Sunday, February 19, 2006

Just What I Needed to Know

If you have an mp3 player you might wanna know...


Fantasy Instruments

An amusing collection of fantasy music instruments. (props to MusicThing for pointing the way).


Very nice write up of Kobrin, who very much deserved the gold medal he won at the Cliburn.

Find it here.

Korea and Spain: An Unlikely Mating

"A music manuscript discovered in the Spanish island of Mallorca is grabbing headlines here in Korea because it is the work of the composer of the Korean national anthem." Details.

Composers Paycheck

The latest career front for would-be, or something along those lines, composers: writing ring tones. Read all about it here. And thsoe interested might want to pay attention to the nexus of music and computer gaming. Details.

Mozart and Chocolates

Oh how I want to sample these:

" It's a symphony of sweets, a cantata of chocolates, a fugue of fantastic desserts on display at Vienna's ornate Hofburg Palace." Read the rest.

Kurzweil Interview

A very fascinating interview with Kurzweil is found here.

Key graf: "We'll have sufficient hardware to recreate human intelligence pretty soon. We'll have it in a supercomputer by 2010. A thousand dollars of computation will equal the 10,000 trillion calculations per second that I estimate is necessary to emulate the human brain by 2020. The software side will take a little longer. In order to achieve the algorithms of human intelligence, we need to actually reverse-engineer the human brain, understand its principles of operation."

Read it all here.

The Little Piano that Came Home

ONe of those ahh stories:

"A miniature grand piano with a unique history has been returned to Camp Shelby where it was made more than 60 years ago by German prisoners of war." A very nice write up and you can read it here.

Earthquakes and pianos

Despite a mixed spate of reviews, I still want to see this movie.

Here's what Bloomberg's says, "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes'' is a hokum tale of mad scientist Dr. Droz (Gottfried John), who kidnaps famed opera singer Malvina (Amira Casar) on the eve of her wedding. He then invites piano tuner Filisberto (Cesar Saracho) to his island hideaway, ostensibly to ``retune'' his collection of automata, but also to take part in an acting out of the lost wedding that will cure Malvina of a mental affliction." More here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sailors, Chopin, and Love

Note to self: must bite tongue.


Bobby Short's Piano

Wow. That's a lot of dough for one Bechstein.

"The late cabaret singer Bobby Short's grand piano sold for $132,000 US in an auction of his personal effects, Christie's said." Read the rest.

What Not to Put on an iPod and other news

EFF has the scoop on the latest in lunacy:

"It is no secret that the entertainment oligopolists are not happy about space-shifting and format-shifting. But surely ripping your own CDs to your own iPod passes muster, right? In fact, didn't they admit as much in front of the Supreme Court during the MGM v. Grokster argument last year? Apparently not." Read the rest here.

Of direct interest to bloggers, Dan Mitchell reports in the Times that,

"Sony BMG, fresh from being exposed by a blogger for planting stealth, and potentially dangerous, antipiracy code in some of its CD's, is seeking interns to plug its artists online. The interns will promote artists in Web communities where many people go specifically to share music without the influence of corporate marketers."

Why am I not surprosed that it's Sony ? And elsewhere in the news, here's the latest on the payola scandal.

Der fünfte Beatle

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Beethoven's Appassionata

Do we really need more recordings of it? Remainder bins are already bulging with it in every slice and flavor. Why record it again? Those are some of the questions teased out in an interesting short article on Beethoven's sonata and some recent recordings of it (Lugansky, Biss, Paik, etc). Read it here.

And on the topic of opera

One more opera related note. Check out curious career path of conductor Koo Jah-bom found here.

What's wrong with this picture?

That's the question asked over at "Sounds and Fury".

WTB says it looks, sort of, kind of, like John Waters meets opera. Just sayin... Not that that's bad per se.

(Edit: Little known fact. Somone once optioned to make an opera of Water's film "Pink Flamingos". Hmmmm. .. )

What if?

An interesting interview with pianist Toros Can is found here. I found one question most interesting and that was " You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?" Read the interview for Can's choices. Suffice it to say, I wasn't disappointed by them, but at the same time not surprised. It 's a familiar cast of characters.

Map It

UK music writer Dorian Lynskey has set down the history of Western music by mapping it along the London underground. As he sees it,"Pop intersects with everything else, so that had to be the Circle Line; classical music for the most part occupies its own sphere, which made it perfect for the Docklands Light Railway. There were a couple of false starts but by the end of one afternoon I had assigned genres to almost all the lines and thrashed out most of the major intersections."

A map of misreading in the best sense, no? Read about it here (includes a download .pdf of the map).

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Schoolhouse Rock

NPR rockerati strike me as singularly clueless. Completely. Consistently.

