July 28 ~ Today in Music History



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 popularise 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 songsWhat’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 Buddy’s 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.”

Playing Mozart’s Piano Pieces as Mozart Did


Classical piano pieces by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin likely sounded much different when the masters first performed those works than they do today. Pianos themselves have changed considerably — but so, too, has technique.

Over the past decade, a growing number of musicologists have begun to take a closer look at how technique shapes not just the sound of music, but also the audience’s emotional response to it.

“Music has one foot in physics and one foot in aesthetics,” said Rolf Inge Godoy, a professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. “Body motion is essential for shaping the outcome of the sound, both in terms of what you actually hear and in terms of the visual impact on an audience.”

Dr. Godoy uses optical motion capture — also employed by the animation industry — to study the physics of musical movement. Infrared cameras capture light from reflective markers placed on a cellist’s hands or a percussionist’s body, recording the performer’s motion at up to 500 frames per second and at an accuracy to one-third of a millimeter.

Computer algorithms then make associations between the motion data, what is heard and what listeners say they felt.

Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were such classical pieces as Mozart’s Variation K. 500 and Hummel’s Etudes, Opus 125, originally played, and how might that have made a difference in sound and in audience reaction?

To find out, Dr. Godoy struck up a collaboration with Christina Kobb, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Academy of Music and head of theory at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago.

As a visiting student at Cornell University in 2010, she researched 19th-century pedagogical piano treatises — essentially, instruction manuals for piano playing. The techniques that they described, she realized, differed drastically from those she had been taught.

“I was not following even the most basic instructions given to beginners at the time,” Ms. Kobb said. “I wondered, ‘Would this make a difference in my playing?’ ”

For the next three years, she gradually replaced her modern way of playing with 19th-century technique, gleaned from around 20 treatises. Most were written in Vienna in the 1820s, while a few were published in France and England. Her primary source, however, was “A Complete Theoretical and Practical Course of Instructions on the Art of Playing the Piano Forte,” the seminal 465-page treatise published in 1827 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, one of Mozart’s students.

“It’s hard enough learning how to play once,” she said. “I had to become conscious of every motion in my hands and fingers, things that normally I would do automatically, by habit.”

While modern players tend to hunch over the keys and hold their forearms nearly perpendicular to the keyboard, 19th-century style dictated that pianists sit bolt upright. The posture prevented players from bringing their weight to bear on the keyboard, instead forcing them to rely on smaller finger movements. The elbows were held firmly against the body, with forearms sloping down and hands askew.

As Ms. Kobb became more fluent in this approach, she found that certain movements — jumping quickly between disparate chords, for example — became swifter and more fluid. “The elbow against your body serves as a sort of GPS, so you always know where you are,” she said.

Chords and scales sound smoother and can be played faster, Ms. Kobb also found, and dramatic pauses between notes — often a matter of physical necessity rather than of style — are lessened. The old style also allows the performer to be more discriminatory and subtle in choosing which notes to stress, Ms. Kobb learned, producing a performance that is subdued by today’s standards.

“There’s a different physical feeling to playing, as well as a different outcome,” she said.

To identify the sources of those differences, Dr. Godoy and his colleagues recently attached 46 pieces of reflective material to Ms. Kobb’s fingers and arms, and then filmed her playing on an electric piano. After analyzing her movements, the researchers will be able to tell precisely which differences in technique account for each variation in the music as it is played in the old and modern styles.

“The correlation between bodily effort and sound output is really what we’re aiming to find out, but in order to do that we need to perform extensive statistical analysis, which is tremendously time-consuming,” Dr. Godoy said. He expects the results of the data analysis in three to four months.

“We are exploring those connections to get a better understanding of what music is,” Dr. Godoy added. “What is its power, and why do people respond so strongly to it?”

For her part, Ms. Kobb now plans to delve deeper into the repertoire of Romantic composers. “It’s time to restore the early techniques to try to bring us even closer to the way music sounded at the time of Beethoven,” she said.

A version of this article appears in print on July 21, 2015, on page D4 of the New York edition with the headline: Reviving Mozart’s Mozart via Playing Mozart’s Piano Pieces as Mozart Did – The New York Times.

What’s better than one piano? Eight of them at University of Akron MonsterPianos! concert – Local – Ohio


One piano is grand.

