Thousand Mile Journey on a comfortable couch. Below are some synonyms about beginning any effort: During our entertainment career we’ve literally travelled thousands of miles. We went to the mountains of New York eighteen times times to perform and/or audition or musical shows: Fifteen times to the Catskills and three times to the Adirondacks. Now we are about to to travel only one mile for an unbelievable concert which will be broadcast out of New York City across the globe. Oh yes, and our location for the live broadcast is Sarasota, Florida. How’s that for modern technology? This time, however, a lot is different: You can hear us in full swing in the comfort of your own home!
Thousand Mile Journey filmed at The Sarasota Music Compound
Click in the link below for details about an unforgettable evening! Finally remember, for the price of only one cocktail ($10.00), you and your entire family with friends can enjoy Sharon and David Ohrenstein’s Music for the Night!
We Have a Number of the Literary Musical Cocktail Variety
More recently, Summer of 2019, our sung though musical, Patra, was quite literary romantic cocktail: A fantastic mix of personalities and people who put on an intoxicating show. The show depicts a relationship of Cleopatra and Octavian theatrically for the first time. . Yes, quite a story is there. Sharon also wrote the book. We had an incredible singing cast performing in Schroon Lake New York. Our singers had won auditions with major opera companies in both the United States and Europe.
This coming November 8, 2020 we’ll be serving up another cocktail, this time out of New York City. The best part is that everyone in your household can watch it for the price of only one cocktail!!!!! Check out the information in our upcoming events column featured on the right side of the screen.
Sharon and I, as a creative team, have written four major works for the musical theater. Excerpts will be performed by our wonderful cast on Nov.8. Out daughter Kathryn, film producer and award winning film maker, will also join our ranks. Songs by many great writers will also be included.
Illness Costs Chopin and His Companion, George Sand. Lives of the great composers of the past are often presented in the most impersonal way possible. You read about the composer, what he wrote and when he wrote it. You take for granted the fact that he may have lived his life in abject poverty. Illness, especially seems to be an ignored issue that is of little consequence in music history classes or in colleges and conservatories.
How Illness Costs Chopin and His Companion, George Sand
First who was George Sand? Surprise, not a man! She was more renowned than both Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac in England in the 1830s and 1840s. Sand achieved recognition as one of the most notable writers of the European Romantic era. She chose to wear male attire in public; as Police had issued an order requiring women to have a permit in order to wear male clothing. Finally, George Sand encouraged the arts in an unusual manner. She would become the lover of certain great male artists to inspire their creativity. Chopin was a primary example, along with Liszt.
An Unforgettable Chopin Story
Tad Szulc presented the following story in his book, Chopin in Paris. George Sand and Chopin travelled to Barcelona, Spain. Chopin had tuberculosis and hopefully sunny Spain would help alleviate his condition. George Sand wrote the following:
“when we left the hotel in Barcelona, the manager wished to make us pay for the bed in which Chopin had slept, under the pretext that it had been infected. Police regulations obliged him to burn it.” The incredible creative duo had to pay for the bed in full!
This gives life to the expression ” adding insult to injury.” Most people think of Chopin as a composer without thinking about who he was and under the conditions of how he had to live. I think this story makes his life quite tangible and invites sympathy. Finally, I think all should do their best to help struggling artists, actors and composers; or else, our culture could disappear.
My wife andI with guest artists are presenting a 90 live concert live concert broadcast internationally Nov 8 link below. Household tickets only $10.00. Selections from our 3 musicals will be featured with popular Broadway selections. Question and answer session in the last 15 minutes.
The last days of Cleopatra are filled with daring, intrigue, and love possibilities. When the villainous Octavian lands in Egypt to assert his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, Patra will do most anything to save her children and herself. She disguises herself as a hag; foretells Octavian’s future; takes a drug to commune with the dead; seduces Centurion Marcellus whom her drugged mind thinks is Antony; meets with Octavian; and initiates an encounter with a cobra. When Octavian tries to take advantage of her, she sings of love. Octavian exits without a word. He has fallen in love but tragically does nothing. The love-struck Marcellus offers her a way to escape. Yes, she dies but not how you think. Her death changes Octavian from lead to gold as he vows to become the man she would have loved the most.
Isolation is the Norm for Creative Artists. I think all parents would like to see our children with an intense passion and dedication to the arts. This picture implies that the young lad, actually built his own violin. Notice the saw leaning against the table. Who was David Rubinoff? He dreams about being as skilled as Rubinoff and His Violin.
Who was Rubinoff and His Violin?
David Rubinoff made a fortune in the 1930’s because of his love of music. He rose from the most humble beginnings in Kiev to incredible stature in America. An example being playing for 225,000 people at Grant Park in Chicago while conducting the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. He told me, they turned away another 25,000 at the door. I was his arranger and accompanist for fifteen years. Jimmy Petrillo, head of the musicians union in Chicago, gave him a diamond and ruby medal commemorating this event.
Isolation is the Norm
Raising ones level in performance takes countless hours of practice in solitude; or, in some cases, with a small dedicated, ensemble. Music has quite a bonus: It is one of the few professions you can improve on with age. Even during the current pandemic, opportunities come a-knocking. My wife, a fabulous singer and I were just asked to do an hour and fifteen minute concert which will be broadcast live around the world. We will also feature some excerpts from shows we jointly wrote. Scheduled date is November, 8, 2020. Details will shorly be posted.
Happy Halloween from the Oquaga Spirit: Poetry and piano are my passions. Piano and composition speak to me anywhere; whereas writing poetry seems to happen in either the Catskill or Adirondack Mountains of New York. Washington Irving was also inspired by the mountains of New York. He wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:
Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) wrote as an essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820).
The Oquaga Spirit, in the Catskills, dictated a plethora of poetry during my sojourn of 15 years on this lake. My family and I spent 15 Summer and Fall seasons on this lake where I was the “house piano player” at Scott’s Hotel. Sharon and I played did two special themed shows weekly. In the mornings I’d stroll and the spirit would be afloat. “So much she needed an ear, she ignored my tranquility.” The female spirit was an American Indian from the Lennie Lenape tribe. If you enjoy the spirit’s poem, feel free to share with others. I think the spirit would approve.
Autumns throwing a party On a massive scale With acorns, chestnuts, pumpkins, Wine, cider and ale.
Everyone’s preparing For that special night, Ghosts, goblins and witches; Things that cause a fright.
But on that darkened evening In the air is glee As children don their costumes Making revelry.
Boo! Yells a ghost Barely three feet tall. “Careful, you reply, Or down the stairs you’ll fall!”
The barren eerie trees Against a brightly light Moon. Black cats dashing by As overhead bats swoon.
What a scary party. Delight in fright in seems. Orange and black banners, It must be Halloween.
In the spirit of Halloween, please share. The book of poetry is called The Oquaga Spirit Speaks.
Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket.
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.
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) – 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.
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. 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 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:
The Second of the Two Greatest Pianists
Josef Hofmann was born in Podgórze (a district of Kraków), in Austro-HungarianGalicia (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.
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.
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.
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. .
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 …
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.”