Saturday, September 30, 2006

Josu de Solaun Soto - Wins Iturbi International Piano Competition


Josu de Solaun has taken first prize at the Iturbi competition. As the winner he recieves over 20,000 dollars (US), a string of performances in Europe and the United States, and a recording deal. Josu de Solaun is a protege of Cuban virtuso Horacio Gutierrez
in the doctoral program at the Manhattan School of Music in NYC.

Valentina Igoshina of Russia took home the 2nd Prize and Andrei Yaroshinsky, also of Russia, was the third prize winner.

Patrick Hemmerle (France) and Sofia Melikyan shared the prize for "Best Performance of Spanish Music".

Details and more here.

Full list of awards and prizes here (in pdf).

This year's Iturbi was reportedly one of the most exciting and fierce with a high caliber of talent throughout. Congratulations to all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gramophone Artist of the Year Award.

Brava !

"Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has won the 2006 Gramophone Artist of the Year Award.The award, voted on by fans, is presented annually by classical music magazine Gramophone. "

Her Bach is some of the most glorious to be found. (what is it with Canada and Bach?) And she plays a Fazioli !


She has a fantastic website that's definitely worth a visit. It's here.

Taste Test: Music and Personality

I recently posted on a recent study that revealed some surprising statistic of sorts about drug use and music taste. Adrian North , author of that study, is now looking to recruit more folks (10,000) for more study of musical taste.

You can participate by visiting his website at the University of Leicester and filling out an online survey.

You find it right here (English) or here (en Espanol)

Digerati and Classical Music

Just what I suspected all along.

"Fans of classical music have shed their stuffy image and embraced technology, according to Gramophone magazine. A survey of its readers found that 75% use a computer, MP3 player, or digital radio to listen to music. It also discovered that fans over the age of 50 downloaded an average of eleven pieces of music last year. "

I bet that last number will keep on climbing!

A Shostakovitch World Premiere

Piano lovers with a bent for the music Shostakovitch likely already know about the two-piano arrangement of 'Babi Yar'. And now they can hear it:

"..Shostakovich made a two-piano version, never published, of his "Babi Yar" Symphony, No. 13, to verse by the Soviet dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. (The two-piano reduction was, however, used to play the work for Soviet censors in order to get permission for the symphony's first performance.) Thanks to special permission from the composer's widow, a portion of that arrangement is having its world premiere tonight in New York City." Read it here.

Not Too Smart

This rates a good chuckle or two:

"A burglar who broke into a house in the Dutch town of Tiel could not resist playing the piano he found there after ransacking the living room, police say. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old thief, his music woke the owner of the house, who called the police. " link

How's It Look Out There

Several weeks ago "The Well-Tempered Blog" transitioned over to the new (read: "beta") platform for Blogspot users. Mostly this has gone well, and I didn't encounter the difficulties others had in attempting the transition, but there are few bugs yet to work out. Blogger's beta doesn't always play nice with browsers other than IE and Firefox. I'm told a "fix" is coming along before long.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pod People

An update on the kerfuffle surrounding trademark and use of the term "pod". Endgadget has the dl on it all. Read it here.

Malcolm Arnold

Two excellent blogs have put up terrific posts on composer Malcolm Amold who passed away this past weekend.

On An Overgrown Path (English) and Retroklang (Spanish). Give 'em a visit.

Free Classical Music

The Philadelphia Orchestra has opened the cyber-doors to their online music shop. To celebrate, music lovers can download (for a lmited time) a free mp3 recording of the Orchestra performing Beethoven's famous 5th Symphony.

After you've downloaded that check out the rest of their online shop. There are some really great recordings available. Hope this proves a successful venture!!

Check it out here.

Nick Drake Covers?

So is Christopher O'Riley going to do a cover album of Nick Drake' s music? Inquiring minds want to know. I for one hope so.


"Robo Pianist"

A little more on the software that is re-animating, so to speak, the pianist Glenn Gould. Very curious stuff. Link.

Iturbi Competition Update

The finalists are:

Yosu de Solaun, (Spain), Patrick Hemmerle (France), Valentina Igoshina (Russia), Natalia Kuchaeva (Russia), Sofya Melikyan (Armenia) y Andrey Yaroshinskiy(Russia). Link. Good luck to all !

If you're in Europe the finals are being broadcast live. Details here.

