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!

August 29 ~ This Day in Music History

today

• 1920 ~ Charlie Parker, American jazz alto saxophonist
Read quotes by and about Parker
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• 1924 ~ Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones), Singer, Lionel Hampton’s band from 1943 to 1946

• 1928 ~ Thomas Stewart, American baritone

• 1942 ~ Sterling Morrison, Bass, guitar, singer with The Velvet Underground

• 1943 ~ Paul Whiteman Presents, a summertime radio replacement show, was heard for the last time. The hostess for the show was Dinah Shore. Whiteman’s 35-piece orchestra serenaded listeners on the NBC radio network. Whiteman’s well~known theme song was Rhapsody in Blue, composed by George Gershwin.

• 1946 ~ Ella Fitzgerald and The Delta Rhythm Boys recorded It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight on Decca Records. The song turned out to be one of Lady Ella’s most popular.

• 1958 ~ Michael Jackson, American rock singer

• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman was released. It hit number one (for 3 weeks) on September 26th and became the biggest of his career.  The title was inspired by Orbison’s wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out; when Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected “A pretty woman never needs any money.”   Oh, Pretty Woman was Orbison’s second #1 hit. The other was Running Scared on 6/05/61.

• 1966 ~ The Beatles performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. It was the group’s last live appearance before they disbanded in 1970.

• 1986 ~ The former American Bandstand studio, at the original home of WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, PA, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The studio is located at 4548 Market Street. We expect that any day now, Bandstand host Dick Clark will also be placed on the National Register.

80 fingers on 10 Pianos

Louise Schwartzkoff

From October 5, 2010

There will be $1.6 million worth of piano on stage at the City Recital Hall on Friday night. With their legs and lids removed for transport, eight Steinway grand pianos will be trucked to the venue.

There they will be reassembled on stage and tuned, ready for eight of Australia’s finest classical pianists.

In The Steinway Spectacular 16 hands and 80 fingers will play some of classical music’s greatest hits.

Conducted by Guy Noble, the pianists will work as an ensemble to perform works by composers such as Ravel, Saint-Saens and George Gershwin. ”It’s a very large affair,” says Noble. ”Logistically, it’s a nightmare.” The piano technician Ara Vartoukian will spend hours tuning the instruments.

For past concerts in Melbourne the process sometimes took all night. ”The pianos all, in essence, sound the same, so they have to be absolutely in tune with each other.”

Even after the most careful tuning, things can go awry.

The pianists – Anthony Halliday, Roger Heagney, Clemens Leske, Tamara Smolyar, Mikhail Solovei, Evgeny Ukhanov, Gerard Willems and Alexey Yemtsov – usually perform as soloists. Every now and again, Noble says, one of them ”goes rogue”.

”One will suddenly break out and play their own thing,” he says. ”I have to herd them back into the pride, glaring at them with eyes of death. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to conduct. It’s like herding cats.”

There is no repertoire for an ensemble of pianists, so Noble has created new arrangements.

His favourite is a rendition of the children’s staple Chopsticks. ”That just goes wild,” he says.

The segment titled So You Think You Can Play Scales is also a crowd pleaser. ”It’s like Piano Idol. People get voted off if they go off the rails.”

Other pieces will feature the organist Calvin Bowman and the soprano Shu-Cheen Yu. Bowman, who usually plays above the stage in a loft, will join the other performers on stage on an electronic organ.

”It’s a relief for him to be down on stage because he suffers terribly from vertigo,” Noble says. ”He’s been terrified in organ lofts all over Australia.”

More boisterous extravaganza than a recital for purists, the performance will appeal to an eclectic crowd.

”We get classical music lovers, as well as people who are just curious. It’s pure fun and enjoyment.”

The Steinway Spectacular is at the City Recital Hall on Friday.

