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NSO Open Rehearsal

2700 F St.: NSO Open Rehearsal with Q&A Session
During this rehearsal, Maestro Christoph Eschenbach will conduct a program that includes music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Anton Bruckner.
Music, Composers, Backstage, Music Legends, Orchestra

WNO The Marriage of Figaro - Amanda Majeski as The Countess - photo by Todd Rosenberg

2700 F St.: Washington National Opera's The Marriage of Figaro
This is a story about one happy couple that just wants to get married and one unhappy couple that’s already married… and not doing so well.
Opera, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Europe

Jane Ira Bloom

2700 F St.: Wild Lines: Jane Ira Bloom Plays Emily Dickinson
Jane Ira Bloom is a soprano saxophonist and composer who’s been pushing the boundaries of jazz for more than 40 years.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Jazz, Poetry

Mariinsky Ballet: Raymonda

Cuesheet: Mariinsky Ballet: Raymonda
Raymonda is set in medieval Hungary and follows a countess torn between her betrothed, a crusading knight, and the arrival of a handsome warrior.
Dance, Comedy, Choreographers, Music, Composers

The Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker

Cuesheet: The Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker
The Joffrey Ballet brings the magic of the holiday season to life with heroic toy soldiers, sword-fighting mice, and a glittering journey to the Kingdom of Sweets.
Dance, Comedy, Choreographers, Music, Composers

To Sail Around The Sun

Cuesheet: To Sail Around The Sun
Picture the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Next, add live music and dance. Now get ready for an incredible journey through the year as the Earth sails around the sun.
Theater, Composers, Music, Nature, Plants, Science

Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood

Cuesheet: Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood
Once upon a time, Peter and the Wolf was a musical tale about a Russian boy who helps catch a wolf. This version features Peter’s tale with tons of twists. For starters, instead of cold, snowy Russia, the story now happens in sunny Hollywood, California.
Family, Animals, Composers, Folklore, Musical Instruments, Orchestra

Outside the BachX

Cuesheet: Outside the Bachx
What do you get when you combine the sounds of classical music and the moves of classical ballet with Hip-Hop? A magical mashup of old and new, grace and power, something familiar turning into something surprising and fresh—something you can’t squeeze into any box
Hip-Hop, Ballet, Composers, Music

NSO Beethoven at the Ballpark

Cuesheet: NSO Kinderclassic: Beethoven at the Ballpark!
Find out what baseball and music have in common. You’ll see how numbers play their part, how music adds drama to America’s favorite pastime, and how musicians hit the spot on an instrument, just like players do on the field.
Music, Musical Instruments, Sports, Poetry, Composers, Music Legends

Gershwin's Magic Key: NSO Family Concert

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Gershwin's Magic Key
Step into the 1920s’ streets of New York City, where a poor newspaper boy who loves music has a chance encounter with the famous composer George Gershwin.
Music, Musical Instruments, Music Legends, Composers

Ballet West: The Nutcracker Working Rehearsal

Cuesheet: Ballet's West's The Nutcracker
Ballet West brings the magic of the holiday season to life with heroic toy soldiers, sword-fighting mice, and a glittering journey to the Kingdom of Sweets.
Dance, Comedy, Choreographers, Music, Composers

NSO Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf
“Boys like me are not afraid of wolves!” says Peter to his grandfather. But when one actually wanders out of the woods, what will Peter do to save his animal friends?
Animals, Folklore, Musical Instruments, Music, Composers, Orchestra

NSO Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!
Join the NSO for a frightfully fun follow-up program, complete with ghoulishly attired musicians who might just “BOO” you in return from behind their instruments.
Composers, Folklore, Music, Orchestra, Science Fiction & Fantasy

NSP YPC: Listen Up! Music is a Language

Cuesheet: NSO Young People's Concert: Listen Up! Music Is a Language
Did you know music has a lot to say? Without any words at all, music is a language anyone can understand. It tells stories, expresses feelings, and even makes us think.
Composers, Folklore, Music, Orchestra

