Today is Leap Day, it's the extra day we add to the end of February every four years to keep the calendar year synced up with the solar year. On today's "A Day in the Life," we leap into an exploration of the rhymes and rhythms associated with these calendar shenanigans.
It was on this day in 1980 that Gordie Howe, also known as Mr. Hockey, scored his 800th goal in the National Hockey League, becoming the first player ever to reach that rare landmark. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we take a listen to the song that was played to celebrate that goal and more.
Today in 1919, the Grand Canyon officially became a national park. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we travel the path once trod by the Griswold's and Thelma and Louise to one of America's most iconic natural wonders. The soundtrack for our voyage is Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite" from 1931.
It was on this day in 1977 that "Blinded by the Light" as performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was a cover of a 1973 release by none other than Bruce Springsteen. On today's "A Day in the Life," we learn what the Boss thought about Mann's version and why he thought it was more successful than the original.
Today in 1967, a tune performed by jazz saxophonist Canonball Adderley hit #11 on the popular music charts. The song, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was written by keyboardist Joe Zawinul who was known for his work with Miles Davis, particularly on the album Bitches Brew. On today's "A Day in the Life," we examine the song's structure and learn about the rumored connection Ray Charles has to the tune.
On this day in 2002, Leo Ornstein died at the age of 108. Ornstein was a piano virtuoso and a pioneer of modernist music. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we explore the long and prolific career of the great pianist and composer.
It was on this day in 2005 that American musician, songwriter, and producer Brian Joseph Burton, also known as Danger Mouse, released "The Grey Album." The album was a mash-up of The Beatles' "White Album" and Jay Z's "Black Album". On today's "A Day in the Life," we learn how "The Grey Album" came to be.
Today in 1940 folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to a song that would become known as “This Land is Your Land.” Most people are familiar with the song, but what not everyone might realize is that it started life as a protest against Irving Berlin’s song, “God Bless America.” On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore Guthrie's critique through a set of early lyrics that didn't make the cut for the final version we're now familiar with.
Today in 1930, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky told a reporter at the Prague Press that he “recognized only half-tones as the basis of music.” He was speaking in response to hearing the music of Czech composer Alois Hàba—one of the foremost composers of quarter-tone music between the world wars. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we dissect the debate between the proponents of half-tone traditionalism and the advocates of quarter-tone sonic deviation.
It was on this day in 1987 that American artist, Andy Warhol died in New York City following gall bladder surgery. On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore the world of music that orbited the Warholian sphere.
Today in 1992, Crazy for You, the Tony award winner for best musical that year opened on Broadway. It was a surprise hit given what else was playing on the so-called “Great White Way” at the time. On today's "A Day in the Life," hear the tunes and learn which 1930 Ira and George Gershwin musical it was based on.
It was on this day in 1950 that filmmaker John Hughes was born in Lansing, Michigan. On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore the music of such John Hughes classics as "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day off".
On this day in 1977, A Symphony of Three Orchestras, by the American composer Elliott Carter, had its world premiere, with Pierre Boulez conducting the New York Philharmonic. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we delve into Carter's symphony and examine the possibility that there may exist a parody of the minimalism that was so fashionable at the time.
It was on this Day in 1966 that Brian Wilson went into the studio and began recording the song that would become Good Vibrations. On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore the inspiration for the song and its sonic ingredients.
On this day in 2005, “Circus Maximus,” the third symphony of American composer John Corigliano and one of the most influential of recent symphonic works, had its world premiere. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we learn that Corigliano's work draws parallels between the high decadence of ancient Rome and our present culture. Oh, and there's also a shotgun blast at the end!
It was on this day in 2005 that Yusuf Islam, the British singer and songwriter previously known as Cat Stevens won a lawsuit against two British newspapers that had accused him of ties to terrorism. On today's "A Day in the Life," we trace the career of Stevens/Islam and explore the transformation that led to his embrace of Islam.
This episode on Critical Karaoke, we’re talking with banjo superstars Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn on the subject of arrangements—musical, personal, and otherwise. We cover a range of topics with this married musical couple, from collaboration on their self-titled duet album, to ambassadorship and humanitarian work, to raising a child together. In addition to their own recordings, we delve into the music of the Flecktones, Béla Bartok, Doc Watson, and many others. Plus: Special live in-studio recordings of “New South Africa” and “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?”
Today in 1960 an album titled Drums of Passion was released by Columbia Records. It is widely held as the first so-called “world music” recording, and certainly the first commercially successful recording of traditional African Music in the United States of America. On today's "A Day in the Life," we learn how the album came to be and about the central figure behind the effort, Babatunde Olantunji.
On this day in 1963, construction began on the Gateway Arch — that defining landmark of the city of St. Louis and the iconic portal to the western United States. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we consider "Arch Music for St. Louis", a 1997 piece by Dutch composer Peter Schat. We also explore the musical arches of Béla Bartók and Jewel.
Today in 1924, bandleader Paul Whiteman presented his “Experiment in Modern Music” at Aeolian Hall in New York City. This is the concert where George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue made its debut. On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore the modern music that Whiteman experimented with that evening.
Today in 1973, pianist, composer, and author Ethan Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Iverson makes up one third of The Bad Plus, a jazz slash avant-garde slash power trio ensemble—known widely for its dynamic covers of jazz, popular, and classical selections. On today's "A Day in the Life," we explore some of The Bad Plus's interpretations of iconic works.
On this day in 1996, the computer Deep Blue stunned chess master Gary Kasparov by beating him in the opening game of their six-game match. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we contemplate the music of the game of kings and explore the nonhuman works of the computer composer Emily Howell.
It was on this day in 2004 that American hip hop artist Kanye West released his first album The College Dropout. On today's "A Day in the Life," not only will you learn which college Kanye dropped out of, you'll also walk away with an understanding of Jay-Z's role in Kanye's early career. We'll have a listen to Izzo, Slow Jamz, The Wire and more.
A teaser for our upcoming episode with banjo superstars Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Coming soon to a radio or podcast near you!
Today in 1937, the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók debuted selections from Mikrokosmos at a concert for the International Society for Contemporary Music in London. On today's "A Classical Day in the Life," we explore Bartók's pedagogical musical endeavor.