Daily Listening Assignment ~ June 11

 

The other day, a student and I were looking at a piece with a l-o-n-g crescendo marking on it and she wondered how long the longest crescendo was in any piece.

For those who don’t remember, crescendo means to get louder and decrescendo means to get softer.  The sample below gets louder, then softer.

 

But I got a bit off-track.  While my student was trying her hand (no pun intended!) and the long crescendo, I looked up how long the longest one might be and found…

The longest crescendo in music is probably Ravel’s “Bolero,” which is, in fact, one long crescendo. Another very long crescendo occurs in the first movement of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony. … “Rossini crescendos” are much shorter but quite effective. Jul 26, 2013

Most everyone, including my student, knows that this is possibly my least favorite piece of music but I still played a bit of it for her anyway.

Although not really a piano piece

From Russia

I like this flashmob version best

In a video that looks just like a segment of Disney’s Silly Symphonies or Fantasia, artist Simon Brethé animates the pentagram, making the notes of Ravel’s Bolero do feats ranging from charming a snake (the oboe) to serenading a girl at her window (the saxophone). At one point of the performance, one member of the string ensemble gets his bow tangled in the pentagram, a distraction that, subsequently, wreaks havoc in the entire orchestra.

 

March 25 ~ This Day in Music History

today

. 1699 ~ Johann Adolph Hasse, German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music.

. 1784 ~ François-Joseph Fetis, Belgian musicologist, composer, teacher, and influential music critic.

. 1851 ~ The Playel piano factory in Paris was destroyed by fire.  Playel was the favorite of Chopin in the 19th century, and it was identified with French composers known as the impressionist musicians of the early 20th century — like Ravel and Debussy.

Pleyel was founded in 1807 by Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher who studied with Franz Joseph Haydn.

. 1867 ~ Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor and musical director. Famed for his temper in rehearsals, he was director of La Scala and the Metropolitan opera houses. He also conducted the NBC symphony orchestra. With a career spanned 68 years, he was a cellist at age 19
Read quotes by and about Toscanini
More information on Toscanini

. 1881 ~ Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer and pianist, born. His knowledge of western musical techniques allied to the inspiration he derived from Hungarian peasant songs enabled him to become a unique musical force.
More information about Bartók

. 1903 ~ Grammy winner Frankie Carle (Carlone), Pianist and bandleader
More about Carle

. 1913 ~ The Palace Theatre opened its doors in New York City. Ed Wynn was first on the vaudeville bill. Some 20 years later, Wynn would be named as radio’s top entertainer. He later became popular on television, as well.

. 1918 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer, died. His music, described as “musical Impressionism”, explored original avenues of expression.

. 1931 ~ Hal Kemp and his orchestra recorded Whistles, with Skinnay Ennis, for Brunswick Records. Both Kemp and Ennis sang in the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Eugene Ormandy (later, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra). The pair were part of the orchestra vocal quartet that also featured Nye Mayhew and Saxey Dowell in 1928.

. 1934 ~ Johnny Burnette, ‘The Master’, singer, brother of singer Dorsey Burnette

. 1938 ~ Hoyt Axton, Singer, musician and songwriter. Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, wrote Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel

. 1940 ~ Anita Bryant, Singer

. 1942 ~ Aretha Franklin, American soul singer, known as the “Queen of Soul” and “Lady Soul”, she won 15 Grammy Awards and was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)

. 1947 ~ Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight), Entertainer
More information about John

. 1948 ~ Kelly Garrett, Actress, singer

. 1949 ~ Neil Jones, Musician with Amen Corner

. 1951 ~ Maizie Williams, Singer with Boney M

. 1966 ~ Jeff Healey, Guitarist, singer, songwriter with the Jeff Healey Band, CBC radio show: My Kind of Jazz

. 1971 ~ Tom Jones went gold with his single, She’s a Lady.

. 1972 ~ The group, America, rode to the top of the pop music charts with their LP, America, and the single (included on the LP), A Horse with No Name. A Horse With No Name would be the group’s only gold record.

March 7 ~ This Day in Music History

today

. 1809 ~ Johann Georg Albrechtsberger passed away.  He was was an Austrian musician.

. 1824 ~ “I am convinced that the soul and spirit of Mozart have passed into the body of young Liszt” ~ Review of a concert given on this day by Franz List in Paris.

