Divergent Romantic Composers- Liszt and Brahms

Divergent Romantic Composers- Liszt and Brahms. A clash between Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms divided the Romantic era.

  • Brahms was a traditional and followed  Mozart and Haydn.
  • Liszt was an innovative and placed poetry on a pedestal. Importance placed on words was one of the trademarks of the Romantic era. 

Divergent Romantic Composers- Liszt and Brahms

divergent romantic composers
This cartoon personifies differences between Brahms and Liszt.

 A rift between these two giants goes even further: It was personal: Brahms was reported to have fallen asleep during Liszt’s premiere of his Piano Sonata in B minor.  On the other hand, Liszt found the compositions by Brahms “hygienic, but unexciting.” Both were based in the Romantic era; however, we could say that Brahms looked backwards while Liszt looked forwards. 

Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, but lived much of his professional life in Vienna.  Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs.” The man who coined that phrase also had a name starting with “B”: Hans von Bülow.

My wife and I are also composers of musicals in the Romantic style. Most recently we were featured in a concert on New York’s Metropolitan Zoom. Our works include four full length musicals. Enjoy this excerpt from Goldan Roads: 

Preview YouTube video Songs from Goldan Roads, the Golda Meir Musical, by Sharon and David Ohrenstein
concert continues

Concert Continues this Time on Metro Zoom

Concert Continues this Time on Metro Zoom.  Newton stated: In an inertial frame of reference, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.[2][3]

Hopefully, the right amount of force will be applied to not only keep our show motion; but to also accelerate the rate of performance our 75 minute concert called Music for the Night. 


concert contines
Our concert featuring Broadway and movie classics as well a fair dose of our own music from our musicals shows is picking up momentum.

Our premier at “MC”, the Music Colony in Sarasota was most exciting. It was virtual. What an experience! The Yamaha grand I played was just tuned by the man I think is the finest tuner in Sarasota. Also judging from comments and likes, the show was a success. We think for only one showing, it was amazing. Also we heard vociferous applause on the virtual screen. 

Concert Continues

From house parties to the virtual stage. our show is lifting off like a rocket. Laughter over the screen was quite audible. A comic hit was Sharon’s rendition of Spendin’s a Chore on our country western album: Nashville Santa Fe Express. Sharon sings to hearty and healthy laughter:

  • “I went out shopping for a pick up truck. When I saw the prices, my mouth got stuck.”
  • “Desserts cost as much as dinner did. I long for those days when I was a kid.” etc.

Our three historically based musical shows are about women with “gumption”.

  • First is “The Princess and the Peasant.” It is about Elizaveta of Russia and the peasant/singer she loved. She kept Russia out of war for the 19 years of her reign.  
  • Next was “Patra” (Cleopatra) and how she changed Octavian into the man that became Augustus Caesar. Augustus initiated the 20o years of pax romana (Roman Peace).
  • Finally, we presented three selections from “Golden Roads.” The story of Golda Meir’s path Wisconsin to prime minister of Israel. 

Of course the concert also included great composers as Jacques Brel, Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand…. Below is a sample of a ballet we wrote for Elizaveta.



Pianist Arkansas Ohrenstein

Pianist Arkansas Ohrenstein Teams up with Shootin’ Sharon

Pianist Arkansas Ohrenstein Teams up with Singer Shootin’ Sharon. P.S. that’s our names for just one section of our 80 minute concert. Arkansas Ohrenstein is my nickname for the country western music Shootin’ Sharon  and I wrote.   Stories, fun, humor are all mixed with music to make a memorable “cowboy cocktail” of an evening. Of course, we also love and do the music of Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, Jacques Brel and others.   Our concert, with incredible guest artists is timed at 80 minutes. It will be broadcast out of NYC worldwide out of Metropolitan Zoom. Tickets (only $10.00 for an entire viewing area) can be purchased at this link.

