Angelic Media to paraphrase a Great Comedian. For years I was the piano player at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. I had the privilege to accompany many comedians. Al Smith was one of my favorites. It was one of my busiest times: Seven days a week I performed the following afternoon and evening schedule:
3:30 I played on a showboat sing-a-long that went around Oquaga Lake. Fun,fun,fun!
4:30 I sometimes played the afternoon feature show.
6-7 Elegant music for the dinner hour.
7:30 -9:00 played with The Lake-Shore Four dance band
9-10:30 Played for feature shows. Al Smith was frequently called upon. Audiences loved him.
10:30 until closing: For dancing until everyone dropped.
So What is the Angelic Media All About?
When I worked with Al Smith, I was in awe of his timing of his excellent comic rhythm. During his show, Ray Scott, the owner, would be on the drums. Gary Holdridge, son in law, would play the organ. Al had funny stories and many one liners. He also would play banjo classics during his act. Included, of course, was Oh Susanna. One of his most memorable lines, in my opinion, is: “My wife is an angel….She’s always in the air harping about something.” Why was this so funny? Because of the double meaning of “harpy”. Its intended meaning had to do with the Greek concept of harpies. In Greek mythology and Roman mythology, a harpy (plural harpies, Greek: ἅρπυια,harpyia, pronounced [hárpyi̯a]; Latin: harpȳia) was a half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds, in Homeric poems.
Now, How does This Tie into the Angelic Media?
The news, in general, seems to continually harp on a few subjects. They have an obsession with statistics. Here is what the Oquaga Spirit has to say on this fixation. The poem which I quote is from the Oquaga Spirit Speaks. It is entitled: News. The entire book is available as a product on DSOworks.com
Mercury-Hermes ran past
Wearing wing-tipped shoes.
I asked him why he hurried?
He said he carried news.
And so it is with man
Who must be in the know;
News must travel quickly’
Or in the trash it goes.
He dashes to the station
Where it will be broadcast
At the speed of light
To regions remote and vast.
But I just take my time
Walking down the path.
Hermes carries statistics.
I enjoy nature’s math.
Disappearing Mailboxes Out- Dates a Work of Art. Famed cartoonist, Harold Winer, created a number of illustrations for us. They were a thank you present. At one time he was associated with the Sarasota Music Archives. My wife Sharon, and myself, do musical charity work. The Sarasota Music Archives was one of the beneficiaries. It has one of the finest collections of sheet music in the country. As a thank you, Harold Winer gave us a number of art works. The Ohs is short for our last name, Ohrenstein.
Mail boxes have pretty much disappeared; yet, Sharon and I are still performing. We have started to write our own. I have always been a composer. Sharon writes the lyrics and book. Most recently, we wrote Golden Roads. It was the opening show for the Sarasolo festival. Carlo Thomas is our director. We thank him for his help. He guided our rehearsals. Also, he provided about 2 dozen artistically made posters. During the course of the presentation, Sharon co-ordinates the dialogue with the pictures. Our show sold out, SRO. On the positive side, the mail is still there. Only, it is called e-mail. Speaking of which, please feel free to share this e-mail with friends. Let’s have many new shows of all typesthat can offer us rides on Golden Roads.
Forgiving Audience for Rubinoff and His Violin at the Tallahassee Governor’s Club. It was the early 1980’s. Rubinoff and I were invited to play at the Governor’s Club. The Governors Club was founded on certain principles. Chief among them were providing a comfortable and elegant environment for social gatherings, serving excellent food and offering outstanding service. Our private social club cultivates the finest membership….
Rubinoff was an honest man. He freely spoke his mind. If he liked something, you’d know. If he didn’t, he could be quite expressive. Fortunately, once he started to play his violin, my matter what he said was forgiven. People knew they were in a hands of a great master. So what happened?
