Beethoven’s first published works—his Opus No.1—were three trios for piano, violin and cello and already they show a marked advance on Haydn’s trios in the comparative interdependence of the three parts. Their freedom from Haydn’s oppressive formality looks forward to the first mature trios, the pair that comprises Opus 70, displaying all sorts of harmonic twists, thematic innovations and structural idiosyncrasies, these trios make much of the piano part and contain plenty of dramatic outbursts that are typical of Beethoven’s middle period.
Even more arresting is the first of the Opus 70 trios (1808) nicknamed ”The Ghost” because of its mysterious and haunting Largo. Its sibling boasts a cheerful bombastic finale that is the most entertaining music that Beethoven composed for this combination of instruments.
The “Archduke” Trio Opus 97 (1811) was Beethoven’s last full-scale work for piano trio and is typically conclusive. The third movement is its center of gravity, a highly moving set of variations with the cello dominating the thematic content. It opens with a hymn-like theme and progresses to a coda which magnificently sums up the movements ideas. The finale might be less powerful than that of Opus 70 No. 2, but it nevertheless has a sweeping rhythmic power. Again, it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that Beethoven defined the piano trio form that it retained throughout the 19th century by allowing the string instruments the status of genuinely equal partners in this superlative performance.
• 1763 ~ An instrument named the spinet was mentioned in The Boston Gazette newspaper on this day. John Harris made the spinet, a small upright piano with a three to four-octave range. There is no verifiable evidence to support the rumor that a man named Spinetti made the first spinet.
• 1809 ~ The Theatre Royal at Covent Garden re-opened after being destroyed by fire the year before. The Theatre Royal at Covent Garden began in Bow Street in 1732. It was designed by E.M. Barry in classical style. He also built for the theatre’s management the Floral Hall next door in glass and iron, meant to be a straightforward rival to the Bedford’s flower market. Both of Barry’s buildings are now part of the rebuilt Royal Opera House at Covent Garden complex.
• 1838 ~ Emil Scaria, Austrian bass-baritone
• 1899 ~ Scott Joplin was granted copyright for his “Maple Leaf Rag”, the most famous ragtime composition, by the US Copyright Office
• 1910 ~ Josef Tal, Polish-born Israeli composer and pianist
• 1917 ~ The Honolulu Ad Club registered a patent for the ukulele.
• 1927 ~ The Columbia Broadcasting System was born on this day, although its rival, NBC, had been on the air for some time. The Tiffany Network, as CBS was called, broadcast an opera, The King’s Henchman, as its first program. William S. Paley put the network together, purchasing a chain of 16 failing radio stations. The controlling interest cost between $250,000 and $450,000. The following year, the 27-year-old Paley became President of CBS. It only took one more year for him to profit 2.35 million dollars as the network grew to over 70 stations. In 1978 Paley received the First Annual ATAS (Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) Governor’s Award as Chairman of the Board of CBS.
• 1929 ~ Teddi King, Singer
• 1933 ~ Jimmie Rodgers, Singer
• 1939 ~ Frankie (Frances) Avalon (Avellone), American rock-and-roll singer
• 1947 ~ Country singers Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was the first country show for the NYC venue.
• 1948 ~ The Original Amateur Hour returned to radio on ABC, two years after the passing of the program’s originator and host, Major Bowes. Bowes brought new star talent into living rooms for 13 years. Ted Mack, the new host, had also started a TV run with The Original Amateur Hour on the DuMont network in January of 1948.
• 1949 ~ Kerry Livgren, Guitar, keyboards with Kansas
• 1952 ~ Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin), Drummer with The Ramones
• 1955 ~ What had been The Toast of the Town on CBS Television (since 1948) became The Ed Sullivan Show. This “rilly big shew” remained a mainstay of Sunday night television until June 6, 1971. Sullivan was a newspaper columnist/critic before and during the early years of this pioneering TV show.
• 1957 ~ The Big Record, hosted by ‘the singing rage’, Miss Patti Page, debuted on CBS-TV. The Big Record was a live musical showcase featuring established artists singing their big songs. The Big Record lasted one big season.
• 1962 ~ Joanne Catherall, Singer with Human League
• 1967 ~ Ricky Bell, Singer with New Edition
• 1969 ~ Tiptoeing through late night TV, Tiny Tim announced his engagement to Miss Vicki Budinger. Johnny Carson, host of The Tonight Show, was so enthralled with the falsetto-voiced singer that he invited the couple to get married on the show. They did on December 17, 1969 and TV history was made.
• 1970 ~ Rock radio mourned the loss of rock music legend, Jimi Hendrix. He died at age 27 of an overdose of sleeping pills. His Purple Haze and Foxy Lady became anthems for a generation at war in Vietnam.
• 1985 ~ “Song & Dance” opened at Royale Theater NYC for 474 performances
The manuscript of Mozart’s A major piano sonata K331 has recently been discovered in Budapest. Having spent the majority of its life in the Budapest’s National Széchényi Library for decades, the coveted manuscript was rediscovered by Haydn scholar Balazs Mikusi.
