December 18 – Nutcracker, Barbara George, Tokens, Bond synth

1892
Premiere of Tchaikovsky‘s two-act ballet The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

The story is based in German author E. T. A. Hoffmann‘s 1816 novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King The premiere is poorly produced and received.

In 1909 the English branch of Germany‘s Odeon Records (*) releases what’s arguably the first record album. The four-disk set (seven sides) in ‘special’ packaging is a recording of the Nutcracker performed by the London Palace Orchestra.

In 1919 choreographer Alexander Gorsky stages a new, better version of the work.

George Balanchine‘s 1954 New York City Ballet staging popularizes it greatly, and subsequently it becomes one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions.

▷Story of the ballet ▹

1961

19-year-old singer Barbara George (Barbara Ann Smith) (*) charts (on the way to US#3) with
I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More).

Her self-penned song and first recording is released by pianist and alto saxophonist Harold Battiste‘s brand-new AFO Records (*) (*). (Battiste also produced Dr. John‘s early records.)

Barbara, born in 1942 in New Orleans‘ Ninth Ward, records an LP for AFO (largely self-penned) and many singles (with lesser quality) for Sue Records. But she’s unable to escape one-hit wonderdom with them. The song is later covered by several big-name artists. ▷Barbara George remembered▹

1961

Doo-woppers The Tokens cover of The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) tops the US chart.

The song, originally ‘Mbube’, was made famous in 1940s Africa by writer Salomon Linda —  and often performed by folkies The Weavers.

1969

The sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is the first to use music made on a Moog synthesizer (red-hot at the time).

It’s heard in the title theme as four filthy downward notes which are picked up by the orchestra.

John Barry composed the filmscore, extending the vocabulary like Ennio Morricone. He also uses the Moog for the Euroish theme of 1971 TV series The Persuaders!.

Advertisements