearly 6,500 books, the result of 50 years' worth of "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science."

First opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress is now the largest library in the world. It houses more than 144 million items, including 33 million catalogued books in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of films, legal materials, maps, sheet music, and sound recordings.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

CD Review: 'L'Infidele' by Jon Mendle

Archguitarist Jon Mendle recently released his first CD, entitled L'Infidele after a lute sonata of the same name by the master baroque lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750). This release, from Brooklyn's In A Circle Records and produced by the great Sergio Assad, showcases Mendle's incredible artistry and deep musicianship through the interesting dichotomy of playing ancient music on an instrument invented only in 1980, by guitarist/lutenist Peter Blanchette.

The archguitar is an eleven-stringed instrument that looks rather like a mutant classical guitar. According to Mendle's website, "the Archguitar is a hybrid of the Renaissance and Baroque lutes, 19th century guitar, and modern guitar, making it ideal for a large cross section of early music, as well as certain modern and impressionist works."

On to the CD however; it contains Mendle's own transcriptions of the Weiss lute sonata as well as one by Adam Falckenhagen (1697-1761) and CPE Bach's Prussian Sonata V which was originally written for clavier.

The CD opens with the deep and weighty Largo at the head of the Falckenhagen sonata. In the subsequent Allegro un Poco Mendle's technique is revealed in the fantastic roulades and turns that he throws out in a manner sounding seamless and almost effortless, which is as it should be, the ornamentation feeling like a perfectly natural and unobtrusive outgrowth of the musical stuff whence it came. The finale contains a mischievous recurring staccato theme that Mendle draws out insightfully and plays with obvious delight.

The CPE Bach is redolent with nascent classicism, and Mendle's playing makes the distinction between this style and the High Baroque of Weiss and Falckenhagen very clear. Again the fantastically difficult ornaments, this time in the middle Andante, are all realized smoothly and yet not monochromatically, alternately bold and delicate as called for. Throughout this CD the spectacular ornamentation is one commonality linking all of the compositions together; Mendle has a natural feel for it and isn't afraid to express himself through everything from filigreed and almost non-existent mordants to lengthy and substantive turns and doppelt-cadences. The Allegro Assai of this piece features voice-leadings taking off on various flights of fancy all their own.

The L'Infidele sonata, really a baroque dance suite, finishes out the CD. The Entree was exquisite, the Courante danceable and pulsing, and the Menuet featured terraced dynamics that yielded a fetching echo effect. Mendle explores a wide variety of tone colors in this suite; saucy mezzo-staccato phrases give way to sere, almost harsh plucking and muted, other-worldly legatos. The grumbling drone strings in the Musette present yet another delight to be savored.

If there were any flaw with this CD, it would only be that I wanted more after listening to it, and I immediately played it over from the beginning. Look for more great things to come from this brilliant emerging artist, who has already played with the likes of Yo Yo Ma and his teacher Sergio Assad.

Today's Birthdays

Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1858-1919)
Albert Coates (1882-1953)
Henry Barraud (1900-1997)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Roy Orbison (1936-1988)
Barry Douglas (1960)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Joseph Turner (1775-1851)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
George Steiner (1929)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1635, Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States, was founded. It is also the oldest school still in existence in this country, and still requires its students to study four years of Latin. Inspired by the Free Grammar School in Boston, England, the Reverend John Cotton was instrumental in establishing this repository for the sons — and later daughters — of Boston's elite. In its 376-year history, the school has produced four Harvard presidents, four Massachusetts governors, and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. It names among its dropouts Benjamin Franklin and Louis Farrakhan

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Dame Ethel Smyth (1856-1944)
Eric Fenby (1906-1997)
Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)
Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)
Charles Mingus 1922-1979)
Michael Colgrass (1932)
Jaroslav Krcek (1939)
Joshua Rifkin (1944)
Peter Frampton (1950)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1956)


Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
Louise Glück (1943)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Actors and musicians and the question of auditioning

A couple of years ago, I interviewed Robin Goodwin Nordli, a veteran actor of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for an article that I wrote for the Oregon Arts Commission. I asked her if the actors had some sort of tenure at the festival. She replied that they did not have any tenure. Every actor has to reaudition every year.

I know that some of the actors have purchased homes and raised families in the Ashland area. They are the ones that are good enough to keep getting roles at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or they have to find a job somewhere in the community or maybe they got a few good gigs doing commercials or films in Hollywood and returned to the Ashland area. In any, case none of the actors at OSF have tenure.

