Accompanying Rubinoff who was a master of precision.

Accompanying other Musicians and Singers on the Piano

Accompanying other Musicians and Singers on the Piano. This is a special craft. For about 15 years I accompanied Rubinoff. I’ve blogged about him many times. Our 45 minute New York concert is on youtube. You can also find it as a thumbnail on our He was a master of detail. Today, I will blog and showcase my daughter, Kathryn Parks, singing with Matthew Ryder in promotion of  their upcoming show. It will be staged August 25 and Aug 27 at the Venice Theatre Summer Caberet Festival in Venice Florida.Their song, Ten Minutes Ago, is from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Preview YouTube video Ten Minutes Ago – Songs to Sweep You Off Your Feet

Accompanying two great singers: Matthew Ryder and Kathryn Parks, my daughter.
David, the blogger, seated at the piano. Accompanying singers requires developing the feeling of their phrases, breath marks, where the pauses are…Also included are which notes to emphasize and which to just let easily pass by.
Ten Minutes Ago – Songs to Sweep You Off Your Feet

 What is Involved in the Art of Accompanying?


One must reinforce the featured music as an accompnaist. The follows techniques can help:

  • Accents on the appropriate notes
  • Literal and strict observance of rests. That helps to keep audience attention alive.
  • Use contrast.  An example: Play with numerous cresendos and decresendos. As the sentiment grows, increase your volume with the singer(s).
  • Sometimes you can use a bouncy touch while they sing smoothly. Vice versa is also true.
Accompanying any great singer is challenging. A large group must be ultra-sensitive.
Accompanying Ethel Waters is Count Basie and orchestra in the movie-Stage Door Canteen.

Count Basie and band, with vocalistEthel Waters, from the film Stage Door Canteen (1943)

The greatest difficulty facing an accompanist is finding well arranged music. With professional singers, doubling their melody is counterproductive. First, you most likely will cover the sound of their voice. Then, it’s impossible to exactly duplicate vocal inflexions.  Any rate be sure to make your reservations for Matthew and Kathryn.  singing together at the Venice Little Theater.
Large community theater showcasing plays, musicals & cabarets along with stand-up comedy & concerts.
Address: 140 Tampa Ave W, Venice, FL 34285



Every day is an aidition day for David. Customers love listening to his music while dining.

Audition on the piano youtube Two-note phrase is key

Audition on the piano youtube.  Enjoy six typical selections for free.  Time for all 6 is 13.48 minutes. Most important factor: The two-note phrase. For auditions the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. What does tasting pudding have to do with piano playing? A well played two note phrase is the highest piano art.  More on this in a moment. Piano makes dining more pleasurable. This only holds if the piano is played with a beautiful touch.

Every night is an audition night in Boca.
The 1925 vintage Steinway I play on partakes of this spectacular view. One evening I played for a couple of ladies from the British House Lords. In London they often sat next to Andrew Lloyd Webber in Parliament.


Be it Bach, Beethoven or Brahms- the two note phrase is key. In this regard the size or quantity of what you know, speed and power mean little. This phrase is the smallest increment of piano playing. My own teacher was Mischa Kottler. He was a stickler about this tool. It took me a year and a half to master it. That was only under his constant supervision. Mischa studied in Paris and Vienna in the 1920’s. His teachers were direct descendants of Liszt and  Chopin. They were Emil von Sauer and Alfred Cortot.

Many, if not all compositions, are only played properly with a plethora of such phrases. This is especially true on the piano. My own youtube sample is below.  I do my best to demonstrate its effectiveness.  Keys to long term employment as a pianist include beautiful tone production and such phrases. Unfortunately, too many students have turned piano playing into an athletic event. As Mischa would say about such crudely undetailed pianists. “They play like pigs.” This, of course, was in his fiery Russian accent.



For bookings I  go through Jay Goodley Associates Inc. in Sarasota, Fl. (941 480-9600). They are wonderful to work with both as an employee and for you as an  employer. Also, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota- especially off season.



Are our type of arias and Broadway compatible?

Arias, Can Broadway Songs Fit Into This Category?

Arias- Sharon and I (David) collaborate on songs that are aria-like in nature.  Our latest musical, Golden Roads, illustrates this. Of course, we all know that Golden Roads can lead to Broadway for musicals. Artist Harold Weiner(postcard above)  saw us as headlining on Broadway. For a while we were called “The Ohs” – short for Ohrenstein. This artwork was given to us as a thank you for a fund raiser that we did: We performed our original works for the Sarasota Music Archieves. Can Broadway songs fit into this category? First, what are arias?

