Optimism is Acquired by Forward Direction and Will Rogers

Optimism is Acquired by Forward Direction. Will Rogers was a wonderful man. William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was a stage and motion picture actor, vaudeville performer, American cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator. I have a special connection with him. This is because of the stories about him that I heard from “David Rubinoff and His Violin.” I worked with this great conductor’violinist for over 15 years. Will Rogers gave him a poem. He had it engraved on the back of a pocket watch. It is “The Clock of Life” by George H. Chandler.” “Ruby” would read the poem off the watch at every concert he gave. My favorite lines are:

Now is the only time we own.
Live! Love! Toil will a will.
Do not wait until tomorrow
For the Clock May then be still.

Optimism and hard work went side by side
The trio of Dave Ohrenstein, Dave Rubinoff and “The Clock of Life.”

The poem reminded him of what he considered to be one of his best friendships. Also, he lived by these words. One morning we were working on an arrangement. I looked outside the window of his 14th floor suite.  It was right by his player, grand piano. At the time we were working on an arrangement of the Fascination Waltz. I commented on it the storm. On the spot, Rubinoff became infuriated.  Using expletives he shouted at the top of his lungs: —–, —–, that just proves you are not paying attention to the music!”

Biblical Optimism by Forward Direction

Look at Genesis chapter 19. As Lot’s family fled Sodom and Gomorrah. God rained down burning sulfur onto the city. All man, animals and vegetation were destroyed. The angels warned Lot and his family to not look back.  His wife did not listen.  She was immediately turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back. These  are words from Genesis, Chapter 19. What happened: His wife looked back. She stopped her forward direction. She wept tears of salt and was unable to continue.  The lesson: We all know it’s difficult. However, what’s past is past. Look and advance in a forward direction. If you do not, you too may be overcome by tears of salt. Keep trying. The reward for this bit of optimism  is happiness and fulfillment. Speak of trying, I am currently offering piano lessons in Sarasota.


Optimism and fun exude from Will Rogers.
Will Rogers attempts to play Rubinoff’s violin in a gag photo.
Will Rodgers was a gracious and generous soul

Will Rogers Plays the Violin, or Tries to with Rubinoff

Will Rogers Plays Had a Place in My Life Through Rubinoff. For years I worked with “Rubinoff and His Violin.” He always would praise Will Rogers. Rubinoff stated in his autbiography: “Will used to give me advice. He was a happy fellow and a pleasure to be near. Will advised me on timing, how to time my gestures, how to get the audience to do my bidding, and how to talk to provoke the appropriate responses.”  This quote is from Rubinoff’s book, Dance of the Russian Peasant. His wife, Dame Darlene Rubinoff, co-authored the book with her husband.  Maestro Rubinoff always paid homage to Will Rogers at his concerts.

Will Rogers Plays:

William Penn Adair Rogers was born on November 4, 1879, in present-day Oologah, Oklahoma—then part of Indian territory. … Himself part Cherokee, Rogers socialized with both indigenous people.  Interest in Will Rogers plays found its way into a hit Broadway show: The Will Rogers Follies is a musical with a book by Peter Stone, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Cy Coleman.

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Will Rogers Follies

It focuses on the life and career of famed humorist and performer Will Rogers, using as a backdrop the Ziegfeld Follies, which he often headlined, and describes every episode in his life in the form of a big production number.

He gave Rubinoff a gigantic pocket watch. Will had the poem below engraved on its back. Will also included his picture with Dave with the following inscription: “To the greatest fiddler in the world. Your Pal, Will Rogers 1932.” Rubinoff recited it at every single concert. Audiences loved itHere are some paraphrases::

Will Rogers plays Rubinoff's violin
Will Rogers plays Rubinoff’s Strad in a gag picture. Rubinoff is looking on and smiling.

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time we own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.

― Robert H. Smith

Conclusion: So many were jealous of Rubinoff. Musicians frequently were contemptuous about how he pandered to the public. However, they were really jealous of his income. In the 1930’s he made as much as $500,000/year. Now I offer a present to all my readers. Here is a free youtube link to Rubinoff and I, performing at our last concert in 1984. And yes, he’ll show off his Will Rogers pocket watch. You can hear the thunderstorm at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House during the concert. Oh yes, please share. This is happy and entertaining!

