Category Archives: Music

Ludvig van Beethoven: Genius, Inspiration and Musical Revolutionary

Ludvig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Ludvig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Fun Facts About Ludvig van Beethoven

  • Born in 1770 in Cologne, Germany, Beethoven performed in public by the age of seven, and while not quite the sensation that the young Mozart was, he was quickly recognized as a brilliant musical talent.
  • He moved to Vienna while in his early twenties and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and gaining a solid reputation as a virtuoso pianist.
  • Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, 7 concertos, 17 string quartets, 32 piano sonatas, and 10 sonatas for violin and piano.
  • Beethoven dipped his head in cold water before he composed.
  • There were three major periods of Beethoven’s musical life. The second period, sometimes called the “Heroic” period, lasted from 1803 to 1814 and is named for the tremendous works that express struggle and heroism. His famous Fifth Symphony was one of the many pieces of music written during this period.
  • He also popularized instrumental music in a European culture that had a preference for vocal music such as operas.
  • Even though he wrote only one classical opera, Fidelio, he remains one of the most acclaimed and influential composers of all time.
  • As one who scorned authority and social rank, he would stop performing at his piano if the audience was talking too much or not giving him their full attention. At soirées, he refused to perform if suddenly called upon to do so.
  • Beethoven began having hearing problems as early as 1802. What started as an annoying ringing in his ears worsened until he was almost totally deaf by 1816.
  • The cause of deafness is unknown, but it has variously been attributed to syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, autoimmune disorder and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake.
  • A large collection of his hearing aids, such as special ear horns, can be viewed at the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, Germany.
  • He used a special rod attached to the soundboard on his piano that he could bite. The vibrations of the bite would then transfer from the piano to his jaw thus increasing his perception of the sound.
  • At the premier performance of his final masterpiece, the Ninth Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven had to turn around to see the audience’s thunderous applause: he was too deaf to hear it.
  • Strange but true: Beethoven was extremely particular about his coffee , he always counted 60 beans per cup.
  • Beethoven was bedridden for most of the last months of his life. Many friends came to visit him and when he died on March 26, 1827, it was during a thunderstorm. His friend, Anselm Hüttenbrenner, who was present at the time, claimed that there was a peal of thunder at the moment of his death.
  • Despite his reputation for being rude and angry, Beethoven had many friends and was well liked. More than 20,000 people attended his funeral.

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“Rock Around the Clock”: Bill Haley and his Comets Usher in the Era of Rock ‘n Roll

Bill Haley and his Comets

Bill Haley and his Comets

Fun Facts About “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets

  • Written by songwriter Max Freedman, this song was intended for Haley, but industry politics kept him from recording the song. The original version was most likely recorded in October, 1953 by Sonny Dae and His Nights. It sank without a trace, but Haley finally recorded it on April 12, 1954 and the song became a massive hit.
  • Most people didn’t know what Rock And Roll was when this was released, so the record company had a hard time describing the song. The label on the single called it a “Novelty Foxtrot.”
  • This was the original opening theme song for the TV show Happy Days. The song was re-released in 1974 to capitalize on its new popularity, and charted at #39 in the US. In 1976 theme was changed to “Happy Days.”
  • The term “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a relatively new way of describing music when this came out. A lot of early “Rock” was based on The Blues, and was far too racy for most white listeners. This was tame by Blues standards, but still caused a stir. It took Elvis to really shake things up.
  • This was one of the first hits of the Rock era. Billboard had been keeping a Top 40 chart for only a few months when this came out. It stayed at #1 for 8 weeks.
  • The group released this in 1954 as the B-side of a novelty song called “Thirteen Women,” which was about an atomic blast that leaves only 1 man and 13 women alive. It wasn’t until a year later that it was re-released and became a hit.
  • This was used in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle, which gave it a great deal of exposure and helped send it up the charts.
  • In the UK, this was the biggest-selling single of the ’50s.
  • Elton John took a swipe at this in his song “Crocodile Rock.” Elton thought this was kind of overrated, so he put a line in about how they were doing the Crocodile Rock while the other kids were “Rocking ’round the clock.”
  • Haley had several hits before recording this song, including “Shake, Rattle And Roll” and “Mambo Rock.”
  • He was never able to duplicate the massive success of “Rock Around The Clock,” but he did have a few more hits in the ’50s, including “See You Later, Alligator” and “The Saints Rock ‘N Roll.”
  • Haley is a key figure in the evolution of Rock music, helping transform the sound out of Country music.
  • Bill Haley and His Comets were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
  • According to Rolling Stone in their “100 Greatest Guitar Songs” issue, Comets guitarist Danny Cedrone was paid $21 for his work on this track, which became a classic Rock solo. Unfortunately, he died in a fall just months after he recorded it.
  • There is a different snare drum pattern on each verse.