. 1875 ~ Maurice Ravel, French composer
More information on Ravel

. 1917 ~ In the United States, RCA released the first jazz record ever: The Dixie Jazz Band One Step by Nick LaRocca’s Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

. 1917 ~ Robert Erickson, American composer

. 1939 ~ Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians recorded one of the most popular songs of the century. The standard, “Auld Lang Syne”, was recorded for Decca Records.

. 1955 ~ “Peter Pan”, with Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Richard as Captain Hook, was presented as a television special for the first time.
More about Mary Martin

. 1969 ~ The Apollo astronauts began this day of their space voyage by singing Happy Birthday.

. 1985 ~ The song We Are the World, from the album of the same name, was played on the radio for the first time. Forty-five of pop music’s top stars gathered together to combine their talents to record the music of Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. Richie and Jackson sang, too, while Quincy Jones did the producing of the USA for Africa record. The proceeds of the multimillion-selling recording went to aid African famine victims. The project, coordinated by Ken Kragen, was deemed a huge success.

. 2001 ~ Frankie Carle, a big-band leader best known for Sunrise Serenade, at the age of 97. Carle, who died in Mesa, Ariz., reached the high point of his popularity during World War II, when he was the focus of a bidding war among bands. His repertory was wide, ranging from classics like a revival of Stephen Foster’s Swanee River, to a World War II release that anticipated the Allied victory called I’m Going to See My Baby. Although Carle’s music did not rank high on record industry charts after the 1940s, he still toured and played concerts into the 1980s, some 70 years after he began his musical career.

. 2015 ~ Steve Zegree died.  He was a legendary jazz educator and former Western Michigan University Gold Company director.

February 2 ~ This Day in Music History

 

. 1714 ~ Gottfried August Homilius, German composer, cantor and organist

. 1789 ~ Armand-Louis Couperin, French composer, organist, and harpsichordist

. 1875 ~ Fritz Kreisler, Austrian-born American violinist and virtuoso/composer Some of his best known works are Caprice Viennois, Tambourin Chinois, Liebesfreud and La Gitana

. 1901 ~ Jascha Heifetz, Russian-born American violinist
Read quotes by and about Heifetz
More information about Heifetz

. 1911 ~ Jussi Björling, Swedish tenor

. 1912 ~ Burton Lane (Levy), Composer of How Are Things in Glocca Morra, That Old Devil Moon, Look to the Rainbow, How About You, I Hear Music, Come Back to Me,On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, How Could You Believe Me?; His Broadway musicals were Finian’s Rainbow (collaboration with Yip Harburg), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner). He contributed songs to over 30 films: Babes on Broadway, Royal Wedding, Ship Ahoy, St. Louis Blues and credited with discovering Judy Garland

. 1927 ~ Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetzby), American jazz tenor saxophonist

. 1937 ~ Tom Smothers, Entertainer, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Steve Allen Show, Dick’s Brother

. 1937 ~ Guy Lombardo and his orchestra recorded one of Guy’s most famous tunes. Boo Hoo was waxed on Victor Records and became one of the group’s all-time great hits.

. 1940 ~ target=”_blank”Alan Caddy, Guitarist with The Tornados

. 1942 ~ Graham Nash, Singer with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

. 1947 ~ Peter Lucia, Drummer with Tommy James and The Shondells

. 1949 ~ Ross Valory, Bass with Journey

. 1959 ~ The Coasters tune, Charlie Brown, was released. The tune went to #2 and stayed there for three weeks, but didn’t make it to the top spot of the charts. A catchy song (“Fee fee fi fi fo fo fum. I smell smoke in the auditorium…”), it was on the charts for a total of 12 weeks. The song at number one, preventing Charlie Brown from reaching the top, was Venus, by Frankie Avalon.

. 1996 ~ Gene Kelly passed away

. 2001 ~ French pianist Nicole Henriot, who entered the Paris Conservatory at age 7 and went on to perform around the globe with conductor Charles Munch, died at the age of 75. Emerging on the world music scene after World War II, Henriot built her reputation on interpretations of works from Liszt to Prokofiev, and especially French composers such as RavelFauré and Milhaud. She was most famous for her performances with Munch, music director of the target=”_blank”Boston Symphony from 1949 to 1962. Munch, who died in 1968, was the uncle of Henriot’s husband. Born in 1925, Henriot won the Paris Conservatory’s first prize at age 13. During the war, Henriot gave aid to her brother, a member of the French Resistance. When Gestapo agents searched her home in 1944, she managed to destroy her brother’s secret documents but was badly beaten. After the war, Henriot became the first French pianist to appear in Britain and began an international tour that took her from Scandinavia to Egypt. She made her American debut in 1948 as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Munch’s direction. When Munch formed the Orchestra of Paris in 1967, Henriot was one of the fledgling orchestra’s first soloists. In the 1970s and 1980s, Henriot devoted herself to teaching, and worked at the Conservatory of Liege, Belgium, and at the Walloon Conservatory of Brussels.

. 2001 ~ Victor Norman, who founded the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and conducted the group for three decades, died at the age of 95. Colleagues said Norman was a visionary who needed to be as skilled in politics as he was in music to keep the symphony together. “He had this idea that a symphony orchestra could be created around here, when really it had been tried several times before, never with any kind of significant success,” said Charles Frink, a New London composer who studied with Norman. Norman founded the New London Civic Orchestra in 1946. It merged with the Willimantic Orchestra in 1952 to become the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. He stepped down from the podium in 1980. In his retirement, Norman composed music. Two of his orchestral pieces were performed by the New Britain Symphony Orchestra and the Westminster Community Orchestra in Princeton, N.J. His memoirs, “Victor Norman: A Life in Music, a Lifetime of Learning,” were published in 1999.

. 2015 ~ French piano virtuoso Aldo Ciccolini died at age 89. Born on August 15, 1925, into a musical family in Naples, Aldo Ciccolini was a child prodigy, beginning composition classes in the city’s conservatory at age nine.

Steinway Spectacular for 80 fingers – a Golden Oldie Post

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

August 22, 2016 ~ Today in Music History

today

OCMS   1862 ~ Claude Debussy, French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music, though he himself disliked the term when applied to his compositions.
More information about Debussy

• 1906 ~ The Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey began to manufacture the Victrola (record player). The hand-cranked unit, with horn cabinet, sold for $200. Records sold separately.

• 1917 ~ John Lee Hooker, American blues guitarist and singer, born in Clarksdale, Miss. He began his career in Detroit in 1948 with the release of Boogie Chillun, the biggest of his several hit records and a staple of both the blues and rock repertoires. He toured continually, and among “deep blues” artists, enjoyed an unusually successful career, appearing in concerts and on recordings with many of the leading figures in rock. He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

OCMS  1928 ~ Karlheinz Stockhausen, German composer
More information about Stockhausen
Read quotes by and about Stockhausen

• 1926 ~ Bob Flanigan, Singer with The Four Freshmen

• 1932 ~ The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began its first experimental TV broadcast in England.

• 1938 ~ Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared, dancing, on the cover of LIFE magazine, published on this day.

• 1938 ~ Count Basie recorded the classic swing tune, Jumpin’ at the Woodside, for Decca Records.

• 1942 ~ Joe Chambers, Musician: guitar, singer with The Chambers Brothers

• 1950 ~ Sam Neely, Singer

• 1960 ~ Debbi Peterson, Drummer, singer with Bangles

• 1961 ~ Roland Orzabal, Singer, guitarist

• 2002 ~ Frederick Selch, an advertising executive and magazine publisher who collected  hundreds of antique musical instruments, died at the age of 72.
Selch began collecting almost 50 years ago and owned more than 300 musical instruments by 1977.
In that year, he founded the Federal Music Society, an organization dedicated to performing music from the Colonial-Federal period. The group’s 26 players used instruments in Selch’s collection to perform in more than 70 concerts.
Selch was also the owner, editor and publisher of Ovation, a monthly magazine about classical music, from 1983 to 1989. He produced the Broadway musical “Play Me a  Country Song” in 1982, and in the past 10 years was involved in a series of American  Music Festivals at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Selch, who received a master’s degree in radio-television production from Syracuse University, worked at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency from 1955 to 1974.
He is to be awarded a posthumous doctorate from the American Studies program at New York University.

• 2002 ~ Richard Lippold, a sculptor whose abstract works are featured at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall and at Harvard University, died. He was 87. Lippold created giant metal abstractions, many of which are suspended by wires so  they appear to be hovering or moving through space.
His piece World Tree, a 27-foot structure of straight and circular metal tubes that resembles a radio antenna, stands on the Harvard University campus.
He is also known for Ad Astra, a double spire that rises 115 feet in front of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and Orpheous and Apollo, a constellation of bronze bars connected by wires in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center.
Lippold studied industrial design, piano and dance at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. He worked as a freelance industrial designer for several years before teaching art at the University of Michigan.
He later taught at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., and Hunter College in New York.

Have You Heard the 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!