  • They are  melodic songs in an opera, cantata, or oratorio.
  • Ususally they are written as a solo; but not always.
  • Often, a recitative, or musical speech, comes before it.
  • In the song, the character expresses inner most feelings.
  • Many musical forms might be used. However, the most common has the ABA form: (1) The main theme, (2) a different middle section and (3) a repeat of the main section (da capo). Sounds a little like a feature Broadway song, doesn’t it?


 Here is a sample of how Sharon I (David) write concert “arias”. Our “We Are One” was written for soloists and the Sarasota Concert Band to honor our American veterens on Memorial Day. Enjoy!



  • The 1st composer to populariaze arias was Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725).
  • For 100 years after A. Scarlatti, they were most commonly used form in operas.
  • In the 18th century everything would stop while the aria was sung. It was the stand out song. Even the drama stopped Almost like the “11:00” Broadway number.
  • Later Verdi, Mussorgsky and Wagner used the aria as part of a continuous flow of action and music.
  • Arias developed from having  the  background of a few chords to using  an entire orchestra.

Sharon and I have collaborated on a number of new and original works. She as book writer and lyricist and me as composer. Our latest, Golden Roads, was very well received in Sarasota. The subject is the early life of Golda Meir. We have a booking in 2017 with this new show. It is literally filled with beautiful arias. They are in the 18th century standout song style, (A.K.A. the 11:00 number). More will be posted on this subject in the near future. Keep watching DSOworks to find out it develops.


Ravel Has Novelty, Always in Good Taste

Ravel Has Novelty, Always in Good Taste. The Golden Encyclopedia of Music by Norman Lloyd confirms my thoughts. His music is “rarely emotional.” It is as though he wrote waltzes, minuets or sonatas with amusement or affection. Lloyd brings out his contrast with Debussy:

  • Debussy drew much of his inspiration from nature.
  • Ravel received his creative impulses from dance.

The Background of Ravel

Ravel’s mother was a Basque.  That defines a region located around the western end of the Pyrenees (the part shaded red).  It is on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The Bay straddles parts of north-central Spain, and south-western France.

Image result for Free map of Basque territory in Europe
Ravel was born in Basque territory(red)  in the town of Clibourne. The French-Spanish connection is obvious.

Part of his soul was Spanish. His masterpiece, Bolero, is an affirmation. Again, we see a prime example of his affinity for dance. Here’s my favorite story. I set it up by contrast to a story about John Cage. The theme for Bolero is only 8 bars long. Its treatment by variations with orchestra is 17 minutes long. But, it builds to one of the greatest climaxes ever.  In his humble manner, Ravel called it: “17 minutes of orchestration without any music.” By contrast John Cage wrote a piece of music that he calls 4’33”. It refers to the time of actual silence. Not one tone is played. You can “hear” it on youtube.

My Upcoming French Piano Concert

I am planning a full piano concert of French piano music from the late 1800’s and early 19oo’s. My instructor, Mischa Kottler, asked me to do such  the concert just before he passed away. He studied in Paris under Alfred Cortot in the 1920’s. Below is a sample of him playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz.

Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version) – YouTube (to be amazed beyond words, click on “youtube” words and watch). He studied it in Paris.


The entries of my own concert will include the following works:

  • by Claude Debussy: Deux Arabesques, the entire Suite Bergamasque, Reverie. the Sarabande from Pour le Piano, Estampes, and La Cathedrale engloutie
  • By Gabriel Faure: Pavane
  • By Maurice Ravel: Sonatine

I will be arranging a date and place in the near future. It will be announced as an event on Below is a sample of the concert taken from from my upcoming Debussy CD. It is his Claire de Lune. from the Suite Bergamasque. Click on the title.

Clair de Lune – Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy …

Take Five PaulDesmond

Take Five by Paul Desmond; What a Number!

Take Five was composed by Paul Desmond.  He was the alto saxophonist of the The Dave Brubeck Quartet. The meter is in an unusual 5/4 meter. It was one of the first Jazz numbers with a time signature other than the more common 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time. In the late 1950’s the Dave Brubeck quartet was touring Eurasia under a grant by the state department. On a personal note, these grants were not unusual. I ( pianist, David Ohrenstein) worked with David Rubinoff and His Violin as his arranger and accompanist.  Rubinoff played in Vietnam for general Westmoreland’s troops with a grant  from a U.S. State Department. You can hear one of our 45 minute concerts on Oquaga Lake in New York  (played in 1984) on for free. It is a thumbnail on the page “Lost Concert Found”.  Rubinoff was 86 years of age at the time. In between numbers he talked about his personal friendships with Victor Herbert, Carouso, Irving Berlin, Fritz Kriesler and John Phillip Sousa.  Don’t miss this once in a lifetime treat!The special twist was at the end of the night, they got up and left one at the time.

