Entertainer David Ohrenstein plays ragtime

Pianist David Ohrenstein to Play at the Gasparilla Inn

Pianist David Ohrenstein to Play for diners and socialites on a newly rebuilt Steinway Grand at the Gasparilla Inn. He is scheduled 6 nights weekly in season at this island resort.

Pianist David Ohrenstein Will Begin his 8th winter season at the Famous Gasparilla Inn on December 20
David to Be Featured on a newly rebuilt 1925 vintage Steinway Grand Piano. Location: Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande, Fl. This year marks his 9th consecutive winter season.
The Gasparilla Inn & Club – Photo courtesy of Gasparilla Inn

Enjoy Pianist David Ohrenstein

The Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande is ideal for any special occasion:

Gasparilla Inn Historic District is in the heart of an historic district.  Location is on 500 Palm Avenue in Boca GrandeFloridaUnited States. On March 18, 2008, it was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[1]

The National Register designation centers largely on the Gasparilla Inn itself.  It is one of the largest surviving resort hotels in Florida.  Originally it was built for wealthy northerners in the early 20th century.[2]

Here are just a few of the highlights the Inn has to offer:

  • Great food by master chefs
  • Service by a highly trained,  considerate and responsive staff.
  • Incredible decor with featured displays.  View: (1) Spectacular seashells. (2) A pictorial history of the Inn. (3) Pictures of big fish catches and fishing expeditions.
  • Of course, the newly rebuilt vintage Steinway.

David is particularly excited about this year. This is because piano technician, Larry Keckler of Sarasota Florida, reconditioned and fine-tuned the dining room Steinway.   He also tuned a second Steinway grand in the “Living Room”. Both date back to the early 1920’s. Steinway parts were flown directly from Germany. Having played at the Inn over Thanksgiving, I personally witnessed how the guests loved its intimate, clean and clear tone.

When dining, be sure you ask me to play entire piano score to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik (A Little Night Music). I have a rare and most enjoyable German-made arrangement.  Guests also love my rendition of Chopin’s Nocturnes. Gustav Holst even gets into the act. I have a unique transcription of his Jupiter from The Planets. Franz Liszt loved transcriptions. So do I.  Enjoy great music in the old tradition in a special setting. I will be there six nights weekly: From December 20, 2017 through April 1, 2018.

 

Rachmaninoff Versus Editor

Rachmaninoff Versus Editor – Who is Right?

Rachmaninoff Versus Editor – Who is Right? It was the early 1920’s. My piano teacher took an audition to study piano with Sergei Rachmaninoff. The gist of the audition was this: Rachmaninoff was too busy giving concerts and composing to take on any students. But, he gave my piano instructor, Mischa Kottler, a letter of recommendation. The letter was addressed to Alfred Cortôt.  Who was Alfred Cortôt? Alfred Denis Cortôt (born Nyon, 26 September 1877; died Lausanne, 15 June 1962) was a FrenchSwiss pianist and conductor. He is one of the most famous 20th century musicians. He was especially known for his playing of piano music by 19th century Romantic composers such as Chopin and Schumann. He formed a piano trio with the violinist Jacques Thibaud and the cellist Pablo Casals.  Now back to Rachmaninoff versus Editor.

Picture of of Alfred Cortot. Thanks to Rachmaninoff, my piano instructor studied under Alfred Cortot.

For Mischa Kottler’s audition, he played Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto for the composer. Sergei told Mischa after he finished: “That’s not how the editor marked the phrasing in the music!” Mischa told me at one of my piano lessons that he replied to Sergei:”I know. But I heard you play the concerto in concert. You did it the way I played it for you!”

