Traditional Employment includes types of people and places. Any new year is a time for reflection: What happened or didn’t happen last year? What might happen this year? Since this new year (2019) is about to begin, I thought I’d reflect on previous jobs. I seem to have a predilection for working with: (1) Successful older people. (2) Spectacular older places. By traditional I refer to: (1) Great places built over 100 years ago. Or, (2) Successful men who, at the time, were old enough to be my grandfather or possibly great-grandfather at the time of employment.
Traditional Employment by Rubinoff and His Violin
I learned the musical craft of arranging and accompanying from Rubinoff. He conducted the Paramount Theater in New York and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. What a perfectionist! After working for 8 hours during the day, at night he’d change his mind. The next day we did a different 16 bars. Dave’s Stradivarius violin was purchased for $100,000.00 in 1929. He made about $500,000.00 annually in the 1930′ by conducting and performing. It seemed like the “His Violin” was his marriage contract with music.
Traditional Employment at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House
For better than 15 summer seasons I played piano for shows at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. The resort was born in 1869. What a wonderful time our family had. Our children literally grew up in the Catskills at Scott’s. Playing many shows as well as our own (with wife, Sharon) were part of my duties. Most recently, the cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselle got to experience the same resort.
To the right, Rachel Brosnahan, winner of the award for best actress in a comedy series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, speaks in the press room at the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Jordan Strauss | Invision/AP)
My wife and I wrote a new opera comique entitled Patra. It certainly is quite traditional. Our models were Bizet’s Carmen and Bernstein’s West Side Story. We will have a full production workshop in New York at Schroon Lake scheduled for September 2019. This will be with the Seagle Music Colony. The Colony is under the artistic direction of Darren Woods and The American Center for New Works Development. Schroon Lake has quite a cultural history. Here is an internal link to this Schroon Lake’s glorious past. It inspired me to write a poem. Share if you wish.
Extremely Humble King of Early American Music. In part, Dave Rubinoff’s exactitude helped the cause of early American orchestral music. To him, music was sacred. He had such a passion for music, that his temperamental outbursts were quite infamous. He never got mad or angry any at anyone- just at what they didn’t do with the music. The American public loved him. 225,000 turned out for one of his concerts in 1937 at Grant Park in Chicago. His success and temperament were the source of much jealousy and resentment. The musicians under him were often quite resentful. They were not used to such a fireball.
Extremely Humble King at Work
Very few people were so driven by music as Dave. When he conducted or played violin, it seemed like he was on a quest for the Holy Grail. He sought Truth through music. He rarely, if ever, talked about his past personal accomplishments in music with me. His mind was focused on the music we were currently working on. Sometimes we’d work a week on arranging 16 bars of music. We would try this solution, than another, than yet another. That’s why I think of him as an extremely humble king. He literally bowed his head to the great arrangement that a melody demanded. of music. The public treated him like royalty for his efforts.
Below is a concert we gave together at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in the Catskills. The year was 1984. He was 86 years of age at the time. Although Dave most likely gave 1000’s of public concerts, below is the only sample of a full concert in existence. Every minute is worth listening to. Dave discusses each selection, and why it was special to him. Some people even resented his success. A prominent concertmaster came in to hear one of our performances. I won’t even mention the derogatory things he said as he made fun of this great violinist’s style. He learned a good part of his style from Will Rogers. Will Rogers, who identified with the American Cherokee Indians, even taught him how to take his bows. He was best friends with Will.
Image being able to apprentice your craft with under the guidance of this great man.
Every Sunday night Rubinoff was able to meet the most prominent singers and musicians in America. Victor Herbert had weekly musical soirées at his home. There, Rubinoff got to meet the likes of the great tenor -Caruso, Mme. Schumann Heink, and John Philip Sousa.
John Philip Sousa secured a grant from the US State Department so Rubinoff could take his music to the public schools.
