American History Month - February, 2018
Click on Each New Person of the Day and Learn Our Common American History!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Joseph Boulogne
1745 - 1799

(1932 - 2004)

Sterling Elliott
(2001 - )

Yo-Yo Ma
(1955 -)

Florence Price
(1887 - 1953)

William Grant Still
(1895 – 1978)

Scott Joplin
(1868 - 1917)

Undine Smith Moore
(1904 -1989)

"Count" Basie
(1904 – 1984)

Duke Ellington
(1899 - 1974)

Margaret Bonds
(1913 - 1972)

Julia Ward Howe
(1819 – 1910)

"Little Stars Trio"

(2007, 2008, 2010-)

Pablo Casals
(1876 - 1973)

Jerod Tate
(1968 -)

Toshiko Akiyoshi
(1929 - )

Aaron Copland
(1900- 1990)

02/01/18 - Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799) was a champion fencer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. Born in Guadeloupe, at that time considered part of America, he was the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave. Biography - Music Compositions

02/02/18 - Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932 - 2004) was music director and composer-in-residence for the Negro Ensemble Company, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and for productions at the American Theatre Lab, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Goodman Theatre, among others. Biography - Music Compositions - MUSIC 1 - 2

02/03/18 Sterling Elliott (2001 - ) began his cello studies at age three, made his solo debut at seven, and at fourteen won first place in the 2014 National Sphinx Competition. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cello performance at The Juilliard School of Music in New York. His mother Dannielle, brother Brendon, and sister Justine perform with him as The Elliott Family String Quartet.
Biography - Music - Official Web site - Facebook Page

02/04/18 - Yo-Yo Ma (1955 -) was born in Paris to Chinese parents; mother Marina Lu, a singer and father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, a violinist and professor of music at Nanjing National Central University. The family moved to New York in 1962. Yo-Yo began performing before audiences at age five and performed for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was seven. At age eight, he appeared on American television with his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma, in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Today he has over 90 albums, 18 of which are Grammy Award winners. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Ma to serve on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2011, Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Yo-Yo Ma and Condoleezza Rice surprised the attendees of the 2017 Kennedy Center Arts Summit with a Brahms duet for piano and cello.
Biography - Official Web site - Facebook Page - Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma - Yo Yo Ma Greatest Hits of 2018

02/05/18 - Florence Beatrice Price (1887 - 1953) was born to Florence Gulliver and James H. Smith on April 9, 1887, in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of three children in a mixed-race family. Despite racial issues of the era, her family was well respected and did well within their community. Her father was a dentist and her mother was a music teacher who guided Florence's early musical training. She had her first piano performance at the age of four and went on to have her first composition published at the age of 11, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. Biography - Music

02/06/18 - William Grant Still (1895 –1978) was an African American composer, who composed more than 150 works, including five symphonies and eight operas. Often referred to as "the Dean" of African American composers, Still was the first African American composer to have an opera produced by the New York City Opera. Still is known most for his first symphony, which was, until the 1950s the most widely performed symphony composed by an American.
Biography - Music

02/07/18 - Scott Joplin ( c. 1867/68 - 1917) was an African American composer and pianist born into a musical family of railway laborers in Northeast Texas, who developed his musical knowledge with the help of local teachers. Joplin grew up in Texarkana, where he formed a vocal quartet, and taught mandolin and guitar. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime". During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first, and most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

Biography - Music - Treemonesha

02/08/18 Undine Eliza Anna Smith Moore (1904 –1989) was a notable and prolific African American composer of the 20th century. Moore was born in Jarratt, Virginia. She was the granddaughter of slaves. In 1908, her family moved to Petersburg, Virginia. She began studying piano at age seven with Lillian Allen Darden. Moore attended Fisk University, where she studied piano with Alice M. Grass. In 1938 she married Dr. James Arthur Moore, the chair of the physical education department at Virginia State College. Known to some as the "Dean of Black Women Composers," Moore's career in composition began while she was at Fisk.While her range of compositions include works for piano and for other instrumental groups, Moore is more widely known for her choral works. Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for chorus, orchestra, solo voices and narrator was premiered at Carnegie Hall and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Other familiar compositions are "Afro-American Suite for flute, violoncello, and piano", "Lord, We Give Thanks to Thee" for chorus, "Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord" for chorus, and "Love, Let the Wind Cry How I Adore Thee."

Biography - Music -

02/09/18 - William James "Count" Basie (1904 – 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer born to Harvey Lee and Lillian Basie in Red Bank, New Jersey. His mother taught him to play the piano and he started performing in his teens. Dropping out of school, he learned to operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for silent films at a local movie theater in Red Bank. By age 16, he increasingly played jazz piano at parties, resorts and other venues. In 1924, he went to Harlem, where his performing career expanded; he toured with groups to the major jazz cities of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. Late one night with time to fill, the band started improvising. Basie liked the results and named the piece "One O'Clock Jump." In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years. His first official recordings for Decca included "Pennies from Heaven" and "Honeysuckle Rose". In March of 1981, Basie and his Orchestra played Carnegie Hall.