The Art of Jose Iturbi - DVD

With attention nowadays on the Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition underway in Valencia, Spain it is worth mentioning a DVD that looks at the pianist himself: The Art of Jose Iturbi . Most interesting to me is it features his own "Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra". More information about it is found here.

You might want to also check out the "little concerto" composed by Morton Gould for Iturbi. Info here.

And one last bit of Iturbi-ana: two of the pianos owned by Iturbi may be taking a trip from Hollywood to Spain. Details here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bad Apple

This is the most idiotic thing I've heard in a good long while:

"...Apple has decided to issue cease and desist notices to all those who use the word podcast on their web sites. According to Steve Jobs, Podcast is an Apple trademark and users will have to either pay up or face the music." link

"Now that Apple believes that it has successfully sequestered the name "pod" from the English language, it is going hell for leather to try and shut anyone anything that uses pod in a name related to the music player business." link

Good grief!

Sir Malcolm Arnold 1921-2006

With much sadness came news of the passing of composer Sir Malcolm Arnold this past weekend. His was a remarkable life and achievement all around. Among my favorite works of his are two of the symphonies (5 and 9), the various dance pieces, and the Concerto for Piano Duet and Strings.

A fine essay-obituary on Sir Malcolm can be found here.

The "Official" Malcolm Arnold website can be found here.

It's A Wrap

That and more in this article that seems to sum up this year's Leeds Competition.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Concertino for Cellular Phones and Orchestra

Oh heavens! It does sound like fun! Premiere this fall in Chicago.


Van Cliburn

Profile of legendary Van Cliburn who'll be appearing in Florida doing the Tschaikovsky no1. Link.

"There were pianos in so many rooms," Stone said. "Even when I visited him one April the Christmas trees were still up and still decorated, because he said he loved them so much.""

Chopin as Video Game

"Trusty Bell, at least in Japan, is the story of the famous composer Chopin just before his death, as he enters a dream world and meets a magical little girl with a "terrible destiny" yadda yadda yadda. It looks pretty and the music should be great" Link

You can have a sneak peek here.

Raising Money

Interesting article in Japan Times on funding and classical music. I'm still digesting some its suggestions. A few choice grafs:

"Ironically, while arts advocates in the United States have long argued for adoption of the "European model" -- which has produced a rich and varied artistic life for Europeans -- Europe is being forced to change its system of support to one that depends more on private money and the box office."

and this:

" prices for the performing arts do not solve the thorny problem of access for youth. First, youth may not take advantage of cheap tickets to the extent that they are not interested in going to hear live classical music at any price. Second, even if they do want to go, they may not be able to get seats, which often are not available because subscriptions stay in the same hands year after year."

You can read the rest here.

The Five Browns

In a word: boring. The sheer novelty of it is what sucked me in to checking out their new CD. I may catch one of their concerts this fall and give 'em another try. But for now, I'm leaning toward a pass. There isn't anything remarkable apart from the fact of 5 pianists (brothers and sisters) playing together. The musicianship, as such, is unremarkable to these ears.

Baker House Piano Drop

Just saw the footage of this and it's quite something to see.


China Shenzhen International Piano Concerto Competition 2006

Is there a competition that Esther Park isn't trying out for? Hope she wins one of these.

See the rest of the entrants here.

San Marino International Piano Competition

The San Marino International Piano Competition can not only be heard online, but they are also broadcasting streaming video of the competition. Wonderful!

You find it all here.

In November the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. This competition will also be broadcast in sound and video over the internet. Link.

Ruminations on Piano Competitions

Pianist, blogger, and parrot lover Lyudmila Chudinova has a post up on the matter of competitions. check it out here.

words to ponder

"If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical, it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."

- John Cage

Jazz Cats

Take note, blogger Riccardo in Amsterdam has ferreted out some tasy jazz treats. you fin it all here. It's today's blog pick. Give 'em a visit.

leeds competition results

"An 18-year-old South Korean student has won a prestigious international piano competition in Britain, beating five other finalists, event organizers said Sunday." Details here.

Go figure.

You can decide for yourself by listening to competition performances still online at BBC Radio 3.

Check it out here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Personality and Musical Tastes

What does your taste in music say about you? Maybe more than you imagine it might.

According to psychologists,

"Fans of jazz, classical and other "complex" music typically have above-average IQ scores."

