|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
|Can You Guess?
Below we read about the Partridge Family. A band with hit albums and a TV show. Can You Guess what instrument redheaded Danny played in the first show?
Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
|1849 - Death of Austrian composer Johann Strauss Sr. at age 45, in Vienna.
1870 - Premiere of 4th and final version of Bedrich Smetana's opera The Bartered Bride.
1871 - Percy Lee Atherton, US composer, was born.
1906 - Birth of Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich. (See 1966)
1906 - Birth of Czech composer Jaroslav Jezek in Prague.
1907 - First performance of Jean Sibelius' Third Symphony, in Helsinki. Composer conducting.
1925 - Premiere of Paul Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 4, Op. 36, no. 3,with Licco Amar as violin soloist.
1959 - Birth of American composer Stella Sung.
1966 - First performance of Dimitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2. USSR State Symphony, with Mstislav Rostropovich the soloist and the composer's son, Maxim, conducting.
1970 - The first episode of The Partridge Family was shown on US television. Click to hear the theme song.
1971 - Cat Stevens's Peace Train was released.
1979 - The musical Evita opened on Broadway, 3rd collaboration of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
1980 - Premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Divertimento for Orchestra. Seiji Ozawa conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
1986 - Premiere of Karel Husa's Concerto for Orchestra. New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta.
|Hezekiah Leroy Gordon "Stuff" Smith died September 25, 1967.
Stuff was born August 14, 1909 in Portsmouth, OH. He played in an unorthodox manner, having learned how to best "make it swing." His musical genre was jazz. Not only did he play jazz violin, he composed and sang as well. Fritz Kreisler was a fan, as was Jascha Heifitz. Heifitz even accompanied him on the piano.
|Stuff's' father was a violinist, his mother was a pianist. By the time Stuff turned 6 he was already studying the violin. He went on from there to more serious musical studies. In 1924, while still only 15, Stuff was already attending Johnson C. Smith University on a music scholarship. He heard Louis Armstrong, and abandoned his goal of becoming a classical musician. He turned to jazz and left school to join a touring musical show. It was here that he was given the nickname "Stuff".
Even though his was not the classical music that most people think of when they hear the word, "violin," Stuff wanted insisted that he was a violinist, not a fiddler. Not only did he play violin, he composed music, sang and led a band.
In 1936 Stuff was introduced to the electric violin, and that became his instrument of choice for the rest of his life. Writer Anthony Barnett indicated that he almost never played accoustic violin after 1940.
As I said, Stuff had an unorthodox style. He used very little of his bow, and usually stayed in the upper half of the bow . . . unless he was playing chords. When playing multiple strings at once Stuff came down on the strings as if "hitting a cymbal."
Stuff said that his chief influence was Louis Armstrong and that he used the bow "like a horn player uses breath control."
It is said that while Smith's technique was brilliant and fascinating, he produced a sound that many considered brash and too edgy to be enjoyable. His fans, however, said that was exactly what made his music so enjoyable.
Stuff worked with Alphonso Trent in Dallas. Stuff married and moved to Buffalo where he formed his own group with Trent. In late 1935 he took his sextet to the Onyx Club in New York City, and his popularity surged. The group's strength was the ability to entertain with good music, while providing comedy and singing as well.
They recorded I'se A Muggin' in 1936 and If You'se A Viper.
In 1938 Stuff went to Hollywood to make the film Swing Street. He was slow to return to his work in New York. As a result, Smith's career slowed down, although he continued to work regularly in both New York and Chicago.
Stuff Continued leading small groups through the 1950's and toured Europe 1957, and his popularity in Europe continued through the 1960's. He moved to Copenhagen in 1965.
Stuff recorded with Nat Cole, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. You can see some of Stuff's music by clicking HERE.
Hezekiah Leroy Gordon "Stuff" Smith died September 25, 1967.
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|Did You Guess?
Trick Question, but a good piece of trivia. According to David Cassidy, the only Partridge Family member who played their instrument when the show began was Keith (David Cassidy). Danny didn't play an instrument, he held a bass.