In one word Mischa summed up what made him a great pianist and teacher: Weight. He always let weight freely fall to his finger tips. Sounds simple; but the perfection of his technique takes years. I wrote a series of exercises as a pianist/composer after what both Cortot and von Sauer taught him. I call it the Paris Piano Connection. One etude features each technique
Ageless Teacher Pianist Mischa Kottler. Great men, like great wines, improve with age. Mischa, at the time of this picture was 88. He stayed active until age 94. What kept him going? Passion for the piano. As a teacher, he had a slew full of piano competition winners on his record. Even rock n’ roll benefited from his total mastery of the instrument. Gregory Arthur “Greg” Phillinganes (born May 12, 1956) is an American keyboardist, singer-songwriter, and musical director based in Los Angeles, California. A prolific session musician, Phillinganes has contributed keyboard tracks to numerous albums. These included representing a broad array of artists and genres. He has toured with notable artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Toto, served as musical director for Michael Jackson, and has released two solo studio albums.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine and his Quote of Mischa Kottler
“Sensing that I needed discipline more than anything else, my Mom managed to hook me up with a wonderful teacher named Mischa Kottler. He was a no-nonsense Russian Jewish guy who could crack a pane of glass with one finger. He was a complete badass, and he cooled my attitude out immediately. I studied with him well into my teens.
Primarily as result of having studied with my ageless teacher pianist Mischa, I too have had a successful and long lasting career. I’ve just begun my 10th year at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. There, I play piano for VIP’s from around the world. The most memorable person I played for was former President George H. Bush. Below is an internal link to this event from DSOworks. Also, Sharon Ohrenstein, my wife, and I are bringing a full workshop to the NY stage this coming September. Our original “opera comique” is entitled “Patra”. Look under the “stage” heading on DSOworks.com. We will be working with an incredibly, wonderful, creative team. Workshop will be sponsored by: The American Center for New Works Development.
Rebuilt Steinway at the Gasparilla Inn. Wow! I just played a wedding dinner reception last October 6, 2018. Master technician Larry Keckler recently reconditioned and rebuilt the vintage Steinway grande. He ordered the finest parts from Germany for this exciting project The Steinway dates back to 1924. It takes a number of tunings for the piano to hit its stride. The total time elapsed since his initial work has been about a year and a half. My gosh, now the piano is simply incredible!
I recently played for a wedding dinner reception. Now the piano has both a golden and velvety touch for the pianist and sound for the diners. The Inn offers a royal taste of the old South. I’m particularly inspired to play the ragtime music of Scott Joplin. His music is dated to the same era. Everything is happy!
David believes music, should be all about beauty, enjoyment and relaxation. Thus he plays the music of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Michel Legrand, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Elton John, the Beatles, Scott and any composer(s) who write(s) memorable melodies. He even plays piano transcriptions from the King’s Speech (Beethoven’s 7th Symphony), Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, from the Planets. Also on the agenda is music by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel and J.S. Bach.
Kids are happy to hear his selections from the movies such as: Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Home Alone, Close Encounters of a Third Kind, and Jurassic Park. Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther and the Baby Elephant Walk are as popular as fireworks on the 4th of July. They are loved by children and adults. See you there. My dates are Dec 20 through Easter. I play 6 nights weekly. Oh yes, I have room for one or two piano students in Sarasota.
Pianistic Robots are Created by Competitions. Many aspiring pianists have competed in competitions. So what is it about competitions that can turn piano players in robots? I like to quote David Dubal. One of my favorite books is his Reflections from the Keyboard. He interviews quite a group of great pianists in compiling the book.
He relates the three most important factors of any concert: Composer, performer and the paying audience. Competitions only have the 1st two. Competitions have done away with the public audience. Incidentally, so has recording and playing on youtube. Mechanical adjustments, corrections and the artifial assembly of many takes are possible. Now I will quote Bolet:
How Pianistic Robots are Created
“A young pianist enters a big international competition.There are 15 judges, roughly. The pianists have to get 15 votes. At least that is their aim. They cannot play anything that is going to antagonize any of these 15 people in any way. They cannot do anything that could be considered controversial by any one of them. They cannot do anything that could be considered a personal idea. So, as a result, you hear one, ten,thirty young pianists and they are all alike.They all have exactly the same approach. You never hear anything that you haven’t heard many times before.”