Please share!!!!!

 https://metropolitanzoom. ticketleap.com/ohrenstein/

The Catskills Resort From 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lists for $6 Million  | Departures
I was the piano player at Scott’s for about 15 summer seasons. This photograph of the award winning Marvelous Mrs. Maisal was taken on Oquaga Lake in front of Scott’s Playhouse. Theater and games, including bowling, pool and ping pong are on the higher level. Patti’s Pub is on the lower level. Nonstop Summer fun with life the way it was meant to be lived.

Pianist Arkansas Ohrenstein played 15 Years in the Catskills at Scott’s

Humor is part of the Catskills. Some of the most legendary names in comedy, like Mel Brooks, originated their careers in the Catskills. 

Milton Berle another comedia, told this joke:

“A man is hit by a car while crossing a Beverly Hills street. A woman rushes to him and cradles his head in her lap, asking, “Are you comfortable?” The man answers, “I make a decent living.”

The joke is attributed to Milton Berle, though variations of it have been told over the years, along with similar humorous quips by decades of  Catskill comedians. Big name comics like Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and Henny Youngman were famous for a style of comedy that defined much of American culture of their time, with quick-witted, rapid-fire one liners that were often self-deprecating.

American needs humor, now more than ever. We performed at a fancy house party recently. Shootin’ Sharon brought the house down with our comic song, Spendin’s a Chore. Basically it’s a song about inflation with hilarious comic twists. If you can laugh at your problems, you feel better. Our title song, The Santa Fe Nashville Express, is all about America’s  passion with train travel. I’ll played an energetic entitled hoedown  Dance for Joy. So put on you stompin’ boots and enjoy the fun on Nov 8, 2020. 




Engage November 8, 2020 with this Dynamic Quartet

Engage November 8, 2020 with our Dynamic Quartet in the featured picture. If you could have more fun anywhere else, please tell us where. Our Music for the Night is listed as an upcoming event immediately to the right. Literally, for $10.00 as many people as you can fit in front of  a TV set can enjoy the show. Yes, we do have a poet! Our book writer, Sharon, also wrote the lyrics. 

Here’s a quote from our opening selection of the concert: “No one drinks alone. We are all friends here. Vodka warms the bone and a keg of beer.”

Thousand Mile Journey on a Comfortable Couch – internal link

Engage in Laughter Including Songs  From Our Own Musicals About Famous Ladies

Our sung through musical is being  produced Carlo Thomas whose credits include being in the original cast of the Phantom of the Opera in NYC. This NYC Metropolitan Zoom spectacular will be broadcast live; however, you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home (see internal link above). 

Engage As Also follow the Lead of the German Bach Family 

On Sunday nights the extended Bach family would get together and entertain themselves with music. They loved singing quodlibets. So what is a quodlibet? A quodlibet (/ˈkwɒdlɪbɛt/Latin for “whatever you wish” from quod, “what” and libet, “pleases”) is a musical composition that combines several different melodies—usually popular tunes—in counterpoint, and often in a light-hearted, humorous manner.

Kathryn is our daughter, while Baron has been in all our musicals. He is part of our own Bach family. Our son Daniel, not in this show, plays cello and composes. 

File:Bach family morning Rosenthal.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
If you can think of a better example to follow than the Bach family, let us know.

So what are some of our quodlibets?

  • Wife Sharon sings “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellenton while I play The Honky-Tonk Train by Lux Lewis on the piano. Trains were and still are a big part of life in  NYC.
  • Sharon sings S’ Wonderful by George Gershwin while I play excerpts from the American in Paris underneath her rendition. 
Duke Ellington - Wikipedia
I think the  Duke would be happy with his Meade (Lux) Lewis partner pictured to the right.
Meade (“Lux”) Lewis and Duke Ellenton will join ranks in our concert.








 In Closing we’re talking 75 pure minutes of fun with 15 more for a live question and answer. 





