Monday, 14 April 2014

A-Z of Music - N

So, after all the traumas of the last few months, I've decided to make a concerted effort to catch up with my blog, starting with the latest installment of our musical meanderings.
For the letter N, I've chosen two characters with very similar names................
Firstly, on the lighter side, we have Harry Nilsson, who came up with what I think are two of the most beautiful songs of the period - 'Without You' and the ever-popular 'Everybody's Talkin'. 
He was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, of Swedish descent, and died in 1994 of a heart attack.
Now is this curious, or is this curious? Nilsson had a flat in Mayfair for a while, which he would lend out to friends when he wasn't using it.  During one of his absences, ex-Mamas and Papas singer Cass Elliot and a few members of her tour group stayed at the flat while she performed solo at the London Palladium. Following a strenuous performance with encores, Elliot returned to the flat to relax and sleep and was discovered in one of the bedrooms, dead of heart failure at 32, on July 29, 1974.
On September 7, 1978, The Who's drummer Keith Moon returned to the same room in the flat after a night out, and died at 32 from an overdose of Clomethiazole, a prescribed anti-alcohol drug. Nilsson, distraught over another friend's death in his flat, and having little need for the property, sold it to Moon's bandmate Pete Townshend and consolidated his life in Los Angeles.
So, going back to 'Everybody's Talkin', which was used to great effect in the film 'Midnight Cowboy', this was not Nilsson's first choice of song for that film. He also penned 'I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City', which to me, suited the story line far better. However, it was rejected in favour of the former.
See what you think:

And so onto our classical composer, Carl Nielsen, who was born in 1865, and who grew up in a poor but happy home on Funen, Denmark’s second-largest island. He worked variously as a goose-herder, a cowherd, a wedding musician, and a military bugler before winning a scholarship to the Royal Danish Conservatory, in Copenhagen. His major pieces—which include not only the six symphonies but the operas “Saul and David” and “Maskarade,” a beloved Wind Quintet, and concertos for violin, flute, and clarinet—are grounded in ruddy, earthy, insistently singable melodies; more than a few of his songs have entered Danish folk tradition. (When the composer turned sixty, in 1925, a national holiday was declared, and he woke to find a brass band playing outside his window in Copenhagen.)
Although best known for his symphonies, he wrote many other fine pieces. This is his Helios Overture Op.17:

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