How About Great Caesar’s Ghost for Halloween?

 

HOW ABOUT GREAT CAESAR’S GHOST FOR HALLOWEEN?

How about Great Caesar’s ghost for Halloween? When was the last time you heard the expression, Great Caesar’s ghost?  For me, it was on the old Superman TV show that played in the 1950’s. The newspaper editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, would exclaim to Lois, Lane or Jimmy Olson or Clark Kent every time he was frustrated: Great Caesar’s ghost! In our opera, Octavian and  Cleopatra, we did one better than that. We actually have great Caesar’s ghost appearing on the stage. He sings to Cleopatra a beautiful aria that I and Sharon wrote called: My Lily of the Nile.

HOW ABOUT TWO GHOSTS FOR HALLOWEEN?

Of course, a second ghost shows up: The ghost of her other Roman  husband, Mark Antony. The ghosts of Caesar and Antony immediately argue about what would be the proper course of action to take over Cleopatra’s conqueror, Octavian. Caesar says Cleopatra should trust Octavian. Mark Antony takes a totally opposing point of view. Of course, Cleopatra makes a scene where she screams over the arguing ghosts. Her two ladies in waiting witness her demise and try to calm her down with a potion. They think that Cleopatra’s totally lost her mind over the grief she has for her husband, Mark Antony, who has just killed himself.

Our thrilling opera was performed in Sarasota and St Petersburg, Florida with a cast of seven.  We have a complete piano-vocal score and the performance was recorded on DVD. Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein wrote the book and lyrics and I wrote the music. We are in the process of arranging this for a chamber orchestra. My favorite musical moment in the show is a trio which features the Ghosts of Caesar and Antony singing with a living Octavian. They ghosts urge Octavian to  go back to Cleopatra and show her that he loves her.  Octavian rejects their plea, saying that his motto and words he lives by are; “make haste slowly”.  Reserve this show for your theater season so your patrons can be thrilled by the glory that was Rome and Egypt!

Brookdale colonial park performance

Maximum Stretch for the Piano

Maximum stretch for the piano is essential. There seems to be very few ideally sized hands. Short fingers make wide stretches on the piano difficult. Playing closely with stubby fingers is difficult. Wide palms slow down tucking the thumb under for scales or arpeggios.  My instructions through piano lessons has helped many of my students understand how to get the most out of their reach.

ROBERT SCHUMANN’S UNSUCCESSFUL  SURGERY

There are ways to overcome inherent difficulties without going to extremes. An example of going to extremes involves Robert Schumann, the composer. He thought that surgery would correct an inherent difficulty: Fingers four and five work best together. It’s difficult to move 4th without the fifth finger. These two weaker fingers share a common tendon. Unfortunately, his surgery did not work.

ONE MAN TOOK A SMALLER PIANO WITH HIM

Another method to acquire maximum stretch for the piano is the piano itself. Josef Hoffman took his piano with him on concert tours. His piano was specially designed for small hands: The distance from key to key is shorter.

I, having a small to medium sized hand, invented a five finger stretch. In all my years of playing etudes, I’ve never encountered this idea.  I feel this is an essential exercise for anyone who shares my hand limitation: Some composers, for example, Sergei Rachmaninoff; had hand huge hands. With small hands, that creates difficulties. I call my exercise, simply: The Five Finger Stretch. It stretches the webbing of the fingers by fifths and octaves.

HOW TO PLAY THE QUICK AND EFFECTIVE 5 FINGER STRETCH

Here is the finger sequence for the right hand by fifths and then by octaves. It ascends and then descends based on the solfeggio notes of the one octave C major scale. By fifths we have: 1-2-3-2; 1-2-3-2; etc. then 3-4-5-3, 3-4-5-3 etc; then 2-3-4-3; 2-3-4-3. The fingering up and down the scale are reversed for the left hand.  Then I use the octave stretch with the following fingerings: 1-2-5-2, 1-2-5-2; and secondly, 1-3-5-3; 1-3-5-3. By note we have: c-c’-c”-c’; d-d’-d”-d’. This stretch encompasses two octaves.

