March 18 – Schaeffer Symphonie, SXSW, Prodigy

1950


Schaeffer

Premiere in Paris of Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for One Man Alone) by French composers Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry.
 
The performance is the first live concert of musique concrete. Its 22 movements — of sounds like ‘mechanical noises, orchestral hits, trains, and text-sound babble’ — are produced for 80 minutes using turntables and mixers at the National School of Music. (*)

Our direction was to turn our back on music and that is crucial. People who try to create a musical revolution do not have a chance, but those who turn their back to music can sometimes find it. ▷EM:Pioneers in Sampling▹

In 1936 Schaeffer, working as radio engineer, was a co-founder of the La jeune France (‘Young France’) group of composers. In 1942 he co-founded Studio d’Essai. Henry was a student of Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen from 1938-48.
 
Prossopopee I  Scherzo  Apostrophe 
▷Schaeffer interview▹ ▷Henry inverview▹ ▷Musique concrete history in one page▹

See also: Acousmatic music

1987
Private festival-producing company SXSW, started by Robert Swenson (*) in Austin, TX, holds its first annual concert.
 
The Austin Chronicle employee starts with a 12-venue, 5-day, 200 band concert held during UT’s spring break. It draws 700 attendees.

The cosmic cowboy, blues, punk and other scenes had already proven that Austin was a receptive place for bands to be creative.

As time goes by the ‘indie’ festival is taken over by majors’ acts.
 
In 1994 SXSW adds a film and interactive component; in 1995 it spins off North by Northwest in Portland, OR and North by Northeast in Toronto. By 2003, 1000 acts are performing at the annual event.
 
 ( Website

1996

UK electronic rock band and big beat pioneer The Prodigy release single Firestarter.
 
By Mar. 24 it’s a UK#1 (their first) (FI#1,NO#1, US#30). Nov. 1996 single Breathe is also a UK#1,FI#1,AU#2.
 
Both singles appear on their 3rd studio album The Fat of the Land released June 30, 1997. It becomes an international #1 album. Somehow it even punches a hole in the ozone layer that usually protects the US Mainstream and, on Maverick Records (swallowed by Warner in 2004), debuting at US#1! (The temporary rupture also let in The Chemical Brothers Dig Your Own Hole (UK#1,AU#3,US#14.) Block Rockin’ Beats 
 
Prodigy’s sold over 25 million records worldwide. Several Prodigy singles have appeared in TV and film soundtracks, including 1999 sci-fi blockbuster The Matrix. 2009 saw the release of 5th studio album Invaders Must Die (UK#1,DE#3,US#58) and another’s in the works.
 
 ( Website

See also: Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method