The piece was composed in 1783 and contains Mozart’s most popular jam, “Turkish March,” which has become a piano lesson staple all over the world.
Although, unfortunately, Mikusi can’t say how or when these pages found their way to Hungary; they reveal subtle differences from the published editions of the sonata. The key variances are seen in the phrasing, dynamics and occasionally the notes themselves.
“It is very rare that a Mozart manuscript pops up. Moreover the A Major Sonata had no known manuscript, so it is a really big discovery,” he said.
The library has only released teasing images of the manuscript, nothing more.
These days, there is much pressure for parents to begin their children in activities from an early age. We know that children tend to pick up new skills easily and we want for them to have an opportunity to become experts at these new skills. We also see curiosity, desire and eagerness to learn in our children and want to capitalize on that.
Music lessons are no exception. We often get calls asking the question, “When is the best time to enroll my child in piano lessons?” The answer to that is a tricky one, and varies for each child. The right age for one may not be the right age for another. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering enrolling your child in music lessons:
1. Does my child have an attention span to sit still for chunks of time and listen to instruction?
Many teachers today are very creative in using off-bench activities during lessons and have a plethora of activities to make lessons fun and engaging. However, the fact remains that your child will need to sit at the piano for some periods of time during the lesson. It is important that your child have the attention span to do this.
Picture a seven-foot grand piano in a studio. The lid’s missing, so you can see all the strings. Researchers suspend a rod embedded with 32 microphones over the piano’s body.
“We played this middle C at a very soft level, a medium level, and a very loud level,” says Agnieszka Roginska, a professor in NYU’s music technology program. She says using a pianist to play middle C over and over wouldn’t be scientific. So they’re using a disklavier, a fancy player piano triggered by electronics. “So we could hit the same note, with the same velocity, thousands of times,” she says.
They’d record the piano in one spot. Then move the microphones eight inches. Record the note. Move the mics again. Record the note. Over and over and over, until they reach the back of the piano. At the end, they get “what is basically a very dense acoustical scan of the radiation pattern of the grand piano,” Roginska says.
It will be fun watching your child improve their piano skills all while having fun using Piano Maestro in lessons each week!
As your child’s teacher (or YOUR teacher!), I’m looking forward to seeing the progress they will make when they start using it at home each day. This guide will help you understand how this app will benefit your child and how to get it set up on your own iPad.
Overview What is Piano Maestro?
Piano Maestro is the ultimate piano practice tool that will have students quickly playing their favorite classical, pop, rock, TV and video game songs and themes. It is available in the App Store and works on the iPad.
What skills does it improve?
• Note reading
• Sight reading
• Inner pulse
What makes it so fun?
• Upbeat background tracks
• Stunning graphics
• Instant rewards and feedback
• Satisfaction of playing REAL music
It works with an acoustic piano?
Yes! Your child practices on your real acoustic or digital piano. Piano Maestro listens from the iPad’s built-in microphone. No wires needed.
I’m already paying for lessons. What value does this add?
Sometimes I wish I could be there with your child to encourage them to keep practicing daily. I’m sure it’s not always easy, as unforeseen challenges will arise.
Since our time each week is just too short, this app will give me eyes on the ground and it will keep them practicing longer and improving more quickly.
How will it be used in lessons?
I will spend a few minutes of each lesson helping your child master a couple of new songs all while having fun! I will also teach them how to use the practice options at home.
At the end of the lesson, we will choose Home Challenge assignments within the app that will show up in your account at home. I’ll get updates when progress is made.
Wow, this sounds awesome. Now, how do I get started?
1) Download Piano Maestro on your iPad from the AppStore
2) Create a JoyTunes account with a parent’s email, under which, you can have multiple profiles for each member of the family.
3) Create a profile for each family member (that means you too Mom and Dad!) inside the Parent/Teacher zone (top right-hand corner of the main screen)
4) Connect to your teacher, me! After creating a profile in the “profiles” tab of the parent/teacher zone, select the student’s profile and click “connect to teacher.” Once I approve the connection to your child, they will receive full access to all content for FREE! I will then also begin receiving weekly progress reports.
5) Start Playing – I will now start assigning you homework, meanwhile, get started on Journey Mode.
When you connect to the O’Connor Music Studio, Piano Maestro is free for as long as you study here.
• 1881 ~ Georges Enesco, Rumanian composer, violinist and conductor
• 1918 ~ Sgt. Irving Berlin’s musical about army life in World War I opened at the Century Theatre in New York City. Yip Yip Yaphank included songs, such as Mandy and Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.
• 1939 ~ Ginger (Peter) Baker, Trumpeter, drummer with Cream
• 1939 ~ The Dick Jurgens Orchestra recorded Day Dreams Come True at Night on Okeh Records. Eddy Howard was the vocalist on the piece. It became Jurgens’ theme song.
