Entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt

Entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall

Entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall has quite a happy and unusual twist for Rubinoff. Why am I writing this? I was Rubinoff’s arranger and accompanist for some 15 years. Dave’s life’s story is largely untold and it simply was incredibly exciting. When we went on our lunch breaks, which were always short due to the importance of the music, I heard the most fantastic stories. Some of these stories made it into his autobiography, The Dance of the Russian Peasant. 

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (/ˈɛlɪnɔːr ˈrzəvɛlt/; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and activist.[5] She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945. Her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s had four terms in office. Consequently, this made her the longest-serving First Lady of the United States.[5] She served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952.[6][7]

Eleanor Roosevelt portrait 1933.jpg

President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.[8] 

Entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall had Unexpected Consequences for Dave

Dave gave a concert at Carnegie Hall attended by Eleanor Rossevelt, two generals and secret service. Eleanor said to Dave, ” You were inspiring, as always. I want you to meet Richard Addinsell from England.” Immediately Rubinoff told the great British composer how much he admired his Warsaw Concerto and wanted to play it on the violin. Addinsell said it was written for piano. Rubinoff told him he would be happy to help him make an arrangement for violin.  Dave said it would be a great honor if  he could actually help him make the violin arrangement. As a result, Dave and Richard are busy conferring on the project in the featured picture.

Love Note Written by Darlene Changed Rubinoff’s Life

 

Warsaw Concerto - Theme

Start Over Again

Start Over Again Rubinoff Discusses the Great Depression

Start Over Again Rubinoff Discusses the Great Depression. Monopoly can be an allegory for life. Every time you pass “Go”, you start over again. The thing is to just keep on going! Yes, the roll of a dice can bring hardship and calamity. You can loose a ton of money when another player has hotels on Boardwalk or Parkway. Just keep on playing the game. Perhaps there is a chance? Now who was are Rubinoff?

  • Rubinoff and His Violin was a conductor violinist that I worked with for 15 years.
start over again
Rubinoff apprenticed with Victor Herbert and then with John Phillip Sousa. Sousa set Dave up with the U.S. State Department and from this connection, Rubinoff brought music to children throughout the country for almost the nest 60 years
 

Below is the Start Over Context of Famed Violinist, Rubinoff and His Violin

start over again
Dave bought his violin at the Wurlitzer auction in 1929 for $100,000.00. Now it it’s for sale and worth millions. I was his accompanist and arranger for 15 years.

Rubinoff did the start over thing. He left Russia under the wing of Victor Herbert, becoming his protege. Dave and his entire family had  lived in abject poverty and with anti–Jewish sentiment while in Russia and Poland.  He rose through his own efforts; from selling newspapers on a street corner  to conducting and working orchestras for both the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn  and Pictures in Hollywood. He lead the Chicago Symphony in a concert attended by 225,000 people in 1937. They turned away 25,000 at the door. Among many accomplishments, he played for 5 American Presidents. Talking about the hardships of the Great Depression Dave says in his autobiography: “I guessed the ones who were committing suicide hadn’t learned to throw ace-duce and start over again.”

Internal link:

Rubinoff Friendship with Will Rogers and His Special Poem
Extenal link is from our other website, Reviving Antiquity.com    Musical Building by Tones of the Old Scale
entertainer friendships

Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket

Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket.

Entertainer friendships
Rudy gave Dave Rubinoff his start in the newly created medium of mass media.

Rudy Vallee (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was a popular American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer. Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, he grew up in Westbrook, Maine. In high school he took up the saxophone and acquired the nickname.  “Rudy” was the name given after famous saxophonist Rudy Weidoeft. Vallee became the most prominent and arguably the first of a new style of popular singer, the “crooner”. Previously, popular singers both needed and had strong projecting voices to fill theaters.  Such were the voices neededin the days before the microphone.  New style crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of radio.

Entertainer Friendships

Vallee came often to play at the Paramount. Rubinoff told me about Rudy admired his playing and conducting of his overtures. Vallee was a sensation at that time with the college crowd. Everyone loved his Whiffin’ Poof Song. What is Whiffin’Poof? The Yale Whiffenpoofs is a collegiate a cappella singing group established at Yale University in 1909.  It is the oldest such group in the United States. The line-up is completely replaced each year: Rising seniors comprise its members. They often take a year leave of absence from the university to tour the United States and internationally. Former members included Cole Porter & Jonathan Coulton!

