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Johnny Costa - JPop.com
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Johnny Costa

Johnny Costa

Johnny Costa


Johnny Costa (January 18, 1922 – October 11, 1996) was an accomplished jazz pianist. Given the title "The White Tatum" by jazz legend Art Tatum himself, Costa is best known for his work as musical director of the children's television program, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Costa graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with two degrees in music, and immediately began work as a musician, and eventually music director, for Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV. He provided piano and organ music for many programs Read more on Last.fm
Johnny Costa (January 18, 1922 – October 11, 1996) was an accomplished jazz pianist. Given the title "The White Tatum" by jazz legend Art Tatum himself, Costa is best known for his work as musical director of the children's television program, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Costa graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with two degrees in music, and immediately began work as a musician, and eventually music director, for Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV. He provided piano and organ music for many programs, eventually teaming with Fred Rogers to create the music for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, for which he served as musical director until his death in 1996. Costa's first recording was The Amazing Johnny Costa, a Savoy LP released in 1955 and reissued on CD as Neighborhood in 1989. Though his increasingly lucrative career was beginning to bring him international attention, the amount of time spent away from his family led him to cut his career short.

He stopped traveling, gave up his job as the musical director of The Mike Douglas Show and returned to Pittsburgh, where he remained for the rest of his life, never venturing far from the city limits. Costa served as musical director, arranger, and composer for the children's television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from the program's debut in 1968 until his death in 1996. The program's creator and host, Fred Rogers, considered Costa to be one of the most gifted musicians he had ever met, and one of the world's most talented jazz pianists, and personally asked him to perform for his show. Rogers' choice was surprising, as Costa's nuanced style was considered too sophisticated for a children's program. Costa was originally nervous, having never written jazz for children, but Rogers gave him free rein over the show's musical score. Every day, Costa and his trio performed in the studio as the show was recorded.

In addition to the show's recognizable main theme, they played the trolley whistles, Mr. McFeely's frenetic Speedy Delivery piano plonks, the vibraphone flute-toots as Fred fed his fish, dreamy celesta lines, and all of Rogers' entrance and exit songs—all live. Even after his death, much of the music on the program continued to be Costa's. The show's closing credits also continued to list Costa as Musical Director. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Costa]] Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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