Lost Concert “Rubinoff and His Violin” on Oquaga Lake, 1984 – YouTube

Jun 22, 2015 – Uploaded by Lesley & Ohrenstein

In one of the final years of his life, renowned violinist Dave Rubinoff plays … Your browser does not currently …

Audience forgiveness at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee, Fl

Forgiving Audience for Rubinoff and His Violin

Forgiving Audience for Rubinoff and His Violin at the  Tallahassee Governor’s Club. It was the early 1980’s. Rubinoff and I were invited to play at the Governor’s Club. The Governors Club was founded on certain principles. Chief among them were providing a comfortable and elegant environment for social gatherings, serving excellent food and offering outstanding service. Our private social club cultivates the finest membership….

Rubinoff was an honest man. He freely spoke his mind. If he liked something, you’d know. If he didn’t, he could be quite expressive. Fortunately, once he started to play his violin, my matter what he said was forgiven. People knew they were in a hands of a great master. So what happened?

Our forgiving audience included the kind and nice Florida legislators.
The Governors Inn was right across from the capitol building where Rubinoff and I gave a most memorable concert. Dave and his wife, Darlene, and I were guests at the hotel. The forgiving audience was at the capitol buildng.

First I must say that Dave liked delicatessen food: Corn beef, pastrami, potato salad…He lived in Detroit at the Leland House. I worked with him for many years as his arranger and accompanist. To me, he was like the grandfather I never got to know. When we went on a lunch break, we’d go to the closest deli. He also delighted in “cooking the greatest hamburger in the world.” He called it “Hamburger a la Rubinoff.” I got to eat plenty  of the best hamburgers in the world. But that was David. He was excited about everything he did. He fell in love with every melody he worked on. He had passion for music and life. I felt honored to work with such a man, The bonus was he treated me like I was his grandson.

Forgiving Audience Springs Into Action

We walked in the capitol building for both the concert and dinner. Talk about eloquence. Each place was set with 4 or 5 glasses for wine. We had silverware galore and beautiful dishes. We entered slightly late.  Everyone was already seated. Suddenly a scream issues forth: “This place is too damn fancy for me!”, yells Rubinoff.”  The sentiment was projected with his heavy Russian accent. In all honesty, that is how to create a hostel audience. Luckily, they didn’t throw us out. After dinner he played his violin with me at the piano.  By our second number, all were in his pocket. They loved him. The concert ended with bravos and a standing ovation. I thought our reception by the Florida legislators was magnanimous, appreciative  and forgiving.

If you like this blog, feel  free to share. I think it’s one of the greatest show  biz stories ever. If you never heard Rubinoff and I give a concert, please enjoy our 45 minute 1984 New York Catskill Mountain performance at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House on this youtube link. It is free. He was in his mid-eighties. The man is an inspiration to all of us.

Lost Concert “Rubinoff and His Violin” on Oquaga Lake, 1984 – YouTube

Jun 22, 2015 – Uploaded by Lesley & Ohrenstein

In one of the final years of his life, renowned violinist Dave Rubinoff plays the Stradivarius violin for an …


Popular Concert With Rubinoff

Popular Concert With Rubinoff and His Violin

Popular Concert With Rubinoff and His Violin. You can read on the program, the Stradivarius violin was insured for $100.000. That was in the 1930’s. Now it’s closer to 2 million. Rubinoff was a superstar in the 1930’s. Circumstances of the Great Depression favored his rise to fame. During difficult times the public needs beauty in the arts. In music this translate to melody. After the good times of the 1920’s the next decade started out with the Great Depression. Times were tough, crass and violent. We could almost draw a parallel to today. The last thing people needed were rough qualities in their entertainment. Rubinoff offered beautiful melody on the violin. The public ate it up. He became a sensation and made a fortune.  Rubinoff credits his success in great measure to an American Indian, Will Rogers.

Known as “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son”,[1] Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies”),[2] and wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns.[3] By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of his time, and was the highest paid Hollywood movie star. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska.[4]

Will rogers playing Rubinoff's Strad in a gag picture. What a Story!
Rubinoff and American Indian Will Rogers were best friends. Ruby treasured his associated with Rogers and paid him homage at every concert we gave together.

Rubinoff credits Will Rogers for his success with the popular concert.   In his biography, Dance of the Russian Peasant, written by his wife Darlene Rubinoff that she wrote from recording Dave, he states,  “Will used to give me advice. He was a happy fellow and a pleasure to be near. Will advised me on timing, how to time my gestures, how to get the audience to do my bidding, and how to talk to provoke the appropriate responses

That is the sign of the truest friend. Here is a sample of Will’s kindness. He gave Rubinoff a giant pocket watch. Will had the poem below engraved on its back. Will also included his picture with Dave with the following inscription: “To the greatest fiddler in the world. Your Pal, Will Rogers 1932.” Rubinoff recited it at every single concert. The audience always loved it. Here are some paraphrases from the poem engraved on the watch case.

