I hope this issue of Pianotes finds you well and staying warm! January was another busy month, but I keep hearing that that's a good thing! I hope your year is off to a great start, too! Enjoy the February issue!
In the 1850's, Joseph P. Hales started the practice of making cheap pianos and stenciling any name the distributors wanted on them. These are still referred to as “stencil brands.”
Dizzy Gillespie’s trademark bent trumpet came about by accident. In 1953, a fellow musician tripped over Dizzy’s horn and the bell ended up at a 45-degree angle. Gillespie liked the sound and used bent horns for the rest of his career.
Dogs are mentioned in more song titles than cats. Cats find that really annoying!
As usual, there is quite an assortment of new reviews of albums and singles for you to check out. I also reviewed a pair of new songbooks from James Michael Stevens. You can find them all here
Even though he left Hungary at the age of nine and could never speak a word of Hungarian, at a concert in Budapest in January 1840, several Hungarian dukes came onstage and presented Franz Liszt with a richly jeweled sword in the name of the nation, the symbol of service or nobility.
Mildred and Patty Hill published a song in 1893 that was named "Good Morning to You.” It wasn't very popular, so they changed it a little bit and renamed it "Happy Birthday." It is the same song we sing for everyone's birthday!
Jazz was the first musical style to originate in the United States. It was first heard in New Orleans in the late 1800's.
I did a fun and interesting interview with Spencer Brewer this month. Spencer was one of the first artists that I got to know in person and was one of the prominent artists on the Narada Records label in the 1980s and 1990s. Spencer just released his first album since 2008, Behind the Veil
, and it is fantastic! We talked about the album and the many other projects (not all of them musical) Spencer is involved with. Here's the link
I am currently working on interviews with Irina Moreland and Earl Johnson, so be on the lookout for those during the month of February!
The history of the piano does not coincide with the development of musical genius; it follows the development of industry and commerce - supply and demand.
The best pianists can get as many as 200 different sounds from one piano key by changing the finger tone and pedal.
The first "talkie" movie was “The Jazz Singer.” It opened on October 6, 1927 and starred Al Jolson.
February Musical Holidays and Celebrations: If you find yourself with some time on your hands, here are a few things to celebrate during the month - the first half of it, anyway!
2/2: Play Your Uklulele Day
2/3: The Day the Music Died
2/4: Liberace Day
2/7: International Clash Day
2/8: Opera Day
2/10: Welsh Language Music Day
2/11 Get Out Your Guitar Day
2/13: World Radio Day
We need some events to celebrate the second half of the month, too! Any suggestions?
Liberace had so many face-lifts that he could not close his eyes. He had to put drops in them every two hours at night to keep them from drying out as he slept.
On the average recording of a well-prepared classical musician playing difficult music, there can be as many as 200 to 600 "edit points" (mistakes or flaws) in a sixty-minute program. A producer who has worked with some of the finest musicians in the world (Vladimir Horowitz, Itzak Perlman, etc.) says he has never produced a recording with fewer than 100 "edit points.” (I find that reassuring!)
Harry S. Truman was America’s first pianistic president. He often played in public and performed on a televised tour of the newly-renovated White House.
February Birthdays: Here is a partial list of musical birthdays in February:
2/2: Marlowe Watson Carruth
2/3: Ana Lourdes Rodriguez
2/7: James Michael Stevens, Bryan Carrigan & David Hicken
2/10: Robert Thies
2/14: Ben Dowling
2/15: Christian Lindquist & Craig Burdette
2/17: Sally Kidwell
2/19: Anne Trenning & Kevin Wood
2/20: Rachel LaFond
2/22: Oliver Bohovic
2/24: Jeff Fair
2/25: Starr Parodi & Penka Kouneva
2/26: Greg Maroney
Happy Birthday to all of you!!!
The trials of being a club musician! One relates the story of a patron repeatedly asking for the “Dead Ant” song. No one in the band had ever heard of such a song, so the patron sang, “Dead Ant...Dead Ant...Dead Ant Dead Ant Dead Ant....” - the theme from “The Pink Panther”!
There is actually an injury called “glissando thumb” caused by pianists sliding their thumbs up and down the keyboard too often.
The day of the week mentioned most often in song titles is Sunday. Saturday and Monday are second and third.
That's it for this issue! Since I didn't take many photos in January, here is a "bonus" about the Alma-Tadema Steinway piano, one of the most expensive pianos ever sold. For awhile, Steinway offered a replica of this piano, but they don't seem to anymore. Have a great month, Happy Valentine's Day, and we'll see you the end of the month!
One of the most expensive pianos ever sold is the Alma-Tadema Steinway, which was built in 1884. It was built for Henry Marquand, founder of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was a collaboration of British artist, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and some of the finest painters, woodworkers, and decorative artists of the day. Details include hand-carved lion-shaped legs; a lid inscribed in Greek with the names of Apollo and the Muses; ivory, coral, and mother-of-pearl inlays; a miniature painting above the keyboard; and a brass lyre at the back. It’s original price tag was $1200. It sold for $1.2 million at a London auction in 1997!!!
To the best of my knowledge, the music trivia and "factoids" within Pianotes are true, but I can’t guarantee it.