My own piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. He paid an unexpected visit to our family when he was reaching his mid-90’s. My wife and children will never forget the experience. He flew unaccompanied to Sarasota from Detroit. He had on a light blue, French beret. It was as if he had just gotten off the plane from Paris. He studied there in the 1920’s under Alfred Cortôt. Later he went to Vienna and studied with a pupil of Liszt- Emil von Sauer. When you listen to his version of the Minute Waltz, you’ll get an idea of his capabilities- even in his 90’s. He played this waltz for our family. Incidentally, I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.
Johannes Brahms – His Life was Marked by Extremes. This is especially true with the ladies. He had a difficult time striking a happy medium. After Schubert, Brahms has become my favorite composer. His music has such a soul searching quality. I feel musically he was always searching for ideal love. Brahms was also charitable. To help out his family, he gave music lessons. He also played the piano in taverns, bordellos and local dance halls in his early teens. He never married. I quote The Classical Music Experience by Julius H. Jacobson. In his chapter about Brahms:”That (taverns) was my first impression of women…..And you expect me to honor them as you do?” The constant rough work with irregular hours affected his health. However, his attitude toward Robert and his wife, Clara Schumann, was totally different.
Brahms first visited the couple in Düsseldorf on 30 September 1853. Both welcomed him warmly. Robert was highly enthusiastic about the young man’s compositions. He went so far as to call the coming savior of German music!
However, Robert Schumann was becoming more and more unbalanced. He attempted suicide and was hospitalized. Brahms often visited Schumann in the hospital, . His friends, Joseph Joachim and Albert Dietrich, came with him. Brahms then lived with Clara and the children in the Schumann house. He became was helplessly in love with Clara. He wrote in frustration during 1855: “I can do nothing but think of you… What have you done to me?Can’t you remove the spell you have cast over me?” All accounts point to them as having had a strictly Platonic relationship.
How Johannes Brahms Paralleled Scott Joplin in America
Scott Joplin, like Brahms, played bordellos and taverns for income. He was also hailed by Europeans as the first great, original, legit, American composer. Kaiser Wilhelm of Austria is quoted as saying, at last someone has produced authentic, original American music. The King loved ragtime! Joplin officiated the American style of fun and syncopation. In this way he was not only a savior, but also, the father of American music. Enjoy my rendition of Scott Joplin’s Entertainer.
Conclusion: It’s fun to make comparisons. Who would ever think to compare Johannes Brahms with Scott Joplin? And yes, I have one or two openings for piano students in Sarasota.
Changing Musical Focus is About What’s Coming. Musical styles have come in set periods of time. For success, go with the flow. Why? In the sage words of Henry David Thoreau:
” I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose.” Or as he also states in Walden, “Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.”
Consider this reference found in David Dubal’s book. It is entitled Reflections from the Keyboard. In Bolet’s words: “Today’s audiences go to the concert hall, to hear Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms…” Then Bolet goes on to state that the last generation “went to hear what the pianist had to say about the composer.” Thus, we not only idolized the composer, we did the same for the pianist.
I was fortunate that my own piano teacher, Mischa Kottler belonged to the same vintage. He studied with Alfred Cortot and Emil von Sauer. The old school of pianists were not only musicians. They were also magicians. They would take you on a “magic carpet ride” with their piano playing.
To see what the old school was all about, click on this internal link. Mischa plays Chopin’s Minute Waltz in doubled notes. Everywhere, audiences went wild at this feat. The link also documents and describes his visit at age 92 to our family. Thanks to Mischa. and other great men I worked with, including Rubinoff and His Violin, my own career as pianist/composer only now starting to reach a pinnacle. Check on events on DSOworks.com.
In conclusion. Jeorge Bolet comments how today many are not interested in the musician. He states that he had often gone to all Beethoven concerts. Many pianists had been quite dull. Yet the audience applauded wildly. He states: “In a sense, the audience is applauding for itself being there.” I believe that those days are about to go, bye-bye.
Excellent Versus Great Piano Playing. What determines excellent piano player? Here are a few strictly musical goalposts of excellence. However, Vladimir Horowitz, pictured above, fits into the great category.
Few if any wrong notes. Preferably, none.
Adherence to the tempo, except when otherwise notated by the editor.
Following phrase marking instructions.
Adhering to dynamics (i.e. forte, piano, mezzo forte etc).
Playing the correct tempo at a steady pace.
For this blog I quote and paraphrase: Reflection from the Keyboard:The World of the Concert Pianist. It is written by David Dubal.
