Friday, 6 June 2014

A-Z of Music - O

Today, the greatest 'O' of them all. I'm talking about The Big O - Roy Orbison.  (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988)
Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40. His career stagnated through the 1970s, but several covers of his songs and the use of "In Dreams" in David Lynch's film Blue Velvet (1986) revived his career. In 1988, he joined the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. He died of a heart attack in December that year, at the zenith of his resurgence. His life was marred by tragedy, including the death of his first wife, Claudette in a motorcycle accident, and his two eldest sons in a house fire. Orbison's vocal instrument bridged the gap between baritone and tenor, and music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range.  He was known for performing while standing still and solitary and for wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses, which lent an air of mystery to his persona. One of his earliest hits was this, 'Only The Lonely', which really shows off his tremendous range, and depth of feeling

For this episode's classical choice, I've gone for a musician, rather than a composer. I've long been a huge fan of pianist John Ogden,(27 January 1937 – 1 August 1989) and his incredible interpretations of Chopin and Liszt.
 Ogdon's health was good, and his physical constitution was strong, as his wife often recalled in her biography. Regarded as a "gentle giant", known and loved for his kindness and generosity, he had tremendous energy. But an everyday business argument seemed to upset him more than expected and then suddenly in 1973 he experienced a severe breakdown. This sometimes changed his personality completely. His illness was initially diagnosed as schizophrenia, but then changed to manic depression (now referred to as bipolar disorder). Either condition may have been inherited from his father, who suffered several psychotic episodes and a mental breakdown. Ogdon spent some time in the Maudsley Hospital in London, and in general needed more nursing than it was possible to provide while touring. Nevertheless, he was reported to maintain three hours' practice a day on the hospital's piano.
 In 1983, after emerging from hospital, he played at the opening of the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. He died in August 1989 of pneumonia, brought on by undiagnosed diabetes.

I've chosen Liszt - Dante Sonata.

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