Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 1962 - 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, operatic baritone, has died from brain cancer at age 55.  The operatic world mourns the premature loss of one of its greatest talents.  Born in Siberia, Russia, Hvorostovsky would become one of the most in-demand operatic singers of his generation.  He will be greatly missed.

The New York Times obituary notes some of his more endearing qualities:  prodigious breath control, frosty-haired good looks, and vocal qualities that set him apart from other baritones.  In addition to the standard roles for baritones, Hvorostovsky championed art songs by Russian composers and made concert appearances with the world's leading ladies.  His Russian soprano counterpart, Anna Netrebko, was a frequent collaborator, as was American diva Renée Fleming.


In 2015, he returned to the Metropolitan Opera to perform in Il Trovatore after being treated for brain cancer.  He was greeted by white roses tossed from the orchestra and cheers from the audience.  Several fans caught the moment on cell phone:



His final performance at the Metropolitan Opera was a surprise appearance during the 50th Anniversary concert. Having lost his balance due to brain cancer, he could no longer perform operatic roles on stage, but his voice had not lost its epic power and expressiveness:

 

Bracken Library owns many of his performances in the Music Collection (CDs) and Educational Technology and Resources Collections (DVDs):

Art Songs & Opera Arias
Dmitri Hvorostovsky Sings of War, Peace, Love, and Sorrow
Compact Disc 22919

Sonnets (Art Songs by Shostakovich and Liszt)
Compact Disc 22714

The Bells of Dawn: Russian Sacred and Folk Songs
Compact Disc 22614

In This Moonlit Night: Lieder (by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky & Taneyev)
Compact Disc 22613

Rachmaninov Romances
Compact Disc 21009

Pushkin Romances
Compact Disc 20697

Romances (by Tchaikovsky)
Compact Disc 18588

Heroes and Villains: Great Baritone Arias from Russian, French, Italian and German Operas
Compact Disc 21771

Portrait
Compact Disc 18094

Russian Romances: Songs by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff
Compact Disc 13096

Kalinka (Russian folk songs)
Compact Disc 18100

Concerts

Netrebko and Hvorostovsky: Live from Red Square Moscow
DVD Video 11397

To Russia With Love
DVD Video 5078

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baryton, in concert

Renée Fleming & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg

Operas
Mozart: Don Giovanni:  "Don Giovanni / Leporello's Revenge" (Hvorostovsky sings both Leporello and Don Giovanni in this television production)
DVD Video 12643

Rimsky-Korsakov, The Tsar's Bride
Compact Disc 10006

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (St. Petersburg Chamber Choir and L'Orchestre de Paris, 1992)
Compact Disc 8450

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (Metropolitan Opera, 2007)
DVD Video 5489

Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (Queen of Spades; Tanglewood Festival, 1991)
Compact Disc 3978

Verdi: Opera Scenes (2008)
Compact Disc 20626

Verdi: La Traviata (Radiotelevisione Italiana, 2004)
DVD Video 10090

Verdi: Il Trovatore (Covent Garden, 2002)
DVD Video 11363

Verdi: Il Trovatore (Metropolitan Opera, 2011)
DVD Video 10522


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Vietnam War in Music


Ken Burns, the renowned film director whose work includes series on the United States Civil War and Jazz, brings the Vietnam War to PBS this month.  For today's college students, the Vietnam war is old time history, but it lives on in American culture as one of the causes that were championed by the young people of the 1960s.  Protests against the war became a part of campus life in the 1960s, culminating in the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University in 1970.

A protester burns his draft card.
Music also played a role in the anti-war movement of the time.  Unlike the music of previous wars, music of the Vietnam war was mainly protest music.  Baby boomers, the largest generation in United States history, were drafted in large numbers to fight a war with unclear objectives.  At the same time, state-funded universities were growing, with attendance boosted by large numbers of baby boomer students, who also attended college to avoid being drafted to fight the war.  They famously burned their draft cards in protest at rallies that attracted thousands.  The generation that could be forced to fight a foreign war but could not vote for commander-in-chief took to the streets and clamored for peace, and musicians led the charge.

Even before the sit-ins and marches, musicians protested the war in their songs, starting with singer-songwriters of the folk revival movement:

Blowin' in the Wind was released on
"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"
In 1963 Bob Dylan wrote "Blowin' in the Wind," which became one of the anthems of the anti-war movement.  It was most famously covered by Peter, Paul and Mary, but sung at protests throughout the war years.  The last verse is particularly poignant in light of the number of casualties of the war:
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind
Another Dylan song is "Where have all the flowers gone?"  It includes the question, "Where have all the soldiers gone?" and the answer, "They've gone to graveyards, every one."


Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock
At 1967's Woodstock festival, Country Joe (McDonald) and the Fish's novelty song, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" asked and answered the important question of his generation:
1,2,3... What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn.
The next stop is Vietnam.
And it's 5,6,7 open up the pearly gates
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee!  We're all gonna die!
E846 .P37 2012
The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" is one of the most sonically resonant protest songs.  With a repeating electric bass line, Hammond organ, and the band members' voices building layer upon layer, the song portrays the overwhelming loss of control felt by their generation.

Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" tells listeners "You're old enough for killing but not for voting."  James T. Patterson's history book, The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America, is one of many books that uses the title to portray the turmoil of the age.




Compact Disc 13145
Now a Thanksgiving tradition on classic rock radio, Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" story-song ends with his trip to the draft board, where telling a psychiatrist that you want to kill people is a good thing, but having been arrested for littering disqualifies you from military service:
"(I'm) Sittin' here on the Group W bench, 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."
John Lennon started his solo career with a song that has been sung in protest of many events during and after the war.  "Give Peace a Chance" is a meditative song that can be vamped many times over for a long sit-in or protest, as when 500,000 sang it in Washington, DC at one of the largest protests in history.

Compact Disc 2390

Marvin Gaye, a Motown megastar, used his fame to protest the war in his song, "What's Going On."   The Vietnam war grew from a small skirmish through a process known as "escalation."  Gaye's song took on this idea directly:
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate

Compact Disc 21567


The draft disproportionately took young black men, who were not enrolled in college or otherwise protected by privilege.  The songs on the CD, "A Soldier's Sad Story: Vietnam Through the Eyes of Black America, 1966-73," played on black radio stations, though some songs crossed over to white audiences.  One of the most famous is Edwin Starr's "War," which repeats the lines, "War - what's it good for?  Absolutely nothing!"




Compilation albums that include the songs discussed in this blog post:

Songs of Protest:  Compact Disc 7709
Includes Where have all the flowers gone, sung by The Kingston Trio, Eve of destruction, I ain't marchin' anymore by folk singer Phil Ochs, The Fish cheer/I-feel-like-I'm-fixin'-to-die rag, Ball of confusion by The Temptations, War, by Edwin Starr, and Signs, by the Five Man Electrical Band.


Protest:  Peace Songs of the Sixties:  Compact Disc 1924

The Beat Street Band keeps classic music alive in modern performance.  Songs include Peace Train, Blowin' in the Wind, What's Goin' On, and other protest songs of the Vietnam era.

For more information, check out these books:

The Story of the Protest Song: A Reference Guide to the 50 Songs that Changed the 20th Century, by Hardeep Phull:  ML 3551.5 .P58 2008 and online

33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, by Dorian Lynsky
ML 3916 .L97 2010

Songs of the Vietnam Conflict, by James Perone
ML 3477 .P45 2001




Monday, July 3, 2017

Visit the Music Collection via Youtube!

If you plan to visit soon, let us show you the way!  Music Collection coordinator Addison Smith takes you from the South Entrance to the main points of interest in this brief video:


Friday, June 2, 2017

Ukulele Renaissance

Grace Vanderwaal on
America's Got Talent
The ukulele, a small strummed string instrument associated with Hawaiian music, has experienced a renaissance in recent years.  It was a popular instrument in the 1920s and 1950s, and is popular once again.  Small, inexpensive and easy to learn, the instrument is a great way to learn the basics of music performance.  In fact, it has been adopted as the instrument of choice for public school general music instruction, overtaking guitar and piano.  Tenor ukuleles are also popular because they are tuned to the same notes as guitars, making it easy to learn guitar chords on a budget.

On television and radio, the ukulele provides the soundtrack for advertisements for wholesome products.    The most frequently used song in popular culture has been "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," sung by the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a.k.a. "Iz."  Other famous performers of the past include Hawaiian songster Don Ho and 1960s icon Tiny Tim.  More recently, the 2016 winner of America's Got Talent was 12-year-old singer Grace Vanderwaal, who accompanied herself on ukulele.

The Music Collection has sheet music (scores) of traditional Hawaiian music and popular music arranged for ukulele:

Absolute Beginners: Ukulele teaches tablature (TAB), a visual representation of the frets and strings, and offers backing tracks to help you get started:
MT 756.8 .S67 A2 2010

The 4-Chord Ukulele Book
M1630.18 .A13 2013
It's amazing how many songs you can play with just four chords!  After you've gotten your start with chord playing you can play classics such as "Don't be Cruel" (Elvis Presley),  "If I had a Hammer" (traditional), "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan), "Man of Constant Sorrow" (traditional), "My Generation" (The Who), "The Sound of Silence" (Simon & Garfunkel), and "Just the Way You Are "(Bruno Mars).