Opera lovers? " opera aficionados are three times more likely to endorse suicide as a solution to family dishonor, says Steven Stack, a psychologist at Wayne State University in Michigan"

fans of gangsta rap or heavy metal are often more timid and shy than other kids"

and finally

"People who like country and pop might be more simpleminded, and that's not necessarily bad.."

Read the rest of it here.

Me? My music collection is all over the place and somewhat disorganized. Patsy Cline nestled up against Alban Berg resting atop the Go Betweens, Schumann sandwhiched between Haydn and Mahalia Jackson.

Don't go there. I don't wanna know. Just sayin'.

blogosphere report

The Friday edition.

Alex Ross is replaying of some his old NYT reviews of "significant" premiers on his blog. Link.

Celebrity Series Blog points the way to a marvelous new dance site. If dance isn't your cup of tea, stop by the blog for the latest on building your own robot. You find it right here.

Jim Palermo at the must-click ChicagoClassical Music Blog has discovered a new mp3 player made with classical music lovers in mind. Wake-up and smell the blogging. Link

Christopher Foley of "The Collaborative Piano Blog" announces a new email address and discovery of the ultimate what might be the ultimate classical music quiz. find it all here.

You can download (in mp3 format) a sweet selection of Patchen poems set to music courtesy of composer/pianist/blogger Adam Baratz who makes these available on his website. Check 'em out here.

Speaking of composers, FullerMusic has a fine post on the inky life Brahms, Chopin, and Beethoven. Picture tells a thousand words, eh? Link

And by way of "My Other Life" you can discover the secret ingredient to sight-reading. Successful sight reading. Link.

Do bloggers drive other bloggers a little nutty? That's a possibilty raised in a post at Oboeinsight, one that makes you sit back and go hmmmmm. Find it and more here.

A story. A post. A link. La Boîte à Joujoux by Debussy is the focus of a splendid post at RetroKlang, a post with links to a remarkable site dedicated to visual story telling. check it out! Link.

At "Of Music and Men" a violinist gets it spot on with regards to business of metronomes and the inner pulse vital to what makes music, uh, well music. the money quote: "In many ways, music was better off before this device, as mankind was before becoming dependent on accurate watches. " Read it all here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Three Photos and a Poem

Speaking of Spain.

La Idea del Norte has up an interesting post on Modernism. And, yes, this time the venerable Alfred Brendel is wrong.

Scroll down for three beautiful photos that recalled for me all almost imediately out of the fog of forgetfulness a few lines of Neruda

Hemos perdido aún este crepúsculo.
Nadie nos vio esta tarde con las manos unidas
mientras la noche azul caía sobre el mundo.

Iturbi Competition - Semi Finals

The Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition has announced the semi-finalists.

Yukiko Akagi (Japan),
Patrick Hemmerle (France)
Valentina Igoshina (Russia)
Philipp Kopachevsky (Rusisa)
Natalia Kuchaeva (Russia)
Sofía Melikyan (Armenia), Yukako Morikawa (Japan)
Andrey Yaroshinskiy (Russia).

Claudio Carbó ( Spain, follow link for an audio clip interview)
José de Solau Soto (Spain)
Miguel Angel Castro (Spain)
Antonio Ortiz (Spain)

Read the rest. Good luck to all !

Russians and Spanish have been reportedly turning in strong performances. In fact, discussion of the competition can even be found on a Russian classical music forum (thank you to a WTB reader for the tip). You find it here. (Russian/English)

Inteview withe Jury President is here. (Spanish).

Joy Toy

"Who would think that six toy pianos, a music box and a classic Boesendorfer concert grand could produce music that was intriguing as well as amusing?" Read the rest here.

Visit toy pianist Isabel Ettenauer's website here. Follow the "audio" link to hear some sweet sounds. I'm sold on buying her CD. It's too good to pass up!

Kobrin Alert

If you're in upstate New York you can hear the winner of last year's "Van Cliburn Competition", Alexander Kobrin will be giving a free recital on the campus of Ithaca College. Details.

Gabriela Montero

If you're regaulr NPR listener, you might have caught this broadcast already. If you didn't then check it out. Gabriela Montero, a protege of Marta Agerich, has a cd coming out called "Bach and Beyond" which offers up some truly inventive and delicious jazzy improvisations on the classics.

You can hear it here. Her webiste (see above link) has both audio clips and a podcast.

Leeds blurb


Is it me? Or does it seem that there's a lack of information in the news about this competition?

