THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

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Music Culture

Is Music Talent Genetic? What Scientists Know and Don’t Know

For centuries, scientists and the public alike have tried to determine if talent genetically runs in families when it comes to music. There are certainly many...

Strange Tales About Famous & Fun Halloween Songs

Some of the most well-known songs you may hear during trick-or-treating time were written in a flash but have endured for many, many years....

The Surprising Role Catalogs Have Played Throughout History

Before the internet, shopping from catalogs was how business was done, and the music industry is no exception. Catalogs have been used to sell...

12 Jazz Hot Spots for Your Bucket List

Since 2001, April has been recognized as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). Certainly one of the best ways to learn about jazz and explore its...

The Women in the Brass Section: How They Found Success

Trombonist Amanda Stewart compares it to a slow-moving glacier – the gradual acceptance of talented women playing brass instruments in the United States’ most...

Composer Rollo Dilworth: Remembering Moses Hogan

March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing...

Creating Virtual Choir 5 for “Deep Field”

July 2020 Update: Eric Whitacre's latest project - Virtual Choir 6  - is now available online and you can view the sheet music for...

Unveiling a Replica of the Washington Family Harpsichord

In February, we celebrate past presidents and their contributions to our national identity. The legacies of our past leaders are played out in history...

Black History Month Songs: Using Music to Teach About the Past

Updated January 2020 The idea for Black History Month was developed during a difficult time for African Americans in the United States. In 1926, segregation...

Creating Fear: How Horror Music Composers Make You Jump

Horror movies don’t just play on the minds of the audiences. They’re also a cerebral project for horror music composers like Joseph Bishara and...

Roll Out the Accordion – Polka Music and Oktoberfest

Alex Meixner’s hands fly across his accordion when he plays crowd favorites at Oktoberfest celebrations across the country. The talented musician, who is known...

Performing Social Justice Pieces: Considering Matthew Shepard

Composer Craig Hella Johnson calls it the “long sacred silence” – his way of describing a common audience reaction after choral performances of his...

Celebrating Patriotic Music

Each year when the annual celebration of our nation’s birth approaches, patriotic music becomes more prevalent in our daily lives. These songs paint a...

Top 19 Famous Female Composers

Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint...

Celebrating the Leonard Bernstein Centennial: Contributions to Education

Most people know Leonard Bernstein as a world-renowned composer and conductor whose contributions to music and culture can be heard in concert halls around...

Silent No More: Mount Vernon Makes Harpsichord History

The harpsichord holds an important place in music history. Its unique sound is instantly recognizable, flavoring the works of countless composers from the Renaissance,...

40 Years of Star Wars Music

Few movie franchises have caught the world’s imagination like Star Wars. For forty years, audiences have been enthralled by the trials and tribulations of...

Thespis: In Print for the First Time

Among the many great names in musical theater, English operetta masters William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were two of the earliest to gain...

Music in the Air: Outdoor Classical Concerts

If there’s any time during the year that’s best for introducing classical music to the uninitiated listener, it’s summer. Thanks to seasonal changes in...

14,000 Pipes, 90 Years: A Tour of the Austin Organ

Pepper's own Rocco Richardson had a chance to speak to Scott Fredericks, minister of music at St. Matthew Lutheran about their famous Austin organ,...

7 Things You Didn’t Know About The Star-Spangled Banner

We’ve already spent some time exploring the history of The Star-Spangled Banner, but there are still a lot of interesting facts that you may...

The Star-Spangled Banner, 1914 to 2014

The centennial of The Star-Spangled Banner brought a renewed interest in the song and the story of how it came to be written.  Though...

The Star-Spangled Banner, 1814 to 1913

In the 200 years since Francis Scott Key wrote the words to The Star-Spangled Banner (then The Defense of Fort M’Henry), the song has...

Richard Strauss’ 150th Birthday

In 2014 we celebrate the 150th birthday of Richard Strauss (June 11, 1864 – September 8, 1949).  He is considered by many to be...