Thousand Mile Journey on a Comfortable Couch

Thousand Mile Journey on a comfortable couch. Below are some synonyms about beginning any effort: During our entertainment career we’ve literally travelled thousands of miles. We went to the mountains of New York eighteen times times to perform and/or audition or musical shows:  Fifteen times to the Catskills and three times to the Adirondacks. Now we are about to to travel only one mile for an unbelievable concert which will be broadcast out of New York City  across the globe.  Oh yes, and our location for the live broadcast is Sarasota, Florida. How’s that for modern technology? This time, however, a lot is different:  You can hear us in full swing in the comfort of your own home!

Golden Roads: A New Musical About Golda Meir in 2 Acts tells Golda's story. It is named after her Golden Roads Initiative of 1949 for Israel.
David and Sharon will take you on a thousand mile journey with music. Don’t worry, it will be a high tech experience: Not on the boat in the picture behind Sharon!


a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

  1. Even the longest and most difficult ventures have a starting point.


Thousand Mile Journey filmed  at The Sarasota Music Compound

Click in the link below for details about an unforgettable evening! Finally remember, for the price of only one cocktail ($10.00), you and your entire family with friends can enjoy Sharon and David Ohrenstein’s Music for the Night!

Music For the Night at Metropolitan Zoom’s Triad

Music for the Night




Literary musical cocktail

Literary Musical Cocktail Describes a Romantic Mix

Literary Musical Cocktail Describes a Romantic Mix. What exactly is a cocktail? A cocktail is a mixed drink.  Typically it is made with a distilled liquor.  They can include  arrackbrandycachaçaginrumtequilavodka, or whiskey) among others.  The preparer mixes  these with other ingredients or garnishments.

We Have a Number of the Literary Musical Cocktail Variety

More recently, Summer of 2019, our  sung though  musical, Patra, was quite  literary romantic cocktail: A fantastic mix of personalities and people who put on an intoxicating show.  The show depicts a relationship of Cleopatra and Octavian theatrically for the first time. . Yes, quite a story is there. Sharon also wrote the book. We had an incredible singing cast performing in Schroon Lake New York. Our singers had won auditions with major opera companies in both the United States and Europe.  

This coming November 8, 2020 we’ll be serving up another cocktail, this time out of New York City. The best part is that everyone in your household can watch it for the price of only one cocktail!!!!! Check out the information in our upcoming events column featured on the right side of the screen. 

 Literary musical cocktail
A past literary musical cocktail singing with the Sarasota Concert Band:  Baron Garriott, second from the left will be our featured tenor. Bookwriter/lyricist Sharon, on the extreme right, will also sing in the worldwide televised production Nov. 8.

Sharon and I, as a creative team, have written four major works for the musical theater. Excerpts will be performed by our wonderful cast on Nov.8.  Out daughter Kathryn, film producer and award winning film maker, will also join our ranks. Songs by many great writers will also be included.

DSO Works - Posts | Facebook
This coming December 20, I will begin my 12th year playing a the renowned Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grand. This is also featured in the events on the right side of the screen.
dso works - Featuring All Original Music, Shows, and More
Ballroom dancing instructors around the country have enjoyed our ballroom dancing CD, not only for their classes but for competition. Sharon and I wrote the entire collection. daughter Kathryn is dancing in the picture.


Chopin Greatly Admired Liszt

Chopin Greatly Admired Liszt Documentation in a Letter

Chopin Greatly Admired Liszt as per Documentation in a Letter. I feel a special connection to both  Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. Thanks to a generous father, I was able to study piano under Mischa Kottler. In the 1920’s Kottler studied with Alfred Cortôt in Paris and Emil von Sauer in Vienna.  In addition to being the founder of two conservatories in Paris, Cortôt piano studied with a pupil of Chopin. Then Kottler continued on to Vienna and studied with Sauer, a pupil of Liszt.  The last couple of years of his life, Liszt sent his best pupils to different cities in Europe to keep the piano tradition alive. Sauer was sent to Vienna. Kottler had a letter of recommendation from Rachmaninoff to study with Cortôt and Sauer.

