World Fair stimulated Claude Debussy to find his niche as a composer

World Fair Shaped the then Seven-year-old Claude Debussy

World Fair Shaped the then Seven-year-old Claude Debussy. Debussy was born on 22 August 1862 in Saint-Germain-en-LayeSeine-et-Oise, on the north-west fringes of Paris.[4 

In 1889 Paris celebrated the centennial of the French Revolution. They held a “universal exhibition” at the center of Paris. The Eiffel Tower was built for that purpose. The exhibition allowed those who came to sample cultures from Africa and the Far East. They included a Moroccan bazaar, a Chinese pavilion, a Buddhist temple, and even a Senegalese village. A street from Cairo was duplicated. Included was a Congolese settlement of ivory carvers. A Vietnamese theatrical troupe performed.  A Tonkinese village featured silk weavers. The 1889 World fair was the gateway to sounds that many composers had never heard before. Rimsky-Korsakov came from Russia. He was also totally taken by these new sounds.

 

World Fair in Paris in 1889 influenced Debussy as a composer.
Claude Debussy in 1908. He was 46 years of age.

The genius of Claude Debussy is vast and with many … – DSO Works

My own recording of Pagodas by Debussy is on the YouTube presentation immediately below.

Video for YouTube David Ohrenstein playing Pagodas by Debussy▶ 5:44

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZuPRPRJbgo
Feb 2, 2016 – Uploaded by Lesley & Ohrenstein

Concert Pianist David Ohrenstein plays Pagodas from Estampes by ClaudeDebussy. Filmed at the Glenridge …

 World Fair in Paris was a factor in Debussy’s later composition called Pagodas

 Little Debussy most likely decided then to one day include these sounds in his own compositions. Also, the Oriental music was not written down. It was played on the spot. He wanted his own music to sound spontaneous in a similar fashion- even if wrote it down.  Imitating the novel  sound of the gamelan, he later would compose his piano piece, Pagodas. He loved how the music did away with the melodic and  rhythmic clichés of Romanticism.  I would be happy to play some of Debussy’s exotic music  for you at the Crab and Fin Restaurant on St Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. The link below gives the specifics. Yes, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Enjoy David now playing at the Crab and Fin Restaurant

Enjoy David Ohrenstein Playing Piano

April 9 @ 12:00 am – December 18 @ 5:30 pm

Enjoy David playing the piano at the Crab and Fin Restaurant. Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy is still a favorite piano classic. So is Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. David plays outdoors (weather permitting) on an authentic Yamaha console piano.  Have lunch, dinner, or simply a beverage.  “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.  David is returning to the Crab and…

Find out more

Violin cases created a sensation

Violin Cases Create a Sensation for Rubinoff

Violin cases created a sensation for Rubinoff. I (blogger David) will be giving a lecture and concert about a composer/conductor/violinist and Hollywood Movie star I worked with. The date is June 2, 2018. It will be at the High School in Circleville ,Ohio. His stage name was Rubinoff and His Violin. He had a talent for being sensational. Even with violin cases.  He made a fortune conducting and playing violin: As much as $500,000.00 annually. Wealth came to him at the peak of the Great Depression. So what made him rich? Two internal links are below will explain his rise to fame. The 1st is about the upcoming Circleville, Ohio festivities that will honor him.  Click on the 2nd for a youtube sample of Rubinoff of how Rubinoff dazzled Hollywood.  His violin wizardry speaks for itself.

Image result for pictures of Rubinoff on DSOworks.comA poor Russian as a youth, he acquired riches and fame through mastery of the  violin.

Commemoration Concert for Rubinoff and His Violin – DSO Works

Rubinoff and His Violin Concert – June 2, 2018 – YouTube

(also click on Rubinoff and His Violin youtube, The Music Shop. You will see the official seal of the Russian empire in diamonds and rubies on the crest of the violin. Dave plays “Flight of the Bumblebee.”)

 violin cases can also hide things other than violins.
A street gang thought Rubinoff’s  older violin case was hiding a machine gun- not a Stradivarius! They carefully avoided us.

Story I –  How Violin Cases Saves Us From Harm

We’d go to a deli for lunch. It was a blustery wintry day. Dave was wearing a godfather coat and hat. He was so preoccupied humming a tune, he didn’t even bother buttoning the coat. This particular violin case was in sad shape. Yet, it held a 2 million dollar Stradivarius. I saw a gang of about 12 young men walking toward us. At that time they were about 1½ blocks away. As soon as they noticed the violin case, the entire gang jay walked across the street to avoid us. Most likely, they thought Rubinoff looked like an old hit man that never got hit.