First I must say that Dave liked delicatessen food: Corn beef, pastrami, potato salad…He lived in Detroit at the Leland House. I worked with him for many years as his arranger and accompanist. To me, he was like the grandfather I never got to know. When we went on a lunch break, we’d go to the closest deli. He also delighted in “cooking the greatest hamburger in the world.” He called it “Hamburger a la Rubinoff.” I got to eat plenty of the best hamburgers in the world. But that was David. He was excited about everything he did. He fell in love with every melody he worked on. He had passion for music and life. I felt honored to work with such a man, The bonus was he treated me like I was his grandson.
Forgiving Audience Springs Into Action
We walked in the capitol building for both the concert and dinner. Talk about eloquence. Each place was set with 4 or 5 glasses for wine. We had silverware galore and beautiful dishes. We entered slightly late. Everyone was already seated. Suddenly a scream issues forth: “This place is too damn fancy for me!”, yells Rubinoff.” The sentiment was projected with his heavy Russian accent. In all honesty, that is how to create a hostel audience. Luckily, they didn’t throw us out. After dinner he played his violin with me at the piano. By our second number, all were in his pocket. They loved him. The concert ended with bravos and a standing ovation. I thought our reception by the Florida legislators was magnanimous, appreciative and forgiving.
If you like this blog, feel free to share. I think it’s one of the greatest show biz stories ever. If you never heard Rubinoff and I give a concert, please enjoy our 45 minute 1984 New York Catskill Mountain performance at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House on this youtube link. It is free. He was in his mid-eighties. The man is an inspiration to all of us.
Liszt Tempos are too Fast According to von Sauer. Emil Georg Conrad von Sauer (8 October 1862 – 27 April 1942) was a notable Germancomposer, pianist, score editor, and music (piano) teacher. He was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Also, he one of the most distinguished pianists of his generation. Josef Hofmann called von Sauer “a truly great virtuoso.”Martin Krause, another Liszt pupil, called von Sauer “the legitimate heir of Liszt. He has more of his charm and geniality than any other Liszt pupil.”
Emil von Sauer (1902)
Proof of the Liszt Tempos
So how is it that I know what Sauer said about Liszt’s music? From my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He publicly made the statement in an interview for the Detroit Free Press/Sunday April 10, 1983. The featured picture is from the interview. I’ve saved the Sunday magazine section all these years. The article was written by John Guinn/photos by Patricia Beck. John Guinn was the Free Press music critic. Patricia Beck was a staff photographer. To make my point, I will quote a couple of sections:
“Kottler studied with Cortot in Paris, and then went to Vienna where he ended up studying with Emil von Sauer. Sauer had studied with Franz Liszt in Weimar in 1884-85. Liszt was a pupil of Carl Czerny, who studied three years with Beethoven himself.” Incidentally many of the techniques I learned from Mischa came from Beethoven. Reputedly, Beethoven invented the “prepared thumb” technique. I in turn pass this knowledge on to my own Sarasota piano students.
This is a direct quote from the interview: “Sauer told me everybody plays Liszt’s music too fast,” Kottler said. “there’s no reason to do that,” Sauer insisted-“Liszt didn’t.”
So where can you hear me play Liszt tempos not too fast? At the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.
“I’d say that overall, it’s a great place to have lunch or dinner if your around Saint Armands or Lido Beach.” in 35 reviews. After a 20 year absence from the piano scene in Sarasota, David Ohrenstein returns. Over that time he has been a regular in the Catskill Mountains of New York and at the world famous Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Now he entertains at the Crab and Fin Restaurant three days weekly: Monday evening from 6-10pm; Tuesday from 12:30 to 5 :30 p.m. Wednesday also from 12:30 to 5:30 PM. You can enjoy lunch, dinner or simply purchase a beverage and listen to my piano playing at this beautiful outdoor setting.
I was also an arranger/accompanist for Rubinoff an His Violin. So I also play popular music beautifully.Rubinoff was the conductor and violin soloist of the orchestra at the Paramount Theater in New York and of Paramount pictures in Hollywood. When he conducted the Chicago Philharmonic in 1937, he played for 225,000 people. In addition, they turned away 25,000 people at the door. Hope to see you on St Armands Circle in Sarasota, Fl – David. I play outdoors so check the weather. You could call me a “fair weather pianist.”