"The Whiffenpoof Song" (Rudy Vallee, 1927)
► 3:14

“The Whiffenpoof Song” (Rudy Vallee, 1927) – YouTube 

 

 

Dave often talked with me about how they ate, drank and signed autographs together. Also about how they enjoyed each others company and respected each other’s art.  Comically, Rubinoff admired how Vallee spoke perfect English with impeccable diction. Dave, by comparison, was often unhappy about how he spoke with a heavy Russian accent.  Rudy would then assure him not to worry because his violin would speak for him. Rudy guided Dave to his first job on the Chase and Sanborn radio hour. The rest is history. 

internal link: Rubinoff Friendship with Will Rogers and His Special Poem

personified seasons

Personified Seasons by an Indian Spirit

Personified Seasons by an Indian Spirit. Ah, the Catskill Mountains. So many poets and artists got their start there. Most recently several episodes of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were filmed at a Catskill resort where I worked.  My extended employment was over 15 Summer seasons. The resort, Scott’s Oquaga Lake House, is definitely enchanted:   

personified seasons
Personified seasons by an American Indian spirit is to be found at this remarkable place. The Summer of filming at Scott’s of the Marvelous Mrs Maisel was magical. You can watch the series on television and see Scotts including a big fireworks display.

Seasons Personified  By an Indian Spirit

“The poet’s on the prowl, looking for his prey, seeing which subject he’ll write about today.” – These words pretty much summarized what happen over two summer seasons. This spirit, a female of the Lennie Lenape tribe, talked my ear off. Her poems had a definite format, quatrains in triple meter. At one time this tribe had dwellings around the lake. As a matter of fact, hearsay says the owner, Ray Scott, is part American Indian! The Scott family had great respect for the pristine land and lake. It was a pleasure to work for them. Also, they loved their entertainers. At the end of the day, around 11:00 pm, they’d always always indulge their entertainers in Perry’s ice cream in the parlor. They always made you feel special.

From “Fingers of Fog”

This spring fed lake is enchanted
As such water bodies are.
I actually saw its essence
While viewing the morning star. 

Scott’s has a sign as you entered from the steep mountain drive into the parking lot.  It reads:  You haven’t experience Scott’s until you’ve experienced the fun. The fun is non-stop. People actually fall asleep with smiles on their faces. Here is the excerpt from the featured poem and picture: This tree can be easily be found  in early September on the east side of the lake.

September’s maple tree
Has spiraled leaves in red.
So intense in tone.
It looks as though its bled. 

 

 

imitation stifles music

Imitation Stifles Music and Hinders Originality

Imitation Stifles Music and Hinders Originality. A young French pianist came to ask a question of famed pianist and conductor Phillipe Entremont.  The purpose was to ask questions about her ideas for pianistic interpretation. Entremont had already won a prize in the 1952 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition[1.   Among his credentials was being the Director of the New Orleans Symphony from 1980 to 1986. He served the Denver Symphony Orchestra as principal conductor from 1986 to 1988, and music director from 1988 to 1989.[3] Entremont has also been chief conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and is now its Conductor Laureate.  He also holds the same title with the Israel Chamber Orchestra.

I will quote Entremont’s answer found in the book, Reflections from the Keyboard: The World of the Concert Pianist.  by David Dubal.  Dubal has done a great service for all aficionados of piano playing in writing this book. In part Dubal’s knowledge comes from being the music and program director of New York City’s former classical music radio station, WNCN. His own credentials are also most impressive.

How Imitation Stifles Music

Essentially the younger, less experienced pianist told Entremont:  If a phrase pleases her from Brendel she copies him. If another phrase was pleasing from say, Weissenberg, she did the same. In effect, she kind of assembled the thoughts of many great pianists for various opus numbers she worked on. 

Entremont, in mentioning his thoughts to Dubal  replies: “This means she has nothing to say. You can not be successful at imitation: it is the death of music.”

My own piano teacher was Mischa Kottler. He often complained about students who were only great at imitation. If you showed them  exactly what to do, they were fine. However, such pupils were incapable of coming up with own ideas. Greatness often means rather than leaning on other people for musical thoughts, also be sure have your own.

 

two greatest pianists

Two Greatest Pianists Differed in Style

Two Greatest Pianists Differed in Style. How different can pianists be and still be on a par? This question is inspired inspired a quote from a quote:

  • Henry Pleasants. a music critic from Philadelphia once asked Rachmaninoff: Who are the greatest of the living pianists.
  • Harold Schonberg, music critic for the NY Times  quotes Pleasants quoting Rachmaninoff in his own book, The Virtuosi: Classical Music’s Great Performers from Paganini to Pavarotti

