American History Month -
Click on Each New Person of the Day and
Learn Our Common American History!
Saturday, February 17, 2018
02/01/18 - Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December
25, 1745 June 10, 1799) was a champion fencer, virtuoso
violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in
Paris. Born in Guadeloupe, at that time
considered part of America, he was the son of George Bologne de
Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave. Biography -
02/02/18 - Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932 - 2004) was music
director and composer-in-residence for the Negro Ensemble
Company, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Dance Theatre of
Harlem, and for productions at the American Theatre Lab, the
Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Goodman Theatre,
among others. Biography -
Music Compositions - MUSIC 1 - 2
02/04/18 - Yo-Yo Ma (1955 -) was born in Paris to Chinese
parents; mother Marina Lu, a singer and father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, a
violinist and professor of music at Nanjing National Central
University. The family moved to New York in 1962. Yo-Yo began
performing before audiences at age five and performed for
Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was
seven. At age eight, he appeared on American television with his
sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma, in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Today he has over 90 albums, 18 of which are Grammy
Award winners. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Ma to
serve on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In
2011, Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Yo-Yo Ma and Condoleezza Rice surprised the attendees of the 2017
Kennedy Center Arts Summit with a Brahms duet for piano and cello.
Official Web site - Facebook Page - Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma - Yo Yo Ma Greatest Hits of 2018
02/05/18 - Florence Beatrice Price (1887 - 1953) was born to
Florence Gulliver and James H. Smith on April 9, 1887, in Little
Rock, Arkansas, one of three children in a mixed-race family.
Despite racial issues of the era, her family was well respected
and did well within their community. Her father was a dentist and
her mother was a music teacher who guided Florence's early
musical training. She had her first piano performance at the age
of four and went on to have her first composition published at
the age of 11, the first African-American woman to be recognized
as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major
orchestra. Biography -
02/06/18 - William Grant Still (1895 1978) was an African American composer, who
composed more than 150 works, including five symphonies and eight
operas. Often referred to as "the Dean" of African
American composers, Still was the first African American composer
to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Still is known most for his first symphony, which was, until the 1950s the most widely performed
symphony composed by an American.
02/07/18 - Scott Joplin ( c. 1867/68 - 1917) was an African
American composer and pianist born into a musical family of
railway laborers in Northeast Texas, who developed his musical
knowledge with the help of local teachers. Joplin grew up in
Texarkana, where he formed a vocal quartet, and taught mandolin
and guitar. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and
was dubbed the "King of Ragtime". During his brief
career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two
operas. One of his first, and most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag",
became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been
recognized as the archetypal rag.
02/08/18 Undine Eliza Anna
Smith Moore (1904 1989) was a notable and prolific African
American composer of the 20th century. Moore was born in Jarratt,
Virginia. She was the granddaughter of slaves. In 1908, her
family moved to Petersburg, Virginia. She began studying piano at
age seven with Lillian Allen Darden. Moore attended Fisk
University, where she studied piano with Alice M. Grass. In 1938
she married Dr. James Arthur Moore, the chair of the physical
education department at Virginia State College. Known to some as
the "Dean of Black Women Composers," Moore's career in
composition began while she was at Fisk.While her range of
compositions include works for piano and for other instrumental
groups, Moore is more widely known for her choral works. Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., for chorus, orchestra, solo voices and narrator was
premiered at Carnegie Hall and was nominated for a Pulitzer
Prize. Other familiar compositions are "Afro-American Suite for flute, violoncello, and
piano", "Lord, We Give Thanks to Thee" for chorus, "Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord" for chorus, and "Love, Let the Wind Cry How I Adore Thee."
02/09/18 - William James "Count" Basie (1904
1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and
composer born to Harvey Lee and Lillian Basie in Red Bank, New
Jersey. His mother taught him to play the piano and he started
performing in his teens. Dropping out of school, he learned to
operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for
silent films at a local movie theater in Red Bank. By age 16, he
increasingly played jazz piano at parties, resorts and other
venues. In 1924, he went to Harlem, where his performing career
expanded; he toured with groups to the major jazz cities of
Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. Late one night with time to
fill, the band started improvising. Basie liked the results and
named the piece "One O'Clock Jump."
In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in
1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first
recording. He led the group for almost 50 years. His first
official recordings for Decca included "Pennies from Heaven" and "Honeysuckle Rose". In March of 1981, Basie and his Orchestra played
02/10/18 - Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899
1974) was an African American composer, pianist, and
bandleader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his
death in a career spanning over fifty years. Ellington is
generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to
an art form on a par with other more traditional musical genres.
Ellington had always been a prolific writer, composing thousands
of tunes including It
Dont Mean A Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing), Sophisticated Lady, In A Sentimental Mood,
Prelude To A Kiss. In
later years he also composed film scores, among them The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Anatomy Of A Murder (1959), Paris Blues
(1960) and Assault On A Queen (1966). His
reputation continued to rise after he died, and he was awarded a
special posthumous Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999.
Biography - Music
02/11/18 - Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) was a pianist and
composer, the first African American soloist to appear with the
Chicago Symphony, and played an important role in the development
of twentieth century classical and musical theater. She was born
in Chicago, IL. Her parents, Dr. Monroe Majors and Estella C.
Bonds, were separated two years later leaving young Bonds to be
raised by her mother. Showing promise at an early age, she
completed her first composition at the age of five. Her musical
prowess was encouraged by her mother, who was also a musician and
a frequent host to African American writers, artists, and
musicians. Visitors from the local Chicago area and around the
country would regularly play in the Bond home and their presence
and performances there clearly had an effect on young Margaret.
