On This Day

Year 1939 in Music History

Events in Music

  • Mar 25 Billboard Magazine introduces hillbilly (country) music chart

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Apr 9 Marian Anderson sings before 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Apr 23 1st performance of Béla Bartok's 2nd Concerto for violin

Composer and Pianist Béla Bartok
Composer and Pianist
Béla Bartok

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 23 Dmitri Shostakovich appointed professor at conservatory of Leningrad

  • Jun 3 "Beer Barrel Polka" by Will Glahe hits #1 on the pop singles chart

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jul 13 Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut

Singer and Actor Frank Sinatra
Singer and Actor
Frank Sinatra

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Aug 6 1st broadcast of "Dinah Shore Show" on NBC-radio

Singer, Actress and TV Personality Dinah Shore
Singer, Actress and TV Personality
Dinah Shore

Film PremierThe Wizard of Oz

Aug 17 "The Wizard of Oz" opens at Loews Capitol Theatre in NY

Learn More
Publicity still of the Wizard of Oz, showing the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Cowardly Lion
Publicity still of the Wizard of Oz, showing the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Cowardly Lion
Learn More
  • Aug 28 Sammy Fain and Jack Yellen's musical "George White's Scandals" premieres
  • Oct 14 BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) formed

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Oct 16 George Kaufman and Moss Hart's "The Man Who Came to Dinner" premieres in NYC, running until 1941 for 739 performances

Playwright Moss Hart
Playwright
Moss Hart

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Oct 18 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical "Too Many Girls" premieres in NYC

Composer Richard Rodgers
Composer
Richard Rodgers

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Oct 20 "All the Things You Are" recorded by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Jazz Trombonist and Big Band Leader Tommy Dorsey
Jazz Trombonist and Big Band Leader
Tommy Dorsey

Music releaseMusic Recording

Oct 24 Benny Goodman records "Let's Dance"

Clarinetist and Bandleader Benny Goodman
Clarinetist and Bandleader
Benny Goodman

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Nov 11 Kate Smith first sings Irving Berlin's "God Bless America"

Composer and Lyricist Irving Berlin
Composer and Lyricist
Irving Berlin

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Nov 17 Jerome Kern/Hammerstein II's "Very Warm for May" premieres in NYC

Broadway Composer Jerome Kern
Broadway Composer
Jerome Kern

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Dec 6 Cole Porter's musical "Du Barry Was A Lady" opens at 46th Street Theatre, NYC; runs 408 performances

Composer and Lyricist Cole Porter
Composer and Lyricist
Cole Porter
  • Dec 7 William Walton's violinist concert premieres in Cleveland

Birthdays in Music

Birthdays 1 - 100 of 229

  • Jan 4 Jon Appleton, composer
  • Jan 7 David Buchan, ethno-musicologist
  • Jan 10 Scott McKenzie, American singer (San Francisco), born in Jacksonville Beach, Florida (d. 2012)
  • Jan 15 Christopher Steel, British composer ("Changing Moods"; "The Morning Stars Sang Together"), born in London (d. 1992)
  • Jan 16 Ramon "Ray" Philips, Welsh rock singer (Nashville Teens - "Tobacco Road"), born in Tiger Bay, South Wales

Person of interestPhil Everly

Jan 19 Phil Everly, American singer and half of the rock and roll duo "The Everly Brothers" (Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2014)

