10-08: Mahler 4 | Kindertotenlieder : Walter / Halban / Ferrier - Procol Harum 1967 expanded 1997 - Iry LeJeune Cajun's Greatest - Mondonville Violin Sonatas : Leonhardt / Fryden 1968

1683 – Philipp Friedrich Böddecker (German court organist & composer)
1728 – Anne Danican Philidor (French composer & conductor, founder of the Concert Spirituel)

1772 – Jean-Joseph de Mondonville (French violinist & composer)
1834 – François-Adrien Boïeldieu (French composer, known for his operas, "the French Mozart")
1842 – Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse (Danish composer & organist)

1865 – Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (Moravian violinist, violist & composer)
1895 – Charles Oberthür (Alsatian harpist & composer, active in England)

1897 – Martin Plüddemann (Pomeranian composer & conductor, active in Germany)
1912 – Wilhelm Kuhe (Czech-born German pianist, teacher, composer, conductor & concert promoter, active in England)
1953 – Kathleen Ferrier (English contralto & pianist)

1955 – Iry LeJeune (American Cajun accordionist)
1962 – Solomon Linda [Solomon Ntsele] (South African Zulu singer & composer, "Mbube")
1971 – Johanna Bordewijk-Roepman (Dutch composer)
1975 – Alberto Hemsi (Turkish composer, pianist & ethnomusicologist of Sephardic Iberian ancestry, active also in Greece, Egypt & France)

1977 – Giorgos Papasideris [Γιώργος Παπασιδέρης] (Greek folk singer & songwriter)
1978 – Tibor Serly (Hungarian violist, violinist, composer & teacher, pupil of Kodály & Bartók, completed posthumous Bartók Viola Concerto)
1988 – Ernst Hermann Meyer (German composer, musicologist & writer, teacher of Hanss Eisler)
1990 – B.J. Wilson (English rock drummer, Procol Harum)
1993 – Manke Nelis [Cornelis Pieters] (Dutch levenslied bassist & singer)

1995 – Christopher Keene (American conductor)
1996 – Harold Watkins Shaw (English musicologist, teacher & writer, editor of 1965 critical edition of Handel's Messiah)

Well, I was excited that we had two women composers on the list, but I was a bit premature. Turns out the only one we have is Johanna Bordewijk-Roepman (that's her just above Alberto Hemsi). Anne Danican Philidor, phrom that phamous phamily of Philidors, was in phact not a phemale... that's right, Anne was a man! However, there's another lady on our list who gives us an opportunity to once again remember Gustav Mahler during this, his death centenary year, and that's the gorgeous Kathleen Ferrier, certainly one of the finest contraltos of the past century, who excelled in so much concert and lieder repertoire. 

And we also remember Iry LeJeune and Solomon Linda, each an important master in the formative years of his respective genre. LeJeune was one of the most important Cajun accordionists in the period before there was even such a thing as zydeco music, and Linda wrote a song which by itself spawned an entirely new kind of music.

Mbube music actually took its name from the title of Linda's song, which means "lion" in Zulu; the mbube vocal genre was later to develop into the smoother isicathamiya (pronounced with a dental click on the 'c') style of singing, typified most notably by the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The song "Mbube" is actually world-famous, and you would recognize it in an instant, in the version with English lyrics which became a number one hit for doo-wop group The Tokens in 1961 (and which has become a big hit again since 1994 thanks to its use by Disney in The Lion King and its spin-offs), under the title "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The song had previously been recorded under the title "Wimoweh" by other artists in the 1950s, such as The Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac, and the Kingston Trio, and Miriam Makeba had recorded it under Linda's original title in 1960. But the original recording, made by Linda himself with his group The Evening Birds, was made, believe it or not, in 1939!

Sadly, Linda lived long enough to see his song become a big hit, but died many years before he would get the credit he deserved for it. In 2000, Rolling Stone featured an article by South African journalist Rian Malan in which he estimated the song had earned $15 million from its use in The Lion King alone. This piece prompted filmmaker François Verster to make his Emmy-award-winning 2002 documentary A Lion's Trail, which tells Linda's story and exposes injustices within the corporate music publishing industry. Finally, after many years of legal wrangling, Linda's descendants successfully reached a settlement with the song's publisher in 2006, and are finally benefiting from royalties they should have been receiving decades ago.

Well, I think we'll leave it there.


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