After receiving bachelors and masters degrees in
music from Northwestern University in 1933 and 1934 respectively,
Bonds went on to a successful career writing pieces for the Glenn
Miller Orchestra and regularly performing on the radio. Although
Bonds was educated as a classical musician, her work was
versatile and strongly influenced by jazz and blues. Her
compositions were performed by a large number of concert artists
including Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman.
In 1936, Bonds also founded the Allied Arts Academy, an
institution for talented African American children in Chicago.
Perhaps most notable was her collaboration with the poet Langston
Hughes. Bonds wrote a musical piece to accompany the Hughes poem
The Negro Speaks of Rivers in 1941. This partnership lasted well
into the 1950s and included several larger projects such as theatrical adaptations of some of Langston Hughess works.
Bondss musical scores also featured the texts of other
poets including pieces for W.E.B. Du Bois and Robert Frost.
Bonds has been credited with creating new interest in traditional
African American musical forms, history, and culture.
Biography - Music
02/12/18 - Lincoln's Birthday - Julia Ward Howe (1819
1910) was an American poet and author, best known for
writing the words for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." She was also an advocate for
abolitionism and was a social activist, particularly for women's
suffrage. She was inspired to write "The Battle Hymn of the
Republic" after she and her husband visited Washington,
D.C., and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November
1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested
she write new words to the song "John Brown's Body", which she did on November 19. The song
was set to William Steffe's already-existing music and Howe's
version was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February
1862. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the
Union during the American Civil War.
- The Story Behind the Hymn - The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe
02/13/18 - Breshears "Little Stars Trio"
(2007, 2008, 2010 - ) Dustin Jr.,
Breshears, children of Dustin and Julie Breshears both
pianists and teachers and four other siblings in Chico,
California. Two of the three youngest, Colin, 5, and Delilah,
almost 3, are already taking lessons on the violin and cello,
respectively. Serenity, at 1-year-old is the youngest Breshears,
will take up the violin, according to Dustin Sr. The Little Stars
Trio can often be found performing Haydn's 'London' Trio, Simple Gifts,
and other favorites (some pieces they arrange themselves, with
the help of their parents) in concert halls and also just for
tourists on the city streets.
Biography in Music - Video Interview
02/14/18 - Pau Casals i Defilló (1876 1973),
usually known in English as Pablo Casals, was a cellist,
composer, and conductor from Catalonia, Spain. He is generally
regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th
century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time. He made
many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and
orchestral music, also as conductor, but he is perhaps best
remembered for the recordings of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939. Pau and his wife,
Marta, made their permanent residence in the town of Ceiba,
Puerto Rico. He made an impact in the Puerto Rican music scene,
by founding the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra in 1958, and the
Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in 1959.
One of his last
compositions was the "Hymn of the United Nations". He
conducted its first performance in a special concert at the United Nations on October
24, 1971, two months
before his 95th birthday. On that day, the Secretary-General of
the United Nations, U Thant, awarded Casals the U.N. Peace Medal
in recognition of his stance for peace, justice and freedom.
Casals accepted the medal and made his famous "I Am a
Catalan" speech, where he stated that Catalonia had the
first democratic parliament, long before England did.
BBC Documentary - Pau Casals exiled to Prada - 1961 Concert At The White
02/15/18 - Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (1968 - ) born in Norman, Oklahoma is a Chickasaw classical composer and pianist. His compositions are inspired by
American Indian history and culture. He has had several commissioned works, which have been performed by major orchestras
in Washington, DC; San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis, and the American Composers Forum. When the San Francisco Symphony Chorus
performed and recorded his work Iholba' in 2008, it was the first time the chorus had sung any
work in Chickasaw or any American Indian language.
02/16/18 - Toshiko Akiyoshi (1929- ) is a Japanese
American jazz composer/arranger, bandleader
She has received 14 Grammy nominations, and she was the first
woman to win the Best Arranger and Composer awards in Down Beat
Magazine's readers poll. In 1956, Akiyoshi enrolled to become the
first Japanese student at Berklee College of Music. In 1984, she
was the subject of a documentary film titled "Jazz Is My Native Language." In 1996, she published her
autobiography, "Life with Jazz," which is now in its
fifth printing in Japanese. In 1998, Akiyoshi was awarded an
Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. In
2007 she was named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S.
National Endowment for the Arts.
Today, Akiyoshi lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her
Long Yellow Road - Toshiko Akiyoshi Interview by Monk Rowe (1999) - Toshiko Akiyoshi: on being a Japanese jazz
- Aaron Copland (1900 1990) was an American composer,
composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and
other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and
critics as "the Dean of American Composers." The open,
slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of
what many people consider to be the sound of American music,
evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is
best known for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a
deliberately accessible style often referred to as
"populist" and which the composer labeled his
"vernacular" style. Works in this vein include the
ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo, El Salon Mexico, Fanfare for the Common Man and
Third Symphony. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he
produced music in many other genres including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.
- Anthony Parnther (1943- ) is an American conductor of West
Indian and Samoan descent, born in Norfolk, VA. He is currently
the music director and conductor of the Southeast Symphony in Los
Angeles, California, a position he has held since 2010. He is a
orchestrator, and bassoonist with the Hollywood
Studio Symphony for television, motion pictures and video games.
In 2012, he conducted "Afro-American" Symphony
No. 1 "by William Grant Still. Anthony
taught at Fullerton College from 2008 - 2010 and University of
California, Berkeley from 2010 - 2015. He has been artist in
residence at the Oakwood School from 2015 - to the present.
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