American pianist Edmund Battersby, who gave the opening concert of the Dublin International Piano Festival at the Hugh Lane Gallery on Saturday, may well have felt at times that he was in some sort of movie scene rather than in a regular concert.
While he was playing, the piano began to move away from him. It wasn’t a full concert grand, and didn’t have lockable castors. The gallery has a shiny floor, and the instrument didn’t always manage to stay in its place. Battersby coped masterfully, making the necessary adjustments as if he were merely fixing his jacket or making himself more comfortable on the piano stool.
His savoir faire was all the more remarkable given that he was playing one of the most daunting works in the repertoire, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.
The story of these variations is well known. The composer and publisher Anton Diabelli decided to create a “patriotic anthology” by sending all the important Austrian composers of the day a simple waltz theme of his own for each to write a variation on.
Beethoven rejected Diabelli’s original idea, and described the theme as a “cobbler’s patch”. But he changed his mind and wrote a set of 33 variations, which Diabelli proudly published as a companion piece to the 50 variations he had received from other hands.
• 1939 ~ John West, Musician, guitarist with Gary Lewis and the Playboys
• 1942 ~ Harry James and his band recorded the classic I’ve Heard that Song Before, for Columbia Records. Helen Forrest sang on the million-seller.
• 1943 ~ Lobo, Singer
• 1946 ~ Gary Lewis (Levitch), Singer with Gary Lewis and the Playboys, entertainer Jerry Lewis’ son
• 1946 ~ Bob Welch, Guitarist and singer with Fleetwood Mac
• 1947 ~ Karl Green, Musician, guitar and harmonica with Herman’s Hermits
• 1964 ~ Jim Reeves, popular U.S. country music singer, died in an aircrash near Nashville.
• 1985 ~ Prince was big at the box office with the autobiographical story of the Minneapolis rock star, Purple Rain. The flick grossed $7.7 million in its first three days of release on 917 movie screens. The album of the same name was the top LP in the U.S., as well.
Charles Kester, 73, has been playing piano since he was 8 years old and stills plays every day for his own enjoyment.
CHARLES KESTER has been playing the piano since he was 8. Now he’s 73.
” I love music, that’s all there is to it”
Kester, who was born in Yeddo Indiana in 1935, is the subject of this month’s “Ageless Aging” series. Through this special project, Ledger videographer Rick Runion provides a look at older adults who have gifts and dreams they refuse to give up.
Kester has been married to Linda for 54 years and has two children, son Larry Kester of Lake Wales and daughter Jane Stringfellow of Winter Haven.
Kester worked for the railroad for 43 years and starting as a telegraph operator.
The Kesters started spending the winters in Polk County in the 1990s and moved here full-time in 2002.
Kester doesn’t read music but plays by ear. He has his own system of writing cords symbols, which helps him remember the key of the music he plays.
In the 1950s, Kester and his fellow musicians in Indiana began playing nursing homes and found out senior adults liked the same music he liked and says he is “not much up on the new music”. Some 50 years later Kester is still playing senior facilities and does not charge for his performances.
“My pay is they come up afterward, or you can go and shake their hand and (they) tell you they enjoyed it. That to me is the reason I do it”.
He passes out song books and calls his act “Sing along with Charlie”.
His audiences sing along with the songs of the 1930s and 1940s.
“They call out numbers and away we go”.
He says that even Alzheimer patients remember words to songs when they can’t remember a lot of things: “That’s one of the good things”.
Kesters even throws in jokes, “so it’s more of a show than it is straight music all the way.
“If you can make them smile or sing along with you, that’s what I was meant to do, I really feel that.”
