Cotton Club Carousing for Dave Rubinoff and His violin. I begin working with Rubinoff as his accompanist and arranger when he was 70. I was 21 years old at the time. How did this happen? I was working on my Master of Music degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dave Rubinoff was staying at the Leland House in downtown Detroit. I just happened to be walking by the Liberal Arts Music Office. A Dr. Morris Hochberg had just answered the phone at the office. Dave Rubinoff was on the phone. Dr. Hochberg said to me, “David, come here, there is someone I’d like you to talk with.” As the story goes, I hit it off with this great violinist at my audition.
Dave Rubinoff and I (David Ohrenstein) remained best of friends and work associates until he passed away at age 89. He married Darlene Azar while we were working together. They then lived in Hilliard, Ohio so I simply made many trips to Ohio. Darlene wrote a book about Dave that he dictated to her.
“The Music Shop” was filmed when he was at his prime. For the second youtube video, I personally brought David to Scott’s Oquaga Lake House for a 1984 concert. Dave will tell you unbelievable but true show biz stories.
16mm ‘soundie’ “THE MUSIC SHOP” US 1944 Rubinoff & his …
In one of the final years of his life, renowned violinist Dave Rubinoff plays the Stradivarius violin for an …
Jun 22, 2015 – Uploaded by Lesley & Ohrenstein
What’s it Like to Do Cotton Club Carousing ?
The story you are about to read was dictated to her in his “The Dance of the Russian Peasant.”
“Jimmy Petrillo, czar of the musicians union, picked me up in his armored car to go to the clubs. Once I rode with Al Capone and Jimmy in Capone’s armored car. My brother Charlie advised me to stay away from Capone. Al Capone never bothered me or tried to befriend me. I guessed Jimmy Petrillo took care of Capone, and told him to leave me and mine alone.”
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. 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!
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.
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 musicradio host, known for his sonorous speaking voice, humanistic approach to music appreciation, and popularization of classical music. 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. He also published the book Inside Music.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.
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.
Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler. For some 17 years I studied piano with a great master, Mischa Kottler. He prepared me, as a pianist, to play for heads of state from around the world as well as Presidents of the United States. Among his students were counted; Ruth Loredo, Cynthia Raim and Seymour Lipkin. One of his students was Greg Phillinganes. 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. Mischa defied time. At age 93 he paid us a surprise visit in Sarasota home. There he played Chopin’s Minute Waltz. So what, you ask? He played it with double notes in the right hand. Instead of single notes he played 3rds, 4th, and 5th in with one hand. The tempo of its fast pace was never lost. Fortunately, this feat can be witnessed on youtube. Single notes at that speed a difficult enough, Alfred Cortot, his teacher also plays it but with single notes. Many students feel the compulsion to outdo their teachers. Mischa did.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine and his Quote of Mischa Kottler
“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.
Happiest Moment Comes With an Unplanned Visit by Mischa
In 1993 I get a phone call. In context, I had no contact with Mischa for some 16 years. I thought he was no longer with us. The voice on the phone said: “David, this is your piano teacher, Mischa Kottler.” I was sure it was a joke. The heavy Russian accent went on to say: “I hear you have more children than I know piano concertos.” At that moment I nearly collasped. It was him. I recognized his dry humor. Guess what? He visited our home and gave me piano lessons “in exchange” for hospitality. Naturally, he would have been most welcome even without the piano lessons.
My advise to children. Learn to play the piano. It will allow you to someday talk about the happiest moments of your life. We are about to enter an era where beautiful is once more in vogue. Beautiful piano playing will lead the way. I still have a couple openings for piano lessons in Sarasota. Also, I am about to begin my 8th year playing a wonderfully reconditioned Steinway Concert Grand at the famed Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. It probably has the sweetest sound of any piano anywhere. See you there December 20th-April 14. I play 6 nights a week. And yes, Mischa stays with me, in my heart.
Chopinesque Includes a Love of J.S. Bach. My piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. In the 1920’s Kottler went to Europe. He had a recommendation from Sergei Rachmaninoff to study with Alfred Cortot. From Cortot, Kottler learned about the influences on Chopin’s compositional style. These influences included Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. Bach, Mozart and Schubert. Mischa also emphasized how crucial study of J.S. Bach was for playing Chopin properly. So how this affect my musical education?
My Chopinesque Education at Wayne State University
I received both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Wayne State University. While at Cass Tech High School, I began my studies with Mischa Kottler. Before I even graduated high school, Mischa was appointed head of the piano department at the university. They gave him a studio right next door to the head of the Liberal Arts Music Department’s office. In this manner those applying could hear the most wonderful music issuing forth next door. You could always tell when the student was playing and when Mischa was playing. Mischa used a phrase for good piano instruction. He called it: “going through the mill.” The “mill” included a continual stream of J.S. Bach. As soon as you completed one book of Bach’s works, he took you to the next level. These volumes included:
Works for keyboard (BWV 772–994)
Inventions and Sinfonias
Four Duets from Clavier-Übung III
Partitas for keyboard (published as Clavier-Übung I)
French Overture, from Clavier-Übung II
Properly playing baroque counterpoint was key to effective Chopin. Cortot felt this was mainly to be acquired by playing Bach. When Kottler gave his lessons excercises came first, They would include finrst finger independence exercises, then Czerny, Cramer etc. Then came Bach. Afterwards came classical sonatas, romantic works and something 20th century-ish. Chopin was Mischa’s favorie composer. Below is a sample of him playing the minute waltz by Chopin. As you listen to the work, his virtuoso counterpoint is simply incredible. Who today could play it like Mischa? In the meanwhile, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota until the season in “kicks in.” A vintage Steinway grand from 1924 was just rebuilt by management for my 8th year at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. See you there starting Dec. 20 Through April 14. I play six nights weekly.