Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The BBC and Bach

BBC Radio 3 is planning a broadcast of the complete music of Bach. They plan to make these available, just as they did with their wildly successful Beethoven symphony fest, this music available as free downloadable mp3's.

And wouldn't you know it, the record labels are already squealing like stuck pigs.

Read all about it here.

The "Open Rights Group" is lobbying Radio 3 to reconsider caving into pressure. Check 'em out here.

And, in related news, you'll likely find this of interest as well: "if file sharing essentially shifts sales away from established acts toward unknown acts, this has potentially very important implications for how talent is developed and distributed in the industry." More here. And on distribution changes there this to consider.

And Bach, Download, independent distribution? That all reminds me to point you to pianist Mei Ting Sun's site on CD Baby. You can download some deliciously played Bach and Schumann. And
if you like it, you'll want the whole CD. Check it out here.

Speaking of Recordings

and Chopin.

I look forward to hearing this one.

Cortot. Where to Begin.

Some listening recommendations. Details.

Obesity and Opera

Interesing theory (via classy classical)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Welcome to Piano City

A very interesting, and in some ways unsettling, article on China's "Piano City". Some key grafs:

"In the metropolises of contemporary China, as we are constantly informed, a fondness for Beethoven is considered modern, an expression of aspirations for a western lifestyle. Far more desirable still is to have your very own little Beethoven interpreter in the family"

and then there's this image:

"The pianos have been pushed together at the centre of the long, narrow, sales rooms, flanked to the right and left by endless flights of instruction rooms. Each of these sound-proofed cells, measuring four meters square, is furnished identically with a piano, a pairs of chairs, a neon light, dusky pink wallpaper, and a coat rack. During lessons, the little ones can be observed through the windows, and listened to through the door, as they play simple folk melodies in C major, Czerny etudes, easy Bach, or Mozart's "Alla Turca."

Such an image strikes me as off-putting. More so this: "Prevailing in piano training, hence, is a performance mentality not unlike the one found in gymnastics. Musical ability is tested regularly, assigned a competency index, and matched against the competition in contests and auditions. "

And to such questions as these: "Can you really play Haydn and Mozart if you have always lived behind the Great Wall of China, and have never even seen Vienna, Austria, or Europe? Can you plumb the depths of classical music without having a centuries-old tradition behind you, a tradition that resonates unmistakably and continuously when the Berliner Philharmoniker is performing? And what could serve as a source of emotional access to such music in a country where only forty years ago, anyone who played Mozart risked having his fingers broken by Mao's cultural revolutionaries? "

Setting aside the silly eurocentrism, I still find it very seriously doubtful that Lang Lang is the answer.

Read the rest here.

Panopticon and the Music Lover

Orwellian is about the only word that comes to mind after reading the most recent post on "The Overgrown Path". It's a must read, folks.

You're Sitting on It, Madge

This is absolutely brilliant: sofa as midi controller. Details.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Endangered Species

"There are far fewer recitals these days, and I think part of the reason is that regional orchestras have become much better at what they do," says Ax. "

Huh? Read the rest here.

Singing and Parking

Greetings to "The Standing Room" (TSR), a blog that needs no introduction to most net savy music lovers, and much appreciation to Monsieur C- (the force behind the TSR) for selecting "The Well-Tempered Blog" as one TSR's "blogs du jour". If you've not been there already, head on over and enjoy.

Taking Classical Music to the Dance Floor

"When the project was first mooted, Ashkenazy was against it. "We talked to him, and he was concerned that we were going to trivialise Shostakovich for the purposes of popularising classical music," Hughes says. "We had to convince him we had serious intent, that we wanted to do something of substance that related to the themes of the work. That put us under more pressure. It left us with the question of, if we're documenting the moral and spiritual decline of Western culture, how far can we go?"

Pretty far I'd say. Details.

William Burroughs and Thanksgiving

"Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome, American guts." Hear it all here.

Oh yea. It's a keeper. And it's coming to you from today's blog pick: ANAblog. A blog that leans on the new and curbs the quotidian. You might say it's "chewy goodness".

Check 'em out.

Beethoven and the Irish

"An extremely rare musical manuscript that shows five arrangements of Scottish and Irish folk songs by Ludwig van Beethoven will go on display in Scotland this week...The 22-page manuscript has been owned by a family on the continent for the past 40 years and has not been seen by many scholars." Read the rest here.

Buying Beethoven

If you've a million or so spare dollars you might be interested in next month's auction at Sotheby's. Recently discovered manuscripts by Mozart and Beethoven go on the block, along with a Schumann autograph manuscript, letters of Liszt and Schumann, and more.

Details here.

Did I mention I have a Christmas wish list?

What Killed Beethoven?

