On This Day

Musicians Who Died in 1959

  • Jan 6 Jose Enrique Pedreira, composer, dies at 54
  • Jan 21 Lamar Stringfield, American composer, dies at 61
  • Jan 28 Viktor Josef Keldorfer, Austrian composer, dies at 85
  • Feb 3 The Big Bopper [Jiles Perry Richardson], American musician, dies in plane crash at 28

Person of interestBuddy Holly

Feb 3 Buddy Holly, American rock and roll musician (That'll be the Day), dies in a plane crash at 22

Singer-songwriter Buddy Holly
Singer-songwriter
Buddy Holly
  • Feb 3 Ritchie Valens, American rock vocalist (Donna, La Bamba), dies in plane crash at 17
  • Feb 5 Curt Sachs, German musicologist, dies at 77
  • Feb 7 Guitar Slim [Eddie Jones], American blues guitarist (The Things That I Used to Do) dies at 32
  • Feb 13 William Axt, American film scores composer (The Prisoner of Zenda), dies at 70
  • Feb 14 Warren "Baby" Dodds, American jazz drummer, dies at 60
  • Feb 18 Alfred Alessandrescu, Romanian composer, dies at 65
  • Feb 18 Eric Zeisl, Austrian-American composer (Requiem Ebraico), dies of a heart attack at 53
  • Feb 18 Jaroslav Kvapil, Czech composer, dies at 66
  • Feb 20 Ray McDonald, dancer, dies of barbiturate overdose at 38
  • Mar 11 Haydn Wood, English composer, dies at 76
  • Mar 15 Lester Young, American jazz musician, dies at 49

  • Mar 17 Raffaele d'Alessandro, Swiss pianist, organist, and composer, dies of a ruptured aorta on his 48th birthday
  • Mar 25 Billy Mayerl, British pianist, music hall songwriter, and musical theatre composer, dies at 55
  • Mar 29 Sara Wennerberg-Reuter, composer, dies at 84
  • Apr 12 Ernest Willem Mulder, Dutch conductor, composer, and teacher, dies at 60
  • Apr 13 Eduard van Beinum, Dutch musician & conductor, dies at 58
  • Apr 24 Jef van Hoof, Flemish composer, dies at 72
  • Apr 30 Armand Marsick, Belgian composer, dies at 81
  • May 8 Renato Caccioppoli, Italian mathematician and pianist, takes his own life at 55
  • May 14 Sidney Bechet, American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, band leader, and composer ("Petite Fleur"), dies of lung cancer on his 62nd birthday
  • May 30 Thomas Carl Whitmer, American composer, dies at 85
  • Jun 3 Ole Windingstad, Norwegian conductor (Brooklyn's Scandinavian Symphony Orchestra, 1913-39), pianist and composer, dies after a heart attack at 73
  • Jun 23 Jean Gallon, French composer, dies at 80
  • Jun 23 Boris Vian, French writer and musician (b. 1920)
  • Jun 30 Lazare Saminsky, Russian-American composer, dies at 76
  • Jul 15 Ernest Bloch, Swiss-born American composer (MacBeth, Schelomo, Israel), dies on cancer at 78

Person of interestBillie Holiday

Jul 17 Billie Holiday [Eleanora Fagan], American jazz singer ( "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"; "Strange Fruit"), and songwriter ("God Bless The Child"; "Lady Sings the Blues"), dies of cirrhosis of the liver at 44

Jazz Musician Billie Holiday
Jazz Musician
Billie Holiday
  • Jul 20 Harry Fox [Arthur Carringford], American vaudeville dancer, comedian and actor (Talent Scout), dies at 77
  • Aug 2 Prospero Bisquertt, Chilean composer, dies at 78
  • Aug 7 Armas Launis, Finnish composer, dies at 75
  • Aug 9 Emil František Burian, Czech author and composer, dies at 55

  • Aug 13 Henri Garat, French actor and singer (Les dieux s'amusent, Congress Dances), dies at 57
  • Aug 15 Blind Willie McTell, American ragtime singer and guitarist, dies at 61
  • Aug 16 Pedro Humberto Allende Saron, Chilean composer (Tonados), dies at 74
  • Aug 16 Wanda Landowska, Polish-French harpsichordist (Musique Ancienne), dies at 80
  • Aug 28 Bohuslav Martinů, Czech composer (Hry o Marti), dies at 68
  • Sep 9 Max d'Ollone, French composer and writer (Le Ménestrel), dies at 84
  • Sep 22 Josef Matthias Hauer, composer, dies at 76
  • Sep 25 Ennio Porrino, Italian composer, dies at 49
  • Sep 28 Gerard Hoffnung, German-British artist, humorist and tuba player (Hoffnung Music Festival), dies at 34
  • Oct 7 Mario Lanza [Alfredo Arnold Cocozza], Italian-American actor and singer (Great Caruso, Toast of New Orleans), dies of a heart attack at 38
  • Oct 13 Rudolf Mengelberg, Dutch composer and musicologist (Concert Amsterdam), dies at 67
  • Oct 19 Stanley Bate, English composer, dies at 45
  • Oct 28 Egon Kornauth, composer, dies at 68
  • Nov 3 Friedrich Niggli, Swiss composer, dies at 83
  • Nov 9 Frederick Preston Search, American cellist, composer and conductor (Bridge Builders), dies at 70
  • Nov 10 Lupino Lane, English actor (Deputy Drummer), dies at 67
  • Nov 17 Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian composer, cellist, guitarist, and conductor (Bachianas Brasileiras), dies at 72
  • Nov 26 Albert Ketèlbey, British composer (In a Monastery Garden), dies at 84
  • Nov 29 Fritz Brun, Swiss composer and conductor, dies at 81
  • Dec 29 Robin Humphrey Milford, composer, dies at 56