Caruso and McCormack – What Did they Think of each Other
On December 26, 1900, Enrico Caruso celebrated the Christmas season with his debut at La Scala by performing the part of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème with Arturo Toscanini conducting. As his career advanced, he went on to please audiences in Monte Carlo, Warsaw, and Buenos Aires. He appeared before the Tsar and the Russian aristocracy at the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg as well as the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. In 1910, a landmark event occurred when he performed live from the stage of the New York Metropolitan Opera House. He honored America with first public radio broadcast to be transmitted in the United States.
A source for this post is The Virtuosi by Harold C. Schonberg. He was the music critic for the New York Times. John McCormack achieved a good measure of fame as an opera singer. He never had the power of Caruso and never cared for such projection. McCormack chose to remain a lyric tenor all his life. His phrases seemed to go on without end. Violinist Jan Kubelik believed he was so great he must have had a Stradivarius in his throat. New York World published a letter of McCormack dated April 14, 1918. I quote below:
“A great many singers have an idea that the public wants bigness of voice. That is a mistaken notion…. The history of the world’s greatest singers brings not one supreme artist who is not essentially lyric. What the public enjoys most of all is the smooth, pure and beautiful tone in the singing voice.”
Caruso and McCormack – No Contest as/per Both Tenors
Here is the story that Schonberg relates about an accidental meeting between the two tenors: McCormack says to Caruso: “Well. Rico, how is the world’s greatest tenor today?” To which Caruso replied: “John, I didn’t know you have turned into a bass.”
Here is an internal link about what I have up to:
In one of the final years of his life, renowned violinist Dave Rubinoff plays the Stradivarius violin for an intimate concert at Scott’s Oquaga Lakehouse in 1984. He is accompanied by pianist, David Ohrenstein. Visit http://dsoworks.com/live-performances… for a behind-the-scenes view from David Ohrenstein of what it was like to work with Rubinoff and His Violin.
Song Without Words Can Stand on its Own. It certainly has in the past. Witness the musical compositions of Felix Mendelssohn.
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.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
Musical Duration Dots Abound in Chopin Prelude #3. What do dots do to the duration of notes? In Western musical notation, a dotted note is a note with a small dot written after it. In modern practice, the first dot increases the duration of the basic note by half (the original note with an extra beam) of its original value. This means that a dotted note is equivalent to writing the basic note tied to a note of half the value. For instance, a dotted half note is equivalent to a half note tied to a quarter note. Subsequent dots add progressively halved value.Chopin uses this quite effectively in his Prelude #3. I call his use by the name of pyramided dots.That is because you can make the numbers 1,2, and 3 into a pyramid. See the illustrations below:
On the top treble clef, three dots are used twice:
The 1st beat of measure one.
Also, the first beat of measure three.
One the second treble/bass staff, two dots are then used twice:
On the third beat of the treble.
Single dots are used by Chopin in the 5th and 6th measures.
A triple-dotted note is a note with three dots written after it; its duration is 17⁄8 times its basic note value. Use of a triple-dotted note value is not common in the Baroque and Classical periods. It is quite common in the music of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner, especially in their brass parts.
What Effect do the Musical Duration Dots have on Chopin’s Prelude?
I feel Chopin’s compositions for the piano are highly innovative. My own teacher was Mischa Kottler. He studied with Alfred Cortôt. This was in the 1920’s. In turn Cortôt studied with a pupil of Chopin. I was taught to play a dotted note on the piano with more tone. Then certainly a double dot should be played with more tone. A triple dotted note should then have tone to the max. Tone, when played on the piano, should always sound pleasing. Ask me for a live demonstration of this Chopin Prelude on the newly refurbished 1924 Steinway Concert Grand at the Gasparilla Inn. I play for there for dining 6 nights weekly. See internal link:
Unthoughtful Editing of Music Seems to be Everywhere. I attended an accelerated high school- Cass Technical High in Detroit. They had some 32 curriculums you could major in. They even kept an airplane in a large room on the 1st floor for an aeronautics technology program. For me, there were two musical courses to choose from: Vocational and Advocational. This remarkable high school was “college prep”. In retrospect, I think many colleges could have been “prep” for Cass Tech High. But alas, things change. Ruins of the high school are pictured below.
