entertainer friendships

Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket

Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket.

Entertainer friendships
Rudy gave Dave Rubinoff his start in the newly created medium of mass media.

Rudy Vallee (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was a popular American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer. Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, he grew up in Westbrook, Maine. In high school he took up the saxophone and acquired the nickname.  “Rudy” was the name given after famous saxophonist Rudy Weidoeft. Vallee became the most prominent and arguably the first of a new style of popular singer, the “crooner”. Previously, popular singers both needed and had strong projecting voices to fill theaters.  Such were the voices neededin the days before the microphone.  New style crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of radio.

Entertainer Friendships

Vallee came often to play at the Paramount. Rubinoff told me about Rudy admired his playing and conducting of his overtures. Vallee was a sensation at that time with the college crowd. Everyone loved his Whiffin’ Poof Song. What is Whiffin’Poof? The Yale Whiffenpoofs is a collegiate a cappella singing group established at Yale University in 1909.  It is the oldest such group in the United States. The line-up is completely replaced each year: Rising seniors comprise its members. They often take a year leave of absence from the university to tour the United States and internationally. Former members included Cole Porter & Jonathan Coulton!

"The Whiffenpoof Song" (Rudy Vallee, 1927)
► 3:14

“The Whiffenpoof Song” (Rudy Vallee, 1927) – YouTube 

 

 

Dave often talked with me about how they ate, drank and signed autographs together. Also about how they enjoyed each others company and respected each other’s art.  Comically, Rubinoff admired how Vallee spoke perfect English with impeccable diction. Dave, by comparison, was often unhappy about how he spoke with a heavy Russian accent.  Rudy would then assure him not to worry because his violin would speak for him. Rudy guided Dave to his first job on the Chase and Sanborn radio hour. The rest is history. 

internal link: Rubinoff Friendship with Will Rogers and His Special Poem

imitation stifles music

Imitation Stifles Music and Hinders Originality

Imitation Stifles Music and Hinders Originality. A young French pianist came to ask a question of famed pianist and conductor Phillipe Entremont.  The purpose was to ask questions about her ideas for pianistic interpretation. Entremont had already won a prize in the 1952 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition[1.   Among his credentials was being the Director of the New Orleans Symphony from 1980 to 1986. He served the Denver Symphony Orchestra as principal conductor from 1986 to 1988, and music director from 1988 to 1989.[3] Entremont has also been chief conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and is now its Conductor Laureate.  He also holds the same title with the Israel Chamber Orchestra.

I will quote Entremont’s answer found in the book, Reflections from the Keyboard: The World of the Concert Pianist.  by David Dubal.  Dubal has done a great service for all aficionados of piano playing in writing this book. In part Dubal’s knowledge comes from being the music and program director of New York City’s former classical music radio station, WNCN. His own credentials are also most impressive.

How Imitation Stifles Music

Essentially the younger, less experienced pianist told Entremont:  If a phrase pleases her from Brendel she copies him. If another phrase was pleasing from say, Weissenberg, she did the same. In effect, she kind of assembled the thoughts of many great pianists for various opus numbers she worked on. 

Entremont, in mentioning his thoughts to Dubal  replies: “This means she has nothing to say. You can not be successful at imitation: it is the death of music.”

My own piano teacher was Mischa Kottler. He often complained about students who were only great at imitation. If you showed them  exactly what to do, they were fine. However, such pupils were incapable of coming up with own ideas. Greatness often means rather than leaning on other people for musical thoughts, also be sure have your own.

 

two greatest pianists

Two Greatest Pianists Differed in Style

Two Greatest Pianists Differed in Style. How different can pianists be and still be on a par? This question is inspired inspired a quote from a quote:

  • Henry Pleasants. a music critic from Philadelphia once asked Rachmaninoff: Who are the greatest of the living pianists.
  • Harold Schonberg, music critic for the NY Times  quotes Pleasants quoting Rachmaninoff in his own book, The Virtuosi: Classical Music’s Great Performers from Paganini to Pavarotti