The answer to that question may be at hand.

"The great-great nephew of an Austrian doctor who acquired several fragments of what was thought to be Ludwig van Beethoven's skull in 1863 said recently completed tests show a high likelihood that the bones he inherited 15 years ago belonged to the great composer." Read the rest here.

Tests indicate that the skulls bones are indeed Beethoven's. Details. More info here.

See pictures of 'em here. A reproduction from them of entire skull can be seen in a foto in this article.

Lost in Translation

"I am like a paddy-plant. The heavier, the more curved, after emptying the ear of grain I am able to stand upright." From an interview with pianist Dang Thai Son. Read the rest here.

Left Handed Pianos

"Because most piano music is written with the melody in the right hand supported with chords in the left, if you turn this around and swap hands it makes much more sense to a left-hander. The only practical way of doing this is to build the keyboard in reverse. Chris hopes that this will set a precedent for a future generation of left-handed pianists."

More here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Seminar Will Meet Again

Not that of Jacques Lacan (about which we'll have more to say shortly), but of another great French pedagogue of sorts: Alfred Cortot.

Around and about the same time that Lacan was delivering his famous lectures on psychoanalytic theory at St-Anne Hospital in Paris in the 1950's, Alfred Cortot was busy with a series of his own at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Cortot's classes were, surprisingly enough, recorded by a young engineering student from 1954 to 1961. These have been collected, edited, and reintroduced on a 3 CD set by none other than pianist Murray Perahia. (The link takes you to Sony website for the CD collection. Does nobody pay attention to details? The site invites you to "sign-up" for Cortot's latest tour dates and news. Good grief!).

There is a very interesting write-up about both the collection and Cortot's classes in the Boston Globe by Richard Dyer. Dyer, who attended the classes, provides an interesting glimpse:

"Cortot demanded that a student submit a written analysis of any piece he wanted to play. The pianist, a tiny, elegantly turned-out man, would begin by discussing those analyses; then he would listen to the students play. Finally he would comment on what he had heard, illustrating his points at the piano, sometimes offering lethal imitations of what he didn't want to hear -- and just had. His voice was melodious, his intellect formidable; he was simultaneously intuitive and spontaneous. "

Read the rest here.

A very, very, short excerpt of his remarks/teaching on the Chopin Ballade no1 can be heard here.

You can listen to early 20th century recording of Cortot playing Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" and Albeniz' "Malaguena" on this fine site dedicated to the art of Cortot.

And Lacan? He has provided loads of material of the various cottage industries of academe. Lacan's words are also the text for a work by composer Nathan Michael.

See him on tv here.

And music?

It is the dreamwork which does not think.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Where is the Music of Thanksgiving

Inquiring minds head here.

After the Turkey Feast

If you're still tempted to come anywhere near a computer today, you might want to visit this site and download the video.


Described as a musical allegory of the application of continuum mechanics to structural geology and tectonics.

Or more engagingly put: "The drama is set in 1717, a year when both Handel and Newton lived in London and is based on the premise that Handel has lost his compositional ability by neglecting note duration (kinematics), note intensity (dynamics), and tonal relations (constitutive laws). A mysterious storm blows Hopkins from the future and Hooke from the past to join Newton in Handel's studio. Using the analogy between music and mechanics, they help Handel regain his muse, and conclude that only by virtue of a complete suite of relationships will either discipline produce pleasing results."

Hey, Hey, Hey.

Up Blogoscope

Today's blogpick is Bryant Manning's blog. Eclectic linkage and verve. Give 'em a visit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

today's web pick

The webpage of pianist Nicolas Hodges. His Birtwistle recording is going on my Christmas wish-list.

The Acoustics of the Piano

Brought to you in five easy pieces, or something like that, by Harold Conklin. It's a series of short and illustrated lectures on piano design and it's influence on the tone of the instrument.
Check it out here.

Sonic Memories

Here's something I would be very interested in experiencing first-hand: a living wall of "sonic memories". But, then again, perhaps I already have. Hmmm.

"Living Wall is an ambient installation collecting, recomposing and playing sonic memories. The computational processes that take place are displayed on four LED arrays with a total number of 3000 white LEDs.The installation has microphones recording fragments of human interaction. Each new recorded fragment is analysed using an adaptive sound categorization technique, determining its relation to previously stored clips." Read all about it here.

Check out the website for vid clips.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Suppose It Was Inevitable...


Dancing Across The Keys

Put away the Czerny and bust a move like a super-star on the dance floor (er, keyboard):


This Won't Hurt at All

What a stunning comparison!

"An accompanist shares many traits with an anaesthetist. He generally has studied longer than the surgeon and must constantly stay alert to prevent an unpredictable disaster, but when all is said and done, the surgeon (like the soloist) gets all of the credit."