Creative and Artistic Inspirations, Like Take Five,  Come from Exotic settings

While on tour, the David Brubeck quartet  heard the music of Hungarian street musicians, They were playing Bulgarian songs in unusual meters. That is what prompted Paul Desmond to compose Take Five. When they returned to America, the group gave the song an extra special twist. “Take Five” was first played by The Dave Brubeck Quartet to a live audience at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959. At the end of the evening, they musicians would end their gig with Take Five. They would pack up and leave one at the time while play it. This was  in the style of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony written almost hundreds of years earlier.   Speaking of travel and music, I also have blogged about how a rich  Russian widow sent Debussy to the exotic Far East so he could enlarge his own musical palette.

My Own Experience Playing Take Five Over the Past Seven Years at My Gig at the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande, Fl

In one word, Take Five  is “magic.” Guests and diners discuss romantic subjects or simply the affairs of the day.  Then, the moment the two chords of  distinctive rhythm begin (Eb minor and Bb minor) I’m amazed at what happens:  People from all around the room stop talking and actually say “Take Five.”   It is certainly a real audience -pleaser. 

gasparilla inn
The glamorous Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Fl,  lit up at night. I play my selections on their vintage Steinway grand pianos from the 1920’s.  Dates are basically Christmas to Easter.   The  guests feast on filet and as they enjoy the music. .


Take Five nostalgia
The 45 lp recording of Take Five is gold in more ways than one.
This team did so much for our culture

Gilbert and Sullivan’s search for Schubert’s Rosamunde

Gilbert and Sullivan’s search for Schubert’s Rosamunde: Good stories make good blogs. One of my favorites is about Gilbert and Sullivan’s discovery of the music for Schubert’s Rosamunde. Rosamunde, Fürstin von Zypern (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus) is a play by Helmina von Chézy.  It is mainly remembered for the incidental music by Franz Schubert.  The play premiered in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 20 December 1823.[1][2]


Gilbert and Sullivan had many quests. They had heard of Schubert’s Rosamunde which was lost. They traveled to Germany to find the music. There, they caught wind of a certain Doctor Snyder who may have been in possession of the score. The rest of the story reads like a cliff hanger. When they arrived at his home, Dr. Snyder told them he had had a number of Schubert’s  manuscripts in his attic. Unfortunately, he placed them in the trash bin. The operetta duo ran to the trash. There, they not only discovered the score to Rosamunde, but numerous other symphonic works by Schubert. The rest of the story goes, they were so excited at the find, that they immediately played leap frog with each other.

Related image
The famed writing team, Gilbert and Sullivan taking a bow onstage.

Creators Come First, Not Concert Halls

I find this story quite significant to blog about. So many composers had had to have patrons or backers. It the baroque era, it was the Church. In the classical era, it was the nobility. In the romantic era,  donors and backers were rich patrons.  They helped composers to live and thrive not only for a day, but for decades. This is leading up to another  upcoming blog: It will present the premise that without  the support of musical creators by patrons, our concert halls will be without quality, vision or direction. The old names only serve us for so long. Only God is eternal. I personally have heard nothing but belittling comments and disapproval on my being a composer. “When are you going to make a living?” “Composing is fun. Life is hard work.” My question in return has always been. “Where does quality in life come from?”.  Without the arts, life is short and brutish. I ask my public to please take an interest in something more  than buildings. First, we must support the creators who give the musicians in the concert hall new music. After all, there might not be a Gilbert and Sullivan around at the right moment to save another poor Schubert-like composer.


THe confrontation scene between Octavian and Cleopatra is unforgettable drame

Rose and Lilly Point to our Floral New Opera

Rose and Lily Point to our Floral New Opera: The Cup of Cleopatra

Water Lily, Flower, Red, Aquatic, Plant, Bloom, Lake
A water lily, In Our opera, The Cup of Cleopatra, (formerly Octavian and Cleopatra) the ghost of Caesar calls her “My Lily of the Nile”. It was produced at the Palladium Theater in 2003. later presented at the Player’s Theater in Sarasota as part of our musical, Three Queens.

A key element of ancient philosophy was based on the fusion of numbers 5 and 6 and the flowers these numbers represented.  The rose has 5 outlining petals. The lily has 6 petals. The rose is yin, and 5 is a yin number. The Lily is yang as six is a yang number.  How is it that these numbers are fused?  By the ubiquitous use of the megalithic yard by the goddess cultures. Here’s how:

  • 5 x 6/ 5 + 6  (or 30/11) = 2.7272…which translates to one megalithic yard
  • Another megalithic standard is the megalithic mile of 2.727272… English miles or 14, 400 feet. Thus, 14,400/5280 =2.72727…English miles

John Michell, in his City of Revelation, further discusses the fusion:

  • The six sided figure of the hexagon symbolized the macrocosm
  • The five sided figure of the pentagon represented the microcosm.
  • Thus 272 represents the successful fusion of heaven and earth. the model of this fusion is the “Heavenly Jerusalem”.


