Pachelbel Canon is Still Popular 350 years Later. Today is June 14, 2017. I have my first summer job in Sarasota, Florida in 20 years. I’ve been a regular in New York state and at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Currently I play a well guarded and kept Yamaha console piano outdoors at the Crab and Fin on Saint Armand’s Circle. The setting is under a covered patio. My assigned times are Monday evening 6 -10 pm. Afternoons are Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12:30 to 5:30 pm.
Anniversary Couple Requests the Pachelbel Canon
A gentleman comes up to me at about 2:30 pm. That was today, Wednesday June 14, After hearing me play selections by Beethoven, he thought there was a possibility that I could play the Canon. He and his wife featured it at their wedding. June 14 was their anniversary. Among the Beethoven selections he heard me play on the piano was the 2nd movement from Beethoven’s 7th symphony. It was used as the theme for the movie, The King’s Speech.
One reason for my success so far as public piano player: Play orchestral transcriptions on the piano. That was a specialty of Franz Liszt. It worked admirably for him. Basically the public loves hearing familiar orchestral works well played by the intimacy offered by a single piano player. Among the transcriptions that I regularly play at the Crab and Fin in the summer; and during the winter at Gasparilla Inn are:
“Jupiter” from the suite The Planets by Gustav Holst.
Selections from Carmen by Georges Bizet.
The Barcarole from Tales from Hoffman by Offenbach.
Tales from Vienna Woods by Strauss
The Beautiful Blue Danube by Strauss
The American in Paris by George Gershwin
Song of India by Rimsky Korsakov. The list goes on and on.
Shortly I will post my own rendition of a piano transcription of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Keep checking DSOworks.com for my Pachelbel posting. I also have a few openings for piano lessons in Sarasota.
George Friederic Handel Versus Sopranos. Handel was born in the same year as J.S. Bach. J.S. Bach avoided the operatic form. Handel did not. George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (/ˈhændəl/;[a] born Georg Friedrich Händel,[b] German pronunciation: [ˈhɛndəl]; 23 February 1685 (O.S.) [(N.S.) 5 March] – 14 April 1759)[c] was a German, later British, baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos.
Maria Callas (one of the greatest sopranos ever) with her teacher Elvira de Hidalgo in 1954
Georege Friederic Handel had his first operatic job was in his home town of Halle. There he played in the second violin section at the opera house near the famed Goosemarket. At age 19 he tired of being in the second violin section. So, he switched from playing “second fiddle” to playing the “first” (and only) harpsichord. He decided to write opera during the run of the Cleopatra by Johann Matheson. Matheson wanted to play the last part, as usual, on the harpsichord by himself, The was supposed to be during the very last scene. One night young Handel and Matheson got into a brawl just before the last scene. Handel didn’t want to abandon the instrument. Their verbal and physical fight lasted a half-hour. Of course, the audience went wild over this major disagreement. After that experience, Handel decided to write his own operas. And, he did. He wrote some 46 in total.
My own favorite story about George Friederic Handel Versus Sopranos
Victor Borge has a number of soprano stories in My favorite Intermissions. A particular wild anecdote involves the Italian soprano, Francesca Cuzzoni. The George Friederic Handel opera she was to appear in was called Ottone. Unfortunately, Francesca became inflamed: She thought Ottone did not show off her singing abilities to their fullest. Consequently, she refused to do the big number unless Handel let her improvise extra high notes. How did it resolve? Georege Friederic Handel, in a burst of anger, hoisted her over a window ledge on the 2nd floor of the building. While dangling from the window, she decided Handel’s way wasn’t so bad after all. It’s regrettable that so much color is lost in music history classes at both high school and university levels. These stories are necessary to perpetuate the art. Great composers were also real human beings. I think it’s time for a revival of great classical writers and their works. Such stories can help. More blogs will be posted on this topic. Keep watching. Don’t be shy about sharing them with friends. Also, I David Ohrenstein and wife Sharon Lesley, have collaborated on an opera, Octavian and Cleopatra. Here is a small excerpt. Be the first in your locality to have our new opera. Contact us through our DSOworks@gmail.com
Cleopatra’s ladies in waiting give her a potion to calm her over the her grief of the suicide of her husband, Marc Anthony. In a drunken stupor, Cleopatra mistakes the Captain of the Roman guard for her former lover and husband. The ladies in waiting gladly let this happen, hoping that the captain would fall in love with Cleopatra, and help them them to escape from Egypt. (Cleopatra played by Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, Baron Garriott playes Captain Derceteus at the Players Theatre production in Sarasota, Florida)
Description Tags: Strong Role for a Leading Man *Strong Role for a Leading Lady *Musical Drama *Minimal Sets and Costumes *Period Piece/Historical *Classic Broadway *Operetta/Operatic.
