Changing Musical Focus inspired by Jeorge Bolet

Changing Musical Focus is About What’s Coming

Changing Musical Focus is About What’s Coming. Musical styles have come in set periods of time. For success, go with the flow. Why? In the sage words of Henry David Thoreau:

” I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose.”  Or as he also states in Walden, “Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.”

Carve your own path. This is what pianist Jeorge Bolet did. Jorge Bolet (November 15, 1914 – October 16, 1990) was a Cuban-born American virtuoso pianist and teacher. Among his teachers were Leopold Godowsky, and Moriz Rosenthal.  Roenthal was a pupil of Franz Liszt.[1]Bolet was born in Havana.   He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Consider this reference found in David Dubal’s book. It is entitled Reflections from the Keyboard.  In Bolet’s words: “Today’s audiences go to the concert hall, to hear Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms…” Then Bolet goes on to state that  the last generation “went to hear what the pianist had to say about the composer.” Thus, we not only idolized the composer, we did the same for the pianist.

I was fortunate that my own piano teacher, Mischa Kottler belonged to the same vintage.  He studied with Alfred Cortot and Emil von Sauer. The old school of pianists were not only musicians. They were also magicians. They would take you on a  “magic carpet ride” with their piano playing.

Related image
Myself, blogger David, in concert in New York with Rubinoff and His Violin

 

Changing Musical Focus and Back to the Old School

Mischa Kottler- A Visit By the Legendary Piano Instructor – DSO Works

To see what the old school was all about, click on this internal link. Mischa plays Chopin’s Minute Waltz in doubled notes. Everywhere, audiences went wild at this feat. The link also documents and describes his visit at age 92 to our family. Thanks to Mischa. and other great men I worked with, including Rubinoff and His Violin,  my own career as pianist/composer only now starting to reach a pinnacle. Check on events on DSOworks.com.

Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version) – YouTube

Video for mISCHA kOTTLER PLAYS cHOPINS MINUTE WALTZ

In conclusion. Jeorge Bolet comments how today many are not interested in the musician. He states that he had often gone to all Beethoven concerts. Many pianists had been quite dull. Yet the audience applauded wildly. He states:  “In a sense, the audience is applauding for itself being there.” I believe that those days are about to go, bye-bye.

 

Unsung romantic hero was, in a way J.S. Bach. Read how.

Careless Music Editors Point the Wrong Way

Careless Music Editors Point the Wrong Way. I am a proud graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. The school was a four-year university preparatory high school in Midtown Detroit, United States.[2][3] The school is named in honor of Lewis Cass, an American military officer and politician who served as governor of the Michigan Territory from 1813 until 1831. The school is a part of Detroit Public Schools. In the 1960’s Cass Tech two major musical curriculum. Both were college prep. The school had some 30 college prep courses of study. You could even major in aeronautics. We actually had an airplane in one of the rooms that you could work on for assembly or repair.  In the music courses the  students were wise to editors. We all spoke of a professional frustration cycle. It went from soloist to conductor to editor. Editors, we half-jokingly said, wanted to get revenge on everyone else. Obviously, they couldn’t be successful at the first two professions. Not bad for high school kids!

Careless music editors were bantered about at this High School in Detroit
My High School Alma mater was Cass Technical High School in Detroit

J.S. Bach omitted placing tempo, phrasing or dynamics in his works. Over zealous editors quickly stepped in.  I quote Edward Hughes from G. Schirmer  & Co. I think he is one of the good ones. Edwin Hughes taught at the Ganapol School of Musical Art in Detroit from 1910 to 1912, the Volpe Institute of Music in New York from 1916 to 1917, and the Institute of Musical Art in New York from 1918 to 1923. He lectured at various schools. From 1920 to 1926 he was special editor of piano music for G. Schirmer, Inc. He toured widely in the USA and Europe after the close of World War I; performed duo-recitals with his wife, the pianist Jewel Bethany Hughes, and also gave master-classes. He also had opinions about careless music editors.