I found this on a blog that all pianophiles will want to bookmark and visit often: The Collaborative Piano Blog
. Check it out folks!.

Keep it down?

"A Co Down father has vowed he will go to jail rather than pay a £205 penal warrant issued after he unsuccessfully challenged a Noise Abatement Order in relation to his son playing the piano too loudly." This is the kind of thing that is just unfathomable as to how it gets to this point. "

Details here.

Birthday Greeting

to Pliable. Today is also, as he notes, the birthday of the truly great Benjamin Britten. It's also the anniversary of the assasination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy (an anniversary that seems to be passing almost un-noticed).

Happy Birthday!

Mildred Couper - ReVisited

"Mildred Couper, prominent American composer and pianist, was one of the first musicians to experiment with quarter-tone music. She was based in Santa Barbara, California, but her music and influence were felt around the world." More.

There's a remarkable photo of Coupler, Stravinksy, Boulanger, and a nun here.

You can hear her Rumba for piano here.

Kudos to the site's owner!

Keep Your Ears Open

for the music(s) of Gordon Monahan (discovered via the excellent HurdAudio blog).


I can easily imagine Christopher Riley doing with Aqualung the same as he's done with Radiohead. Not that it needs it. Just sayin'...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quotable Quotes

"The piano is a divinely inspired instrument, a mirror held up to its player's soul that captures the light and shadow of the performer and reflects them back to the listener."
--David Lanz

David Tudor

Today's web pick is the Getty's "The Art of David Tudor" collection. It's well worth spending sometime pouring over.

You find it here.

Catching Up

since getting back, I've been busy catching up with the blogosphere. Hopefully, I 'll be able to at last respond to some of the topics before the vanish into the ether.

Some that have been gnawing at my attentiont:

Brian Sacawa's musings on the digital revolution,.
Emejota's series of thoughtful writings on Gould.
Pliable's post on intellectual property.
Ferre's brilliant post on "Emerson, Lake, and Palmer".
The chewy goodness that is "Music in a Suburban Scene"

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Meet The Thumb Piano

Details Here.

Don Cuco "El Guapo"

He's the Mexican robot pianist, capable of score recognition, and he has a couple of CD's you might like to own.

check him out here.

Video Game Pianist

Some of these "tricks" are pretty easy for the practiced pianist. All the same, it's a very entertaining set of piano tricks. Now if he only had a schtick ala Victor Borge.

Check him out and his video clips. He's the "Video Game Pianist".

Elgar & the Missing Concerto

"Merely to mention Elgar's Piano Concerto invites a derisive flick of the purist's eyebrow. Anthony Payne's remarkable performing edition of the Third Symphony has been hard enough to swallow, but to rework Elgar's ideas for a piano concerto seems beyond the pale. The few jottings he left behind are too fragmentary, it is said - and Elgar and the piano are not a match made in heaven."

Read the rest here.

I don't entirely agree with the idea that Elgar and piano are less than happy match. Some of the smaller works are real gems. One of them being his In Smyrna for Piano.

Made In America

Check out Richard Dyer's new piece in the Boston Globe. Dyer regularly turns out some of the best classical news and commentary to found in print. The issue at present concerns the combined efforts of 64 orchestras to commission a new work by Joan Tower.

"'Made in America" is a new orchestral piece by composer Joan Tower. How it came to exist is an American can-do story. The 14-minute work was co-commissioned by more than 64 American orchestras, at least one in each state, in a project coordinated by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer, with sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company Fund, as well as other government, corporation, and foundation support."

Read the rest here.

Today's Web Pick

MusicWeb International

This is one you'll want to book mark and visit often.

"MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL is the premier classical CD review site on the internet. With a team of 70 reviewers we produce up to 300 classical CD reviews each month. Well over 14,000 reviews are now available on-line"

Want to Download Some Free Classical Music?

Then visit eMusic. They are offering 50 free downloads from their extensive catalog of classical works. And a wonderful bit of new is their collaboration with Naxos (one of the good guys!).

You find it all here.

On an Overgrown Path - Kudos

Congratulations to Pliable of "On An Overgrown Path". His blog is getting wider recognition, fame, and apprecitiatio. Bravo!

Read all about it here.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Pianist and Missing Fingers

Great story.

"Mason Flink's fingers flutter across the keyboard like raindrops on cement, his upper body arching toward the baby grand piano as the melodies of Chopin and Schumann fill the air. The quick tempos would be challenging to play with 10 fingers, but the 17-year-old Highland Park High senior doesn't have that option. Born with ulnar dysplasia, a condition also known as ulnar club hand, Mason's right hand has only three fingers".

Read the rest here.

Earl Wild

He really is one of a kind. A recent write-up is here.

