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)


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.


 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”.


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.

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!

Stonehenge Was Built By Musical Tones


There’s music in the air as I, David Ohrenstein, believe that Stonehenge was built by musical tones.





Credit for photography: Digital Imaging Project of Mary Ann Sullivan, Bluffton College;

Stonehenge was built by musical tones in terms of the numbers found in the vibrations per second of an old musical scale.  This the personal theory of David Ohrenstein (myself). The numbers are derived from what is now called the Greek diatonic scale.  Stonehenge  translates the numbers of this scale, in terms of vibrations per second, into  numbers of  measure that were also used by former civilizations from around the globe.


There once was a blueprint that unified music with simple geometry. I discovered the  plan while playing the piano in the summer of 1993 for the Scott family at Scotts Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. Years after, I discovered that the blueprint is preserved by a system of numbers called gematria: Letters used to double as  numbers. Therefore each letter, word, phrase   or sentence  had a numerical value. That is the essence of gematria. 

352 the Diatonic musical tone “F”

Here is the modus operandi of how Stonehenge was built by musical tones: The diatonic tone “F” (as per Issac Asimov in On Physics and Guy Murchie in The Music of the Spheresvibrated 352 times per second. This strongly ties into Judaism.  The most important Judaic prayer is the Shema Yisroel ,which declares the Oneness of the Creator. The two words (Deuteronomy 6:3) right before this six word declaration (Deuteronomy 6:4)  translate to “milk and honey” with gematria of 352. The meaning is simple: from milk and honey, which represent being loving, nurturing and caring, we achieve oneness or unity with the Creator. Now, take 352 as the diameter of a circle. Its circumference in whole numbers is 1106. When the 6 word declaration of the Shema Yisroel is spelled with the double “yud” for the Holy Name- as it is in the prayer books- the gematria of this phrase is also 1106. The message is: Milk and honey places us at one with our Creator.


 The diatonic tone “F” (352) is also found at Stonehenge as the average distance between the pillars (above picture) is 3.52 feet. The average of width of these same stones, facing the center,  is double that- 7.04 feet. Musically, when a number is doubled, it sounds one octave higher.  The average length of the lintels on top of the pillars is triple 3.52 or- 10.56 feet.  Stonehenge is but one example.Other diatonic tones can be found not only at Stonehenge; but at sites of all cultures and creeds.

  Here’s another example of how Stonehenge was built by musical tones:The diatonic tone “C” (264 vibrations per second) is also at Stonehenge and is expressed as  the measure of a distance. John Michell illustrates how the distance from the center of the station rectangle to the heel stone is 264 feet. The  station rectangle is made by the paths of the orbits of the Sun and Moon. It marks where their paths intersect at right angles.  The same number, 264, is  prominent in Judaism. The Hebrew word for the Passover ritual is Seder; which means order. The number behind the same musical tone (C) that marked the order of the paths of the Sun and Moon at Stonehenge, also denotes the order of the ritual at Passover.

                                                                                                                                LIFE, LOVE AND MUSIC

Measures expressed here are not an anachronism. John Michell, in The View Over Atlantis, writes about how the British 12 inch foot existed in the past.  Samples of the cubic inch of gold for  weight comparison are found at the British Museum. They are from ancient Egypt, Babylon and Greece.  I think it would be fitting for there be a new re-dedication to the kindness, love and nurturing that are expressed by the words of milk and honey in Deuteronomy 6:3.  To begin the work, which is substantial, we should dedicate ourselves to renovating sites that were once built by measures derived from tones of the diatonic scale. The rebuilding would offer all mankind a unified and hopeful vision of peace and co-operation; and lead us to the path of a new Golden Age of peace and plenty.



Preludes set the musical tone of an event be it a wedding, church service or a concert.  But what is not known to most people is that n the baroque era, around 1700,  a keyboard soloist would play a prelude while the audience was settling down, i.e. before the program of the concert actually started.  While patrons were still finding their seats, keyboard player would improvise flashy runs and passages on the spot.  The audience marvel at his talent thus peeking their interest in the concert.


The prelude gave the performer the opportunity  to check:

  1. The acoustics of the room and
  2. The resonance of the instrument. Thus, if the instrument had short sustaining power, he would play trills and tremolos faster.
  3. And that he had to play slow pieces at a faster tempo.
  4. The Prelude also served the purpose of allowing the performer to judge the action or response of the keys.

