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.

 

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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

 

 

Neolithic number eight is on the piano keyboard.

Minute Waltz Glimpse of Chopin’s Genius

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.

Minute Waltz as a Glimpse into Genius
Chopin’s Minute Waltz offers a rare look at Polish rhythmic complexity

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.[1] 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.”[2]

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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.[3][4]

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.

Chopin's Minute Waltz can be heard nightly at this setting on an exotic island
Gasparilla Inn where the music of Frederic Chopin is heard on vintage Steinway grands nightly as played by David Ohrenstein

 

Ragtime era lives on the isle of Boca Grande

Ragtime Era Lives on the Isle of Boca Grande

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[1] – is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918.[2] Its cardinal trait is its syncopated, or “ragged”, rhythm.[

The Ragtime Era was brought into full swing by the Maple Leaf Rag
The man who carried the banner for the ragtime era was Scott Joplin.

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.
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 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 is this Season

Birthday of the Gasparilla Inn on the Isle of Boca Grande

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.

Steinway
Picture is from Steinway in New York

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).

Pianist David Ohrenstein will play for diners on the isle of Boca grande

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.

Pianist David Ohrenstein Will Begin his 8th winter season at the Famous Gasparilla Inn on December 20

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 Key Address: 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.

Entertainer David Ohrenstein plays ragtime

Pianist David Ohrenstein to Play at the Gasparilla Inn

Pianist David Ohrenstein to Play for Diners on a newly rebuilt Steinway Grand at the Gasparilla Inn. He is scheduled 6 nights weekly in season on 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 just completed and rebuilt Vintage Steinway Grand Piano at the Gasparilla. Inn.  This year will mark his 8th consequitive winter season.
The Gasparilla Inn & Club – Photo courtesy of Gasparilla Inn

The Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca grande is wonderful for that special occasion. Here are just a few of the highlights that the dining room has to offer:

  • Great food by master chefs
  • Great service and wonderful decor
  • A newly rebuilt vintage Steinway grand piano
  • The Steinway is played by David Ohrenstein

David is particularly excited about playing this year. Famed piano technician Larry Keckler from Sarasota Florida was called to recondition and fine tune the dining room Steinway.  It dates back to the early 1920’s. Mr. Keckler loves this Steinway. He told me that after he worked on it, he is bowled over by its incredibly sweet and  beautiful tone. I can’t wait. My piano playing is all about melody and singing tone.

PIANIST DAVID OHRENSTEIN PLAYS LONG TERM ENGAGEMENTS

This year David’s contract in Boca Grande spans approximately four months. He plays six nights a week. The timing corresponds with the peak busy season in Florida. He has also worked as the pianist at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in upstate New York.  For some 15 years his contracts were for almost five months at the time. Most often, in New York he worked seven days a week. He and his singer-actress wife Sharon would also perform two featured shows weekly. So many say there is little work for musicians. On the contrary, David knows musicians can pick and choose. He offers piano lessons in Sarasota for aspiring students.  Meanwhile, see you at the Inn! Yes, I take requests. Sample of David’s playing below:

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Career - here is where Beethoven wrote many great works

Career – Circumstances that Bolstered Beethoven’s

Career – Circumstances that Bolstered Beethoven’s. Here is a brief summary of his accomplishments from Wikipedia: Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 in Bonn[1] – 26 March 1827 in Vienna) was a German composer. He wrote classical music for the piano, orchestras and different groups of instruments. His best-known works are his third (“Eroica”), fifth, sixth (“Pastorale”) and ninth (“Choral”) symphonies, the eighth (“Pathetique”) and fourteenth (“Moonlight”) piano sonatas, two of his later piano concertos, his opera “Fidelio”, and also the piano piece Für Elise. When he was a young man, he was a talented pianist. Beethoven was popular with the rich and important people in Vienna, Austria, where he lived.

So, What Bolstered His Career?

Obviously, he played for rich and important people. But, he also held his music in the highest of esteem. Higher than even the royalty,  At the time he lived in Vienna. It was the day of the amateur pianist. Aristocrats played the piano. They had a conception of how difficult mastery was. Prince Ferdinand Josel Lobkowitz was one of three that guarenteed him a life long income as long as he stayed in Vienna. This Prince had his own quartet. He played music all day long. Archduke Rudolph was a pianist who took lessons with Beethoven himself. He contributed to his income. The 3rd was Prince Ferdinand Kinsky. He loved vocal music. The times, Beethoven’s location and his incomparable genius launched his carrer. You could say, the right person at the right time. If the times are not quite right for you, be patient. Times also change in cycles. We are over due for lots of wonderful new happenings in the arts.

Beethoven drawing his inspiration from nature around the woods of Vienna

I have a special connection to Beethoven. It is being 5 generations removed by teaching lineage. Beethoven taught Carl Czerny. Czerny taught Franz Liszt. Liszt taught Emil von Sauer. Sauer taught my piano teacher, Mischa Kottler. I studied with Kottler for some 15 years. One of Beethoven’s inventions, I was told, was the prepared thumb. Also, the 2 note phrase was used to “divide and conquer” many difficulties. Enjoy my youtube presentation called the Paris Piano connection. You can hear me play 6 nights weekly at the Boca Grande Gasparilla Inn. I have a just newly reconditioned 1924 Steinway concert grand. This will be my 8th year of 6 nights  weekly from Dec. 20 – April 14, 2017. I also have a couple of openings for piano lessons in Sarasota. The Beethoven tradition of my lineage of teachers must be kept alive!

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