Full Musical Lifetime Included Me for some 15 years
Now by a great happenstance, one of our concerts was recently found. My daughter posted it on youtube. Dave Rubinoff was eighty-six years of age at the time. His Stradivarius violin is set with the official crest of the Russia Empire in solid gold set with diamonds and rubies. Riches followed this man for his great contributions to America. Some years, in the 1930’s, he grossed as much as $500,000.00. Rubinoff truly is a rags to riches story. As you will hear, even in his older years, his playing was remarkable. Now you see why I titled this post: Full Musical Lifetime is a Blessing and a Half. Please feel free to share this miracle with friends.
For those of you who missed our recent Rubinoff and His Violin Concert in June of 2018, here’s a montage of some of the highlights! When was the last time you heard music of this calibur? https://youtu.be/P96T57dq8t0
Poetry as an art form predates written text. The earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung. It was used as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions. The earliest poetry exists in the form of hymns (such as the work of Sumerian priestess Enheduanna).
Poetic Import for a New Direction
Our subject today: So many styles and mannerisms currently floating. What direction will the arts take? Times and tendencies are cyclic. I believe we are heading for a more gentile, kinder and well-mannered age. Poetry can again lead the way. Consider the poetry of Heinrich Heine: Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈhaɪnə]; 13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856). He was a Germanpoet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. I found some comments on Heine in “Music” by Frederic V. Grunfield. It is part of the World of Culture Series.Publisher is Newsweek Books. Grunfield asserts that Heine is “the quintessential product of German musical romanticism.”
Robert Schumann explained how Heine’s poems inspired a whole new genre of music. “Thus arose a more artistic and profound style of song. Earlier composers could know nothing of this. It created a spirit in music that became the new Romantic era music.” Schumann wrote of musical currents in his magazine: Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.Robert Schumann co-founded it with his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke. The first issue appeared on 3 April 1834.
Perhaps my own books of poetic import, with those many upcoming poets, can lead us to a new Romantic Movement? Here is a short excerpt from my The Oquaga Spirit Speaks. It is entitled: Maple Tree Seeds:
Helicopter blade seeds
Spinning as they drop,
Blowing in the wind,
Care not where they’ll stop.
These maple navigators.
Sugar, silver and red,
Hope for only one thing;
And that’s that they’ll be bred.
The entire book is available as a product on DSOworks.com.
Million Thanks from the American Public. Americans needed good music more than ever to heal from the effects of the Great Depression. I actually worked the man who provided this relief: Rubinoff and His Violin. It was not until the Wall Street Crash in October 1929 that the effects of a declining economy were felt. A major worldwide economic downturn ensued. The stock market crash marked the beginning of a decade of:
Lost opportunities for economic growth. Lack of opportunities for personal advancement.
Altogether, there was a general loss of confidence in the economic future.
David Rubinoff and His Violin provided the relief that good music had to offer. This was on Broadway and in Hollywood. Thanks a Million is one of the movies he appeared in. Usually he was behind the scenes conducting the orchestra. Literally, Dave made millions of dollars during the Great Depression. Here is the theme of the movie, Thanks a Million.
A show troupe is engaged by Judge Culliman, who is running for Governor. Its purpose was to enhance his political campaign. When the inebriated Judge has to be replaced in doing his campaign speech by the troupe crooner, Eric Land. Then his political backers decide that they want him to run for Governor in the Judge’s place. Romance, music, political corruption and the election results follow.
Recently I gave a concert in Colombus, Ohio (Circleville area). I played with violinist Steven Greenman. Joseph Rubin conducted an elite orchestra. It included top professors of music from the finest Ohio universities.
I worked with this giant of music for some 15 years. Thanks to the miracles of mass media and youtube, you can now witness this concert. In addition to a lecture, I played an arrangement I made with the Great Rubinoff: Youtube selections are from the Fiddler on the Roof. Enjoy!
Rebuilt Steinway at the Gasparilla Inn. Wow! I just played a wedding dinner reception last October 6, 2018. Master technician Larry Keckler recently reconditioned and rebuilt the vintage Steinway grande. He ordered the finest parts from Germany for this exciting project The Steinway dates back to 1924. It takes a number of tunings for the piano to hit its stride. The total time elapsed since his initial work has been about a year and a half. My gosh, now the piano is simply incredible!