Careless Music Editors Over-Edit

I am currently working on the Bach Prelude and Fugue in A minor. It is transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt. Publisher is G. Schirmer Inc. Hughes humbly states about his editing: “The phrasing is to be regarded more as indicative than complete. Of himself he states “There is no desire to appear arbitrary in matters of pedaling, touch and so forth. Also bear in mind: “In the democracy of art there is no final authority on such subjects.” I think these are the words of a great man.

Finally, if anyone is interested I have  I have one or two openings for piano students in Sarasota.

Mischa and I in our Sarasota Home
My instructor, Mischa Kottler, studied with Emil von Sauer- a pupil of Franz Liszt. I acquired a Master of Music degree from Wayne State University under Mischa.

Libra Music Has Verve

Libra Music as Effected by Instructor, Franz Liszt

Libra Music Has Verve and Drive to Spare. The month of Libra takes place September 23 – October 23. Some sources have a give or take of a day or two. The following is based on my upcoming book, Music Under the Zodiac. Hopefully, it will overall intention is to make musical therapy more pointed. However, much is also written in the spirit of fun.

Composers born during the month of Libra music include: George Gershwin, John Philip Rameau, Dmitri Shostakovich, Paul Dukas, Heinrich Schutz, Camille Sain-Säens, Giuseppe Verdi (Joe Green translated to English), Ralph Vaughan Williams, and our featured composer: Franz Liszt.

Libra Music as Written by a Libra Comoser
Franz Liszt’s music had the power, verve and drive of Libra, an air sign.

What was Liszt’s thought process that made him a great virtuoso? It was his approach to piano practice. This I gleamed from my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He didn’t say “practice, practice, practice.” Many used to say, the way to Carnegie Hall was directed by this repeated word.  Mischa  rather said, practice slowly and one hand at the time. Kottler learned the art of piano practice from Emil von Sauer. In turn, Sauer studied with Franz Liszt.

Image result for picture of Mischa Kottler for the blog on changing music
Mischa Kottler, my teacher, studied with Emil von Sauer. In turn, Sauer studied over two summers with Franz Liszt in Austria.

Liszt not only practiced slowly. He would practice each element of the music slowly. He would practice being rhythmically precise with each hand. He would work the dynamics that he wanted. If two notes were to be played by the right hand, he would strike them exactly together. Playing as close as possible to exact togetherness was most important. It makes each note resonate more beautifully.  A 10th of a second brake between even two notes was not to be tolerated. He developed a special technique for playing the ubiquitous two note phrase.

So why am I not touring the world as a great pianist? Like so many, I was too impatient. Slow and hands separate practice was not for me. I thought I was better than “slow”. Now I’m older. This type of practice is making all the difference in the world.

Libra Music in the Balance of Fast and Slow

Finally, let’s tie all this into the scales of Libra. The opposite of very slow is ultra fast. By slow practice, you acquire precise and accurate speed. One extreme rocks the other. You can “practice, practice, practice” and never get good. As Mischa would said to me: “David, you are only perfecting your mistakes!” If practice takes hours upon hours, it’s because of the requited painfully slow tempo of meaningful practice. I changed my mode of practice late in life. It’s making all the difference in the world. And yes, I have room for a couple of piano students 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.

keyboard touches great vary

Keyboard Touches Vary Greatly Depending on Instrument

Keyboard Touches Vary Greatly Depending on Instrument. My piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. I was offered a position playing the organ. Kottler told me not to accept it. He said, playing organ would ruin my piano technique. Of course, I wondered how and why? I think the answer comes from Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In the quote below, C.P. E. had the harpsichord in mind. The piano wasn’t yet invented. But what he said about the contrast applies to the piano.  In the interest of keeping posts short, there will be more blogs. A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard.  The player presses a row of levers. This triggers a mechanism.  One or more strings are then plucked with a quill.

 The above harpsichord is the work of two celebrated makers: originally constructed by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp (1646). It was remodeled by Pascal Taskin in Paris (1780). The prototype of the pianoforte was invented in 1710. Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (Italian pronunciation: [bartoloˈmɛːo kriˈstɔːfori di franˈtʃesko]; May 4, 1655 – January 27, 1731). He was an Italian maker of musical instruments.

