Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
September 16
1685 John Gay, English librettist, was born.  He wrote the Beggar's Opera.

1920 - Enrico Caruso made his last recording for Victor Records in Camden, NJ.

1925 - Guitar legend B.B. King was born in Itta Bena, Miss.

1966 - The Metropolitan Opera opened its new opera house at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, with the world premiere of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra

1972 - Three Dog Night scored their third US No.1 single with Black and White

1977 - Opera diva Maria Callas dies of a heart attack in Paris, age 53

1979 - Rap music, in which the performers chant rhymed and rhythmical verses over prerecorded instrumental dance tracks, makes it onto vinyl with the release of the Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight.

1995 - Premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's work for alto saxophone, drummer and orchestra  Panic , at the "Last Night" of the Centenary Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London, with the BBC Symphony conducted by Andrew Davis.

1999 - Premiere of Libby Larsen's Solo Symphony, by the Colorado Symphony, Marin Alsop conducting.  Click Here to Hear an Excerpt from Solo Symphony.
Can You Guess?
Albert and Nora Ella King's little boy, Riley, grew up to be B.B. King, Blues great. 
Can You Guess what the B.B. in B.B. King stands for?
(Extra credit if you tell me his guitar's name.)
   
Answers Found Below
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Nadia Boulanger was born September 16, 1877.  She was born into a very musical family.  Her grandfather was a composer, her grandmother the famous opera singer Juliette Boulanger.  Her father was a composer and professor of music.  Her sister, Lili, became a composer and Nadia was to become one of the most influential music teachers of the 20th Century.
Nadia's father, Ernest, endowed his children with a deep love of music.  She entered the Paris Conservatory when she was only 10 years old.  While she was there she won several prizes for her compositions.

In 1908 she began teaching at the very conservatory she had attended, becoming a teacher of harmony.  She remained in the position until 1918.

1918 was important in Nadia's life for a second reason.  Her sister Lili, already a famous composer (the first woman to win the Prix de Rome), died.  Nadia evaluated her own life, and decided that she would probably not be successful as a composer (although she had won awards), and decided that her contribution to the world of music would be as a teacher.

In 1921 Nadia was appointed professor of composition, counterpoint and harmony at the American Conservatory of Music in Fountainbleau, where she continued to teach until her death.  She did, in fact, become Director of the Conservatory in 1950. 

A list of her students includes Aaron Copland, Virgil Thompson, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim, David Conte and  Quincy Jones.  She obviously had a major impact on the music world.

If that were not enough, she became a famous conductor.  In 1939 she toured the United States.  During the tour she became the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and the Philadelphia Symphony.  She also gave 102 lectures in 118 days.

During her life she was hailed as having made remarkable accomplishments in spite of the fact that she was a woman. This attitude upset her greatly.  My favorite quote on the subject may be her response to a reporter.  "I've been a woman for a little over fifty years and have gotten over my initial astonishment." Nadia clearly did not believe that females were at any disadvantage with regard to ability, and made great strides in a field dominated by men.

Nadia Boulanger died October 22, 1979 in Paris. 

I love her words found in Alan Kendall's biography of her, "The art of music is so deep and profound that to approach it very seriously only is not enough. One must approach music with a serious rigor and, at the same time, with a great, affectionate joy."
A great picture of Nadia Boulanger from the Oral History, American Music on the Yale University site.  Click the picture to go there.
Nadia Boulanger
1877-1979
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Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger's
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B B King
Maria Callas
B.B. King at Amazon
Maria Callas at Amazon
Blues Fiddle
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Did You Guess?
When Riley King went on the radio in 1948, he needed a catchy name.  The name chosen was Beale Street Blues Boy, which was shortened to Blues Boy King, which turned into B. B. King.  He calls his guitar "Lucille."
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