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

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

unlikely friendship

Unlikely Friendship Between Rubinoff and Rudy Vallee

Unlikely Friendship Between Rubinoff and Rudy Vallee.  Vallee set show business ablaze. Hubert Prior “Rudy” Vallée (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was an American singer, actor, and radio host. Teens loved him. After playing drums in his high school band.  Vallée played clarinet and saxophone as a teenager. From 1924 through 1925, he played with the Savoy Havana Band at the Savoy Hotel in London.  He returned to the United States, briefly attending the University of Maine. Vallee received a degree in philosophy from Yale University.   At Yale he played with Peter Arno.  in a jazz band called the Yale Collegians.

 

Unlikely friendship
Rudy Vallee and Rubinoff and His Violin formed a friendship even though their backgrounds were so different.

David Rubinoff talks about their totally different background.  His autobiography was dictated by him to his wife, Darlene: Dance of the Russian Peasant. The title says it all: Rubinoff was from a small impoverished town in Russia.   Dave’s speech was colored by his Russian accent.  Vallée was highly educated and from an elite background. Yet, at one time, Dave and Rudi shared a great friendship,

A painting of Dave Rubinoff listening to his muse on his book cover.

Unlikely Friendship Quoted from Darlene’s Writings

Darlene Azar Rubinoff quotes David the book “Rudy was a Yale man and I admired his perfect English and diction immensely. I wished I had his command of the English language. Opposites attract and he laughed good-naturedly at my broad Russian accent. Rudy corrected my English many times, but told me not to worry because my violin spoke for me.”

Rudy recommended Rubinoff  to perform on a radio spot for the American Broadcasting Company. At time Rudy had to many previous engagements to take the job.  As a result, Dave got his big start on the  Chase and Sandborn Hour. 

Good timing and knowing the right people are key to advancing a career!

 

continuous musical practice

Continuous Musical Practice by Rubinoff and His Violin

Continuous Musical Practice by Rubinoff and His Violin. Yes, Dave played and conducted at the Paramount Theater and for Paramount pictures. His fame covered the country from New York to Hollywood. Rubinoff was a guest conductor of the Chicago Philharmonic. Dave featured his artistry weekly on the Ed Cantor radio hour. Yet, he always made time for children in schools. 

I Witnessed Dave’s Continuous Musical Practice

I (David Ohrenstein) worked as his accompanist and arranger for many years. My work took place at the Leland House in downtown Detroit. After he married Darlene Azar, we worked together in Hilliard Ohio and later in Houston Texas. Dave seemed to like my musical ideas. Also, my temperament is easy going. So what characterized Dave’s practicing? 

Continual musical practice
Dave always held his Stradivarius violin in front of him like a valued trophy. This was his object of continuous musical practice. A younger me is standing next to this great master.

Except for eating, he almost never stopped playing his violin. When he watched TV, his violin was in his hand. Over and over, he worked tricky passages. When his wife or a chauffeur drove us to a concert, he’d run scales in the back seat on his violin. We worked a five day day making musical arrangements. Trial and error for arrangements and practice for proper technique were always there.  

Bringing the house down at Carnegie Hall; yet he’d always play for children in schools.

Here’s What Dave Had to Say About Being Diverted from Practice

I quote this story from Dave autobiography written with his last wife, Darlene. His book is entitled Dance of the Russian Peasant. “Back in Hollywood, Cary Grant, Victor Mature, Rudy Vallee…talked me into going deep sea fishing on someone’s yacht…To me it was a waste of time; I could have been practicing. Music was my life. I lived for music.” My own relevant story was the day a said to Dave, “Music has been good to you.” Dave immediately and sharply replied; “Why, that’s because I’ve been good to music!”