The exercise is no guarantee that the small handed person will be able to play Rachmaninoff. However, it will stretch your hand to its maximum. Important: Should you experience fatigue or pain in your fingers, stop. Shake your hands and fingers out. Only play this exercise if you feel stretching without pain. How about the size of Rachmaninoff’s hand?

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff cph.3a40575.jpg

Rachmaninoff in 1921

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor

Edmond De Mattia, distinguished conductor of the Wind Song 5 offered a popular concert for the benefit the Salvation Army.  It was given at the chapel on Sunday this last May 24, 2015 at 1701 S. Tuttle Av. in Sarasota, Fl. The woodwind instrumentalists of the Wind Song 5 include Edmond De Mattia on oboe, David Lieberman on clarinet, John Stinespring on bassoon.  Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein   is the soprano/arranger of the group.  Her husband, David Ohrenstein is the composer/pianist.   The works they performed spanned from Mozart to  Scott Joplin; from opera to the Broadway stage. Several of David and Sharon’s acclaimed original theatrical works were also offered.

CLEVELAND CONCERT ON SEPTEMBER 20

Maestro de Mattia recently gave a concert in the Cleveland with his musically acclaimed family. We were so honored to have them feature three of our original compositions. One in particular, we were told, brought the house down: The Iguana Farm. I actually composed it on the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras. An iguana farm is there where Iguanas are raised. Sharon skillfully arranged it for oboe and piano.  Their concert at the Lakewood Presbyterian Church this last September 20th featured Ed De Mattia on oboe. He is both the founder and president of the American Concert Band Association. His nephew, Alan De Mattia, also plays the French horn with the Cleveland Symphony. Richard De Mattia is the choir director and organist-pianist of the church. Sullen De Mattia was the flutist.

 

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Look to the Past to Face the Future

Look to the past to face the future with absolute confidence.  The very thought has a built in paradox: How can looking backwards get you ahead? Yet, this is exactly what happened in the musical arts of France in the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th centuries.  In my opinion the action of looking backwards to go forward took the extremely brilliant mind of Claude Debussy as well as his contemporary composer friend, Maurice Ravel and others.  I have been reading and studying L’art de Toucher Le Clavcin by Francois Couperin. It was first published in 1716. I feel that in some ways, it lays the groundwork for the impressionistic movement. Of course, the harmonies of impressionism differ dramatically from the Couperin’s earlier prototype.

Claude Debussy in 1908.
                                                                                                                                              Debussy is not the man who would be king:
                                                                                                                                               He is the king!  

 

 

One extremely important instruction that Couperin offers today’s performers of Debussy involves dynamics. That is, whether or not to play loudly or softly in a particular musical passage. Couperin writes in his musical treatise that it is up to the composer to make the music louder or softer by the notes on the page. For a louder section, he places more notes in his chord or musical passage.  For softer passages, notes are be removed.  Melodies were often supported by thinly realized harmonies. This helps in making subtle playing even when many notes sound at once. Old keyboards did not play louder and softer by degrees: They could only contrast loud and soft by use of a special pedal.  According to Couperin, the quantity of notes that  sounded at once made the volumeThis kept both vulgar and excessively loud playing to a minimum.  My teacher learned these techniques from Alfred Cortot in the 1920’s, and I offer piano lessons which offer these techniques.

Today’s pianists, by and large, overplay the compositions of the impressionistic composers. For the most part,the sound of the music takes care of itself by means of the extra notes that that Debussy or Ravel wrote into the musical score. I have been preparing one hour of the of Debussy’s music to be available on this website.  In doing so, I have discovered a hidden technique that Debussy used. Its purpose was to tell the pianist what note or chord to emphasize. Also, the absence of the use of this device  meant to play the notes or chords in a gentler manner.  Since beginning this project, I have nothing but awe for the genius of Debussy. In my humble opinion, I think he was not only had a totally brilliant mind, but he was a great, great innovator with good taste.  I cannot describe the wonderful feeling I have anytime I get even a tiny insight into what Debussy had in mind in his music.  Stay tuned for more Debussy and Ravel blogs.

