Photograph of Colonel Tom Parker with Elvis Presley in 1969
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: The Colonel

“Whether regarded as an evil confidence man, or as a brilliant marketer and strategist—as remarkable as the star he managed—no figure in all of entertainment is more controversial, colorful, or larger than life than Tom Parker.” […]

close up on the needle of a record player playing a 33 1/3 rpm LP
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: I Don’t Know about You, But I’ve Always Wondered about That

The first 33-1/3 rpm records offered no significant sonic improvement over the 78 rpm records that were standard at the time, and despite the fact that more music could be packed onto a disc spinning at 33-1/3 rpm, the new technology eventually fizzled. It wasn’t until 1948, when Columbia/CBS introduced a vastly improved 33-1/3 rpm LP that the new technology took off. […]

Black and white photograph of the Beatles, background cropped out
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Still Number One in Our Hearts!

A very few critical codswallops aside, Sgt. Pepper’s was almost universally acclaimed for the quality of its songs; for it’s amazing innovations in musical production; and for its cover, which was designed by the English pop artists Jann Haworth and Peter Blake. […]

Photograph of Harry Partch's instrument the quadrangularus reversum
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: One of a Kind!

By 1935, Partch’s “gamut”—his 43-pitch octave—was in place and he was building instruments capable of producing those pitches. But claiming that the whole damned musical establishment—which either ignored or made fun of his music—was hum-bug, Partch again “dropped out” and chose to live a life that most folks there during the Great Depression did everything they could to avoid: he chose to become a hobo. […]

Lester Prez Young playing the saxophone
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Josquin and Lester

Today we recognize the birth and the death of two musical masters from entirely different times and places who nevertheless, by the most extraordinary of coincidences, share the same nickname: the jazz tenor saxophonist Lester “Prez” Young and the Franco-Flemish composer Josquin “des Prez” Lebloitte. […]

Illustration of Jacopo Peri with harp
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Firsts!

Peri must receive the credit because of his invention of something he called the “stile recitativo”—“recitative style”: a way of setting dialogue to music that differentiated it from song (or aria).  […]

Photograph of polymath Sir George Grove
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: My Favorite Things!

It didn’t take long for Grove’s Crystal Palace concerts to become an essential fixture on the London music scene. George Grove wrote the program notes for the concerts, notes that were embraced by the concert-going public for their plain, understandable, non-technical language. […]

Portrait of Maria Anna Mozart, known as Nannerl Mozart
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: The Other Mozart Kid

Nannerl was something of a musical prodigy herself, and by an early age she had become a formidable harpsichordist and pianist, to the degree that in the earliest of the Mozart family musical tours, she often received top billing over her brother. […]

Portrait of Domenico Scarlatti holding a letter
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Domenico Scarlatti

Scarlatti did something that neither Bach nor Handel did: neither Bach (who died in 1750) nor Handel (who died in 1759) transcended the musical syntax of the “High (or late) Baroque”, irksome though it might be to employ such a period designation. […]

Photograph of Fritz Mahler
Music Appreciation

Music History Monday: Émigrés

For us, for now, the key phrase is “he emigrated to America in 1936”: Fritz Mahler was one of the hundreds—the thousands—of artists, scientists, writers, and intellectuals who managed to escape Europe in the 1930s. And thereby hangs our tale.

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