Story II- The 2nd of the Violin Cases Was an Alligator Skin

Until his last year Dave and I played school assemblies for children in the public schools. One was a performance for a chamber orchestra in the Venice, Fl Public Schools. When we made our entrance, everyone was taken by the alligator violin case. Some children could have cared less about the priceless violin. For them, the case said it all. To relive those days in Circleville is priceless. Buy your tickets now!

Writing operas has hassles

Writing Operas- Hassles Even for Mozart

Writing Operas- Hassles Even for Mozart. Writing an opera is difficult. Writing an outstanding opera is more difficult. Finding a good composer/ librettist combination is rare. Raising funds for the work is  is extremely difficult. Procuring a venue  for a production of a new opera is a a huge task. That is why perpetual old opera war horses will continue to be the mainstay of traditional, established opera houses. Aspiring composers of opera face at least one to all of these hurdles. That certainly was true for Mozart. Mozart had the contacts. He had the admiration of wealthy royalty. His problem, at least at first, was finding a good librettist with which he could collaborate.

Writing operas has hassles even for Mozart

I’m lucky enough. to own the book pictured on the right. It is autographed by Victor Borge. The inspiration for this blog came from his book. Royalty in Europe fostered opera. Mozart was quite a charmer in this regard.  As a young boy, he was fussed over by every emperor he met and kissed by their empress wives. He even proposed to Marie Antoinette. This was after she straightened him out from a skid on the palace floor.

So how does a child charm, royalty? Mozart used the technique of novelty. He would play the pianoforte using one finger on each hand. He would cover the piano keyboard with a napkin and perform. He would ask his royal backers to hum a tune. They he make an entire sonata on the “hum”. He would freely improvise variations on a theme. Yet even with the royal support of limitless funding, there were problems. You still needed a good libretto.

Here is an example of Mozart’s libretto problems: He wrote an opera for La Finta Semplice. It’s about a Hungarian captain whose sister makes love to his girlfriend’s brother. As a result, the girlfriend’s maid can marry the captain’s valet. This needs to happen without the captain’s girlfriend’s other brother finding out. As crazy as this is, it still made it to the stage. Today, I think that a rich person can buy their way to a full production. But, odds of overall success are even more remote.

Writing Operas – Mozart – the “Graveyard Key” in his Opera Don Giovanni – DSO Works

The feature picture of the ghosts of Caesar and Anthony in the above internal link is from our new opera. It is now called, Patra. It was called Octavian and Cleopatra. Another name it went by was The Cup of Cleopatra. Now, the opera is  undergoing a major rewrite. This is no small task.  However, I do have one great advantage: Everyday I have breakfast with my librettist. She is my wife, Sharon.  Everything is coming together for a workshop in upstate New York 2019. We are looking for backers.  Click on the picture below to sample some of the earlier productions. They might pique you interest.  Contact shlesley@aol.com if you are interested in assisting.

Writing operas, My wife, Sharon Lesley, plays Cleopatra. Robbie May plays Octavian. Photo taken in the  Sarasota Player’s Theater presentation.
writing operas
This book is entertaining and informative.
Best musical event is coming up this June 2, 2018.

Best Musical Event this Summer, 2018

Best Musical Event for the Summer of 2018 is just around the corner. Tickets are now available. Click on link given below.

Image result for Rubinoff posts on DSOworks.com
This painting, done for David Rubinoff, is entitled “Professional Jealousy”

Why Rubinoff And His Violin “Pops” Concert will be the best musical event

“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.

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 GoodmanTommy 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 two concerts in Circleville in 1959 and 1980. 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. Circleville’s own Sarah Julien will be soprano soloist. I, blogger David Ohrenstein, will accompany Steven Greenman.  Students are admitted for free. Yes, beautiful music coming back.

Hear your favorite songs of the 1930s: Smoke Gets In Your EyesCheek To CheekDancing in the DarkSt. Louis Blues and much more, all in Rubinoff’s original arrangements saved from destruction by “The Ambassador of the American Songbook,” Michael Feinstein.

PRE-SHOW LECTURE AT 6:15 PM

David Ohrenstein, Rubinoff’s accompanist for 15 years, will share Rubinoff’s fascinating history. He learned first hand of his friendships such musical icons as Victor Herbert, John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin and Enrico Caruso.

SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2018
AT 7 PM

CIRCLEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM
3810 CLARK DRIVE
CIRCLEVILLE, OH 43113

TICKETS $15 ADULTS
FREE STUDENTS & CHILDREN

best musical event
Changing Musical Focus inspired by Jeorge Bolet

Changing Musical Focus is About What’s Coming

Changing Musical Focus is About What’s Coming. Musical styles have come in set periods of time. For success, go with the flow. Why? In the sage words of Henry David Thoreau:

” I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose.”  Or as he also states in Walden, “Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.”

