Integrating Carnegie Hall

Benny Goodman blew the lid off Carnegie Hall on this date in 1938, in a legendary jazz concert — tickets had sold out weeks in advance — that made the “uptown” (i.e., Black) music respectable among the midtown set. The “King of Swing” was joined onstage by Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Teddy Wilson, and other […]

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About This Calendar

“MUSIC, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional,” wrote the late Jewish brain scientist Oliver Sacks in his Musicophilia: Music and the Brain. “It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; […]

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Ira Gershwin

Lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershowitz), a Pulitzer Prize-winner (for Of Thee I Sing, 1932) and prolific songwriting collaborator with his younger brother, George Gershwin, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1896. His parents were immigrants from Russia, who had come to the U.S. in 1891. After taking odd jobs […]

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Lawrence Cohn “Rescues” Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson, arguably the most influential blues musician of the 20th century, began five days of recording on this date in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas — the first of only two known periods in a recording studio during his short life (1911-1938). Fifty-five years later, record producer Lawrence (Larry) Cohn of Legacy (a division […]

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Taylor Swift, Queen of Looking Backwards

SILENT AS WHITE NATIONALISTS CLAIM HER WORK AND IMAGE By Hannah Weilbacher TAYLOR SWIFT, the pop star who made her break with country ballads, is the queen of looking backwards. Throughout my nine years of committed fandom, her reflective and honest songwriting has helped me process emotions, memories, and difficult moments. Looking backwards is her strength, and […]

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Singing Songs of Resistance

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN KAUFMAN ON THE NEW ALBUM, FOR THOSE WHO CAME AFTER: SONGS OF RESISTANCE FROM THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR by Jacob L. Perl   JUST BEFORE ROSH HASHANAH in Madison, Wisconsin, someone spray-painted swastikas on a monument to the Wisconsin volunteers of of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. The battalion was one of the international […]

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O My America: My Favorite Shikse

by Lawrence Bush I’VE BEEN in love with Rickie Lee Jones for 38 years, because of her unfailingly creative and original music. There, I just had to say that, after seeing her in concert in New Jersey last night. She started by asking, “Where exactly am I tonight?” (She’s on tour.) I patted my chest. […]

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Nu, Did He Deserve the Nobel Prize?

by Sparrow DOES THE WORLD need another essay about Dylan winning the Nobel Prize? Certainly not. In fact, most people have already forgotten about it. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of Dylan fans will read this piece -– if they find it –- because they’ll read anything about Dylan. I know because I’m […]

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February 2: Jascha Heifetz, the Virtuoso

Jascha Heifetz, considered by many to be the greatest violinist in modern history, was born in Vilna on this date in 1901. A child prodigy, he made his public debut at age 7, and his performance at age 12 prompted the great Fritz Kreisler to say, “We may as well break our fiddles across our […]

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Fear of Hillary in (Bela)Russia

by Leonard J. Lehrman MY WIFE Helene Williams and I were in Russia and Belarus twice this past year, June 8 to July 7 and October 27 to November 7, visiting museums, attending plays and operas, giving concerts, making recordings, taking thousands of photographs, and speaking and performing at the November 6 commemoration of the […]

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