If the acoustics of the room were dead, the soloist would quicken the tempo. If the acoustics were  live, he would observe slower markings. In effect the soloist did the sound check; thus acting like a modern day sound engineer. If my reader would like to know more about what performers did before electrical sound engineering I recommend reading  Francois Couperin (1668-1733) in his L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin , published in 1716.

Francois Couperin author of  L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin 


For years, I’ve kept a log of my piano practice and still do.  The Preludes by Chopin are regular part of my warm ups. I choose three. The first emphasizes work with the right hand. The second emphasizes the left. The third works both hands equally. Chopin was a great fan of Johann Sebastian Bach.  In writing his Preludes, Chopin chose Bach for the model. As Bach wrote preludes in all the key signatures, so did Chopin. Chopin’s 1st Prelude is a stylistic copy of Bach’s 1st Prelude in Book I of the Well Tempered Clavichord. Both hands interlock in the continuous motion of 16th notes.  Chopin, however, gives this prelude beautiful melodic import. This characterizes his then newer style of writing music.


For centuries, preludes were written as absolute music. Absolute music is defined as music that is meant to be free of any extra musical implications.  As absolute music, preludes were simply intended to be played as an introduction to a longer work. That was it.  In his preludes Debussy changes tradition in a humorous manner. He numbers each Prelude with Roman numerals on the title page. Innocent enough.  However according to the Paris edition by Durand et Cie. copyright 1910, he broke the tradition.What he did reminds me the surprise toy that we used to find in boxes of Cracker Jacks. At the very end of each Prelude, he zings you with a descriptive title! Thus, for example when we play Prelude X, we think that that is all we are playing.  But at the bottom of the last page,  we learn that we have really been playing, La Cathedrale engloutie  (The engulfed or sunken Cathedral). I know that Debussy had fun with this intentional reversal.


I’ve been practicing to make a recording of 60 minutes of Debussy’s music. What a task! He was  a first place award winning concert pianist. That fact together with his avowed goal of braking all previous rules as much as possible makes him very difficult to play. His rule breaking, I must admit, is always in good taste.  My teacher, Mischa Kottler, who studied in Paris and Vienna in the 1920’s (see blog) wanted me, with one of his last wishes, to give a Debussy concert. I have upped my practicing for this purpose.  I’m finding out that 3.5 hours daily is not enough. I’ll have to up it even more; or, it will not happen. Keep watching for my hour on the web site of recorded Debussy. I’m determined.

440 is Used for Tuning

440 is used for tuning  primarily in America and England in terms of vibrations per second for the note “A” above middle “C”. When my youngest son, Abe, was just over two years old, his favorite expression was a number- “440”: As we tried to teach him to tell time, he’d always insist that it was 4:40 no matter what we told him that the time was. You might ask, “So what; why is that significant?” That number is the cornerstone of the builders of ancient civilizations. I feel that mind of Abe was used, at that time, as a conduit for forgotten wisdom. As a result, I have pursued trying to understand the number; and how and where it was used, and where it came from for some 35 years. The quest literally turned me into a philosopher, as expressed by the hit song from the Broadway show, Man of La Mancha (1965-  lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh). The hit song is entitled The Impossible Dream, and subtitled subtitled, The Quest.  Even Liberace would often feature it as his eleven o’clock number at his piano concerts. The famous line states: This is my quest, to follow that star, No matter how hopeless, No matter how far.


The search for that star took our entire family to the Catskill Mountains in New York where I became the house piano player at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. The year was  1983. I think that Oquaga Lake has an immense spirituality about it; and it was there that I found the answer to the 440 question. Of course, Abe, our 440 baby, was right there with us. When the source of the number came into my mind , we were living at Bluestone Farm on Bluestone Mountain right next to Scott’s Hotel.  Students of archaeology know that the Stonehenge was built of bluestone rock; and to my knowledge, in America this tiny area is the only place where this rock is found. The Scotts quarry just is up the hill from Bluestone Farm.  Deposit bluestone is extremely desirable around the country for mantles and fireplaces. The stone is so plentiful on Bluestone Mountain that when my daughter, years later,  got married at Scotts Oquaga Lake House; we wrote the names of all the guests with magic marker on flat, little pieces of bluestone to indicate assigned seating.  Every one said the wedding was magical. From the picture below, you can see that it was the enchanted land of Scotts that gave it that aura.  As my quest for a fuller realization of the mystery of 440 has taken me over 35 years,  it will take many blogs to reveal the treasure it holds. Keep watching.