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time we own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.

Robert H. Smith


Popular Concert With Rubinoff and His Violin

But it gets even better.  As a pianist, I invited him to the resort I was playing at. We gave an unforgettable concert together. Listen to it. Share it with friends. Experience American history as it was actually lived by this great American. He talks about his personal friendships Victor Herbert, John Phillip Sousa, President and Mrs Roosevelt, Will Rogers, President  Eisenhower, Irving Berlin……I  accompanied him at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, NY, The youtube video is called “Lost Concert Found” from 1984. You can even hear a thunderstorm in the background.

He played on his Stradivarius the melodies that filled his soulfilled his soul

Melodies Linger and Last Like all Good Things

Melodies Linger and Last Like all Good Things. A pleasant memory always stays with you. So does a beautiful melody. Beautiful melodies give rise to whistling or even humming.  The whistler feels the need to outwardly express the tune within. Now I ask my reader: When is the last time you heard someone whistling. When I grew up in the 1950’s everyone seemingly whistled. This was true at a bus stop, in a drugstore or just by random pedestrians. I would go so far as to even say that  whistling is a sign of a happy civilization.

Rubinoff Fell in Love With Beautiful Melodies

The violinist I worked with, Rubinoff, (featured picture) was good friends with Irving Berlin. He met Irving Berlin at soirees given on Sunday evenings by Victor Herbert, then conductor of the Pittsburg Symphony. At the time, beautiful melodies captured the imagination of the American public (circa 1910). So did the new fad, ragtime. Comparing the two styles he told Rubinoff: “Ruby, melodic music goes from your head straight to your heart. Ragtime goes straight from your head to your feet”. Berlin and Rubinoff loved both typres of music. Rubinoff said time and time again about countless melodies: “That’s the most beautiful melody I ever heard.” When he saw a beautiful girl, he would say the same. Here is an excerpt of lyrics from a song by Irving Berlin that also expresses this dual love relationship. It is Berlin’s A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY

A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day

Just like the strain of a haunting refrain
She’ll start upon a marathon
And run around your brain

You can’t escape, she’s in your memory
By morning, night and noon

She will leave you and then come back again
A pretty girl is just like a pretty tune

I was also told a quatrain on Oquaga Lake. It is from my poetry book, The Oquaga Spirit Speaks. The American Indians loved the lake. It is all about how in difficult and challenging  times, melody gives a feeling of solidity.

Time is just like music
Do not play too fast.
Speed burns too quickly,
While melodies linger and last.

Irving Berlin's summer residence was a short distance down the road on Lou Beach.
Melodies waft across the lake from Scotts Oquaga Lake House


Audience forgiveness at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee, Fl

Employment and Advancement- Here’s Rubinoff’s Method

Employment and Advancement- Here’s the Rubinoff Method. During the Depression of the 1930’s Rubinoff was making a fortune.  “So what?” you ask. He was a violin player. I was fortunate to work with him for some 20 years as his personal arranger and accompanist. Below is a youtube connection of one of his last concerts. Its at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. I’m at the piano. I was the piano player at Scotts for the season. His full stage name was Rubinoff and His Violin. His legal name was David Rubinoff. Rubinoff is featured in one of  a series of books entitled What Ever Became Of? I do not remember which book the article is in. In the article, he reputed to have made $500,000.00/year during the ’30’s by playing the violin and by other musical activites.

He received his biggest break not from an agent, but from Rudy Valllee. So who was Rudy Vallee? Rudy Vallée (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.

He was one of the first modern pop stars of the teen idol type. In the words of a magazine writer in 1929, “At the microphone he is truly a romantic figure. Faultlessly attired in evening dress, he pours softly into the radio’s delicate ear a stream of mellifluous melody. He appears to be coaxing, pleading and at the same time adoring the invisible one to whom his song is attuned.”[1]

 Related image

 Rudy Vallee Lands Rubinoff Employment with ABC

In his memoirs Rubinoff states that Rudy Vallee often came to hear him play at the Paramount Theater. He greatly admired Rubinoff’s musicianship as a conductor and violinist. At one time Rudy had to turn a job down for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). He asked Rubinoff if he would like to be on the Chase and Sandborn Hour. Rudy had other contracts to fulfill. Rubinoff stated: ” Rudy Vallee introduced me to thousands of listeners who would never have heard of Rubinoff and His Violin. My fame grew thanks to Rudy.” Go to the front page of DSOworks.com. There is a real Find. Rubinoff and I give a concert. They thumbnail is entitled, Lost Concert is Found. Rubinoff plays at age 86. With this 45 minute concert he thrilled the audience at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. For business, Rubinoff stressed honesty in expression, immaculate appearance, and hard work. Individuals who loved his playing advanced him over agents. Even Frank Phillips of Phillips petroleum let Rubinoff choose any three paintings he wanted from his New York art museum!
Audience forgiveness at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee, Fl

