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
music perpetuates

Music Perpetuates the Sumerian Dodecahedron

Music Perpetuates the Sumerian Dodecahedron. Twelve is employed by our key signatures. Not counting enharmonic keys, we basically have twelve; as per the featured picture.  Key signatures fit the pattern of the the 12-sided  Dodecahedron. Below I will explain how the Sumerians used this figure as they ascribed the overall shape of the Universe to this figure. Are we then allowed to say the Universe is music; or, that the music of the spheres is actually true? 

Another Ancient Dodecahedron in Summeria
This shape was once thought to encapsulate the Universe.

Translating Geometry to Words and Numbers- link


 Music Perpetuates – Visiting Samaria For An Ancient Dodecahedron


Related image
Modern usage for dodecahedron for a playground.

The Sumerians, like many cultures, had 12 gods. The Israelites used the dodecahronal model but only for  its tribes; however, they substituted 12 tribes for deities: One God centered the whole system.

In Sumeria each god was assigned a number. The male deities had numbers 10,20, 30, 40, 50 and 60. The female deities were 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45, and 55. We have the following list:

  • Male deities: Ishkur/Adud was 10…. Utu/Shamash was 20… Nanna/Sin was 30…Ea/Enki was 4o…Enlil was 50…Anu was 60.
  • Female deities: Ninnhursag was 5…Iaanna/Ishtar was 15. ..Ningal was 25… Niaki was 35…Ninlil was 45…Antu was 55.

In effect the numbers, which grow by fives, define the 5 vertices of each of the 12 pentagons. The pentagons have opposite pentagons; so we can ascribe male versus female to them.  In music we have a similar situation: Not counting enharmonic, we  can postulate 6 sharp and 6 flat key signatures. 

Look at the wide span covered by the dates of its use:

  • The 12 primary key signatures of the circle of fifths became prevalent in the 18th century. 
  • A dodecahedron’s parallel to the 12 tribes of Israel was officially established in Israel about 1,000 B.C.
  • 12 Sumerian gods came about 4,000 B.C.

Plato, in his writings was merely reiterating an already ancient tradition at the time he was alive. 

Enjoy this youtube video from our most recent musical. Blogger David is seated at the piano.

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


Melody Determines Harmony

Melody Determines Harmony or Vice Versa?

Melody Determines Harmony or Vice Versa? Very seldom do I write a post of personal content. This is possibly the first, I hope. Perhaps #630 could be the first one after having written 629 previous posts on DSOworks.com. 

 Early life —  Jones published his autobiography in 2001: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, he partnered with Wizzard Media.  They started the Quincy Jones Video Podcast. In each episode, he shares his knowledge and experience in the music industry.

Quincy Jones offers many answers to musical questions.

I have a favorite story from Quincy’s book. Henry Mancini lived on the same street as he. Quincy had a unique way of writing his music: He would wake up in the middle of the night with a tune in his head. I am very small potatoes compared to Quincy, but that also happens to me. Quincy jested he would get up to write the tune down: If he didn’t he was has convinced the muse would go down the street and give it to Henry Mancini!

Melody Determines Harmony How I Write

Henry Mancini - Wikipedia
Henry Mancini

When I write music, I wake up in the middle of the night with a two or four bar tune repeating over and over in my head. It will not go away unless I write it down. I stumble in a sleepy state to my electric keyboard, and out comes the full song. The selection might be anywhere from 48 to 120 bars of music. Typically  the session takes  takes anywhere from 45 to an hour. 

Many of our own selections were featured on our Metro Zoom concert last weekend. Wife Sharon co-composes, writes the lyrics, book,  and makes sure the music is ideally written for singers. She is therefore a co-composer.

Here’s the rub of the post. I mostly follow harmony progressions. If a particular note does not fit the harmonic progression, I will change that note. Usually it is only a matter of changing the one note. 

Concert Continues this Time on Metro Zoom

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.



Tausig Outdid Liszt

Tausig Outdid Liszt in Flawless Playing

Tausig Outdid Liszt in Flawless Playing. Karl Tausig (November 1841 – 17 July 1871) was a Polish virtuoso pianist, arranger and composer. He is generally regarded as Franz Liszt‘s most esteemed pupil, and one of the greatest pianists of all time.

History is subjective. It seems to smile and favor certain individuals and neglect others. All know of Franz Liszt, but who was Carl Tausig? Perhaps if Tausig had lived past the age of thirty, more would have known of him? Still, his accomplishments were stellar. 

Tausig was born in Warsaw to Jewish parents and received his first piano lessons from his father, His father introduced him to Franz Liszt in Weimar at the age of 14. He quickly became a favorite pupil of Liszt’s, travelling with him on concert tours and studying counterpoint, composition and orchestration in addition to his piano lessons.[1] He also taught Liszt’s student, Regina Watson. At the age of 16 he met Richard Wagner, of whom he became a devoted follower and friend. He also became a great admirer and friend of Johannes Brahms. Tausig made piano arrangements of many of Wagner’s operas. 

Tausig Outdid Liszt 

Everyone of his contemporaries praised him:

  • Brahms played what was to become his D minor piano concerto with Tausig. Brahms wrote to Clara Schumann: ” He is really a remarkable little fellow, and a very exceptional pianist.”   
  • Joseph Joachim said: “He is the greatest living pianist playing in public at present.”
  • Eugen d’ Albert equates Tausig very close with Liszt. He said Tausig had a more wonderful conception of music than Liszt, Tausig, had a higher degree of accuracy and a poetic interpretation. He could drive an audience to madness. 
  • Huneker describes how Tausig had the liquidity of Thalberg,  the restless power of  Anton Rubenstein, and all the virtuosity in the world. 

So why is Tausig all but forgotten in comparison to Liszt? Perhaps Liszt’s compositions mainly catapulted Liszt to long lasting fame?

 Internal link:  Engage November 8, 2020 with this Dynamic Quartet

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