The story goes: Rachmaninoff thought a bit. “Well, he said, there’s Hofmann…”and he thought a little bit more, …”and there’s me.”  Rachmaninoff did not say another word, as the story goes. The fame of Rachmaninoff as eclipsed that of Hofmann, but it is still worth looking into Hofmann’s  background and accomplishments: 

two greatest pianists
Hofmann seated at the piano in 1916

The Second of the Two Greatest Pianists

Josef Hofmann - Wikiwand
Josef Hofmann at Carnegie Hall

Josef Hofmann was born in Podgórze (a district of Kraków), in Austro-Hungarian Galicia (present-day Poland) in 1876. His father was the composer, conductor and pianist Kazimierz Hofmann, His mother the singer Matylda Pindelska. As a composer, Hofmann published over one hundred works,  under the pseudonym Michel Dvorsky.  Included two piano concertos and ballet music. In 1946, he gave his last recital at Carnegie Hall,  He made 151 appearances at Carnegie.  Retirement to private life in took place in 1948.

How Did the Two Greatest Pianists Differ?

 

 

Physically (1) Hoffman was short. Rachmaninoff was tall.  Hofmann was loquacious talking fluently, readily, and incessantly. Rachmaninoff  severe, stern, or gloomy in manner.  His appearance was stern and he wasted no words. Hofmann color his music; while Rachmaninoff projected strength, structure and form. Advance planning marked the music of Rachmaninoff. Spontaneity marked Hofmann’s style.

Conclusion

What I find amazing is that Rachmaninoff, as the story goes, (1) Mentions Hoffman before he mentions himself. (2)  He idolizes a polar opposite.  (3) Then again, the mind of a genius is not easy to understand. My main teacher was primarily Mischa Kottler. Rachmaninoff, in the 1920’s gave Mischa a recommendation to study in Paris with Cortôt.  Mischa then went and studied with Emil von Sauer.  Enjoy this youtube recording of Mischa playing the Minute Waltz.

Dec 28, 2013 – Uploaded by Joseph Beels

Chopin’s Minute Waltz, with a twist …

Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler – DSOWORKS

music offers strength

Music Offers Strength in Rubinoff’s Older Age

Music offers Strength at Scott's
Darlene and Dave Rubinoff stayed on the 1st floor  on the right end “Green Gables”. Sharon and I spent many summers on the 2nd floor at the left end. After our concerts we put up a sign that read: “Rubinoff slept here!”. Hurrah for Scott’s at the Catskills!

Music Offers Strength in Rubinoff’s Older Age. Scott’s Oquaga Lake House was founded in 1869. This was about thirty years before Dave Rubinoff, the master violinist,  was born, in 1897. How did Rubinoff come to play here? I, David Ohrenstein, was the House piano player here for some 15 years. Doris and Ray Scott took wife Sharon and I in with our three children to enjoy the summers at this historical American resort. Of course professionally,  I was the “House” piano player. When we first started going there we only had Abe and Kathryn. Our youngest, Daniel was yet to be born. 

Doug & Eamonn Debut at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. The Marvelous Ms. Maisel sits  in a canoe on Oquaga Lake in front of Scott’s Playhouse where Rubinoff and I performed one of his last concerts. Listen to this incredibly rare concert on the youtube connection below.

Music Offers Strength to Rubinoff at Scott’s

I quote from Darlene Rubinoff’s book, Dance of the Russian Peasant: “Oquaga Lake was beautiful and there was so much to do that summer. We had two of our four grand children…Aaron still remembers that summer vacation. On his return to his new school year he wrote an essay about it. It earned him an A+. Indeed, it was an A+ summer!”

We have my daughter to thank for this video. The video was taken and then lost. When it was finally found, daughter Kathryn took on the incredibly difficult job of posting it.  This 1984 video offers a complete course in American musical history.  Hear all about Victor Herbert John Philip Sousa, Caruso, Paderewski and many American Presidents. .

Internal link:                                Cotton Club Rendezvous in the 1930’s

Cotton Club Carousing

Cotton Club Carousing for Rubinoff and His violin

Cotton Club Carousing for Dave Rubinoff and His violin. I begin working with Rubinoff as his accompanist and arranger when he was 70.  I was 21 years old at the time. How did this happen?  I was working on my Master of Music degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dave Rubinoff was staying at the Leland House in downtown Detroit. I just happened to be walking by the Liberal Arts Music Office. A Dr. Morris Hochberg had just answered the phone at the office. Dave Rubinoff was on the phone. Dr. Hochberg said to me, “David, come here, there is someone I’d like you to talk with.”  As the story goes, I hit it off with this great violinist at my audition.