The story goes: Rachmaninoff thought a bit. “Well, he said, there’s Hofmann…”and he thought a little bit more, …”and there’s me.”  Rachmaninoff did not say another word, as the story goes. The fame of Rachmaninoff as eclipsed that of Hofmann, but it is still worth looking into Hofmann’s  background and accomplishments: 

two greatest pianists
Hofmann seated at the piano in 1916

The Second of the Two Greatest Pianists

Josef Hofmann - Wikiwand
Josef Hofmann at Carnegie Hall

Josef Hofmann was born in Podgórze (a district of Kraków), in Austro-Hungarian Galicia (present-day Poland) in 1876. His father was the composer, conductor and pianist Kazimierz Hofmann, His mother the singer Matylda Pindelska. As a composer, Hofmann published over one hundred works,  under the pseudonym Michel Dvorsky.  Included two piano concertos and ballet music. In 1946, he gave his last recital at Carnegie Hall,  He made 151 appearances at Carnegie.  Retirement to private life in took place in 1948.

How Did the Two Greatest Pianists Differ?

 

 

Physically (1) Hoffman was short. Rachmaninoff was tall.  Hofmann was loquacious talking fluently, readily, and incessantly. Rachmaninoff  severe, stern, or gloomy in manner.  His appearance was stern and he wasted no words. Hofmann color his music; while Rachmaninoff projected strength, structure and form. Advance planning marked the music of Rachmaninoff. Spontaneity marked Hofmann’s style.

Conclusion

What I find amazing is that Rachmaninoff, as the story goes, (1) Mentions Hoffman before he mentions himself. (2)  He idolizes a polar opposite.  (3) Then again, the mind of a genius is not easy to understand. My main teacher was primarily Mischa Kottler. Rachmaninoff, in the 1920’s gave Mischa a recommendation to study in Paris with Cortôt.  Mischa then went and studied with Emil von Sauer.  Enjoy this youtube recording of Mischa playing the Minute Waltz.

Dec 28, 2013 – Uploaded by Joseph Beels

Chopin’s Minute Waltz, with a twist …

Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler – DSOWORKS

music offers strength

Music Offers Strength in Rubinoff’s Older Age

Music offers Strength at Scott's
Darlene and Dave Rubinoff stayed on the 1st floor  on the right end “Green Gables”. Sharon and I spent many summers on the 2nd floor at the left end. After our concerts we put up a sign that read: “Rubinoff slept here!”. Hurrah for Scott’s at the Catskills!

Music Offers Strength in Rubinoff’s Older Age. Scott’s Oquaga Lake House was founded in 1869. This was about thirty years before Dave Rubinoff, the master violinist,  was born, in 1897. How did Rubinoff come to play here? I, David Ohrenstein, was the House piano player here for some 15 years. Doris and Ray Scott took wife Sharon and I in with our three children to enjoy the summers at this historical American resort. Of course professionally,  I was the “House” piano player. When we first started going there we only had Abe and Kathryn. Our youngest, Daniel was yet to be born. 

Doug & Eamonn Debut at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. The Marvelous Ms. Maisel sits  in a canoe on Oquaga Lake in front of Scott’s Playhouse where Rubinoff and I performed one of his last concerts. Listen to this incredibly rare concert on the youtube connection below.

Music Offers Strength to Rubinoff at Scott’s

I quote from Darlene Rubinoff’s book, Dance of the Russian Peasant: “Oquaga Lake was beautiful and there was so much to do that summer. We had two of our four grand children…Aaron still remembers that summer vacation. On his return to his new school year he wrote an essay about it. It earned him an A+. Indeed, it was an A+ summer!”

We have my daughter to thank for this video. The video was taken and then lost. When it was finally found, daughter Kathryn took on the incredibly difficult job of posting it.  This 1984 video offers a complete course in American musical history.  Hear all about Victor Herbert John Philip Sousa, Caruso, Paderewski and many American Presidents. .

Internal link:                                Cotton Club Rendezvous in the 1930’s

Rubinoff Friendship

Rubinoff Friendship with Will Rogers and His Special Poem

Rubinoff friendship with Will Rogers and Will’s Special Poem can help all of us:

Perhaps the words engraved on a pocket watch given to my mentor Rubinoff and His Violin by Will Rogers in 1932 is most appropriate to quote for all of us at this time. Rubinoff admired Will Rogers specifically and all American Indians in general. His apartment was decorated with famous American Indian paintings. Dave even had himself painted as an  American Indian chief, feathers and all. Will, of Cherokee background, was Rubinoff’s mentor in stagecraft. This favorite poem is called The Clock of Life by George H. Candler. What a momento to my own Rubinoff friendship!.

Rubinoff friendship
This is one of many pictures of Rubinoff (left) posing with Will Rogers. Here, Will is attempting to play the violin.