Hawaiian Favorites
M1630.18 .H39 2011
This song book with a CD of backing tracks includes songs associated with the ukulele, such as "Blue Hawaii," made famous by Elvis Presley, and "Tiny Bubbles," the 1966 hit that became Don Ho's theme song.

Iz: The Songbook Collection
M1629.7 .H4 I9 2005
Songs in both English and Hawaiian (with translations) as performed by the most famous ukulele player of the recent past.  Iz's four albums are represented, including "Alone in Iz World," his top-selling album. The album and songbook include his famous version of "Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World."

The Beatles for Ukulele
M1630.18 .B375 2008
Twenty songs by the Fab Four, arranged for ukulele with chord symbols and staff notation.   The songs come from all periods of the group's hit songs, and include "All you Need is Love," "Good Day Sunshine," "Hey Jude," "Let it Be," and "Yellow Submarine.

Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Country: 36 Classic Country & Western Songs Arranged for Ukulele
M1630.18 .J86 2005
Old-time country music traditionally featured acoustic guitar, a sound that translates well to ukulele.  This song book includes such classics as "Back in the Saddle Again" (Gene Autry), "Crazy" (composed by Willie Nelson and sung by Patsy Cline),  "Happy Trails" (Roy Rogers), and "King of the Road (Roger Miller).


The Ultimate Ukulele Songbook: The Complete Resource for Every Ukulele Player! 59 Songs!
This songbook includes popular songs from the 1910s to the 2000s.  Though the songs were not originally composed for ukulele, you will enjoy playing such hits as "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars, "Under the Sea" from the Disney film The Little Mermaid, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2, "September Ends" by Green Day, "American Pie" by Don McLean, and "Happy Birthday."
M1630.18 .U485 2014



You can try your hand at the ukulele without investing in an instrument because Educational Technology and Resources Collection (ETRC) owns three ukes for check-out.  The ETRC circulation desk is on the Lower Level of Bracken Library, near the Music Collection desk.






For more inspiration, check out these compact discs that feature or include the ukulele:

Jake Shimabukuro.  Travels
Compact Disc 22876
Shimabukuro is the top virtuoso of the ukulele today.

A Great Big World.  Is There Anybody Out There?
Compact Disc 22132

Elvis Costello & The Imposters.  The Delivery Man
Compact Disc 16240

Elvis Presley.  Blue Hawaii
Compact Disc 20864

Squirrel Nut Zippers.  Hot
Compact Disc 13240

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.  Facing Future
Compact Disc 16238




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Songbooks with Audio Accompaniment


Feeling inspired by "The Voice" or the news that "American Idol" will be coming back?

If you have been singing along with your favorite artists, you may want to step up your game and sing along with backing tracks.  The Music Collection has several song books that come with CDs or online audio.  Hal Leonard's Pro Vocal series includes "Amazing Slow Downer" software that allows you to pick the tempo you want.  It is compatible with Mac, PC, iPods, etc.  Check out the Men's series or Women's editions or search for Recorded Accompaniments (Voice) to view them all.

The Music Collection also has the complete Jamey Aebersold Play-Along jazz series, which includes some vocal albums and song books with challenging repertoire for you to hone your chops:

Selected Song Books for Male Voices:
Lennon & MacCartney:  Eight classic Beatles hits including Can't Buy Me Love, Yesterday, and A Hard Day's Night
M1630.18 .L46 L46 2007

Queen:  Includes Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and five other hit songs
M1741.18 Q44 A4 2012

Frank Sinatra Classics:  Includes New York, New York, Witchcraft, and six other hits
M1630.18 .F73 2007

Frank Sinatra Standards:  Songs include Come Fly with Me, Love and Marriage, My way, and five others
M1630.18 .F732 2007

Motown: Eight songs including I Heard it Through the Grapevine and You are the Sunshine of My Life
M1630.18 .M686 2008

Selected Song Books for Female Voices:
Lady Gaga:  Hits including Bad Romance, Poker Face, and Paparazzi
M1630.18 L33 L33 2010

Patsy Cline:  Hits include Crazy, I Fall to Pieces and Walkin' After Midnight
M1630.18 .P38 2007

R&B Super Hits:  Songs include Respect, What's Love Got to Do With it and Midnight Train to Georgia
M1630.18 .R211 2005

