It topped the charts in several other markets in addition to England. They included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and The Netherlands. It later became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
How My Youtube Recording of the Bohemian Rhapsody Came About
The request for the Rhapsody came about over the summer of 2017. I was playing three days weekly at the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Fl. The general manager is Chris Koehlinger. He asked me if I could play the number. That began the process. Finding the music was not easy. Most sheet music stores are out of business. Music stores are not faring much better. Luckily, my wife is fairly adept at the computer. She found a version on youtube played by Vika Yermolyeva. It is very aptly titled www.vkgoeswild. Her arrangement was available. We downloaded it. I practiced it. Then performed it for clientele at the Crab and Fin. What a hit it was!
My job at the Crab and Fin kept me in fine form for my next job. Currently, I play 6 nights weekly at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande Fl. They have a magnificent vintage, rebuilt Steinway concert grand from 1924. My contract there is through
Easter, April 1 2018. I got the same results. What a hit this Rhapsody makes!
To continue the story of how the current blog came about: We were having a Sunday brunch at our Sarasota home. I brought up the subject of the Rhapsody. My daughter says: “Dad. I’ll record you for youtube playing the Rhapsody.” She said that she and her husband had to leave in 15 minutes. I then raced to the piano. It is on the link below. I didn’t even have time to change or put on anything dressier or do any warm ups. Regardless, hope you enjoy it. Lots of exciting events are coming up this year. These include an historical concert in Circleville Ohio. Keep checking DSOworks for listings.
How about a little Bohemian Rhapsody on your Sunday morning?
Excellent Versus Great Piano Playing. What determines excellent piano player? Here are a few strictly musical goalposts of excellence. However, Vladimir Horowitz, pictured above, fits into the great category.
Few if any wrong notes. Preferably, none.
Adherence to the tempo, except when otherwise notated by the editor.
Following phrase marking instructions.
Adhering to dynamics (i.e. forte, piano, mezzo forte etc).
Playing the correct tempo at a steady pace.
For this blog I quote and paraphrase: Reflection from the Keyboard:The World of the Concert Pianist. It is written by David Dubal.
Excellent versus Great Piano Playing
Bar-Illan asks: What separates a very excellent performance by someone from great performances given by certain pianists? This statement touches me. I studied with Mischa Kottler. In turn Kottler studied under Alfred Cortôt in the 1920’s. Bar-Illan’s description of Cortôt’s playing places his difference out front: “What an individualist! What is it about Cortôt! -Even with all the wrong notes and variations in tempo that I simply cannot understand. Yet his performances make your heart beat faster. One can talk about timing, personality, character, tone, ability to color the music. …It is impossible to actually say what separates a very excellent performance…from one given by Cortôt, Rubenstein, Horowitz or Gould.” The difference cannot be defined, yet, it is essential to great music making. Every if both types play the music absolutely correctly, they are still “two different species.”
Mischa Kottler told me a most amusing story about Cortôt. In Paris the public loved a good bet. Cortôt also had numerous memory lapses. Everyone still loved him. However, his audiences in would actually place bets as to how many times he would forget the music. Regardless, Cortôt’s pianistic interpretations thrilled all that listened to him.
Ted Lewis Museum Paves the Way for Melody’s Big Return. We all need the quality of “happy”. One man has picked up the” torch of happiness.” He is charging ahead, full speed. His name is Maestro Joseph Rubin. This man is worthy of all the support we can give. Please contribute to this tax deductible event. Maestro Rubin is the curator of a new museum. Even with such a worthy cause, funds are tight. It is called the Ted Lewis Museum. It is located in Circleville, Ohio. The museum is epoch making.
The Ted Lewis Museum Marks the Official Return of Beautiful Music!
Theodore Leopold Friedman (June 6, 1890 – August 25, 1971), known as Ted Lewis, was an American entertainer, bandleader, singer, and musician. He fronted a band and touring stage show. His act presented a combination of jazz, comedy, and nostalgia. Ted was a hit with the American public before and after World War II. He was known by the moniker “Mr. Entertainment” or Ted “Is Everybody Happy?”
