Friday, December 29, 2006

Allegro di Wolffgango

And yet more on the "new" Mozart.

A recently discovered piano concerto, believed to be one of the earliest works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, will be performed for the first time today in Salzburg, the city where the composer was born.

Experts believe that the composition, entitled Allegro di Wolffgango Mozart, was written by the child prodigy at some time between the ages of 6 and 10.

Read the rest here.

And just to keep us from getting to carried away, we're reminded by Richard Morrison that

Mozart showed his true genius not by slipping effortlessly into this easy, graceful style at the age of 8 or 9. His greatest achievement came 10 or 15 years later when he was able to transform this “simplistic” language to create operatic and symphonic masterpieces that touch the most sublime heights of musical expression.

Beethoven Intercollegiate Piano Competition

Congratulations to Samantha Ward first prize winner of the competition.

You can read about the competition and performances here on the always excellent "Music and Vision" website.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Unimportance of Being Oscar

A bevy of choice quotes to mark the birthday of pianist Oscar Levant.

"Roses are red, violets are blue, I am schizophrenic, and so am I."

"I used to call Audrey Hepburn a walking X-ray."

"Everyone in Hollywood is gay, except Gabby Hayes — and that's because he is a transvestite."

"Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character."

"When asked what he does for exercise, Levant replied, "I stumble, then fall into a coma."

"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left."

"I'm a concert pianist, that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."

"Leonard Bernstein is revealing musical secrets that have been common knowledge for centuries."

You'll find these and more on the Wikipedia page for Levant. It's found here.

And if you want more Oscar there's always his own writings.

New Piano Work by Mozart

Something new to close out the "Mozart Year" celebrations.

Experts believe the composition to be one of Mozart's early works, written when he was aged between 6 and 10. The music had been compiled by two piano instructors working during Mozart's lifetime at the Salzburg court music school.
Read the rest here.

More here.

Post-Holiday Holla Back

I had a great holiday break!

Not quite back to full-speed blogging yet. Hey.. There's still New Years eve ahead of us

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oldest Song in the World

How old is it you ask? About 3,400 years. Find it and more about it here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Garrick Ohlsson: Interview

Ohlsson's recording of the Beethoven sonata cycle is shaping up to be one for the ages. In a recent interview with writer/pianist Joseph Smith, Ohlsson provides an glimpse into this approach to the project: 

In recording, though, I really put the screws to myself. I stretch my own limits, because I take all the experiences I've had with the individual work, with Beethoven and with performing altogether, and I try to distill them. It isn't just a matter of effort, though, but also of absolute time — a live performance takes exactly as long as the piece, whereas a recording of a single sonata might take eight hours of takes, listening, making judgments, and balancing possible choices.

and I think he gets it right with this observation:

"If a man from Mars were dropped on the earth and the only Beethoven left was the piano sonatas, he could actually form a pretty complete idea of who Beethoven was. They present a full, accurate portrait."

Read the rest of this fascinating interview here.


 Currently listening to: Schubert,  Impromptu D.935 - 3 in B flat 

Gershwin Revisited

Check out the excellent review of Howard Pollack's new biography of George Gershwin. A work that clears away the debris and reveals Gershwin's work in a different light.

"It's helpful to be reminded that the clarinet introducing "Rhapsody in Blue" echoes the flute that begins Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun," that Rachmaninoff attended many Gershwin performances, and that Gershwin not only witnessed the American premiere of Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" but played tennis with the composer, painted his portrait , and subsidized recordings of his string quartets. Under Schillinger's tutelage, Gershwin even composed 12-tone rows."

Currently listening to:
Milton Babbitt - Reflections for piano and synthesized tape

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Link of the Day

"There ought to be but one large art warehouse in the world, to which the artist could carry his art-works and from which he could carry away whatever he needed. " - Beethoven

the Internet? A website setting out to make good on Beethoven's wish is today's "Link of the Day":


Providing a forum for musicians (soloists and ensembles) to post their performances of works in the public domain. There is a eclectic mix of things and a forum to chat with others.

Give 'em a visit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

tone deaf ?

Wonder no more.

Now there's a clever little online test you can take to find out. There is also a test for pitch perception and one to find out if you are rhythmdeaf.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How Many Mozarts?

This looks like a very interesting CD:

"Mozart: great pianists (Orfeo), an anthology of performances at the Salzburg Festival, illustrates how familiar scores can be enlivened and transfigured by strong-minded interpreters. The set is built around contrasting performances of two Mozart sonatas. Claudio Arrau makes K310 a model of keen classical precision, after which Emil Gilels discovers in it a perturbed Romantic intensity. Clara Haskil, Shura Cherkassky and Glenn Gould interpret KV330."


Stealing Glenn Gould Part 2

And now we know how it ends:

"Barbara Moore, the 62-year Texan college professor charged with illegally possessing Glenn Gould memorabilia, was sentenced to 60 hours of community service yesterday, reports the Associated Press." Link

Elvis Presley's Piano

If you've got the scratch for it, you might want to have a go at bidding on Elvis Presley's 1911 Knabe grand piano. Photos, details, and more here.

