Posts Tagged ‘music history’
Follow the journeys that various music genres took as one style developed into another: “How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music.”
As we celebrate the interconnection of influence, we might send tightly-woven birthday greetings to Johannes Eugenius Bülow “Eugen” Warming; he was born on this date in 1841. A globe-trotting botanist, he wrote the first textbook (1895) on plant ecology, taught the first university course in ecology, and gave the concept its meaning and content. So, though the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, (the retrospectively-poignantly named) Warming can be considered the father of Ecology as a discipline.
Bert Vaux, now at Cambridge University, created The Dialect Survey while teaching at Harvard. Dr. Vaux and his colleagues asked scores of North Americans to pronounce several dozen common English words and phrases, recoded their pronunciations, and mapped the results– as for “pecan,” above. The full list is at The Dialect Survey; each example clicks through to a set of maps like this one.
As we mind our p’s and q’s, we might spare a thought for an extraordinary enunciator, Tammi Terrell; she died, aged 24, on this date in 1970. Born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, Terrell had begun performing at age 14, recording for Sceptre Records, then for James Brown’s Try Me label, before signing with Motown in 1965. After two years as a solo artist, Berry Gordy teamed her with Marvin Gaye. Their first release, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” was recorded by each separately, then mixed by Motown… and became a solid hit. Their follow-ups, ”Your Precious Love” and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” also charted Top Ten.
Terrell reportedly had a tempestuous love life (including relationships with Brown and The Temptation’s David Ruffin); but her relationship with Gaye, while extraordinarily close, was platonic (friends and colleagues Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson characterized it as “sibling-like”). In October 1967, just six months after the release of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Terrell collapsed onstage during a performance at Hampton-Sydney College. Motown kept the incident quiet– and the duo on the road. Two-and-a-half years later, on this date in 1970, she died of complications from the malignant brain tumor that had caused her 1967 collapse. Following Terrell’s death, Gaye refrained from live performance for three years; his 1971 album What’s Going On– an introspective, mature masterpiece– was in part a reaction to her passing.
As we allow for idiosyncrasy, we might send melodious birthday greeting to Henry Purcell; he was born on this date in 1959 (or on September 10 of that year; scholars are divided). An accomplished organist, Purcell is best remembered as one of the leading Baroque composers of his time (e.g., Dido and Aeneas, The Fairy-Queen [an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream]). Indeed, he was the most famous native-born English composer until Edward Elgar.
Hear Purcell’s “Toccata in A Major” here.
A selection of entries from Music History in GIFs…
As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946– on his 11th birthday– that Elvis Presley received his first guitar. Elvis had coveted a bicycle or a rifle, but his protective mother (“She never let me out of her sight,” Elvis later said) took him to the Tupelo Hardware Store and convinced him to accept a $7.75 Kay guitar instead. The rest is, as they say, history.
Javanese gamelan ensemble Sekar Melati playing Gang of Four’s “Not Great Men.”
As we covet covers, we might send thematically-varied birthday greetings to Jean Sibelius; he was born on this date in 1865. A composer known best for his symphonies– he was Mahler’s leading rival in the Late Romantic period– Sibelius also wrote prodigiously in other forms, often on themes that contributed to the development of the national identity of Finland, his native land. The Finnish 100 mark bill featured his image until it was taken out of circulation in 2002. Since 2011, Finland celebrates its Flag Day on this date– also known as the “Day of Finnish Music.”
Hear Sibelius’ “Valse Triste” here.