Now, my tie in with Ted Lewis. I worked for some 15 years with David Rubinoff and His Violin. Dave hired me as his arranger and accompanist. We worked all summer, every summer on arrangements. Here is a happy story taken from Rubinoff’s autobiography, Dance of the Russian Peasant. It was written down by his most wonderful wife, Dame Darlene Rubinoff. I quote her book below:
“Sometimes during the early thirties, I (David Rubinoff) was doing a benefit for one of the big hotels in San Francisco along with Ted Lewis and Benny Goodman. We teamed up just for fun and marched through the lobby of the hotel. Lewis was in the lead with his top hat and cane. He was singing, Me and My Shadow. The guests loved our shenanigans. We had lots of fun in those days.”
It about time we all started to have fun! This is a once in lifetime event. I (David Ohrenstein) am honored to be part of it: On June 2, I will accompany world renowned violinist, maestro Steven Greenman. Our concert will include a special arrangement I made with Rubinoff of the Fiddler on the Roof. Also on June 2, I will lecture about my association with Rubinoff and His Violin. The lecture will take place at 6:30 PM. Questions from the audience will be entertained. To hear the finest music and have a wonderful time, you don’t even have to go abroad. Also, in Florida from Christmas 2017 to Easter 2018, I will be featured on the wonderful newly rebuilt Steinway Grand at the Gasparilla Inn located on the isle of Boca Grande Fl. The engagement is for six nights weekly. It will be my 9th year. Above all, please come to Circleville where the real musical fireworks will take place.
RUBINOFF AND HIS VIOLIN
Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 7 PM
Circleville High School Auditorium
3810 Clark Drive Circleville, OH 43113 Tickets will go on Sale in March
“Rubinoff and his Violin”; a name that brings back fond memories for anyone who remembers the golden age of radio. Before Andre Rieu, violinist and conductor David Rubinoff captured the hearts of millions on the air and record crowds of 225,000 at live concerts.
Ted Lewis Museum will bring back a cornucopia of memories
Rubinoff was discovered by Victor Herbert at the Warsaw’s Royal Conservatory in 1911, who brought the prodigy to the US. In 1931 Rubinoff was signed by NBC to join Eddie Cantor on the Chase and Sanborn radio program, where his orchestra included Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. Inspired by his friend John Philip Sousa, Rubinoff dedicated his life to promoting a love for music in young people, performing at thousands of schools including a benefit for the Circleville Lions Club in 1959. A Columbus resident for 15 years, Rubinoff was guest of honor at the Ted Lewis Museum’s opening in 1977.
Now you can experience Rubinoff’s musical memories live for the first time in 80 years, featuring violin virtuoso Steven Greenman and a 28-piece orchestra conducted by Joseph Rubin. You don’t want to miss this “Pops” concert featuring selections by Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and more, all in Rubinoff’s original arrangements saved from destruction by “The Ambassador of the American Songbook,” Michael Feinstein.
Triple Meter Has All But Disappeared. I refer to music beats per measure. Waltzes are in triple meter. You count 1-2-3 over and over. They are scarce. They are also memorable. For example we have Piano Man and You Light Up My Life. Two more are Take it to the Limit and Morning Has Broken. I would venture to conservatively guess that perhaps 1 in 5,000 popular selections that get air time today are written in triple meter. According to Wikipedia, it is a musical meter characterized by a primary division of 3 beats to the bar, usually indicated by 3 (simple) or 9 (compound) in the upper figure of the time signature.
Compound triple drum pattern: divides each of three beats into three Play (help·info)
Triple meter is much less common in traditions such as rock & roll and jazz. The most common time in rock, blues, country, funk, and pop is duple and quadruple.
Duple and quadruple meter are sharp and angular. A conductor uses angular strokes of his baton in 2/4 and 4/4. For example, 2/4 is conducted with an angular up and down motion for one and two. Triple meter, on the other had can be conducted with circles or curves. A circle is completed with each set of 1-2-3 beats. Let’s apply meter to yang and yin. Duple and quadruple meters are yang. Triple meters are yin. What does this mean for society? Yang is male. With 4/4 or 2/4 meter, the male mostly dominates. While in 3/4 the yin or female becomes more dominant. We are about to see a massive return dominant 3/4 meter. It will be the age of the glorification for the ladies.