Beer Versus Coffee and Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach is cool. I love his sense of humor and strength of spirit. Speaking of spirits: During J.S. Bach’s life there were two distinct points of view in Germany with regards to beer versus coffee. In this incredible battle J.S. Bach, a humble and poor musician, took on Frederick the Great. First a little background on the man Bach fought against in the beer-coffee battle:
Frederick II (German: Friedrich; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment in Prussia, and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years’ War.
Now, enter J.S. Bach to face King Frederick the Great. An edict by Frederick the Great declared: “It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects and this must be prevented. His majesty was brought up on beer and so were his ancestors and his officers. Many battles were fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the king does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be depended upon to endure hardships or to beat his enemies in case of war.” My source is a quote by Victor Borge in My Favorite Intermissions.
Bach’s Coffee Cantata is close to being an opera. His Coffee Cantata #211 has a plot, recitatives, and arias. Had money been raised for scenery and costumes, it would have been a baroque opera. Bach wrote it in defiance of the king’s edict. Basically, in the cantata, a daughter’s father tries to reason with her to kick the coffee habit. After all kinds of threats, in desperation he promises to find her a handsome husband. Marriages were pre-arranged in those days. However, as Borge states: “She (daughter in the cantata) and Bach (the composer) have the last laugh together”. The daughter confides that she would only marry the man that lets her drink all the coffee she wants.
Beer Versus Coffee – Coffee Wins (at least in the Coffee Cantata #211)
For years J.S. Bach gave weekly coffee concerts at Zimmerman’s Coffee House in Leipzig. Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as beer versus coffee could create such conflict. Please share if you like this Bach blog. Oh yes, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota, should you want to study some of the music of this great master. I also play Bach’s entire Italian Concerto on St Armand’s Circle in Sarasota at the Crab and Fin restaurant. Days are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -check events on DSOworks for details. Yes, the Crab and Fin serves coffee, coffee drinks and beer. Your choice.
Vast Ancient Temple Plan is Based on Music. The outer hexagon is greater than the inner by the ratio of 3/2. That is the ratio of the higher note of a perfect fifth to the lower in terms of vibrations per second. First, what is the Ancient Temple Plan?
It is a master blueprint used since prehistoric times for measuring temples by musical ratios. It is based on musical tones and geometry. Numbers used in the plan are those enumerating vibrations per second of the various tones of the ancient diatonic scale. The geometry used is based on the central circle of the seven as in the featured picture. It is crossed by three equidistant diameters through central point “D”. In the ancient temple plan, any one of these three diameters ( FE, RG or LK) equals 352.
Why 352 by number only with no attached measures? The answer in a word is gematria. So what is gematria? /ɡəˈmeɪ.tri.ə/ originated as an Assyro-Babylonian-Greek system of alphanumeric code/cipher later adopted into Jewish culture that assigns numerical value to a word/name/phrase in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to Nature, a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like.
In Judaism word appear together in the Torah. They are milk and honey. They have a combined gematria of 352. These key words appear in a prime place: Deuteronomy 6:3. With the very next line, being, Deuteronomy 6:4, we find the opening 6 words of the most sacred prayer in Judaism- the “Shema Yisroel”.