Don't forget the BBC Radio 3 site.

today's blog pick

Musica de Cine - A well-written and relatively new blog by Juan Angel Saiz (Spain) dedicated to film music, including the composers, performers, and groups that make the movies sing. I really like the posts on Lalo Schifrin. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Boxer and Pianist

The things you can find on them internets.

Leeds. Finalists.

Andrew Brownell USA
Grace Fong USA
Sung-Hoon Kim Korea
Sunwook Kim Korea
Denis Kozhukhin Russia
Siheng Song China

All I can say is: Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do.

On the 22nd and 23rd you can hear the final round over the Internet here.

Concerto Envy

An amusing tale from npr:

“Tell me,” says the violinist. “When you get to [name of town], what will you be performing?”

“Oh, you know,” groans the pianist. “Another performance of one of those @#$%@ Rachmaninoff concertos.”

The violinist looks at him very gravely. “You must never talk like that,” he says. “Do you know what we violinists would give to have a Rachmaninoff violin concerto?”

read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Behind the Scenes

I came across an interesting piece on the good folks who volunteer behind the scenes:

"A word of congratulation, a smile, the offer of a cup of tea or a bottle of water are the small but vital kindnesses they bring to the "Leeds".

Read the rest.

Tigran Hamasyan - Wins Monk Competititon

Congratulations to all! Link.

With Hancock, Andrew Hill, Danilo Perez, Renee Rosnes, Billy Taylor and Randy Weston judging the piano competition, the three young finalists added their voices to a century-old jazz tradition.

The clear audience favorite was a Dutch-born Californian, Gerald Clayton, who deftly combined the second movement of Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata with John Lewis's "Django."

But the judges were more impressed with Armenian-born Tigran Hamasyan, who offered rhythmically dynamic readings of Ray Noble's "Cherokee" and Miles Davis's "Solar" to take the top prize of $20,000. Clayton won second place, and American Aaron Parks came in third.

14 year-old Wins Chopin Competition in China

Details here.

Composer Accused of Role in Genocide

"If the charges that related to his music - conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and persecution as a crime against humanity - are not proven, Mr Bikindi may still face a lengthy jail term." Read the rest here. Absolutely frightful.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Elegant Bath Tubs and Beautiful Pianos: A Film

If you haven't already seen the documentary film "Mott Music", you're still in luck. It will be aired again on the Sundance Channel once more this month. You won't want to miss it. And if you do, you'll want to buy the dvd. Why?

It a wonderful and truly rare look at the magic of pianos from the perspective of those who tune, voice, and restore pianos at ashop in the Bronx, a shop housed in factory that originally made ornate bath tubs in the 19th century.

You will not find here long excursions into the nitty-gritty of technical details of tuning or voicing, but a series of elegantly presented meditations on what makes a piano a work of complex and impossible beauty. Piano as element. This is a must-not-miss film. Visit the website for the film here and check out the trailer for the film.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

10th International Jose Iturbi Piano Competition

Yesterday saw the launch of the 10th International Jose Iturbi Piano Competition. 52 pianist from around the globe gathered in Valencia, Spain to compete for the gold. In addition to required works by Soler and Scarlatti, competitors are required to perform new works by composers
Joan Cerveró, Carlos Fontcuberta y Voro García

Read about it here. (in Spanish)

The competition website is here. Accessible in English, Spanish, and Valenciana.

I know there are a few Valencianos reading the "The Well-Tempered Blog" and hope they keep us posted.

Good luck to all.

Beethoven Studies

The founder of the wonderful Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is dead at age 84. Link.

If Mozart Had Better Health Care

An interesting, if predictable, piece from the NY Times on what if Mozart had lived into geezerhood. Ot at least to age 50.

"Imagine how different music history would have been had Mozart lived to Nannerl’s age. He would have died in 1834, having outlived Beethoven by seven years and Schubert by six. Would Beethoven’s symphonic adventures have turned out as they did had Mozart remained his contemporary? Think of this. A wizened old Mozart might have been in the audience in 1829 when the 19-year-old Chopin, during a short visit to Vienna, performed his first work for piano and orchestra, Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

A small remembrance of something more solid, eh?

Glenn Gould's Ghost in the Software

This is an interesting and in some ways troubling development in the recording field. One that raises a few aesthetic, if not entirely ethical, questions.

