Robert Cole

This post is abridged from a biography written by James Wolf, Digital Conversion Specialist, Music Division, for African-American Band Music & Recordings, 1883-1923 in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia. Read the entire article here. Robert Allen Cole was born on July 1, 1868, in Athens, Georgia, the son of former slaves. Like Will Marion Cook and James […]

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers, one of  the great composers of the American Musical Theater, was born on this day in 1902. With Lorenz Hart (lyricist for “Manhattan” and  Pal Joey) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyricist for South Pacific, Oklahoma, and The Sound of Music) Rodgers’ music has been part of the musical and cinematic collective consciousness for nearly […]

Happy Birthday Les Paul

Guitarist and inventor Les Paul was born on this day in 1915.  Paul helped develop the Gibson Les Paul solid-body electric guitar, an instrument so iconic that the foreword to Les Paul’s memoir was written by none other than Paul McCartney.  Les Paul died last year, but his handiwork continues to be heard from the […]

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Paquito D’Rivera!

June 4th was the birthday of Cuban-born composer and reed player Paquito D’Rivera.  His clarinet and saxophone work has graced a diverse range of ensembles, from the incendiary Cuban-jazz group Irakere to the National Symphony Orchestra. A performance of “Merengue” by cellist Yo-Yo Ma won D’Rivera a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental in 2004. Other […]

Of Crooners and Princes: May Birthdays

Last week we celebrated birthdays of a diverse array of musical luminaries. Pianist Wladziu Valentino was briefly known as  Walter Busterkeys before using the name by which we all know him: Liberace was born May 16, 1919. Read about him in the Nevada section of the Local Legacies project in The American Folklife Center. Alexander Warrack’s Scots Dictionary […]

Great Conversations in Music

This week marks the birthday of two of the participants in Great Conversations in Music, a series of interviews hosted by Eugene Istomin (1925-2003). Video clips from the entire series can be viewed on the Performing Arts Encyclopedia, and are organized by The Pianists,  The Composers,  Chamber Music,  The Virtuosos, and The Conductors. One of those conductors […]

Happy Birthday Sir Duke

Otto. Cutey. Stinkpot. Wucker. Dumplin’. Maestro. Big Red. Head Knocker. Puddin’. These are some of the many nicknames given the man born Edward Kennedy, whom we all know as “Duke” Ellington. Born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C., Ellington was one of the great jazz bandleaders, pianists, and composers. The Music Division is home to […]

Brush up your Shakespeare

In the Muse has regularly featured photographs from the William P. Gottlieb Collection when commemorating the birthdays of jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Django Reinhardt, and Ben Webster. But that’s not all that’s in the collection. Today, the observed birthday of William Shakespeare, enjoy this photograph, which originally appeared in Down Beat magazine in 1947 […]