Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

Mar. 23

John H. Johnson, writer of High on the Mountain Top and 360 other hymns, published as Hymns of Praise for the Young Selected from the Songs of Joel, (Deseret News, 1882), was born on this day (1802). His collection of hymns, Hymns of Praise, begins with these words: O, Father, give me pow’r to write, When unto thee I look, A thousand songs I would indite, And pen them in a book. Then I, a thousand tongues would need, To sing with one accord, Those sacred songs, with love indeed, In praise to Christ, the Lord. I would not then be satisfied, I’d want ten thousand more, To spread his glory, far and wide, His praise from shore to shore. When here on earth my praise is shown, I then would soar above, In all the worlds to us unknown Would sing a Savior’s love. And when his love I had proclaimed, In all that now have place, Would sing to all that will be framed, Through all the rounds of space.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 22

John Hafen, born on this day (1856), was a landscape artist who was part of the group of painters who studied in Paris in preparation for mural painting at the Salt Lake Temple. He convinced Church leadership to sponsor these art studies, and was awarded a two-year scholarship along with John Fairbanks, Lorus Pratt and Edwin Evans to study in France, where they became known as the "French Art Missionaries."

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 21

The New York revival of George M. Cohan's musical Little Johnny Jones opened and closed on this day (1982), making it one of the biggest flops in Broadway history. (The production also played for 29 preview performances.) Donny Osmond starred in the title role.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 17

Painter Lee Udall Bennion was born today (1956) in Merced, California. Bennion has a distinctive style of painting portraits of people that seem to harmonize with the emotional atmosphere around them. She currently resides in Utah where she continues to paint and serve on the board of directors for the Utah Arts Council.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 16

The Covered Wagon, the last film performance by James Cruze, was released on this day (1923). A prolific silent film actor and director, Cruze made one hundred films during the silent film era, starting as early as 1910. He was raised in the Church although he did not participate in it as an adult.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 15

Welsh composer Cyril Jenkins died on this day (1978). A titan in band music of the early 20th century, Jenkins' works Life Divine (1914), Coriolanus (1915), and Dawn (1922) remain staples in the repertoire. He joined the Church in 1960 and began a number of LDS-themed works.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 10

The LDS Cinema movement was launched on this day (2000) with the debut of Richard Dutcher's film about missionaries in Los Angeles, God's Army. At the time and for years after, members flocked to the movies to see stories populated with LDS characters. None was as successful (commercially nor critically) as this film, however, that was produced, written, directed, and performed by Dutcher.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 9

In the Chicago musical, The Prince of To-Night, Harold Orlob's song, "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" premiered on this date (1909). Orlob, from Logan, Utah, became a composer of multiple Broadway shows, although in popularity, nothing matched this 1909 song that was recorded again and again for decades.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 6

On this day (1862), the Salt Lake Theatre was dedicated under the direction of one-time actor, furniture maker, and prophet, Brigham Young. The theatre, which held 1,500 people, became the cultural gathering spot for generations of early settlers. Young called the building, "one of the privileges and blessings which an All-Wise Creator had placed within the reach of creatures to enjoy." It was razed from November 1928 to January 1929.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 5

George Careless was born in London in 1839, (and died on this day in 1932) where he studied at the Royal Academy in London and performed at several exhibition spaces in the city. In the 1860s he joined the Church and immigrated to Utah, shortly afterword becoming the conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Salt Lake Theatre orchestra, and the Salt Lake Opera Company. Careless also wrote several hymns including "The Morning Breaks," "Behold the Great Redeemer Die" and "O Lord of Hosts."

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 4

Fannie Nampeyo was born on this day (1904). This master Hopi artist learned pottery from her mother, Nampeyo, whose work is in many museum collections and whom she assisted. Fannie created traditional pottery that also reflected LDS belief after her conversion in midlife.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 2

Sculpture Avard T. Fairbanks was born on this day (1897). He first learned to sculpt under his brother, J. Leo, who was already an accomplished artist, and continued to study in New York, Paris and Italy. Fairbanks created more than 100 public monuments, four of which are found in the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 1

American Ballet Theatre premiered the ballet Alma Mater on this day (1935) with choreography by George Balanchine--his first ballet with an American theme--and costumes by Latter-day Saint cartoonist, John Held, Jr. The premiere cartoonist and magazine illustrator of the 1920s, John Held, Jr., died on March 2, 1958. After a childhood in Salt Lake City, he moved to New York City and quickly became the go-to cover artist for the nation's magazines: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, and Life. He drew flappers and college co-eds (as well as Victorian-era Mormons), and his cover for F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tales of the Jazz Age epitomized the gin-soaked decade.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 28

The Jackman Music Corporation (formerly known as Sonos Music Resources) began on this day (1975) by Jerry Jackman and Carole Jackman and has since grown to become the leading publisher of LDS print music. Over 1,800 individual pieces have been published of folk and Mormon music.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 27

On this day (1941) Leigh Harline won two Oscars for his music for Disney's Pinocchio (Best Original Score with Paul Smith and Ned Washington; and Best Original Song with lyrics by Ned Washington). He is later nominated for five more Oscars in a career that featured 192 film scores, including Man's Search for Happiness.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 25

James A. FitzPatrick was born on this day (1894). In the course of his five-decade career, he made nearly three hundred films, including The City of Brigham Young, a 10-minute short film in 1944 that toured Salt Lake City and its landmarks.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 25

Electronic Dance Music superstar Kaskade (Ryan Raddon) was born on this day (1971). The DJ/producer whose albums top music charts and who can earn $200,000 or more for a single night is a headliner at the country's best music festivals, stadiums, and dance clubs.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 23

J. Spencer Cornwall, conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was born on this day (1888). He led the Choir on some of its first trips outside the United States, most notably to perform at the dedication of the Swiss Temple. Cornwall also wrote Stories of Our Mormon Hymns: A Century of Singing, which was a history of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and composed the music to “Softly Beams the Sacred Dawning.”

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 20

One of the first operas on a Native American subject (co-written by Yankton Sioux Zitkala-Sa [Gertrude Bonnin] and including Ute Nation performers and religious practices), The Sun Dance by LDS composer William Frederick Hanson premiered at the Orpheus Hall in Vernal, Utah on this day (1913). It had two separate productions at BYU, and then Salt Lake City and New York City.

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Glen Nelson
Feb. 19

Jonathan Leo Fairbanks is the son of American sculpture Avard Fairbanks, and was born today in 1933. The younger Fairbanks is also an artist as well as an accomplished curator of American arts and antiques. Some of his works can be found in the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Alhambra in Spain.

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Glen Nelson