Unthoughful Editing of Music- One Typical Example
We had a esprit de corps among the students that was second to none. we discussed countless and varied topics. Nothing was ever off the table for discussion so to say. Music editing was a hot subject. My fellow students, the class of 1969, had a running joke about musical editors. We all concurred on a musical frustration cycle. It went as follows
First you work at becoming a pianist/composer. When that doesn’t quite pan out-
Second you try working at becoming a conductor.
Finally, when the above two fail, you become an editor.
The point is the editor is out for revenge. He thinks: “If can’t make it as a composer, performer or as a conductor, I’ll be sure that no one else can”. This thought may be either conscious or unconscious but the effect is the same either way. If you follow the editors instructions, your efforts will most likely fall in line with his expectations of failure. Many teachers insist on their students following the editor’s marking.That’s a minor to major tragedy!
Unthoughtful Editing: My teacher studied with Emil von Sauer in Vienna in the 1920’s
Emil von Sauer was personally taught by Franz Liszt. Liszt accepted several students at the end of his life. Sauer was one of them. He, in turn, edited all the piano works of Johannes Brahms. However, I believe that even Liszt kept fingering secrets from his select piano students. Sauer in turn taught my teacher, Mischa Kottler. Samples of Mischa’s playing anywhere are extremely rare. Below is one that will show you what good fingering can do. Here’s to reviving another lost art!
Panacea is Found in Our Civilization’s Music. Originally I posted this on our other website: Reviving Antiquity@aol.com, however, I feel it is common to both of these sites. Certainly, in the past many composers of music borrowed from themselves. For example, in music, the BACH motif is a motif. Its notes are a succession of notes important or characteristic to a piece. These notes are B flat, A, C, B natural. In German musical nomenclature the note B natural is named H and the B flat named B. It forms Johann Sebastian Bach‘s family name.
So, Here is My Panacea Quote from Reviving Antiquity
Panacea – what is its meaning? In Greek mythology, she(Greek Πανάκεια, Panakeia) was a goddess of universal remedy. This remarkable entity was the daughter of Asclepius and Epione. With her sisters each performed a facet of Apollo‘s art:
Panacea (the goddess of universal health).
Hygieia (“Hygiene”, the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation).
Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment).
It’s time to cure the ills of mankind. Music, when properly applied, can do just that. Best of all, it’s free. Also the knowledge I write about has the capacity improve the interpretation of music by a searching musician. That analysis is for the future. First notice there are 12 basic key signatures. The bottom three are called “enharmonic.”
C# major is merely another letter name for Db major.
F# major is another name for Gb major
Cb is another name for B major.
This means there are basically 12 key signatures. I have my reasons for aligning the 12 key signatures with the 12 zodiac signs. Many have done this before me, but I feel my way is most correct. My reasons will be explained over time.
Let’s discuss heart problems. To cure these problems listen to classical music in the key of one flat. That, as you can see from the diagram, is F major and its relative minor of D. Why classical? Quite often, classical music is defined by its key signature. i.e. : Symphony in F major, Quartet in D minor, Trio in D minor, etc. The minor key alleviates the sordid condition. The major maintains good health in the area needed. More will be forthcoming. Keep checking.
Poetry signals Change is in the Air. Said another way: When there is no poetry of quality then musical quality takes a nose dive. This is not only my own observation. As my resource I quote Music by Frederic V. Grunfeld. The book I read it in is published by Newsweek Books out of New York. Place and year- Mondadaori, Verona, Italy, 1974.