• 1940 ~ Johnny Nash, American pop-reggae singer, songwriter and guitarist
• 1943 ~ Billy J. Kramer (William Ashton), Singer with The Dakotas
• 1945 ~ Ian Gillan, Singer with Deep Purple
• 1947 ~ Gerard Schwarz, American trumpeter and conductor
• 1951 ~ John Deacon, Bass with Queen, score of Flash Gordon
• 1964 ~ The Beatles began their first North American concert tour. They would visit 26 cities.
• 1972 ~ NBC-TV presented The Midnight Special for the first time. John Denver was the host for the first show. Wolfman Jack was the show’s announcer. The Midnight Special proved to be a ratings success.
• 1991 ~ Richard Maltby passed away. He was an American musician, conductor, arranger and bandleader.
• 2001 ~ Singer Betty Everett, whose recording of The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) made Billboard’s Top 10 in 1964, died Sunday. She was 61.
Everett is remembered primarily for one huge hit song in the 1960s, but she also recorded many other songs and was recognized as one of the top soul singers of her time.
Starting at age 9, Everett played the piano and sang in church. She continued to sing in gospel choirs before moving to Chicago in 1957, where she recorded a string of hits on local record labels such as C.J. Cobra and OneDerful that included I’ll Be There and I’ve Got a Claim On You.
Everett signed a contract in the early 1960s with VeeJay, a record label that was then issuing recordings by The Beatles.
Everett recorded The Shoop Shoop Song in the spring of 1964, and it soared to Billboard’s Top 10.
The song was later recorded by Cher in the soundtrack for the 1990 movie Mermaids and more recently by Vonda Shepard of the Fox television show Ally McBeal.
• 2017 ~ Bea Wain, American singer and radio host (Deep Purple, Heart and Soul), died at the age of 100
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.
Stephen Powers first thought of his grand piano as an impressive piece of furniture.
But he enjoyed listening to music so much when friends played at parties at his home in North Wilmington that he began taking lessons.
“I enjoy having a couple of songs under my belt,” says Powers, a 52-year-old banker. “I play Happy Birthday. I play Getting to Know You for my mom.”
Powers is part of a boomlet of adults who are studying piano. Many took lessons briefly as children and regret giving it up. Some simply enjoy music. Others gravitated toward the keyboard because studies suggest piano improves mental acuity while reducing the odds of dementia.
A Swedish study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when a twin played a musical instrument later in life, he or she was 64 percent less likely to develop dementia than the twin who did not play.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2013 evaluated the impact of piano lessons on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in adults age 60 to 84.
The group that studied piano showed significant improvement in tests that measure executive function, controlling inhibitions and divided attention, as well as enhanced visual scanning and motor ability. Piano students also reported a better quality of life.
Some grownups simply relish a challenge.
In the United Kingdom, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, took to the keyboard at age 56. He chronicled the year he spent learning Chopin’s demanding No. Ballade 1 in G Minor in the book Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.
Richard Swarmer, 57, of Lewes, played the trumpet from grade school through college. He has sung in several choirs. This year, he began piano lessons.
Learning the piano isn’t easy even for someone with a musical background. Still, Swarmer appreciates that the creative thought process is different from the focus required by his job for a medical benefits company.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking piano lessons as an adult,” he says. “It provides a welcome respite from the demands of my job.”
Ethel Thirtel of North Wilmington is 71 and a student at the Music School of Delaware. She is also taking French lessons to help keep her intellect sharp.
“Both pursuits involve active studying and practice to master new skills,” she says.
To meet rising demand, the Music School of Delaware offers adults-only evening group classes to accommodate working people, says Matthew Smith, student and alumni relations officer. The school also provides instruction for adults 50 and older through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Delaware.
“In addition to professionals, we are getting a lot more inquiries from older adults who are retired and have time on their hands,” he says.
Geri Smith, a Julliard-trained singer, musician and composer, has taught piano to children in public schools as well as private arts centers. Her adult students include a 59-year-old writer who took up piano after the death of her husband, a gifted musician.
“Teaching children is a different experience than teaching adults,” says Smith, of Unionville. “Kids pretty much do what you ask them to do but adults ask lots of questions. They want to know why things have to be done a certain way.”
An important part of learning piano is creating new pathways in the brain. A Harvard Medical School study examined the impact of practicing the piano on synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning.
Volunteers practiced two hours a day for five days, playing a five-finger exercise to the beat of a metronome. To learn how that impacted the neurons scientists used transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS), in which a wire coil sends magnetic impulses to the brain.
They discovered that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to the finger exercises had expanded like crabgrass.
“Playing the piano creates new synapses,” Smith says. “Think of it as creating a conduit so your right hand can talk to your left hand.”
Meldene Gruber of Rehoboth Beach, who has taught piano for more than 40 years, has seen a surge in adult students in the past two years. Now, half her students are adults.
“A number of my adults say they think playing the piano will help with mental acuity,” she says. “Playing the piano forces you to use both sides of the brain, which is great for neuron firing.”
Most adults have specific goals in mind, such as learning to play Christmas carols or a few favorite pieces.
“You don’t get adults who are focused on becoming concert pianists,” Gruber says. “They come for the joy of playing, not because their mothers made them.”