I raise this matter, because some people still seem unable to get over the fact that some longtime members of the Oregon Symphony lost their jobs. Orchestras are run differently than acting companies, and continuity of sound is an important thing to consider. You could try to reaudition all of an orchestra every year, but that would be maddening. As per the comment below, from the Oregon Symphony's principal violist, Charles Noble, that orchestra's musicians do have tenure. It is granted after a two-year probationary period. After tenure is granted, there is a formal process for non-renewal of a contract that must be followed for a musician to be dismissed. I had originally thought that none of the orchestra members had tenure and that any orchestra member can be replaced, abiding by the musician's contract and union rules. So, I stand corrected in that matter.

Even though the Portland Symphonic Choir is not a full-time professional arts organization like the Oregon Symphony or the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, its members have to reaudition every two years. I think that this re-auditioning process helps to make the choir sound better.

Today's Birthdays

Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
Bruno Maderna (1920-1973)
Locksley Wellington 'Slide' Hampton (1932)
Lionel Rogg (1936)
John McCabe (1939)
John Williams (1941) - guitarist
Iggy Pop (1947)
Richard Bernas (1950)
Melissa Hui (1966)


Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
John Muir (1838-1914)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950)
Lionel Hampton (1908-2002)
Christopher Robinson (1936)
John Eliot Gardiner (1943)
Robert Kyr (1952)


Pietro Aretino (1492-1556)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1939 that Billie Holiday recorded the song "Strange Fruit," which describes the lynching of a black man in the South. The song began as a poem written not by Holiday, but by a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx named Abel Meeropol (using the pseudonym Lewis Allan) who was deeply disturbed by a picture he saw of a lynching. Meeropol set the song to music with his wife, Laura, and performed it at venues in New York City. (Meeropol and his wife are also noteworthy for adopting the orphaned Rosenberg children, Robert and Michael, after their parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed for espionage.)

Holiday met Meeropol through a connection at a nightclub in Greenwich Village. She wanted to record the song, but her record label refused to produce something so graphic and she was forced to record it on an alternative jazz label.

Holiday's recording of "Strange Fruit" is unique in American music for its unflinching look at one of the darkest periods in national history.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Ruben Gonzalez (1919-2003)
Bernard Klee (1926)
Dudley Moore (1935-2002)
Kenneth Riegel (1938)
Jonathan Tunick (1938)
David Fanshawe (1942)
Murray Perahia (1947)
Yan-Pascal Tortelier (1947)
Natalie Dessay (1965)


Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)
Sharon Pollock (1936)
Stanley Fish (1938)

and from the New Music Box:

On April 19, 1775, William Billings and Supply Belcher, two of the earliest American composers who at the time were serving as Minutemen (militia members in the American Revolutionary War who had undertaken to turn out for service at a minute's notice), marched to Cambridge immediately after receiving an alarm from Lexington about an impending armed engagement with the British.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)
Sylvia Fisher (1910-1996)
Penelope Thwaites (1944)
Catherine Maltfitano (1948)


Clarence Darrow (1857 - 1938)

Also a historical tidbit from Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1906 an earthquake struck San Francisco. The earthquake began at 5:12 a.m. and lasted for a little over a minute. The world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso had performed at San Francisco's Grand Opera House the night before, and he woke up in his bed as the Palace Hotel was falling down around him. He stumbled out into the street, and because he was terrified that that shock might have ruined his voice, he began singing. Nearly 3,000 people died.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Maggie Teyte (1888-1976)
Harald Saeverud (1897-1992)
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976)
Pamela Bowden (1925-2003)
James Last (1929)
Anja Silja (1940)
Siegfried Jerusalem (1940)
Cristina Ortiz (1950)


Karen Blixen (1885-1962)
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)
Brendan Kennelly (1936)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opera Theater Oregon celebrates a new partnership with 'Sordid Lives'

OTO rolls out the red carpet at the Mission Theater on Friday, May 6 with a wild night of audience participation soap OPERA. 'Sordid Lives' borrows from '80s daytime television, tabloid journalism and the works of the great composers to create a truly demented, all-musical choose-your-own-story opera adventure.

When Wall Street banker Archibald Shackles casts off his scheming first wife Amber for a younger man/woman/man, Amber will stop at nothing to get her revenge: not even framing Archibald's new squeeze for impregnating their daughter. But did he/she/he do it? And if not...who did?

Two teams of opera singers and the OTO Technicolor Orchestra and Chorus battle it out at the audience’s command. Shrieking diva fights, hot, passionate clinches, evil twins, amnesia and intrigue abound! Special guest appearances by members of the Flash Choir and Electric Opera Company.

‘Sordid Lives’ is written by Pat Janowski (Livewire!), Katie Taylor (OTO Producing Artistic Director), John Dover (Alien Baby), and a host of helpless dead composers who will probably be writhing in their graves. Electric Opera Company takes the stage at 9:00pm. Imagine 12 shredding Angus Youngs playing Rossini and Wagner, only cuter, and you’ve got the picture.