Dave Rubinoff and I (David Ohrenstein) remained best of friends and work associates until he passed away at age 89. He married Darlene Azar while we were working together. They then lived in Hilliard, Ohio so I simply made many trips to Ohio.  Darlene wrote a book about Dave that he dictated to her.

“The Music Shop” was filmed when he was at his prime. For the second youtube video, I personally brought David to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House for a 1984 concert. Dave will tell you unbelievable but true show biz stories.

16mm ‘soundie’ “THE MUSIC SHOP” US 1944 Rubinoff & his …

www.youtube.com › watch

16mm ‘soundie’ “THE MUSIC SHOP” US 1944 Rubinoff & his violin … Music Shop” and features …

May 17, 2014 – Uploaded by 95filmforever

Lost Concert “Rubinoff and His Violin” on Oquaga … – YouTube

www.youtube.com › watch

In one of the final years of his life, renowned violinist Dave Rubinoff plays the Stradivarius violin for an …

Jun 22, 2015 – Uploaded by Lesley & Ohrenstein

What’s it Like to Do Cotton Club Carousing ?

The story you are about to read was dictated to her in his “The Dance of the Russian Peasant.”

“Jimmy Petrillo, czar of the musicians union, picked me up in his armored car to go to the clubs. Once I rode with Al Capone and Jimmy in  Capone’s armored car. My brother Charlie advised me to stay away from Capone. Al Capone never bothered me or tried to befriend me. I guessed Jimmy Petrillo took care of Capone, and told him to leave me and mine alone.”

 

Internal Rubinoff Link: Ten Minute Musical Bliss of Rubinoff and His Violin    Please share this post!!!!!Thank you.

Five clucking hens

Five Clucking Hens Became my Friends

 

Five Clucking hens made my acquaintance by Schroon Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. We stayed in a Bed in Breakfast while staging our new musical/opera, Patra. Yes, it’s nice to make friends with people in a new place. Sometimes, it’s also nice to make friends with the animals. The Seagle Music Colony is famous for staging new works. We (my wife and myself) were chosen to do our new musical-opera entitled Patra. Others have written about Cleopatra and her relationship with Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. My lyricist, wife Sharon, looked for a new angle about her life: Her meeting and possibility of a relationship with Octavian. Later he becomes Augustus Caesar. Sharon found the link of cause and effect in a memorable meeting Cleopatra had with Octavian. That becomes the highlight of our opera. 

As a poet, I had the time, after rehearsals, to write some poetry. While unwinding one evening after a trying day, I wrote the following verse. 

 

Five Clucking Hens Became my Friends

The blanket of night is coming,
Covering creation below.
Eyes are becoming droopy.
The seeds of sleep does it sow.

As I sit under covered gazebo,
Watching the daylight retreat;
I breathe fresh forest air
As fragrant as any treat.

Five hens are strutting nearby;
Behind their fenced-in cage.
As they forage for their favorite bugs,
I enjoy the show they stage.

The hens have their hangout,
Complete with pecking order.
Happy behind barbed fence,
Encasing  their rectangular border.

As I return to my Breakfast in Bed,
They follow me, loudly clucking.
As far as their fence will permit,
With full blast squawking and chuckling.

What a special moment in time;
Relishing my five fowl friends.
I’ll miss them when I leave:
But I’ll be back, to make amends.