Our Drinking Song From the Princess and the Peasant Uses Triple Meter with a Quadruple Meter Introduction
As men and women come together to waltz, yin and yang become balanced. In so many dances, since the Strauss father and son composers, contact is scarce. However, trends are cyclic. The waltz will return in a big way. I am currently playing piano at the Crab and Fin in Sarasota. Deliberately, I pump a lot of 3/4 time out of the piano. Then, from Christmas to Easter I will be at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Fl. Of course, I plan to play 3/4 time. This includes many Strauss waltzes. Watch for more posts of my original music in 3/4 time on youtube. The Princess and the Peasant is about to make a big splash. Also, off- season, I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.
Music Prolongs Life of Rubinoff and His Violin. I used the featured picture of the Gypsy Kings because they convey the joyfulness of older musicians in general. With music, all enjoy perpetual youth. My featured older musician is David Rubinoff. Dave Rubinoff (September 3, 1897, Grodno, Russian Empire, now Belarus – October 6, 1986), was a popular concert violinist who was also known for his Stradivarius violin. He purchased it in 1929 for $100,000. Now it is priceless.
I worked with Dave over a 15 year period. This was in the capacity of arranging and piano accompanying. This blog story has an air of mysticism. It doesn’t seem possible. It raises a question: Can music bring someone back from the edge of death’s door? First, I must explain the pocket watch Dave Rubinoff is holding in the above picture. I am standing next to him. Will Rogers and he were best of friends. Will gave him the pocket watch. Will had a poetry excerpt by Robert H. Smith engraved on back. It is called The Clock of Life. Dave read the poem at every concert to an appreciative audience.
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.
The present only is our own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.”
Music Prolongs Life of Rubinoff for our Pittsburgh Concert
Darlene Rubinoff, documented her husbands life in the book, Dance of the Russian Peasant. He dictated the book in general to her. She gave it the finishing touches. I now quote: “I was 88 years old. Don Baretti book me on a concert. It was sponsored by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. I had just been released from the hospital after suffering from pneumonia.” Darlene told me (David Ohrenstein) “I’m afraid you’ll have to do this concert by yourself.”
The rest of the story goes: I had flown in to Columbus, Ohio so we could practice the concert. Rubinoff stated: “”I summoned all my strength, got out of bed, dressed and was standing, violin in hand when Dave and Darlene arrived from the airport.” Here’s he’s enthusiasm: He said to me- We”ll start with Fiddler on the Roof not waiting for him (me) to remove his jacket. He smiled shook my hand, and we began to practice.”
” Darlene made me sit down for the rest of our practice. I was just out of the hospital three days, suffering from pneumonia. I was still spitting blood.”
How did the concert at Pittsburgh Wintergarden Plaza end? Literally, the audience went wild with applause. Rubinoff lived. We gave many more concerts together. Yes, music prolongs life! Learn to play. By the way, I have room for 1 or 2 piano students in Sarasota.
Banned Music in Old Russia is Featured Our Operetta. Wife Sharon and myself (David) wrote a musical. Once titled Elizabeth of Russia.Half Peasant – Half Royal is the new name. We had a marvelous costumed staged reading in Sarasota Florida at the Players Theater. Below are YouTube videos: The entire cast sings the Drinking Song (since,more universal lyrics have been penned). In 1740, ethnic Russian music was banned from court. As an act of rebellion against the ruling regime, Elizabeth brings in the following entertainment: The Dance of the Cossacks – performed by principle dancers from the Sarasota Ballet. And, Dance of The Russian Peasant played on a Stradivarius flown in from Houston. The link below has composer Rubinoff and his Violin playing that piece. Sharon wrote the book and lyrics. I wrote the music. It is copyrighted.
Lesley and Ohrenstein’s Elizabeth of Russia follows in the tradition of the great Broadway hits South Pacific …
But first, with regards to the featured medallion picture: This medallion is dated and signed on the back by Gregory Musikiiskii, the first Russian painter of portrait miniatures. It can be compared to an earlier enamel painting of Peter the Great with his family, now in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, executed by the same artists in 1717. Here, the Russian emperor is depicted together with his wife Catherine, his three daughters Anna, Elizabeth (the future empress and subject of our musical. She is reclining on her mother.) and Natalia, and his grandson Peter (the future Peter II). Musikiiskii was transferred from the Moscow Kremlin Armory to St. Petersburg to work for the court of Peter the Great, the founder of modern Russia.
