2013 MTNA Conference – Monday Morning – Keynote Presentation by Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer, author of The Greatest Music Stories Never Told, took the stage and had the audience laughing right away at his self-deprecating comments regarding his own musical prowess.

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He continued by regaling the audience with the story of Heinrich Steinway and his surprising childhood and path into adulthood.

Ivan Vaughan may be the most important person in the history of Rock ‘n Roll. What Ivan did on July 6, 1957, a Saturday afternoon, in a church basement, has forever changed the history of music in America.

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He introduced Paul McCartney to John Lennon.

“Everything that ever happened almost didn’t. History happens in the present, not in the past.”

[There were several other stories here, but they got lost in the posting. Sorry about that!]

Here’s a picture of an early recording studio:

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The earliest recording star? George Washington Johnson, an African American who became famous for his whistling songs and his ability to laugh in tune.

“The Menace of Mechanical Music” by John Phillip Sousa was a diatribe against the recorded music of the day that people were flocking to by the thousands. People would even go to concert halls to listen to phonograph recordings!

Rick went on to talk about the history of Benjamin Franklin’s glass armonica. Although it quickly became popular, it also had a darker side and was said to be “an apt method for slow annihilation.” Next was a story of President Tyler and the Providential sparing of his life when he stayed below deck to listen to his son-in-law sing a song when a cannon misfired above deck, killing other members of his cabinet.

Music is powerful. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of one of the most chaotic years in music – 1913. A concert breaks into a riot during the premier of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Today this work is hailed as a masterpiece. A Suess-like criticism of the piece reads,

“Who wrote this fiendish Rite of Spring? What right had he to write this thing? Against our helpless ears to fling, Its crash, clash, cling, clang, bing, bang, bing?”

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1913 also marks the controversial introduction of the Tango to the American culture. This and other contemporary dance styles were labeled “a threat to our national way of life.”

Rick concluded with a history of several classic American songs, ending with the heart-tugging story of “Save the Last Dance for Me” by Doc Pomus.

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