From http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/a-piano-spectacular-for-80-fingers-20101004-164ac.html

July 21 ~ This Day in Music History

today

• 1748 ~ Louis-Henry Paisible, Composer

• 1779 ~ Gottlob Wiedebein, Composer

• 1782 ~ Placidus Cajetan von Camerloher, Composer, died at the age of 63

• 1797 ~ Franz Schoberlechner, Composer

• 1865 ~ Robert Kahn, Composer

• 1870 ~ Josef Strauss, Austrian composer, died at the age of 42

• 1896 ~ Jean Rivier-Villemomble France, Composer

• 1898 ~ Ernest Willem Mulder, Composer

• 1898 ~ Sara Carter, Vocalist/guitarist with the Carter Family

• 1903 ~ Theodore Karyotakis, Composer

• 1906 ~ Daniel Ayala Perez, Composer

• 1915 ~ Floyd McDaniel ~ blues singer/guitarist

• 1920 ~ Isaac Stern, American concert violinist
Read quotes by and about Stern
More information about Stern

• 1920 ~ Manuel Valls Gorina, Composer

• 1921 ~ Billy Taylor, Orchestra leader on the David Frost Show

• 1922 ~ Kay Starr (Katherine Starks), Pop Singer

• 1925 ~ Lovro Zupanovic, Composer

• 1926 ~ Albert Fuller, American harpsichordist

• 1926 ~ Norman Jewison, Director of Jesus Christ, Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof

• 1927 ~ Stefan Niculescu, Composer

• 1931 ~ Leon Schidlowsky, Composer

• 1931 ~ Ted Husing was master of ceremonies for the very first CBS-TV program. The gala show featured singer Kate Smith, composer George Gershwin and New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker.

• 1935 ~ Kaye Stevens, Singer and comedienne on the Jerry Lewis Show

• 1938 ~ Anton Emil Kuerti, Composer

• 1938 ~ Paul Hindemith and Leonide Massines ballet premiered in London

• 1947 ~ Cat Stevens (Steven Demitri Georgiou) (Muslim name: Yusuf Islam), British folk-rock singer and songwriter

• 1948 ~ Donald Nichols Tweedy, Composer, died at the age of 58

• 1950 ~ Albert Riemenschneider, Composer, died at the age of 71

• 1958 ~ The last of Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts programs aired on CBS-TV. Many artists got their start on Talent Scouts, including Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, The McGuire Sisters and a singer named Connie Francis, who not only sang, but played the accordion, as well.

• 1962 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 13th Symphony

• 1964 ~ Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 10th String quartet

• 1969 ~ Just one day after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Duke Ellington and a portion of his band performed a 10-minute composition on ABC-TV titled Moon Maiden. The work featured piano, drums, bass and vocals.

• 1973 ~ Bad, Bad Leroy Brown reached the top spot on the Billboard pop-singles chart, becoming Jim Croce’s first big hit. Croce died in a plane crash two months later (September 20, 1973).

• 1976 ~ “Guys & Dolls” opened at Broadway Theater New York City for 239 performances

• 1994 ~ Dorothy Collins, Singer on Your Hit Parade, died at the age of 67

• 1995 ~ Edwin “Russell” House, Saxophonist, died at the age of 65

• 2000 ~ Iain Hamilton, the Scottish composer who turned Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” into an opera at the age of 78. Hamilton wrote four symphonies and dozens of orchestral and chamber works but is known best for his vocal music, which includes a cantata based on the poems of Robert Burns. “Anna Karenina” premiered at the English National Opera in 1981 to critical acclaim. His other operas include “Agamemnon”, “The Catiline Conspiracy”, based on a Ben Jonson play, and an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play “The Royal Hunt of the Sun”. From 1961 to 1978 he was a professor of music at Duke University in North Carolina.