Carve your own path. This is what pianist Jeorge Bolet did. Jorge Bolet (November 15, 1914 – October 16, 1990) was a Cuban-born American virtuoso pianist and teacher. Among his teachers were Leopold Godowsky, and Moriz Rosenthal.  Roenthal was a pupil of Franz Liszt.[1]Bolet was born in Havana.   He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Consider this reference found in David Dubal’s book. It is entitled Reflections from the Keyboard.  In Bolet’s words: “Today’s audiences go to the concert hall, to hear Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms…” Then Bolet goes on to state that  the last generation “went to hear what the pianist had to say about the composer.” Thus, we not only idolized the composer, we did the same for the pianist.

I was fortunate that my own piano teacher, Mischa Kottler belonged to the same vintage.  He studied with Alfred Cortot and Emil von Sauer. The old school of pianists were not only musicians. They were also magicians. They would take you on a  “magic carpet ride” with their piano playing.

Related image
Myself, blogger David, in concert in New York with Rubinoff and His Violin

 

Changing Musical Focus and Back to the Old School

Mischa Kottler- A Visit By the Legendary Piano Instructor – DSO Works

To see what the old school was all about, click on this internal link. Mischa plays Chopin’s Minute Waltz in doubled notes. Everywhere, audiences went wild at this feat. The link also documents and describes his visit at age 92 to our family. Thanks to Mischa. and other great men I worked with, including Rubinoff and His Violin,  my own career as pianist/composer only now starting to reach a pinnacle. Check on events on DSOworks.com.

Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version) – YouTube

Video for mISCHA kOTTLER PLAYS cHOPINS MINUTE WALTZ

In conclusion. Jeorge Bolet comments how today many are not interested in the musician. He states that he had often gone to all Beethoven concerts. Many pianists had been quite dull. Yet the audience applauded wildly. He states:  “In a sense, the audience is applauding for itself being there.” I believe that those days are about to go, bye-bye.

 

Performer Pianist Concept

Performer Composer Concept is Long Overdue

Performer Composer Concept is Long Overdue. The idea for this blog came from: The Great Pianists- from Mozart to the Present. It is written by Harold C. Schonberg. He was the former senior music critic for the New York Times. I was quite taken with his text on John Baptist Cramer.  What he wrote about can be applied to our current musical situation. From the following, I concluded that Cramer was instrumental in creating our current performer composer dichotomy.

Performer composer concept and John Baptist Cramer
The man whom Beethoven admired- John Baptist Cramer.

 

Today, few pianists play their own compositions exclusively in concert. As a matter of fact, few pianists today even compose. It is all about other people’s music. The equivalent in the theatrical community  is the entire genre of “tributes.” Thus, we have countless tributes to Rogers and Hammerstein,  Steven Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, etc. Pianists often feature one or two composers in their concerts. Beethoven seems to be preferred. Then comes some of the Romantics like Chopin or Schubert. Regardless, playing ones own music has fallen out of favor. As a result we have tribute after tribute. Sorry, but after a while this becomes “old hat.”

So How Did the Performer Composer Concept Come to be Abandoned?

First, who was John Baptist Cramer? Johann Baptist Cramer (24 February 1771 – 16 April 1858) was an English pianist and composer of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer. His father was a famous London violinist and conductor.  The family is identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries. My knowledge of him is through his masterful book of piano etudes entitled:  gradus ad Parnassum. It translates from Latin to”steps to Parnassus”. It is sometimes shortened to gradus. The name Parnassus was used to denote the loftiest part of a mountain range in central Greece.  It is a few miles north of Delphi. In Greek mythology, one of the peaks was sacred to Apollo and the nine Muses.  It had two peaks. One dedicated to inspiring deities of the arts.  The other to Dionysus.[1]

Related image
Greek Mountain range Mountains bearing the title of Cramer’s Etudes.

 

As per Schonberg, Cramer was one of the 1st pianists to feature music other than his own in concerts. He especially performed Mozart and Bach. I personally am a great believer in cycles. With few exceptions, pianist composers have left the scene. Witness the return. I hope to be a leader in this way. Enjoy my compositions at the Gasparilla Inn.