440, as a number,  is not only used for tuning, but also as a number of measurement in the appropriate unit of measure of ancient sites like (1) The length of a city block of the Harappan civilization in the Indus valley  (2) The foundation of Troy in Turkey (3) The foundation of the temple  at Karnak in Egypt  (4) The Great mound in Cahokia in southern Illinois. (5) The Great Circle in Newark Ohio built by the Hopewell culture (6) The foundation of Persepolis in Iran  (7) The Akapana in Mexico (8) Solomon’s Temple (9) The Great Pyramid of Egypt…….all around the planet.   In the meanwhile, stay tuned for more blogs.  And when you visit with the Scotts, ask for a guided tour of  Bluestone Mountain.



The incredible beauty of Oquaga Lake where I found the answers to many of life’s questions. My poetry is a tribute to its beauty; and   Of Fog and Spirits, below, describes this very scene (excerpt from The Oquaga Spirit Speaks)


Fingers of fog moving quickly,

Gliding across the lake…

Almost at jogging speed-

Leaving no apparent wake.

    Why are they scampering about

At this early morning time?

    Thousands of fingers in motion

     Moving gracefully with rhyme.

Perhaps each one is a spirit

                    Released from the depths of the spring,

    Enjoying an hour of freedom,

Almost ready to take wing?

              This spring fed lake is enchanted

As such water bodies are.

I actually saw its essence

               While viewing the Morning Star



Aura Lea: Theme and Variations for piano

The original sheet music cover

One of my most popular piano arrangements, Aura Lea: Theme and Variations for piano, was composed in Toronto.  No matter where I play it – on the concert stage, for a private party or during the dinner hour – it always receives grand applause and some rather sizable tips.  The arrangement is heart rendering;  bringing back pleasant memories.  One variation combines the theme with “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”; bringing two great American songs together.  And, by the way, this composition has many showy virtuoso passages!

Aura Lea is one of the most beloved American songs and is arguably as popular as Amazing Grace.  Our generation heard it with the words that Elvis sang as Love Me Tender.  It has graced America over the last 150 years.  The music was written by W.W. Fosdick and words by George R. Poulton during the Civil War in 1861.  The sheet music cover is the original Confederate version, dated 1864.

Below is a partial list of where this melody can be found. I feel that it is a valuable addition to any serious piano player’s repertoire.

Other occurrences of the song

“Aura Lea” was memorably sung by Frances Farmer and a male chorus in the 1936 film Come and Get It, based on Edna Ferber‘s novel.   Diana Muldaur sings the song to David Carradine in the episode “The Elixir” of Kung Fu.  The Elvis Presley song “Love Me Tender” (lyric by Ken Darby) is a derivative adaptation of this song.  A later Presley recording for the film The Trouble with Girls entitled “Violet (Flower of N.Y.U.)” also used the melody of “Aura Lea”.

Jerry Lanning performed the song on an episode of “The Donna Reed Show” in 1962 entitled “Big Star”.  The television cavalry comedy F Troop used a variation of the song to welcome saloon singer Laura Lee in the episode “She’s Only a Build in a Girdled Cage” (cf. “She’s only a bird in a gilded cage“).  The television western The Young Riders used the song in its series finale, which took place in 1861 and showed how the American Civil War was affecting its characters’ lives.

There is also a version of “Aura Lea” called “Army Blue” associated with the U.S. Military Academy.   In “Army Blue,” lyrics specific to the academy, written by George T. Olmstead, an 1865 graduate of the academy, are sung to the original melody. It is the running theme music in the background of the 1954 John Ford film The Long Gray Line.

Allan Sherman topicalized the song with this polio-based version:

Every time you take vaccine, take it Aura Lea (pun on “orally”)
As you know the other way is more painfully!”


The 1983 film Trading Places includes Ivy League stockbrokers at their racquet club singing a sexual parody of this song about their college days and their fraternity’s conquest of various women on locations at campus, with the refrain changed to “Constance Frye.”

The television show How I Met Your Mother 2009 episode (season 5 episode 22) “Robots Versus Wrestlers“, features Ted Mosby at an upper-class party singing the Trading Places “Constance Fry” version along with film director Peter Bogdanovich and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz.

