A life of music loving recounted and found to be unattributable.

2011 Symposium2

Amid the frequent pronouncements of doom over classical music, and the unenthusiastic attitude of many of my general music students toward it, I sometimes ask myself what drew me to classical music. I never became a great musician, yet my love for music has always been great. That’s important because when a child is raised in a music rich environment, he can become a life-long music lover, even if he never plays at Boston’s Symphony Hall, or New York’s Carnegie all or….(you fill in your prestigious concert hall). Here’s how I became the music lover and the musician/teacher I am today.

My parents told me that I enjoyed music from a very early age, but many children do. My earliest memories are discovering the two classical recordings had in their record collection, and delighting in playing them on their phonograph. At some point, I also discovered Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples Concerts on television. The whole family waited for them to end before we could have dinner on those precious afternoons when they were broadcast. I soon began imagining that I was the conductor of a symphony orchestra.

At that time, the Hartford (CT) Symphony Orchestra periodically broadcast a concert on television. The broadcast had a theme song, it was “Getting To Know You” from the musical “The King and I.” I soon began starting my classical music listening sessions by playing “Getting To Know You,” and then switching over to one of the classical records. I would stand in front of the phonograph conducting the music, dreaming of becoming the next Leonard Bernstein or Arthur Winograd (former cellist of the Julliard Quartet, and then conductor of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.)

As I grew into my teens, I got to go to Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony, to see that great orchestra play. My mother took me, and we had memorable days together enjoying the music and the cool Massachusetts Berkshire air that is so refreshing and welcome compared to the hotter more humid air we so often left behind in Connecticut. When I got my driver’s license, I subscribed to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and drove myself to Symphony Hall in Springfield to hear orchestra concerts. It never occurred to me to object to going alone. I just couldn’t wait until the next concert.

By this time, my clarinet playing (I had started when I was ten years old) had progressed so that I was active in regional festivals, musical theater pits, and the school concert and jazz bands. The more I played, the more exciting life got. I began conducting while still in high school, and was able to conduct a composition I wrote for band. A classmate in music theory class got me interested in composing, and though I never formally studied music composition, I have dappled in it ever since, having several works performed over the years.

I entered college as a music education major so that I would be assured of making a living in music. There were frequent delights in a music conservatory–chamber music ensembles, wind ensembles, an opera orchestra, solo playing with piano–these were more varied and more fun than ever. Four years at a music conservatory were filled with music, though a few performances still stand out in my memory. Playing clarinet and bass clarinet for Pierrot Lunaire, playing on WGBH radio’s “Morning Pro Musica” with Robert J. Lurtsema and singing in a performance of Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast” were among the standouts.

And then there was a concert I attended given by the Hartford Symphony. Philip Entremont played the Beethoven Fourth Piano Concerto. I was fascinated. How could a piano concerto start with just the piano? How could the work begin without the orchestra playing the exposition? Yet there it was, only the pianist playing those four repeated chords, and then another four, and then the end of the first phrase. How curious that so much expression could be found in repeated chords, yet it was expressive. By the time the orchestra came in I was both annoyed and relieved. Annoyed that the spell had been broken, and relieved that Beethoven hadn’t left the orchestra out of the first movement! With all the classical music I had heard, I still had the thrill and excitement of being in wonder. That was it. The old music always sounded fresh and was capable of inspiring my inner being.

At some point, it was no longer works that were new to me that brought out that wonder, but new interpretations of familiar ones. Lori Maazel conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fifth symphony with the bell tones of the brass brought to the fore. Copland’s Clarinet Concerto played as I never knew a clarinet could be played, sublime, by Harold Wright. Leonard Bernstein Conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fifth and a few years later, Brahms first symphony. I met Mr. Bernstein after that concert, and it is to this day among the most precious two minutes of my life.

The delights, both remembered and ongoing, are seemingly endless. They started somewhere in my childhood, and snowballed into a life-long delight. How it all started, I am still not sure, but I do know this: I have always surrounded myself and been surrounded by music. I found pleasure and fulfillment in it that others did not. For the past 30 years it has been my privilege to teach young people music, and for some, to move other life-long love affairs with music along. Whether it is the turning of a phrase in the ear, or a lovely body in motion to the music, or the images of a video helping my imagination take flight along with the music, it is a joy that for me has never been matched. Musicians, fill the lives of others with your music, your art. It is an ennobling and necessary part of human life.

By the way, the two recordings were Gaite Parisienne by Offenbach, performed by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.



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Video extrait “Synesthésie Concert” – Arts Base, Bruxelles 11 October 2015.
L’exécution de Giusy Caruso accompagnée par la projection des images artistiques de Alessandro Giorgi Art Photography
Synesthésie est cette expérience sensorielle qui concerne un mélange de perception des sons, des couleurs, des images nettes et de timbre abstraite. Le programme du concert propose une fascinante écoute pleine de contaminations, de références, analogies voilées et de stimuli sensoriels de type synesthésique.