But that's to be expected I suppose.

ON the topic of pop music, Alex Ross warns "pop and classical elitists alike should stay away" from an upcoming show with Doverman and Nico Muhly. Whaaaa !? Puhleeze, pop and classical elistists are likely to be the only ones attending.

Elsewhere in Rocklandia, Leif Garrett, former teen superstar turnedgrindy band musician, is in more trouble. According to news reports: " The '70s pinup was nabbed by police on Jan. 14 after he allegedly tried to ride a Los Angeles subway without purchasing a ticket. A subsequent search turned up heroin among his belongings."

Garrett fans can help out by downloading his song "Betty Ford for Xmas" via iTunes. Details on Garrett's website. Check out the site for some downloadable mp3's.

Snap, crackle, kranky. Go here, scroll to midpage, read and listen to the mp3. Poke around the website. It's good. And while you're out there, you might enjoy a listen to Godey and Creme singing "Sandwiches of You". Now that's tasty.

Be sure to have a go at Ghostbox. Check out the tasty treasures provided by The Focus Group. Like, this one *mp3.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Romano Mussolini

Jazz pianist and youngest child of Italy's Benito Mussolini has died. Details.

Career Note

Some goods news, or maybe not, for music school grads.

Cocktail piano gigs.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Apologies are in order. I had somehow, unwittingly, enabled the "moderate comments" feature in Blogger. This resulted in all comments being sent to my email for approval. Unfortunately, it was directed to an email box that I do not frequently check (blame it on the spam).

I have changed this setting and all comments should now be appearing directly. I am trying to get thru the comments and requests (now scattered over a month's period) . So if you were wondering where your post went, it was resting in my inbox.


Something I wanted to touch on earlier was an exchange at Kyle Gann's fine blog PostClassic on the matter of "over-notation". You find it here. There are merits to be both sides. One thing Gann says is this:

"I have found a tremendous difference in responses to notation between performers who specialize in 20th-century music and those who play mostly Classical/Romantic repertoire, and far prefer the latter."

But, alas, my own experience leads me to prefer it the other way around.
------------------------------ "The notation is more important than the sound. Not the exactitude and success with which a notation notates a sound; but the musicalness of the notation in its notating." - Cornelius Cardew -----------------------------

And Sarah Cahill makes a well observed point about Leo Ornstein:

"Leo Ornstein... was an excellent pianist himself, and wrote fabulously for the piano. But most of his piano scores have absolutely no dynamic markings whatsoever. He believed that it was the pianist's responsibility to come up with dynamics in the process of interpretation. It's so interesting, because there will be a passage which to one person is a climax, to be played forte, and to another person it will be an opportunity to back off and have it be more powerful as a pianissimo passage. So his scores can be played in a variety of ways, and it's fascinating to hear different performances." More here.

I am very fond of Ornstein's music, so my attention was also caught by a post on Richard Scheinin's blog on Ornstein and Coltrane found here.

"Early in the 20th century, he was a superstar concert pianist and champion of new music. Later, in the '40s, he seems to have crossed paths with John Coltrane, the great jazz saxophonist, who turned out to be one of the century's most influential musicians."

(BTW, Scheinin has a splendid write up on the West Coast premiere of Ornstein's dazzling quintet for piano and strings.).

(B) CARDEW - Indeterminate notation

"Notation is a way of making people move" - Cornelius Cardew

And coming back to the matter of notation, I thinking (really shadowed) by Cornelius Cardew's wild and gargantuan Treatise, a work that recently was heard in Vancouver. And well I image was Gann.

Pianist John Tilbury was rightly at the helm for the Vancouver performance. You can read about it here.

"The notation is more important than the sound. Not the exactitude and success with which a notation notates a sound; but the musicalness of the notation in its notating." - Cornelius Cardew

(and while you're web surfing don't miss Tilbury's wonderful essay "On Playing Feldman". Choice graf: "When David Tudor or Cardew played Feldman what you heard and experienced with great intensity was the limb as it performed, the fingerpad - that most erotic part of a pianist's body - and the resulting sound was raw and thrilling. In too many performances one is all too conscious of a culture intervening between body and instrument." -Seeing how Feldman exists somewhere along the same exalted axis of aesthetic achievement as Bach (in my books at least), how could I not love that description.

You can listen to a spot of Cardew's lovely music by clicking here.

And if you've any taste for it (or at least have fond memories of reading Althusser) you can read Cardew's own "Stockhausen Serves Imperialism" here.

Or skip all that and visit the Block Museum virutal exhibit "Pictures of Music" It's a phenomenal site with much to see, hear, and read. It repays many visits.