Singer Phil Everly
Singer
Phil Everly
  • Jan 23 Ray Elliott, Irish rock pianist & saxophonist (Them), born in Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Jan 24 Ray Stevens, American singer (Ahab the Arab, Streak), born in Clarkdale, Georgia
  • Jan 26 Marshall Leib [Leibovitz], American pop singer (Teddy Bears - "To Know Him Is To Love Him"), and record producer, born in Los Angeles, California (d. 2002)
  • Jan 27 Tigran Yegiayi Mansuryan, composer
  • Jan 31 Claude Gauthier, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, and actor, born in Lac-Saguay, Quebec
  • Feb 1 Del McCoury, American bluegrass guitarist and singer, born in York, Pennsylvania
  • Feb 1 Claude François, French pop singer-songwriter ("Comme d'habitude"), born in Ismaïlia, Egypt (d. 1978)
  • Feb 1 Joe Sample, American jazz and session keyboardist and composer (The Jazz Crusaders), born in Houston, Texas (d. 2014)
  • Feb 5 Derek Wadsworth, British jazz composer and arranger, born in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire (d. 2008)
  • Feb 5 Patric Standford, British composer (Taikayoku; Christus Requiem), born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England (d. 2014)
  • Feb 9 Barry Mann [Imberman], American pop songwriter ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"), and singer ("Who Put the Bomp In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp"), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Feb 10 Barbara Kolb, composer (Trobar Jus), born in Hartford, Connecticut
  • Feb 10 Roberta Flack, American pop vocalist ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Killing Me Softly with His Song"), born in Black Mountain, North Carolina
  • Feb 11 Gerry Goffin, American pop and rock lyricist (married Carole King), born in Queens, New York (d. 2014)
  • Feb 12 Ray Manzarek, American rock organist and songwriter (The Doors - "Light My Fire"; "Love Her Madly"), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2013)
  • Feb 14 Chris Pyne, trombonist
  • Feb 18 Marlos Nobre, composer
  • Feb 18 Marek Janowski, Polish-born conductor
  • Feb 18 Bobby Hart [Harshman], American pop songwriter ("I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone"; "Last Train To Clarksville") and singer (Boyce & Hart - "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight"), born in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Feb 20 (Roy George) Elroy Josephs, Jamaican-British jazz dance teacher, and actor, born in Jamaica (d. 1997)
  • Feb 21 Richard Beymer, Avoca IA, actor (West Side Story, Diary of Anne Frank)
  • Feb 21 Ron Nagle, American sculptor, and songwriter, born in San Francisco, California
  • Feb 23 Esteban "Steve" Jordan, American conjunto, Tejano, rock and jazz accordion player, born in Elsa, Texas (d. 2010)
  • Feb 27 Antoinette Sibley, British ballerina (Turning Point), born in Bromley, United Kingdom
  • Feb 28 John Fahey, American folk singer and guitarist (Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death), born in Washington, D.C. (d, 2001)
  • Feb 28 Tommy Tune, dancer/choreographer (Boyfriend), born in Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Mar 1 Leo Brouwer, Cuban composer, conductor and musician, born in Havana
  • Mar 1 Warren Davis, rocker (Monotones)
  • Mar 2 Gerard van Tongeren, Dutch singer (Buffoons)
  • Mar 5 Norman Seeff, South African-American photographer, filmmaker, and album cover artist, born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Mar 6 Jerry Naylor, American rock vocalist (Crickets), born in Stephenville, Texas
  • Mar 7 Marion Marlowe, American singer (Arthur Godfrey & Friends), born in St Louis, Missouri
  • Mar 8 Robert Tear, Welsh tenor (Welsh National Opera 1970), born in Barry, Wales
  • Mar 8 Yannis Vlachopoulos, Greek composer
  • Mar 11 Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, American Tex-Mex accordionist, born in San Antonio, Texas
  • Mar 13 Neil Sedaka, American singer and songwriter ("Breaking Up is Hard to Do"), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Mar 14 Stavros Xarhakos, Greek composer
  • Mar 18 Travis Pritchett, rocker (Travis & Bob)
  • Mar 18 Giannis Markopoulos, Greek composer
  • Mar 23 Boris Ivanovich Tischenko, composer
  • Mar 23 Pepe Lienhard, Swiss band leader and entertainer
  • Mar 24 [Lilian] Lynda Baron, British actress, comedian, and singer (Open All Hours - "Nurse Gladys"; Come Inside - "Auntie Mabel"), born Urmston, Lancashire, England
  • Mar 27 Bo Winberg, Swedish instrumental rock guitarist (The Spotnicks - "Hava Nagila"; "Amapola"; "Karelia"), born in Gothenburg, Sweden (d. 2020)
  • Apr 1 Rudolph Isley, American rocker (Isley Brothers - "Shout"), born in Cincinnati, Ohio

Person of interestMarvin Gaye

Apr 2 Marvin Gaye [Gay], American soul singer-songwriter ("It Takes Two"; What's Going On"; "Let's Get It On"), born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1984)