Rubinoff Friendship Poem with Will Rogers

Rubinoff friendship with Will Rogers is etched on the back of  this pocket watch.
Rubinoff friendship with Will Rogers is etched on the back of this pocket watch. as a poem. A young David Ohrenstein heard this poem at every concert given with this famed violinist of the 1930’s. The picture of Dave and me is from the 1980’s

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power;
To tell just when the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time we own.
Love, live; toil with a will,
Do not wait until tomorrow,
For the clock may then be still.

The same year (1932) that Will gave Dave the pocket watch; Will took an airplane trip bound to Alaska with his friend Wiley Post. Needless to say, the clock of life stopped for Will and Wiley that same summer: The plane crashed on the way to Alaska. At every concert, Rubinoff recited these inspirational words. I worked with Dave and heard this poem at countless concerts until his passing away in 1986. 

Internal link: Cotton Club Carousing for Rubinoff

External Link: Confusing Complexity with too Many Sharps & Flats

unlikely friendship

Unlikely Friendship Between Rubinoff and Rudy Vallee

Unlikely Friendship Between Rubinoff and Rudy Vallee.  Vallee set show business ablaze. Hubert Prior “Rudy” Vallée (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was an American singer, actor, and radio host. Teens loved him. After playing drums in his high school band.  Vallée played clarinet and saxophone as a teenager. From 1924 through 1925, he played with the Savoy Havana Band at the Savoy Hotel in London.  He returned to the United States, briefly attending the University of Maine. Vallee received a degree in philosophy from Yale University.   At Yale he played with Peter Arno.  in a jazz band called the Yale Collegians.

 

Unlikely friendship
Rudy Vallee and Rubinoff and His Violin formed a friendship even though their backgrounds were so different.

David Rubinoff talks about their totally different background.  His autobiography was dictated by him to his wife, Darlene: Dance of the Russian Peasant. The title says it all: Rubinoff was from a small impoverished town in Russia.   Dave’s speech was colored by his Russian accent.  Vallée was highly educated and from an elite background. Yet, at one time, Dave and Rudi shared a great friendship,

A painting of Dave Rubinoff listening to his muse on his book cover.

Unlikely Friendship Quoted from Darlene’s Writings

Darlene Azar Rubinoff quotes David the book “Rudy was a Yale man and I admired his perfect English and diction immensely. I wished I had his command of the English language. Opposites attract and he laughed good-naturedly at my broad Russian accent. Rudy corrected my English many times, but told me not to worry because my violin spoke for me.”

Rudy recommended Rubinoff  to perform on a radio spot for the American Broadcasting Company. At time Rudy had to many previous engagements to take the job.  As a result, Dave got his big start on the  Chase and Sandborn Hour. 

Good timing and knowing the right people are key to advancing a career!

 

continuous musical practice

Continuous Musical Practice by Rubinoff and His Violin

Continuous Musical Practice by Rubinoff and His Violin. Yes, Dave played and conducted at the Paramount Theater and for Paramount pictures. His fame covered the country from New York to Hollywood. Rubinoff was a guest conductor of the Chicago Philharmonic. Dave featured his artistry weekly on the Ed Cantor radio hour. Yet, he always made time for children in schools. 

I Witnessed Dave’s Continuous Musical Practice

I (David Ohrenstein) worked as his accompanist and arranger for many years. My work took place at the Leland House in downtown Detroit. After he married Darlene Azar, we worked together in Hilliard Ohio and later in Houston Texas. Dave seemed to like my musical ideas. Also, my temperament is easy going. So what characterized Dave’s practicing? 

Continual musical practice
Dave always held his Stradivarius violin in front of him like a valued trophy. This was his object of continuous musical practice. A younger me is standing next to this great master.

Except for eating, he almost never stopped playing his violin. When he watched TV, his violin was in his hand. Over and over, he worked tricky passages. When his wife or a chauffeur drove us to a concert, he’d run scales in the back seat on his violin. We worked a five day day making musical arrangements. Trial and error for arrangements and practice for proper technique were always there.  

Bringing the house down at Carnegie Hall; yet he’d always play for children in schools.

Here’s What Dave Had to Say About Being Diverted from Practice

I quote this story from Dave autobiography written with his last wife, Darlene. His book is entitled Dance of the Russian Peasant. “Back in Hollywood, Cary Grant, Victor Mature, Rudy Vallee…talked me into going deep sea fishing on someone’s yacht…To me it was a waste of time; I could have been practicing. Music was my life. I lived for music.” My own relevant story was the day a said to Dave, “Music has been good to you.” Dave immediately and sharply replied; “Why, that’s because I’ve been good to music!”

Enjoy these internal Rubinoff links for stories like you’ve never heard: