Today in 1964 Arthur "Harpo" Marx passed away at the age of 75. Today's "A Day in the Life" explores how this otherwise silent Marx Brother communicated through music, particularly the harp--an instrument that he played completely by ear.
Today in 1683 Jean-Philippe Rameau was born in Dijon, France. Known primarily for his treatise on music harmony he was also a composer of French opera, sparking a heated cultural debate about contemporary approaches to genre. Find out more on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today is the birthday of F. Scott Fitzgerald, born in 1896. In addition to authoring such classic tales as The Great Gatsby, he coined the phrase "The Jazz Age." Find out more about his life and times and music on today's "A Day in the Life."
Tonight in 1962 The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened. That first concert featured music by Copland and Mahler--but this was just the start. Learn about the long-history of artistic creativity and innovation on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 2004 the television series Lost made its debut. Composer Michael Giacchino created more than thirty minutes of original music for each weekly episode over the course of the show's six-year run, sustained by a series of musical themes. Learn more on today's "A Day in the Life."
Earth, Wind, and Fire released the song "September" in 1978, which begins with the following question: "Do you remember, the 21st of September?" What are the origins of this song and why did they choose that date in particular? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Construction on the oldest known surviving harpsichord began on this day in 1515, an instrument constructed for the Pope. What are the origins and uses of this keyboard instrument and its uses from the Baroque to the present? Find out on today’s “A Day in the Life.”
Today in 1721 Georg Philipp Telemann became music director of the five largest churches in the city of Hamburg. This "musical CEO" of the baroque created an incredible amount of music during his tenure there--including music imitating frogs and bell towers. Learn more on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1972 Billboard magazine ran a cover story about a "new sound" emerging from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The "Muscle Shoals" sound--largely the result of a rhythm section later known as "The Swampers"--would have an incredible influence on the sound of popular music from that moment forward. Learn more on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1987, Tiffany released her self-titled debut album featuring her hit cover of "I Think We're Alone Now." How do malls, intergenerational listening, and Billy Idol fit into the story? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1973, Nasir Jones--better known as Nas--was born in Brooklyn, New York. Learn about his early career and dynamic collaborations with his father and others that bridge the intergenerational gaps.
On this episode of Critical Karaoke we are talking about movie music--the songs and compositions that shape the dramatic action on screen in obvious and subtle ways. How does film forever imprint a specific reading or interpretation on the music itself? Can we ever escape those associations?
In addition to a special "fictional band name pop quiz" focused on bands that exist only on the screen, we consider the following music in the following films:
"Power of Love" from Back to the Future (1985)
"Stuck in the Middle with You" from Reservoir Dogs (1992)
"I Got You (I Feel Good)" from The Nutty Professor (1996) and Grumpy Old Men (1993)
"A Change is Gonna Come" from and Malcolm X (1992) and Ali (2001)
Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto from Brief Encounter (1945) and Seven Year Itch (1955)
Today in 1935, the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was born. Matthew Mugmon explores his early compositional output—which fell afoul of the Soviet authorities— and his later move towards simplicity using a special self-designed compositional system. Find out more on today’s “A Day in the Life.”
Today in 1990 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air premiered on NBC. It starred a young Will Smith, but was based on the life story of Benny Medina. Find out how two came together and the role of the IRS in the proceedings on today's "A Day in the Life."
The Kennedy Center's concert hall opened in Washington, D.C. on this day in 1971. It featured a multifaceted performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. What music was heard that evening and who was in attendance? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Rap pioneer Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins passed away on this day in 1989. How did he help define standard tropes and techniques we associate with the genre, including the term "hip hop" itself? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 2008 the final curtain went down on Rent--the 10th longest running musical in Broadway history. How and why does the theme of "No day but today" run throughout this Pulitzer Prize winning show? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
It was today in 1998 that Google became a corporation. Steve Hayward ponders the world of "google music" in the past, present, and future on today's "A Day in the Life."
Pietro Locatelli--the first modern violin virtuoso--was born in 1695. How far did he push the limits of the violin and his own fingers and which subsequent musicians were inspired by his efforts? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1901 Theodore Roosevelt spoke the famous line "Speak softly and carry a big stick." How has music spoken of Teddy over the course of time? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1785 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dedicated a set of string quartets to his musical mentor, Joseph Haydn--father of the string quartet. How did Mozart demonstrate his own mastery of the genre through this set of quartets? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1987 Michael Jackson's music video for "Bad" premiered on primetime network television. How were Martin Scorsese, Richard Price, and Wesley Snipes involved? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1964 Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana. What happened that day and how did it forever influence the course of music history? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1940 Meredith Wilson--better known as the composer of the 1957 musical The Music Man--conducted his second symphony on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. How does this musical work pay homage to the Spanish Missions of his home state? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."
Today in 1968, Jimi Hendrix opened up Electric Lady Studios in New York City's Greenwich Village. What musicians played in this space before and after it became Hendrix's personal space for creativity? Find out on today's "A Day in the Life."