Grace Kelly Quintet

Cuesheet: Grace Kelly Quintet: Performance & Demonstration
Join young jazz saxophonist, singer, and composer Grace Kelly for a high-energy concert that guides students in how to listen to jazz.
Jazz, Music, Composers, Young Artists

NSO Open Rehearsal: George Washington

Cuesheet: NSO Discussion, Demonstration & Open Rehearsal: george WASHINGTON
Music meets history as state-of-the-art technology, beautiful imagery, surround-sound, spoken words, and orchestral music blend together in this new multimedia composition.
Music, America, Composers, Orchestra, Presidents

Mariinsky Ballet's Swan Lake

Cuesheet: Mariinsky Ballet: Swan Lake
Russia’s historic Mariinsky Ballet—one of the most influential classical companies for more than two and a half centuries—returns to the Kennedy Center with the romantic masterpiece Swan Lake, in which the forces of evil are no match for true love.
Dance, Comedy, Choreographers, Music, Composers

GOLD

Cuesheet: Cas Public of Canada: GOLD
Canada’s Cas Public dance ensemble uses everyday sounds and objects to explore the joy, humor, and mischief of childhood—performed to Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s famous recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Dance, Comedy, Choreographers, Music, Composers

The Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker

Cuesheet: The Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker Working Rehearsal
The Joffrey Ballet brings the magic of the holiday season to life with heroic toy soldiers, sword-fighting mice, and a glittering journey to the Kingdom of Sweets.
Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance, Dance Legends, Backstage, Europe

Alvin Ailey's Night Creature

KC Connection: Alvin Ailey's Night Creature
The stars shine in Ailey’s homage to Duke Ellington
Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, Jazz, Composers, Music Legends

Atlanta Opera's production of Cosi Fan Tutte

Article: Cozying up to Così
A guide to Mozart's hilarious romantic comedy
Opera, Music, Theater, Comedy, Composers

Cracking Open The Nutcracker

Article: Cracking Open The Nutcracker
Explore the most popular ballet of all time
Ballet, Dance, Choreographers, Composers, Folklore

sad lady

Your Brain On Music: Tearjerkers
Putting the "sad" in sad songs
Composers, Music

Earworm

Your Brain On Music: Earworms
When songs get stuck... get stuck... get stuck... in our brains
Music, Science, Composers

Kathryn Bostic

Article: Q&A with Kathryn Bostic
Kathryn Bostic, music arranger for Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963, shares her thoughts on sharing stories through music and music’s central role in the Civil Rights Movement.
America, Backstage, Composers, History, Musicals, Controversial

brain with earbuds

Series: Your Brain on Music
Music, emotions, and imagination have gone together ever since the first cave dweller banged on a rock. Modern brain research is helping us understand why.
Composers, Music, Science

Composers

Series: The Story Behind The Song
Through the history of popular songs, discover how history is full of surprising stories of people doing amazing things
History, Music, America, Composers, Military

Martha Graham

Series: Master + Work
Meet the masters...the talented artists who have created some of the most outstanding achievements of the twentieth century
Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance Legends, Music Legends

Beethoven graffiti

Collection: Great Composers
Get inside the mind of a composer-- from a popular song, to a Broadway musical, to a symphony, how does a composer write music?
Composers, Jazz, Innovators & Pioneers, Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends, Opera, Orchestra, Popular Culture

Violin hands

Collection: Classical Music Resources
Booming orchestras, teeming concert halls, obsessive composers, and prodigal musicians – classical music is anything but boring. Learn how Beethoven continued to pen symphonies while going deaf, discover the science behind the instrument and the math behind the music, and explore the ways in which music and emotion go hand-in-hand.
Composers, Europe, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra

It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!