Newly developed "software grabs musical sounds and figures out how they were made. The programs go beyond individual notes, into the idiosyncrasies that define a performance and musician's style." The company (Zenph) in conjunction with Sony and the Gould Foundation will re-release Gould's Goldberg variations recording from 1955.

"Not only can it reproduce recordings, but it also fixes mistakes. "Someone can come in with limited time, do their piano track on an out-of-tune piano and miss some notes," Walker said. "Producers can come back and make it how they wish it would be."

The company has in the works similar technology for brass, percussion, and winds.

Read the rest here.

For now, I hope nobody messes with Schnabel. Let the dead rest peacefully. Fudged notes and all.

Monk's Magic

Take note jazz fans in D.C. of the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and Gala Festival. Details and more here.

Give piano bars a rest.

iPod's Achilles Heel?

I don't think so. But it does make for an interesting set of speculations.

The crux: "What Apple has, then, is a subscription scheme for buying hardware - each device rapidly expires, and there is only one supplier providing a repeat purchase that's compatible with your iTunes Store purchases. What the music business wants is a subscription scheme for buying music. Somewhere, in the middle they may one day meet." Read the rest here.

I imagine that if there is a weakness it lies elsewhere.

Me? I am pretty happy with Rhapsody (the magic charm is it's convenience). I see no reason to switch to eMusic, join on to Apple, and have no interest at all in Microsoft's Zune.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pot Smoking Classical Music Fans

I'm shocked. Just shocked.

"However, about a quarter of the classical music and opera fans admitted to having tried cannabis, and 12.3% of opera fans had tried magic mushrooms."

Details here.


"The Irish composer John Field reported on Czerny's veritable "composition factory" upon visiting his teaching studio in Vienna. Czerny would sit at a giant table together with his student assistants and have them plug in predetermined, formulaic chord progressions and melodic patterns as fast as they could move their pens (which, having suffered through their teacher's School of Velocity, must have indeed been fast), in order to satisfy the thriving amateur market and fatten his pocketbook."

Read the rest.

Splice It Up

Check out Splice. A website that provides access to CC (creative commons) sounds and loops. But the really cool thing about Splice is it provides a web-based sequencer you can use, even collaborate with others, online.

The Invisible Hands of Fazil Say

Incredible !

Phones, Personal Ads, and Glenn Gould

While surfing about I stumbled across something I though might interest other Gould Fans.

"While this is true in part, it seems clear that Gould needed other people in his life in a way that he did not need them for his music. He needed that telephone. He needed to hear those voices, even if the conversations were dominated by his own. Among his papers was a personal ad that he wrote, a personal ad that above all sought a voice"

Go read the rest of the fascinating essay here.

Speaking of Liberace

Check out the Liberace Piano Competition.

No this isn't a Liberace impersonation type thing. There a professional and amaeteur categories, as well as classical and pop categories for the competition. The deadline has passed for entry applications. But it is a yearly event, you get a certificate of participation, and it sounds like it would be a lot fun. Plus competitors in the "Classical" category get to performan on a Bosendorfer.

Candelabras are optional. : )

More information about it here.

A Night at Liberace's Pad

You can now sleep over a Lee's place. For just "$275 a night, you can join the likes of singers, fighters and other entertainers. You can rent Lee’s place for a reunion of family or friends, vacation getaway or business meeting. The house, which comfortably accommodates 10, is equipped with a computer, high-speed Internet, printer, phone and fax. "

Vegas ! What more can I say.

Read all about it here.

The Robin Hood of Classical Music

Clive Lythgoe.

Lythgoe passed away at age 79 on September 4th. He was known as Britain's answer to Liberace, a taste-maker in the 60's, host of several popular radio and television shows.

And then " 1976, he abandoned most performance and moved to Cleveland to become director of a children's school offering lessons and music therapy to the underprivileged. Ten years later, he moved to New York and spent the last two decades of his life directing a charity that brought classical music performances to AIDS hospices, homeless shelters, retirement homes, and schools in low-income neighborhoods."

Read rest here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Leeds Semi-Finals

They are:

Andrew Brownell - USA
Jae-Won Cheung - Korea
Grace Fong - USA
Sung-Hoon Kim - Korea
Sunwook Kim - Korea
Tatiana Kolesova - Russia
Denis Kozhukhin - Russia
Yurie Miura - Japan
Nikita Mndoyants - Russia
Spencer Myer - USA
Siheng Song - China
Andrius Zlabys - Lithuania

There must have been some real melt downs this week.