Mischa Kottler at age 93 enjoying our children and a good mug of beer at our home.

Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version) – YouTube 

Dec 28, 2013 – Uploaded by Joseph Beels

Source for Chopin Greatly Admired Liszt

Tad Szulc wrote Chopin in Paris; a very worthwhile book. He writes about how Chopin and Liszt had mutual admiration for each other. Liszt talks about how ” There was so much distinction in his posture. His manners had the mark of such good upbringing that he was treated like a prince.”

Chopin describes in a letter to Hiller his admiration for Liszt as he played Chopin’s etudes: “I write not knowing what my pen is scribbling because at this very moment, Liszt is playing my etudes. They are transporting me to the limits of rational thought…..I would like to steal from him his way of performing my own creations.” 

My own hope is that pianists will want to play my own music. My lyricist wife and I are giving such a concert 7:30 on line. The Triad Theater in New York City will host the event. See events on DSOworks.com

Internal link:

Dec 20, 2020 – Apr 4, 2021


Illness costs Chopin

Illness Costs Chopin and His Companion, George Sand.

Illness Costs Chopin and His Companion, George Sand.  Lives of the great composers of the past are often presented in the most impersonal way possible. You read about the composer, what he wrote and when he wrote it. You take for granted the fact that he may have lived his life in abject poverty. Illness, especially seems to be an ignored issue that is of little consequence in music history classes or in colleges and conservatories.

How Illness Costs Chopin and His Companion, George Sand

First who was George Sand? Surprise, not a man! She was more renowned than both Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac in England in the 1830s and 1840s.[5] Sand achieved recognition as one of the most notable writers of the European Romantic era. She chose to wear male attire in public; as Police had issued an order requiring women to have a permit in order to wear male clothing. Finally, George Sand encouraged the arts in an unusual manner. She would become the lover of certain great male artists to inspire their  creativity. Chopin was a primary example, along with Liszt. 

George Sand.PNG
Portrait of George Sand by Auguste Charpentier (1838)

An Unforgettable Chopin Story

Tad Szulc presented the following story in his book, Chopin in ParisGeorge Sand and Chopin travelled to Barcelona, Spain. Chopin had tuberculosis and hopefully sunny Spain would help alleviate his condition.  George Sand wrote the following:

“when we left the hotel in Barcelona, the manager wished to make us pay for the bed in which Chopin had slept, under the pretext that it had been infected. Police regulations obliged him to burn it.” The incredible creative duo had to pay for the bed in full!

This gives life to the expression ” adding insult to injury.” Most people think of Chopin as a composer without thinking about who he was and under the conditions of how he had to live.  I think this story makes his life quite tangible and invites sympathy. Finally, I think all should do their best to help struggling artists, actors  and composers; or else, our culture could disappear. 

My wife andI with guest artists are presenting a 90 live concert live concert broadcast internationally Nov 8 link below. Household tickets only $10.00. Selections from our 3 musicals will be featured with popular Broadway selections.  Question and answer session in the last 15 minutes. 


PATRA – Sung Through Musical

The last days of Cleopatra are filled with daring, intrigue, and love possibilities. When the villainous Octavian lands in Egypt to assert his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, Patra will do most anything to save her children and herself. She disguises herself as a hag; foretells Octavian’s future; takes a drug to commune with the dead; seduces Centurion Marcellus whom her drugged mind thinks is Antony; meets with Octavian; and initiates an encounter with a cobra. When Octavian tries to take advantage of her, she sings of love. Octavian exits without a word. He has fallen in love but tragically does nothing. The love-struck Marcellus offers her a way to escape. Yes, she dies but not how you think.  Her death changes Octavian from lead to gold as he vows to become the man she would have loved the most.




