Although Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was written to include cannons firing and cathedral bells, synchronising them with an orchestra proved all but impossible. It wasn't until 1954 that composer Antal DorΓ‘ti mixed a studio recording with cannons and bells, finally playing it as intended. classicfm.com/composers/t…
Although Adolphe Sax originally intended for the saxophone to be an orchestra instrument, this never happened. This is primarily because Sax had a few enemies in the orchestral institution since he had a constant desire to improve their wind instruments and because the saxophone lacked precision olimpusmusic.com/saxophon…
A German company made orchestral instruments from Perspex in the 1930s. The string instruments were too quiet for orchestras, but the flutes and clarinets were just as good as their metal or wooden equivalents. plexiglas.de/en/applicati…
Today I learned of "The Vegetable Orchestra" - a group consisting of ten musicians, one cook, and a sound technician. They play a wide range of music on vegetables (carrot xylophones, pumpkin drums, leek violins, onion maracas, et al). After performances, the vegetables are cooked into a soup for the audience. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The…
The English Horn is not a horn and it originated in Silesia, a region largely within Poland, in about 1720. While not a regular member of the orchestra, composers from Beethoven to Sibelius to Stravinsky to John Williams have written pieces incorporating it obergh.net/songoffire/201…
Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo fame, who also composed the themes for many Hollywood hits like Back To School, Beetlejuice, Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Men in Black, & Edward Scissorhands, was rejected from his elementary school orchestra "for having no propensity for music." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan…
Ariana Grande grew up wealthy. Both her parents were rich corporate bosses, with their notoriety helping her get early gigs performing with orchestras and on cruise ships. collider.com/galleries/ce…
Elephants like to paint and play music. Some paintings have been compared to abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and have sold for $25,000. Other elephants have been taught to play in an orchestra and reportedly have a strong sense of rhythm and enjoy improvisation. the-scientist.com/daily-n…
Brad Garrett, who portrayed Ray's brother on Everyone Loves Raymond, is featured on the album art for Electric Light Orchestra's album Discovery en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis…
English musician Mike Edwards (AKA Pramada), known for artful 1970s cello play with the band ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), died suddenly in 2010 when a runaway round hay bale bounded downhill and crushed his van on the A381 Road. The hay roll's weight was estimated at around 1,300 pounds. bbc.com/news/uk-england-d…
The song "Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra was found to be the happiest song ever using a formula made by studying songs from a period of 50 years. shareably.net/happiest-so…
There's a concerto written for a typewriter soloist with an orchestra youtu.be/jinGW7ZDGPM
The cellist of Electric Light Orchestra, Mike Edwards, was killed when a 1,300 pound hay bale rolled down a hill and collided with the van he was driving. wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_E…
Following a tour on which Barry Manilow replaced an orchestra with synthesizers, in 1982 the British Musicians' Union put forward a proposal to ban the use of these devices. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syn…
Today I learned of chromesthesia, a type of synesthesia in which individuals perceive colour in addition to normal auditory sensations. Associations are idiosyncratic but consistent over time, studies found. Bernstein and Liszt are associated with the condition; the latter asking his orchestra to play 'bluer'. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chr…
Electric Light Orchestra holds the record for having the most Top 40 hits (20) without ever having a number one single. jefflynnesongs.com/elousa…
The National Orchestra of Wales used a "sound box" so deaf people can experience a concert. Through vibrations, it transmits music to people with their hands on it or even lying on top of it. One participant called it "something none of us would ever have thought that we would experience." npr.org/2013/03/09/173911…
Today I learned about The Really Terrible Orchestra, founded by author Alexander McCall Smith in 1995. It exists for the musically challenged aka. "those who have been prevented from playing music through lack of talent". thereallyterribleorchestr…
In 2007, Monty Python members Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam led a group of 5,567 people to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest coconut orchestra. They played "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life." reuters.com/article/us-sp…
An orchestra consisting of amateurs or musicians playing instruments they were unfamiliar with sold out the Albert Hall. Members included Brian Eno. bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013…
Florence Price was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have her composition (Symphony No. 1 in E minor) played by a major orchestra on June 15, 1933. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flo…
Section 2 article 282 convention 22 of the Treaty of Versailles establishes that all orchestras in Europe need to tune to the same concert pitch, 335 Hz. guides.loc.gov/treaty-of-…
Cuban orchestras tune their string instruments to A = 336hz, substantially lower than the conventional A = 440hz, as looser strings are less prone to breaking and requiring expensive replacements. npr.org/sections/deceptiv…
Michael Jackson liked the song β€œBehind the Mask” by Japanese electronic group, the Yellow Magic Orchestra, so much that he wanted to include it in Thriller. He added lyrics, melodies to make it a song about a girlfriend would often hide her emotions behind a "mask" dangerousminds.net/commen…