Harmony’s Number

DebussyInEcstasy

 Harmony’s Number is 272. My unpublished manuscript, entitled, The Sacred Engineers Philosophy, the Pinnacle of Thought in the Unified Culture of Ancient Builders, was placed on the etched stone triangle at the Mnajdra Temple on the Island of Malta. The treatise discusses the number codes that the ancient engineers used for building temples. These same codes defined the vibrations per second of the musical tones of the ancient diatonic scale. I merely rediscovered the codes that they used.

Harmony’s number is 272. What can this possibly mean?  In antiquity, measure and music shared a common bond. The scale in use by the ancient Greeks was called diatonic. They knew the vibrations per second of each tone (Refer to Issac Asimov’s On Physics for the list).  Middle “C” vibrated 264 times per second. “C”, and octave higher, vibrated twice as fast: 528 times per second.  “A” still vibrates in symphony orchestras today at 440/sec. “E” above middle “C” was 264 times per second, etc. Numbers are readily available.

In antiquity, harmony referred to a balance of forces that were able to co-exist in peace. Harmony, according to Webster,  is an agreement or an accord. In music Webster states that it is a simultaneous sounding of tones that are pleasing to the ear. When a pair is in accord, be it people or music, they are able to co-exist harmoniously. John Michell in The View Over Atlantis elaborates on how 272 was connected by gematria  (defined as the former unity  that letters and numbers shared). The example that Michell uses goes back to ancient Greece with Harmonia who was the wife of Cadmus. The gematria of her name in Greek equaled 272. Numbers, in antiquity, could represent words, things and forces. Many ancient languages did not have separate symbols for numbers. Letter doubled as numbers. You could therefore  total the numerical values of the letters in a single  word, phrase or even a lengthy sentence. Each had a sum. The writings of John Michell covers the subject amply.

HOW HARMONY UNITES NUMBERS 5 AND 6

Harmony’s number  is 272.  Question: In what possible way can 272 bind opposing forces as one? Answer: Numbers 5 and 6 were considered polar opposite numbers. Five was yin. Six was yang. The five pointed star was a symbol of man. The hexagon, with 6 sides, was connected to the cosmos and the inanimate. In the Medieval gardens and decorations the five strong petaled rose was thought of yin; while the six- petaled lily was yang (refer to John Michell in City of Revelation). Many crystalline forms, the snowflake, even the cells of a honeycomb are six sided…So how does 272 unite man and the cosmos through numbers 5 and 6? Answer:  272 results from basic arithmetic of numbers 5 (yin) and 6 (yang). As, 6 x 5/ 6 + 5 = 2.72727272… Or stated in another way, 30/11= 2.727272….

HARMONY WAS ONCE ALL OVER THE PLANET IN A GOLDEN AGE

As harmony’s number in ancient Greece was 2.72; even older megalithic cultures all over the world used 2.72…. as it defined the 2.72 feet of the megalithic yard.  Its hidden existence was  discovered by professor Alexander Thom of Oxford  in the 1960’s  He found that it measured most of the ancient sites in England.  Among the sites that were built by the megalithic yard are (1 Karnak Temple in Egypt whose length of either side of the rectangular base was 440MY. (2) the placement of the Sphinx in relationship to the Great Pyramid which was 440 MY distant,  (3) the  perimeter around the foundation of Persepolis in Iran was a square that measured 4 x 440 MY. (4) Rhe rectangular lengths of Troy in Turkey (2 x 220MY) combine to equal 440 MY. (5) The Akapana of Tiahuanaco in Mexico had one length and one width of its rectangular foundation together span 440 MY.  “A” , at 440, exists in two systems: (1) the old diatonic note “A” above middle “C” and (2) the modern well tempered “A” of our current tuning system.   As far back as 3500 BC the megalithic yard is found on Malta at the Mnajdra Temple at the higher section of the North entrance.  A triangle is etched in this section. Gerald J. Formosa found its dimensions and most of the temples in Malta that were defined  by the MY. He wrote about it in, The  Megalithic Monuments of Malta. Yes, music married architecture. The minister was Mr. Megalithic Yard, and their child was called harmony!