Isolation is the Norm for Creative Artists

Isolation is the Norm for Creative Artists. I think all parents would like to see our children with an intense passion and dedication to the arts.  This picture implies that the young lad, actually built his own violin. Notice the saw leaning against the table.  Who was David Rubinoff? He dreams about being as skilled as Rubinoff and His Violin.

Who was Rubinoff and His Violin?

Dave spent a lifetime entertaining children and adolescents thanks to a life time grant from the U.S. state department through the efforts of his close friend, the march king, John Philip Sousa. On occasions I toured with him at numerous public schools.

David Rubinoff made a fortune in the 1930’s because of his love of music. He rose from the most humble beginnings in Kiev to incredible stature in America. An example being playing for 225,000 people at Grant Park in Chicago while conducting the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. He told me, they turned away another 25,000 at the door. I was his arranger and accompanist for fifteen years. Jimmy Petrillo, head of the musicians union in Chicago, gave him a diamond and ruby medal commemorating this event. 

Isolation is the Norm

Raising ones level in performance takes countless hours of practice in solitude; or, in some cases, with a small dedicated, ensemble. Music has quite a bonus: It is one of the few professions you can improve on with age. Even during the current pandemic, opportunities come a-knocking. My wife, a fabulous singer and I were just asked to do an hour and fifteen minute concert which will be broadcast live around the world. We will also feature some excerpts from shows we jointly wrote. Scheduled date is November, 8, 2020. Details will shorly be posted. 

dso works - Featuring All Original Music, Shows, and More
Our website. DSOworks.com is anything but dull, even in this day and age.

Internal Link: Happy Halloween from the Oquaga Spirit

External link: Common Time is Anything but Common

The external link is my (David’s) other website.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from the Oquaga Spirit

Happy Halloween from the Oquaga Spirit: Poetry and  piano are my passions. Piano and composition speak to me anywhere; whereas writing poetry seems to happen in either the Catskill or Adirondack Mountains of New York. Washington Irving was also inspired by the mountains of New York. He wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Audiobook by Washington Irving
Delight in Fright it Seems!

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) wrote as an essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820).

Happy Halloween 

The Oquaga Spirit, in the Catskills, dictated a plethora of poetry during my sojourn of 15 years on this lake. My family and I spent 15 Summer and Fall seasons on this lake where I was the “house piano player” at Scott’s Hotel. Sharon and I played did two special themed shows weekly. In the mornings I’d stroll and the spirit would be afloat.  “So much she needed an ear, she ignored my tranquility.” The female spirit was an American Indian from the Lennie Lenape tribe. If you enjoy the spirit’s poem, feel free to share with others. I think the spirit would approve. 

Oquaga Lake, where the water is crystal clear and always somewhere between quite cold to frozen. The lake has  a thick layer of ice in the winter.   Here is where my family and I spent 15 summer and autumn seasons and my daughter was married on a chilly October Day. The Playhouse, where I played the grand on the stage,  is the long white building, enclosed by the right end of the rainbow. What memories and fun, fun, fun!
Here's what's planned for Maisel Weekend at Scott's Oquaga Lake House
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisal was recently filmed at Scott’s Hotel.

Autumn’s Party

Autumns throwing a party
On a massive scale
With acorns, chestnuts, pumpkins,
Wine, cider and ale.

Everyone’s preparing
For that special night,
Ghosts, goblins and witches;
Things that cause a fright.

But on that darkened evening
In the air is glee
As children don their costumes
Making revelry.

Boo! Yells a ghost
Barely three feet tall.
“Careful, you reply,
Or down the stairs you’ll fall!”

The barren eerie trees
Against a brightly light Moon.
Black cats dashing by
As overhead bats swoon.

What a scary party.
Delight in fright in seems.
Orange and black banners,
It must be Halloween. 

In the spirit of Halloween, please  share. The book of poetry is called The Oquaga Spirit Speaks.