Glamorous Past Found in Glamorous Music of Rubinoff. Rubinoff was one of my primary mentors. Under him I learned the art of arranging. Arranging “involves adding compositional techniques. This includes new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings. . . . Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety”. Rubinoff always had access to the finest arrangers. He conducted the orchestras at the New York and Brooklyn Paramount Theaters. He also conducted for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. This was in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. In the featured picture he is billed with Rudy Vallee at the Brooklyn Paramount. Rubinoff is on the right pillar. Rudy Vallee, on the left. Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich are centered between on the movie poster. Rubinoff chummed with all the stars. Yet surprisingly so few today have heard of him.
I was called by Maestro Joseph Rubin. The purpose was to perform at his Rubinoff and His Violin concert. It was sponsored by the Ted Lewis Museum. Can you imagine? More than 30 years after passing away, Dave Rubinoff is still doing favors for me? He was the grandfather I never got to know. Both the orchestral conductor and museum curator is Joseph Rubin. Master folk violinist, Steven Greenman, is the soloist. They are both pictured below with the orchestra. Above on youtube Steve and I are playing the arrangement I made with Rubinoff. It was our violin/piano arrangement of the Fiddler on the Roof. Date of creation was the mid 1970’s. Now, for the 1st time, you can listen to it on the youtube link posted above. The concert was videoed live at the Circleville High School in Circleville Ohio. If you would like to help the cause help of good music, please feel free to share this post with friends!
Also, see my internal link below. It has a concert on youtube I gave it with Rubinoff in New York’s Catskill Mountains. He was 86 years of age at the time. You will learn facts about American musical history never before recorded. It also illuminates our glamorous past. He liked to speak to the audience at his concerts. His best friend, Will Rogers, taught him how to “break the 4th wall”. To my knowledge this is a most “rare concert recording”. Possibly it is the only record is existence of a full Rubinoff concert. `
Performer Composer Concept is Long Overdue. The idea for this blog came from: The Great Pianists- from Mozart to the Present. It is written by Harold C. Schonberg. He was the former senior music critic for the New York Times. I was quite taken with his text on John Baptist Cramer. What he wrote about can be applied to our current musical situation. From the following, I concluded that Cramer was instrumental in creating our current performer composer dichotomy.
Today, few pianists play their own compositions exclusively in concert. As a matter of fact, few pianists today even compose. It is all about other people’s music. The equivalent in the theatrical community is the entire genre of “tributes.” Thus, we have countless tributes to Rogers and Hammerstein, Steven Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, etc. Pianists often feature one or two composers in their concerts. Beethoven seems to be preferred. Then comes some of the Romantics like Chopin or Schubert. Regardless, playing ones own music has fallen out of favor. As a result we have tribute after tribute. Sorry, but after a while this becomes “old hat.”
So How Did the Performer Composer Concept Come to be Abandoned?
First, who was John Baptist Cramer? Johann Baptist Cramer (24 February 1771 – 16 April 1858) was an English pianist and composer of German origin. He was the son of Wilhelm Cramer. His father was a famous London violinist and conductor. The family is identified with the progress of music during the 18th and 19th centuries. My knowledge of him is through his masterful book of piano etudes entitled: gradus ad Parnassum. It translates from Latin to”steps to Parnassus”. It is sometimes shortened to gradus. The name Parnassus was used to denote the loftiest part of a mountain range in central Greece. It is a few miles north of Delphi. In Greek mythology, one of the peaks was sacred to Apollo and the nine Muses. It had two peaks. One dedicated to inspiring deities of the arts. The other to Dionysus.
As per Schonberg, Cramer was one of the 1st pianists to feature music other than his own in concerts. He especially performed Mozart and Bach. I personally am a great believer in cycles. With few exceptions, pianist composers have left the scene. Witness the return. I hope to be a leader in this way. Enjoy my compositions at the Gasparilla Inn.