Collection: Opera Resources
Get out your opera glasses and prepare to take a look at the history and evolution of an art form over four hundred years old. Learn how singers train and condition their voices, become familiar with some of the stage’s most tragic love affairs, and discover how theatre and music combined can tell epic stories in unforgettable ways.
Choreographers, Composers, Europe, Musicals, Orchestra, Opera, Tragedy, Theater

kid with headphones

Article: Kids' Classical Countdown
A classical music 101 for families and young listeners
Music, Orchestra, Composers, Family

Band of 40th Veteran Reserve Corps

Article: When Music Goes Marching to War
Explore music’s important role in the American Civil War. Includes activities for the classroom
America, Composers, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Tragedy

Stephen Schwartz

Video Series: An Evening with Stephen Schwartz
From his time at Juilliard to his grand success on Broadway, follow the path of Stephen Schwartz, the composer/lyricist of such legendary works as Godspell, Pippin, and his most recent Broadway hit, Wicked. Excerpted from the Kenndey Center event moderated by Michael Kerker, ASCAP Director of Musical Theater, this series invites you into the world of one of the American theater's most talented artists.
Theater, Music, Popular Culture, Broadway, Composers, Musicals, Backstage

In the Studio

Video Series: In the Studio with Jason Moran
Join Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz, in this video series as he explains the basics of Jazz music and how the art form works. He will show you how Jazz is more like skateboarding and football than you might think, and play some original pieces, as well as a few of the classic jazz standards.
America, Composers, Musical Instruments, Jazz, Music

studio microphone

Audio Series: The Music of Sound
Learn how composers and sound designers use their tools to create or enhance mood in a film or commercial.
Backstage, Composers, Movies & Movie Stars, Music, Jobs in the Arts, Television, Stunts & Special Effects

A World of Music

Audio Series: A World of Music
We’re off on a Musical Tour of Europe! The invention of the orchestra hundreds of years ago meant bigger musical possibilities, and composers all across Europe were inspired to try their hand at pushing classical music to new limits
Composers, Controversial, Europe, Folklore, Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra

Summon the Heroes: Classical Music to the Rescue!

Audio Series: Summon the Heroes: Classical Music to the Rescue!
Throughout the ages, composers have celebrated the accomplishments of famous heroes through music. What does a hero sound like? Get ready to find out!
Composers, Folklore, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Popular Culture, Movies & Movie Stars

Reach For The Moon: John F. Kennedy’s Vision and Courage

Audio Series: NSO Young People's Concert - Reach For The Moon
Just like President Kennedy had a vision for America, composers have visions of how they want their music to sound. For some, their musical mission is to explore a galaxy of stars and planets, moon shots, space walks, and galactic battles!
Composers, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Technology, Space, Presidents

NSO YPC Exploring Extremes

Audio Series: Exploring Extremes: Music to the Max!
Join the NSO to explore music’s extremes—from high notes and low notes to how big or small instruments (and their sounds!) can be. Plus, get to know the “extremely talented” violin, and discover different ways of listening to music.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra

Florida Field

Audio Series: Touchdown Songs: Music & Football
Music and football are intertwined as we'll hear in this series, narrated by NFL Films composer Tom Hedden.
Music, Sports, Composers, Popular Culture, Television

Audio Series: Listen Up! Music Is a Language
Did you know music has a lot to say? Without any words at all, music is a language that anyone can understand.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Language

Violin head

Audio Series: Classical Music in America
Follow the course of classical music in America from colonial times to the present in a series of NPR podcasts.
History, Music, America, Composers, Orchestra

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 9
Part 4 of the Beethoven Rocks series: Ode to Joy
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 6
Part 3 of the Beethoven Rocks series: The Pastoral
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe, Nature

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven Rocks!
Part 1 of the Beethoven Rocks series: Get to know Classical music's biggest star
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 5
Part 2 of the Beethoven Rocks series: The Riff Heard ‘Round the World
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Europe, Composers, Music Legends

Musical theater kids

Audio: Write Your Own Musical
Heather Nathans, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Maryland, is joined by Joe Stein and Sheldon Harnick (writers of Fiddler on the Roof) and Stephen Schwartz (who wrote Pippin, Godspell, and Wicked) to talk about how a musical gets written.
America, Art Venues, Backstage, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Young Artists

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Robert Schumann
"To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist."
Europe, Composers, Music, Music Legends

