Learning piano with the Best Piano Instructor, Mischa Kottler

Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler

Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler.  For some 17 years I studied piano with a great master, Mischa Kottler. He prepared me, as a pianist, to play for heads of state from around the world as well as Presidents of the United States.    Among his students were counted; Ruth Loredo, Cynthia Raim and Seymour Lipkin.  One of his students was Greg Phillinganes.  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. Mischa defied time. At age 93 he paid us a surprise visit in Sarasota home. There he played Chopin’s Minute Waltz.  So what, you ask? He played it with double notes in the right hand.  Instead of single notes he played 3rds, 4th, and 5th in with one hand. The tempo of its fast pace was never lost. Fortunately, this feat can be witnessed on youtube. Single notes at that speed a difficult enough, Alfred Cortot, his teacher also plays it but  with single notes. Many students feel the compulsion to outdo their teachers. Mischa did.

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.

Many of My Happiest moments were my piano lessons with Mischa Kottler
I studied with Mischa in Detroit from age 14. The same year I was ready to go to college, he was appointed head of the piano department at Wayne State University. I studied with him through my Master’s Degree.

Happiest Moment Comes With an Unplanned Visit by Mischa

In 1993 I get a phone call. In context, I had no contact with Mischa for some 16 years. I thought he was no longer with us. The voice on the phone said: “David, this is your piano teacher, Mischa Kottler.” I was sure it was a joke. The heavy Russian accent went on to say: “I hear you have more children than I know piano concertos.” At that moment I nearly collasped. It was him. I recognized his dry humor. Guess what? He visited our home and gave me piano lessons “in exchange” for hospitality. Naturally, he would have been most welcome even without the piano lessons.

Mischa with our children in one of our happiest moments
Certainly, Mischa knew more piano concertos than I had children!

My advise to children. Learn to play the piano. It will allow you to someday talk about the happiest moments of your life. We are about to enter an era where beautiful is once more in vogue. Beautiful piano playing will lead the way. I still have a couple openings for piano lessons in Sarasota. Also, I am about to begin my 8th year playing a wonderfully  reconditioned Steinway Concert Grand at the famed Gasparilla Inn on the isle of  Boca Grande. It probably has the sweetest sound of any  piano anywhere. See you there December 20th-April 14. I play 6 nights a week.  And yes, Mischa stays with me, in my heart.

Where to stay for the happiest moments of your life!
The Gasparilla Inn.

 

Chopinesque also includes baroque techniques

Chopinesque Includes a Love of J.S. Bach

Chopinesque Includes a Love of  J.S. Bach. My piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. In the 1920’s Kottler went to Europe. He had a recommendation from Sergei Rachmaninoff to study with Alfred Cortot. From Cortot, Kottler  learned  about the influences on Chopin’s compositional style. These influences  included Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. Bach, Mozart and Schubert.  Mischa also emphasized how crucial study of J.S. Bach was for playing Chopin properly. So how this affect my musical education?

My Chopinesque Education at Wayne State University

I received both  Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Wayne State University. While at Cass Tech High School, I began my studies with Mischa Kottler. Before I even graduated high school, Mischa was appointed head of the piano department at the university. They gave him a studio right next door to the head of the Liberal Arts Music Department’s office. In this manner those applying could hear the most wonderful music issuing forth next door. You could always tell when the student was playing and when Mischa was playing. Mischa used a phrase for good piano instruction. He called it: “going through the mill.” The “mill” included a continual stream of J.S. Bach. As soon as you completed one book of Bach’s works, he took you to the next level. These volumes included:

Works for keyboard (BWV 772–994)
  • Inventions and Sinfonias
  • Four Duets from Clavier-Übung III
  • English Suites
  • French Suites
  • Miscellaneous suites
  • Partitas for keyboard (published as Clavier-Übung I)
  • French Overture, from Clavier-Übung II

Properly playing baroque counterpoint was key to effective Chopin. Cortot felt this was mainly to be acquired by playing Bach. When Kottler gave his lessons excercises came first, They would include finrst  finger independence exercises, then Czerny, Cramer etc. Then came Bach. Afterwards  came classical sonatas, romantic works and something 20th century-ish. Chopin was Mischa’s favorie composer. Below is a sample of him playing the minute waltz by Chopin. As you listen to the work, his virtuoso counterpoint is simply incredible. Who today could play it like Mischa? In the meanwhile, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota until the season in “kicks in.” A vintage Steinway grand from 1924 was just rebuilt by management for my 8th year at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. See you there starting Dec. 20 Through April 14. I play six nights weekly.