 The 1720 Cristofori piano in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is the picture on the right. The total number of pianos built by Cristofori is unknown. Only three survive today, all dating from the 1720s.

Keyboard Touches and Keyboard Styles

 Here is a primary difference between the organ and the harpsichord/piano. According to C.P. E. Bach: “The organ is indispensable in church. It bestows splendor and maintains order. However, for sacred recitatives, and arias… one must resort to the harpsichord. It gives the singing voice freedom of variation. Too often, one discovers how bare a performance can be without harpsichord accompaniment. Moreover, this instrument is indispensable in the theater and at concerts.”
Image result for Wikipedia picture of an musical organ
“The organ bestows splendor and order.” – C.P.E. Bach

Other differences will be for future posts.

Liszt tempos are too quickly paced

Liszt Tempos are too Fast, said von Sauer

Liszt Tempos are too Fast According to von Sauer. Emil Georg Conrad von Sauer (8 October 1862 – 27 April 1942)[1] was a notable German composerpianist, score editor, and music (piano) teacher. He was a pupil of Franz Liszt.    Also, he one of the most distinguished pianists of his generation. Josef Hofmann called von Sauer “a truly great virtuoso.”[2] Martin Krause, another Liszt pupil, called von Sauer “the legitimate heir of Liszt. He has more of his charm and geniality than any other Liszt pupil.”[3]

 Emil von Sauer (1902)

Proof of the Liszt Tempos

So how is it that I know what Sauer said about Liszt’s music? From my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He publicly made the statement in an interview for the Detroit Free Press/Sunday April 10, 1983. The featured picture is from the interview. I’ve saved the Sunday magazine section all these years.  The article was written by John Guinn/photos by Patricia Beck.  John Guinn was the Free Press music critic. Patricia Beck was a staff photographer. To make my point, I will quote a couple of sections:
  • “Kottler studied with Cortot in Paris, and then went to Vienna where he ended up studying with Emil von Sauer. Sauer had studied with Franz Liszt in Weimar in 1884-85. Liszt was a pupil of Carl Czerny, who studied three years with Beethoven himself.” Incidentally many of the techniques I learned from Mischa came from Beethoven. Reputedly, Beethoven invented the “prepared thumb” technique. I in turn pass this knowledge on to my own Sarasota piano students.
  • This is a direct quote from the interview: “Sauer told me everybody plays Liszt’s music too fast,” Kottler said. “there’s no reason to do that,” Sauer insisted-“Liszt didn’t.”

So where can you hear me play Liszt tempos not too fast? At the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.

“I’d say that overall, it’s a great place to have lunch or dinner if your around Saint Armands or Lido Beach.” in 35 reviews. After a 20 year absence from the piano scene in Sarasota, David Ohrenstein returns. Over that time he has been a regular in the Catskill Mountains of  New York and at the world famous Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Now he entertains at the Crab and Fin Restaurant three days weekly: Monday evening from 6-10pm; Tuesday from 12:30 to 5 :30 p.m. Wednesday also from 12:30 to 5:30 PM. You can enjoy lunch, dinner or simply purchase a beverage and listen to my piano playing at this beautiful outdoor setting.  

I was also an arranger/accompanist for Rubinoff an His Violin. So I also play popular music beautifully. Rubinoff was the conductor and violin soloist of the orchestra at the Paramount Theater in New York and of Paramount pictures in Hollywood. When he conducted the Chicago Philharmonic in 1937, he played for 225,000 people. In addition, they turned away 25,000 people at the door. Hope to see you on St Armands Circle in Sarasota, Fl – David.  I play outdoors so check the weather. You could call me a “fair weather pianist.”

Map
  • Edit
    420 St Armands Cir
    Sarasota, FL 34236

 

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.