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Johannes Brahms
"Study Bach. There you will find everything."
Composers, Music Legends, Music, Orchestra

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Leonard Bernstein
"Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable."
Music, Composers, Music Legends

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Benjamin Britten
"Composing is like driving down a foggy road..."
Composers, Music Legends, Music

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Ludwig Van Beethoven
"Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess."
Composers, Music, Music Legends, Orchestra

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Frederic Chopin
"Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, except, possibly, two."
Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends, Composers, Europe

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Bela Bartok
"A nation creates music - the composer only arranges it."
Composers, Music Legends, Music, Europe

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Vladimir Ashkenazy
"I believe that interpretation should be like a transparent glass, a window for the composer's music."
Music, Composers, Orchestra, Music Legends

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Paul Hindemith
"People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts."
Europe, Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Oscar Hammerstein
"All the sounds of the earth are like music."
Broadway, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Theater

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Duke Ellington
"Playing "bop" is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing."
Jazz, Music, Music Legends, Composers, America

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Duke Ellington
"Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one."
Jazz, Music, Music Legends, Composers, America

Chuck Berry

Arts Days: October 18, 1926: The Father of Rock and Roll
There’s good reason why Chuck Berry was the very first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Berry not only defined the rock and roll sound, he created it. His 1955 song “Maybellene” was, in many ways, the first song of this musical genre, and its debut proved a pivotal moment in music history. Like many of his contemporaries, Berry began by playing the blues.

But audiences responded most enthusiastically when he played what was at the time considered “hillbilly” music: the rollicking infectious rhythms born of bluegrass. Berry added his own twists, like electrifying guitar playing, clever wordplay, and, above all, a vitality that made his audiences want to get up and dance. The resulting music was irresistible to young people and caught on like wildfire.
Composers, Music Legends, Blues, Music, Rock & Roll, Innovators & Pioneers

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns

Arts Days: October 09, 1835: A Prolific Talent
Composer and organist, conductor and pianist, Saint- Saëns composed numerous works including Carnival of the Animals and Danse macabre. Among his contemporaries, the music he composed and performed was typically regarded as technically flawless.

He was famous for sitting stock-still at his keyboard during performances and playing every note perfectly. That calm demeanor earned him some criticism for his apparent lack of feeling. But to collectively consider the hundreds of pieces of music he composed in his lifetime, Saint- Saëns’ music shows much emotion and beauty.
Composers, Music, Music Legends, Orchestra, Europe

Giuseppe Verdi

Arts Days: October 10, 1813: Viva Verdi
Don't think you know any opera? Bet you do. Several pieces by Giuseppe Verdi have taken such deep root in worldwide arts culture that you've probably heard them—and could even hum them with a little effort. “La donna e mobile,” written by this Italian Romantic composer, is one such recognizable piece from his opera Rigoletto, based on a play by Victor Hugo.

Verdi broke some standard “rules” of opera; for example, his Macbeth was the first Italian opera that did not include a love story, and is considered a truly original piece for that reason. Verdi’s incredible range of operatic works can be heard in La Traviata, Aida, Il Trovatore, and Falstaff. Think opera. Think Verdi.
Composers, Opera, Europe, Music, Music Legends

West Side Story

Arts Days: September 26, 1957: Tonight, Tonight
Behind the hit musical about the rival white “Jets” and the Puerto Rican “Sharks” is an updated, urban retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The inspiration and innovation was provided by a boatload of talent; Stephen Sondheim wrote the sophisticated lyrics, Leonard Bernstein the historic music.

Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed the revolutionary dance sequences like the Shark Girls’ exuberant “America” and the Jets’ “Cool.” Audiences saw how violent gang warfare shattered the dreams of star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony. The musical drew big crowds, shocking them all with the death of two young men at the end of Act One and of Tony at the close of the play. As stunned viewers exited the theater, few doubted the universality of Shakespeare’s love story.
Broadway, Musicals, America, Choreographers, Composers, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays, Shakespeare, Popular Culture

John Cage

Arts Days: September 05, 1912: Pushing Music’s Boundaries
You might be confused the first time you hear an orchestra perform John Cage’s famous 1952 composition, 4’33” which refers to the length of time the piece lasts: four minutes, 33 seconds. During this time, no one will play their instrument; the concert hall will be completely silent.