Time to hit the snooze alarm.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clicking to the Oldies


Slate has a bit up on their website (that I discovered via a nice catch at Deceptively Simple) about the top 10 classical music downloads on iTunes. The Slate piece badly wants to say something. You be the judge of what that is.

A few choice quotes:

"..classical music has an uneasy relationship with popularity. Listeners with a passing interest tend to value it for its soothing qualities or, conversely, for its extreme volume."


"With its warhorses and canon of great works, classical music is insulated from a lot of fads. Beethoven's Fifth will probably always be popular, and so will "Carmina Burana." But it's not so far from popular culture that a tenor whose calling card is his biography and who is backed by an effective PR machine can grab the spotlight."

Is it really that isolated from fads? Not judging by the CD covers and marketing ploys you can discover at any Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Ya know Brian Wilson once said something that seems relevant here: "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. One lick and you'll suck for the rest of your life."

On the other hand, check out this fine post on the Chicago Classical Music Blog on adding value to a classical music label's catalog:

"pianist Jorge Federico Osorio told me that for his third project on Cedille Records, he would like to record the complete Debussy Preludes. I had no doubt that his interpretations would stand among the best recorded. However, there are dozens of recordings of these popular Debussy pieces by revered pianists such as Walter Gieseking and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and many, many contemporary performers. I felt our recording would need to offer a new wrinkle on this repertory in order for consumers and critics to take notice. So I asked Mr. Osorio if he could find other piano music that might shed a different light on the Preludes: perhaps something by a composer who influenced Debussy or one who was influenced by the great French impressionist."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Piano, Fire, Axe, Art

Introducing "Piano Dismantling Operations" a performance in which a grand piano is destroyed. Completely. Why? Apparently it's some kind of deconstruction a go-go inspired happening:

"pianos are the most extreme incarnation of western rationalism. The keys are lined up in regular order, the extremely wide register matches an orchestra's, the tuning by equal temperament is done so because of cost priorities, there is a minute action of the hammers and the pedals, the steel frame supports the inside, there are taut wires, and the quality of the wood and the coating is important. Whichever factor you examine, the mechanism which has such cumbrous complexity is integrated with rational thought, but dressed in transcendental decoration."
A Japanese reporter in attendance said, "I felt that it was like hunting and defeating a beast with the whole village and sharing the delicious parts with everyone"

I was reminded of "Piano Dismantling Operations" by a news blurb I saw a couple weeks ago about an "artist" in Australia who had taken a chainsaw to a piano. You can read about it here. Judging by the news reports, those in attendance did not find the parts very delicious.

And all of that reminded me of composer Anna Lockwood's avant-garde "composition" from the 1960's titled "Burning Piano". You guessed it. A piano is set on fire. Lockwood has also composed a variety of other "piano works" ("Piano Drowning", "Piano Garden").

And that leads around and about back to Australia and the "World Association of Ruined Pianos". Surprisingly. Ruined pianos do make beautiful music.

Nice Work If You Can Get It


An academic in New Zealand is getting paid $140,000 to write a "cultural history" of the piano in New Zealand.

"..the book would encompass the "extreme adventures" of the piano in New Zealand - many of which were shipped out from Britain and carted through bush tracks and over streams after reaching New Zealand.
"It's a project that I've been thinking about for a long time, to get funding for it is just fantastic," she said.
But the research is not merely a record of pianos shipped over from Britain during the colonial era - it also reveals a fascinating social history."
It actually sounds like a very interesting project. Read the rest here.

And on the topic of New Zealand, check out this website: Why? Pianola history and midi files. It's a recent addition to piano links section.

More fun at NZ composer Gareth Farr's website

Leeds Piano Competition

The first round of cuts have been made. Click here for a list of those who didn't get auf'd. And a certain someone may be happy to know Tom Poster has survived the first cut.

Still early, but all of the my first impression cold-picks have made the cut. BBC has broadcasts available (details here). Too bad it's not quite as a tech-savy as the last Cliburn. Ah well...

Is it still to early for dead-pool bets? If you've thoughts, favs, pans and picks, drop a comment.

Good luck to all!

If Only Piano Competitions Were This Good

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today's Blog Tip

Today's pick is "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" and as you might imagine it has predilection for things Mozart. Infrequently updated but always interesting. Poke around the archives and explore the links to other blogs. Surf's up!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Newly Born Piano

Behold the "electromagnetically-prepared piano" !

"the ability to play the piano without felt hammers, plectrum, fingers, or any other traditional method of physical excitation."

Pictures, audio clips, and a detailed explanation can all be found here.

Sir Charles Mackerras

Very sad news.

"The audience for Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Usher Hall last week knew nothing of the tragedy that preceded the performance by Sir Charles, one of the world's greatest musicians and a longtime favourite in Edinburgh."


Piano Tuning School for the Blind

New to the WTB list of piano links is the

School of Piano Technology for the Blind

You find it online here.

Pulse Blended

This opening graf caught my eye:

" Take the music of Robert Schumann. Add the works of Berg, some early Schoenberg and, for good measure, Mozart. Put it in a blender ... "

Now that's pretty good. Maybe not as a good as this, but pretty good. It's from an interesting piece on the American composer Leon Kirchner. Read the rest here.

Pictures at a Blog

If you've been reading the visitors comments on this blog, you already seen the link to a blog called "On Nocturnal Avenue2". This new blog showcases a series of wonderful pencil drawings of the great pianists. If you haven't visited it yet, follow this link.

Beethoven's Russia

Although Ludwig van Beethoven never visited Russia, the links between the composer and this country are many and strong.

Read the read here.


Surely I can't be the only one who thinks it seems a wee bit pathetic that Bob Dylan is working it for the man and hawking ipods.

More here.

Monk's Piano Competition

This should be loads of fun: the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

" The Competition, compared in stature to that of the classical Tchaikovsky and Van Cliburn Competitions, is the most prestigious jazz competition in the world, and is widely known for discovering the jazz stars of tomorrow. "

More here.Publish

Performance Today Gets A New Home

This really sad in way. I'm glad Minn. Public Radio will take on "Performance Today", the large context is pretty depressing.

"National Public Radio said it will end production and distribution of "Performance Today," the most popular classical music program on the air, and eliminate 11 jobs in its Washington headquarters as a result."


"The move is another sign of classical music's diminished role at NPR and its affiliated stations. Many public stations, including WETA-FM (90.9) locally, have dropped daily classical programming, including "Performance Today," in favor of news and talk programs."

Read the rest here.

And more here: "In recent years many US public radio stations have been reducing airtime for classical music or eliminating it from their schedules altogether in favor of news, features and talk programs. This trend has alarmed classical music lovers, but the stations generally report that their listenership increases in the wake of such changes."

Leeds Piano Competition Note

Good news for Italians with high-cheek bones. Jessica Duchen has a post today on her blog about the Leeds.

"Italians have quite a history of doing well in this contest (especially ones with high cheekbones, for some reason) and there are even two British candidates for patriotic pianophiles to cheer on if so inclined."

More exciting that that is news she's at work on a novel centered about a young pianist's life.

Maybe this is the year Brits get lucky at Leeds?

Read it all here.

The Magic Flute - The Movie

Kenneth Branagh gives Mozart's "The Magic Flute" the Hollywood treatment.

It's currently playing the Toronto International Film Festival.

"Branagh has mounted this production in as provocative a manner as Mozart did in his time, not only through modern staging but also by having it performed in English. The film features James Conlon conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and a cast of rising young superstars including the Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser, American baritone Benjamin Jay Davis and British soprano Amy Carson. If Branagh adapting Mozart might seem unlikely, he responds to the material magnificently, convincing us that this opera indeed benefits from a novel re-staging. Mozart's music has never sounded so timeless."

Details and more here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pianist says: Not Rockin' and Rollin'

Elsehwere in the UK.........

"I don't know where they got the idea my playing was too loud. That really teed me off."

Details and more here.

Competition News

A nice write-up with pianists Eldon Ng (Canada) and ChenXin Xu (China) in the Leeds Evening Post. Read it here.

ChenXin Xu has a very nice webpage. At least a nice splash page. The links on her site, as of this post, are not active. You can hear some of her playing here.

Best of luck to all !

And you thought I was kidding

About adopting a homeless piano, one otherwise bound for some landfill.

I have just started in this picture pulling out the keys and action. My technician says it has balls. I think she knows what she's talking about. And so the rebuilding adventure begins in earnest.
It's built by Heller sometime before 1905. (The serial can't be found in the atlas). I'll keep ya' posted.

Blog Faster Pussycat


I better get blogging!