THE COMMON BOND OF HARMONY IN MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES

A very significant use of 272 bonds Islam and Judaism. The three letter root of “Arab” in Hebrew is ayin (70), reisch (200), and  veis (2). Its gematria is 272. The word, Hebrew, uses the same letters, re-arranged as: ayin (70), beis (2),and reisch (200)= 272. In this manner, both cultures have an harmonic accord. Also, the two primary Hebrew names for God in the Torah equal 272 but in a hidden way.. Scholars have pyramided the letters of a word to come up with the hidden pyramided value.  Thus the Tetragrammaton becomes: yud (10)  +  yud, hei(15)  +  yud, hei,vav (21)  + the full name- yud, hei, vav, hei (26).  The total is 72.  Using the same technique for the other primary name, Elohim, the total is 200. Therefore, the sum of these two pyramided names also equals  272.  I can only conclude that if we allow it, the natural state of the Middle East and the world  is all about peace and harmony. One last 272 point. When you multiply the Hebraic factors of the pyramided names of the Lord (described above) as 72 X 200, you get 14, 400…….. 2.72  defines the number of feet in a megalithic yard, 14,400 defines the number of feet in the “megalithic mile” which is even found in China as a measure called the Pu.

Uniting Music and Measure

Uniting music and measure raises a basic question. How? I have briefly blogged about this in Stonehenge Was Built by Musical Tones.  I will be developing  a theme sporadically throughout my blogs which is:  How the numbers by which architecture was measured duplicated the numbers of musical tones of the ancient diatonic scale.  As one philosopher put it: Architecture is frozen music. The units of measure by which ancient buildings could be  measured  varied by the culture.  Numbers, however, were the same.   Units of measure could include the shorter (1.718′) or longer Egyptian cubits (1.728′). They could have used the Palestinian cubit (2.107′).  The megalithic yard (2.72′) was extremely popular. The Roman pace (2.433′) or even the 12 inch English foot were utilized.   In the realm of the old diatonic scale,  a number of authors document their numbers in terms of vibrations per second. Thus I was able to see how the numbers of measure and music happily correspond. Authors that document the old diatonic scale in terms of vibrations per second include Issac Asimov in On Physics and Guy Murchie in The Music of the Spheres.

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The Great Pyramid of Gizeh is the large pyramid on the left side.

 

A 175 to 176 ratio of measures were used by cultures across the face of antiquity. This is well documented in John Michell’s  scholarly treatise entitled Ancient Metrology. The ratio takes in consideration the diameter across the equatorial bulge (176)  and the polar diameter (175). Michell discusses how the northern latitude measure of the Egyptian foot was 1.152 feet (the 176 ratio) at fifty degrees latitude. While the southern measure was was 1.145 feet (175 ratio) at ten degrees latitude.

ANCIENT BUILDINGS AND MUSICAL NUMBERS ARE CONGRUENT

As I have already discussed in my blog about Stonehenge, diatonic “F” above middle “C”  on the piano vibrates at 352 times per second. The standard of measure in antiquity, as I’ve already stated,  is based on a 176 ratio to 175.  One hundred and seventy-six is one-half of 352. Musically, in terms of vibrations per second, it is exactly an octave lower than the 352-F. Now, if we take the shorter 175 ratio of measure of 1.152 feet; then the perimeter around the great Pyramid is 2.640 feet. Diatonic “C” vibrates 264 times per second.  This perimeter, in terms of this shorter Egyptian foot, is exactly ten times the number by which the old diatonic “C” vibrates.

