Keyboard Consideration is Still Glossed Over Today. For an explanation, let’s look back to the Baroque era. Its years were approximately 1600 – 1750. Very few composer/keyboardists in the Baroque era were said to have mastered even two types of keyboards! Most often, if they played the organ, they were deficient in the harpsichord. In reverse, if they could play the harpsichord, they were deficient in organ. This is the point of this blog: If two types of keyboards were confusing, even for geniuses; today we literally have hundreds of types. This of course takes into consideration the electronic wizardry which seems to multiply daily.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (22 November 1710 – 1 July 1784), the second child and eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. He was a German composer and performer. He possessed two mind sets for keyboard instruments: One for the organ. One for the harpsichord. Historian and contemporary of J.S. Bach, Johann Forkel, wrote: Their style (harpsichord and organ) and manner of playing differ as much as their respective destinations. That which at the harpsichord produces excellent effect, does not express anything at the organ and vice versa.”
Keyboard Consideration of Organ V. Harpsichord
Further on Forkel states how he only knew of two musicians equally adept at both: J.S. Bach and his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedmann Bach. He states: “Both were elegant virtuosos at the harpsichord. Once seated at the organ, it is impossible to perceive the slightest trace of the the harpsichordist.” Forkel states the following of Wilhelm Friedmann Bach: “I had the pleasure of hearing Wilhelm Friedmann at the harpsichord. All was delicate, elegant and pleasing. When I heard him at the organ, I was truly seized with religious respect. ”
Words of Keyboard Consideration from My Own Teacher- Mischa Kottler
Mischa studied in Paris and Vienna in the 1920’s. He worked with Alfred Cortôt in Paris and Emil von Sauer in Vienna. He told me right from the beginning, do not play the organ if you study piano. Seeing what Forkel just had to say about two different keyboard instruments, I think he was absolutely correct! Please share with friends that might be interested.
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.
Musical Ornaments – Those For and Those Against. Everyone has opinions about the necessity of ornaments in music. I suppose the same could apply to the use of ornaments in fashion. At this point I venture a prediction: The use of set ornaments in music and in dress will return quite strongly. Richard Wagner commented on ornaments. He would tell musicians: “Pay attention to the small notes…The large ones will take care of themselves.”
Nature of Musical Ornaments
Why, at one time, were ornaments belittled? Some thought they were only needed because of weaker harpsichord sounds. The modern piano, they thought, did not need reinforcement. Among those who held this opinion were Marmoutel, Le Couppey and Méreaux. Yet, both the voice and violin had rich ornamentation. They had the same volume in the past as they have today.
C.P.E. Bach wrote a definitive manual playing keyboard instruments. While in Berlin, C.P.E. wrote, Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (An Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments). “Both Haydn and Beethoven swore by it.” By 1780, the book was in its third edition. It laid the foundation for the keyboard methods of Clementi and Cramer.Bach presented his thoughts on the virtue of ornaments in his treatise. He believed that without ornamentation the best melody becomes empty and dull.
He comments on how most composers use them profusely.
On how they can connect notes.
Ornaments can enliven music.
They attach particular stress and importance to the notes they adorn.
They make musical meaning clear: They can emphasize either sad or happy qualities.
Ornaments can actually improve a mediocre composition.
Musical Ornaments of J.S. Bach Kept Intact with my Own Arrangement of
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.
It topped the charts in several other markets in addition to England. They included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and The Netherlands. It later became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
How My Youtube Recording of the Bohemian Rhapsody Came About
The request for the Rhapsody came about over the summer of 2017. I was playing three days weekly at the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Fl. The general manager is Chris Koehlinger. He asked me if I could play the number. That began the process. Finding the music was not easy. Most sheet music stores are out of business. Music stores are not faring much better. Luckily, my wife is fairly adept at the computer. She found a version on youtube played by Vika Yermolyeva. It is very aptly titled www.vkgoeswild. Her arrangement was available. We downloaded it. I practiced it. Then performed it for clientele at the Crab and Fin. What a hit it was!
My job at the Crab and Fin kept me in fine form for my next job. Currently, I play 6 nights weekly at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande Fl. They have a magnificent vintage, rebuilt Steinway concert grand from 1924. My contract there is through
Easter, April 1 2018. I got the same results. What a hit this Rhapsody makes!
To continue the story of how the current blog came about: We were having a Sunday brunch at our Sarasota home. I brought up the subject of the Rhapsody. My daughter says: “Dad. I’ll record you for youtube playing the Rhapsody.” She said that she and her husband had to leave in 15 minutes. I then raced to the piano. It is on the link below. I didn’t even have time to change or put on anything dressier or do any warm ups. Regardless, hope you enjoy it. Lots of exciting events are coming up this year. These include an historical concert in Circleville Ohio. Keep checking DSOworks for listings.
How about a little Bohemian Rhapsody on your Sunday morning?
Unsung Romantic Music Hero is Bella Salomon. The 1st question you are probably asking is: Who was Bella Salomon? Answer: Felix Mendelssohn’s maternal grandmother. The second question is, what did she do for her grandson? In 1823 (or possibly 1824), she presented her grandson with a gift. It was to alter the course of his life. Also, it was to alter the course of musical history. The gift was a copyist’s manuscript score of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. She recognized the Passion wasone of the most deeply spiritual works ever written. It was almost unknown during the time of Mendelssohn. She had it copied by Eduard Rietz for her grandson. Felix struggled with this special project for 4 or 5 years. Finally, his dream was realized: He rehearsed and conducted the Passion at the Singakademie on March 11, 1829.