Popular Concerts with Rubinoff and His Violin

Popular concerts were once looked down upon. Then came men like David Rubinoff and His Violin.  He made as much as $500,000.00 a year in the 1930’s as a violinist.  His specialty was playing popular music, but with a classical flare. I personally worked on many arrangements with him in the 70s and 80s. In the featured blog picture, I brought Rubinoff  to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in the 80s. That entire approximately 45 minute concert is on DSOworks.com.  It is a free thumbnail for listening on the 1st page.


Rubinoff had another specialty: He loved America and shared his love for our country with children in public schools. As a matter of fact, John Phillip Sousa and Will Rogers inspired him to go in this direction.  Over the years, I’ve met many adults that had heard Rubinoff at their school. They all said the same thing. He inspired them to do wonderful things with their lives. At every assembly he would say to the children: Your lives are precious. They are like my Stradivarius violin. But you have to work your life the same way I practice my violin.  The violin without a maestro’s touch is almost useless.  His playing was so inspiring that the children listened to him. When  little Mark Azar came home and told his mother how wonderful this violinist was, mother and then widow Darlene Azar was very surprised: “How could a rough and tumble little boy suddenly love violin music?”, she thought. They went to his concert in Colombus, Ohio. Darlene not only fell in love with the music, she fell in love with the man,. The rest, of course is history. I will always be thankful that afterwards Darlene accepted me as part of her family.

Below is a sample of Rubinoff going smoothly from a popular style piece into Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee. His expression, precision and speed are incredible.

Rubinoff and his Violin – The Music Shop – YouTube



Berlin loved Rubinoff and his music

Rubinoff and His Violin Sort of Was My Grandfather

Rubinoff and His Violin Sort of Was My Grandfather. I never met any real grandparent. None on my mother’s side. None on my father’s. They were all killed in a very tragic way in the European Holocaust. Now I’m a grandfather myself. So, I know for the first time what I’ve missed. I try  to honor my ancestors by thoughts and actions. I have approximately 200 blogs on this website. They are either about music or world peace. Please read some of them. I’ve rediscovered an ancient and lost number number code. It promises and probably will deliver the peace that my grandparents never knew. In my life, however,  I most proud of my association with Rubinoff, the violinist. He was my surrogate grandparent. His wife, Darlene was my surrogate grandmother.We had a close 20 year association. I worked as his arranger and accompanist from 1967 to 1986. The following write up is from the New York Times on his death. The obituary summarizes his accomplishments. Read it. Then, I have a big surpriseA posting of a 45 minute concert Rubinoff and I gave together in 1984. The concert was at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit New York. A tremedous thunder storm is in the background. The concert tape  had been lost. Now it is found and posted below. Please, share it with all your friends. Have them share it. Just click on it. See the great master at work.  Scotts on Oquaga Lake is still open. It has been open since 1869 in a true American tradition. Ray Scott and all the relatives are totally wonderful people.  And finally and most important: May the blessings of peace be with you!



COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 7— The violinist David Rubinoff, a Russian immigrant whose concert music lifted the nation’s spirits during the Depression, has died at the age of 89.

Mr. Rubinoff, who was a regular from 1931 to 1935 with Eddie Cantor on the ”Chase & Sanborn Hour” on NBC radio, died at a hospital Monday.

Mr. Rubinoff was born Sept. 3, 1897, at Grodno, Russia, one of five children of a tobacco factory worker and a laundress. When he was 5 years old he persuaded his parents to buy him a violin.

He was studying music at the Royal Conservatory of Warsaw in 1911 when he met the composer Victor Herbert, who was so impressed he took the entire Rubinoff family to Pittsburgh.

He attended Forbes School in Pittsburgh and became the leader of its orchestra. He worked part-time in a cafe, where he played the violin, and also sold newspapers on the streets.

Mr. Rubinoff eventually became a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and began to conduct. He went on to become guest conductor with orchestras in the United States and abroad.

He eventually became a regular conductor and soloist at the Paramount in New York City. Rudy Vallee saw him, and he signed a contract with the Cantor show.