Musicals of Boubill & Schönberg:  Songs include I Dreamed a Dream, I'd Give My Life for You, and On My Own
M1508 .S37 M8 2007

Selections from Musical Shows and Films:
Annie: Broadway Singer's Edition
M1508 .S92 A5 2013

Frozen: Seven Songs
M1508.2 .A53 F7 2014

Rent: Selections
M1508.1 .L37 R4 2008

Kid's Musical Theatre Anthology:  Songs from The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and other hit musicals
M1507 .K53 2008

Vocal Selections from the Aebersold Play-Along Series:
Cole Porter for Singers: Songs include You'd be So Nice to Come Home To, Night and Day, In the Still of the Night, and other classics
MT 68 .J36 vol. 117

When I Fall in Love: Romantic Ballads:  Songs include I Can't Get Started, Someone to Watch Over Me, Embraceable You and many others
MT 68 .J36 vol. 110

Singers! It Had to Be You: 24 Standards in Singer's Keys: Time After Time, Stardust, Summertime, and other vocal classics
MT 68 .J36 vol. 107

Yesterdays: Jerome Kern's Jazz Classics:  Songs from musicals, including All the Things You Are, The Way You Look Tonight, Smoke Gets in your Eyes, and others
MT68 .J36 vol. 55

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jazz Appreciation Month: Fusion




One of the most controversial movements in jazz was fusion, the melding of jazz with another style, usually electrified or electronic rock.  Jazz purists rejected the movement, but the style attracted many fans who had previously been uninterested in jazz.  Several jazz musicians became "crossover" stars, and several rock artists incorporated jazz idioms ("jazz-rock").  For years, many rock musicians had improvised in live shows, and jazz was the source of the rhythm section for rock (guitar, bass & drumset), so the 1970s fusion of the two genres was a compatible pairing.  Some bands also brought in other elements, such as Latin percussion or R&B vocals, but the term's wide umbrella leaves room for them all.

Trumpet player Miles Davis pioneered fusion with his 1969 album, Miles in the Sky, though 1970's Bitches Brew is more well known. He blended electric rock-based sounds with traditional jazz instruments to create a sound never heard before.  Future stars of fusion Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea contributed to Bitches Brew.


The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a five-member group formed by guitarist John McLaughlin.  Several changes of membership meant that musicians moving on would share fusion with new audiences. including Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violin) who went on to have a solo career.

Electronic keyboardist Herbie Hancock and his group, Return to Forever, released the best-selling fusion album, Head Hunters, in 1973.  The album has been added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry and it is on the list of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  A funky bass solo opens the all-instrumental album and repeats throughout the first track, "Chameleon." Chameleon runs on for over fifteen minutes, long even by jazz standards.  Chameleon has become a standard for modern jazz artists.

Weather Report, was a tight combo led by keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who had collaboarted with Miles Davis.  It was the most commercially successful group, releasing albums from 1971 to 1985.  Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter had participated in Miles Davis's In a Silent Way sessions, making Weather Report the next logical step in the development of fusion.  Bass player Jaco Pastorius's all-harmonics solo in "Birdland" (from Heavy Weather) demonstrated his artistry and remains an iconic moment in fusion history.  The song helped propel the fusion movement into mainstream markets.  Zawinul, Shorter, and Pastorius would all continue as band leaders and soloists after the dissolution of the band.




The Pat Metheny Group was another group with crossover appeal.  The group consisted of Pat Metheny, guitar, Lyle Mays, piano, Mark Egan (electric) bass, and Dan Gottlieb on drums.  Metheny continues to record and perform,lending his virtuosic technique to a variety of methods.

Spyro Gyra formed in 1974 and produced albums with a softer sound than the other fusion groups.


The Brecker Brothers (Randy, trumpet and flugelhorn, and Michael, saxophone and flute) performed together from the 1970s through the 1990s.


Maynard Ferguson was a squealing trumpet player who began his career as a big band soloist and toured with his fusion-playing big band in the 1970s.  The group consisted of 12 players, many of whom came from American universities with jazz programs.  Ferguson traveled to high schools and colleges across the country, leaving his mark on a generation of jazz players and impressionable young audience members.  In addition to jazz songs with rock elements added, he arranged popular songs for his jazz band.  Examples are "MacArthur's Park" and the theme from the film, "Rocky" (Gonna Fly Now)

M.F. Horn (1971)
M.F. Horn 4 & 5: Live at Jimmy's (1973)
Conquistador (1977)

Other Fusion Artists:
Matrix was a 1970s group of nine players founded by keyboardist John Harmon and his students from Lawrence University.  Their two most well-known albums were concept albums.