Eight being played in unison?

Well, that’s much, much grander.

The University of Akron School of Music hosted its sixth MonsterPianos! concert Sunday at E.J. Thomas Hall.

The special show featured eight grand pianos arranged in a semicircle, 39 pianists dressed in tuxedos and black gowns — not all playing at the same time, mind you — a conductor, and a giant video screen broadcasting all the action.

“It’s an adventure,” admitted conductor Galen Karriker, UA director of bands and associate professor of music.

It’s also immensely popular in the community, as evidenced by the audience of nearly 1,300 people.

UA music professor Philip Thomson founded MonsterPianos! in 2006, borrowing the concept from the late pianist Eugene List.

The concert, organized by Thomson and fellow faculty member Mayumi Kikuchi, is a treat for the musicians as well as the audience, because it’s rare to have so many pianists playing together at the same time.

The piano is typically a solo instrument, after all, and pianists aren’t used to watching a conductor for direction.

The concert poses several challenges for the musicians.

One of the biggest is just the fact that they aren’t used to playing together as a group. They had practiced only six times before the final dress rehearsal Sunday.

Another challenge is that pianists are familiar with hearing themselves play. With so many other pianos, the sound blends together — of course, it’d be weird if it didn’t.

“You have to trust your eyes and not your ears,” said Ann Usher, UA professor of music and director of the School of Music, who performed at the event.

The concert, which lasted about an hour and a half, included Valse Brilliante by Moritz Moszkowski, Rondo a capriccio by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

There also were some moments of levity such as when Zippy, the UA kangaroo mascot, led a piano-arrangement of the school fight song Win For Akron.

The concert featured faculty, students, alumni and invited guests. Some of those folks traveled from as far away as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas just to perform.

One of the guests was Juliette Streeter, 14, of Akron, a student at the Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts.

She was excited to be chosen to participate.

“It’s not what I’m used to,” Streeter said. “It’s very fun getting used to all the different people and different styles and the ways they play.”

Karriker, who has conducted all six of the MonsterPianos!, said the concert sets UA apart.

“It truly makes us distinctive as far as a School of Music to have this kind of event,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks who love piano music in this community and they are fascinated by seeing that many pianos on stage and hearing what it sounds like.”

via What’s better than one piano? Eight of them at University of Akron MonsterPianos! concert – Local – Ohio.

The Sing for Hope Pianos by Sing for Hope — Kickstarter


I just became a backer of this project on Kickstarter.  How about you?

The Sing for Hope Pianos is a beloved public art installation that brings brightly colored pianos to the parks and public spaces of NYC’s five boroughs for anyone and everyone to play. For two weeks in the summer, the pianos — each a unique art piece created by a different artist or designer — serve as gathering places in their communities, hosting impromptu concerts by professionals and amateurs alike in an open festival of music for all of New York City.

After the two-week public exhibition, Sing for Hope — a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the arts to the people who need them most — donates the instruments to the NYC organizations we serve year round, allowing the pianos to enrich lives for years to come. While their time on the streets is a joyful event for our city, the Sing for Hope Pianos’ true impact lies in their service as ongoing cornerstones of arts access for communities and individuals in need. As NYC’s largest public art project, the Sing for Hope Pianos impacts an estimated 2 million New Yorkers and visitors each year.


via The Sing for Hope Pianos by Sing for Hope — Kickstarter.

Pianos are Popping Up all over Corvallis

Lee Eckroth couldn’t hold back a smile as piano music filled the air Wednesday afternoon on the streets of downtown Corvallis.

The moment marked the culmination of months of work from by Eckroth, Corvallis Imagination Music & Art founder David Lundahl and dozens of volunteers who’d banded together to create the first Play Corvallis, Play.

The art installation features eight theme-decorated pianos, placed at outdoor locations around Corvallis. It is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Aug. 16 as a prelude event to the Imagination Music and Art festival at Bruce Starker Arts Park on Aug. 15 and 16.

Play Corvallis, Play is intended to inspire appreciation of the arts, and it is just what it sounds like: an invitation to residents to stop and play the piano to showcase local musical creativity and art as a way of drawing attention to the fundraising at Corvallis public schools.

Read the whole article at Pianos are popping up all over Corvallis.