VIDEO:  Bill Haley and his Comets performing “Rock Around the Clock”

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The Who’s “Tommy”: Pete Townshend’s Magnum Opus and First Rock-Opera

Original Album Cover Art for "Tommy"

Original Album Cover Art for "Tommy"

Fun Facts About The Who’s “Tommy”


What is the name of Tommy’s mother?

    Mrs. Walker. From the song “It’s a Boy” – “It’s a boy, Mrs Walker, it’s a boy”.

What is the first name of Tommy’s cousin, who bullies him while babysitting?

    Kevin. The song “Cousin Kevin” was written by John Entwistle.

Which member of The Who claimed that he never listened to the completed “Tommy” album after recording had finished?

John Entwistle. John Entwistle once said that he had grown so bored making the album, recording many takes and re-takes, that he never listened to the finished product. 

Which character introduces Tommy to the Acid Queen?

    The Hawker. The Acid Queen was played by Tina Turner in the movie version of “Tommy”.

What is broken to bring about Tommy’s miracle cure?

    A mirror. The episode is covered in the song “Smash the Mirror”.

Keith Moon is credited with writing which song on the “Tommy” LP?

    Tommy’s Holiday Camp. Although the song was actually written by Townshend, the credit was given to Moon because he came up with the idea of having Tommy run a holiday camp.

Who sings the song “Fiddle About”?

    John Entwistle. Entwistle wrote and sang two songs on the “Tommy” LP – “Fiddle About” and “Cousin Kevin”.

Which Mose Allison song was recorded for “Tommy” but didn’t make it onto the final album?

    Young Man Blues. The Who’s version of “Young Man Blues” wasn’t released on the “Tommy” LP, but the band included the song in their live set for many years afterwards.

Who painted the cover art for the “Tommy” album?

    Mike McInnerney. Mike McInnerney was art director for International Times and introduced Pete Townshend to the teachings of Meher Baba.

What was the release date of the “Tommy” LP in the UK?

    23 May 1969. The album peaked at number two in the UK charts and at number four in the US.

When did The Who debut “Tommy” in the US?

7 June 1970, at Lincoln Center in New York City

VIDEO: “Tommy” – Live performance by The Who

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The Saxophone and Adolphe Joseph Sax

The Saxophone

The Saxophone

Fun Facts About the Saxophone

  • A U.S. patent was filed for the saxophone on May 17th, 1846
  • The saxophone was invented in 1840 by Belgian musician Adolphe Joseph Sax
  • Adolphe Joseph SaxWhen he was 2 years old, he fell out of a second story window and fractured his skull.
  • When he was 6 years old, he mistakenly drank boric acid.
  • When he was 9 years old, he fell over a small cliff and broke his leg.
  • When he was 11 years old, he contracted measles and was in a coma for nine days.
  • When he was 14 years old, he broke his arm when he caught it in a carriage door.
  • When he was 19 years old, he was struck on the head by a falling brick.
  • When he was 23 years old, he almost died from the effects of tainted wine.
  • When he was 29 years old, he invented the Saxophone
Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones
  • The saxophone has become associated with mostly with American music
  • Their are five main types of saxophones. They are called, from highest sounding to lowest, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone and Bass.
  • Blind saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk was known to play multiple saxophones at the same time, essentially becoming a one-man saxophone section.
  • The saxophone was originally meant to be played in classical ensembles and concert bands, but it is now more closely associated with jazz, rock and funk bands.
  • Many famous musicians have played the saxophone including John Coltrane, Kenny G, Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band and LeRoi Moore of the Dave Matthews Band.
  • Circular breathing is used by saxophonists to hold long, uninterrupted notes. The most famous circular breathing saxophonist is Kenny G who once held a single uninterrupted note for 45 minutes without stopping.

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