‘Sordid Lives’ is a benefit and housewarming party for OTO at the Mission Theater, where the company is now resident. Audience members will be invited to bid for their plot choices and participate in a raffle for fabulous prizes, with all proceeds benefitting OTO’s expanded programming at the Mission. The event is the culmination of a $10,000 fundraising drive to raise funds to help the company develop new performance and educational programming. This event is dedicated to the McMenamin brothers, with thanks for taking OTO on as a resident company.


“McMenamins contacted us last year after our offer for the Guild Theatre fell through,” said OTO Producing Artistic Director Katie Taylor. “I can’t imagine a happier ending to that story!” OTO made headlines last summer for its lease offer on downtown’s Guild Theatre, dark since 2006 when the demolition of its restrooms put an end to NW Film Center’s residency there. The ambitious effort sparked the imaginations not just of film buffs and the Portland arts community, but of local architectural, engineering, construction and law firms who all offered pro bono services to bring the Guild back as a mid-sized live performance hall and retro movie house.

OTO’s effort was ultimately unsuccessful, but it attracted the interest of brew pub king Mike McMenamin, who read about it in The Oregonian. McMenamin asked Corporate Music Director Jimi Biron to contact Taylor, and after several meetings and conversations, they came up with a plan for OTO to use the Mission Theater as its home venue and office. The Mission also houses the Film, Music, and Event booking departments for McMenamins.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have such a creative and progressive group as OTO share space with all of our event programmers,” Biron said. “We look forward, not only to some great performances in our venues, but to the energy and excitement that may be born of this creative brain trust.”

OTO’s plans for its residency at the Mission include a radio opera, movie musical sing-along nights with the planned OTO Community Choir, and the continuation of 'Sordid Lives' as a 12-episode online series.


OTO’s mission is to bring opera back into pop culture through creative editing and adaptation. Affordable, entertaining, and commonly available—online, in movie theaters, at bars, OTO helps more people connect with classical music in ways that feel relevant to peoples’ lives. OTO is resident at the Mission Theater.

WHAT: SORDID LIVES, A Choose Your Own Adventure Soap OPERA, featuring the Opera
Theater Oregon Technicolor Orchestra and Chorus. Special guests Electric Opera Company.

Benefit and housewarming for OTO’s new residency at The Mission Theater.
WHEN: Friday, May 6 - ONE NIGHT ONLY!
WHERE: The Mission Theater - 1624 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209
WHO: Produced by Opera Theater Oregon
TICKETS: $15, on sale Friday, April 15:

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
Mischa Mischakov (1895-1981)
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
Herbie Mann (1930-2003)
Dusty Springfield (1939-1999)
Stephen Pruslin (1940)
Leo Nucci (1942)
Richard Bradshaw (1944-2007)
Dennis Russell Davis (1944)
Peteris Vasks (1946)


John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
Merce Cunningham (1919)
Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Karl Alwin (1891-1945)
Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
Sir Neville Marriner (1924)
John Wilbraham (1944-1998)
Michael Kamen (1948-2003)
Lara St. John (1971)


Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Henry James (1843-1916)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jean Fournet (1913)
Paavo Berglund (1929)
Morton Subotnick (1933)
Loretta Lynn (1935)
Claude Vivier (1948-1983)
John Wallace (1949)
Julian Lloyd Webber (1951)
Barbara Bonney (1956)
Mikhail Pletnev (1957)
Jason Lai (1974)


Christian Huygens (1629-1695)
Arnold Toynbee (1853-1882)
Anton Wildgans (1881-1932)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today's Birthdays

William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)
Milos Sadlo (1912-2003)
George Barati (1913-1996)
Frederic Rzewski (1938)
Margaret Price (1941)
Della Jones (1946)
Al Green (1946)
Mary Ellen Childs (1959)


Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Seamus Heaney (1939)

And a quote from Virgil Thomson (courtesy of Terry Teachout's blog):

"Teachers tend to form opinions about music, and these are always getting in the way of creation. The teacher, like the parent, must always have an answer for everything. If he doesn't he loses prestige. He must make up a story about music and stick to it. Nothing is more sterilizing."