Singer Marvin Gaye
Singer
Marvin Gaye
  • Apr 3 François de Roubaix, French film score composer, born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (d. 1975)
  • Apr 4 Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, anti-apartheid activist (I Am Not Afraid), described as the "father of South African jazz", born in Witbank, South Africa (d. 2018)
  • Apr 4 Major Lance, American soul singer (The Monkey Time), born in Winterville, Mississippi (d. 1994)
  • Apr 4 Danny Thompson, English multi-instrumentalist (Blues Incorporated), born in Teignmouth, England
  • Apr 5 Ronald "Ronnie" White, American singer (The Miracles - "Shop Around"), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 1995)
  • Apr 5 Crispian St. Peters, English singer (The Changin' Times), born in Swanley, Kent
  • Apr 6 Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, American blues guitarist, and singer, born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 2019)
  • Apr 7 Gary Kellgren, American music producer who co-founded The Record Plant studios, born in Shenandoah, Iowa (d. 1977)
  • Apr 14 Jennifer Fowler, British composer, born in Bunbury, Austrtalia
  • Apr 15 Marty Wilde, English pop singer-songwriter ("A Teenager In Love"), and father of rocker Kim Wilde, born in London, England
  • Apr 16 Dusty Springfield [Mary O'Brien], British pop vocalist ("I Only Want To Be With You"; "Son Of A Preacher Man"), born in West Hampstead, London (d. 1999)
  • Apr 16 John DeLaFose, American French speaking zydeco musician, born in Duralde, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana (d. 1994)
  • Apr 18 Glen Hardin, American rock n roll and country piano player, and arranger (Crickets), born in Wellington, Texas
  • Apr 21 John McCabe, British composer and pianist, born in Liverpool, England (d. 2015)
  • Apr 23 Ray Peterson, American singer ("Tell Laura I Love Her"), born in Denton, Texas (d. 2005)
  • Apr 23 Patrick Williams, American composer, arranger, and conductor, born in Bonne Terre, Missouri
  • Apr 27 Jerry Mercer, Canadian rock drummer (April Wine), born in Montreal, Quebec
  • Apr 30 Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, American composer (1st woman composer to win Pulitzer Prize - 1982), born in Miami, Florida
  • May 1 Judy Collins, singer (Send in the Clowns, Clouds), born in Seattle, Washington
  • May 2 Tony Asher, English-American lyricist ("God Only Knows"; "Wouldn't It Be Nice"; "That's Life"), born in London, England
  • May 3 Jonathan Harvey, English composer (Bhakti, Music of Stockhausen), born in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham (d. 2012)
  • May 6 Herbie Cox, American pop vocalist (Cleftones - "Heart And Soul"), born in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • May 7 Johnny Maestro, American rock vocalist (Crests - "16 Candles"; Brooklyn Bridge), born in Manhattan, New York (d. 2010)
  • May 9 Bruce Mather, Canadian pianist and composer, born in Toronto, Ontario
  • May 11 Carlos Lyra, Brazilian musician
  • May 14 Troy Shondell, American singer ("This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up)"), born in Fort Wayne, Indiana (d. 2016)
  • May 18 Gary S. Paxton [Larry Wayne Stevens], American musician and songwriter (Monster Mash; Alley Oop), born in Coffeyville, Kansas (d. 2016)
  • May 19 Richard Lowe Teitelbaum, American composer, born in New York City
  • May 19 Tomasz Sikorski, Polish minimalist composer (Solitude of Sounds), born in Warsaw, Poland (d. 1988)
  • May 19 (Cornelius) "Sonny" Fortune, American jazz saxophonist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 2018)
  • May 20 María Luisa Ozaita, Spanish pianist, harpsichordist, musicologist, conductor, and composer (Pelleas y Melisanda), born in Baracaldo, Spain (d. 2017)
  • May 21 Heinz Holliger, Swiss composer, oboist and conductor, born in Langenthal, Switzerland
  • May 22 Ian Underwood, American musician (Frank Zappa), born in New York City
  • May 22 Árni Egilsson, Icelandic classical and jazz bassist and composer, born in Reykjavík, Iceland
  • May 23 Michel Colombier, French composer and songwriter (d. 2004)
  • May 23 Marvin Stamm, American jazz and session trumpeter, and flugelhorn player (Stan Kenton; Woody Herman; Thad Jones/Mel Lewis; Paul McCartney - "Uncle Albert"), born in Memphis, Tennessee
  • May 24 Clint Miller, American rockabilly singer ("Bertha Lou"), and politician (Virginia House of Representatives, 1972-96), born in Ferguson, North Carolina
  • May 27 Donald "Don" Williams, American country singer ("I Believe in You"), born in Floydada Texas (d. 2017)
  • May 27 Leo LeBlanc, American country musician and pianist who was legally blind, born in Worcester, Massachusetts (d. 1995)
  • May 31 Charles Drain, American soul singer, born in Eupora, Mississippi (d. 1995)
  • Jun 2 Charles Miller, American rock-funk flutist, saxophonist, and singer (War - "Why Can't We Be Friends?"; "Low Rider"), born in Olathe, Kansas (d. 1980)
  • Jun 2 Janie Bradford, American songwriter for Motown ("Money (That's What I Want)"), born in Charleston, Missouri
  • Jun 3 Ian Hunter, English rock singer (Mott the Hoople - "All The Young Dudes"; "Roll Away The Stone"), born in Oswestry, England
  • Jun 3 David Stock, American composer (Rosewood Reflections), and conductor (Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, 1976-99), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 2015)
  • Jun 6 Gary U.S. Bonds [Anderson], American blues singer and songwriter (New Orleans), born in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Jun 6 Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer (Reconstruction), born in Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Jun 6 Richard "Popcorn" Wylie, American R&B and soul pianist, bandleader, songwriter, and record producer, born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 2008)
  • Jun 7 Yuli Turovsky, Russian-Canadian cellist (Borodin Trio, 1976-91), conductor (I Musici de Montreal Chamber Orchestra, 1983-2011), and teacher, born in Moscow, USSR (d. 2013)
  • Jun 7 Eri Klas, Estonian conductor (Netherlands Radio Symphony; Aarhus Symphony; Estonian National Opera, 1975-95), and educator, born in Tallinn, Estonia (d. 2016)