 

Entertainer David Ohrenstein plays ragtime

Entertainer Lives on St Armand’s Circle at the Crab and Fin

Entertainer Lives on St Armand’s Circle at the Sarasota Crab and Fin restaurant. How? Listen to the outdoor piano playing of David Ohrenstein. He plays there Monday from 6-10 pm. And during the daytime on Tuesday 12:30 to 5:30 and Wednesday, same hours.  Are you in the mood for fun? Then come and listen to David at the Crab and Fin.  Enjoy the music written by the genius of Scott Joplin, Arthur Marshall or Scott Hayden. These three musical giants collaborated and/or lived together in Sedalia, Missouri at the Marshall home.  This was because at the turn of the 1900’s, Sedalia allowed minority groups the chance for an excellent education. While some locations only allowed schooling for  3 months/year, Sedalia allowed a full 9 months. In no small measure, Sedalia, by accommodating Joplin and friends, allowed for the birth of the ragtime movement.  That, in turn, shaped American popular culture.

Poster stamp for the Sedalia  Missouri State Fair, c.1930.

Sedalia is also home to The Pettis County Museum and Historical Society, located at 228 Dundee Ave. The building was once a Jewish Synagogue and features many Historical artifacts from all periods of Pettis County history.

Entertainer is Heard on the Streets of Sarasota at the Outdoor Setting of the Crab and Fin

David offers a lesson on playing the music of Scott Joplin in the enclosed video. He explains how the notes tied over the measure are of the essence. Of course, playing ragtime requires a beautiful tone. All three of the ragtime giants described above were classically trained. Ideally, any serious player of ragtime should have had  such training. Without the production of nice tone, any music can become vulgar. David studied with Mischa Kottler at Wayne State University. He holds a Master of Music degree.  Kottler,then  head of the piano department at Wayne, believed that it took about one full year to develop a correct approach to touch and  beautiful tone.  David now offers piano lessons in Sarasota to this end. In the meanwhile, be entertained by David’s version of The Entertainer. 

Tips on playing ragtime.

Posted by DSO Works on Saturday, May 27, 2017

proper musical rendition

Proper Musical Rendition Has Multiple Choices

Proper Musical Rendition Has Multiple Choices. For this blog I reference one of my favorite books, Inside Music by Karl Haas. Karl Haas (December 6, 1913 – February 6, 2005) was a German-American classical music radio host, known for his sonorous speaking voice, humanistic approach to music appreciation, and popularization of classical music.[1] He was the host of the classical music radio program Adventures in Good Music, which was syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world.[2] He also published the book Inside Music.[3] I grew up in Detroit. Karl Haas was one of the Detroit’s musical luminaries. When I started to play the piano at age 11, I composed a piano concerto in Eb minor (six flats). Also, at my 1st year piano recital I played the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven from memory. I still play it at on St Armand’s Circle at the Crab and Fin Restaurant. See events on DSOworks.

After this initial start, my father then took me to Karl Haas for an interview. Haas was giving  some piano lessons to a few students. He was getting busy with his radio program on WJR in Detroit so he recommended that I go to Mischa Kottler.  Kottler was the head of the piano department at Wayne State University.  I also began a 20 year association with Rubinoff and his Violin through the college. Here’s how it happened: I had just completed a piano lesson with Mischa . Mischa had his studio next door to the Liberal Arts Music Office.  Rubinoff called the office as a was walking past. He was looking for an accompanist/arranger. Professor Morris Hochberg summoned me in to talk with Rubinoff. The rest is history.

By special request, here is a story about Rubinoff And His Violin – The Fascination Waltz (1905) and how he approached the music with style and finesse.

Posted by DSO Works on Sunday, May 28, 2017

Proper Musical Rendition and Rubinoff and His Violin

Karl Haas  states in Inside Music that a performer must always question the validity of the “subjective tastes of the editor.” That even applies to fingering. He tells a story about studying a Beethoven Sonata under the guidance of famed German pianist Artur Schnabel. Karl found the fingering extremely difficult that Schnabel penciled into the score. On questioning Schnabel, he  replied: the fingering was simply ” a prompter to try ways by yourself in order to find the one best suited to your digital needs.”

Rubinoff both questioned and interpreted music in countless ways. Typically he would try difference rhythms, as I explain in the youtube video. He would change phrasing: Which notes to emphasize, or which to drop off on. The point is, the public loved his interpretations. If the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, his pudding was great. Some years in the 1930’s he could make $500,000.00.

Conclusion: Success in music, as well as in in other disciplines, is based on questioning and analyzing the subject at hand in great depth for proper musical rendition.