Michael Freeman, Silent Movie - Thumbnail

I was recently asked by a classical string musician friend if I would compose a short mischievous piano piece called Cheeky Monkey. I completed the task, and here I have used the tune as a soundtrack to an 8mm short film my brothers & I made as kids

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As a “non-pianist” I tried to play my piece as good as I could. The piano is a Roenisch from 1909 :)

Nikolai Medtner - 8 Forgotten Melodies / Vergessene Weisen Op. 38: Sonata Reminiscenza, Danza Graziosa, Danza Festiva, Canzona Fluviala, Danza Rustica, Canzona Serenata, Danza Silvestra, Alla Reminiscenza

Wie bereits angekündigt, freue ich mich nun endlich, interessierten Musikliebhabern unter euch den gesamten Zyklus “Vergessene Weisen Op. 38″ von Nikolai Medtner präsentieren zu dürfen – aufgenommen letzte Woche auf einem C-Bechstein-Flügel. Kurz noch einmal ein paar generelle Informationen zum Komponisten und Werk:
Nikolai Medtner, geboren 1880, war russischer Komponist und Pianist, wobei er oft eigene Werke aufführte. Seine Kompositionen sind inspiriert von deutscher und russischer Tradition, halten sich aber an den romantischen Stil. Rachmaninoff und Medtner, welche befreundet waren, hielten jeder den anderen für den bedeutendsten Komponisten seiner Zeit.
Medtner schafft mit seinen Werken und seiner unglaublich bildhaften und erzählerischen Tonsprache eine ganz eigene, individuelle Atmosphäre.
Der Zyklus besteht aus 8 lose zusammenhängenden Stücken. Das erste und umfangreichste ist gleichzeitig seine 10. Klaviersonate mit dem Namen “Sonata Reminiscenza”, bestehend aus einer musikalischen Erzählung in einem einzigen 14-minütigen Satz, welcher in bedrückendem a-moll geschrieben steht. Trotz der Einsätzigkeit ist noch eine gewisse Sonatenform zu erkennen (Exposition, Durchführung, Reprise), wobei zusätzlich Zwischenmotive eingebaut werden und z.B. bei der wiederholten Exposition ein neues Seitenthema erklingt.
In den folgenden 7 Stücken werden immer wieder Motive aus der Sonate verarbeitet. Speziell das eingängige melancholische, immer wiederkehrende Intro- und Schlussthema der Sonate ist z.B. bei „Canzona Serenata“ und „Alla Reminiszenza“ deutlich wahrnehmbar. Aber auch die Stücke untereinander zeigen Parallelen auf. Das einleitende Glockenmotiv des „Danza Festiva“ erklingt z.B. im danach folgenden „Canzona Fluviala“ ebenfalls als einleitendes Motiv, geht dann aber in ein ruhigeres, fließenderes Stück über. Das letzte Stück „Alla Reminiszenza“ kann auf Grund der engen Themenverwandschaft mit der Sonate, als eine Art Coda des gesamten Zyklus gesehen werden. Zum Abschluss klingen hier ebenfalls laute Glocken im befreiendem A-Dur.

Hier geht es zur Playlist:

1. Sonata Reminiscenza
2. Danza Graziosa
3. Danza Festiva
4. Canzona Fluviala
5. Danza Rustica
6. Canzona Serenata
7. Danza Silvestra
8. Alla Reminiscenza

Ich wünsche viel Spaß bei dieser tollen Musik und hoffe, es gibt für euch dabei viel zu entdecken.


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Thumbnail - Dulcamara

Tried many time to get a good visualisation…

Hope this one is good enough to show you…
Live it is no problem, if a beamer is there, but to record the visualisation is difficult…
Maybe someone knows something about recording the screen with a better resolution…

J Field

Have you ever relaxed on your balcony or patio listening to the dreamiest piano music imaginable? Such an experience is to enjoy the world’s most sensual massage of the senses by the world’s most gifted masseur and it costs little or nothing. If you have done so then the chances are you have been listening to a recording of a little known composer’s nocturnes. Perhaps a piece composed by a musician such as Chopin who was influenced by him.
Most of us are familiar with the names of Friedrich Chopin, Schubert, Franz Liszt, and Josef Haydn. Sadly fewer music lovers have heard of the Irish composer, John Field. Of him, Franz Liszt said: “None have quite attained to these vague Aeolian harmonies, these half-formed sighs floating through the air, softly lamenting and dissolved in delicious melancholy.”
Exhausted after a day’s activities our thoughts will usually turn to our favourite bedtime drink. One’s favourite tipple will help one to relax but do take my advice; purchase or download John Field’s piano music. I promise you will be enchanted and a restful night’s sleep will assuredly follow.
Born in 1782 to Irish parents in Dublin his was a musical family. Through his father’s connections the youngster progressed under the masters of his day. As so often happens with prodigies the young John Field was soon to exceed his tutors’ abilities and quickly the boy earned their respect. Field was soon to be regarded as the Father of the Nocturne.
A nocturne is a gentle undemanding piano piece perfectly suited to relaxing. It is often played during romantic scenes in television or movie dramas. There is a pathos about a nocturne: the melody’s soft whimsical notes never quite leave you.
I recall watching a movie that ended with the betrayal and shooting down of the outlaw, Billy the Kid. Some sixty years later I have forgotten the drama of the outlaw’s troubled life. All I do recall is the soothing piano melody that formed the backdrop of the final moments of the tragedy at his violent end.
John Field’s family moved to London when he was eleven years old. When twenty-years old the pianist went to Saint Petersburg via Paris and Vienna. His preferred choice was the then great Russian capital, the city of Tsar Peter the Great. A regular visitor to Moscow too he also played in the neighbouring Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and England and Italy too.
It was in St Petersburg that John Field composed most of his enchanting melodies. These soon caught the ear of Polish born contemporary pianist Friedrich Chopin. He enthusiastically adopted Field’s style and made it his own. John Field was to present his final concert in March 1836 and the world lost him in Moscow a year later.
You are familiar with the sublime sensations that relax you as you soak in a hot bath. Do give your wearied mind the same treatment by relaxing to a John Field nocturne, etude or sonata. Failing that, smile as you listen to the melodies of those far better known than the obscure John Field but whose fame rested on the shoulders and inspiration of a melodious Irishman who gave the world its very own lullabies.


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