09-01: R.L. Burnside Mississippi Hill Country Blues 1985 - Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed : Me and Jerry 1970 - Ethel Waters Complete Decca - Coleridge-Taylor | Dvořák Violin Concerto - Mozart : Clifford Curzon | Dennis Brain

1648 – Marin Mersenne (French Jesuit priest, theologian, philosopher, mathematician, & music theorist)
1777 – Johann Ernst Bach II (German composer & organist, 2nd cousin once removed of J. S. Bach)
1814 – Erik Tulindberg (Finnish composer, violinist & civil servant)
1867 – Edward Hodges (English church organist & composer, active at Trinity Church in NYC)
1896 – Johann Evangelist Habert (Austrian church musician & composer)
1912 – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (British composer & pianist)
1935 – Felice Lyne (American operatic soprano)
1957 – Dennis Brain (English hornist, son of Aubrey)
1957 – Sabine Kalter (Polish mezzo-soprano)
1959 – Wilhelm Rode (German bass-baritone)
1964 – George Georgescu (Romanian conductor)
1964 – Otto Olsson (Swedish composer & organist)
1968 – Granville English (American composer)
1969 – William Flanagan (American composer, lover of Edward Albee)
1972 – May Aufderheide (American ragtime composer)
1973 – Graziella Pareto (Spanish operatic soprano leggiero)
1977 – Ethel Waters (American blues, jazz & gospel singer & actress)
1982 – Clifford Curzon (English pianist)
1996 – Vagn Holmboe (Danish composer & teacher)
1996 – Ljuba Welitsch (Bulgarian-born Austrian operatic soprano)
1999 – José Soler (Spanish operatic tenor)
2005 – R. L. Burnside (American blues & blues-rock singer, songwriter & guitarist)
2008 – Jerry Reed (American country music singer, guitarist & songwriter & actor)

First Jimmy Reed, now Jerry Reed. Somehow I knew it would be the case, since their similar names have always confused me - much as test audiences were confused when Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 was originally shot as Smokey IS the Bandit, with Jackie Gleason playing a dual role as both Sheriff Buford T. Justice and The Bandit (whose usual portrayor, Burt Reynolds, was demanding a bigger salary than the producers were willing to pay - although they did manage to include him in a cameo at the end of the film). As a result, many scenes were re-shot so that Reed's character Cledus Snow now assumed the role of The Bandit, a promotion from his usual position as sidekick of Reynolds' Bo Darville. But if you only know Jerry Reed as the grinning Snowman from that trio of cinematic masterpieces, you are in for a big surprise. Reed was not only a great rockabilly player from the 50s, and a fine singer and songwriter (e.g., "When You're Hot You're Hot"), but also an innovative fingerstyle guitarist who could hold his own with the likes of the formidably gifted Chet Atkins... (Reed more below)

Marin Mersenne is sometimes called the "Father of Acoustics." Aside from having some rather important mathematical principles named after him (Mersenne numbers, Mersenne primes, the Mersenne conjecture, etc.), he was, at the dawn of the Scientific Age, one of the first to apply a truly scientific methodology to the study of musical tone. In L'harmonie universelle (1636–37), he was the first to publish the law that the frequency of a vibrating string is proportional to the square root of the tension, and inversely proportional to the length, to the diameter, and to the square root of the specific weight of the string, provided all other conditions remain the same when one of these quantities is altered. He also provided the first truly correct calculation of the equal-tempered semitone as the 12th root of 2, which could be constructed using nothing more than a straightedge and compass. L'harmonie universelle isn't all the fun and games of math and physics, though. The work is replete with detailed illustrations and descriptions of all the instruments that were in use in Mersenne's day - a real treasury for early-music specialists. A serpent:

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an African-British composer who enjoyed much success both in Britain and America between 1895 and his death in 1912 (of pneumonia, at the age of 37), to the extent that he was sometimes called the "African Mahler." Coleridge-Taylor composed orchestral works, chamber music, songs, and choral music, most notably his trilogy of cantatas for chorus, soloists, and orchestra The Song of Hiawatha, Op.30, written between 1898 and 1900. One of his last completed works was his Violin Concerto in G minor, Op.80, which he wrote for Maud Powell (music written by a great black composer for a great female violinist - nicely pluralistic for 1912), whose parts had to be quickly recopied by hand in time for the premiere after they got lost en route to America - although not on the Titanic, as legend has it... (Read more below). See you on the other side of the high-water mark in steerage...

Some more great Brits, in the form of Dennis Brain and Clifford Curzon, the latter being probably the greatest English pianist of the 20th century, the former probably the greatest horn player of the 20th century period, whose recordings of the Mozart horn concertos are still considered unsurpassed to this day. Now, wouldn't it be absolutely stellar to hear them together... say, in a performance of the Brahms Horn Trio, Op. 40? Unfortunately, they never recorded it together. In fact, I'm digging up little evidence that they ever recorded together at all, even though they were contemporaries. (Brain was 14 years Curzon's junior, but died in an auto accident - he was a lover of fast sports cars - 25 years before Curzon did.) In fact, I'm pretty sure the only place you might hear them together would be in any recordings Curzon might have made as soloist along with the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, since Brain served as principal horn of both orchestras beginning in 1946. But I can't even confirm that Curzon ever did any recordings with either orchestra... (Read more below)
American composer William Flanagan was the first lover of playwright Edward Albee. Together they wrote an opera after Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener. Flanagan also composed the music for Albee's adaptations of The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers and Malcolm by James Purdy. Flanagan was eulogized in a memorial concert by his friend and mentor Aaron Copland after committing suicide in 1969.

So many others who deserve mention... May Aufderheide, one of the most successful female ragtime composers... Vagn Holmboe, Danish composer of 13 symphonies, about 20 concertos, and the Requiem for Nietzsche....
Ljuba Welitsch, whose mid-century portrayals of the title role in Strauss's Salome still sets a standard by which current ones are judged (that's her with the bloody head of John the Baptist)... R. L. Burnside, Mississippi bluesman of the one-chord vamp (like John Lee Hooker, Fred McDowell, and Junior Kimbrough), who once killed a man over a game of dice, and who enjoyed a second career late in life as a garage rocker along with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion... aaaaaand Ethel Waters... (Read more below) 


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