Upcoming Events

  1. Entertainer David Ohrenstein plays ragtime

    Pianist David Ohrenstein to Play at the Gasparilla Inn

    December 20, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – April 1, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
Operatic Broadway

Operatic Broadway – Blurring the Lines Has Precedent

Operatic Broadway – Blurring the Lines Has Precedent.  A number of modern musicals cross over into operatic territory. Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work. It  combines text (libretto) and musical score.  Opera usiually has usually in a theatrical setting.[1] Singers do two types of singing: recitative, a speech-inflected style[2] . The second are arias, a more melodic style. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as actingscenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance. Traditionally, it is sung all the way through. Musical theater, on the other hand has featured songs. However, most of its book is spoken. Recently there has been more and more cross over between opera and musical theater. They include Rent, Les Mis and The Phantom of the Opera. 

The Atlanta Opera Lucia di Lammermoor finale

Blurring Musical Vocal Boundaries Has a Romantic Precedent

The oratorio dates back to the 1500’s. It reached a climax under hand of Handel. The Romantic movement of the 19th century revived his ideals. Like Handel, with the Romantic composers, half were written in a Biblical or religious vein. The other half was secular or historical. There was only one difference: Handle’s historical oratorios were limited to either classical Greek or ancient. Handel examples include Hercules, Semele, “Alexander’s Feast”, or Alceste. Romantic oratorios had a broader scope. Instrumental works took on more significance. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet is somewhere between a symphony and a cantata.
  •   The Damnation of FaustOp. 24 is a work for four solo voices, full seven-part chorus, large children’s chorus and orchestra[1] by the French composer Hector Berlioz. He called it a “légende dramatique” (dramatic legend). It was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 6 December 1846. It has been seen as a symphony, oratorio or opera.

Operatic Broadway is Simply Following in this Precedent of Mixed Tradition

Octavian and Cleopatra: a 2 Act Opera in English – DSO Works

I, blogger David, have been the composer of three such works, My book-writer lyricist has been my wife Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein.  Check out the internal link above for some quite exciting live examples. Sharon plays Cleopatra.  Contact us on DSOworks@gmail.com if you are interested in our up and coming works. We need a new sound for the new times we are entering. This translates into meaningful income.

Lesley and Ohrenstein’s “Octavian & Cleopatra” – YouTube

The youtube example below sets up our Operatic Broadway show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhGHHXuBr8Q
Dec 12, 2007 – Uploaded by Rudder3218

“Octavian & Cleopatra” Imagine an operatic work that pours out incredible melodies, mesmerizes …

Musical Tradition is Heard at the Gasparilla Inn

Musical Tradition Embraces Architectural Style

Musical Tradition Embraces Architectural Style. Obviously, Elvis is the star in the featured picture. Now, who is playing the Steinway concert grand in the beautiful setting below? That’s your blogger, David. So what does one have to do with the other? It’s the music that I’m playing. Basically, I love the style and taste of Elvis.

Here’s a story: One of my most popular piano arrangements, Aura Lea: Theme and Variations for piano, was composed in Toronto, Ontario.   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. Yes, choosing this number, Elvis proved once more that he was king.

How Musical Tradition Embraces Architectural Style

Gasparilla Inn Historic District is located in Florida

Gasparilla Inn Historic District

LocationBoca GrandeFloridaUSA
Coordinates26°45′8″N 82°15′39″WCoordinates26°45′8″N 82°15′39″W
NRHP reference #08000205[1]
Added to NRHPMarch 18, 2008[1]

Gasparilla Inn Historic District is a historic district at 500 Palm Avenue in Boca GrandeFloridaUnited States. On March 18, 2008, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]

Now for musical tradition, 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.  The melody has graced America over the last two centuries.  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. The 1st internal link me playing in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Aura Lea: Theme and Variations for piano – DSO Works

It was at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House a few years back.  However,their piano was “so, so.” Below is the link just recorded with me at the Inn. The difference in pianos is quite noticeable.  It was videoed live and less than week ago, and just posted. Keep checking DSOworks.com for more and more upcoming events. Elvis understood the public pulse.

Live at the Gasparilla Inn!

Posted by DSO Works on Saturday, February 3, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody, but played by me on the piano

Bohemian Rhapsody -With One Take Played on Piano

Bohemian Rhapsody – with One Take Played on Piano. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera. It is a six-minute suite.[1] It consists of several sections without a chorus. It has an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part and a reflective coda.[2]

Image result for Wikipedia what is a Bohemian Rhapsody?
 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 throughImage result for picture of the Gasparilla Inn on DSOworks.com

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?

Posted by DSO Works on Sunday, January 14, 2018

Excellent versus great piano playing

Excellent Versus Great Piano Playing

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.
Difference between excellent versus great piano playing
Here is a verbal description of the difference between excellent and great. David Dubal interviews pianist bar-Illan.

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.

Pianist David Ohrenstein is offering piano lessons in Sarasota.