Changing Music Indicates Changing Times. Welsh music, as recorded in the Welsh Triads, adjusted its music to changing times. Here’s how. In ancient England, changes were foreshadowed by “perpetual choirs.”
How did I discover this? My source is City of Revelaton by the Reverend John Michell. The Welsh Triads are verses of great antiquity. They were written by “prehistoric bardic historians.” Unique choirs are mentioned:
One at the now existing site of Glastonbury Abbey.
Another operated at the site at which Stonehenge now exists.
A third was at Llantwit Major at Glamzorgan.
2,400 saints worked each site. Each kept a perpetual chant going. Each of the 24 hours of the day, at each site, occupied 100 saints with singing.
As the Times Varied, Changing Music Marked Their Song
The character of time changes with the seasons. As light can change by the hour, so could their song. Another aspect of song was planetary. The school of Pythagoras believed that each planet had its own pitch. As their distances from each other changed, so did the music.
We are currently living through times of great change. Music that heralds beautiful melody will lead the way. In all aspects, people will buy what is beautiful. I was taught to play with beautiful tone. Play well-formed two-note phrases are key. Also, how to emphasize the note that is tied over the measure. My instructor was Mischa Kottler.
In looking to this beautiful past, I am helping to lead the way to the future. We all need beautiful things in our lives. When times are difficult, all need the beautiful in art, poetry and music. To this end, I am working full time this year. I will be playing piano from Christmas to Easter. This will be six days weekly. The location is at the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande.
Until Christmas, I am working to bring musical beauty back at the Crab and Fin Restaurant on Saint Armand’s Circle. I play three days weekly. Call for specifics. Wear something comfortable, but beautiful. Enjoy a tasty and well-presented meal while dining outdoors to my piano music.
Proper Piano Practice Means Precision. I began my piano studies at age 11. The date was August 24, 1958. This was exactly two months before my October 24th birthday. I would turn twelve. At my first year piano recital, I played the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven from memory. The teacher I studied it with was a Mrs. Foster. I forgot her 1st name. My apologies. In retrospect, I played it terribly. The reason for this shortcoming will became apparent. in the blog. My apologies. The way to Proper Piano Practice was later shown to me by my nest teacher, Mischa Kottler, but:
I didn’t listen to his most basic advice. I thought I was quite advanced at age 15. He told me to (1) practice slowly and (2) hands separately. My adolescent mind told me, “that’s for babies.” Of course, I never told him that. But as it turned out, I was wrong. When slow practice and intense concentration unite, the results are outstanding. First, here is a taste of this great virtuoso-pianist, teacher. Kottler would play it for an encore. Even when he was in his nineties he could finesse his special arrangement of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz.”
Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version)
Kottler had the ability to see the future when it came to his piano students. I studied with him for years. When I was 25, he looked straight at me and said: “You’ll get good when you’re in your sixties.” He was serious. Naturally, that comment did not sit well with a 25 year old. I’m well into my sixties, Finally, I have seen the “proper piano practice” light. Here’s the core of the method I now started to use. It’s never too late.
Play any two fingers on either hand. With one finger play a white key. With another pick a black. Play the two notes at the same time.
Unless you intensely concentrate on what you just did, the notes are likely to be perhaps 1/10th of a second apart!
Now think of how difficult it is to play even more tones at the same time. Add to the formula, using the fingers on both hands.
Multiply this spread out sound by an entire piece of music. You have a mess.
How has Proper Piano Practice Helped Me?
In one word, employment. This December 20th, I’ll begin my 9th winter-spring season at the Gasparilla Inn. On Boca Grande it is favored place for VIP’s. Off-Florida season, there are also no shortage of jobs. Currently I play at the Crab and Fin Restaurant . It is on St, Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. Of course, a lot more goes into successful piano playing. If you wish to know more elements, I’m also available for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Special Birthday for My Teacher, Mischa Kottler. How many people can still be outstanding in their fields of endeavor when they are in their nineties? I guess that when you are that aged, every birthday is a special birthday. The active aging honor mostly goes to creative artists and musicians. When Mischa Kottler was 94, he flew, without escort, to Sarasota to visit us. “Us” is my wife, three children and me. He shows up at the Sarasota-Bradenton airport sporting a handsome blue sport coat wearing a baby blue colored French beret. Music kept him young and vital until his last days. He stayed with us for weeks at our Sarasota home. There I was lucky to receive regular piano lessons from this great master once more. For our family and friends he flawlessly played the version of Chopin’s Minute Waltz that on youtube below. Another famous musician who actively lived into his nineties was James Hubert “Eubie” Blake (* 7 February 1 887  in Baltimore , Maryland ; † 12. February 1983 in New York City , New York ). He was an American jazz pianist and – Composer who influenced the development of Ragtime and early jazz. Music and the arts definitely offer “a retirement profession.”
