Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)
Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer. She has often been referred to as the “First Lady of Song,” “Queen of Jazz,” and “Lady Ella.” Ella Fitzgerald was known for the purity of her tone, impeccable diction, fine phrasing and impeccable intonation, as well as a horn-like way of improvising when she was scat singing.
Early in her career Ella Fitzgerald performed with the Chick Webb Orchestra and had musical success performing across the country. Her solo career began in 1942. Ella Fitzgerald appeared in many movies and as a guest on many popular television shows in the second half of the twentieth century. Outside of her solo career, Ella was famous for her collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and the Ink Spots.
Ella Fitzgerald made some of her most famous recordings on the Verve label such as a recording of the Great American Songbook.
Here is an early recording (1937) of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Dedicated to You.” She is accompanied by the Mills Brothers.
Nicola Porpora (1686-1768)
Nicola Porpora was an Italian composer and singing teacher. He worked for the Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt and the Portuguese ambassador in Naples. Porpora composed serenatas, cantatas, oratorios, sacred operas, over 100 other sacred works, several instrumental works, and vocalization exercises, and 50 operas. Nicola Porpora had a great understanding of the art of singing and his melodic lines are often intricate and embellished.
Simone Kermes (1970-)
Simone Kermes is a German coloratura soprano. She is well known for her singing of the baroque and classical operatic repertoire.
Here is a recording of Simone Kermes singing an aria from Act ll scene 10 of the opera Quinto Fabio by Nicola Porpora with Claudio Osele’s Le Musiche Nove ensemble. Enjoy!
Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937-)
Vladimir Ashkenazy made his debut as a concert pianist in Moscow in 1945. In 1955 he won second prize in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Poland. In 1956 Ashkenazy won first prize in the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. in 1962 Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon both won first prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Ashkenazy is noted for his interpretations of Rachmaninov’s music. He is also known for his warm and sincere playing of the Romantic piano repertoire and sensitive and clear playing of the music of W.A. Mozart. In the middle of his career as a concert pianist he took up orchestral conducting. He still makes solo piano recordings and performs on the piano but he is busy conducting orchestras.
Here are three preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy. The first is the Prelude in f sharp minor op.23, no.1. The second is the prelude op.23, no.4 in D Major, and the third is the Prelude op.23, no.10 in G Flat Major. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful music as much as I do.
Joe Venuti (1903-1978)
Joe Venuti is considered by many people to be the father of jazz violin. He is well known today for his recordings with jazz guitarist Eddie Lang. Venuti also worked with Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, Paul Whiteman’s orchestra, and the Boswell Sisters and Bix Beiderbecke as well as other jazz musicians.
Eddie Lang (1902-1933)
Eddie Lang is the father of the jazz guitar. He worked primarily with violinist Joe Venuti (from 1921-1933). Eddie Lang was a member of the Paul Whiteman orchestra. He also worked with Louis Armstrong, blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, and later in his career he was Bing Crosby’s accompanist.
Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang were a major influence on Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Here are two recordings of Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti entitled “Goin Places,” and “Stringing the Blues.” On “Goin Places” Arthur Schutt joins Lang and Venuti on the piano.