Poetry (founded as Poetry: A Magazine of Verse) has been published in Chicago since 1912. It is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English. Poetry is founded by Harriet Monroe and now published by the Poetry Foundation. It is currently edited by Don Share
Those who decry the primitivism of today’s music along with its limited scope, need to look for another Heinrich Heine type figure. Indeed, so many “songs” use about three or four repeated notes or thrive on platitudes and vulgarity. I have already mentioned him on DSOworks in the internal link below. The problem is where is our Henrich Heine for this present day and age?
As a writer of poetry, I am inspired by the same place at which the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was filmed for this coming season: Scott’s Oquaga Lake House on Oquaga Lake. The beauty and enchantment of the lake knows no limits.
Here is an excerpt from my poem called “Fun.” It describes this setting in some detail.
The diving platform is located
End the end of the extended dock.
Canoes and kayaks are nearby
The woods where the birds do flock.
The swimming area is marked
By yellow balls on rope
Fastened to a rubber raft
Beyond which the lake has slope.
A second dock is to the left
With a speedboat at its end.
On its left we find a showboat
Built just for voices to blend.
A playhouse is to the rear
Grand piano is set on stage
Near bowling ping-pong and pool
Games all quite the rage!
Do yourself a favor and make a pilgrimage to Oquaga Lake and visit Scott’s Hotel. A number of doctors from India did just that! All this beauty and memorabilia can be yours to enjoy. Revive that ancient poetic feeling so many once had. And please share this post!
Ten Minute Musical Bliss of Rubinoff and His Violin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUz-LOrzTQU. Like fine wine, musicians and artists improve with age. Dave Rubinoff is much too ignored today. That is due to the jealousy of the 100% pure classical musicians. Indeed, I even wonder how many pure symphonic musicians are left to be found today. It seems like so many are crossing the lines into the popular field.
Even as of recently, Dave Rubinoff refuses to give up the ghost. This is true even some 35 years after he passed away. Maestro, conductor, and curator Joseph Rubin (not related to Rubinoff except in spirit) gave a concert commemorating this great artist last summer. I was called to appear with violinist extraordinaire, Steven Greenman. It was held at the Circleville High School near Colombus, Ohio. Maestro Greenman had just returned from a tour of Poland. Among other places, he played the most haunting melodies in the synagogue in Cracow. Below was the itinerary Maestro Rubin sent me for the Circleville. Ohio concert.
Witness Another Ten Minute Musical Bliss with Steven Greenman and I playing the Rubinoff’s Fiddler
Friday, June 1 (2017)
Around 3 PM – Rehearse Fiddler Medley with Steven Greenman, location TBA
7-9:30 PM – Orchestra Rehearsal at Circleville High School
Saturday, June 2
11 am – Rehearse Fiddler Medley with Steven Greenman
2-4:30 pm- Orchestra Rehearsal at Circleville High School
6:30 PM – Pre-show lecture at High School
7-9 PM Concert at High School
9-10:30 PM Post show VIP reception at High School
Copy and paste the youtube link above to see what success is obtainable by playing incredibly well what the general public enjoys. I was thrilled to work so many years with this man.
Romantic Composer Comrades were Common. Musical composers are the avant-guard of civilization. Avant-guard defines a group of artists, musicians, or writers working with new and experimental ideas and methods. Without composer comrades, it is doubtful that we would ever know who Franz Schubert was. Composers are vital to a civilization. Yet, they are like babies. They need help. Such was the case with Franz Schubert. He only lived to age 31. Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music.
Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875), made from his own 1825 watercolor portrait.
His last symphony, “The Great,” was never performed in his lifetime. He received payment for it from the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1828. However, they ended up performing an easier symphony by Schubert, , No 6. The “Great” remained in the truck of his brother, Ferdinand Schubert. His Romantic composer comrades included Robert Schumann. Scumann went searching for it. He discovered it in Ferdinand’s trunk in his attic.