People really will

applaud just about anyting.

Mortal Muzak: John Cage, Video Games, and Chance

"First there was John Cage, a 20th century composer who championed chance music, which based the composition of songs on a series of random occurrences. Then there was Johnny Cage, a fireball-throwing character in "Mortal Kombat." Foryears they had nothing in common but a name. But Mat Kane, 30, and Andrew Miller, 31, have changed that."

Read the rest here.

Chopin’s roots traced to the year 1444

Details here.

What Goes Around Comes Around

This just in:

"It seems that the XCP software from UK company First4Internet that Sony had been using to prevent unauthorised copying of its music CDs, until it agreed to recall some 4.7 million discs, contains code 'infringing the copyright of several open source projects', Johansen notes in his blog. This includes code that he himself wrote for VLC, a free cross-platform media player."

Oh the irony....

The whole sad and idiotic affair is one more reason for people to support the small labels.

Giving Glaucoma the Operatic Treatment


The Association of International Glaucoma Socieities serves up an operatic "hymn" about glaucoma. Seriously.

They are having their annual meeting in Vienna. Enuf said?

Have a listen by clicking here.

Details here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Looking for Some Liszt

Look no further.

. A review I agree whole heartedly with.

Are the Mozart Maulers Heading to the Silver Screen

Inquiring minds want to know. Mozart Maulers? I'll explain.

It's a rugby league of conservatory students. And it's the title of jazz pianist Dorian Mode's memoir:

" The Mozart Maulers is a comic memoir based on Dorian's experiences as a student at the Conservatorium of Music.

At the time he was seeing a psychiatrist who encouraged him to externalize his anger and use an alternative to drug therapy: Rugby League. Unable to convince any team to take him on, he formed his own team with other music students at the Con called The Mozart Maulers. They took on Sydney Uni and surprised everyone.

His screenplay of the story was recently green lighted to be made into a $10 million film

Details are here.

More importantly, I highly recommend giving his CD "A Café in Venice" a listen.

Piano Nerd

You find it all here. Click here for a listen to his "Fingers Follies II".

The whole site is well worth poking about... plenty to make you laugh outloud like this send up description of the first movement of Beethoven's 6th symphony (one of my favorites):

"swelling of smiles and mosquito bites upon arrival in the moist farmlands near the time share condos of grundhaven in the rheinland"

What's up with Peter Serkin

Well... You won't get the dl here. But it's a nice write up. I like both Serkin and the Bartok 1.
Lucky the folks in Madison, WI!

Dances with Oboes?

That's the kind of hook ya die for.

Anyhow, the best part of the article is a link to the Brooklyn Country Music News and Views.

And, yea, CMA really ought to stay in Nashville. It just doesn't seem right for it to be anywhere else...

Read it here.


Awadagin Pratt debuts at the University of Cincinnati's music school. He's the schools newly minted Assistant Professor and Resident Artist. By virtue of reputation, he brings the school into a wider sphere of recognition. Whatever one makes of his play, that's a good thing.


To TiVo or Not to Tivo

that is the question.

Elton John will be bringing the magic of his "Red Piano" act to tv. Details here.

Mei Ting Sun

It was a delightful surprise to find a comment from pianist (and game enthusiast) Mei Ting Sun on Well-Tempered Blog. He is certainly a pianist you'll want to hear. As I was confident (and not disappointed) that he would be a point of major interest at the Chopin. He has his blog/journal that is well-worth spending some time pouring over, with some unique takes on said competition. You'll find it here. The links will also take you to some tasty clips of his playing at the competition. Check it out folks. A recent and glowing review is found here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Double the Fun

Looking to escape the winter snow in December? You might consider a visit to Florida to hear the upcoming Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. The dates for the competition are December 15 to 22nd.

competitors are:

Duo De Stefano
PianoDuo Yoshie & Takashi
Chipak & Kushnir
Duo Scarbó (PR/Spain)
Shapiro & Varshavsky
Seo & Kato
Potapova & Nuralieva
Susan & Sarah Wang
Unison Piano Duo
Marzec & Tsalka

Above are some links websites belonging to the respective duos. Shapiro/Varshavsky and Duo Scarbo have some interesting audio clips. Scarbo has some nice clips taken from a performance at Reina Sofia Museum in Spain. Noteworthy their handling of George Crumbs' Makrokosmos IV. Nice stuff indeed.

I don't find mention of any webcast or live radiocasts of the competition. But I'll keep checking. This looks like a lot of fun. Perhaps one or more of the competitors will have something on their website. Good luck to all!

Monday, November 14, 2005

from the email files

comes something nice directly to you all from Seattle tasty crew "The Midget" (with guest the human).


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I'm Back...

and here are some photos: