May 13 – Mendelssohn, Wonder turns 21, Solaris, Smiths debut, Death Cab

1833

24-year-old German romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn conducts the premiere of his fourth, Italian Symphony in London. Dohnányi, Vienna Phil. 

Mendelssohn had been grand touring in Italy during 1830-31 with other travelers (including Hector Berlioz).(*) He was never satisfied with the work; few others would say that. (*)

Other well-known works by Felix include his amazing 1825 Octet (written when he was 16) … the world-famous Wedding March from equally-fine 1842 incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream … and his third or Scottish Symphony.

 ( Fansite ▷Mendelssohn at 200, w/gallery ▹ Midsummer / Ozawa, Boston (55m) 

1971

Stevie Wonder becomes 21 years old and gets the first $1 million out of the $30 million he’s already earned.

Wonder had signed with Motown in 1961, when he was 10. His Sep. 1962 debut album was The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie. On May 21, 1963, Motown released Fingertips, on which he sang and played bongos and the harmonica (and Marvin Gaye played drums!). It became a US#1 hit in August — as did the album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius — and ‘a star is born’.

He gets deep into music tech thanks to Tonto’s Expanding Head Band — including them on five of his albums — and stays caught up. To date, he has 34 top-10 singles.
 ( Website ▷Encyc Pop Music ▹

1972

Release of Russian sci-fi film Solaris directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Levitation scene (6m) 

The film (not released in the US until Oct. 6, 1976) is based on a 1961 novel by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem. The book’s first direct English translation becomes available in 2011.

Some of the soundtrack is created on the 1957 ANS synthesizer, created by Russian audio engineer, inventor Yevgeny Murzin. The ANS synthesizes sound from artificially drawn sound waves.

1978 album ‘Kosmos’ by Japanese electronic musician Isao Tomita(*) includes a piece inspired by the film. Kosmos:Solaris 

An English-language version of the film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is released on Nov. 27, 2002.

 ( Lem site

See also: Oramics, Variophone, Graphical sound

1983

Brit indie rockers The Smiths (*)
release their debut single ‘Hand in Glove on the five-year-old indie Rough Trade label.

It closely follows the debut Smiths performance on Feb. 23 at The Haçienda(*) in Manchester. ▷Smiths’ first gig ▹

Hand in Glove gets little attention, but their October single This Charming Man rises to UK#8. Four studio albums follow before Marr leaves in 1987.

They’ve been called ‘one of the most important bands to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s’.

Handsome  This Night 
 ( Passions Just Like Mine fansite ▷Smiths cover stars ▹

2006


Narrow Stairs cover

Bellingham, WA alt-rock band Death Cab for Cutie releases 6th studio album Narrow Stairs, which climbs to US#1. I Will Possess Your Heart (8m) 

The band’s first 3 albums failed to chart, while Oct. 7, 2003 fourth album Transatlanticism barely made it (US#97). Finally Aug. 30, 2005 album Plans made US#4 and the band subsequently stayed gold. It’s track Soul Meets Body was the band’s top-charting single (USAlt#5) until You Are a Tourist made USAlt#1 in July, 2011.

 ( Website