Virgil Thomson, The State of Music

Virgil is right (to some degree), but this also describes the plight of a critic. One has to weigh the costs of writing criticism, and its value - in the end.
- JB

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Nardini (1722-1793)
Joseph Lanner (1801-1843)
Johnny Dodds (1892-1940)
Lily Pons (1898-1976)
Imogen Holst (1907-1984)
Thomas Hemsley (1927)
Herbert Khaury (aka Tiny Tim) (1932-1996)
Montserrat Caballé (1933)
Herbie Hancock (1940)
Ernst Kovacic (1943)
Stefan Minde (1936)
Christophe Rousset (1961)


Beverly Cleary (1916)
Alan Ayckbourn (1939)
Jon Krakauer (1954)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Charles Hallé (1819-1895)
Karel Ančerl (1908-1973)
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Gervase de Peyer (1926)
Kurt Moll (1938)
Arthur Davies (1941)


Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549)
Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Mark Strand (1934)
Dorothy Allison (1949)

From the New Music Box:
On April 11, 1941, Austrian-born composer Arnold Schönberg became an American citizen and officially changed the spelling of his last name to Schoenberg. He would remain in the United States until his death in 1951. Some of his most important compositions, including the Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the Fourth String Quartet, were composed during his American years.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Michel Corrette (1707-1795)
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Victor de Sabata (1892-1967)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1891-1971)
Harry Mortimer (1902-1992)
Luigi Alva (1927)
Claude Bolling (1930)
Jorge Mester (1935)
Sarah Leonard (1953)
Lesley Garrett (1955)
Yefim Bronfman (1958)


William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
David Halberstam (1934-2007)
Paul Theroux (1941)
Norman Dubie (1945)
Anne Lamott (1954)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)
François Giroust (1737-1799)
Supply Belcher (1751-1836)
Theodor Boehm (1794-1881)
Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1888-1953)
Sol Hurok (1888-1974)
Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889-1985)
Julius Patzak (1898-1974
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Antal Doráti (1906-1988)
Tom Lehrer (1928)
Aulis Sallinen (1935)
Jerzy Maksymiuk (1936)
Neil Jenkins (1945)


Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867)
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

From the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1860, the oldest known recording of the human voice was made — someone was singing Au Clair de la Lune. French inventor Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville captured sound waves on glass plates using a funnel, two membranes, and a stylus. He made the recording 17 years before Edison made his, but he didn't invent anything to play the recording back.

When researchers discovered these recordings three years ago, they assumed the voice singing was a woman's, so they played it at that speed. But then they re-checked the inventor's notes, and they realized that the inventor himself had sung the song, very slowly, carefully enunciating, as if to capture the beautiful totality of the human voice.

You can hear the astonishing recording at both speeds at

Friday, April 8, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604)
Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983)
Josef Krips (1902-1974)
Franco Corelli (1921-2003)
Walter Berry (1929-2000)
Lawrence Leighton Smith (1936)
Meriel Dickinson (1940)
Dame Felicity Lott (1947)
Diana Montague (1953)
Anthony Michaels-Moore (1957)


Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Seymour Hersh (1937)
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Charles Burney (1726-1814)
Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846)
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972)
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Ravi Shankar (1920)
Ikuma Dan (1924)


William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Daniel Ellsberg (1931)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1772)
André‑Cardinal Destouches (1672-1749)
Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
André Previn (1929)
Merle Haggard (1937)
Felicity Palmer (1944)
Pascal Rogé (1951)
Pascal Devoyon (1953)
Julian Anderson (1967)


Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio da Urbino) (1483-1520)
Joseph Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)

From the New Music Box:
On April 6, 1897, the U.S. government granted Thaddeus Cahill a patent for his Telharmonium, or Dynamophone, the earliest electronic musical instrument. Cahill built a total of three such instruments, which utilized a 36-tone scale and used telephone receivers as amplifiers. The first one, completed in 1906 in Holyoke, Massachussetts was 60 feet long and weighed 200 tons. It was housed in "Telharmonic Hall" on 39th Street and Broadway New York City for 20 years.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Albert Roussel (1869-1937)
Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989)
Goddard Lieberson (1911-1977)
Evan Parker (1944)
Julius Drake (1959)


Thomas Hobbs (1588-1679)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Bettina Brentano von Arnim (1785-1859)
Hans Richter (1843-1916)
Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)
Muddy Waters (1915-1983)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
Sergei Leiferkus (1946)
Chen Yi (1953)
Thomas Trotter (1957)
Jane Eaglen (1960)
Vladimir Jurowski (1972)


Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)
Maya Angelou (1928)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Baptiste‑Antoine Forqueray (1699-1782)
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey (1895-1971)
Sir Neville Cardus (1888-1975)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Louis Appelbaum (1918-2000)
Sixten Ehrling (1918-2005)
Kerstin Meyer (1928)
Garrick Ohlsson (1948)
Mikhail Rudy (1953)


Washington Irving (1783-1894)
Herb Caen (1933-1997)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lachner (1803-1890)
Kurt Adler (1905-1988)
April Cantelo (1928)
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)
Raymond Gubbay (1946)


Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Émile Zola (1840-1902)
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Camille Paglia (1947)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)
Ferrucco Busoni (1866-1924)
F Melius Christiansen (1871-1955)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
William Bergsma (1921-1994)


Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)
Milan Kundera (1929)
Francine Prose (1947)