What About the Banned Music in Old Russia?
Our new title unravels and hopefully will solve the problems we had with our production. Elizabeth of Russia, in fact, was half peasant and half royal. She fell in love with a peasant. He was reputed to have one of the most magnificent singing voices in Russia at the time. Unfortunately, the combination of the two together made them 3/4 peasant and 1/4 royal. So what was the problem with Russian secular music?
Early czars considered secular music to be a highly suspicious activity. Weapons could easily be hidden in instrumental cases.
Thus, no musical instruments of any sort were allowed in church or at court.
They instructed peasants to stop singing folk songs. Common people, of course, are the source of folk songs.
Troubadours (travelling minstrel singers) were forbidden in old Russia. The czars worried that they would sing seditious songs.
Thus, for the ruling elite, the act of Elizabeth falling in love with “lowborn peasant singer” was unacceptable.
In violation of the above, a case enclosed an authentic Stradivarius violin is brought and is played on stage at a court party. It has the official crest of the Russian empire. It is set with diamonds and rubies. The theatrical audience went wild with excitement. How did we come by it? I worked with Rubinoff and His Violin. His widow, Dame Darlene Rubinoff, flew the violin from Houston. It was the Stradivarius that had previously belonged to Czar Nicholas II. Now for the first time, enjoy Rubinoff himself playing his featured violin solo, Dance of the Russian Peasant. Pictures in this youtube background highlight both his life and his friendship with Sharon and myself. Feel free to share this special post with with friends. We are looking to do a full production.
High Stepping on the Steinway Piano at World Class Gasparilla Inn. I feel like I have a special connection with Steinway grand pianos. My primary teacher on piano was Mischa Kottler. He kept two Steinway grands in his studio. For my lessons, I played on one. He accompanied and demonstrated on the other. What kind of teacher was Mischa? I quote Greg Philliganes in Keyboard Magazine.
High Stepping with Mischa Kottler
From work with Stevie Wonder while still in his teens, to tours and recordings with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, and Toto, Phillinganes’ massive discography reads like a “Who’s Who” of pop music, encompassing four decades.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine
“Sensing that I needed discipline more than anything else, my Mom managed to hook me up with a wonderful teacher named Mischa Kottler. He was a no-nonsense Russian Jewish guy who could crack a pane of glass with one finger. He was a complete badass, and he cooled my attitude out immediately. I studied with him well into my teens.
What kinds of things were you studying with him?
I was studying technique and classical repertoire. He taught me a certain way of playing that I still use to this day: a sense of evenness where your wrists aren’t loose or moving up and down. It’s a totally linear way of playing, where there’s even movement in both hands so your wrists stay perfectly still. Mischa would take two fingers and weigh them down on my wrists to keep them from moving. He instilled a sense of dexterity and definition in my playing. If I’m known for my speed and precision, it’s probably due to Mischa more than anything else.
I also have Mischa to thank for instilling in me speed and precision. He also instilled in me the desired to look for the “truth” in music. What is the music really about? How do you convey it? Again, thanks to Mischa, I have year round employment. . Until Dec 18, I will be at the Crab and Fin in Sarasota. See events on DSOworks.com. Then, Gasparilla from Dec. 19- April 1 2018 for six nights weekly. I play on a newly rebuilt Steinway Grand. The parts were special ordered from Germany. In between, my wonderful agent Fitz Otis at Jay Goodley Entertainment Group books me any other time I am available. My advice to students: Work hard. Be serious. And yes, I have a couple of openings for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Music Transforms Especially in Difficult Times. This blog is about a great man that I worked with: David Rubinoff. To the public he was known as Rubinoff and his Violin. Rubinoff had the Midas Touch on the violin. The most famous King Midas is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. The Maestro made as much as $500,000.00 a year in the 1930’s. That is a lot of money, even now. He played concerts. Also he conducted the orchestra at the Paramount Theater in New York and for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. David autographed his picture for my wife Sharon, and myself.
This letter, written during the height of the Vietnam war, is quoted here. The Dance of the Russian Peasant was written about him by his wife, Darlene. She interviewed and recorded Rubinoff’s words for this book. Darlene was a true friend. I think this letter amply illustrates the keywords: Music Transforms.