I recently played for a wedding dinner reception. Now the piano has both a golden and velvety touch for the pianist and sound for the diners. The Inn offers a royal taste of the old South. I’m particularly inspired to play the ragtime music of Scott Joplin. His music is dated to the same era. Everything is happy!
David believes music, should be all about beauty, enjoyment and relaxation. Thus he plays the music of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Michel Legrand, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Elton John, the Beatles, Scott and any composer(s) who write(s) memorable melodies. He even plays piano transcriptions from the King’s Speech (Beethoven’s 7th Symphony), Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, from the Planets. Also on the agenda is music by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel and J.S. Bach.
Kids are happy to hear his selections from the movies such as: Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Home Alone, Close Encounters of a Third Kind, and Jurassic Park. Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther and the Baby Elephant Walk are as popular as fireworks on the 4th of July. They are loved by children and adults. See you there. My dates are Dec 20 through Easter. I play 6 nights weekly. Oh yes, I have room for one or two piano students in Sarasota.
Musical Ornamentation was Once Quite Extensive. I refer to the baroque era. It also was quite a complex art. As you read, keep in mind music is always a litmus test for what is happening with civilization. Below is a portrait of Louis XIV. He was called the Sun King. His court at Versailles signaled the beginnings of the Classical Baroque era in art. Included in these arts were architecture, music, and fashion. Also, we have a diagram of an excerpt from Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 27 #2 across from Louis XIV. Chopin’s music fraught with exquisite details: Just like the Sun King’s dress. Chopin, having a French father, strongly identified with French culture. He lived for a while in Paris:
Frédéric Chopin was of both French and Polish background. He grew up in Warsaw. After the 1830 November Uprising in Poland, Chopin settled in Paris. At age 21, he took up his residence in Paris. He would live in nine other places there until his untimely death at age 39. Even if you do not play piano, look at the musical illustration. It simply looks quite frilly. A few notes could replace the incredible ornamentation use by Chopin. The music in sound parallels the dress of the King.
In addition to the French there was the Italian. The French school demanded being precise. This included with all the ports de voix, cadences, mordents, trills…
In contrast the Italian school permitted arbitrary ornaments. Schooling was combined with personal imagination. This included a number of different ways chords could be rolled.
The great musical bastion of the baroque era was J.S. Bach. He was quite familiar with French ornaments. It is known that he copied the ornaments of Dieupart. However, at times he used those of the Italian school. Like all great composers, his interests were not limited.
Final point: Beautiful melody, as Chopin and other Romantic writers once wrote, is returning. The American melody parallel is the Big Band music of the 1930’s. An education in ornamentation is part of the total package. Many more blogs will be upcoming on this subject. Keep checking DSOworks.com. Exciting musical events are in the making!
Countless Opportunities Appeared in Difficult Times. I’m referring to the Great Depression era: The early 1930’s. Conductor, violinist, composer David Rubinoff took it to the limit. Let’s begin with the The Chase and Sanborn Hour. It was a radio show umbrella title for a series. It included US comedy and variety radio shows. The half-hour to one hour show was sponsored by Standard Brands‘ Chase and Sanborn Coffee. It usually aired Sundays on NBC from 8 pm to 9 pm during the years 1929 to 1948. Violinist David Rubinoff (September 13, 1897 – October 6, 1986) became a regular in January 1931. He was introduced as “Rubinoff and His Violin.”
Countless Opportunities Included Concerts and Mass Media
Joseph Rubin, curator of the Ted Lewis Big Band Museum, contacted me for a lecture. This was last June 2, 2018 at the Circleville High School. He had read on our website, DSOworks.com, I worked with Rubinoff for 15 some years. I had been blogging about my professional association with this master conductor/violinist/ composer. Below are a couple of internal links. He graciously asked me to give a lecture about our association. Joseph also arranged for me to perform some of my arrangements with Rubinoff with violin maestro Steven Greenman.