In Revenge of the Nerds, Betty Childs and the other girls from her sorority sing a parody (though not the exact tune) to the Tri-Lambs.

Check out my performance of Aura Lea: Theme and Variations recorded live in concert at Scott’s Oquaga Lakehouse in Deposit, New York for a select audience, and played on an old and appropriate sounding piano.



De Mattia Trio rehearsing "Moonlight On the Lake"
De Mattia Trio rehearsing “Moonlight On the Lake”

Three of our original music pieces arranged for oboe, Horn in F and piano will be performed in the following concert.

The pieces are Moonlight on the Lake; Joining Hands For Life; and Iguana Farm (for Oboe and Piano)

De Mattia Family in Concert

Celebrating Fedora De Mattia’s 100th Birthday

Sunday, Sept. 20th at 3:00 PM

Lakewood Presbyterian Church
14502 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, Ohio 44107 (Cleveland Area)

Edmond De Mattia, Oboe, Retired Principal oboist, US Navy Band Washington and founder and President of the American Concert Band Association (86 year old brother)
Alan De Mattia, French horn, member of the Cleveland Symphony (nephew)
Richard De Mattia, Piano, Organist, MENCA, Computer specialist, choir director (nephew)
Suellen De Mattia, Pianist, School Teacher, Flutist, (niece)

Fedora De Mattia is a well-known, repsected and beloved School Teacher, Pianist, sister and aunt.

Music on the Program for Oboe, French horn, Piano
By David and Sharon Ohrenstein

Public Invited.
Light refreshments

    THE DE MATTIA FAMILY TO SHOWCASE OUR MUSIC.  Here in Sarasota, on May 24, 2015,  Here, in Sarasota, Florida,  a financially successful fund raising concert was given for the Salvation Army.  The performers were the Windsong 5; a group consisting of Edmond De Mattia on oboe, David Lieberman on Clarinet, John Steinspring on bassoon, David on piano and soprano Sharon.  David and Sharon have created many arrangements for the group.  Ohrenstein learned the art of arranging from his years of work with maestro Rubinoff and His Violin (see video on website).   As part of their arranging, David and Sharon have also taken famous classical melodies and arranged them just for the group. One, which has been making the rounds in churches around the country, is Sing Unto God, which they also played at the Salvation Army concert- to be posted.  In Sing Unto God Sharon adapted the famous melody from the last movement of the 1st Symphony by Brahms, adding lyrics and a compelling middle section to his great theme. The symphony is famous but the story goes that after Beethoven wrote his 9th symphony, it was believed that no one could write a symphony that could match its awesome greatness.  With his 1st Symphony, it’s believed that Brahms did. But because of the reputation of Beethoven’s 9th,  even Brahms did not attempt a symphony until he was well seasoned into his forties.  David and Sharon feel so special and honored to work with such high caliber musicians as their friend and mentor, Ed De Mattia and company. They are looking forward to selections from their concert for the Salvation army on this website.

A New Direction for the Arts


Image result for pictures of greek ideal of beauty classical
The Return of Beauty to the Arts
  A new direction for the arts is coming. Vulgarity in the varied arts of music, theater, film, costume and humor can be summarized by one word: Outdated!  Our culture has been recently and quietly adapting a new cultural credo: “BACK TO BEAUTIFUL”.  “What does the credo mean  and why is it happening?” you ask.  The proof that this change is taking place can be found in the bottom line of box office receipts. The change  is coming because of the challenging and difficult times we live in.
To understand the reason for the transition that we will experience in the arts, I ask my reader to refer to the blog I wrote on this site entitled: One Musical Hoagy Please! It analyzes  the epoch making song, Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael. Here is the simplified summary:

Good times =  emphasis on Rhythm for fun and enjoyment

Difficult times = emphasis on Melody for healing

 The movie box office proof: My blog today was prompted by an article that appeared in the New York Times Arts Section (Monday August 3, 2015) entitled: “R-rated Comedies Lag in Sales” written by Brooks Barnes.  In particular, Barnes discusses how the summer movie “Vacation” was marketed by images of its stars covered in feces.  He also states that it was the 4th R-rated comedy to get the “cold shoulder” from the public.  I firmly believe that if the entertainment industry doesn’t move with the times and make more movies that emphasize beauty of mind, body and soul; their profits will shrink.