Where you may hear the Chopinesque playing of David Ohrenstein
Home of a magnificent just rebuilt vintage Steinway Grand from the 1920’s. Larry Keckler, a master technician, just rebuilt it. David plays here 6 nights weekly starting Dec, 20th.
In meekness Bach said he wrote music for instruction

Fifths of Tones Sets the Future & Was the Neolithic Standard

Fifths of Tones Sets the Future and was the Neolithic Standard.  Why the featured picture? The answers are all on the piano keyboard. Piano playing develops a talent for working with numbers. The solfeggio of the fifth set the way for the building of Neolithic temples. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the tones Do and So are the 5th.  Do to So are a prototype for all fifths. The ancient  temples used specific diatonic tones. The fifth relationship (3 to 2 ratio) was there. The only difference was the set specific tones. They were the fifth of  A to E in Neolithic times; not the C to G as pictured on this staff.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) theatrical poster.jpg and Fifths
The Interval of the Last 2 Notes of its Famous 5 Note Theme Were At the Core of Neolithic Building.

Ancient diatonic tones had a primary fifth. The lower was set at A-440 vibrations per second. The higher was E-660 vibrations per second. Various historical cultures set the numbers of these tones into their own units of measure.  Instruments dating  back to the Sumerian times have been found. We know of their vibrations per second.

Neolithic cultures thrived on number squares. That’s what I have blogging about on DSOworks. Please read them all. This is lost knowledge that I have found. They also had knowledge of the hidden number codes on the 3 x 3 number square.

Neolithic Musical Fifths Come From Here
Musical Fifths Are Hidden in An Ancient Number Code That Once was the Banner of a Golden Age of Peace and Plenty
  • Consider the 3 x 3 number square by double numbers:  First we view horizontally: (49 + 35 + 81 + 94 + 53 + 18) + (92 + 57 + 16 + 61 + 75 + 29) = 660.  Now view vertically: (43 + 95 + 27 + 34 + 59 + 72) + (83 + 15 + 67 + 38 + 51 + 76) = 660. That numbers our diatonic “E”.
  • Consider the perimeter of 3 x 3 number square by overlapping double numbers as:  49 + 92 + 27 + 76 + 61 + 18 + 83 + 34 = 440. Reverse the numbers and get the same total. That numbers our diatonic “A”.

We have just found the following: (1) The lower diatonic “A” 440 of the fifth. (2) The higher interval of the fifth. That is, E- 660. Many readers are experiencing this information for  first time.  Please recognize that  Neolithic, priestly ancestors knew this over 6,000 years ago.  How did I come by this knowledge? On Oquaga Lake an Indian Spirit from the Lennie Lenape tribe was anxious to share her wisdom with me. Below is a free sampling of her poetry. Enjoy!

image 24 of 24

 

Every day is an aidition day for David. Customers love listening to his music while dining.

Audition on the piano youtube Two-note phrase is key

Audition on the piano youtube.  Enjoy six typical selections for free.  Time for all 6 is 13.48 minutes. Most important factor: The two-note phrase. For auditions the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. What does tasting pudding have to do with piano playing? A well played two note phrase is the highest piano art.  More on this in a moment. Piano makes dining more pleasurable. This only holds if the piano is played with a beautiful touch.

Every night is an audition night in Boca.
The 1925 vintage Steinway I play on partakes of this spectacular view. One evening I played for a couple of ladies from the British House Lords. In London they often sat next to Andrew Lloyd Webber in Parliament.

AUDITION – MASTERING THE TWO NOTE PHRASE KEEPS YOU IN THE RUNNING

Be it Bach, Beethoven or Brahms- the two note phrase is key. In this regard the size or quantity of what you know, speed and power mean little. This phrase is the smallest increment of piano playing. My own teacher was Mischa Kottler. He was a stickler about this tool. It took me a year and a half to master it. That was only under his constant supervision. Mischa studied in Paris and Vienna in the 1920’s. His teachers were direct descendants of Liszt and  Chopin. They were Emil von Sauer and Alfred Cortot.

Many, if not all compositions, are only played properly with a plethora of such phrases. This is especially true on the piano. My own youtube sample is below.  I do my best to demonstrate its effectiveness.  Keys to long term employment as a pianist include beautiful tone production and such phrases. Unfortunately, too many students have turned piano playing into an athletic event. As Mischa would say about such crudely undetailed pianists. “They play like pigs.” This, of course, was in his fiery Russian accent.

 

MY AVAILABILITY FOR SPECIAL EVENTS

For bookings I  go through Jay Goodley Associates Inc. in Sarasota, Fl. (941 480-9600). They are wonderful to work with both as an employee and for you as an  employer. Also, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota- especially off season.