So where is the music? The tone “F” above what we would call middle “C” vibrates in the diatonic scale at the rate of 352 times per second. This equals the 352 Hebrew gematria by letters of “milk and honey. The old diatonic “Middle “C” vibrated 264 times per second. “C”. The next higher octave, 528 “C”, is one octave higher than middle “C”. This higher “C” is also in the ancient temple plan. Each side of the larger hexagon measures 528 by number. Ancient unearthed instruments prove the vibrations per second of the notes or tones of this diatonic scale.
Vast Ancient Temple Plan Holds the 3/2 Musical Fifth Ratio
Let’s look at the following for a model. Refer to the featured picture to read the lines by letters.
Triangle MPD forms an equilateral triangle. Each side is 352.
Extend DP to point “O”
Or extend DM to point “N”
In a view of the vast ancient temple plan, an inclusive new triangle is defined by DNO. It includes DMP. Thus DNO than DPM by the ratio of 3/2. We see that 352 x 3/2 = 528. We now have a second tone in terms of vibrations per second. The “C” 528 vibrations per second is one octave higher than the diatonic middle “C” of 264 vibrations per second. This is significant because in ancient and modern systems, all tuning is based on fifths. Music by numbers applied to vibrations per second of music tones fill the ancient temple plan. Its inclusion of the ratios of perfect harmony calls for the following: Rebuilding the sites all over the world that were once conceived by this plan. Future blogs as well as some already on the website will cover or have already covered this topic.
The goal of building by the math of sound pleasing ratios of musical tones was to have the same ratios please the visual sense in architecture. These qualities need to find their way into our collective culture.
Popular Concert With Rubinoff and His Violin. You can read on the program, the Stradivarius violin was insured for $100.000. That was in the 1930’s. Now it’s closer to 2 million. Rubinoff was a superstar in the 1930’s. Circumstances of the Great Depression favored his rise to fame. During difficult times the public needs beauty in the arts. In music this translate to melody. After the good times of the 1920’s the next decade started out with the Great Depression. Times were tough, crass and violent. We could almost draw a parallel to today. The last thing people needed were rough qualities in their entertainment. Rubinoff offered beautiful melody on the violin. The public ate it up. He became a sensation and made a fortune. Rubinoff credits his success in great measure to an American Indian, Will Rogers.
Rubinoff credits Will Rogers for his success with the popular concert. In his biography, Dance of the Russian Peasant, written by his wife Darlene Rubinoff that she wrote from recording Dave, he states, “Will used to give me advice. He was a happy fellow and a pleasure to be near. Will advised me on timing, how to time my gestures, how to get the audience to do my bidding, and how to talk to provoke the appropriate responses
That is the sign of the truest friend. Here is a sample of Will’s kindness. He gave Rubinoff a giant pocket watch. Will had the poem below engraved on its back. Will also included his picture with Dave with the following inscription: “To the greatest fiddler in the world. Your Pal, Will Rogers 1932.” Rubinoff recited it at every single concert. The audience always loved it. Here are some paraphrases from the poem engraved on the watch case.
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time we own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.
But it gets even better. As a pianist, I invited him to the resort I was playing at. We gave an unforgettable concert together. Listen to it. Share it with friends. Experience American history as it was actually lived by this great American. He talks about his personal friendships Victor Herbert, John Phillip Sousa, President and Mrs Roosevelt, Will Rogers, President Eisenhower, Irving Berlin……I accompanied him at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, NY, The youtube video is called “Lost Concert Found” from 1984. You can even hear a thunderstorm in the background.
Low Living High Thinking Johannes Brahms. I think the featured picture of Brahms portrays his humility and kindness. Johannes Brahms (* 7 May 1833 in Hamburg , † 3. April 1897 in Vienna ) was a German composer , pianist and conductor whose compositions mainly of high romance from the Romantic Era of classical music. In the Romantic period, music became more expressive and emotional, expanding to encompass literary, artistic, and philosophical themes. Famous composers from the second half of the century include Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner. Brahms is one of the most important composers of the second half of the 19th century. He was born in Hamburg on May 7, 1833. His masterful of use of counterpoint with beautiful melody are unequaled.
