08-19: Blind Willie McTell 1927-1935 - Tim Buckley Lorca - Pierre Schaeffer - Stravinsky / Dorati : Petrushka ; Sacre du Printemps - Dave Matthews Darien Lake 2005

Ordered roughly chronologically. Tagged image here.

1744 – Carlo Arrigoni (Italian lutenist, theorbist, singer & composer)
1780 – Bernhard Haltenberger (German church composer)
1795 – Friedrich Hartmann Graf (German composer & flutist)
1812 – Vincenzo Righini (Italian composer, singer & music director)
1813 – Johann Carl Friedrich Rellstab (German composer, writer, music publisher & critic)
1822 – Melchor Lopez (Spanish composer & church musician)
1851 – Gioseffo Catrufo (Italian singer & composer, active in France & England)
1872 – Eugène-Prosper Prévost (French composer & teacher, active in New Orleans)
1892 – František Zdeněk Skuherský (Czech composer, teacher & music theorist)
1900 – Jean-Baptiste Accolaÿ (Belgian violinist, teacher, conductor & composer)
1914 – Clara Angela Macirone (English pianist, composer & teacher)
1922 – Felipe Pedrell (Spanish composer, musicologist & editor of complete works of Victoria)
1929 – Sergei Diaghilev (Russian arts patron & ballet impresario)
1929 – Meta Seinemeyer (German operatic spinto soprano)
1936 – Harry Plunket Greene (Irish concert bass-baritone & author on fly-fishing)
1936 – Federico García Lorca (Spanish poet, dramatist, theater director & pianist)
1944 – Sir Henry Wood (English conductor, Proms concerts)
1958 – Toon Verhey (Dutch conductor, violin & cellist)
1959 – Blind Willie McTell (American blues singer, songwriter & guitarist)
1963 – Kathleen Parlow (Canadian violinist)
1976 – Jenő Kenessey (Hungarian composer)
1979 – Dorsey Burnette (American rockabilly singer, songwriter & guitarist, brother of Johnny)
1995 – Pierre Schaeffer (French composer, electroacoustic music pioneer, engineer, inventor & writer)
1997 – Frédéric Anspach (Belgian tenor, teacher & conductor)
2001 – Betty Everett (American soul singer & pianist)
2008 – LeRoi Moore (American rock reed player (sax, flute, tin whistle, oboe) & songwriter, Dave Matthews Band)

On August 19th the most recent musical passing we remember is that of LeRoi Moore, woodwind player and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, who died suddenly, apparently because of an internal blood clot, several weeks after having sustained serious injuries in an accident he had in an all-terrain vehicle. At the time, he apparently seemed to be healing up well, and had just started his rehabilitation. Sometimes it happens that way - one survives an initial trauma, but unexpected complications further down the road become the stumbling block. Kudos to Matthews and company for still going strong after the loss of their dear colleague.

Also on the list is Spanish musicologist Felipe Pedrell, who was responsible for editing the first complete edition of the works of Tomás Luis de Victoria. It so happens that 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of Victoria's death, as well as the centenary of Gustav Mahler's death, so I'll be taking every possible opportunity to call attention to both of these great composers this year. There's just one little problem with Victoria that there isn't with Mahler. Sources seem to be in disagreement about which day he pooped - some say August 20th, some say August 27th. Perhaps all we know is that it was on a Saturday in late August of 1611, which would narrow it down to either one of those days. But it does leave me with having to make a choice about which day it will be for the purposes of this blog.

The choice is easy, actually. On August 27th, Victoria would be facing some serious competition from two important figures whom we're certain died on that day - one of them being one of the very greatest composers of the Renaissance, Josquin des Prez, and the other one being Stevie Ray Vaughan. On August 20th, on the other hand, Thad Jones is the only other musician of significance Victoria would have to contend with. Also, the August 20th date gives us another opportunity to note a coincidence, this time that the first editor of a famous composer's opera omnia passed just one day before the anniversary of that composer's passing. So, August 20th it is, Tom Lou de Vicky! We'd hate to remember you a week late! (Although, the way things seem to be shaping up, I may be a week late before long anyway...)

Let's see... Harry Plunket Greene, Irish bass-baritone who did little work on the opera stage, instead focusing mainly on the art song and oratorio repertoire. It wasn't because he didn't care for the physical activity required to perform opera, though. In fact, he was a noted outdoorsman in his day, and in 1924 wrote this classic on the subject of fly-fishing. Maybe all Greene needed was for an opera composer to write a role that allowed him to spend an entire act in a good pair of waders. See you on the other side of the river Styx... shhh, now... don't worry, rest easy... John Curulewski and John Panozzo aren't coming up until next February and July...