 

 

keys how the piano keyboard is the drawing board for the Great Pyramid of Egypt

Keys to the Great Pyramid are on the Piano

Keys to the Great Pyramid are on the Piano. Black and white keys form an interesting pattern. Within the scope of an octave are 5 black keys and 8 whites. Let’s use  the pattern of one “C” to the next. Look at the featured picture. “C’s” are immediately to the left of the 2 black ones. Count the white keys from one “C” to the next. There are eight. Now count the first black set. We see one pattern of two. The next pattern with the octave has three. Thus, 2 + 3 = 5. The basic ratio of white to black within the octave is 5 to 8. That describes the ratio of the base to the height of the Great Pyramid. Also, white key “A” vibrates 440 times per second. Count the white tones from the “C” under the “M” on the name, Yamaha.  “A” is the 6th one from middle “C”.  In doing this, count  the middle “C” as the first note. 440 is an essential Great Pyramid number. Keep reading.

KEYS ON THE PIANO DUPLICATE THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF THE GREAT PYRAMID OF EGYPT

keys on the piano and the keyboard have a lot in common
Keys. How the keyboard on the piano measures the Great Pyramid. Want to travel the world? Play the piano. I give piano lessons in Sarasota.

Now, what are the ways in which this magnificent structure duplicates the standard piano keyboard?

  • A Great Cubit is 55 smaller cubits of 1.71818…feet. The Great Pyramid has a height of the Great Pyramid is 5  Great Cubits. That numbers the octave’s black keys.
  • The length of a side of the base is 8 Great cubits. Its 8 to 5 ratio becomes apparent. The piano has 8 white keys for every five black within the octave.
  • The height of the Great Pyramid is 275 shorter cubits of 1.71818..feet. The lowest note on the piano, an “A”, vibrates 27.5 times per second.
  • The standard piano keyboard has 88 keys. 1st of all, Thoth, the Egyptian god associated with Mercury, is connected with number 88. This is thru what was called gematria. This is the ancient equation of numbers and letters. They shared the same symbols.
  • Second, Mercury completes an orbit around the Sun in 88 earth days. Play every black and white key on the piano. One note = one day of Mercury’s orbit.
  • Finally, “A” is tuned to 440 vibrations per second. This is especially true of older cultures. They used the diatonic scale. Each side of the Great Pyramid measures 440 cubits of 1.71818…feet.

Conclusion: Playing the piano should give you the same essential qualities and feelings as the Great Pyramid. In addition, playing music on  the piano can take you to to distant times, lands and places. So, enjoy life. Take the time to play music!

Eightball is the key to winning at pool

Eightball: Understanding the Significance of #8

Eightball: Understanding the Significance of #8 This topic, by necessity, will requite many blogs. In the game of pool sinking the 8 ball in a pocket, can make you win or loose the game.  Being a composer/pianist, I will mainly cover the use of #8 in music with my first blog. The first fundamental overtone of music is the octave. This tone sounds at the same time as the octave “overtone” of its lower note. Although it’s softer, it still can be heard. The ratio of the speed of its vibration of the higher to the  lower is 2 to 1. Count the white keys under the outstreched hand in the picture below. There are eight white keys.

Eightball, octave...Here's how to stretch your hand and your mind.
Eightball, octave, are all about number 8
  1. Go to piano.
  2. Depress the higher “C” with your thumb(as in the picture) without making a sound.
  3. Keep it down.
  4. Then depress and play the lower “C”.  It is being played by the “pinky.”The two notes are pictured above
  5. You will then hear the formerly quiet higher “C” resonate quite strongly and clearly.

The white keys, from the fifth finger to the thumb, define the “C” major scale. Major and minor scales are defined by eight tones. So are the more ancient chruch modes. These include the dorian, phrygian, lydian, aoelian…Scales are at the basis of  playing any instrument. I offer piano lessons in Sarasota. Now, back to number 8.

  • A complete musical thought or phrase has 8 bars of music. That gives it stablity. Think of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”: “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow.” These words cover eight bars of music. This is an example of musical sentence.

In the realm of chemistry eight also has special properties. Eight electrons in an atoms or shared by compounds in the outer shell does the following:

  • It stablizies any compound.
  • It defines a “period” on the periodic chart. Or, it makes for totally stable or inert element. Similarly, a period stablizes or completes a sentence.

