Just in Time for Halloween: Toccata and Fugue in d minor by J.S Bach

toccata-d-minor

 

Johann Sebastian Bach’s towering monument of organ music, with its deep sense of foreboding, will forever be associated with Halloween.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, 2-piano, simplified…

If you want this in a book with other Bach transcriptions, amazon has this: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Other Bach Transcriptions for Solo Piano, arranged by Ferruccio Busoni.

Here, Virgil Fox performs it on his Allen Digital Touring Organ.

 

Diane Bish plays the Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Institution and talks about this instrument.

 

And, the most fun…

Fall LIstening and Coloring Pages

 

I have purchased a set of Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Halloween for the studio.

Each week, I will print out some of the pages for your student and put them in his/her notebook.  After listening to the music on YouTube, the student may color the pages.

After they are colored, please return them to the notebook so that there will be a complete book when finished.

If you are an adult and want to listen and color, too, just let me know and I’ll print you a set.

From the website:

The Shades of Sound Listening and Coloring Books are a great way to encourage students to listen to great piano and orchestral repertoire. Students of all ages will love coloring the fun pictures while listening to and learning from the music of the great composers.

This Shades of Sound Halloween edition includes 13 spooky pieces of piano and orchestral literature, ranging from the Baroque to the Modern period. By spending just 5-10 minutes per day listening for just a few days per week, students can listen to and complete the whole book in a few weeks.

Aspiring pianists need to know the literature, hear the greats perform, and be inspired and excited by the great music that is available! Just as writers need to read, read, read, pianists need to listen! Through this fun curriculum, students will learn about the musical periods and the great composers and their works. Listening repertoire selected includes selections from the standard solo piano literature, as well as solo piano and orchestra literature and orchestral works.

My hope is that students can add just 5-10 minutes of listening per day to their normal practicing. Listening to great music will change their understanding of music and will vastly increase their music history knowledge. It will excite and inspire them, encourage further study and listening, give them new pieces to add to their own repertoire wish list, infuse more great music into their lives, homes and families, and will boost their musicianship and expression to the next level.

The Halloween Shades of Sound book includes 13 different pieces, including:

  • Totentanz by Liszt
  • Le Cimetiere, from Clairs de Lune by Abel Decaux
  • Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
  • Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Tarantelle, from Music for Children Op. 65 No. 4 by Prokofiev
  • Tarantella by Albert Pieczonka
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Bach
  • Funeral March, from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor by Chopin
  • Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens
  • The Banshee by Henry Cowell
  • Scarbo, from Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas

Students may use The Playful Piano – Halloween Listening YouTube playlist to listen along with their book using quality recordings. The playlist is ordered to go right along with the book, and also includes 5 extra pieces (some pages include optional “Further Listening” examples students may listen to).

 

J. S. Bach Celebrated International Coffee Day!

bach-coffee

 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was also apparently a coffee enthusiast. So much so that he wrote a composition about the beverage. Although known mostly for his liturgical music, his Coffee Cantata (AKA Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211) is a rare example of a secular work by the composer. The short comic opera was written (circa 1735) for a musical ensemble called The Collegium Musicum based in a storied Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, Germany. The whole cantata seems very much to have been written with the local audience in mind.

Coffee Cantata is about a young vivacious woman named Aria who loves coffee. Her killjoy father is, of course, dead set against his daughter having any kind of caffeinated fun. So he tries to ban her from the drink. Aria bitterly complains:

Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

The copywriters at Starbucks marketing department couldn’t have written it any better. Eventually, daughter and father reconcile when he agrees to have a guaranteed three cups of coffee a day written into her marriage contract.

 

coffee-machine

Piano Maestro: Vivaldi’s Spring

vivaldi

 

Vivaldi, one of the greatest baroque composers, has a very interesting story. He ran an orphanage in the 18th century in Italy that became famous all over the western world for its musically talented children. A lot of his pieces were written for specific children in his school. Vivaldi learned the violin from his father, and was trained as a priest. He was nicknamed “the red priest” for his red hair and was apparently somewhat sure of himself, having claimed once he can compose a concerto faster than it can be copied.

Vivaldi wrote over 500 pieces, most of which are lost today. He is considered one of the greatest musical landmarks in history, having inspired many composers that followed him, including J.S.Bach and others.