Biography - List of Songs

02/10/18 - Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899 – 1974) was an African American composer, pianist, and bandleader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death in a career spanning over fifty years. Ellington is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other more traditional musical genres. Ellington had always been a prolific writer, composing thousands of tunes including ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’, ‘Sophisticated Lady’, ‘In A Sentimental Mood’, ‘Prelude To A Kiss’. In later years he also composed film scores, among them The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Anatomy Of A Murder (1959), Paris Blues (1960) and Assault On A Queen (1966). His reputation continued to rise after he died, and he was awarded a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize for music in 1999.

Biography - Music

02/11/18 - Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) was a pianist and composer, the first African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony, and played an important role in the development of twentieth century classical and musical theater. She was born in Chicago, IL. Her parents, Dr. Monroe Majors and Estella C. Bonds, were separated two years later leaving young Bonds to be raised by her mother. Showing promise at an early age, she completed her first composition at the age of five. Her musical prowess was encouraged by her mother, who was also a musician and a frequent host to African American writers, artists, and musicians. Visitors from the local Chicago area and around the country would regularly play in the Bond home and their presence and performances there clearly had an effect on young Margaret. After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Northwestern University in 1933 and 1934 respectively, Bonds went on to a successful career writing pieces for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and regularly performing on the radio. Although Bonds was educated as a classical musician, her work was versatile and strongly influenced by jazz and blues. Her compositions were performed by a large number of concert artists including Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman. In 1936, Bonds also founded the Allied Arts Academy, an institution for talented African American children in Chicago. Perhaps most notable was her collaboration with the poet Langston Hughes. Bonds wrote a musical piece to accompany the Hughes poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in 1941. This partnership lasted well into the 1950s and included several larger projects such as theatrical adaptations of some of Langston Hughes’s works. Bonds’s musical scores also featured the texts of other poets including pieces for W.E.B. Du Bois and Robert Frost. Bonds has been credited with creating new interest in traditional African American musical forms, history, and culture.

Biography - Music

02/12/18 - Lincoln's Birthday - Julia Ward Howe (1819 – 1910) was an American poet and author, best known for writing the words for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." She was also an advocate for abolitionism and was a social activist, particularly for women's suffrage. She was inspired to write "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after she and her husband visited Washington, D.C., and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song "John Brown's Body", which she did on November 19. The song was set to William Steffe's already-existing music and Howe's version was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.

Biography - The Story Behind the Hymn - The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe

02/13/18 - Breshears "Little Stars Trio" (2007, 2008, 2010 - ) Dustin Jr., Starla, and Valery Breshears, children of Dustin and Julie Breshears —both pianists and teachers— and four other siblings in Chico, California. Two of the three youngest, Colin, 5, and Delilah, almost 3, are already taking lessons on the violin and cello, respectively. Serenity, at 1-year-old is the youngest Breshears, will take up the violin, according to Dustin Sr. The Little Stars Trio can often be found performing “Haydn's 'London' Trio,” “Simple Gifts,” and other favorites (some pieces they arrange themselves, with the help of their parents) in concert halls and also just for tourists on the city streets.

Biography in Music - Video Interview

02/14/18 - Pau Casals i Defilló (1876 – 1973), usually known in English as Pablo Casals, was a cellist, composer, and conductor from Catalonia, Spain. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time. He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music, also as conductor, but he is perhaps best remembered for the recordings of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939. Pau and his wife, Marta, made their permanent residence in the town of Ceiba, Puerto Rico. He made an impact in the Puerto Rican music scene, by founding the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra in 1958, and the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in 1959.

One of his last compositions was the "Hymn of the United Nations". He conducted its first performance in a special concert at the United Nations on October 24, 1971, two months before his 95th birthday. On that day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, awarded Casals the U.N. Peace Medal in recognition of his stance for peace, justice and freedom. Casals accepted the medal and made his famous "I Am a Catalan" speech, where he stated that Catalonia had the first democratic parliament, long before England did.

BBC Documentary - Pau Casals exiled to Prada - 1961 Concert At The White House -

02/15/18 - Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (1968 - ) born in Norman, Oklahoma is a Chickasaw classical composer and pianist. His compositions are inspired by American Indian history and culture. He has had several commissioned works, which have been performed by major orchestras in Washington, DC; San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis, and the American Composers Forum. When the San Francisco Symphony Chorus performed and recorded his work Iholba' in 2008, it was the first time the chorus had sung any work in Chickasaw or any American Indian language.

02/16/18 - Toshiko Akiyoshi (1929- ) is a Japanese American jazz composer/arranger, bandleader and pianist. She has received 14 Grammy nominations, and she was the first woman to win the Best Arranger and Composer awards in Down Beat Magazine's readers poll. In 1956, Akiyoshi enrolled to become the first Japanese student at Berklee College of Music. In 1984, she was the subject of a documentary film titled "Jazz Is My Native Language." In 1996, she published her autobiography, "Life with Jazz," which is now in its fifth printing in Japanese. In 1998, Akiyoshi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. In 2007 she was named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts. Today, Akiyoshi lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her husband.

Long Yellow Road - Toshiko Akiyoshi Interview by Monk Rowe (1999) - Toshiko Akiyoshi: on being a Japanese jazz artist (2007)

02/17/18 - Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990) was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Composers." The open, slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is best known for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as "populist" and which the composer labeled his "vernacular" style. Works in this vein include the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo, El Salon Mexico, Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.

Video Biography 1 - Video Biography 2 - Lincoln Portrait - Piano Concerto -

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