Eightball and its Mystique of “8” are also in the World’s Religions

Buddha taught of the eightfold noble path.  It led to enligtenment. In Islam a fascinating parallel exits between music and heaven.  This is in  the belief that there are 7 hells and 8 heavens. The title Hasht bihisht ( 8 paradises) is used several times in Persian literature. This I found in the book, The Mystery of Numbers by Annemarie Schimmel.  I worked with maestro Rubinoff and His Violin as his arranger. Any musical idea that only had 7 bars sounded “wrong.”  Eight bars sounded correct. That always turned out to be the case. Rubinoff was extremely successful as an arranger and violinist. While at Wayne State University, I was a music major.  I also was Rubinoff’s accompanist and arranger.  Conclusion: Get on the “eightball”. Learn to enjoy life, and feel fulfilled. Most important: partake of music- David.

 

 

Nocturnes of Chopin are Still Highly Cutting Edge in Novelty

Nocturnes by Chopin are still Highly Cutting Edge in Novelty .  This is true even by today’s standards.  One of the nocturnes written by Chopin will serve for today’s blog: It is Opus 37, No. 2. Chopin goes from one key signature to the next, quickly. Like a great painter,constantly changing he colors. Yet the entire work holds together beautifully. This opus is like a musical kaleidoscope of harmonies. They shift continually.  Chopin was highly experimental. No matter what key this nocturne goes into, he changes the sharps and flats- not the key signature. Throughout the entire score, you see the “F#”, which here denotes the key of G major. In most music, same key signature with continual modulations by “accidentals” rarely happens.  As I fascinatingly practice this work, the continual “F#” really stands out against, say, six flats. Yet,  the work hangs together for an unforgettable aesthetic experience.

All About  Nocturnes

Generally they have a calm feeling. Surprisingly, an Irishman, John Field (1792-1837), is said to have originated the form. Today the Nocturne’s lingering melodies are almost totally abandoned in favor of music that has short rhythmic outbursts. A fairly recent exception is the Harlem Nocturne. The Duke can thank the Irish fellow and Polish fellow for the form title. They have long melodic lines with ornaments. Often they are played with rhythmic freedom. The nocturne was even favored a century early by composers. It was called the notturno. It spelled out nighttime entertainment. The pieces were generally light, short, and meant to be played outdoors. The Moon, of course, was the featured background. Even Haydn wrote a set of notturnos for the king of Naples in 1790.

My Prediction for Nocturnes

Long melodic lines have been on the “outs” for decades. Everything is cyclic. They will return sooner rather than later as an art form. Beautiful is coming back. Take heart. The cycle of beautiful is only about 50 years overdue. Right now I am offering piano lessons in Sarasota. Here is an update: Beginning Dec 20th 2017 I will  play 6 days weekly on their new reburbished 1924 Steinway Grand. It has the sweetest sound of any piano on Earth!  Thank you master technician Larry Keckler for rebuilidng the piano!

Duke Ellington’s Harlem Nocturne – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIkekMoEQY4

Nov 11, 2009 – Uploaded by TheYellowTelevision

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra’s rendition of the jazz classic,Harlem Nocturne.

Mix – Chopin Nocturne – No 12 in G Major Op 37-2YouTube

Reverie-the Seeds of Debussy’s Greatness

Clair de Lune & Reverie * Original Unedited Edition for Concert Piano* with Performance CD

Reverie-the Seeds of Debussy’s Greatness. The year was 1890. Debussy was 28 years old, and like most composer-musicians, he needed money just to survive. That was why he wrote Reverie. He felt it was a commercial work.  However to add insult to injury his publisher, Fromont, did not immediately pick it up. Then, after a number of years, when Debussy was in more flush, Fromont published Reverie without first notifying  the composer.  Sure enough became a major hit in Europe before the turn of the 20th century. Was Debussy happy about this? NO! Debussy wrote back to his publisher the following: “I regret very much your decision to publish Reverie. I wrote it many years ago, purely for material considerations. It is a work of no consequence and I frankly consider it absolutely no good.”

DEBUSSY’S MUSICAL TRADEMARKS ARE FOUND ARE ALSO FOUND IN REVERIE!

Ah, the mystique of writing a hit! Reverie was just that. It sold in the late 1890’s like pancakes at a Veterans of Foreign Wars Sunday brunch. I like pancakes, too. As commercial as Debussy thought Reverie was, it has the trademarks of his great piano works. (1) Debussy uses numerous two note phrases, but with a little twist. The resolution of the first note often comes on the off beat or on the “and” after the first beat in the measure. Debussy, at times, makes the weaker 2nd and 4th beats in this piece, written mostly in 4/4 time, the emphasized notes; and the traditionally emphasized beats, 1st  and 3rd, into the weaker beats; thus favoring syncopation.  In this regard, studying piano music prepares today’s piano student for popular or modern music. Another fascinating rhythmical device he uses is alternating three notes to a beat with two notes to a beat. This often requires a piano student to use a metronome in order to get the correct timing. Debussy’s originality knows no bounds. I’m still working on a recording of Debussy on Youtube.