Or will it? Cage, one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, believed in “found sound.” He thought that a whole other kind of music could be heard in the hundreds of small noises of a concert hall: someone shifting in her chair, someone coughing, someone else turning the page of a program. His experimental ideas about music and composition are still considered controversial by many.
America, Composers, Controversial, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Music Legends

The John F. Kennedy Center

Arts Days: September 08, 1971: America’s Home for the Arts
In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation to build a national cultural center in Washington, D.C. Yet in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Congress decided that the center would be a “living memorial” to our 35th president, who had worked tirelessly to elevate the role of the arts in America.

Opening night saw the debut performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, written in memory of the fallen president; other performers included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Berkshire Boys Choir. Since that night, the Center has welcomed and entertained millions as the finest performers from around the globe have graced its multiple stages. In addition, its Education Department touches more than 11 million young people, teachers, and parents each year.
Architecture, Art Venues, Backstage, Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance, Dance Legends, America, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Opera, Theater

William “Count” Basie

Arts Days: August 21, 1906: The Count of Jazz
As a jazz bandleader, pianist, and composer, Count Basie had few peers. He learned to play piano as a youngster, making up music to go with the early silent films of the day.

Working in Harlem and Kansas City, Missouri, Basie absorbed the regional styles of jazz into his own signature “jumping” sound, which referred to his spare piano, pulsating rhythm section, and riffs—a series of notes that are repeated throughout a song—created by his horn players. His band was less formal than others, demonstrating a new lightness and solo originality.

This 1981 Kennedy Center Honoree made jazz history night after night in concert halls and clubs around the world.
America, Composers, Jazz, Music, Music Legends

Leonard Bernstein

Arts Days: August 25, 1918: Bernstein’s Bold Baton
You might find it odd that Leonard Bernstein was the first American-born and trained music director of the New York Philharmonic. But historically speaking, he was also the first American classical music conductor to earn worldwide acclaim.

Bernstein, who was awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 1980, was applauded for his ability to convey all the facets of a composer’s music and its meaning when he was conducting—or when he was teaching at his Young People’s Concerts. He also wrote orchestral pieces, ballet scores, choral and chamber music, the score for the film On the Waterfront; and of course, the music for Broadway’s Candide and West Side Story.

Held in extremely high regard by musical colleagues, Bernstein’s passion and intensity for conducting, writing, and playing music never ebbed over his lengthy career.
America, Composers, Broadway, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Orchestra

Giacomo Puccini

Arts Days: December 22, 1858: For the Love of Opera
Are you surprised to learn that Giacomo Puccini was the latest in a long line of musicians in his family? For a while, he served as a church organist and choirmaster, but then he happened to enjoy a night at the opera: Verdi’s opera, Aida. Puccini was so inspired by what he heard and saw that he decided he, too, would compose operas.

He went on to create some of the world’s best-known ones, from La Boheme to Turandot. Over the next decade or so, Puccini composed what were arguably his three most successful operas in a row—Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La Boheme. Influenced by composers from Verdi to Richard Wagner, Puccini’s operas contain scores of passionate beauty and intensity.
Composers, Opera, Music Legends, Music, Musicals, Europe

Scene from Aida

Arts Days: December 24, 1871: Love on the Nile
One of Giuseppe Verdi’s greatest operas, Aida, made its debut in Cairo, Egypt at the Khedivial Opera House. Why there? Well, an Egyptian prince named Ismail Pasha had commissioned Verdi to write the opera in the first place, paying him 150,000 francs to do so—equivalent to about $32,000 today.