I’ve been practicing the six numbers of opus 118. Very seldom does he change a time signature in any one of these numbers. However, like Chopin, he often changes meter within the context of the music. Thus both Brahms and Chopin would write in 3/4. But the feeling of the beats are 2/4 time. Then, the beat flows back to the designated 3/4 time.
Low Living High Thinking is How the Giant Named Johannes Brahms Grew Up
Young Brahms became the the conductor of a Choral Society in Detmold. He was also Court Pianist and Teacher of the royal family. The post came with free rooms and living expenses. He resided at the Hotel Stadt Frankfort. It was located exactly opposite the castle where he worked. He brought about quite a change in his lifestyle by his own efforts! Also, he could talk about almost any subject. One of his sayings was: : “Whoever wishes to play well must not only practice a great deal, but read many books.” My source is Story-Lives of Master Musicians by Harriette Brower, 1922 Frederick A. Stokes Company, page 306. Now you can see why I chose the featured library picture. And yes, a poor person with character, determination and knowledge can make a tremendous success out of life.
Two Significant Beethovens include the Grandfather. Most have read of Beethoven’s father. Mostly, about how he was alcoholic and beat his son on his ears. Before turning to drink, the father was a gifted musician. He sang tenor in chorus and in opera. His name was Johann Beethoven. As a result of the father’s drinking, the family lived in abject poverty. His small salary was wasted at the ale-house. With such unfortunate circumstances his oldest son, Ludwig, became the breadwinner of the home.
Two Significant Beethovens Were Originally Dutch as was the Father, of Course
The Beethoven family were singers at the cathedral at Antwerp. The grandfather was also named, Ludwig. In Germany, the grandfather held many important positions in the musical establishment of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. He was at first a solo bass singer in the opera and choir. Later he was appointed stage director. Finally he became the musical conductor at the church. He had moved earlier in the 18th century to Bonn on the Rhine.
Some significant chronology on L.v. Beethoven:
At age 11 he was playing viola in the orchestra.
At age 12 he was the assistant organist with the orchestra at the church.
6 months later he was the assistant conductor. His duties included conducting the sub-rehearsals. He arranged the music for the singers and orchestra. Also when an opera did not have a suitable aria for a great singer, he would write one. However, he never received a salary for his work until after 17 years of age. But Beethoven still laid the foundation for financial support. Here’s how:
He made a number of connections at the church. This included a wealthy lady, Frau von Breuning. He taught her son and daughter. He also befriended members of the Vienna aristocracy who were in their university days in Bonn. This included the young Count Waldstein. Beethoven dedicated his Waldstein sonata to him. Finding that the young Beethoven lacked a suitable instrument on which to practice, Waldstein had a fine grand piano sent to Beethoven in his attic room (see picture above). He also befriended Count Lichnowsky and many others. They became life long patrons.
I enjoy blogging about Ludwig van Beethoven for several reasons:
I trace my own teachers back to Beethoven. Here’s how. I studied with Mischa Kottler. Kottler studied with Emil von Sauer. Sauer studied with Liszt. Liszt studied with Czerny. Czerny studied with Beethoven. Many of Beethoven’ s innovations were shown to me by Kottler. These included the principle of the prepared thumb.
I have just finished my 8th yearly season as pianist at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Management had the Steinway concert grand in the dining room rebuilt. I now play it in season. It has the finest Steinway parts. They were ordered directly from Germany.
I also enjoy composing. Here is a sample of my own music entitled El Nino in Sarasota. Oh yes, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Conclusion: Here is one formula for success for aspiring musicians and composers. It is based on this blog: (1) Get the audience. Be a church or by any other means. (2) Appeal to everyone, even the elite. Young musicians and composers need as much help as possible. I encourage all to be kind to composer/musicians that you believe could have potential. You just might have a great work dedicated to you.
New Sound Eureka Like in Back to the Future. That’s Marty McFly playing the electric guitar. It refers to Chuck Berry‘s “Johnny B. Goode”. He brings down the house with it at his parents’ high school prom. There, Marty comes from the future: Johnny B. Goode is still three years away from being released! “Johnny B. Goode” IS the future. It’s the “new sound” that is going to sweep the world. Marvin, Chuck Berry’s fictional cousin at the dance, holds up the phone for his musical relative to hear.
New Sound Eureka Goes Back to the Biblical Psalms
Four Psalms open with these words — Psalms 96, 98, and 149 — “sing to the Lord a new song.” As does Isaiah 42:10 (“sing to the Lord a new song”) and Psalm 33:3 (“sing to him a new song”). And Psalm 144:9 adds its voice to the chorus, “I will sing a new song to you, O God.” The hope or promise of a new song or new sound even has Biblical roots!
We are living in times where people are looking for a new sound. Here is the parallel to the point the movie makes. The young dancers at the featured picture of the Enchantment Under the Sea loved the music. Yet, the sound was 3 years ahead of its time of publication. Fiction, yes. But, it’s based on fact. The upcoming new sound will place melody in the forefront. This type of sound has historically revived counterpoint. Yes, J.S. Bach style. In the same manner Mendelssohn, a romantic, revived J.S. Bach.
A New Musical with the upcoming new sound eureka is About to Travel the Golden Roads. My wife and I are all about beautiful melody. Rhythm, of course, most also be solid. But to us, the melody is the key to the future. Our musical has a Biblical theme. We look forward to singing a new song. Our tour will take us all around the northeast. We always look for any kind of encouragement. Please share!
Randomness of the 12 Tone Technique Also Applies to our math. The initial proponent of this technique was Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951), Austrian-American composer. The technique is a means of ensuring that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music while preventing the emphasis of any one note through the use of tone rows, orderings of the 12 pitch classes. All 12 notes are thus given more or less equal importance, and the music avoids being in a key.
Randomness of Music and Numbers
Our modern use of numbers parallels the 12 tone technique. The 12 tone technique is best described as willful randomness. Antiquity thought of numbers one to nine as belonging to a system. It was called the 3 x 3 number square. In our music that is set in the circle of fifths, this is called a key signature. The numerical key signature of the ancients was the vehicle of the number square. They favored 7 primary number squares. This could equate with 7 key signatures. The simplest and first was 3 x 3. Their favored squares ranged from 3 x 3 to 9 x 9. They did use higher numeric squares. However, the basic 7 were most common. Sacred prayers in Judaism coded higher number squares. Two favored ones were 13 x 13 and 17 x 17. I have blogs on this subject on DSOworks.com. Some 10,000 years ago, and maybe further back in time, all numbers belonged to unified systems. They were also connected to words. For example, “order” could be 264. Each symbol of the ancients represented a letter and a number. There were no separate letters and numbers. Their unity called by a Greek name, gematria. Look it up online. At one time there was no randomness. You can sample ancient unity on the 3 x 3 number square picture below.
Any two opposite numbers around the perimeter total 10. Examples are 4 + 6= 10 ; 9 + 1 = 10; etc.
The average of any two opposite numbers around the perimeter is 5. Five is the core number.
Each number contributes to a perimeter whose total around #5 equals 40.
The total of all the numbers on the square is 45. . (That equals the sum of the numbers from 1 to 9).
Each number is set so that any row of three totals 15. This is true vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
The high level of organization of numbers in antiquity is staggering. Today, with our modern sciences, we totally lack such an organizing system for our numbers. I believe that result is social conflict. The genius of Arnold Schoenberg made a powerful musical statement as to where our culture was heading. Let us return to the way of the ancients. Reviving number squares is what many of my blogs are about. Enjoy the illuminating sample of the 12 tone technique below!
My blog traces the history of “to the nines” to prehistoric times. Number squares were of prime importance. What set the concept and pattern of the number squares in motion was the smallest. It is referred to as the grain of mustard seed in the Bible. It uses the numbers one to nine. Nine becomes the maximum. Higher numbers are synthetic. For example: Ten is the total of any two opposite numbers around the perimeter of the featured picture. Examples are 9 + 1 or, 3 + 7. They combine two or more numbers in set patterns. Ten, in the distant past, did not exist as an independent number. In musical terms repeated patterns on different tones is called a sequence. They musically demonstrate a property we will study in number squares.
J.S. Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, first movement, bars 22-24