Three of Your Favorite Jazz Pianists were Born in August: Let's Celebrate!

What are some exciting events that have happened in the month of August? In 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Southampton, England with 102 Pilgrims. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson declared the U.S. Civil War over, and in 1896, gold was first discovered in the Klondike. And in jazz history? Three of the most renowned pianists were born.

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Credit: William P. Gottlieb

A romantic ballad launched one career, revived another, and became a beloved standard for generations of musicians. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Thelonious Monk's " ‘Round Midnight." The work was recorded first in 1944—but not by Monk.


There's an emblematic photograph of Herbie Hancock on the back cover of his album Sunlight, which he began recording 40 years ago this month. He's depicted against a red backdrop with a Sennheiser vocoder headset on his cranium, which is bowed in deep focus.

What are all the things you need to know if your goal is to be a concert pianist? More than 20 aspiring musicians ages 12 to 27 will travel to Philadelphia in early August from Asia, South America, Canada, and parts of the United States to find out.

In 1956, a groundbreaking performance at the Newport Jazz Festival changed the course of Duke Ellington's path in jazz. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more. 


Even though it's not a universal favorite among presidents, "Hail to the Chief" remains their official entrance theme.  WRTI's Meridee Duddleston has more on the origin of the march that begins with the ultimate in fanfare, not three, but four "Ruffles and Flourishes."  

A new education program in Philadelphia is creating unique opportunities for aspiring classical music students from diverse backgrounds, with the ultimate goal of bridging cultural gaps in the classical music industry. It was born of an uncommon level of cooperation, in a city that has an abundance of fine programs for budding classical musicians.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts has resided for over 40 years in its West Fairmount Park home. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on how this Philadelphia venue for summer music came to be.

What instrument has been used to conjure a shepherd’s horn as well as a human cry of despair? WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on the oddly named, but evocative, English horn.

Mark Campbell is one of the most prolific and celebrated librettists in contemporary American opera. But, as he recently told an audience at the Guggenheim Museum, not everyone thought his latest project was a good idea.

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As we celebrate the legacy of jazz pianist Bill Evans, you might be surprised to know that some cool cats named Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and especially—Johann Sebastian Bach—helped shape his sound.

When WRTI Jazz Host Bob Perkins talks about one of his all-time favorite pianists, what does he call him?  The Wonderful Wizard of OZcar!  One of the great jazz pianists of all time, master of the keyboard Oscar Peterson, said he was intimidated by jazz pianist Art Tatum and admired Nat King Cole. But "O.P.," as his friends called him, was a magician who followed his own muse.

Williams James Basie, born on August 21st, 1904 in Redbank, NJ, would grow up to become jazz royalty.  Ever wonder how he got the name Count? Although there were different theories over the years, Basie himself cleared it up with the story reported in Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men who Made it (1966) by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff.

The Mystery of Music as an Art Form

Aug 13, 2017
Credit: Jeff Herman

Music can be mysterious, even to those who spend their lives creating it. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, composer Christopher Rouse ponders the profound power of music with his concerto for organ and orchestra.

What’s it like growing up aiming for a classical concert career? WRTI’s Susan Lewis asked a young Canadian pianist Thomas Torok how he manages the music, excitement, and competition.  

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