Chopin-Kottler Waltz 6 in D♭ major, Op 64~1
Special Birthday and a Special Man, Mischa Kottler
Mischa Kottler was a pianist, born in 1899. As a young man in New York, he played for Sergei Rachmaninoff, impressing Rachmaninoff with his own third piano concerto. Rachmaninoff recommended Kottler study in Europe; he went and became a student of Alfred Cortot in Paris and Emil von Sauer in Vienna, the latter being a pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Back in the United States, Kottler was lead pianist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1933 he became musical director of WWJ radio in Detroit. He was chairman of the Piano Department at Wayne State University, and was a major influence on young pianists.
To this day I am also still actively sporting my piano profession. From Christmas to Easter I play 6 days/week in Boca Grande at the Gasparilla Inn. It is a favorite spot for VIP’s. I’ve recently completed my 8th year at the Inn. On the summer season, I just started playing on St. Armand’s Circle at the Sarasota Crab and Fin. I also offer piano lessons in Sarasota to aspiring musicians. Check out events on DSOworks.com
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.
Having Fun Playing Piano on Main Street. My gosh, it’s like the good old days. Back to the 1960’s when everyone wanted a piano player. In the 60’s I was already playing piano professionally. At the time, I was living in Detroit. For years I was the Sunday brunch pianist at the Oakland Hills Country Club. They held the PGA’s there. That also included house parties galore. I was once told that the two best things about the club were (1) The recent addition of sirloin steak to the brunch menu. (2) My piano playing. I enjoyed playing contrasting numbers. People loved it. Frequently I would play Scott Jopin’s, The Entertainer, This would be followed by Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb (theme from the Eddie Duchin Story). My piano style was described as having sartorial eloquence. Thank the Good Lord, after all these years, I’m still ably playing for fun or at sartorially eloquent places. I am just completed my 8th winter season having fun playing piano at the Gasparilla Inn.
18th Hole at Oakland Hills Country Club (South) (498 Yard Par 5)
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sartorial It’s easy to uncover the root of sartorial. Just strip off the suffix -ial and you discover the Latin noun sartor, meaning “tailor” (literally, “one who patches or mends”). It can be used for many descriptions as: The wedding party arrived in sartorial splendor.
Having fun playing piano at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande, Fl
I strongly identify with the “father of the symphony orchestra”, Joseph Haydn. He was the court musician, conductor and composer for the Austrian family, the Esterhazys. The Austrian prince passed away. Then the king of England employed Haydn. The composer accepted a lucrative offer from Johann Peter Salomon, a German violinist and impresario. Haydn then visited England. There he conducted new symphonies with a large orchestra.
The choice was a sensible one because Haydn was already a very popular composer there. Since the death of Johann Christian Bach in 1782, Haydn’s music had dominated the concert scene in London; “hardly a concert did not feature a work by him” (Jones). Haydn’s work was widely distributed by publishers in London, including Forster (who had their own contract with Haydn) and Longman & Broderip (who served as agent in England for Haydn’s Vienna publisher Artaria). Efforts to bring Haydn to London had been undertaken since 1782, though Haydn’s loyalty to Prince Nikolaus had prevented him from accepting.
Haydn, of course, wrote the London Symphony as a thank you to the British king. I am also a composer. Frequently I play my own music. One of the favorites is my own theme and variations on “Aura Lee.” Elvis turned it into Love Me Tender, I have been working at the Gasparilla Inn for the last 8 years. Like Joseph Haydn, I suggest to all artists seeking employment: Follow the rules of etiquette. Perhaps that is also a good rule for anyone seeking employment.Below is a picture of some of the “royalty” that have stayed at the Inn. I’m there 6 nights weekly through Easter.
Mischa Kottler Student Endures on the piano. My father had a sense about me. We grew up in Detroit. I immediately took to the piano and composing. At age 12 I wrote a piano concerto. I had only been playing the piano for 3 months. I also played the complete Beethoven Moonlight Sonata from memory.This was at my first year piano recital. We soon arranged for auditions with the best Detroit instructors. Julius Chajes was the director of music at the Detroit Jewish Community Center. Chajes suggested to go to Mischa Kottler since he was quite busy. Chajes also mentioned Karl Haas. Haas was the creator and host of the nationally syndicated program, Adventures in Good Music. Haas also suggested that I audition for Mischa. Finally, I went to Mischa Kottler. He is a brief description of him in Keyboard Magazine by one of his students student.