Dave Rubinoff’s success didn’t stop with the Chase and Sandborn Hour. He was also the orchestral conductor of the Paramount Theater in New York. He conducted for Parmount Pictures in Hollywood. He gave spectacular concerts. These included one for 225,000 people at Grant Park in Chicago. What made Rubinoff rich? Times were difficult. How could one acquire wealth? The public needed the comfort that beautiful, quality music offered. He took advantage of the countless opportunities the times presented in this regard. This is good news for serious musicians. We need comforting and beautiful music once more. Please keep checking this website. Big events are in the making. `
Busy Making Millions During the Great Depression. That’s what a violinist I worked with was doing. My picture with him is on the lower right corner on the program. The program also has pictures (from upper left to right) of him with Fritz Kreisler, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, and Bing Crosby. Dave holds the record for concert attendance. 225,000 at Grant Park in Chicago. That was in the year 1937. Rubinoff proudly asserted: “They turned away another 25,000 at the door.”
He also conducted the orchestra for the Paramount Theater and Paramount Pictures. His stage name was Rubinoff and His Violin. His name is featured above on the movie marquee. Thanks a Million is a 1935 musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Roy Del Ruth. It stars Dick Powell, Ann Dvorak and Fred Allen. Musicians featured were Patsy Kelly, David Rubinoff,Paul Whiteman and his band with singer/pianist Ramona. That movie was featured just before a concert I gave. It is mentioned on the picture above. The entire event commemorated his memory.The orchestra was conducted by Maestro Joseph Rubin. Maestro Steven Greenman was the violinist I accompanied. Before the concert I gave a lecture on my association with Dave Rubinoff.
So Why Have So Few Today Heard of Him if He was Busy Making Millions?
I think the answer is resentment. Also, everyone was jealous. The average musician was struggling to make a living. Especially during the Great Depression. Rubinoff was a perfectionist. He was adamant in his interpretations. He was incredibly precise. This created even more resentment and jealousy. Just listen to the youtube sample below. As a matter a fact, listen to everything available about Rubinoff and learn. I think the picture below speaks miles. Regardless, I am honored to have my photo with Rubinoff in the Ted Lewis Museum. The museum is an outstanding tourist attraction.
Reviving Beautiful Music at Circleville, Ohio Lecture. A concert has just been given concert to commemorate a violinist that I worked with for some 15 years. His stage name was Rubinoff and His Violin. My lecture is soon to be accessible.
The performance also included an élite 28 piece orchestra. During intermission, I played the Ohrenstein/Rubinoff arrangement of the Fiddler on the Roof with violinist Steven Greenman. He is a master violinist. Like Brahms and Bartok, he composes and collects folk music. Recently, his tour of Poland included Krakow. Below is a sample of his exquisite violin playing. This youtube post currently has over 67,000 hits. He plays from the soul. His music take you out the petty cares of the day. He then places you in touch with your soul. For the Circleville concert, Steven played Rubinoff/Ohrenstein arrangement of the Fiddler with feeling, polish and finesse. Rubinoff would have been quite pleased.
Joseph Rubin was the conductor of the orchestra. He also was the organized the concert. The Maestro contacted me for the event. What a busy schedule! He is the curator of the Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville, Ohio. I have the link to the Museum below. It’s more than worth the time to fully examine the link. The concert was held at Circleville High School:
We’ve currently had some 60 years of mostly rhythmically dominated music. Time and trends go in cycles. A prime example is found in classical music. J.S. Bach passed away in 1750.The rococo and classical movements endured until approximately 1810. At that time, Beethoven led the transition to the Romantic era. I think that the times are about to elevate proponents of beautiful music. That’s when the Circleville Three (Joseph, Steven and myself) will become prominent. Of course, the movement will be carried by countless others. I say, let the Ted Lewis Museum lead the way. Please support this Museum. Answer affirmatively to the Ted Lewis question: “Is everybody happy?”