Chronology‎ > ‎

1930 to 1959

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Year

Event

Description

1930

City Population hits 669.817

The city of Pittsburgh reaches its highest population making it the 10th largest city in the United States.

1930

Antonio Modarelli conducts PSO

Braddock, Pa born conductor Antonio Modarelli leads the symphony from 1930 to 1937.

1930

Crawford Grill opens

Gus Greenlee purchases the Leiderhouse building in 1930 and renames it the Crawford Grill.  It becames one of the country's premiere jazz clubs.

1932

Cadman Opera Broadcast on NBC

The first opera written for radio is broadcast on NBC: Charles Walkfield Cadman's -The Willow

1932

Slim Bryant records with Jimmy Rogers

Slim Bryant records with country legend Jimmy Rodgers.  They record Bryant's song “Mother, The Queen of My Heart” and Bryant's arrangement of “In the Pines”.

1932

Oscar Levant Sells Out Stadium

George Gershwin asks Oscar to play his "Concerto in F" at New York's Lewisohn Stadium for an all–Gershwin program. The concert sells out drawing 17,000.

1934

Magidson wins first song Oscar

Song writer Herbert Magidson win the first ever Oscar for Best Song for his composition "The Continental".

1935

Roy Eldridge Records

Roy Eldridge records his first major solo album, “Roy Eldridge, Little Jazz Trumpet Giant”.

1936

NBC Broadcasts the PSO

NBC radio network begins regular live broadcasts of the PSO to two-thirds of the U.S.

1937

Otto Klemperer Conducts PSO

Otto Klemperer becames the music director in 1937 quickly raising the symphony to international status. 

1937

Right to Unionize is Won

The struggle of generations of Pittsburgh steel workers to unionize and earn decent wages under safe working conditions is won when the Supreme Court upholds the Wagner Act

1938

Fritz Reiner Leads PSO

Fritz Reiner leds the Pittsburgh Symphony for a decade from 1938 to 1948.  Under Reiner the PSO makes its first foreign tour and signs a recording contract with Columbia Records.

1939

Billy Strayhorn joins Ellington

Billy Strayhorn moves to Harlem to work with Duke Ellington beginning thirty years.of collaboration on over five hundred recorded compositions and arrangements.

1939

First Televised Piano Recital

Earl Wild becomes the first artist to perform a piano recital on U.S. television when NBC began transmitting commercial live musical telecasts.

1939

Pittsburgh Opera is formed

The Pittsburgh Opera forms as the "Pittsburgh Opera Society".

1940

Roy Eldridge joins Krupa Band

Roy Eldridge joins Gene Krupa’s band as the featured soloist becoming one of the first black jazz musicians to be a permanent member of a white big band.   He becames a nationwide celebrity with his solo performance on the Krupa band recordings of “Rockin' Chair” and “Let Me Off Up Town”.

1940

Musical Americana Show Live from Pgh

The Musical Americana show produced by KDKA is broadcast live from the Syria Mosque to 96 stations on the NBC Blue Network featuring 102 Pittsburgh musicans and a 24 member swing chorus.  Directed by Raymond Paige the half hour broadcast features music by American composers airs weekly until January 1941.

1941

National Negro Opera Company Formed

Mary Cardwell Dawson forms the first African American opera company: the Negro National Opera.

1941

11 year old Maazel conducts NBC Orchestra

The eleven year old child prodity Lorin Mazeel guest conducts the NBC Symphony at Arturo Toscanini’s invitation.

1941

Slim Byrant & The Wildcats

Slim Bryant & the Wildcats became the studio band for "KDKA Farm Hour" that aired Mondays through Fridays at 6: a.m for next 20 years. 

1941

Pittsburgh's First FM Station

Station WMOT (now WWSW) went on the air becoming as the first FM Station in Pittsburgh

1942

First Woman PSO members

During World War II Frtiz Reiner hires the first female members of the PSO.  Eighteen are hired in 1942 and twenty-four more are hired in 1944.

1942

Musicians Strike

In July of 1942 the American Federation of Musician went on strike against the recording companies demanding recording royalties.  All union instrumental musicians stopped recording from 1942 through 1945.

1942

Maazel conducts major orchestras

The 12 year old child prodity Lorin Mazeel guest conducts the New York Philharmonic and tours the U.S.conducting several orchestras including the Chicago Symphony.