Another notable Mischa Kottler student – Greg Philliganes
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. Misha 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.
As a Mischa Kottler student
So, how did Mischa impact my career. I am playing my 8th season at the Gasparilla Inn on the exotic isle of Boca Grande. Management thinks of me as part of their corporation. It’s amazing how well you a liked when you are good for business and morale. Management just reconditioned a vintage 1924 Steinway grand. What a difference it makes! “Beautiful, lovely, most enjoyable” …are a few of the positive adjectives. Very few people walk by the piano without patting me on the back. They invariably say, “Good job.” I play 6 nights weekly. This is through April 16. Earlier I had been playing for some 15 years in the Catskill Mountains of New York. This was at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. Another demanding job: Seven nights a week! Through the training of Mischa Kottler and the generousity and backing of my father, I’ve been enjoying a remarkable long career. I offer piano lessons in Sarasota. Below is a picture of the Gasparilla Inn.
In the featured picture we have L. to R. : Ann Rutherford, Red Skelton, and Diana Lewis in the film Whistling in Dixie (1942)
Here’s How Music Lightens in “Whistle While You Work”. The lyrics by Larry Morey say it all!
Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom is someone that you love
And soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune
(Spoken: Oh, no, no, no, no! Put them in the tub)
When hearts are high the time will fly so whistle while you work.
In the year 2017 I often ask, where did whistling go? It was commonplace in the 1950’s. After, it seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth. So many people are now facing difficult times. Expenses are exceeding income. We need relief. Melodic music and whistling can offer that. In the 1950’s whistling annoyed me. Now I am thrilled when I hear someone whistling. I am a pianist by trade. Saturday night I was playing at the Gasparilla Inn. My selection was the Sound of Music. I was playing the Lou Singer arrangement. Suddenly, one of the customers started whistling. I couldn’t have been happier. My attitude had dramatically changed. I doubled up on my musical expression. .
As a Composer, I Champion a Return to Melody and Whistling
The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Sample my compositions at this special event:
Meir’s Golden Roads: A Special Engagement
March 24 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
$18.00 – $23.00
Meir’s GOLDEN ROADS: A One Woman Musical About Golda Meir. This original musical was written by the performers: Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, singer, actor, librettist; and David Ohrenstein, pianist- composer. From Golda’s dream to its realization, Sharon plays multiple characters. Zion, in Shakespeare’s style in an actual spirit He is not only an idea. See how Zion becomes her guide and true love.
Minute Waltz Glimpse of Chopin’ Genius. When a genius creates, everything he or she does is great. Such is the piano music of Frederic Chopin. The Minute waltz has a touching story attached to it. It was inspired by a dog. The dog belonged to his muse and girlfriend, George Sand.
The “Minute Waltz” is the nickname for the Waltz in D flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 by Frederic Chopin. It was written in 1847. It is a piece of music for the piano. It is sometimes called “The Waltz of the Little Dog” (French: Valse du petit chien). This is because Chopin was watching a little dog chase its tail when he wrote it. The little dog was “Marquis”. He belonged to Chopin’s friend George Sand. Marquis had befriended Chopin. The composer mentioned Marquis in several of his letters. In one letter dated 25 November 1846, Chopin wrote: “Please thank Marquis for missing me and for sniffing at my door.”
The waltz was published by Breitkopf & Härtel. It was the first of three waltzes in a collection of waltzes called Trois Valses, Op. 64. The publisher gave the waltz its popular nickname “Minute”. The tempo marking is Molto vivace (English: Very fast, very lively), but Chopin did not intend the waltz to be played in one minute as some believe. A typical performance will last between one and a half to two and a half minutes.
The Complex Rhythms of the Minute Waltz Revealed
Just take a look at my 5 measure excerpt above for this:
The treble staff has the 2 beat motif of four eighth notes in measures 1 and 2. The motif is repeated many times during the waltz.
The scale that follows in has 8 eighth notes. They cover 4 beats.
Measures 4 and 5 have a dotted quarter note beginning each measure. The entails 1½ beats each.
Also in 4 and 5, following the dotted quarter are 3 eighth notes. Each 3 note phrase lasts for 1½ beats.