Significant Rests determine Wedding or Funeral. Does a composer write rests into his music or not? If he does, the rests have a very specific function. They add lightness or breathing space into the music. We would expect a lack of rests in a funeral march due to its somber nature. On the other hand, we would expect rests in a Bridal Chorus. On the basic level: A funeral is a sad and heavy occasion = few, if any rests. A wedding is lighter and definitely joyful. We would expect quite a number of rests. Significant rests, and other factors determine the difference. One of the most tradition funeral marches was written by Chopin. While, the most traditional wedding march for the processional was written by Wagner.
Frédéric Chopin‘s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B♭ minor, Op. 35, popularly known as the Funeral March, was completed in 1839 at Nohant, near Châteauroux in France. However, the third movement, whence comes the sonata’s common nickname, had been composed as early as 1837. It was played at the graveside during Chopin’s own burial at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Wagner wrote a bridal chorus in Lohengrin. It uses a similar opening rhythm to Chopin’s Funeral March. The basic pattern of Chopin‘s motif is (1) quarter note, (2) dotted eighth, followed by (3) a 16th note, and another (quarter note). However, the musical motif of Wagner‘s wedding march lightens the mood with two rests. They are the 8th and 16th note rests in the featured picture. I suggest the pianist observe these rules when playing for either occasion:
When performing the wedding march, release the damper pedal during the rests. This pedal adds heaviness to the music and the occasion. Rather, let the rests come through and punctuate the melody.
Conversely, when playing the funeral march plenty of damper pedal is just fine.
Yes, I am available as a pianist for all occasions.
Entertainer Lives on St Armand’s Circle at the Sarasota Crab and Fin restaurant. How? Listen to the outdoor piano playing of David Ohrenstein. He plays there Monday from 6-10 pm. And during the daytime on Tuesday 12:30 to 5:30 and Wednesday, same hours. Are you in the mood for fun? Then come and listen to David at the Crab and Fin. Enjoy the music written by the genius of Scott Joplin, Arthur Marshall or Scott Hayden. These three musical giants collaborated and/or lived together in Sedalia, Missouri at the Marshall home. This was because at the turn of the 1900’s, Sedalia allowed minority groups the chance for an excellent education. While some locations only allowed schooling for 3 months/year, Sedalia allowed a full 9 months. In no small measure, Sedalia, by accommodating Joplin and friends, allowed for the birth of the ragtime movement. That, in turn, shaped American popular culture.
Poster stamp for the Sedalia Missouri State Fair, c.1930.
Sedalia is also home to The Pettis County Museum and Historical Society, located at 228 Dundee Ave. The building was once a Jewish Synagogue and features many Historical artifacts from all periods of Pettis County history.
Entertainer is Heard on the Streets of Sarasota at the Outdoor Setting of the Crab and Fin
David offers a lesson on playing the music of Scott Joplin in the enclosed video. He explains how the notes tied over the measure are of the essence. Of course, playing ragtime requires a beautiful tone. All three of the ragtime giants described above were classically trained. Ideally, any serious player of ragtime should have had such training. Without the production of nice tone, any music can become vulgar. David studied with Mischa Kottler at Wayne State University. He holds a Master of Music degree. Kottler,then head of the piano department at Wayne, believed that it took about one full year to develop a correct approach to touch and beautiful tone. David now offers piano lessons in Sarasota to this end. In the meanwhile, be entertained by David’s version of The Entertainer.
Pachelbel Canon is Still Popular 350 years Later. Today is June 14, 2017. I have my first summer job in Sarasota, Florida in 20 years. I’ve been a regular in New York state and at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Currently I play a well guarded and kept Yamaha console piano outdoors at the Crab and Fin on Saint Armand’s Circle. The setting is under a covered patio. My assigned times are Monday evening 6 -10 pm. Afternoons are Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12:30 to 5:30 pm.