• 2000 ~ Barbra Streisand announced final concerts

• 2001 ~ Norman Hall Wright, the last surviving writer who worked on the Disney film Fantasia 2000, died at the age of 91. Wright studied at the University of Southern California before being hired by Walt Disney Productions. He started as an animator but later became a writer, producer and director. Wright developed the story of The Nutcracker Suite sequence for Fantasia 2000. He also was responsible for a sequence in Bambi. He wrote several cartoon shorts for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy and also produced several Wonderful World of Disney television programs.

• 2002 ~ Gus Dudgeon, a respected music producer who worked on many of Elton John’s hit recordings, died in a car crash in western England. He was 59. Dudgeon produced Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Your Song, Daniel and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Dudgeon also produced David Bowie’s Space Oddity and worked with other stars, including Chris Rea and Joan Armatrading. But it was his partnership with Sir Elton in the 1970s for which he will be best remembered. Dudgeon began his career in the early 1960s as a tea boy, running errands at Olympic Studios in London before joining Decca Records. He engineered the Zombies’ classic She’s Not There and the groundbreaking Blues Breakers album by John Mayall with Eric Clapton, before moving into producing.

• 2015 ~ Theodore Meir Bikel,  Austrian-American actor, folk singer, musician, composer, and activist, died at the age of 91.

July 11 ~ This Day in Music History

today

• 1768 ~ Jose Melchior de Nebra Blascu, Composer, died at the age of 66

• 1781 ~ Adolph Carl Kunzen, Composer, died at the age of 60

• 1824 ~ Adolphe-Abraham Samuel, Composer

• 1826 ~ Carl Bernhard Wessely, Composer, died at the age of 57

• 1836 ~ Carlos Gomez, Composer

• 1837 ~ Paul Lacombe, Composer

• 1857 ~ Iacob Moresianu, Composer

• 1861 ~ Anton Stepanovich Arensky, Russian composer of Romantic classical music, a pianist and a professor of music.

• 1862 ~ Liza Nina Mary Frederica Lehmann, Composer

• 1892 ~ Giorgio Federico Ghedini, Composer

• 1897 ~ Blind Lemon Jefferson, Singer

• 1914 ~ Ahti Sonninen, Composer

• 1916 ~ Howard Brubeck, Composer

• 1918 ~ Enrico Caruso bypassed opera for a short time to join the war (WWI) effort. Caruso recorded Over There, the patriotic song written by George M. Cohan.

• 1920 ~ Yul Brynner (Taidje Khan), Academy & Tony Award-winning actor in The King and I

• 1925 ~ Mattiwilda Dobbs, American soprano

• 1925 ~ Nicolai Gedda, Swedish tenor

• 1926 ~ Rodolfo Arizaga, Composer

• 1927 ~ Herbert Blomstedt, American-born Swedish conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic from 1954 until 1961

• 1928 ~ Robert Washburn, Composer

• 1929 ~ Hermann Prey, German baritone

• 1931 ~ Thurston Harris, American vocalist

• 1931 ~ Tab Hunter (Arthur Gelien), Singer

• 1932 ~ Alex Hassilev, American vocalist with the Limeliters

• 1937 ~ George Gershwin, Composer of An American Paris, died at the age of 38
More information about Gershwin

• 1938 ~ Terry Garthwaite, American guitarist and singer

• 1944 ~ Bobby Rice, Singer

• 1945 ~ Debbie Harry, Singer

• 1947 ~ Jeff Hanna, Singer, guitarist with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

• 1950 ~ Patty Pointer, Singer with Pointer Sisters

• 1950 ~ Timotei Popovici, Composer, died at the age of 79

• 1951 ~ Bonnie Pointer, Singer with Pointer Sisters

• 1957 ~ Peter Murphy, Singer with Bauhaus

• 1959 ~ Richie Sambora, Guitarist

• 1964 ~ 18-year-old Millie Small was riding high on the pop music charts with My Boy Lollipop. Rod Stewart played harmonica. Millie Small was known as the ’Blue Beat Girl’ in Jamaica, her homeland.

