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.

Ornaments, Not Just For Christmas

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

July 28 ~ in Music History

today

OCMS1741 ~ Antonio Vivaldi died
More information about Vivaldi

• 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

• 1811 ~ Guilia Grisi, Italian soprano

• 1901 ~ Rudy (Hubert Prior) Valee, Bandleader and singer. Valee was one of the first, before Bing Crosby, to popularize the singing style known as “crooning”.

• 1914 ~ Carmen Dragon, Classical music conductor, bandleader and father of singer, ‘Captain’ Daryl Dragon

• 1915 ~ Frankie Yankovic, Polka King, Grammy Award-winning musician, accordion

• 1933 ~ The singing telegram was introduced on this day. The first person to receive a singing telegram was singer Rudy Vallee, in honor of his 32nd birthday.

• 1934 ~ Jacques d’Amboise, Ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet

• 1937 ~ Peter Duchin, American bandleader, pianist, son of musician, Eddy Duchin

• 1938 ~ George Cummings, Guitarist with Dr. Hook

• 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.

• 1969 ~ Frank Loesser passed away

• 1972 ~ Helen Traubel passed away

• 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 songs What’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 Buddys 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.”

July 6 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

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…

It’s also available in Piano Maestro, Piano Pronto Encore and Coda

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.

 

Animated organ:

And, the most fun…