Fortunately, Felix Mendelssohn, counted among Schubert’s Romantic composer comrades, was in a position to make the “Great” come to life. He was the director of the Gewandhaus Concerts in Leipzig, Germany. The story goes it was difficult to perform even for his orchestra. To make it more palatable, Mendelssohn omitted the repeats in the symphony that were indicated by Schubert. Here is another story of Schubert’s almost lost and forgotten music:
THE CLIFF HANGER QUEST OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN to save Schubert’s Music
Gilbert and Sullivan had heard of Schubert’s Rosamunde. The manuscript was not to be found. On a whim, they traveled to Germany to find the music. There, they caught wind of a 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 had already placed them in the trash bin. The operetta duo ran to the refuse container. 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 played leap frog with each other to celebrate the find.
Without the arts, life seems shorter and even brutish. We must support creators of the fine arts who supply the musicians in the concert hall with new music. After all, there might not be a team like Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn or Gilbert and Sullivan at the right moment to save the great works of another poor Schubert-like composer.
Singer Composer Was the Creator of Opera. Today, many do not think of singers as the creators of opera. In the early 1700’s they were. The taste in Naples, Italy at that time, dictated how opera was created. That taste was manifested in the love of vocal display. Popular idols were made of singers. Theodore M. Finney writes in a History of Music: The composers became “a kind of formality that had within it the seed of artistic sterility and death.”
What Happened to Opera as a Result of the Singer Composer Phenomenon?
Many composers at that time would write scores of historical interest. However, they had little if any musical interest. Opera composers turned from opera to writing for other mediums, such as instrumental. Society in Italy mainly fawned over virtuosity in musical drama. This gave rise to the Golden Age of Bel Canto. Francesco Bernardi, for example, loaded his adagios with countless ornaments. Opera singers became heroes. Hogarth immortalizes a singer in one of his arias in The Rakes Progress: He receives the adulation of a lady who says: “One God, one Farinelli.” The composer was reduced to the sideman.
As a matter of fact, the admiration of opera singers of the at time was so tremendous that most were totally unconcerned with the excellence of an opera itself. For that reason the music of many operas had nothing more than a figured bass and perhaps the outline of a melody. They singer flushed out the rest of the opera. The singer was also the primary composer. Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of musical notation in which numerals and symbols (often accidentals) are used. They indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones that a musician is to play. Historically this was most often applied to piano, harpsichord, organ, and lute.
Women out West: Rodeo. Copeland wrote Rodeo in 1942 as a Ballet in One Act. The Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo commissioned choreographer Agnes de Mille to collaborate with Aaron Copeland on the Rodeo project. I found a score arranged for piano. The arrangement is copyrighted by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. It was printed in 1962. It has six principle sections:
First Episode: Buckaroo Holiday
Second Episode: Corral Nocturne
Ranch House Party
Third Episode: Saturday Night Waltz
Fourth Episode: Hoe-Down
Women Out West Had to Find Suitable Men!
Basically, throughout the American southwest, the Saturday afternoon rodeo was a tradition. Usually, it was followed by an evening dance at the Ranch House. Copland’s Rodeo uses this basic western concept. As a matter of fact dating between the sexes was problem confronting all American women since early pioneer times. The question has been how to get a suitable man? Most likely, it is still a problem everywhere.
Women Out West Relished the Saturday Evening Dance.
On Saturday evening, after the Rodeo, social time was shared by dancing the square dance. The principle theme of Copland’s Hoe-Down in Rodeo uses a square dance tune called Bonypart. Of course this is a humorous reference to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Agnes de Mille describes the basic concept for choreography: “Throughout the American Southwest, the … dance was a tradition. On the remote ranches, as well as in trading centers and the towns, the “hands” get together to show off their skill in roping, riding, branding and throwing. Often, on the more isolated ranches, the rodeo is done for an audience that consisted only of a handful of fellow-workers and women-folk. Any neighbors that attended often had to do an eighty mile or so run-over to witness the event.”
I, the blogger, also wrote a ballet called The Dance of the Zodiac. It also features the bull, as in the rodeo. Only it appears as the symbol of Taurus. Enjoy this internal link to my own ballet.