THE TIME HONORED TRADITION OF A-440

Another diatonic musical tone is duplicated in measure at the Great Pyramid. When shorter Egyptian cubit of 1.718 feet is used to measure the perimeter around the Great Pyramid, then each side is 440 cubits. The note “A” vibrates to 440 times per second. This is the standard not only of the old diatonic scale, but also the well-tempered scale still in use. A-440 is the only tone that is being used from the ancient diatonic scale by musicians- at least in England and America. In this regard, an essential dimension of the Great Pyramid is alive and well; and is still being tuned to by at least some of our orchestras. Music and empire: No wonder King David was considered a musician first and was a king only later.

The Sgro Brothers Race To Scott’s

 

With Harmonica virtuosos - The Sgro Brothers
David and Sharon with the world’s greatest harmonica virtuosos who tell the world’s best jokes – The Sgro Brothers

 

Why did the Sgro Brothers race to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House? So they could hear and visit with the great violinist, ” Rubinoff and his Violin“.  How did this happen, you ask? It all goes back to the Southern Hotel in Colombus, Ohio where Rubinoff was staying.  He had just given a concert.  The Sgro Brothers were in the audience and loved it.  They were blown away by an incident that occurred during Rubinoff’s concert. While performing, Rubinoff heard someone talking. It happened to be someone backstage. Rubinoff lost his temper and began a five minute swearing tirade at the audience. He shouted at the full house: ” You so and so and so (blank, blanks, blank) –. You pay good money to hear me and have the nerve to interrupt my performance”…… (with his heavy Russian accent). The Sgro Brothers thought that at any moment audience would start pelting Rubinoff with rotten tomatoes. What happened? As soon as Rubinoff  finished his vitriolic tirade, the entire audience rose to their feet and gave him an enormous standing ovation. The following day the Sgro Brothers were performing at the same venue.  They invited Rubinoff to be a part of their act. He graciously accepted. Since this incident, they refer to him as “the master.”

Back to Scott’s Hotel. Ray Scott is the owner and proprietor of the Scott’s Oquaga  Lake House. It’s been in the Scott family since 1870. He knew that the brothers lived in Elmira, New York. It is not too far down the road from the Scott’s resort in Deposit NY.  For years, “Scotty” had been trying to get the brothers to come to the lake house, but unsuccessfully. Because of my association and  friendship with the Rubinoffs, Dave Rubinoff graciously agreed to play at the resort. Darlene Rubinoff, his wife, called the Sgros about two hours before the show. That is the reason for my blog about why the Sgro Brothers race to Scott’s.   My concert with Rubinoff broke the ice. So the Sgro Brothers began coming back for many years to entertain and thrill Scotty’s audiences.

As a result, I was doubly happy. First that I brought Rubinoff. Second, that  paved the way for the Sgros. You can listen to that famous Rubinoff concert that the Sgro Brothers attended on the thumb video on the top of the 1st page. The year of that concert was 1984.

 

OUR NEW MUSIC IS BEING HEARD ON MEMORIAL DAYS

 

Our new music is being heard on Memorial Days thanks to the Sarasota Concert Band under the baton of William Barbanera.  We, David and Sharon, are writing new patriotic concert works. For  Memorial Day 2014, our new opus was named, Glory and Honor.  In a world premier, the Sarasota Concert Band joined ranks with Civil War re-enacters to perform the opus which included  gun salute effected The Civil War Re-enacters  shooting muskets.  The model, of course, is Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812.  The spectacle, including the smoke from the muskets being fired, can be viewed on the thumb video at the heading of our website. The conductor not only gives the concert band their cues, but he also points at the musketeers when it’s their turn to shoot. Sharon, the arranger, actually wrote the gun salute cues into the musical score.

