On This Day

December 1939 in Music History

Events in Music

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Dec 3 Dmitri Shostakovich's 6th Symphony premieres

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

  • Dec 1 Dianne Lennon, singer (Lennon Sisters), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Dec 5 Frederik Van Rossum, Belgian pianist, composer (Waves; In memoriam Glenn Gould) , and pedagogue, born in Ixelles, Belgium
  • Dec 5 Frédéric van Rossum, Belgian composer, born in Ixelles, Belgium
  • Dec 6 Tomés Svoboda, Czech composer (Etude), born in Paris, France
  • Dec 6 Steve Alaimo, American pop singer ("Mashed Potatoes"; "Every Day I Have To Cry"), born in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Dec 8 James Galway, Irish classical flutist known as "The Man With the Golden Flute", born in Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Dec 8 Jerry Butler, American soul vocalist (The Impressions; "Never Give You Up"), born in Sunflower, Mississippi
  • Dec 11 David Gates, American rock vocalist (Bread-Baby I'm A Want You), born in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Dec 15 Cindy Birdsong, American rock vocalist (Labelle-Rainbow, Supremes), born in Camden, New Jersey
  • Dec 15 Nicolaus A. Huber, German composer, born in Passau, Germany
  • Dec 17 Eddie Kendricks, American singer-songwriter (The Temptations - "The Way You Do the Things You Do" ;, "Just My Imagination"), born in Union Springs, Alabama (d. 1992)
  • Dec 17 James Booker, American R&B musician (Gonzo), born in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Dec 18 Henrica M L "Wiesje" Backer, Dutch dancer/actress/playwright
  • Dec 20 Kim Weston, American soul singer (with Marvin Gaye - "It Takes Two"), born in Detroit, Michigan
  • Dec 20 Klaus Schweizer, German composer, born in Albstadt, Germany
  • Dec 20 Bill Keith, American bluegrass and country banjoist, born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 2015)
  • Dec 22 James Gurley, American rock lead guitarist (Big Brother and the Holding Company - "Piece Of My Heart"), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 2009)
  • Dec 23 Johnny Kidd [Frederick Heath], British rock singer-songwriter (Johnny Kidd & Pirates - "Shakin' All Over"), born in London, England (d. 1966)
  • Dec 25 Bob James, American smooth jazz musician, born in Marshall, Missouri

Person of interestPhil Spector

Dec 26 (Harvey) Phil Spector, American record producer (Wall of Sound), and convicted murderer, born in The Bronx, New York (d. 2021)

Music Producer Phil Spector
Music Producer
Phil Spector
  • Dec 28 Charles Neville, American vocalist and saxophonist (Neville Brothers), born in New Orleans, Louisiana (d. 2018)
  • Dec 29 (William Edwin) "Ed" Bruce, American country singer ("Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys"), born in Keiser, Arkansas (d. 2021)
  • Dec 30 Felix Pappalardi, American rock music producer, songwriter, vocalist, and bassist (Mountain - "Mississippi Queen"), born in The Bronx, New York (d. 1983)
  • Dec 30 Viola Mae Wilkerson, American pop singer ("Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now", born in Watts, Los Angeles, California (d. 2009)

Deaths in Music

  • 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