Have You Seen Piano Puzzlers?

puzzlers

 

The Piano Puzzlers book is available in the O’Connor Music Studio library if you’d like to give any a try.  Piano Puzzlers as heard on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.” Includes 32 tunes with songs by Gershwin, Berlin, Arlen, Porter, Rodgers, Fats Waller, Lennon & McCartney, and others disguised in the styles of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Janacek, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, and Copland.

Includes an introduction by Fred Child, host of “Performance Today” as well as background info by Bruce Adolphe. “Bruce Adolphe has taken a common musician’s party game and elevated it to high art and truly funny musical slapsticks. The Piano Puzzlers are a unique combination of extraordinary insight into the styles of many composers subtle, expert workmanship and great, great fun!”

 

From http://jasonmorris.blogsome.com/2008/08/08/piano-puzzlers/

If you’re a music geek (like me), I have a program for you. Now, let me be clear, to fully qualify as a music geek…you must have a fond appreciation for classical music (no, Poison, Quiet Riot, and Zepplin do not count as classical music). So, if you’re a “music geek” without an appreciation for classical music…well, I hate to burst your bubble…but, you’re not truly a music geek. Instead, you’re a music appreciator, but not a geek. So, if you just listen to indie music and scowl at anything on a label larger than Matador…don’t bother following the link I’ll provide…the fun will be lost on you…And, you probably won’t have a chance.

 

Every Wednesday night, on my way home from WNL, I turn on my local NPR station to listen to Piano Puzzlers on Performance Today. It’s absolutely incredible. A pianist/composer (Bruce Adolphe) takes a familiar folk or pop tune and sets it inside a classical masterpiece (or in the style of a particular composer). Sometimes it’s easy…sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult. There are days when I say, “got it” on the first pass. Then there are days when I say, “what the heck?” And, more often than not, I’m able to get either the popular/folk tune or the composer.

 

This is sad to admit, but there are nights when I’ll slow down on the drive home or sit in the car in the driveway to finish an episode. In fact, I get a little worked up if someone stops me after WNL…as I might miss the beginning of Piano Puzzlers (it usually hits around 8:20pm on our local station).

 

Take a listen to some of the archives and see if you can figure it out! It’s really cool…but probably only appreciated by music geeks (the kind of people that listen to NPR for their musical programs and not just the snipets of cool indie rock between segments on All Things Considered…which is a great show too).

 

Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!

July 26, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Today we will listen to Minuet in G.  Several people composed a Minuet (a slow, stately ballroom dance for two in 3/4 time, popular especially in the 18th century) in the key of G including Beethoven, Mozart and Bach.

How are the same?  How are they different?

JS Bach’s version

 

The Bach version also was “acquired” for a popular song in the 1960s

 

Beethoven

Rowlf from the Muppets plays the Beethoven Minuet

 

Mozart

 

So – never say to your teacher that “I already played that” – you never know which version s/he has in mind!

 

 

July 25, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Today we listen to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. The real name for this work is The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2. It was completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

The piece is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano, and it was a popular favorite even in his own day.

It’s in the Piano Pronto Beethoven book as well as many compilations of classical music.

 

Arranged for piano and orchestra

An animation

 

The above were all of the first movement only.  Here’s the whole sonata played by Valentina Lisitsa:

 

July 20, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Today’s piece is Steven Heller’s Avalanche.  This may be his most recognizable piece and is a perfect study for an intermediate level pianist, with triplets, accents, pedaling and dynamic challenges to add to the excitement.

I chose this today, when it’s so hot, to remind people of snow and coldness!

 

 

 

On clarinet

July 19, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

 

hall-mountain

 

“In the Hall of the Mountain King” is a piece of orchestral music composed for the sixth scene of act 2 in Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play Peer Gynt. It was originally part of Opus 23 but was later extracted as the final piece of Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1, Op. 46. Its easily recognizable theme has helped it attain iconic status in popular culture, where it has been arranged by many artists, including for the piano.

Borrow a copy of the sheet music from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for piano, duet, 2-piano, simplified…

 

8 part vocal orchestra (plus a tiny pair of cymbals)

 

Pianist Paul Barton

 

Solo piano sheet music – Video Score

 

Orchestral version

July 17, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

“Sakura Sakura”, also known as “Sakura”, is a traditional Japanese folk song depicting spring, the season of cherry blossoms. It is often sung or played in international settings as a song representative of Japan.

 

 

On a koto

piano from Piano Adventures book 3A

 

A fantasy

 

Flute

Violin duet

Sayonara!

July 15, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

“The Entertainer” is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin. It was sold first as sheet music, and in the 1910s as piano rolls that would play on player pianos.

It was used as the theme music for the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Sting by composer and pianist Marvin Hamlisch.
The Sting was set in the 1930s, a full generation after the end of ragtime’s mainstream popularity, thus giving the inaccurate impression that ragtime music was popular at that time.

Find the sheet music in a variety of levels including Songs I Love to Play, Volume 1 and Alfred Premier Piano Course Book 4.  It’s also available in Piano Maestro and to borrow from the O’Connor Music Studio

 

 

As played in The Sting

 

Adam Swanson

 

Piano Duet

On an older piano

 

At Disney

 

Player piano

Harder than it needs to be

From a 4-year-old

Violin and piano

 

String Quartet

On guitar

 

Saxophone quartet

Miss Piggy sang The Entertainer

And, everyone’s favorite – the ice cream truck!