December 3, 1883 - Anton Webern was born in Vienna, Austria. He was a composer, conductor and arranger belonging to the 12-tone Viennese school. Aside from piano, Webern also played the cello. He studied musicology at the University of Vienna and later became the student of Arnold Schoenberg.
December 4, 1976 - Benjamin Britten died in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. He was a conductor, pianist and prolific English composer of the 20th century who was instrumental in establishing a music festival in England. He wrote instrumental works, vocal pieces, chamber music, choral works and operas. Among his known works are "War Requiem," "The Turn of the Screw" and "Peter Grimes." The text to "War Requiem" came from a poem written by a World War 1 soldier named Wilfred Owen.
December 5, 1791 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna. After writing "The Magic Flute," Mozart became ill. He died in the early morning of December 5 at the age of 35. Some researchers say it was due to kidney failure. His over 600 compositions still influence countless musicians and listeners to this day.
December 5, 2007 - Karlheinz Stockhausen died in Kürten, Germany. He was an innovative composer of the 20th and was the first to compose music from sine-wave sounds.
December 6, 1995 - Joni Mitchell received the Century Award at the Billboard Music Awards. She is primarily identified as a folk musician but she also dabbled in pop, rock, jazz, electronic and acoustic music.
December 7, 1562 - Adrian Willaert died in Venice. He is known as the founder of the Venetian School; he used two, and at times 3, choirs each singing in four parts.
December 8, 1865 - Jean Sibelius was born in Hämeenlinna, a small town in Helsinki. He composed symphonies, orchestral pieces, chamber, choral and incidental music, an opera and piano pieces. He composed "Finlandia" in 1899; a powerful composition that made him a national figure.
December 10, 1822 - Cesar Franck was born in Liège, Belgium. He was an organist and composer who later became a professor at the Paris Conservatory. His teachings inspired a crop of music pupils, among them was composer Vincent d 'Indy.
December 10, 1908 - Olivier Messiaen was born in Avignon, France. He was a composer, educator and organist of the 20th century whose works influenced other notable names in music like Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Among his major compositions are "Quatuor pour la fin du temps," "Saint Francois d' Assise" and "Turangalîla-Symphonie."
December 11, 1803 - Louis-Hector Berlioz was born in La Côte-Saint-André, Isére. Unlike his contemporaries, Berlioz' wasn't as easily accepted by the public. It might be said that his manner of instrumentation and orchestration was too advanced for his time. He wrote operas, symphonies, choral music, overtures, songs and cantatas.
December 11, 1908 - Elliott Carter was born in New York, New York, U.S.A. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer. He became music director of Lincoln Kirstein's Ballet Caravan in 1935. He also taught at prestigious educational institutions such as the Peabody Conservatory, Juilliard School and Yale University. Innovative and prolific, he is known for his use of metric modulation or tempo modulation. Carter celebrated his 100th birthday in 2008 at New York's Carnegie Hall and continues to actively compose.
December 11, 1964 - Alma Schindler died in in New York, USA. She was an author and composer who mainly wrote songs based on poems written by poets like Heine and Rilke. She was also the wife of composer Gustav Mahler.
December 12, 1938 - Connie Francis was born in Newark, New Jersey. She appeared and won on Arthur Godfrey's Startime Talent Scout Show when she was 10. It was Godfrey who advised Connie to change her name to something shorter and more memorable. Since then she has used the name Connie Francis.
December 14, 1788 - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach died in Hamburg. He was the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was prominent during his time prompting many to affirm that he was Bach's worthy successor.
December 14, 1963 - Dinah Washington died in Detroit, Michigan due to accidental prescription drug overdose. Also referred to as "The Queen of the Blues," she was a well-known vocalist of the mid-20th century. Her versatile vocal ability enabled her to record songs in various genres; from blues to jazz to pop.
December 15, 1943 - Fats Waller died of pneumonia on board the Santa Fe Chief train during a stop over at Union Station in Kansas City. He was was a jazz organist, pianist, singer, composer, conductor and bandleader of small bands during the 1930s. Aside from lyricist Andy Razaf, he also collaborated with Clarence Williams, George Marion Jr. and Stanley Adams. Waller was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.