That the arts, from time to time, seek  a new direction has precedent.  Eventually, every era and cultural movement hits a climax, descends and something new then takes its place. The great composer, Claude Debussy, was perceptive enough to know that point was musically reached  in the late 1800’s by Richard Wagner’s opera, Tristan and Isolde. It took Romanticism and love as far as they could possibly go in opera.  Debussy knew that Romanticism was basically dead after Wagner’s masterpiece. Debussy had to look at music from a new angle.  My blog about Debussy explains his search for a new sound and some of the techniques that he used for that purpose. Film and theater, like Debussy, should seek this new direction.

 At the right moment, dissonance, conflict, and vulgarity in the arts; if called for, are effective.   Beethoven, in his Eroica Symphony, wisely chooses powerful dissonances at the 1st movement’s climax by using two extended chords in the orchestra that clash by half tones.  In the hands of the genius of Beethoven, for that moment, the sound is most offensive, but totally called for as he depicts the horrors of war.  However, if the negative qualities of vulgarity, bad taste, and offensiveness are used in excess and for their own sake; I believe that the art form they are attached to is not in keeping with the new direction that the arts are about to take.

The Phantom of the Opera is Now a Boogie?

The Phantom of the Opera  is Now a Boogie?  Yes, and the sheet music is available for purchase on this website. Longevity has come to the  Phantom of the Opera  originally written by Gaston Leroux  as a French magazine series in Le Gaulois.  His first installment appeared September 23, 1909.  Some 106 years later, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  version is still the longest running musical in the history of Broadway.  As a composer, I have chosen to add to the crest of the Phantom wave with a little help from Bach through his Toccata and Fugue in D minor. I have turned “The Phantom of the Opera” into the “Boogie Man of the Opera” which is available for purchase here.  This work, with its “entertaining version of horror and villainy” not only found its way into the Hollywood film of the Phantom of the Opera (1962) (picture below); but also earlier in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); the Black Cat (1934) and later in Disney’s film, Fantasia.

Erik, The Phantom (Lon Chaney) and Christine Daaé (Mary Philbin)

I took Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor  and made it into a boogie-woogie!

The Phantom of the Opera is Now a Boogie? I took Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor  and made it into a boogie-woogie!  Since Bach loved experimentation, most “long-haired”musicians agreed that he would have approved of the project. I was living at the time with my wife and three children in  Toronto in a duplex at 68 Thursfield Cresent.    During cocktail hour I played the piano at the Prince Hotel in Don Mills and at night, I went around the corner and entertained during the dinner hour at the Duncan House.  However, as that winter of ’87  was ferocious, we were often home bound which gave me plenty of time for the project.  I’m including an excerpt for listening.  Until this last year, I have been playing piano in the  summers regularly in New York at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, NY. where my Bach boogie continually receives bravos.  This winter I will begin my 7th year playing the vintage Steinway pianos 6 nights a week at  Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande in Florida (click on upcoming events).  I frequently close my evenings with the Toccata and Fugue a la boogie for the amusement and enjoyment of  patrons.


Octavian and Cleopatra Robby May; Sharon Lesley
The English opera”Octavian and Cleopatra” book and lyrics by Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, music by David Ohrenstein 
Robby May as Octavian and  Sharon Lesley as Cleopatra – set against the backdrop of the Great Pyramid



          LOVE CONQUERS ALL IN OUR OPERA: OCTAVIAN AND CLEOPATRA where musical styles take turns.  The Roman point of view, through militaristic music, alternates with exotic and beautiful Egyptian melodies sung by Cleopatra and her ladies in waiting. Whereas the Roman style is more “foursquare”; the music of Cleopatra is languid, sexy and touches the heart.  As an unwilling Octavian becomes totally taken with Cleopatra, his angular Roman style changes to the Egyptian. At the end, he sings the beautiful aria, She was Egypt’s Queen as he recalls  her alluring charm and  female virtues.  In a subplot, a Roman captain is sent by Octavian to guard Cleopatra.  The captain also falls in love with her and plots his own escape with her. . The Captain’s hardened ways of war disappear in the presence Cleopatra as he sings the melodious aria of love which closes act one, In the Darkness.  The opera burned the midnight oil for two years and became a labor of love between the husband-wife team of lyricist-book writer Sharon and composer David.  Sharon has currently been orchestrating the work.  Look  on our website entitled   under the heading of “Stage”. Then click on the Octavian and Cleopatra drop down for more information.