July 30, birthday of Alexina Diane Louie (b. 1949)

Alexina Diane Louie, OC OOntFRSC (born July 30, 1949) is a Canadian composer. She is of Chinese descent who has written many pieces for orchestra, as well as pieces for solo piano.

“O Moon”

I Leap Through The Sky With Stars

Warrior

Music for Piano

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July 29, birthday of Sophie Menter (1846 — 1918)

From wikipedia: Sophie Menter (29 July 1846 — 23 February 1918) was a German pianist and composer who became the favorite female student of Franz Liszt.[1] She was called l’incarnation de Liszt in Paris because of her robust, electrifying playing style[1] and was considered one of the greatest piano virtuosos of her time.[2] She died at Stockdorf, near Munich.

Etude in A flat op. 9

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November 4, birthday of Gena Branscombe

Gena Branscombe (4 November 1881 – 26 July 1977) was a Canadian pianist, composer, music educator and choir conductor who lived and worked in the United States.

Love in a Life: I thought once how Theocritus
Ah! Love, I Shall Find Thee

October 28, birthday of Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel (b. 1980)

Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel is a Berlin-based Danish singer/songwriter. Since Wikipedia doesn’t list many women composers, I also search it for singer-songwriters on any given day. Agnes grew up in a musical household. Her mother played Bartok and Chopin and she learned to play piano at a very early age. Her piano teacher told her to only play things she liked, which is probably why she stayed with it. This piece is nice and atmospheric, which is usually what I listen for first in any new piece of music. I found two versions of it on Youtube, one really trippy and the other a bit more poppy. I like them both. How about you?

Fuel to Fire

Fuel to Fire (Official Video)

October 20, birthday of Sandra Dickinson

Today’s composer should bring a few smiles to the faces of my British readers.  The composer Sandra Dickinson, a British-American actress, born in Washington, DC, grew up near here in Maryland, and moved to England where she has had an interesting career.  Fans of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” will recognize her as Trillian, the earth woman Zaphod Beeblebrox picks up on earth, stealing her away from Dent, Arthur Dent.

For her second marriage, she married the fifth Doctor Who, Peter Davidson.  After their divorce, she married Mark Osmond, another British singer/actor.

Before “Hitchhiker’s” she made her debut on British television in a commercial for Bird’s Eye Beefburgers, directed by Alan Parker (who later did Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”)  In the 1980s, she and Davidson composed the theme to a children’s television show named “Button Moon.”

Birdseye Beef Burger: “Ganster 1970”

Theme from Button Moon

October 19, birthday of Yoko Shimomura

Today feature is Sinfonia Drammatica Yoko Shimomura, a Japanese composer, most noted for her compositions for videogames.  She has been described as “the most famous female video game music composer in the world,” and her works have been performed by symphony orchestras in Paris and Mexico City.

“Legend of Mana : Title Theme”

Dearly Beloved from Kingdom Hearts

October 18, birthday of Lotte Lenya

 

Today I feature Lotte Lenya, whom I believe I first saw in the role of Rosa Klebb, in the James Bond movie, Dr. No From Russia With Love” (Thanks Marie Marshall!).  It might have been my brother Bob, who said, “That’s Lotte Lenya.  She was the wife of Kurt Weill.”  Now Weill I knew because my father was Hungarian.  The connection is Ernie Kovacs a Hungarian-American, who seized on the power of the new medium, television, and created absurdist and surrealistic sketches that must have inspired the crew of Monty Python.  So, what’s the connection to Weill?  A running gag on Kovac’s show was his blackout sight gags which appeared periodically on the screen that had an oscilloscope streaming a  version of Weill’ “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” (Mack the Knife) from Die Dreigroschenoper (3 Penny Opera) sung in a very exaggerated manner by a German comedian named Wolfgan Neuss.  Here is an example:

Lenya married Weill in the 1920s in Germany after starring in the 3 Penny Opera in the role of Pirate Jenny. After that she became a famous stage and film star until she and Weill fled Germany after the National Socialists (i.e., Nazis) came to power. They settled in New York and lived for a time in Connecticut. After Weill died, she reprised a number of his songs, but my favorites is still Pirate Jenny’s song.

“Seeräuber Jenny” (Pirate Jenny)

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