Enjoy these internal Rubinoff links for stories like you’ve never heard: 

 

 

Cotton Club buddies

Cotton Club Rendezvous in the 1930’s

Cotton Club Rendezvous in the 1930’s. David Rubinoff and His Violin (seated at the piano) and Jimmy Durante met at the Cotton Club. Dave literally made a fortune playing his violin for the American public. Now he seems to be all but forgotten. I intend to change that. As his accompanist and arranger for some fifteen years, I have a lot to say about David. Last year I offered a concert with violinist Steven Greenman. It was under the baton of Joseph Rubin. Note my name at the bottom of the poster to the left.  I also gave a lecture about this great master. This happened in a little town called Circleville in Ohio. Dave knew, sensed and responded to the public need quality popular music

Cotton Club rendezvous
Rubinoff and His Violin documented musical life in America in the early part of the 20th century in his book, Dance of the Russian Peasant.
Look at this $2.00 and $2.50 price of dinner and entertainment. Rubinoff made as much as $500.000.00 a year during this same  period of time.

Cotton Club Rendezvous with Jimmy Durante

So, what is the story? First, I recommend reading my first internal link about the Cotton Club. Dave often shared a ride to the Club with the head of the Musicians Union, Jimmy Petrillo. Whom else would share a ride in Petrillo’s armored car?  None other than Al Capone. I quote his autobiography, The Dance of the Russian Peasant, that he dictated to his last wife, Darlene Azar.  

Cotton Club Carousing for Rubinoff and His violin

 

“In the 1930’s, in New York, I enjoyed the Cotton Club. There was always good food and entertainment. They (the band) always played Give Me a Moment Please, my radio theme song when they saw me arrive. (A personal anecdote: His beautiful, hand carved door would also play his theme song every time I rang it). 

I met many marvelous celebrities of the day like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, Satchmo, Ethel Waters, Joe Lewis- the heavyweight champion of the world-Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, and many politicians at the Cotton Club.”

More to come!
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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

opera completely changes

Opera Completely Changes in the Nineteenth Century

Opera Completely Changes in the Nineteenth Century. History twists and turns trends in music as it does everything else. Basically opera writers wrote everything in the 18th century. Their writing skills  ranged from operatic to  symphonic music to cantatas, trios duets, quartets and all types of sonatas. That was the norm. One man was quite an exception:  Christoph Willibald Gluck.  He was a good half a century ahead of his time:

Xl_glucken

The reformer-composer clearly announced his avant-guard intentions  in the prelude to his opera Alceste (1767): “I have sought to reduce music to its true function: Supporting poetry so as to strengthen emotional expression and the impact of dramatic situations without interrupting the action and without weakening it with superfluous ornamentation.”  Gluck defined his music as “the language of humanity”. He left behind musical hedonism in favor of lyric drama.  Passion was expressed as naturally as possible by lyrics.

Opera Completely Changes in the 19th Century

With few exceptions, instrumental musical was either more important than or at  least as important as lyrics in pre-19th century opera. With most 19th century composers of opera, lyrics became much more important: Music served the intent of the  lyrics. Wife Sharon and I approached our new opera, Patra, using the philosophy of Gluck. Sharon, as lyricist, freely added dissonance when called for by the lyrics.  If a mood changed suddenly, Sharon would, for example, change the meter to fit the new sentiment. If something called for a Capella singing, she freely cut the instrumental accompaniment. Below a couple of samples on youtube. For more details, our website for Patra is Patraopera.com.

Hear My Humble Prayer………..  Patra

What Shall I Do……………………. Octavian

The Sword of Antony …………… Marcellus & Octavian

Our opera is all about how Octavian, after his fateful meeting with Cleopatra, changed his life. He transformed from be a rough and insensitive person into the man who will become August Casear.  Augustus was famous for initiating  the 200 year era of “Roman peace.”

Used with permission of the gallery, From Cairo With Love in Cairo, Egypt and the artist, Khedr.

Overview

  • This thrilling new opera filled with enchanting melodies brings to life the seductive world of Cleopatra.
  • Having defeated his rival Marc Antony, General Octavian marches into Egypt determined to make Cleopatra his slave.
  • But Cleopatra is determined to somehow save herself and her four children. Her only hope is to win the love of a third Roman Consul and General, Octavian.
  • Can she do it?

 

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.