July 2, birthday of Charles-Louis Hanon, The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises, Nos. 1 & 2

Charles-Louis Hanon (1819-1900) was a French music teacher who wrote a series of practice pieces called the “The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises.” His influence on music pedagogy was huge and Rachmaninoff said it was responsible for the explosion of virtuoso Russian pianist in the 19th century.



June 29, birthday of José Pablo Moncayo: Huapango (1941)

José Pablo Moncayo
was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in 1912. He studied music at Conservatorio Nacional de Música under a teacher who studied in Paris under Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas. It was through his composition teacher, Carlos Chavez, that he met and became friends with Aaron Copland. You can hear the cross pollination of cultures in Moncayo’s works.


Cumbres (1940/1953)

June 28, birthday of Joseph Joachim: Cadenza from Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D

Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) at the age of 12 took the stage under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn and performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D with this cadenza from the 3rd movement written by the boy violinist himself. While this concerto is probably one of my two favorite pieces of classical music of all time, this cadenza is my all time favorite of the many that have been written for this piece. It was the one Christian Ferras performed on my old LP of Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, and it’s the piece (or just the 3rd movement) that I want played at my funeral.

Here’s the full concerto played by Benjamin Marquise Gilmore.

June 27, birthday of Elmo Hope: Minor Bertha

Elmo Hope (1923 – 1967) was born in NYC to children of Jamaican immigrants.  He and Bud Powell grew up together.  They both attended Benjamin Franklin High School, played classical music and became enamored of jazz.  At 17, Hope was shot as a bystander by police chasing a mugger (the bullet lodging in his spine) and later charged with the robbery.  The charges were dropped after the police produced no white or black witnesses.  Hope left high school and started playing in jazz halls.  He and Powell became friends with Thelonius Monk.  Like many of his contemporaries, he became addicted to heroin, which helped destroy his health.  His wife claimed that the doctors screwed up the methadone does he was given to kick heroin, and he died of a heart attack in 1967.

He was amazingly innovative as this piece demonstrates, with its 35 bar form.

Another piece from 1980, Prism, sounds like a bit of a retrospective of all musical styles from Baroque to Broadway.

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