It’s time to appreciate composer Joachim Raff

 HOW I DISCOVERED JOACHIM RAFF’S MUSIC

It’s time to appreciate composer Joachim Raff. Critics of his day compared the quality of his compositions to his contemporaries, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. I agree. Apparently so did Bernard Herrmann, conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra who featured his Lenore Symphony #5  on May 27-29 1970  in concert. But where is his music now? Why has his music been ignored? I just happened to be sight reading an etude from Schirmer’s Concert Etudes for the Piano edited by Balough.  Raff’s Etude Melodique  Opus 130 No.2 was so well written that I think it’s on a par with the Etude, Un Sospiro, by Franz Liszt. He orchestrated for Liszt for a number of years in the 1850’s.

Raff, 1878 (published in John Knowles Paine‘s Famous Composers, Vol. 2, 1891)

Joseph Joachim Raff (May 27, 1822 – June 24 or June 25, 1882) was a GermanSwiss composer, teacher and pianist.[1]

SO WHY HAS HE BEEN PRACTICALLY RELEGATED TO OBLIVION?

I feel that, quite bluntly, he went against the male bastion of composers that kept women out of their field. This segregation had been there’s for hundreds of years. In Frankfort Germany Raff was the first director of the Hoch Conservatory of Music. He actually established a class for female composers at a time when women were not taken seriously. Worse yet, Raff hired a woman, Clara Schumann, to instruct composition. Heavens! Does this make him any less of a composer? It just proves that he was secure in his own musical composition.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN BELIEVED IN RAPP’S MUSIC

Felix Mendelssohn was a wonderful supporter of great musicians and composers. He resurrected the music of J.S. Bach in 1829, almost 80 years after Bach passed away, by conducting Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew.  Mendelssohn also championed the compositions of Raff. In writing this blog, I hope Im doing the same. I feel that music of a romantic nature is about to make a come back. I also think that Rapp has taken a bad wrap for too long a time. Please listen to some of his music and let me know what you think.

 

 

Debussy’s Clairvoyant Claire de Lune

Debussy’s clairvoyant Claire de Lune is a profound mystery for me. Its music is elegant, graceful and lyrical but yet it found its way into Claude Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque. So what’s so unusual about that? A suite is usually a collection of dances, sometimes with a prelude The Suite Bergamasque has four numbers: (1) the Prelude (2) Menuet (3) Claire de Lune (4) Passepied. Three of the four numbers belong in a dance suite: the prelude, menuet and passpied. Claire de Lune is program or descriptive music about the Moon: no dancing. So why is it there? One answer is that  both the words bergamask and moonlight are found in the poem, Clare de Lune by Paul Verlaine, given below:

Claire de Lune, poem by Paul Verlaine

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masqueraders and bergamaskers go
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad beneath their fanciful disguises.

All sing in a minor key
Of victorious love and the opportune life,
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight,

With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
That sets the birds dreaming in the trees

And the fountains sobbing in ecstasy,
The tall slender fountains among marble statues.

I have chosen a second answer. I believe that either Debussy or his editor knew, either by intuition or clairvoyance, that Claire de Lune would be a great and lasting classical hit. They placed it in the suite as a third number. The parallel position in today’s Broadway musical show would be called the 11 o’clock number. The hit ballad is saved for this place. Claire de Lune shines like moonlight on the other three numbers and elevates the level entire suite in the same manner that a hit ballad elevates a musical. I do not wish to negate the value of the other three numbers. A hit number can carry a show, suite, symphony or make anything into a success.

Clair de lune”, (“Moonlight”) Op. 46 No 2, is a song by Gabriel Fauré, composed in 1887 to words by Paul Verlaine. What most people do not know is that  Gabriel Fauré, wrote his Claire de Lune three years before Debussy began his, which is in his Suite Bergamasque. What most also do not know is that Faure taught Debussy composition. Also Debussy wrote his Claire de Lune in five flats just like Faure’s. Faure’s is in Bb minor while Debussy’s is in the major mode.  Did Debussy choose to follow the path of his instructor and perhaps even try to out do him? Please listen to both Clair de Lunes. See if you agree with me that the poem is much closer to Gabriel Faure’s musical sentiment than it is to Debussy’s. I feel that Debussy’s is positively romantic while Faure’s  fits the line: Sad beneath their fanciful disguises. Feel free to email the site with your answer as to who you prefer.

File:Hiroshige Man on horseback crossing a bridge.jpg