• 1899 ~ Gerald Moore, British pianist and accompanist
• 1909 ~ Adolph Baller, Pianist
• 1926 ~ Martin Bookspan, American music critic, administrator and broadcaster
• 1929 ~ Christine McGuire, Singer with The McGuire Sisters
• 1936 ~ Buddy (George) Guy, Blues guitar, singer, on BBC TV
• 1941 ~ Buddy Guy, Blues Musician
• 1941 ~ Paul Anka, Canadian singer and songwriter of popular music. He composed Johnny’s Theme (Tonight Show Theme) and had 33 hits over 3 decades, including “Diana” and “Puppy Love”.
• 1942 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded the last of 90 recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra on Victor Records. His last side was There are Such Things, which became number one in January of 1943. Sinatra moved on as a solo singing sensation.
• 1942 ~ Stagedoor Canteen was first heard on CBS radio. The show was broadcast live from New York City and 500 servicemen were entertained each week by celebrities who freely donated their time for the war (WWII) effort.
• 1945 ~ David Sanborn, Grammy Award-winning musician, saxophone, flute, composer of the TV movie score to Finnegan Begin Again
• 1947 ~ Marc Bolan (Feld), Singer with T. Rex
• 1956 ~ Singer Brenda Lee recorded her first hit for Decca Records. Jambalaya and Bigelow 6-500 started a new career for the petite 11-year-old from Lithonia, GA (near Atlanta). Brenda Mae Tarpley (Brenda Lee) had been singing professionally since age six. She recorded 29 hit songs in the 1960s and became a successful country singer in 1971. Brenda Lee had a pair of number one tunes with I’m Sorry and I Want to be Wanted. She recorded a dozen hits that made it to the top 10.
• 1958 ~ Kate Bush, Singer
• 2002 ~ Leonard Litman, who ran two top Pittsburgh entertainment venues in the 1940s and ’50s that attracted stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Bill Haley’s Comets, died of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88. Litman owned Lenny Litman’s Copa, a nightclub that flourished in the city’s downtown from 1948 to 1959. Earlier, he ran the influential Mercur’s Music Bar. After the Copa closed in 1959, Litman continued to promote concerts and made a brief foray into sports in the 1960s when he and his brothers invested in an American Basketball League team. Litman worked as the Pittsburgh correspondent for Billboard Magazine from 1948 to 1960 and as a correspondent for Variety for decades.
When they make a mistake they hack away at it until it finally yields, and simply move on. What they have actually practised is getting it wrong three or four times in a row and right on the fifth attempt. What, then, are the chances of getting it right the first time in the context of the flow of the piece?
• 1856 ~ Robert Schumann passed away. Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist.
More information about Schumann
• 1887 ~ Sigmund Romberg, Hungarian-born American operetta composer, founding member of ASCAP. He was famous for his operettas “Desert Song”, “Maytime” and “Student Prince”
• 1916 ~ Charlie Christian, American guitarist and blues singer
• 1930 ~ Paul Taylor, Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Emmy Award-winning choreographer, Kennedy Center Honors in 1992 “…for enhancing the lives of people around the world and enriching the culture of our nation.”
• 1933 ~ Randy Sparks, Folk singer, songwriter with the New Christy Minstrels
• 1935 ~ Peter Schreier, German tenor
• 1946 ~ Neal Doughty, Keyboards with REO Speedwagon
• 1953 ~ Geddy Lee, Bass, singer with Rush
• 1965 ~ The Queen of England attended the premiere of the motion picture, Help!, starring The Beatles. The command performance was held at the London Pavilion. The film later earned first prize at the Rio De Janeiro Film Festival in Brazil. The Beatles later said the film was shot in a “haze of marijuana”. According to Starr’s interviews in The Beatles Anthology, during the Austrian Alps film shooting, he and McCartney ran off over the hill from the “curling” scene set to smoke a joint.
• 1966 ~ Martina McBride, Country singer
• 1970 ~ Sir John Barbirolli died. He was the British conductor of the Halle Orchestra, and was a famous interpreter of English music, Mahler and Italian opera.
The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy of this app if you (or your student) would like to try it during a lesson.
I see great potential with this app and think it could be useful for you at home.
