Chopin Greatly Admired Liszt as per Documentation in a Letter. I feel a special connection to both Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. Thanks to a generous father, I was able to study piano under Mischa Kottler. In the 1920’s Kottler studied with Alfred Cortôt in Paris and Emil von Sauer in Vienna. In addition to being the founder of two conservatories in Paris, Cortôt piano studied with a pupil of Chopin. Then Kottler continued on to Vienna and studied with Sauer, a pupil of Liszt. The last couple of years of his life, Liszt sent his best pupils to different cities in Europe to keep the piano tradition alive. Sauer was sent to Vienna. Kottler had a letter of recommendation from Rachmaninoff to study with Cortôt and Sauer.
Tad Szulc wrote Chopin in Paris; a very worthwhile book. He writes about how Chopin and Liszt had mutual admiration for each other. Liszt talks about how ” There was so much distinction in his posture. His manners had the mark of such good upbringing that he was treated like a prince.”
Chopin describes in a letter to Hiller his admiration for Liszt as he played Chopin’s etudes: “I write not knowing what my pen is scribbling because at this very moment, Liszt is playing my etudes. They are transporting me to the limits of rational thought…..I would like to steal from him his way of performing my own creations.”
My own hope is that pianists will want to play my own music. My lyricist wife and I are giving such a concert 7:30 on line. The Triad Theater in New York City will host the event. See events on DSOworks.com
Start Over Again Rubinoff Discusses the Great Depression. Monopoly can be an allegory for life. Every time you pass “Go”, you start over again. The thing is to just keep on going! Yes, the roll of a dice can bring hardship and calamity. You can loose a ton of money when another player has hotels on Boardwalk or Parkway. Just keep on playing the game. Perhaps there is a chance? Now who was are Rubinoff?
Rubinoff and His Violin was a conductor violinist that I worked with for 15 years.
Below is the Start Over Context of Famed Violinist, Rubinoff and His Violin
Rubinoff did the start over thing. He left Russia under the wing of Victor Herbert, becoming his protege. Dave and his entire family had lived in abject poverty and with anti–Jewish sentiment while in Russia and Poland. He rose through his own efforts; from selling newspapers on a street corner to conducting and working orchestras for both the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn and Pictures in Hollywood. He lead the Chicago Symphony in a concert attended by 225,000 people in 1937. They turned away 25,000 at the door. Among many accomplishments, he played for 5 American Presidents. Talking about the hardships of the Great Depression Dave says in his autobiography: “I guessed the ones who were committing suicide hadn’t learned to throw ace-duce and start over again.”
Entertainer Friendships Can Make Careers Skyrocket.
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.
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) – 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.
Imitation Stifles Music and Hinders Originality. A young French pianist came to ask a question of famed pianist and conductor Phillipe Entremont. The purpose was to ask questions about her ideas for pianistic interpretation. Entremont had already won a prize in the 1952 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition[1. Among his credentials was being the Director of the New Orleans Symphony from 1980 to 1986. He served the Denver Symphony Orchestra as principal conductor from 1986 to 1988, and music director from 1988 to 1989. Entremont has also been chief conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and is now its Conductor Laureate. He also holds the same title with the Israel Chamber Orchestra.
I will quote Entremont’s answer found in the book, Reflections from the Keyboard: The World of the Concert Pianist. by David Dubal. Dubal has done a great service for all aficionados of piano playing in writing this book. In part Dubal’s knowledge comes from being the music and program director of New York City’s former classical music radio station, WNCN. His own credentials are also most impressive.
How Imitation Stifles Music
Essentially the younger, less experienced pianist told Entremont: If a phrase pleases her from Brendel she copies him. If another phrase was pleasing from say, Weissenberg, she did the same. In effect, she kind of assembled the thoughts of many great pianists for various opus numbers she worked on.
Entremont, in mentioning his thoughts to Dubal replies: “This means she has nothing to say. You can not be successful at imitation: it is the death of music.”
My own piano teacher was Mischa Kottler. He often complained about students who were only great at imitation. If you showed them exactly what to do, they were fine. However, such pupils were incapable of coming up with own ideas. Greatness often means rather than leaning on other people for musical thoughts, also be sure have your own.
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.
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. .
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.
Hello Boca Grande for my piano employment the 11th straight Year. Click on the Boca Grande nowhere but here box below to see many incredibly beautiful and exotic pictures of the island. There my piano playing services will be in full swing. Daughter Kathryn Parks worked on this post for Michael Saunders. She works on promotion for this real estate company in Florida and does a beautiful job at that.
Untouched by time, Boca Grande is a classic Florida getaway where pristine beaches, sunny days, and small-town charms create a blissful atmosphere.
Hello Boca Grande
It’s impossible not to have fabulous stories when you work at such a place. One of favorites is the evening that two distinguished ladies from London sat and enjoyed their dinner while dining on the table right beside the piano. Fortunately, my piano touch is such that people can enjoy their dinner and still converse while listening to beautiful melodies. My incredible instructor Mischa Kottler, studied in Europe in Paris under Alfred Cortôt in the 1920’s. Cortôt traced his lineage to Frederic Chopin. Then Mischa Kottler went to Vienna and apprenticed under Emil von Sauer. Sauer studied under Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. Mischa was always emphatic when he would say: ” “Present the melody on a silver platter.” In so doing you can eliminate all the ponderous accompaniment that so many often vulgarly place into their piano playing.
But on with the story: When I got up for a small respite, I walked past the ladies. One said to me, “We enjoyed your playing, especially your Andrew Lloyd Webber selections.” I replied.”Oh, thank you.” Then the other lady proudly said: “Yes,our assigned seats are in the British House of Lords right next to him!”
Why is this Lineage Important?
Today so much piano playing is electronic. Often accompaniments are provided by the touch of a button. The old school of knowledge is then lost. Happily, at the fabulous Inn the old school is still in full swing. I will be there nightly from Dec 20 until Easter. Please say hello. P.S. if you decide to buy a home there, ask my daughter, Kathryn. I am also a composer. My wife, Sharon, is my lyricist and librettist. Sharon, and I just work shopped our new opera Patra in New York. Click on the link for more info. Finally, please share this post with friends! Thank you.
PATRA – An Opera Comique performed in two acts, sung in English, written by Sharon and David Ohrenstein about Cleopatra’s final days as ruler of Egypt.
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.
Sampling Forgotten Music of Rubinoff is now possible. How do you revive any quality music? First, you must sample what the quality music was. Thanks to the tireless efforts of musical conductor Joseph Rubin, this is now possible. The Maestro’s concert has an incredibly fine youtube link below. Conductor Rubin’s orchestra consisted of quite a number of the finest musical professors from top universities around Ohio. Maestro Rubin is also the curator of the Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville, Ohio. He actually opened the museum across the street from where Ted Lewis lived. Joseph is a testimonial to how one man with vision, and hard work, can make wonderful dreams come true. Joseph contacted me to be an important part of this unforgettable concert. I had already posted a number of blogs about “Ruby”. He saw them.
For those of you who missed our Rubinoff and His Violin Concert in June of 2018, here’s a montage of some of the highlights! When was the last time you heard music of this calibur? https://youtu.be/P96T57dq8t0
Sampling Music of Forgotten Times
For 15 years I accompanied and arranged for Rubinoff and His Violin. This was from 1971 until his passing away in 1986. Below are a couple of internal links on DSOworks.com. Rubinoff had quite a success formula. At his peak he was making $500,000.00 annually in the 1930’s. This was during the Great Depression. Rubinoff credits the great American Indian personality Will Rogers with his stage manner and success. Also, Madison Avenue put together his promotion packet. Finally, Victor Herbert brought Dave and his family to America in 1911. He apprenticed under Herbert in his home in Pittsburgh, Pa. Herbert had Sunday evening VIP parties of the musical greats of the times. John Philip Sousa met him there. He got a grant from the State Department for Dave to bring children his magnificent music.
Million Thanks from the American Public. Americans needed good music more than ever to heal from the effects of the Great Depression. I actually worked the man who provided this relief: Rubinoff and His Violin. It was not until the Wall Street Crash in October 1929 that the effects of a declining economy were felt. A major worldwide economic downturn ensued. The stock market crash marked the beginning of a decade of:
Lost opportunities for economic growth. Lack of opportunities for personal advancement.
Altogether, there was a general loss of confidence in the economic future.
David Rubinoff and His Violin provided the relief that good music had to offer. This was on Broadway and in Hollywood. Thanks a Million is one of the movies he appeared in. Usually he was behind the scenes conducting the orchestra. Literally, Dave made millions of dollars during the Great Depression. Here is the theme of the movie, Thanks a Million.
A show troupe is engaged by Judge Culliman, who is running for Governor. Its purpose was to enhance his political campaign. When the inebriated Judge has to be replaced in doing his campaign speech by the troupe crooner, Eric Land. Then his political backers decide that they want him to run for Governor in the Judge’s place. Romance, music, political corruption and the election results follow.
Recently I gave a concert in Colombus, Ohio (Circleville area). I played with violinist Steven Greenman. Joseph Rubin conducted an elite orchestra. It included top professors of music from the finest Ohio universities.
I worked with this giant of music for some 15 years. Thanks to the miracles of mass media and youtube, you can now witness this concert. In addition to a lecture, I played an arrangement I made with the Great Rubinoff: Youtube selections are from the Fiddler on the Roof. Enjoy!