Vanessa Mae wowed the world with her electrifying performance on the violin. Noted as a crossover violinist, she effectively fused classical music with pop. Her stage presence, musical style and innate flair earned her much praise and criticisms as well. In 1991, then 13-year old Vanessa Mae became the youngest soloist to record Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 and Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61. The said recording was released under the Trittico label.
Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim worked with producer/director Hal Prince on several Broadway musicals, namely Follies (1973) with libretto by James Goldman, A Little Night Music (1974) featuring the song "Send In The Clowns" and Pacific Overtures (1976) with libretto by John Weidman. Sondheim has won several Tony Awards, including Best Music and Best Lyrics for Company; and Best Score for Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Passion. This makes him the most Tony-awarded composer to date.
Richard Wagner was a German composer and librettist famous for his operas. Among his famous works are the operas "Tannhäuser," "Der Ring des Nibelungen," "Tristan und Isolde" and "Parsifal." The Festival Theatre (The Festspielhaus) in Bayreuth was built by Gottfried Semper based on Wagner's specifications and is still being used to stage Wagner's operas. The longest commonly performed opera is Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The uncut version performed by the Sadler's Wells company between August 24 and September 19, 1968 required 5 hours 15 minutes.
The multi-award winning composer, John Williams, is the man behind memorable film scores of movies like E.T., Jaws, Memoirs of A Geisha and the Star Wars trilogy. "Star Wars Theme and Cantina Band," Domenico Monardo's 1977 disco arrangement of William's Star Wars music, sold 2 million units, making it the only instrumental single that reached a Platinum status.
Sammy Cahn was an Academy Award winning lyricist who wrote the words to many unforgettable songs including "Three Coins in the Fountain," "All the Way" and "Call Me Irresponsible." Although he could play several instruments, Cahn focused on lyric writing. He collaborated with composers like Jule Styne, Saul Chaplin and Jimmy Van Heusen to add music to his lyrics and vice versa. He wrote songs for Broadway musicals, films and for vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. Between 1943 and 1976, Cahn was nominated a total of 26 times for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category. This makes him the most Oscar nominated composer for the said category.
A snippet of the French folk song "Au Clair de la Lune" was recorded on April 9, 1860 by French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. The ten-second snippet, which was discovered in 2008 by researchers in Paris, is considered the oldest recorded human voice. The recording which was made on paper using a device called phonautograph, was examined at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The flute is considered one of the oldest man-made musical instruments. In 1998, a Slovenian palaeontologist named Dr Ivan Turk discovered an ancient bone flute in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The said bone flute is believed to be around 43,000 to 82,000 years old.
On December 16, 1965, astronauts aboard Gemini 6, Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford, played a prank on Mission Control. They said they saw some kind of UFO stating that the pilot was "wearing a red suit." They then played "Jingle Bells" on a harmonica (Hohner's Little Lady model) backed by sleigh bells. Both instruments are now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and considered the first musical instruments played in space.
First Musical Instrument Played In Space, Written by Owen Edwards for the Smithsonian, http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?1891
Guinness World Records, http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/