Rachmaninoff Versus Editor …. The Composer Wins and so Does Mischa Kottler

Rachmaninoff Versus Editor
My Instructor, Mischa Kottler, Studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris and Emil von Sauer, a pupil of Liszt, in Vienna.
 Rachmaninoff was so impressed, he wrote the letter.  Mischa studied with Cortôt in Paris. Then he went to Vienna and studied with Emil von Sauer. That launched him on a successful piano career. He consequently became the official pianist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mischa headed the piano department at Wayne State University. I took lessons with him for 5 years at WSU. He taught about 50 piano students with full one hour lessons.  He was the music director of WJR in Detroit. He raised many successful students. Now I (blogger David Ohrenstein) am offering piano lessons in Sarasota, Fl. From Dec. 20- April 1 2017. I will play in Boca Grande, Fl. This will be at the Gasparilla Inn. Their vintage Steinway Grand was just rebuilt for me. Larry Keckler rebuilt it with new Steinway parts direct from Germany. Hope to see you there!
 Image result for pictures of the Gasparilla Inn on DSOworks

 

 

 

High Stepping on the Steinway at World Class Gasparilla Inn

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. 

High Stepping on his Steinway was Mischa Kottler
Mischa Kottler preferred old vintage Steinways just like the ones I now play at the Gasparilla Inn.

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.

 

 

 

Changing Music Indicates Changing Times

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.”

Changing Music and Perpetual Choirs?
The Welsh Triads speak of perpetual choirs of saints in the distant past.

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.

Image result for picture of Mischa Kottler for the blog on changing music
Mischa Kottler was a pupil of Emil von Sauer, Sauer studied over two years with Liszt.

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.

Image result for picture of the Gasparilla Inn n the Isle of Boca Grande
I play here on a vintage and newly reconditioned Steinway concert grand from the 1920’s. Parts were shipped directly from Germany.

 

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 without being precise is time tossed in the river.

Proper Piano Practice Means Precision

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.”

3:47

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 Pianist Age 94

Special Birthday for My Teacher, Mischa Kottler

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 [1] 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

Maestro Mischa Kottler came to visit with our family on his special birthday
A young David (the blogger) and older Mischa at age 94.

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.

 

Pachelbel Canon Remains Popular for 350 + years

Pachelbel Canon is Still Popular 350 years Later

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.

Photo of Crab & Fin - Sarasota, FL, United States
Diners Love to Listen to my rendition Pachelbel’s Canon in D at the elegant Crab and Fin outdoor setting.

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.

 

Related image
You’ll hear everything from the Pachelbel Canon to Billy Joel while dining or enjoying a beverage at the Crab and FIn

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

Having Fun Playing Piano on Main Street Sarasota Florida

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)

18th Hole at Oakland Hills Country Club (South) (498 Yard Par 5)

Sartorial | Definition of Sartorial by Merriam-Webster

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).[29] 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).[29] Efforts to bring Haydn to London had been undertaken since 1782, though Haydn’s loyalty to Prince Nikolaus had prevented him from accepting.[29]

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.

 

Learning piano with the Best Piano Instructor, Mischa Kottler

Mischa Kottler Student Endures on the Piano

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 MischaFinally, I went to Mischa Kottler. He is a brief description of him in Keyboard Magazine by one of his students student.

Haas suggested I become a Mischa Kottler student
Karl Haas also Referred Me to Mischa Kottler

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.

As a Mischa Kottler student, I am proud to play at Boca Grande at the Gasparilla Inn for my 8th season
My piano playing has continuously taken me to the finest locations thanks to Mischa Kottler
Music Lightens so Whistle While You Work

Music Lightens so Whistle While You Work

Music Lightens so Whistle While You Work. “Whistle While You Work” is a song with music written by Frank Churchill and lyrics written by Larry Morey for the 1937 animated Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

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 am12:30 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.

Meir's Golden Roads to be featured at the Longboat Key Center 3/24/17 at 11:00 A.M.
Golden Roads to be featured at the Longboat Key Education Center on March 24, 2017. It is a one time special event at this location.
Address: Centre Shops of Longboat Key, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Dr # 212, Longboat Key, FL 34228

11 :00 AM- 12:30 PM              Members $18  Non-Members  $23