"We just turned down an offer of $1 million for it," said Daniel Jelladian, CEO of, where the King's piano is on auction. "The guy called to ask us to stop the auction for $1 million." Jelladian said he expects the piano to fetch more than $2 million, and he has reason to believe.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Groovy Link of the Day

Via YouTube, enjoy a senior citizen chorus rockin' it with Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia"


A New World Record

So many questions. So little time.

Congratulations to Mr. Brunner

"The magic fingers of Charles Brunner endured 64 hours of excruciating pain and cramps in order to finally break a record that he has held twice before." Read the rest.

David Fray

I think this is great news:

"The 25-five year old French pianist David Fray has signed an exclusive recording contract with Virgin Classics, reports Gramophone Online. His first disc, to be released in May 2007, will include Bach's Partita and French Suite in D minor and Boulez's Douze Notations and Incises."


More here about Fray.

Music Without Music

Music Without Music, trading as, has perfected a website which enables people to watch, slowly and in detail, how a tune is played so that they can pick it up without needing sheet music.

Somethings just speak for the themselves. Read the rest here.

Made in China

Interesting bit in the news about guitar maker Gibson's plans to buy a state-owned piano factory (Dongbei Piano) in China -you might have encountered Dongbei's work in the form of their "Nordiska" piano.

Gibson also owns "Baldwin" pianos.

"The sources declined to confirm whether Gibson would authorize the Dongbei factory to use the Baldwin brand for piano production and sales." Read the rest here.

If not, I'm thinking it will be something suitably German sounding.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Great Mozart Crash

Sometimes a great idea can be just a little too good. When the International Mozart Foundation placed the vast works of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart online Monday, its organizers had no idea how swiftly the news would travel.

The response was immediate and immense. Just hours after the news became public, as of 1 a.m. Tuesday local time for Salzburg, Austria, the site where the composer’s works were placed appeared to have crashed.
Read the rest here. You'll find the International Mozart Foundation here.

Yup it's down as of this post. Hope it's up soon.

And in other news. Light blogging due to holidays and work. More regular blogging to following before long. In the meantime, check out the "Blogs of Distinction" and show 'em some blog love.

Happy surfing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Mozart died on Dec 5 in 1791 and left behind an unfinished masterpiece. And now

"Musicologist and pianist Robert Levin, who earlier prepared a compelling new realization of the "Requiem," has now done the same for the "Mass." German Helmuth Rilling, a noted early music and choral specialist, conducted the well-received premiere at Carnegie Hall in Jan. 2005 and this weekend is leading the Detroit Symphony Orchestra through Levin's version of the "Mass." Kudos to the DSO for closing its two-week Mozart Festival with a jolt of fresh thinking." Link

Classical Paws

"Classical Paws is a once in a lifetime event that will combine two common passions, music and dogs, and will be brought to life by two of the finest and most respected musicians in the world today. Jody Karin Applebaum, a world renowned soprano, and Marc-André Hamelin, one of the most sought after concert pianists to ever hit the music scene, will be performing live to a unique audience of canine enthusiasts and music lovers in what will most certainly be the event that everyone will be talking about."

Details here for the lucky folks in Philly.

God bless Maestro Hamelin and his wife (and their two dogs named Frasier and Niles).


Winter is always a good time for visiting Miami, especially if the Miami International Piano Festival is underway.

Wish I was there. (sigh).

Read about it here.

CD Note

One of my all time favorite recordings of the Brahms 2nd piano concerto. Link

But virtuosic nervousness? I just don't hear that in this recording.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Click and Listen

You can find some mp3's from Hucbald's new CD on his excellent blog "A Monk's Musical Musings". You find it all here.

Proper Velocities?

Velocities or tempi? What's proper here.

"He has the velocity to race at top speed through the latter’s whizzing coda, can handle the awkward physical pitfalls of the C minor Sonata and has a genuine feel for the mysteries of its last moments." Link.

Oh well... That then.

competition note

The winners of the Wideman piano competition have been announced. Details here.

One Symphony to Rule Them All?

"After the complete "Return of the King" score is released next year, Shore (who is currently orchestrating an opera inspired by David Cronenberg's film "The Fly," which he scored) will eventually record the two-hour, 10-minute "Lord of the Rings Symphony," which is still being performed to sellout crowds around the world. " Link.

I liked the music. But 2 hours? That's really pushing the envelope for me.

Young Canadian Composers

The deadline for applications to National Arts Centre’s Summer Music Institute is fast approaching. December 11 to be exact. More info here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sticks and Stones

Most overused word in music criticism? My vote goes to "overpedaling". They'd be sunk without it.

This is more like it:

In 1795, Beethoven composed what has come to be known as Rage over a Lost Penny. Paul Lewis looked as though he had found the penny, but had previously lost a pound. He didn’t appear to enjoy himself, and showed little rapport with the audience. For him, this seemed to be ‘just another one for the mortgage’. What a difference it would have made to see him smile, to hear a short introduction to one or two of the pieces, and perhaps an encore at the end. Even the moonlight was a little dim.