Weddings in Music


LoveWedding of Interest

Feb 4 Singer Frank Sinatra (23) marries 1st wife Nancy Barbato

Singer and Actor Frank Sinatra
Singer and Actor
Frank Sinatra

Deaths in Music

  • Jan 9 Johann Strauss, Austrian conductor and Royal ball director, dies at 72
  • Jan 10 Julius Bittner, Austrian composer (Missa Austriaca), dies at 64
  • Feb 11 Franz Schmidt, Austrian composer, dies at 64
  • Feb 17 Willy Hess, German violinist, dies at 79
  • Feb 18 Ludwig Bonvin, composer, dies at 89
  • Mar 7 Amadeo Roldán, Cuban composer and violinist, dies at 38
  • Mar 21 Evald Aav, Estonian composer, dies at 39
  • Apr 9 Emilio Serrano y Ruiz, Spanish composer, dies at 89
  • Apr 21 Herman Finck, British composer (In The Shadows), dies at 66
  • Apr 25 John Foulds, British cellist, musicologist, and composer (World Requiem; Three Mantras), dies in Calcutta of cholera at 58
  • Jun 4 Tommy Ladnier, American jazz trumpeter (Lovie Austin; King Oliver; New Orleans Feetwarmers; Noble Sissle; Sidney Bechet), dies of a heart attack at 39
  • Jun 16 Chick Webb, American jazz drummer and big band leader (introduced Ella Fitzgerald), dies of Pott's disease (tuberculosis of the spine), at 34
  • Jun 18 Frans "Sas" van Aerschot, Flemish operetta actor (Paljas), dies at 73
  • Jul 18 Witold Maliszewski, Polish composer, dies at 65
  • Jul 27 Alexandre Stellio [Fructueux], Martinican biguine clarinetist, composer, and bandleader, dies at 54
  • Aug 3 Eugust Enna, composer, dies at 80
  • Sep 28 Felicjan Szopski, Polish composer, dies at 74
  • Oct 10 Eleanor Rigby, a real person whose name may have suggested the title to The Beatles song (b. 1895)
  • Oct 16 Carl Henrik Ludolf Nielsen, composer, dies at 63
  • Nov 4 Charles Arnold Tournemire, French organist and composer, dies at 69
  • Nov 20 Desire Paque, Belgian composer, dies at 72
  • Dec 1 Max Fiedler, German composer, dies at 79
  • Dec 8 Ernest Schelling, American composer and conductor (Victory Ball), dies at 63
  • Dec 10 Wilhelm Grosz, composer, dies at 45
  • Dec 19 Eric Fogg, English composer, dies under a train at 36
  • Dec 22 Ma Rainey [Gertrude Pridgett], American singer "Mother of the Blues", dies at 53