• 1967 ~ Kenny Rogers formed The First Edition just one day after he and members Thelma Camacho, Mike Settle and Terry Williams left The New Christy Minstrels. The First Edition hosted a syndicated TV variety show in 1972.

• 1969 ~ David Bowie released Space Oddity in the UK for the first time. It was timed to coincide with the Apollo moon landing but had to be re-released before it became a hit, later in the year in the UK (but not until 1973 in the US).

• 1969 ~ Rolling Stones released Honky Tonk Woman

• 1973 ~ Alexander Vasilyevich Mosolov, Russian Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1980 ~ Boleslaw Woytowicz, Composer, died at the age of 80

• 1984 ~ Karel Mengelberg, Composer, died at the age of 81

• 1993 ~ Mario Bauza, Cuban/American jazz musician ~ died at the age of 82

• 1994 ~ Charles “Lefty” Edwards, Saxophonist, died at the age of 67

• 1994 ~ Lex P Humphries, Drummer, died at the age of 57

• 1996 ~ Louis Gottlieb, Musician, died at the age of 72

• 1999 ~ Big band jazz singer Helen Forrest died

• 2001 ~ Herman Brood, an artist and musician in the Dutch rock scene for 30 years, died at the age of 55. Brood became a sensation with his 1978 hit single Saturday Night, which he wrote as leader of the band Wild Romance. Over 25 years, he recorded nearly 20 albums. He also appeared in Dutch movies.

• 2002 ~ Blues singer Rosco Gordon died of a heart attack. He was 74. Rosco was known for 1950s hits including Booted, No More Doggin’, Do the Chicken and Just a Little Bit, which sold more than 4 million copies in covers by Etta James, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Jerry Butler. His offbeat, rhythmic style influenced the early sounds of ska and reggae after he toured the Caribbean in the late ’50s. Gordon quit the music business in the 1960s and invested his winnings from a poker game in a dry cleaning business. He started his own record label in 1969 and returned to concert performances in 1981.

March 24 ~ This Day in Music History

today

. 1784 ~ Mozart‘s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B flat, K. 450 in B flat, K. 450 was first performed.  Mozart was the soloist.

It is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra.  Mozart composed the concerto for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater. In a letter to his father, Mozart compared this concerto with the 16th concerto in D:

“I consider them both to be concertos which make one sweat; but the B flat one beats the one in D for difficulty.” Indeed, many pianists consider this to be the most difficult of all of Mozart’s piano concertos. The concerto is primarily difficult from its many quick scale patterns which must be played perfectly and also from its many fast chord patterns moving up and down.

Beginning with this concerto, Mozart began to use the term “grand” to describe his concerti such as K.450 which feature a prominent and required wind section for the ensemble. The work is orchestrated for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings.

The concerto is in three movements:
1. Allegro
2. Andante in E-flat major
3. Allegro

. 1808 ~ María Felicità Malibran, Spanish contralto

. 1900 ~ June (Algeria Junius) Clark, Musician, trumpeter

. 1916 ~ Enrique Granados, Spanish composer, died in the English Channel. Best known for his piano suite “Goyescas” after paintings by Goya.

. 1920 ~ Gene Nelson (Eugene Leander Berg), Actor, dancer in Lullaby of Broadway, Oklahoma, Tea for Two, The West Point Story

. 1922 ~ Dave Appell, Arranger for big bands: Benny Carter, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines; TV music director, record producer, singer, songwriter, musician with Dave Appell and the Applejacks

. 1928 ~ Byron Janis (Yanks), American pianist, NBC Symphony Orchestra; well-known piano performance on Hugo Winterhalter’s Rhapsody in Blue recording, composed by George Gershwin.

. 1935 ~ After a year as a local show from New York City, “Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour” was heard on the entire NBC radio network. The show stayed on the air for 17 years. Later, Ted Mack took over for Bowes and made the move from radio to television.