During his career, Mr. Rubinoff performed at the White House for Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

Mr. Rubinoff is survived by his wife, Darlene, a son, and seven grandchildren.

 Rubinoff was almost blind  at the time of the concert. When he picks up his bow, magic happens. He talks about his colorful life. It includes personal stories of people you only read about in history books.



Accompanying Rubinoff who was a master of precision.

Articulation in Music is Like Punctuation in Writing

Articulation in Music is Like Punctuation in Writing. My feature picture is of a former great master of articulation.  I worked with him 20 years: Rubinoff and His Violin. Below is one of concerts. My feature keyword includes the use of :

  • Accents
  • Pauses and breaks
  • Varying degrees of volume
  • The foundation of all articulation- the two note phrase.
  • On the piano it means the knowledgeable use of of damper, sostenuto and soft pedals.

The older I get, the more I think this knowledge belongs to a limited few. They must be in a smallish and  secret society. Why? Most music editors, over centuries, ignore articulation. Frank Sinatra was a vocal master of articulation. His style can be relished below on this youtube of “What’s New?” I have personally worked with Rubinoff and His Violin.  I  was both his arranger and accompanist. Rubinoff was a master of musical interpretation. Enjoy the our youtube 44 minute of one my last concerts with him. We gave it at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in the Catskills. He was 86 years old at the time (1984). Rubinoff and His Violin made $500,000 a year in the 1930’s. Many violinists were jealous of him. His secret was: He articulated everything. When I arranged for him, every note had to have the appropriate marking.  Otherwise, he would be furious.

Frank Sinatra – The best songs 1 – What’s new – YouTube

image 7 of 23

 Types of Articulation Omissions or Errors by Editors

Here is a list of the pet peeves I have with most editions of music:
  • Incredibly long legato markings. Sometimes for 8 bars. Sometimes for 16 or even 32.
  • The use of damper pedal markings that ignore the rests placed in the music by the composer.
  • Inconsistent articulation markings. That means using particular makings in the beginning. Then omitting them or changing them on the repeats.
  • Ignoring the use of “finger pedaling.” Sometimes composers specify which individual keys they want to have sustained by fingers only.  Not all of them- with a damper pedal.
  • Not placing accent marks on notes that should have been accented. While placing accent markings on notes that should not be accented.

Finally, enjoy my own piano tutorial of articulations. This youtube is of  my Paris Piano Connection. It also gives my back ground. Off season, I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.

image 16 of 23


The Little Bus Engine That Could

The Little Bus That Could: The following Scott’s Oquaga Lake House Story is true. It  makes reality come out of the classic fiction story, “The Little Engine That Could”. I, pianist David Ohrenstein, worked as the house piano player for over 15 years. Sorry, folks, it wasn’t that kind of a “house.” My wife, Sharon, and I entertained the guests with feature shows. Thumbnails from Scotts can be seen on the front page of DSOworks.com. We have a 44 minute live concert posted that I played the world famous violinist, Rubinoff. He was 86 years of age at the time. Also, on the front page, me playing Debussy. All free.  Enjoy. Now, back to the bus.

This Scott’s Bus has a real story that is even better than the fictional Little Engine That Could. That famous tale dates back to 1920. Scotts actually dates back to 1869!


Scotts Oquaga Lake House in situated in the foothills of the majestic Catskill Mountains. It has frontage on about 1/4 of beautiful Lake Oquaga. A hilly road surrounds the lake. On any given morning, dozens of guests or people who own cottages take a walk around the lake. That’s what Sharon and I were doing. We were in between two hills, not far from the entrance. The bus, full of passengers passed us. We waved to them, and they waved back to us. Everyone is happy. Suddenly, we see it can’t make it up the steep hill. Scotty, the owner, puts it in reverse. The entire bus group passes us again, but going backwards. . Sharon and I wave to them once more.  They wave back. Scotty backs up the bus to the previous hilltop. He then floors the accelerator. The same group passes us on the classic Scott’s bus, seen in the picture, a third time. As we wave to them again, everyone, without exception,  is breaking up with laughter. It made it over the hill. I could actually hear the engine saying the mantra from the famous story of the Little Engine That Could: I think I can, I think I can. In conlusion. I’m sure that there is no place on planet Earth that you can have so much fun! Sharon and I would love to make a movie about Scotts. Please, please share this. The Little Engine That Could has had millions of hits.  I think this story is even better.

World famous violinist Rubinoff and His Violin with myself on stage at Scotts. Our entire 44 minute historical concert is viewable for free on the thumb nail of our DSOworks.com website. He also moderates previously unknown stories about famous entertainers.