A Testimony to How Music Transforms
Dear Maestro Rubinoff: “Mother told me you were a Prophet of Music. You were blessed directly by God to carry out a special purpose. She said you were commissioned to bring down divine harmony to earth and give it to the common man…No more would music be for royalty and the very rich. Thus, the wonderful music you took into the battlefield after your allotted threescore and ten years. Knowing you has made me a better wife, a better mother and better citizen of the world. I cannot willingly drop below the height to which your heavenly music has taken me.”
Now you too can enjoy the Heavenly Music of Rubinoff. I, David Ohrenstein, am the pianist on this Oquaga Lake concert. Enjoy his stories. They date all the way back to the year 1911. Victor Herbert brought him to America. He lived with Herbert and met Caruso, John Phillip Sousa… At the time he was age 86.
Proper Piano Practice Means Precision. I began my piano studies at age 11. The date was August 24, 1958. This was exactly two months before my October 24th birthday. I would turn twelve. At my first year piano recital, I played the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven from memory. The teacher I studied it with was a Mrs. Foster. I forgot her 1st name. My apologies. In retrospect, I played it terribly. The reason for this shortcoming will became apparent. in the blog. My apologies. The way to Proper Piano Practice was later shown to me by my nest teacher, Mischa Kottler, but:
I didn’t listen to his most basic advice. I thought I was quite advanced at age 15. He told me to (1) practice slowly and (2) hands separately. My adolescent mind told me, “that’s for babies.” Of course, I never told him that. But as it turned out, I was wrong. When slow practice and intense concentration unite, the results are outstanding. First, here is a taste of this great virtuoso-pianist, teacher. Kottler would play it for an encore. Even when he was in his nineties he could finesse his special arrangement of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz.”
Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version)
Kottler had the ability to see the future when it came to his piano students. I studied with him for years. When I was 25, he looked straight at me and said: “You’ll get good when you’re in your sixties.” He was serious. Naturally, that comment did not sit well with a 25 year old. I’m well into my sixties, Finally, I have seen the “proper piano practice” light. Here’s the core of the method I now started to use. It’s never too late.
Play any two fingers on either hand. With one finger play a white key. With another pick a black. Play the two notes at the same time.
Unless you intensely concentrate on what you just did, the notes are likely to be perhaps 1/10th of a second apart!
Now think of how difficult it is to play even more tones at the same time. Add to the formula, using the fingers on both hands.
Multiply this spread out sound by an entire piece of music. You have a mess.
How has Proper Piano Practice Helped Me?
In one word, employment. This December 20th, I’ll begin my 9th winter-spring season at the Gasparilla Inn. On Boca Grande it is favored place for VIP’s. Off-Florida season, there are also no shortage of jobs. Currently I play at the Crab and Fin Restaurant . It is on St, Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. Of course, a lot more goes into successful piano playing. If you wish to know more elements, I’m also available for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Keyboard Touches Vary Greatly Depending on Instrument. My piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. I was offered a position playing the organ. Kottler told me not to accept it. He said, playing organ would ruin my piano technique. Of course, I wondered how and why? I think the answer comes from Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In the quote below, C.P. E. had the harpsichord in mind. The piano wasn’t yet invented. But what he said about the contrast applies to the piano. In the interest of keeping posts short, there will be more blogs. A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. The player presses a row of levers. This triggers a mechanism. One or more strings are then plucked with a quill.
The above harpsichord is the work of two celebrated makers: originally constructed by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp (1646). It was remodeled by Pascal Taskin in Paris (1780). The prototype of the pianoforte was invented in 1710. Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (Italian pronunciation: [bartoloˈmɛːo kriˈstɔːfori di franˈtʃesko]; May 4, 1655 – January 27, 1731). He was an Italian maker of musical instruments.
The 1720 Cristofori piano in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is the picture on the right. The total number of pianos built by Cristofori is unknown. Only three survive today, all dating from the 1720s.
Keyboard Touches and Keyboard Styles
Here is a primary difference between the organ and the harpsichord/piano. According to C.P. E. Bach: “The organ is indispensable in church. It bestows splendor and maintains order. However, for sacred recitatives, and arias… one must resort to the harpsichord. It gives the singing voice freedom of variation. Too often, one discovers how bare a performance can be without harpsichord accompaniment. Moreover, this instrument is indispensable in the theater and at concerts.”