. 1937 ~ Benjamin Luxon, British baritone

. 1941 ~ Glenn Miller began work on his first motion picture for 20th Century Fox. The film was Sun Valley Serenade.

. 1958 ~ Elvis Presley reported to local draft board 86 in Memphis, TN. He became US 53310761. Oddly, since Elvis was now ‘government property’ serving his time in the Army, Uncle Sam stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes each year that Private Presley was in the Army.

. 1980 ~ Capitol Records released some rare Beatles tracks. Included in the album were stereo versions of Penny Lane and She Loves You, sung by the group in German, under the title, Sie Liebt Dich. Also included was a German version of I Want to Hold Your Hand or, in the Teutonic tongue, Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand.

. 2000 ~ French Quarter pianist and chanteuse Lily Simha Hood, whose fans included Tennessee Williams, died of kidney failure. She was cagey about revealing her age, and her husband asked that the secret remain with her death. Her musical career began on a whim. After dinner one night in 1976, the Hoods and a friend stopped at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a Bourbon Street bar across from their house. Mrs. Hood played a few tunes on the piano for her friend and was hired on the spot, even though she wasn’t looking for a job. Soon, “Miss Lily” had a crowd of regulars including Tennessee Williams, who would bring in a songbook for her to sing from. Mrs. Hood never formally studied the piano and never learned to read music. She was self-taught and learned by listening. She performed at Lafitte’s for 16 years, but health problems ended her career about 1993.

February 12 ~ This Day in Music History

today

. 1728 ~ Mysterious priest-composer Agostino Steffani died.

. 1760 ~ Jan Ladislav Dussek, Czech composer and pianist.  Along with his friend, famed piano maker John Broadwood, Dussek made important design improvements to the piano, allowing for the more dynamic style of playing that his highly original compositions required. Beethoven himself later used a Broadwood piano with Dussek’s innovations. This helped pave the way for Romanticism and Dussek’s influence on Beethoven’s piano writing has been well documented.

Dussek’s Piano Sonata Op. 77 in F minor (“L’invocation”), from 1812, is the last work he ever composed, and he saved the best for last. This is a neglected masterpiece that foreshadows Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.

. 1881 ~ Anna (Pavlovna) Pavlova, Russia’s premier ballerina

. 1898 ~ Roy Harris, American composer

. 1904 ~ Ted Mack (William Maguiness), TV host of The Original Amateur Hour, The Ted Mack Family Hour

. 1914 ~ (Gordon) Tex Beneke, Bandleader, singer, tenor sax in the Glenn Miller Orchestra

. 1918 ~ All theatres in New York City were shut down in an effort to conserve coal.

. 1923 ~ Mel Powell, American jazz pianist and composer. One of his works is Mission to Moscow for Benny Goodman. He was also Dean of Music at California Institute of Arts.

. 1923 ~ Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director and producer of opera, theatre, film and television

. 1924 ~ Bandleader Paul Whiteman presented his unique symphonic jazz at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. The concert marked the first public performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The composer, himself, was at the piano this night. Distinguished guests included John Philip Sousa and Jascha Heifetz.

. 1935 ~ Gene McDaniels (Eugene Booker McDaniels), Singer

. 1939 ~ Ray Manzarek, Keyboards with The Doors

. 1942 ~ Mildred Bailey recorded More Than You Know on Decca Records.

. 1948 ~ Joe Schermie, Bass with Three Dog Night

. 1964 ~ The Beatles played two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City, concluding a very successful American tour.

. 1968 ~ Singer and famed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, received an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, WA, where he had dropped out at the age of 14.

. 1972 ~ Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together knocked American Pie out of the top spot on the music charts. The record stayed at the top for one week, before giving way to Nilsson’s Without You. Green returned to his gospel roots in 1980 and is a minister in Memphis, TN. Green recorded 14 hit songs with six of them making it to the Top 10.

. 1976 ~ Sal Mineo, singer, died