50 Years of Wingert-Jones Music

It was the Mid-West National Band Clinic, 1964. Merrill Jones sat alone at a table with his publishing company’s entire catalog -- one piece by Claude...

The 300th Birthday of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

The year 2014 could prove to be significant for the legacy of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  The second surviving son of the great Johann...

How Musicians Respond to Tragedy

Hope is often defined as a desire and search for a future good.   In light of the many tragic events plaguing our world today,...

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue!

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress authorized a brand-new flag - the Stars and Stripes -- for a brand-new nation, the United States...

The Rite of Spring at 100

If any piece can be said to define the twentieth century, it’s Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.  The first performance took place almost exactly...

The Hobbit: A Soundtrack Review

On December 14th, Middle Earth fans got the chance to take in the next installment of Peter Jackson's imagining of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. ...

Elliott Carter: Celebrating a Long Life of Music

On November 5th of this year, the classical music world lost one of its giants. Elliott Carter would have celebrated his 104th birthday today,...

Caroling, Caroling – The History of Caroling

How did it all start, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  It all began about a few thousand years ago when pagan songs...

Halloween Music For Your Phobias

Halloween is the time of year where many of our fears and phobias come to life. Haunted houses, hay rides and corn mazes can...

John Cage: Inventor of Genius?

“Of course he’s not a composer, but he’s an inventor — of genius.” – Arnold Schoenberg on John Cage To categorize him as simply “a...

In Memoriam: W. Francis McBeth

We were all deeply saddened to hear the news that Francis McBeth passed away Friday, January 6th.  Dr. McBeth was a very well respected...

A Closer Look at Self-publishing

As a J.W. Pepper choral editor who is also a composer, I’d like to share some of my observations about self-publishing. Self-publishers have been around for...

Key People: Interview with Wynn-Anne Rossi

Crystal Desch and I had the honor of interviewing Wynn-Anne Rossi, and we think you'll find her as we did, an inspirational composer, pianist and...

Porgy and Bess Turn 75!

It seems like there are a few opera productions such as Bizet’s Carmen, Delibes’ Lakme, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, and Verdi’s La Traviata that...

Key People: Robert Vandall, Part 1

Crystal Desch and I recently interviewed Robert D. Vandall by phone.  Robert Vandall is one of this country's most prolific and popular composers of educational...

Key People: Randall Faber, Part 2

Here is the second part of our two-part interview with Randall Faber.  Dr. Faber and his wife, Nancy, are authors of the best-selling piano method, Piano Adventures® and many other educational piano...

Key People: Randall Faber, Part 1

Today we introduce a new series to the Pepper blog, Key People -- interviews with some of the most inspiring composers, educators and pianists in today's keyboard...

For His Contribution to Music: Sir George Shearing, 1919-2011

The 2011 Grammy Awards have scarcely ended and the music world mourns the loss of jazz pianist and legend, George Shearing.  Recognized for orchestrated...

The Great American Songbook

When I was in college, one of my music theory professors would begin each class by sitting at the piano and singing a standard...

The Story of John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. in 1854, on G Street near the Marine Barracks. His father, Antonio, played trombone in the U.S. Marine...

Southern Gospel Music: Part 3

By the 1970s there were many traveling groups -- some family quartets, some all-male quartets, and even mixed trios were seen traveling to churches and conventions...

Southern Gospel Music: Part 2

Many people like to lump various styles of music together in one large category and simply call it “gospel,” but this does a huge...

Southern Gospel Music: Part 1

Do the names Blackwood, Goodman, Gaither, or Speer mean anything to you?  If you grew up in the South, they probably do.  These are some...

Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

For anyone who lived through the turmoil of the 1970s, songs like Close To You, Superstar, and Rainy Days and Mondays are a part...

The Power of “Glee”

I took some time today to listen to some of the incredible arrangements that have emerged from our newest recordings and found myself pondering the significance of shows such as "High School Musical" and "Glee" from a music education standpoint.