Unsung Romantic Music Hero, Bella Saloman, to the Rescue
The romantic era revived counterpoint. One era contrasts another. Melody with accompaniment mostly characterized the rococo period and the classical eras. Mendelssohn brought counterpoint to the Romantic era. Because of him, it became a key element. But, we have cause and effect. Had Felix Mendelssohn’s maternal grandmother, the unsung romantic music hero, not given him the copy of the St. Matthew Passion, Felix could not have made it known. Later Brahms was to embraced counterpoint’s use with melody. With this in mind, my the internal link contrasts Brahms and Wagner.
In the above youtube, has me playing Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. I have been called Sarasota’s Wedding Pianist. On Dec. 20, 2017 will begin playing the piano at the Gasparilla Inn. It is pictured below: Christmas through Easter, six nights weekly. The 1924 Steinway Grand as just been refurbished.
High Stepping on the Steinway Piano at World Class Gasparilla Inn. I feel like I have a special connection with Steinway grand pianos. My primary teacher on piano was Mischa Kottler. He kept two Steinway grands in his studio. For my lessons, I played on one. He accompanied and demonstrated on the other. What kind of teacher was Mischa? I quote Greg Philliganes in Keyboard Magazine.
High Stepping with Mischa Kottler
From work with Stevie Wonder while still in his teens, to tours and recordings with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, and Toto, Phillinganes’ massive discography reads like a “Who’s Who” of pop music, encompassing four decades.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine
“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.
What kinds of things were you studying with him?
I was studying technique and classical repertoire. He taught me a certain way of playing that I still use to this day: a sense of evenness where your wrists aren’t loose or moving up and down. It’s a totally linear way of playing, where there’s even movement in both hands so your wrists stay perfectly still. Mischa would take two fingers and weigh them down on my wrists to keep them from moving. He instilled a sense of dexterity and definition in my playing. If I’m known for my speed and precision, it’s probably due to Mischa more than anything else.
I also have Mischa to thank for instilling in me speed and precision. He also instilled in me the desired to look for the “truth” in music. What is the music really about? How do you convey it? Again, thanks to Mischa, I have year round employment. . Until Dec 18, I will be at the Crab and Fin in Sarasota. See events on DSOworks.com. Then, Gasparilla from Dec. 19- April 1 2018 for six nights weekly. I play on a newly rebuilt Steinway Grand. The parts were special ordered from Germany. In between, my wonderful agent Fitz Otis at Jay Goodley Entertainment Group books me any other time I am available. My advice to students: Work hard. Be serious. And yes, I have a couple of openings for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Unraveling Codes of Lost Civilizations. An enigmatic code was once prevalent. It is definitely prehistoric. So how did I find out about it, you might ask? First, I always was curious as to what is the source of everything. Many say, “Our Creator” or “God”. That being true, is there a preferred medium or tool that “Our Creator” uses? Here is the story about how I discovered God’s preferred Creation tool.
The Oquaga Spirit Provided the Knowledge for Unraveling Codes of Lost Civilizations
In upstate New York we find many beautiful lakes. Oquaga Lake is some 25 miles east of Binghamton, NY. I worked for some 15 summer/fall seasons at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. I was their “house piano player.”
At one time a matriarchal American Indian tribe lived around the lake. They were the Lennie Lenape. This spirit took a liking to me. I went for walks around the lake. She’d talk my ear off. The spirit dictated volumes of poetry. The 1st book was “The Book of Balance.” Then came “The Oquaga Spirit Speaks.” Then came The Staff of God volumes I and II. Her discourse on love is entitled “Ahav” The Creed of Love”. Finally came The Sacred Engineers’ Philosophy: The Pinnacle of Thought in the Unified Culture of Ancient Builders. This spirit not only revealed hidden codes, but directed my search. God’s preferred tool for creation was the seven number squares of antiquity. The first and most complex of the group is also the simplest. It is the standard 3 x 3 number square pictured below. Unity for all mankind is found in this square of numbers. The Chinese call it The Lo Shu. Christ and his Disciples called it the “Grain of Mustard Seed.” It holds the plan for sacred temples for most religions around the world. Its understanding heralds a new Golden Age. Read and reread all posts on DSOworks.com. All have easy and free access. See the front page. Oh yes, I have room for a few piano students in Sarasota.
Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist, not Richard Wagner. I am in awe of Johannes Brahms. I have been religiously practicing the six numbers of his opus 118. I hope to eventually make a post playing all six. The key to the romantic era is fusion of melody with counterpoint. Counterpoint is so rare nowadays that I will define it.
Ludwig II (German: Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm; English: Louis Otto Frederick William; 25 August 1845 – 13 June 1886) was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death in 1886. He stands next to Richard Wagner who is seated at the piano.
Why Johannes Brahms Arch Romanticist Peaked the Romantic Era, not Richard Wagner
Brahms is the master. Wagner is dramatic, exciting and on a grand scale. Brahms, however, is the scholarly master of counterpoint. The romantic era revived counterpoint. One era contrasts another. Melody with accompaniment mostly characterized the rococo period and the classical. To be different, the romantics revived counterpoint as an art form. My opinion is that Brahms is better at counterpoint that Wagner. The collection of Opus 118 is filled with masterpieces of this genre. No. 4 is mostly a continuous “round.” The right hand plays one bar of music. In the next measure the left hand plays the same. In that same measure, the right plays a new aspect of the melody. In the next measure, the left hand plays the same… I think that Tal-Haim Samnon in the youtube video has an excellent approach.
Conclusion: Melody and counterpoint fused together are hallmarks of the Romantic era. In my opinion, Brahms is its outstanding representative.