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
August 29
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We read about Roy Orbison below.  His trademark look was his sunglasses.  Can You Guess how this trademark look came about?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
It was a mistake. Orbison left his regular glasses on an airplane and had to perform in his sunglasses. The look caught on and he kept using it.
4' 33", by John Cage, was first performed August 29, 1952.

This is one of the most controversial piece of music I ever "heard."  It consists of three movements of silence totaling 4 minutes and 33 seconds. It can be "played" by any instrument.  The length of the movements is determined by the player, and there is a "score" which the performer uses, turning pages during the piece.  The end of the piece is determined by the use of a stopwatch.
Cage's reasoning for composing 4'33" was to demonstrate that "wherever we are what we hear mostly is noise". 4' 33' had its first performance today in 1952.  Its composer, John Cage, was born in Los Angeles on September 5, 1912.  His father was an eccentric inventor of largely useless devices who told him "that if someone says 'can't' that shows you what to do."

Growing up, Cage did not have a musical background.  He attended Pomona College, where he established a reputation as a rebel of sorts, and left after two years.  He went to Europe and started composing music there, but found he did not like what he composed and returned to the US.

His interest in music was rekindled, and he took composition lessons from several well-known composers. Arnold Schoenberg, who became his idol, offered to tutor him in composition for free if he, "devoted his life to music."  Cage stopped lessons after 3 years when he decided that he had "no feeling for harmony."

Ever the rebel, Cage composed works for "prepared" piano (in which screws, paper clips and other objects were placed between the strings of the piano), radios (up to 12 tuned to various stations and operated by members of the audience) and even regular pianos, in which he had the performer strum the strings with their fingers instead of playing the keys.

It seems that Cage was trying to get his audience to become aware of what was happening around them, to question what their tastes, and prejudices were, and to expand their horizons so that they would see art and beauty in everything, everyplace.

John Cage died August 12, 1992.
John Cage
1720 - First performance of G. F. Handel's oratorio Esther.  (Good Music Samples, but a better priced album available HERE.)

1853 - First performance of The First and the Last Waltz by Josef Strauss.  It was his first compostion.

1855 - Emil Paur, Austrian conductor was born.  He conducted the Boston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

1920 - Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, alto saxophone player and jazz legend, was born.

- Rob Orbison's Oh, Pretty Woman was released.

1987 - Los Lobos' remake of Ritchie Valens' 1959 classic, La Bamba hit No.1 on the UK pop singles chart.
Click Here For Music Samples by Charlie Parker at Amazon
John Cage
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Cage's Prepared Piano Works
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