Seagle Music Colony is the premier opera and musical theater producing organization in the Adirondack region of upstate New York, as well as the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States. In 2020, Seagle Music Colony will celebrate its 105th Anniversary Season. Also, check out our Patra website:

PATRA – Opera Comique by Sharon and David Ohrenstein

We work-shopped our Musical/Opera, Patra, at this picturesque location in the Adirondacks. Our singers and production crew were the finest. Earlier, many had taken auditions with the finest opera companies in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rubinoff Friendship

Love Note Written by Darlene Changed Rubinoff’s Life

Love Note Written by Darlene changed Rubinoff’s Life. I, David Ohrenstein, worked with Rubinoff and His Violin over a 15 year period. We started in the summer of 1970.  I was working on my Master of Music degree at Wane State University. As I walked by theLieral Arts Music Office, Dave called.  aHe was looking for an arranger/accompanist.  Conductor Dr. Morris Hochberg.  He gave it to me. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. My capacity with Dave was as his arranger and accompanist. He was seventy-two years of age when our association began. Dave passed away at age eighty-nine. He was an incomparable violinist. Audiences loved him to the tune of $500,000.00 a year. That was in the 1930’s during the Great Depression.  Just imagine, Hollywood and Paramount Pictures helped to make a violin player into a matinee idol! Watch the youtube videos below and you’ll see their instinct was right!

 

Dave’s Love Note Story is Pretty Sensational

As the story goes, Dave felt depressed. For his concert in Hilliard, Ohio the community was small. The weather was very cold and advance tickets sales were quite meager. Usually Dave felt a great zest for the stage: However, not on that snowy night  that winter in February of 1972.  However, once Dave picked up his Stradivarius that belonged to the czars of Russia. The mood changed. His  is future wife to be, Darlene,  was in the audience. At the time she was still a widow.  Darlene handed him a note and told him not to read it until he was alone. The note read: 

Dear Mr. Rubinoff:

Tonight, at age forty-four, I
know what love at first sight means. 
If  I were free to do as I please, I
would follow you everywhere.
Mother of eight.

I never forget: When he returned to Detroit at the Leland House where he lived, he said to me: “Dave, I think I’m in love. I met a wonderful woman after my concert in Hilliard. Do you think I should marry her?” Being agreeable and easy going I replied, “Why not”?  He said:”She has eight children.” I then gulped and said, “That makes no difference if you really love her.” He married her. It ended up being the best thing he ever did. She and her children prolonged his life many extra years. He constantly flew me to Hilliard Ohio to work with him at Darlene’s beautiful home on new arrangements. PS I am also a composer. If you care to, read the internal link below. 

 

 

Theatrical phoenix

Theatrical Phoenix is Beginning to Fly- a Brief History

A Theatrical Phoenix is Beginning to Fly- a Brief History.  It took wing in New York as a staged reading.  This was at the oldest summer vocal training camp in America: The Seagle Music Colony.  Our singers had won auditions with the New York Metropolitan Opera.  Other prominent opera companies were represented.  Among the people who have tested their work at Seagle have been Stephen Schwartz and Pulitzer Prize winners. Patra is now scheduled in Sarasota.

Theatrical phoenix will fly here.
Patra, our new opera, will have a concert presentation Monday March 23, 2020. at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center.

We have been  riding on a phoenix for this experience. Our opera, entitled Patra, has “Wings of Song”. This new opus emphasizes the importance of meaningful and healthy relationships between men and women. The show highlights  rulers of two great empires, Rome and Egypt.  For Egypt we have Cleopatra; for Rome, we have Octavian.  He, through Patra’s influence, decides to become the future Augustus Caesar.

Image result for picture of the Seagle Music Colony in NY state
Seagle Music Colony has a theatrical and operatic tradition going back over a century. Our opera, Patra had its New York appearance on this stage on Schroon Lake.

Theatrical Phoenix is  Scheduled for Sarasota

Sarasota is famous for opera.  A marquee, only, from the Sarasota Opera House is pictured below and to the right. .  Our new opera, however, will be presented in concert version at The Glenridge Performing Arts center.  Immediately above/right is a photo of the setting . We will even have a professional “snake” dance. Our dancer also portrays the Egyptian goddess, Aset.

Our first staged concert was at the Westcoast Black Theater in Sarasota

File:Sarasota-Opera House sign.jpg
Sarasota has its own Opera House

Image result for picture of the new West Coast Black Theater Building
Westcoast Black Theater photo. Sign shows what’s happening there. 