Madeski,  Martin &Wood is a jazz-funk group that started recording in the 1990s and continued to release albums until 2012.  The individual musicians have collaborated with other fusion players, keeping the genre alive until the present day.
George Benson's smooth guitar playing and even smoother vocal talent sometimes qualify him as "fusion," though more in the popular or R&B vein than the rock vein.  He is one of the musicians who ushered in the "smooth jazz" sound of the 1980s.


Books:
Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, and the Creation of Fusion:  ML 3506 .F45 2011
Jazz-Rock Fusion: The People, the Music:  ML 385 .C2
Head-Hunters: The Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album:  ML 417 .H23 P66 2005






Friday, March 31, 2017

National Recording Registry Additions: 2017

Every year 25 recordings are honored by the National Recording Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress's National Recording Preservation Board.   Songs, albums, and spoken recordings can be nominated by members of the public.  You can nominate up to fifty titles!

Those selected for the Class of 2016 include Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" and Don McLean's "American Pie."   To see the list of all titles selected for preservation, click here.

Most of the albums and songs honored this year are available on CD in the Music Collection:

Albums:
Signatures, by Renée Fleming (1997, opera arias)
Compact Disc 4870

Vespers, by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)
Compact Disc 4954

Straight Outta Compton, by N.W.A. (1988)
Compact Disc 19863

Remain in Light, by The Talking Heads (1980)
Compact Disc 12736

Treemonisha (opera by Scott Joplin, conducted by Gunther Schuller)
Compact Disc 5414

Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975, by The Eagles (1976)
Compact Disc 3437

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, by David Bowie (1972)
Compact Disc 18136

The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)
Compact Disc 13856

Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins (1956)
Compact Disc 12270

Singles:
American Pie, by Don McLean (1971)
Amazing Grace, by Judy Collins (1970)
In the Midnight Hour, by Wilson Pickett (1965)
People, by Barbra Streisand (1964)
Hound Dog, by Big Mama Thornton (1953)
Over the Rainbow, by Judy Garland (1939)


What songs or albums do you think should be preserved?   List them in the comments or nominate them!
https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-recording-preservation-board/recording-registry/nominate/


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Women's History Month: Women in Jazz



International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Women in Jazz

Jazz was formed by several threads in Southern American music, threads that were the purview of male musicians.  Many of the developments in early jazz took place in bars and brothels -- places where women from good families just shouldn't go!  Despite the domination of men in jazz, a few women took their place alongside men in the early years, sometimes as their spouse, too.  Lil Hardin married Louis Armstrong, for example, but continued her own career after their divorce.

In the 1920s dance "orchestras" became popular, leading to the famous big bands of the 1930s and 1940s.  Few of these organizations hired women except as singers.  Especially during World War II, jazz vocalists fronting big bands would be a woman or an all-female group. "All girl" bands were  novelty acts but were also an outlet for many talented women.   The most famous were the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

For interviews and performances watch The International Sweethearts of Rhythm documentary via kanopy.com.  (Log in required from off campus)

Ella Fitzgerald
In the 1950s, jazz returned to its roots in small ensembles and improvised soloing, leaving aside the smooth melodic pop songs with big band backing that dominated in the 1940s. The new style, bebop (or "bop") celebrated instrumental virtuosity, for the most part, but scat singing -- using nonsense syllables in place of words for improvisation, gave vocalists an equal footing in the new style.  Both men and women excelled at this type of singing.  Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan were among the most famous singers of scat.

Jazz has continued to evolve along with society, and now there are more women than ever performing and recording professionally.  Check CDs by these artists from the Music Collections:

Instrumentalists:
Regina Carter

Toshiko Akiyoshi
 (piano)

Regina Carter (violin)

Alice Coltrane (saxophone)

Marian McPartland (piano)

Maria Schneider (big-band leader)

Hazel Scott (piano)

Esperanza Spalding (bass)

Mary Lou Williams (piano)


Singers:
Diana Krall

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Betty Carter

Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday

Diana Krall

Madeleine Peyroux
Peggy Lee

Carmen McRae

Madeleine Peyroux


Dianne Reeves

Diane Schuur

Nina Simone

Cassandra Wilson
Sarah Vaughan

Dinah Washington

Brenna Whitaker

Cassandra Wilson



For more about women in jazz, check out these books:
Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians
ML395 .E572 2004

Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s, by Sherrie Tucker
ML82 .T83 2000

Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists, by Leslie Gourse
ML82 .G69 1995

Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen, by Linda Dahl
ML82 .D3 1984