It’s a fun game that can be used with a piano, the iPad or it can be hooked up to an electric keyboard.
Piano Maestro is free for all OCMS students to use on their own iPads at home. Your student’s piano lesson books are most likely included to help the student learn the pieces – accompanied by a full backing track!
• 1750 ~ Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer and organist, died. Composer of “St Matthew Passion” and “Brandenburg Concertos”, his output covered every musical genre with innovations in format, quality and technical demands.
More information about Bach
• 1796 ~ Ignace Bösendorfer, Italian Pianomaker
More information about Bösendorfer
• 1939 ~ Judy Garland sang one of the most famous songs of the century with the Victor Young Orchestra. The tune became her signature song and will forever be associated with the singer-actress. Garland recorded Over the Rainbow for Decca Records. It was the musical highlight of the film, The Wizard of Oz.
• 1941 ~ Riccardo Muti, Italian conductor
• 1945 ~ Rick Wright, Keyboards with Pink Floyd
• 1949 ~ Peter Doyle, Singer with The New Seekers
• 1949 ~ Simon Kirke, Drummer with Free
• 1958 ~ Three years after his Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White reached number one, Cuban-born bandleader Perez Prado captured the top spot again, with Patricia. Prado was known as the Mambo King for his popular, Latin-flavored instrumentals.
• 2001 ~ Bass guitarist Leon Wilkeson, one of the founding members of legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died at the age of 49. The band, best known for songsWhat’s your Name?, Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird, debuted in 1973 and was named after the members’ high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner. Wilkeson was involved in a 1977 plane crash in Mississippi that killed band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines. The group disbanded after the crash, but re-formed with others in 1987 for a reunion tour. The band toured for most of the 1990s and had a concert scheduled for Aug. 23 in Jacksonville.
• 2002~ Thomas Calvin “Tommy” Floyd, whose twangy voice sold Luck’s beans in the 1950s, died. He was 89 and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Floyd was one of Asheboro’s best known voices, between his music career and his jobs announcing at radio stations. Floyd organized the Blue Grass Buddy’s in 1942. The group played for radio shows and performed around the Southeast, appearing in concert with bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. In 1950, Luck’s sponsored the band, provided that Floyd plug the product at shows. His jingle went: “Luck’s pinto beans, Luck’s pinto beans. Eat ’em and you’ll never go wrong. Luck’s pinto beans.” Luck’s sponsored him as a host for 15-minute country music spots on television stations in the Southeast. Luck’s discontinued the sponsorship in 1953.
• 2002 ~ Eddy Marouani, who managed the careers of some of the most famous figures in French music, including Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, died. He was 81. He also steered the careers of singers Michel Sardou, Serge Lama and comedian Michel Boujenah. Marouani headed the agency “Office Parisien du Spectacle” and presided over one the biggest families of French impresarios. Marouani published his memoirs in 1989, entitled “Fishing for Stars, Impresario Profession.”
I have always really enjoyed playing Mozart’sFantasia in d minor and when I was asked to play for the new piano dedication service at my church a couple years ago I knew what I would “dust off” to perform.
The Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians defines the genre of musical fantasia as “a piece of instrumental music owning no restriction of formal construction, but the direct product of the composer’s impulse.”
The Fantasia in d minor has somewhat unusual rhythm, constantly changing tempo (seven different tempi occur throughout the piece), three cadenzas and its apparent lack of any recognizable musical form (as indicated by the “Fantasy” title). Although it begins in d minor, the final section is in D Major.
Mozart composed this, his third and final, Fantasia in 1782 and it was unfinished at the time of his death in 1791. Even Mozart’s sister, “Nannerl”, who came across the work in 1807, was astounded to have discovered a previously unknown composition of such quality.
In its original form this Fantasia was probability only a fragment of what was to be a larger work. The closing bars which are most frequently performed today originated from an unauthorized print believed to have been composed in 1806 by August Eberhard Müller, one of Mozart’s admirers.