 Our new music is heard on Memorial Days in 2015  for a second time.  We wrote wrote a march in two tempos for the Sarasota Concert Band entitled, “We Are One“.   It was inspired by the of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  Beethoven inserted a Turkish March in his symphony in the middle of his choral work, Ode To Joy.  We created a march in 6/8 tempo that opens our work. Then the music transitions to our patriotic anthem: “We Are One”.  The lyrics and the full concert band arrangement were written by Sharon.  It was performed under the baton of Maestro William Barbanera with the full Sarasota Concert Band on May 25 of this year.  The singers in the above thumb video on the first page of the website are Allen Kretschmar (baritone), Baron Garriott (Tenor), Karen O’Shea (alto), and Sharon Ohrenstein (soprano, lyricist and arranger). As she so aptly says to me: “Without my work, you music would still be on the shelf.”

We are thankful to Maestro Bill Barbanera for the advice he gave us while we were writing the musical score. For example: Do not write quickly moving 16th notes for the flute or clarinet while the trumpets are playing. These woodwind instruments would not be heard Common sense, isn’t it?  Yes, but that’s what good conductors have. We are also very thankful to Mary Beth Stiber, President of the Concert Band Board; and her husband Don. He is an excellent trumpeter and band leader of his own group, Sarasota Gold. They have encouraged us and assisted us with these musical projects.  IMG_20150904_0001IMG_20150904_0001IMG_20150904_0001

Melody and 3/4 Time are Returning

Melody and 3/4 time are returning. Music that is heavy on square, off beat rhythm and simple chant but lacks beauty of melody and rhythmic variety has overstayed its welcome. They have been like guests that just won’t leave.  These guests, by the way,  have names. I call them the three “R’s”:  Rock and Roll and Rap. Most of their rhythms are square . They dominate through 4/4 or 2/4 time meters.  Two of the guests, Rock and Roll, insist and the constant hypnotic repetition of the “upbeat,” beats two and four. These three guests tend to avoid triple meter like the plague. To them, the words and melody of the 1936 song “By Strauss” music by George and lyrics by Ira Gershwin represent a worst case scenario: Ira  Gershwin writes about how a melody in 3/4 time literally goes lilting through the house. By the way, you can enjoy By Strauss in the classic movie, the 1951 production of : An American in Paris. It is a showstopper It is danced with comedy and verve as only Gene Kelly can.  The movie was inspired by the 1928 orchestral work with the same title by George Gershwin. It also features some of Gershwin’s most loved songs. The climax is a 16  minute  ballet on the 1928 orchestral work.  By the way, the movie won 8 academy awards.

Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson’s Correct Method of German and French Waltzing (1816), showing nine positions of the Waltz, clockwise from the left- where the musicians are seated (from Wikopedia)

THE EFFECT OF TIME METERS ON THE PUBLIC

Duple (2/4 and 4/4) meters have sharp angles. Just watch a conductor outlining the angular motions with his baton. Triple meter can be conducted with a baton going in circles. When  understanding time meters and their effects,  the alchemical “squaring of the circle” takes on new meaning: Duple meters are earthbound. The square is associated with the alchemical element of  of earth. The circle represents heaven. Squaring the circle means bringing heaven to earth. The circle represents spiritual qualities- Qualities that are beautiful but you cannot touch.  We need to paraphrase “squaring the circle.” Since the angular rhythms have been so prominent for the last 60 years, we need to “circle the square” with 3/4 time and melody.