The story of Octavian and Cleopatra has its own thrust. It is an engaging  opera comique.  Sharon, as the  librettist, not only offers a cornucopia of hope in this lifetime; but also gives ancient instructions on how to be reborn to a high position. Make your reservations at The Glenridge Performing Arts Center today. Contact info is on featured picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano Lessons

Song Without Words Can Stand on its Own

Song Without Words Can Stand on its Own. It certainly has in the past. Witness the musical compositions of Felix Mendelssohn.

Image result for Felix Mendelssohn picture of cover for his Song Without Words

If you ask me what I had in mind when I wrote it, I would say: just the song as it is. And if I happen to have certain words in mind for one or another of these songs, I would never want to tell them to anyone. This is because the same words never mean the same things to others: Only the song can say the same thing. Such songs can arouse the same feelings in one person as in another. Words cannot express this feeling.

Songs Without Words, German Lieder ohne Worte, collection of 48 songs written for solo piano rather than voice by Felix Mendelssohn. Part of the collection—consisting of 36 songs—was published in six volumes during the composer’s lifetime. Two further volumes—with 12 more songs—were published after Mendelssohn’s death in 1847.

Felix Mendelssohn, painting by Wilhelm Hensel.

Felix Mendelssohn, painting by Wilhelm Hensel.Photos.com/Getty Images…………………………………………………………..

A Song Without Words – Can it Stand on its own Today?

Certainly, there are some affirmative examples. But the music to much of what is written today is circular and repetitive. In computer terms you could say the music “loops”.  Repetition of the the same three notes over and over to simplistic lyrics or single words is the style. Basically I feel that what much of the music industry markets today is the image of the “composer.” The archetype example, in my opinion is found in the movie, The Producers.

YouTube – Feb 17, 2016

 

A gun-wielding Franz confronts Max and Leo, accusing them of breaking the “Siegfried Oath“. He is partially angered over the continual used of the word “baby” in the musical lyrics by the star in the cast.

I Write in the Song Without Words Form

Fortunately, I am married to my own lyricist. What a convenient source for words.  We are producing a concert version with dance of our New York tested opera, Patra.  It was presented as a staged reading by the American Center for New Works Development. Date of the Sarasota performance is March 23 at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, Fl. Reserve your tickets today.

Opera Comique In Two Acts – By Sharon and David Ohrenstein

 

 

changing standards

Changing Standards in Musical Performance are Upon Us.

Changing Standards in Musical Performance are Upon Us: Fast, crass, loud and vulgar interpretations of music are fleeing and soon to be gone. Mars and Venus have been used for social comparison. I refer to the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992[1]). The author is  John Gray  He had earned degrees in meditation and taken a correspondence course in psychology.

Men-Mars-Women-Venus-Cover.jpg

The author exemplifies by means of its eponymous metaphor: Men and women are from distinct planets—men from Mars and women from Venus. The book has sold more than 15 million copies.[2][3] According to a CNN report, it was the “highest ranked work of non-fiction” of the 1990s. [4] It was 121 weeks on the bestseller list.

Changing Standards are Simply Periodic

So what are some of the changes we can expect in the musical field?

  • Large concert hall and amphitheater concerts will greatly diminish. Smaller, more intimate settings for music will gain the upper hand. This is very much akin to the chamber music recitals that used to grace the wealthy during the classical era.  Often wealthy patrons would employ their own orchestras. Conductor-composer. Joseph Haydn, working for the Austrian Esterhazy family was an archetype example:

Reconsidering the legacy of Haydn, ‘The Father of the Symphony’ PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 14, 2018
Super big and loud is on the way out along with crass and vulgar music. Musical quality along with beauty and detail will return. Here Joseph Haydn is leading a chamber music ensemble.

Repeating a a three or four note phrase dozens of times during a song will find its place in private practice rooms only.

Changing Standards on Multiple Repetition of Notes

This is based on a true story. I worked with Rubinoff and His Violin. He would stand in front of a TV set, watching television,  and practice the opening four notes of any given song maybe one to two hundred times. This was to get precision to to max on the motif he was working on. But this was for practice only! He would never think of making his practice session into a hit song! Today we mostly listen to musical practice sessions with expensive costumes and backgrounds. I ask my reader, how long will that last?