  • 4:47


  • Click on the 4.:47 number and then youtube to sample our production at the Palladium Theater. I must share with you a part of Sharon’s beautiful lyrics in this segment. Cleopatra realizes that her being alive would jeopardize the life of  her children. This was true especially due to Roman politics. Octavian already had promised to give her children a home in Rome. To Cleopatra, that was more important than her own life. Sharon writes and sings as Cleopatra the following.  You will  hear it sung on this youtube presentation, “It is time to end this life. All that can be done was done. This goodbye is expressed with all my love. We shall meet after today, when we’ve sent you on your way. In the next world, we shall be close as we have ever been.” For the ladies, reincarnation was real.

We are merely the creators. If benefactors had not helped our operatic and instrumental composers, our culture would the the poorer. Verdi, Berlioz, Tschaikovsky, Debussy, Haydyn, Mozart…… all received the help of generous patrons. Music adds beauty to life.- David.




People Berries, an analgy from Oquaga Lake

Dance Steps of Canoes v. Motor Boats on Oquaga Lake

Dance Steps of Canoes v. Motor Boats. You ask, how can canoes and motor boats dance? They “imprint” dance.  That is they leave either ripples, waves or rough water behind. Of course, that depends on the dance style. A favorite summer activity on Oquaga Lake is watching the boats in the water go by. You’ll see everything including:

  • Motor boats stopping to pick up their fallen water skiers in the middle of the lake.
  • Rubber rafts being towed by a speedboat going dragging 4 or 5 children screaming in delight
  • Show offs that ski holding only one rope with one hand (see picture below)
  • The real show off that places a stand up ladder in the water and manages to ski on that
  • Water-Skiing, Entertainment, Sport, Sea, Women, Girls


    Of course, the Catskill Mountains were known for ballroom dancing. Scott’s Oquaga  Lake House, where Sharon and I resided,  was approached to film Dirty Dancing with John Travolta. The owners turned the offer down. At the time, they were already quite busy.When we were there, the Oquaga Spirit chimed on the dancing thing. She definitely prefers a calm lake. The spirit whispered the following quatrain to me.

    Canoes waltz the water
    Speedboats are cha-cha choppy
    Canoes gently promenade
    Waves from motors are sloppy

    Scott’s Showboat of song can be seen docked in front of the Playhouse. Ballroom dancing took place on the 2nd level at the playhouse.  The bottom level was reserved for Patty’s Pub. It had the most beautiful view of the entire lake. The Scotts featured their guests at talent shows at the pub. Usually, after a beer or two, everybody had the courage to offer their talent.

    The fun at Scotts never stopped. So many of the regular patrons, and even the Oquaga Spirit hopes it will continue for many years to come.






Our Hit Gypsy Czardas from: The Princess and the Peasant

Our Hit Gypsy Czardas from: The Princess and the Peasant (formerly titled “Elizabeth of Russia).

How About Great Caesar’s Ghost for Halloween?



How about Great Caesar’s ghost for Halloween? When was the last time you heard the expression, Great Caesar’s ghost?  For me, it was on the old Superman TV show that played in the 1950’s. The newspaper editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, would exclaim to Lois, Lane or Jimmy Olson or Clark Kent every time he was frustrated: Great Caesar’s ghost! In our opera, Octavian and  Cleopatra, we did one better than that. We actually have great Caesar’s ghost appearing on the stage. He sings to Cleopatra a beautiful aria that I and Sharon wrote called: My Lily of the Nile.


Of course, a second ghost shows up: The ghost of her other Roman  husband, Mark Antony. The ghosts of Caesar and Antony immediately argue about what would be the proper course of action to take over Cleopatra’s conqueror, Octavian. Caesar says Cleopatra should trust Octavian. Mark Antony takes a totally opposing point of view. Of course, Cleopatra makes a scene where she screams over the arguing ghosts. Her two ladies in waiting witness her demise and try to calm her down with a potion. They think that Cleopatra’s totally lost her mind over the grief she has for her husband, Mark Antony, who has just killed himself.

Our thrilling opera was performed in Sarasota and St Petersburg, Florida with a cast of seven.  We have a complete piano-vocal score and the performance was recorded on DVD. Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein wrote the book and lyrics and I wrote the music. We are in the process of arranging this for a chamber orchestra. My favorite musical moment in the show is a trio which features the Ghosts of Caesar and Antony singing with a living Octavian. They ghosts urge Octavian to  go back to Cleopatra and show her that he loves her.  Octavian rejects their plea, saying that his motto and words he lives by are; “make haste slowly”.  Reserve this show for your theater season so your patrons can be thrilled by the glory that was Rome and Egypt!