Because it was unfinished, many of the dynamic and pedal markings are nonexistant and left for the performer to choose.
As you can see from these videos, there is a wide range of tempi and interpretation from Frederich Gulda’s 4 minute, 36 second rendition
1867 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish composer and conductor
More information about Granados
• 1877 ~ Ernö Dohnányi, Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor. He wrote the popular “Variations on a Nursery Song” and became an eminent concert pianist. One of the leading lights of 20th-century Hungarian music, he championed the music of Bartok and Kodaly.
• 1918 ~ Leonard Rose, American cellist
• 1927 ~ Bob Morse, Singer with The Hi-Lo’s
• 1933 ~ Nick Reynolds, Folk singer with The Kingston Trio
• 1942 ~ Peggy Lee recorded her first hit record, in New York City. With the backing of the Benny Goodman band, Miss Lee sang Why Don’t You Do Right.
• 1943 ~ Al Ramsey, Musician: guitar with Gary Lewis & The Playboys
• 1944 ~ Bobbie Gentry, Pop Singer. She won a Grammy Award in 1967
• 1949 ~ Maureen McGovern, Singer
• 1950 ~ Michael Vaughn, Guitarist with Paperlace
• 1959 ~ Brothers, Santo and Johnny (Farina) of Brooklyn, NY saw their one and only hit record, the instrumental Sleepwalk released. Sleepwalk was number one for two weeks. Their next song, Tear Drop, only made it to number 23 on the pop charts. Such is life in the pop music biz.
• 1963 ~ Karl Mueller, Rock Musician
• 1974 ~ NBC~TV removed Dinah’s Place from its daytime programming roster. The move brought Dinah Shore’s 23~year association with the Peacock Network to a close.
• 1974 ~ John Denver’s biggest hit song reached the top of the Billboard singles chart. Annie’s Song, written for his wife, became the most popular song in the U.S. Denver had three other #1 songs: Sunshine on My Shoulders, Thank God I’m a Country Boy and I’m Sorry.
• 1976 ~ John Lennon finally had his request for permanent residency in the United States approved. Lennon’s immigration card number was A-17-597-321. The decision to allow Lennon to stay in the country ended a long struggle between the former Beatle and the U.S. Government.
• 2000 ~ Alex “Sleepy” Stein, the founder of the first all-jazz radio station, died of cancer at the age of 81. Stein started working for CBS radio in the 1940s and later moved to Chicago, where he earned the nickname “Sleepy” after replacing an all-night deejay named Wide-Awake Widoe. He moved to Southern California, where he started broadcasting from an AM station in Long Beach. In 1957, Stein bought KNOB and began all-jazz programming from the Signal Hill station. On-air personalities at the groundbreaking station included famous jazz announcers Chuck Niles, Jim Gosa and Alan Schultz. Stan Kenton helped him finance the station by contributing the profits from his band’s performances.
• 2001 ~ Harold Land, a jazz saxophonist who over five decades performed with such greats as Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett, died at 72. Land was born on Dec. 18, 1928, in Houston and grew up in San Diego. His parents bought him a saxophone when he was 16 and he made his first record at 21. In 1954 he moved to Los Angeles, where he joined the group run by trumpeter Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach, touring the country for two years. He went on to join bands featuring jazz notables Curtis Counce and Blue Mitchell. He co-led a band with vibraphone player Bobby Hutcherson in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and had a 30-year association with Gerald Wilson’s orchestras. Land earned a reputation as a hard-bop musician capable of incandescent improvisation. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, Land joined the Timeless All-Stars, which included Hutcherson, drummer Billy Higgins, pianist Cedar Walton and trombonist Curtis Fuller. He also was a featured soloist for Tony Bennett. He appeared on the soundtracks for the movies Carmen Jones in 1954 and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in 1969. He continued to be an active musician late in life. The album Promised Land, featuring Land and his quartet, was released this year.