Anniversary Couple Requests the Pachelbel Canon
A gentleman comes up to me at about 2:30 pm. That was today, Wednesday June 14, After hearing me play selections by Beethoven, he thought there was a possibility that I could play the Canon. He and his wife featured it at their wedding. June 14 was their anniversary. Among the Beethoven selections he heard me play on the piano was the 2nd movement from Beethoven’s 7th symphony. It was used as the theme for the movie, The King’s Speech.
One reason for my success so far as public piano player: Play orchestral transcriptions on the piano. That was a specialty of Franz Liszt. It worked admirably for him. Basically the public loves hearing familiar orchestral works well played by the intimacy offered by a single piano player. Among the transcriptions that I regularly play at the Crab and Fin in the summer; and during the winter at Gasparilla Inn are:
“Jupiter” from the suite The Planets by Gustav Holst.
Selections from Carmen by Georges Bizet.
The Barcarole from Tales from Hoffman by Offenbach.
Tales from Vienna Woods by Strauss
The Beautiful Blue Danube by Strauss
The American in Paris by George Gershwin
Song of India by Rimsky Korsakov. The list goes on and on.
Shortly I will post my own rendition of a piano transcription of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Keep checking DSOworks.com for my Pachelbel posting. I also have a few openings for piano lessons in Sarasota.
George Friederic Handel Versus Sopranos. Handel was born in the same year as J.S. Bach. J.S. Bach avoided the operatic form. Handel did not. George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (/ˈhændəl/;[a] born Georg Friedrich Händel,[b] German pronunciation: [ˈhɛndəl]; 23 February 1685 (O.S.) [(N.S.) 5 March] – 14 April 1759)[c] was a German, later British, baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos.
Maria Callas (one of the greatest sopranos ever) with her teacher Elvira de Hidalgo in 1954
Georege Friederic Handel had his first operatic job was in his home town of Halle. There he played in the second violin section at the opera house near the famed Goosemarket. At age 19 he tired of being in the second violin section. So, he switched from playing “second fiddle” to playing the “first” (and only) harpsichord. He decided to write opera during the run of the Cleopatra by Johann Matheson. Matheson wanted to play the last part, as usual, on the harpsichord by himself, The was supposed to be during the very last scene. One night young Handel and Matheson got into a brawl just before the last scene. Handel didn’t want to abandon the instrument. Their verbal and physical fight lasted a half-hour. Of course, the audience went wild over this major disagreement. After that experience, Handel decided to write his own operas. And, he did. He wrote some 46 in total.
My own favorite story about George Friederic Handel Versus Sopranos
Victor Borge has a number of soprano stories in My favorite Intermissions. A particular wild anecdote involves the Italian soprano, Francesca Cuzzoni. The George Friederic Handel opera she was to appear in was called Ottone. Unfortunately, Francesca became inflamed: She thought Ottone did not show off her singing abilities to their fullest. Consequently, she refused to do the big number unless Handel let her improvise extra high notes. How did it resolve? Georege Friederic Handel, in a burst of anger, hoisted her over a window ledge on the 2nd floor of the building. While dangling from the window, she decided Handel’s way wasn’t so bad after all. It’s regrettable that so much color is lost in music history classes at both high school and university levels. These stories are necessary to perpetuate the art. Great composers were also real human beings. I think it’s time for a revival of great classical writers and their works. Such stories can help. More blogs will be posted on this topic. Keep watching. Don’t be shy about sharing them with friends. Also, I David Ohrenstein and wife Sharon Lesley, have collaborated on an opera, Octavian and Cleopatra. Here is a small excerpt. Be the first in your locality to have our new opera. Contact us through our DSOworks@gmail.com
Cleopatra’s ladies in waiting give her a potion to calm her over the her grief of the suicide of her husband, Marc Anthony. In a drunken stupor, Cleopatra mistakes the Captain of the Roman guard for her former lover and husband. The ladies in waiting gladly let this happen, hoping that the captain would fall in love with Cleopatra, and help them them to escape from Egypt. (Cleopatra played by Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, Baron Garriott playes Captain Derceteus at the Players Theatre production in Sarasota, Florida)
Description Tags: Strong Role for a Leading Man *Strong Role for a Leading Lady *Musical Drama *Minimal Sets and Costumes *Period Piece/Historical *Classic Broadway *Operetta/Operatic.