Excellent versus Great Piano Playing
Bar-Illan asks: What separates a very excellent performance by someone from great performances given by certain pianists? This statement touches me. I studied with Mischa Kottler. In turn Kottler studied under Alfred Cortôt in the 1920’s. Bar-Illan’s description of Cortôt’s playing places his difference out front: “What an individualist! What is it about Cortôt! -Even with all the wrong notes and variations in tempo that I simply cannot understand. Yet his performances make your heart beat faster. One can talk about timing, personality, character, tone, ability to color the music. …It is impossible to actually say what separates a very excellent performance…from one given by Cortôt, Rubenstein, Horowitz or Gould.” The difference cannot be defined, yet, it is essential to great music making. Every if both types play the music absolutely correctly, they are still “two different species.”
Mischa Kottler told me a most amusing story about Cortôt. In Paris the public loved a good bet. Cortôt also had numerous memory lapses. Everyone still loved him. However, his audiences in would actually place bets as to how many times he would forget the music. Regardless, Cortôt’s pianistic interpretations thrilled all that listened to him.
Bearish Lake Found in American, Indian Territory. What is this blog about. It is the 1st of a series. Basically, “A Great Miracle Happened There.” This will be explained over a number of blogs. Bearish Lake Found serves as the introduction. First, the specific tribes that this blog is about. Oquaga Lake was a part of their domain. My entire family lived for some 15 summer seasons on Oquaga Lake. I was the piano player at Scotts Oquaga Lake House. The Lenape (English: /ləˈnɑːpi/ or /ˈlɛnəpi/), also called the Lenni Lenape and the Delaware, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands. They live in Canada and the United States. They are also called Delaware Indians. Their historical territory included present-day New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. It is set along the Delaware Riverwatershed, New York City, western Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley.[notes 1
Bearish Lake and Bear Legends
The following I relate from The Illustrated Signs and Symbols Sourcebook, writtenby Adele Nozedar. In Celtic culture, “bear” and “warrior” were interchangeable. Men and women were included with the “bear” name. This title was applied to Artio. She was the ferocious warrior queen of the Gauls. The root for the name bear among the Celts was “artos”. Some claim the name applies to King Arthur. Others try to refute the “King Arthur” connection. Regardless, the Greek Goddess of the hunt was Diana/Artemis. She shares the bear title.
The bear has a strong connection to the Moon.
The Moon disappears for a period of time. This is during New Moon. By parallel, the bear hibernates during the winter months. For this reason, ancients connected the two. In northern European pre-Christian culture, the bear was the equivalent of the lion. Both represented power and authority. In the northern sky Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are the Great Bear and the Little Bear. They are the stellar incarnations of the Goddess.
As my 1st subject on the bear, I hoped to create a background. It was on bear-shaped Oquaga Lake that I received understanding. The insight was about of number squares. It was given by the Oquaga Spirit. With blog No 1, I hoped to tie together, the Lake, the Moon and the Bear. Keep watching for part two on DSOworks.com. It will be called Bearish Lake II. By the way, off-season I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.
Three Four Time Signature Called for by the Oquaga Spirit. There is a hidden place where life is still beautiful. Water is crystal clear. It is drinkable with minimal filtration. A spirit hovers on the lake and surrounding area. I was most fortunate. The spirit took a liking to me. It accompanied me on walks through the woods and over the mountains. As I say in one of my poems, called The Oquaga Spirit: “So much she needed an ear, she ignored my tranquility.” Who is this spirit? I sensed it was a female from the Lennie Lenape American Indians. At one time their domain was also around the lake. Women ruled the roost. What characterized this spirit?
First and foremost: It loves music. At 4:30 P.M. a showboat went around the lake. The guests sang with gusto as it circled its perimeters.
The spirit loves ballroom dancing. As a matter of fact, it inspired our ballroom dancing CD, Dancing Near You. We had ballroom dance instructors from all over the country offering their thoughts. I wrote down the music. My wife Sharon was the arranger.
It loves wisdom and knowledge. Many of the blogs on DSOworks.com were communicated to me by this Indian spirit.
The Indian spirit was a great advocate the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It did not like contrary people.
What the Oquaga Spirit Said About Three Four Time Signature
The spirit dictated my poetry book, The Oquaga Spirit Speaks, in triple time signature. The poem I quote is Nature Loves to Waltz. Its concluding quatrain is:
Man likes duple meters
His triple meters wane.