OUR RICH WALTZ TRADITION

 I recommend this needed return to melody written in three-four time meter. It will help with our spiritual survival which ultimately helps our physical survival.  This task is up to the composers.  One such popular waltz number is by Cat Stevens, Morning Has Broken. Norwegian Wood by the Beatles is another. You Light Up My life by Joe Brooks is a third example.  Schubert wrote a collection of waltzes. Brahms has a book of waltzes. Chopin, of course loved waltzes and gave the Viennese waltz a Polish twist.  Remember Strauss, the waltz king, which the Gershwins championed as I just wrote about above. The old minuet is in 3/4 time.  Let’s look to these rich traditions of the past. Then we can turn around to face the future, knowing that our lives will be happier as a result. Incidentally, the ancient Greeks had the same thoughts about music – that music affects character.  They called this musical property  by the name of “ethos”.

RUSSIAN FOLK DANCING BY SARASOTA BALLET

The story of how the Russian folk dancing by the Sarasota Ballet began in our musical, Elizabeth of Russia, goes back to a book that seemingly popped off a shelf decades ago. Wife Sharon was walking through Brant’s Used Book Store in Sarasota, Florida.  A book presented itself to her. The book was about Elizabeth of Russia, daughter of Peter the Great. Although she immediately wrote wrote a rough draft for the play, the idea then sat dormant in her mind for twenty years: After all, Russia, at that time, was called by some, “the evil empire” (viva la Star Wars). Finally, the Berlin wall came crashing down.  Sharon conferred with husband David. They teamed up and wrote the story, words, lyrics, and music. As a result, Elizabeth of Russia,  their first their joint musical, was born.  Elizabeth was not power crazed. She turned the throne down on several occasions, and just wanted to be with the man she loved- who was low born.  As a result, we are thinking of renaming the musical: The Princess and the Peasant.

Elizabeth of Russia saw its world premier at Players of Sarasota Theatre.  It had over 30 actors. The principle dancers of the Sarasota Ballet were employed.  Their incredible performance can be viewed in the thumb video above.  The dancers were a gift from a prominent Sarasota doctor.  On the initial date of this blog, it has had over 12,000 hits.

The sold out premiere also featured Rubinoff’s Stradivarius violin.  It was then played by Damaeon Pegis, a member of the Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra. Rubinoff purchased the Strad in 1929 for $100,00,00. Today, some say it could be worth up to 5 million. The Strad, made in 1729, belonged to Czar Nicholas II.  It has the official crest and seal of Czarist Russia on the finger board. The crest, of course,  is set with diamonds and rubies. The history of the violin possibly parallels the recent hit movie, The Red Violin:  It has been speculated that it could have been in the same vicinity as Czar Nicolas II when he was assassinated.

OhrensteinRubinoff2
Maestro David Rubinoff and David Ohrenstein performing live at Scotts Oquaga Lake House in Summer 1984

 

 

Since Rubinoff had past away, I had then had access to his violin through his kind and wonderful widow, Dame Darlene Rubinoff. She flew in with it from Houston . Check out my blogs on this website about the Rubinoffs.  Also, I posted a live concert that Dave and I gave in New York. At the time of the video, in 1984, he was 86 years old. The full concert is on the thumb video above. Don’t miss it.  I worked over 20 as Rubinoff’s arranger and accompanist. Right after he plays the first two notes, you know you are in the hands of a great master.

Elizabeth of Russia was then chosen to be an official event for the joint centennial celebrations of St. Petersburg Florida and St Petersburg Russia. They are sister cities.  The event happened at the Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg Fl.  Amy Schwarz- Morretti, at that time principle violinist with the Florida Orchestra, dazzled sold out houses by playing Rubinoff’s Dance of the Russia Peasant. She wanted to play the Stradivarius with such a passion that even though she was double booked on one of the nights; she left her nearby concert during intermission and had a waiting taxi by the back door of Symphony Hall. Then she was shuttled to the Palladium Theatre.  She played the violin. Then great maestro ran out its back door of the Palladium to her waiting taxi cab as the audience gave her a roaring, standing ovation.  Of course with her excellent musical timing, she made it back to the Florida Orchestra with time to spare, and masterfully played the 2nd half of the other concert. I will never get over thinking what a Stradivarius in the hands of a great master can do!