The Central African Republic's 1977 imperial coronation, praised by the French president, cost a ΒΌ of the govt budget (chiefly French funds). European cars, food & clothes were flown in. The afterparty had Vietnamese ex-bargirls & the French naval orchestra. Human flesh was allegedly served en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cor…
Today I learned of Joseph Bologne, a black man who led an all-black regiment in the French Revolution, consequently the first of its kind in Europe. The son of a wealthy planter, he was also a champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che…
During WWI, Japan had a prisoner-of-war camp for German/Austro-Hungarian troops called Bandō, where the prisoners were free to do what they pleased, including selling arts & crafts, visiting the nearby town, and even creating an orchestra consisting entirely of POWs. en.japantravel.com/tokush…
Today I Learned That There Is Often A Specific Order In Which An Orchestra Tunes From Instrument To Instrument, often starting with the oboe exploratorium.edu/music/m…
Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia adopted 40 Armenian Orphans from a monastery in Jerusalem 1924 and trained them to play musical instruments becoming Ethiopia's first Official orchestra. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arm…
The Verves' 'Bittersweet Symphony' samples a Rolling Stones song that was covered by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra and led to more than 20 years of legal battles over the rights of the song pitchfork.com/news/rollin…
The record for the most Grammy Awards won in a lifetime is held by Georg Solti,a Hungarian-British conductor who conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years.He has won a total of 31 competitive Grammy Awards out of 74 nominations and was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geo…
Sorrell Booke ("Boss Hogg") had degrees from Yale and Columbia, spoke 5 languages, was an intelligence officer in the Korean War, once conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, wore a fat suit to play Boss Hogg legacy.com/news/celebrity…
Jan Hammer, the original keyboardist for Mahavishnu Orchestra, later went on to compose the soundtrack for Miami Vice. youtu.be/GQDU-2qMre0
In 2017, The Boston Symphony Orchestra toured Japan. The tour required moving over 27,000 pounds of gear that is estimated to be worth around $20 million and also logistics needed for over 100 people to travel across the globe. wbur.org/artery/2017/10/3…
While primarily attributed to the punishment of Germany, the Treaty of Versailles also established a universal concert pitch due to longstanding debates regarding the frequency which orchestras should tune to. net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi…
Costa Rica's national anthem was composed in prison. Manuel Gutierrez, an orchestra director, was contacted by the Costa Rican president to compose a national anthem. When Gutierrez replied that he had no composition skills, the president threw him in prison, setting bail at β€œ1 National Anthem". news.co.cr/costa-ricas-ir…
The Sydney Opera House actually has terrible acoustics. Edo de Waart, the former chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, once threatened to boycott the building. There is a A$202 Million project to renovate and improve the acoustics. content.time.com/time/wor…
In order to eliminate gender bias, many orchestras use blind auditions in which the candidates play their instrument behind a screen. theguardian.com/women-in-…
The 80s era CBS Special Presentation music was comprised of pieces of a song from the Hawaii Five-0 soundtrack ("Call to Danger" by Morton Stevens and His Orchestra) youtube.com/watch?v=sPh_q…
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has donated over $10,000,000 to charity since they started touring. en.wikipedia.org/w/index.…
In 2011 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was in a deep financial crisis. Kid Rock, in what he called "the best drunk move I ever made," decided to throw a benefit concert. He raised over one million dollars for the symphony and helped save classical music in Detroit. billboard.com/articles/ph…
Jeff Lynne is the only member of Electric Light Orchestra to currently have the rights to the band's name, and stopped Bev Bevan from using it in his project, ELO Part II. birminghammail.co.uk/news…
The Mellotron keyboard uses loops of pre-recorded tape with instruments, bands, or orchestras, to generate sound. Some keys produce backing-band sounds and some produce lead instrument sounds. Instruments can be changed by pressing selector switches on the keyboard. youtube.com/watch?v=Hdkix…
After major symphony orchestras switched to holding blind auditions, the acceptance (hiring) of female musicians went up as much as 55% nber.org/papers/w5903
The "Red Orchestra" was the name given by the Gestapo to a group of German professionals, intellectuals and artists in Nazi Germany that resisted the regime from 1933-1942. They provided intelligence to allies, sheltered Jews, and were ultimately discovered by the Nazis and executed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red…
The Portsmouth Sinfonia -or "the worst orchestra in the world"- ceased playing in 1979 after 9 years because the musicians were getting to skilled. youtu.be/hpJ6anurfuw
Carl Stalling, the composer behind Bugs Bunny, spent 22 years working every day with a 50-piece orchestra at Warner Bros. Studios. He ultimately scored in excess of 600 cartoons at the rate of one score per week between 1936 and 1958. cpr.org/classical/blog/co…
The U.S. version of Electric Light Orchestra’s debut album received its title accidentally. When the U.S. distributor tried to call the U.K. to learn the name of the album the secretary who called was unable to reach anyone. She wrote down "No answer" and that became the album title en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ele…
Lang Lang is considered China's first true international musical star. He was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, performing with the British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic and all the leading US orchestras independent.co.uk/news/wo…
Today I learned of the Floppotron, a "robot orchestra" made from obsolete drives and scanners whose stepper motors are run at different speeds to produce musical tones. mentalfloss.com/article/5…

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