Return ye to the waltzes of Vienna
And the vibrant boleros of Spain.
So what is my poetic plan? Simply, to tour the world reciting the wisdom of the Oquaga Spirit. Also, I have a few openings for piano lessons in Sarasota. Here is a free poetry sample on youtube. May the spirit be with you!
Triple Meter Has All But Disappeared. I refer to music beats per measure. Waltzes are in triple meter. You count 1-2-3 over and over. They are scarce. They are also memorable. For example we have Piano Man and You Light Up My Life. Two more are Take it to the Limit and Morning Has Broken. I would venture to conservatively guess that perhaps 1 in 5,000 popular selections that get air time today are written in triple meter. According to Wikipedia, it is a musical meter characterized by a primary division of 3 beats to the bar, usually indicated by 3 (simple) or 9 (compound) in the upper figure of the time signature.
Compound triple drum pattern: divides each of three beats into three Play (help·info)
Triple meter is much less common in traditions such as rock & roll and jazz. The most common time in rock, blues, country, funk, and pop is duple and quadruple.
Duple and quadruple meter are sharp and angular. A conductor uses angular strokes of his baton in 2/4 and 4/4. For example, 2/4 is conducted with an angular up and down motion for one and two. Triple meter, on the other had can be conducted with circles or curves. A circle is completed with each set of 1-2-3 beats. Let’s apply meter to yang and yin. Duple and quadruple meters are yang. Triple meters are yin. What does this mean for society? Yang is male. With 4/4 or 2/4 meter, the male mostly dominates. While in 3/4 the yin or female becomes more dominant. We are about to see a massive return dominant 3/4 meter. It will be the age of the glorification for the ladies.
Our Drinking Song From the Princess and the Peasant Uses Triple Meter with a Quadruple Meter Introduction
As men and women come together to waltz, yin and yang become balanced. In so many dances, since the Strauss father and son composers, contact is scarce. However, trends are cyclic. The waltz will return in a big way. I am currently playing piano at the Crab and Fin in Sarasota. Deliberately, I pump a lot of 3/4 time out of the piano. Then, from Christmas to Easter I will be at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Fl. Of course, I plan to play 3/4 time. This includes many Strauss waltzes. Watch for more posts of my original music in 3/4 time on youtube. The Princess and the Peasant is about to make a big splash. Also, off- season, I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.
Periodic Chart Harmony Favors the Octave Interval. In music, an octave (Latin: octavus: eighth) or perfect octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. It is defined by ANSI as the unit of frequency level when the base of the logarithm is two. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the “basic miracle of music”, the use of which is “common in most musical systems”.
So where is the periodic chart harmony of the octave?
Here is a quote from blog #400. It is also about the periodic chart.
The system begins with hydrogen-1. The next vertical element is Lithium-3. So, 3-1 = 2. This is the first coding number on the chart.
Lithium is atomic number 3. Sodium is 11. By subtraction 11 – 3 = 8. Sodium has 8 more protons than lithium.
Potassium has 19 protons. Sodium has 11. We see another 8 protons by subtraction. As, 19 – 11 = 8.
Next, Rubidium has 37 protons. Potassium has 19. We have our 1st 18 proton difference: 37 – 19 = 18.
Cesium is atomic number 55. Rubidium is atomic number 37. Thus, 55 -37 = 18.
That is followed by a 32 proton number difference. Francium is atomic number 87. Cesium is 55. Thus, 87 – 55 is a 32 number difference.
The chart finds periodic or repeating properties with atomic numbers 2, 4, 18, and 32. The first vertical row sets the pattern. Periodic chart harmony is found with these numbers. Simply write the 2 to 1 interval of the octave as follows. 2/1, 4 /2, 6/3, 8/4. The number of each fraction expresses an octave when multiplied as:
2 x 1 = 2
4 x 2 = 8
6 x 3 = 18
8 x 4 = 32.
Blogs on DSOworks.com are attempting to place our planet in harmony with the cosmos. Pythagoras saw the basic unity of music with our world. He defined it by string lengths. If one string was 2 x as long as the other, the shorter sounded an octave higher to the longer. An octave is (1) The most harmonious interval. It is also the most “perfect” of the perfect intervals. (2) It is also the first overtone in the series of overtones. Why not take the musical view of our cosmos? For those who are interested, I’m offering piano lessons in Sarasota.