Grand Poetic Revival is Just Around the Corner! That’s remarkable. Poetry has been hiding for centuries. For example, most Chinese believe that the last time poetry peaked was in the Tang Dynasty. That ended more than 1100 years ago. The Golden Age of Russian Poetry is the name traditionally applied by Russian philologists to the first half of the 19th century. It is also called the Age of Pushkin, after its most significant poet (in Nabokov‘s words, the greatest poet this world was blessed with since the time of Shakespeare). The history of American poetry is also in rough shape. One example: American poetry published between 1910 and 1945 remains lost in the pages of small circulation political periodicals, particularly the ones on the left, destroyed by librarians during the 1950s McCarthy era.
So How is A Grand Poetic Revival Just Around the Corner?
Issac Newton stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Poetry is a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to prose. The second body (poetry) is about to react contrary to action first body. Given Newton’s Laws (1687), poetry should become popular for a minimum of a few hundred years: Note his third law:
When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. The three laws of motion were first compiled by Isaac Newton in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), first published in 1687.
A greater percentage of prose has degenerated to colorless “information.” Poetic techniques have flown out of the window with computer technology. Original analogy has all but disappeared. Those that are around are terribly overworked. In my opinion, the worse of the uncolorful current bunch is the word “issues.” To paraphrase Shakespeare, “issues” has “died a thousand deaths.”
I’ve written a book of poetry called The Oquaga Spirit Speaks. After memorizing and practicing reciting the entire book, I am ready to tour. I hope the Oquaga Spirit will be the herald a new and peaceful age. In the words of the Oquaga Spirit:
Proper Musical Rendition Has Multiple Choices. For this blog I reference one of my favorite books, Inside Music by Karl Haas. Karl Haas (December 6, 1913 – February 6, 2005) was a German-American classical musicradio host, known for his sonorous speaking voice, humanistic approach to music appreciation, and popularization of classical music. He was the host of the classical music radio program Adventures in Good Music, which was syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world. He also published the book Inside Music.I grew up in Detroit. Karl Haas was one of the Detroit’s musical luminaries. When I started to play the piano at age 11, I composed a piano concerto in Eb minor (six flats). Also, at my 1st year piano recital I played the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven from memory. I still play it at on St Armand’s Circle at the Crab and Fin Restaurant. See events on DSOworks.
After this initial start, my father then took me to Karl Haas for an interview. Haas was giving some piano lessons to a few students. He was getting busy with his radio program on WJR in Detroit so he recommended that I go to Mischa Kottler. Kottler was the head of the piano department at Wayne State University. I also began a 20 year association with Rubinoff and his Violin through the college. Here’s how it happened: I had just completed a piano lesson with Mischa . Mischa had his studio next door to the Liberal Arts Music Office. Rubinoff called the office as a was walking past. He was looking for an accompanist/arranger. Professor Morris Hochberg summoned me in to talk with Rubinoff. The rest is history.
By special request, here is a story about Rubinoff And His Violin – The Fascination Waltz (1905) and how he approached the music with style and finesse.
Proper Musical Rendition and Rubinoff and His Violin
Karl Haas states in Inside Music that a performer must always question the validity of the “subjective tastes of the editor.” That even applies to fingering. He tells a story about studying a Beethoven Sonata under the guidance of famed German pianist Artur Schnabel. Karl found the fingering extremely difficult that Schnabel penciled into the score. On questioning Schnabel, he replied: the fingering was simply ” a prompter to try ways by yourself in order to find the one best suited to your digital needs.”
Rubinoff both questioned and interpreted music in countless ways. Typically he would try difference rhythms, as I explain in the youtube video. He would change phrasing: Which notes to emphasize, or which to drop off on. The point is, the public loved his interpretations. If the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, his pudding was great. Some years in the 1930’s he could make $500,000.00.
Conclusion: Success in music, as well as in in other disciplines, is based on questioning and analyzing the subject at hand in great depth for proper musical rendition.