Verdi composed the music for the story of Aida, an Ethiopian princess who is enslaved in Egypt, and her star-crossed relationship with Radames, an Egyptian soldier. Interestingly, Verdi was miffed that no members of the general public were in attendance at this premiere, so he considered the performance in Milan, Italy, the following year to be its true debut.
Musicals, Opera, Africa, Composers, Music, Folklore

Beethoven

Arts Days: December 16, 1770: Music’s Master
Young Ludwig van Beethoven was first given music lessons by his dad, performing his first concert at age seven. He stunned listeners with his technical abilities on the piano and organ, impressing them even more when he produced his first composition at nine. The father of this child who would become one of the greatest classical composers in history hoped his son would follow in the steps of Mozart himself, who died when Beethoven was 21.

Beethoven went on to write symphonies, like No. 9 in D Minor, the first symphony written by a prominent composer to include a choral portion. Though he eventually went completely deaf, Beethoven’s genius was such that he still composed and conducted even when he could not hear a single note. Beethoven was a brilliant improviser, rule-breaker, and master of dramatic music.
Composers, Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Europe, Music, Orchestra

The Cotton Club

Arts Days: December 04, 1927: Setting Up Shop in Harlem
Go back to the corner of Lenox Avenue and 142nd Street in Harlem and the very night Duke Ellington and his orchestra first played for an adoring crowd at New York City’s Cotton Club. This evening marked the beginning of a tremendous four-year residency. Ellington and his musicians provided dance music for the club's performers, African American dancers in incredible costumes who performed songs, dances, and comedy routines for all-white, high-society audiences.

Ellington’s trumpet players, trombonists, and saxophonists—from Bubber Miley to Harry Carney—were each amazingly gifted in their own right; under Ellington’s direction, the orchestra melded into a rock-solid, jazz-playing unit. Soon enough, Ellington, his band, and their music were exposed to a national audience when these shows were broadcast weekly on WHN radio.
Art Venues, Jazz, Music, Composers, Music Legends, America

Pérez Prado

Arts Days: December 11, 1916: Mambo King
Of Mexican and Cuban heritage, Pérez Prado helped bring Latin music to whole new crowds of listeners around the globe. The “King of the Mambo” played piano and led bands throughout his career, including the Pérez Prado Orchestra—today led by his son, Perez Prado, Jr. in Mexico City. And, he wrote music for people to dance the mambo, better known today as salsa dancing.

Prado described his mambo as being “an Afro-Cuban rhythm with a dash of American swing.” Makes sense. Prado’s best-known pieces, like “Mambo No. 5” and “Mambo Jambo,” had American audiences dancing in the aisles of his concerts, which often sold out.
Composers, Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Dance, Music, Latin America

W.C. Handy

Arts Days: November 16, 1873: Father of the Blues
William Christopher Handy, who composed “Beale Street Blues” and “St. Louis Blues,” among many others, was one of the first professional musicians to play the blues, a distinctly American musical genre. But he did more than most to elevate awareness of the blues; he helped popularize the sound beyond its traditional African American roots to a wider, commercial audience.

When Handy and his band moved to Memphis, Tennessee, his career took off, especially with the release of “Memphis Blues,” a tune he published in 1912 that many consider the first blues song. During the 1920s, Handy formed his own music publication company, a business that proved quite lucrative and also brought him great fame.
Composers, Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Blues, America, Music

Scott Joplin

Arts Days: November 24, 1868: The Ragtime King
Pianist and composer Scott Joplin was undoubtedly the best-known composer of ragtime, or “ragged time,” music. Ragtime’s main hallmark is its syncopated rhythms—marked by a stress on what would normally be an unaccented beat in the music, or a rest where there would normally be an emphasis. Popular in 19th-century dance halls, ragtime captivated music fans for a couple of decades before jazz became all the rage.

Audiences clamored for Joplin’s many compositions, like “Maple Leaf Rag,” “Pineapple Rag,” and “The Entertainer.” He even wrote a ragtime opera called Treemonisha. By combining natural piano talent and classical European training with the rich sounds of African American gospel hymns, spirituals, blues, and plantation songs, Joplin created a new American sound.
Composers, Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Music, America, Jazz

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