Other fun facts about Vivaldi can be found here.

Vivaldi’s Spring is available on Piano Maestro, which is available to my students free of charge.

From the Radio Show 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!

September 5 ~ in Music History

 

OCMS 1735 ~ Johann Christian Bach, German composer
J.C. Bach was one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons. After he moved to London, he became known as the London Bach.
More information about J.C. Bach

OCMS 1791 ~ Giacomo Meyerbeer, German Composer
More information about Meyerbeer

OCMS 1912 ~ John Cage, American avant-guarde composer, pianist and writer
Read quotes by and about Cage
More information about Cage

• 1934 ~ Carol Lawrence (Laraia), Singer, actress

• 1939 ~ John Stewart, Singer with The Kingston Trio; songwriter

• 1945 ~ Al Stewart, Singer, guitarist with Time Passages

• 1946 ~ Freddie Mercury (Bulsara), singer, Queen, (1975 UK No.1 single ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ also UK No.1 in 1991, plus over 40 other UK Top 40 singles. 1980 US No.1 single ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’). Solo, (1987 UK No. 4 single ‘The Great Pretender’). Mercury died of bronchio-pneumonia on November 24th 1991 aged 45, just one day after he publicly announced he was HIV positive.

• 1946 ~ Loudon Wainwright III, Songwriter, singer

• 1956 ~ Johnny Cash hit the record running with I Walk the Line. Cash’s debut hit song climbed to #17 on the pop music charts.

• 1969 ~ Dweezil Zappa, Musician: guitar: MTV; son of musician Frank Zappa, brother of singer Moon Unit Zappa

• 1972 ~ Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway won a gold record for their duet, Where is the Love. The song got to number five on the pop music charts and was one of two songs that earned gold for the duo. The other was The Closer I Get To You in 1978.

• 2002 ~ Florence Lessing, a dancer who performed in films, nightclubs and Broadway musicals died. She was 86. Lessing worked with the famous jazz-dance choreographer Jack Cole, who spotted her as a teenager in an East Indian dance class. Lessing, Cole, and the teacher of the class, Anna Austin, formed a trio that performed at the Rainbow Room in 1938 and in the musical “Moon Over Miami” in 1939. Lessing went on to perform in many Broadway shows, including “Windy City,” choreographed by Katherine Dunham, and “Sailor Beware” and “Kismet,” both choreographed by Cole. She appeared in the 1952 film musical “Just for You,” which was choreographed by Helen Tamiris and starred Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman. Lessing, who studied a wide variety of dance forms, choreographed two of her own nightclub acts in the mid-1940s and taught dance at several schools.

• 2003 ~ Gisele MacKenzie, a singer-actress who became one of early television’s biggest stars through her appearances on “Your Hit Parade,” died. She was 76. Once known as Canada’s first lady of song, MacKenzie moved to Los Angeles with her family in 1951. In 1952 and 1953 she toured with Jack Benny, who recommended her for a spot on “Your Hit Parade.” In 1957, she left the show to headline her own musical variety program, “The Gisele MacKenzie Show.” It lasted half a year. She returned to weekly television in 1963 as a regular on “The Sid Caesar Show.” She also appeared on radio in Los Angeles with Edgar Bergen and Morton Downey. She was a regular on Bob Crosby’s Club 15 show and a featured performer on radio’s “The Mario Lanza Show.” She continued to appear regularly on television into the 1990s, on such shows as “Studio One,” “The Hollywood Squares,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “MacGyver” and “Boy Meets World.”

Hands According to Pianists.

pianist-hands

Redditor NeokratosRed had an idea: depict the hands of great composers and pianists, according to the characteristics of their music. He shared it on the social media site, and also punted for suggestions of more. It has since received over 300,000 images views, and lots of further suggestions from fellow Redditors and piano geeks.

Whisks for Chopin’s elegant pianistic souffles, feather dusters for the gentle impressionism of Debussy, instruments of trade for the composer of the thunderous Hammerklavier sonata.

Piano, and the internet – top marks to the both of you.

via This infographic of composers’ hands is painfully (and hilariously) accurate | Classic FM.