Sergei Diaghilev not musician. Also, Sergei Diaghilev NOT choreographer or "ballet master." Why some people say that?? They no see pictures of Sergei Diaghilev? He big man, probably graceful as Russian bear. Sergei Diaghilev no DANCER. Sergei Diaghilev impresario, he money-man! He born into wealthy family, sink many rubles into founding Ballet Russes 1908, greatest ballet company 20th century. But he no DANCE in ballet or make choreography! Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine... THEY make choreography. Ballets Russes travel Europe, put on many original ballet, some dead composers, some new music, composers still alive. Like Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Richard Strauss, Florent Schmitt, Erik Satie, Manuel de Falla, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Henri Sauget, Vernon Duke, Sergei Prokofiev. Also sets, costumes from Alexandre Benois, Leon Bakst, Georges Braque, Natalia Gontcharova, Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Joan Miró, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Ivan Bilibin, Nicholas Roerich, others. Many greatest European composers, artists 1910s & 20s. So, NO. Sergei Diaghilev no musician, no choreographer, no set, costume designer. Sergei Diaghilev smart, big rich gay daddy-bear, lot of money... 'til poop... (Read more below)

Federico García Lorca... now HE musician. Very fine classical pianist, no devote himself to poetry and plays until his piano teacher die. I just mention Salvador Dalí... he friends with Lorca. I also mention Manuel de Falla... Lorca start write opera with him 1923, Lola, la Comedianta, but they no finish. But many musicians set Lorca's beautiful and haunting words to music, or write songs about him. But that only partial list. They forget Tim Buckley album Lorca... (Read more below)

Blind Willie McTell... well, he was one of them blind bluesmen, from way back when. You know, like Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Blind Blake, and Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Joe Taggart, and there was another Blind Willie, too - Blind Willie Johnson. Then there was all them blind bluesmen like Sonny Terry and Reverend Gary Davis who didn't even put "Blind" in their names. But that's okay, don't gotta put "Blind" in ya name just cuz you's blind. Blind Willie McTell used other names, too, and most o' those didn't have "Blind" in 'em neither. He was born William Samuel McTear near Augusta, Georgia, and in his life he was also known as Eddie McTier, Blind Sammie, Georgia Bill, Hot Shot Willie, Georgia Sam, Barrelhouse Sammie, and Pig & Whistle Red. That's right, Pig & Whistle Red. Gotta hand it to them old blues and jazz fellas. They was almost as good at namin' theyselves as they was at playin' music.

Anyway, if you ain't heard Blind Willie McTell before, maybe you'd heard his song "Statesboro Blues" cuz the Allman Brothers played that one a lot. Hot Shot Willie played country blues on a 12-string guitar, both in the Delta style and the East Coast or Piedmont style (fingerpicking thumb-bass style kinda like ragtime or stride piano). And old Barrelhouse Sammie could work a little gospel and country and folk into his style too... somethin' for everybody! And after the 1920s Georgia Bill didn't fall into obscurity, or die of TB or get shot by a jealous husband or a jealous girlfriend, he worked right up through the mid-50s. Well, Eddie McTier did have trouble with the drinkin' and the DI-A-BEET-US, but he did better than a lot of 'em. Great bluesman, that Barrelhouse Billy. Bob Dylan's mentioned him in some of his songs, and Jack White likes William McTell so much, he done dedicated the White Stripes' De Stijl album to 'im. Yup... good ol' Pig & Whistle Red, or whate'er his name is... (Read more below)

Pierre Schaeffer is a giant in the area of electroacoustic music, in particular as one of the pioneers, along with his sometime-collaborator Pierre Henry, of musique concrète, which arose out of Schaeffer's experiments in radiophony in the 1940s. Musique concrète is music in which traditional musical materials - the sounds of human voices and/or musical instruments - are replaced by pre-recorded sounds from any source, including voices, instruments, natural sounds, noises, and in fact any sound that is capable of being recorded. A work of musique concrète may use as few or as many recorded sounds from as few or as many sources as desired, but as a rule whatever sounds are used are subjected to various types of manipulation, such as being played backwards, having attacks or decays cut off, being slowed down or sped up (thus changing the pitch) during either the recording or playback process, being sent through an echo chamber, and various other forms of modulation. The significant breakthrough in the creation of musique concrète came with the introduction of reliable magnetic tape machines in the early 1950s (earlier experiments had actually used shellac records!) and the flexibility and precision this technology offered, especially with regard to the cutting and splicing of the tape. The final results in a piece of musique concrète are, as one might imagine, highly variable, but in general the effect produced is that of a collage or montage, using recorded sound as the medium... (Read more below)



  1. If it wasn't for Diaghilev we might not have known Stravinsky in quite the same way. It takes guts to back a composer whose ballet ends with a riot. Also I have respect for Ninjinsky, since he was a fellow (more graceful) loon.
    Didn't Schaeffer, after hearing a piece by Stockhausen, send him packing to Paris? It should be interesting listening to Schaeffer since Karlheinz usually overshadow him. I was lucky enough to order mailorder (before internet) from Stockhausen-Verlag. If you ordered a print for around 150 usd he was kind enough to sign it. I have two prints addressed to "Wess Youngblood."

  2. Diaghilev probably loved the riot. It's what they call a "succès de scandale" in the art world. It means it gets written up in the paper because of the spectacle, then the public becomes curious about what all the fuss is about, and they come out to see it. From what I understand, the riot at the premiere was more about supporters of the avant garde vs. the old-fashioned folks who just wanted to see a normal ballet. Wasn't so much about Stravinsky's music, because the crowd drowned it out for most of the show anyway. After several performances Le Sacre became a hit, and Stravinsky was carried out on his admirers' shoulders like a hero.

    I don't know the story about Schaeffer and Stockhausen, but it sounds about right. That's impressive, about the prints Stockhausen autographed for you. He was pretty much a loon himself, wasn't he? Thought he came from the Sirius star system? Definitely a genius though, a real deep thinker... I have quite a few recordings of his stuff. Although as prolific as he was, I've really only scratched the surface.