1942

Earl Wild Debuts on NBC

Pianist Earl Wild performs Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony winning critical acclaim.

1943

Bryon Janis Debuts on NBC

Pianist Bryon James makes his professional debut at age 15 performing with the NBC Symphony Orchestra.  Vladimir Horowitz recruits him to be his student.

1943

Billy Eckstein form band

Billy Eckstine forms his big band that includes Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan and later Miles Davis, Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, and Art Blakey.

1943

Crawford Grill No. 2 Opens

Gus Greenlee opens the Crawford Grill No. 2 on the corner of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street a few blocks up the hill from the original Crawford Grill. 

1944

C.C. Mellor store closes

The C.C. Mellor music store that was founded by W.C. Peters and John Mellor closes its doors after 113 years. Billed as “America’s oldest piano house” Mellor’s store sold over 85,000 pianos during its existence.

1945

Oscar Levant's No 1 Hit

Oscar Levant's recording of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra reached number #1 on the Billboard classical chart and remained one of Columbia Records best selling albums for the next ten years.

1946

Mancini joins Glenn Miller Band

Henry Mancini becomes a pianist and arranger for the Glenn Miller Orchestra which was led by Tex Beneke.

1946

Civic Light Opera Premieres

The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera (CLO) performers Victor Herbert's "Naughty Marietta" at Pitt Stadium giving its first even performance.  The CLO performs at Pitt during the summers until 1958 giving eight productions per season with an average of 6,000 fans per show. The first season drew 270,000.

1947

Billy Eckstein becomes a balladeer

Billy Eckstine breaks up his big band to become a solo pop balladeer. He records more than a dozen string filled hits including "My Foolish Heart", "Caravan", "Blue Moon" and "I Apologize." He regularly tops the Metronome and Downbeat polls in the Top Male Vocalist category

1948

Mary Dee joins WHOD

Mary Dee joins the new radio station WHOD to become the first African American woman disk jockey in America.

1948

Perry Como TV Show

Perry Como moves from radio to NBC television with the weekly half-hour Chesterfield Supper Club show. Perry pioneers the TV variety show format and begins a 45 year television career.

1949

Eddie Jefferson invents Vocalese

Singer Eddie Jefferson creates the vocalese style of Jazz with his live recording of the song "Parker's Mood".

1950

Pittsburgh is 12th Largest U.S. City

With its population of 676,806. Pittsburgh becomes the 12th largest city in America.

1950

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa, written by Jay Livingston, becomes a number 1 hit and Nat King Cole receives a Gold record.

1952

Willam Steinberg Leads PSO

William Steinberg leds the PSO from 1952 to 1976, taking them on a tour of Europe and releasing several records.

1952

Modern Jazz Quartet Form

Pittsburghers Kenny Clarke and Ray Brown join Milt Jackson and John Lewis to form the bebop cool jazz group The Modern Jazz Quartet.

1954

Jazz Messengers Form

Art Blakey and Horace Silver found the Jazz Messengers

1954

Play Misty for me

Erroll Garner records his most popular composition, "Misty". It becames\ a jazz classic

1956

Que Sera, Sera

Doris Day records Jay Livingston's song "Que Sera, Sera" and scores number 2 hit

1957

Pittsburgh's first Top 40 station WEEP

WEEP becomes Pittsburgh's first Top 40 playlist station followed by KQV in 1958.

1957

Come Go With Me

Marcels score a number 4 Hit with "Come Go With Me"

1958

First Million Selling Single

Perry Como becomes the first artist to sell 1 million copies of a record with the single "Catch a Rising Star".

1958

First Gold Record Ever

Perry Como is award the first ever Gold Record for the song "Catch a Rising Star"

1958

First Gold Album Winner

Shirley Jones is a member of the Oklahoma movie cast that wins the first ever Gold Album Winner for the album "Oklahoma!"

1958

Since I Don't Have You

With the hit song "Since I Don't Have You" the Skyliners became the first group to use strings in a rock N roll song influening Phil Spector's "wall of sound"

1958

Sonny Clark Shines

Pianist Sonny Clark records "Cool Struttin" on the Blue Note lable.  The All Music Guide calls it "one of the preeminent "swinging medium blues" pieces in jazz history".

1959

Mancini wins Grammy

Henry Mancin wins the first ever Grammy for Album of the Year for the record the "The Music of Peter Gunn".