Seriously, I'm flattered by the mention and there are some other great blogs mentioned in this Times Online article. Check 'em out here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I've just finished reading one mystery and now I've found the perfect candidate to take it's place.

Read about it here.

Put me down as a lifetime member of the "I heart Sharon McCone Club"

Blog Pick of the Week

I heartily recommend checking out a curious and eclectic blog called "Winds and Breezes" from Ireland. Lots of interesting posts and ruminations. Quite worthy of your cybertime is a post of ruminations after a reading of the book "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank".



A glimpse of things to come, eh?

Leeds International Pianoforte Competition

Unless you've been locked up in a practice room somwhere, you probably already know that the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition is underway. The website for the competition is right here.

Here's the list of competitors. (It includes some relatively new faces to the competition circuit, more than a few who surely must be pushing against the upper-age limit for most competitions (Roberto Plano) and more than mere smattering of those who didn't make the cut at the last Van Cliburn International Piano Competition):

SooJin AHN
Soo Jung ANN
Sheng CAI
Rufus CHOI
Geoffrey COUTEAU
Martina FILJAK
Grace FONG
Chu-Fang HUANG
Yurino IZUMI
Tae-Hyung KIM
Sunghoon KIM
Sunwook KIM
Sangyoung KIM
Eduard KUNZ
Konstantin LAPSHIN
Ang LI
Maria MAZO
Fionnuala MOYNIHAN
Spencer MYER
Eldon NG
Naariya NOGI
Esther PARK
Roberto PLANO
Elizabeth Joy ROE
Jie-Yern RYU
Serhiy SALOV
Yeol-Eum SON
Siheng SONG
Young-Ah TAK
Mariangela VACATELLO
Mimi Jue WANG
Chi WU
Mu-Ye WU
Chen Xin XU
Andrius ZLABYS
Xiang ZOU

My quick pick going into it is the incredible Chu-Fang Huang. It will also be interesting to see how Maria Mazo fares after having put all her eggs in one basket, always a big gamble, with a single work (Beethoven's Hammklavier) at the Cliburn, she strikes me as worthy a serious second hearing.

And hear them you can via the BBC Radio. Very nice.

Pop Music Note

Not too long ago I made the trek to see the "The Roches" performing at the Earlville Opera House in upstate New York. It was well-worth it. I can safely report that they were as entertaining, quirky, and lively as ever. They broke up 9 or so years ago, so I didn't think I'd ever see them perform together again.

Their back. Big time (as'Kath' Knight' would say).

Check out their website for tour dates. And while there don't miss a clip they've posted of their performance on Saturday Night Light doing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". You find it here.

Also worth seeing this summer was "Ween" and "The Flamming Lips". Why? Less scripted sounding (TFL) then usual and amazing to see them together playing a state fair (NY). Did I say it was amazing? But I will still take the Roches over either any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

National Piano Month

September is National Piano Month.

What are you doing to celebrate? I'm adopting a homeless piano

and dropping a couple of links:

National Piano Foundation


National Piano Travelers Association. Check 'em out, folks.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


"And her piano was now part of a mute,
discordant population doomed to oldfolks homes, bars, church basements,

poolhalls, funeral parlors—or more mercifully abandoned
on back porches where at least chickens could nest, or the cat have kittens."

Read the rest of this haunting poem here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Antonio Iturrioz and the Art of the Left Hand

Pianist Antonio Iturrioz has released a documentary (on DVD) exploring in performance and commentary piano works written for the left hand alone.

"Although he recalls having "a weird sensation in my hand," it wasn't until Iturrioz was accepted to the preliminaries of the 1977 Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Fort Worth that the truth became apparent. He had damaged the cartilage and would have to undergo years of physical therapy.
It took about three or four years but my solace was I became a left hand musician," he said, "and even though I recuperated I still feel a deep affection for this music and I continue to play it."

Read the rest here.

Better yet! Check out the website for the DVD. The site includes video clips of some of the exciting performances found on the DVD. Find it here:

The Art of the Left Hand


John Cage is one of my favorite composers. It's too bad all most people know of him is something about something vaguely somthing related to "4'33". Admittedly, as compositions go, it's just too easy a target for comedy.

This past week marked the work's 54th birthday. Here's a tasty link that leads you to all and many varied things on the web related to Cage's infamous work. Includes a link to a website where you can even spend 5 bucks or so to own the "score".

Israeli pianist Murdered in Belgium

Details .