Finally, against all this melodic complexity, we find a steady 1-2-3 beat in the left hand. It takes the form of “Bass-chord-chord.”
So Where Can I Hear David (this blogger) Play Chopin’s Minute waltz?
I am still booked six days a week through April 14 at the Gasparilla Inn. It is on the Florida isle of Boca Grande. There I get my choice of 2 vintage steinway Grand pianos. I played in the “living room” from 6:20 to 7:00 pm. Then I go in the dining room and play from 7 – 9 pm. See you there.
Ragtime Era Lives on the Isle of Boca Grande. David Ohrenstein is engaged as the pianist for his 8th year at the historic Gasparilla Inn. He is currently playing there 6 nights weekly. That will be until April 13. The Inn was built in 1911. That’s when ragtime was in full swing. What three words best describe ragtime? In David’s opinion, “happy, happy, happy.” It seems like the 1st world war put an end to the ragtime era. Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated, or “ragged”, rhythm.[
David senses that even the walls of the Inn welcome ragtime. Scott Joplin studied piano and composition with a German professor. He structured his ragtime pieces like the marches of John Phillip Sousa or the Waltzes of Johann Strauss Jr. They consist of individual sections. Many are in varying key signatures. Most start in flat keys. Then they add more flats in successive sections. For example,
The Maple Leaf Rag sets the tone. It starts in four flats. Another section reaches five flats. It ends in four flats.
The Gladiolus Rag starts in four flats. The last two sections are in five flats.
The Pineapple Rag starts in two flats. The last two sections are in three flats.
Easy Winners (from the movie, The Sting) starts in four flats. The last two sections are in five flats.
For the revival of ragtime in the late 20th century, we have Marvin Frederick Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) to thank. He was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only twelve people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an “EGOT”. He is one of only two people (along with Richard Rodgers) to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize.
I personally call flat keys the “social keys.” They blend people together without bumps. Flats have curved and smooth endings. Sharps are pointed. Flats make for wonderful romantic music. Flat keys are perfect for social dancing. They even unify soldiers in their quest. Check out our front page on DSOworks. All kinds of wonderful projects are in the works.
Birthday of the Gasparilla Inn on the Isle of Boca Grande. What a way to usher in the New Year. Yes, I’ll be working. But for many reasons I couldn’t be happier. The Inn encourages co-operation and group spirit among the employees. Management is polite and diplomatic. The list goes on and on. Great dinners, great desserts…I also love the totally wonderful Steinway concert grand dated back to 1924. It is vintage. Even better: It has just been totally rebuilt by master piano technician, Larry Keckler. After installing the strings and hammers from direct from Steinway in Germany, he said : “This piano has the sweetest sound.” It does. Diners at the Gasparilla Inn love my selections in it.
Special Piano Treat for the Inn on its 100th Birthday
Many make it a point to stay at the Inn regularly. This is even more so on its 100th Birthday. The Gasparilla Guest Book in the past has included: Tom Edison, George H.W, Bush, Jimmy Buffet, Harvey Firestone, Harrison Ford, Henry Ford and Katharine Hepburn (see feature picture).
David is scheduled 6 nights weekly in season on this island resort. On a typical night you can hear music by Cole Porter, George Gershwin. You’ll authentic ragtime by Scott Joplin. The Inn was actually built at the height of the ragtime era. He also loves the great classics. His regular list this time of the year is a 30 minute rendition of principle dances from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. He plays Jupiter from the Planets by Gustav Holst. He loves to play the theme from the King’s Speech. It is the slow movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Excerpts from principle operas are often included. His favorite popular song to play is “Killing Me Softly.” The arrangement he plays by George Shearing is so beautiful that many diners have tears in their eyes.
Beautiful and elegant Gasparilla Inn where David plays nightly.
Other Scheduled Events
David is quite a composer. He and his wife, Sharon Lesley have co-written Golden Roads. It is named after the Golden Wegen initiative of Golda Meir in 1949. She wanted the roads in Israel to be beautiful. The show is premiering at the Sarasolo festival in Sarasota this January 28th at the Crocker Memorial church at 1 pm. Limited seating. Later in the season they will have a special appearance at at the Longboat Key Education Center on March 24, 2017. It is a one time special event:Centre Shops of Longboat KeyAddress: Centre Shops of Longboat Key, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Dr # 212, Longboat Key, FL 34228 Phone: (941) 383-8811. 11 :00 AM- 12:30 PM Members $18 Non-Members $23
Our best for the happiest New Year ever – David and Sharon.