Thursday, December 29, 2005

Constance Keene, Dead at 84

Constance Keene, a long familiar teacher and gifted pianist, has passed away at age 84. Link.

A review of her recording of Hummel's piano sontas is found here.

Mozart: too chocolate-boxy ??

Lewis-Crosby is right. BBC3 is making an unfortunate decision not to give Mozart his day.

"Although it was done for Bach and Beethoven, Radio 3 has decided not to broadcast the entire works of Mozart in his 250th anniversary year, because it could come across as "too chocolate-boxy." More.

On the face of it, that seems to be no reason at all. And the only one buying it might just be Rupert Christiansen. Tim Luckhurst's scathing reply stands:

"George Orwell's use of the BBC as a template for totalitarian casuistry can look obsolete nowadays. But the corporation can usually be relied upon to throw up an executive to revive the stereotype. Step forward Roger Wright, Controller of Radio 3. His objection to proposals to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart combines pomposity with a startling contempt for self-interest. " Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Ornaments

Well, not quite. But it is today's webpick. A website that explores the mysteries of ornamentation in early music. You'll find it here.

Kudos for Bach

I couldn't have said it better. Link.

Online Music Price Fixing Probe

As Alice says, "Curiouser and curiouser!"

In the news today are reports of an investigation into the pricing of online music.

"Subpoenas issued to Warner Music Group, BMG, EMI Group, and Universal Music came to light over the holidays as all four received requests for information in the form of subpoenas in connection with an industry-wide investigation of the pricing of music downloads." More here.

Déjà vu?

As Podcasting News recalls, "State attorney generals have previously investigated the major labels over price-fixing issues. In 2003, companies settled a price-fixing suit involving CD sales spearheaded by a group of state attorneys general. The companies agreed to millions in cash payments and millions more in donations of CDs to libraries and schools." More.

Some related odds and ends thoughts here.

Theater Note

This looks interesting:

"2 Pianos 4 Hands "is the riotous tale of two boys in Canada sharing the same goal: concert pianist stardom," according to Marquis Entertainment, which handles licensing (and sometime produces) this title (and other shows). "They work fervently towards their dream amidst pushy parents, eccentric teachers, hours of repetitive practice, stage fright, the agony of competitions and the dream of greatness. As they mature, they become more aware of the gap between the very good and the great — and come to the humbling realization that greatness may be out of reach."


Alexei Sultanov - Website

As I mentioned earlier the Chicago-Tribune has been running an outstanding series on the life of the late pianist Alexei Sultanov. They have also created a fantastic tribute site that includes all of the articles as well as photos, video clips, and audio files from throughout his career. It's found here. Excellent site!


My "GuestMap" is back up and running. Link on the Right Hand side. Mark your spot!

Viva Mr. Mozart

Jeff, keeper of the excellent "" blog, points the way to the pretty slick (and official) website dedicated this year's celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday. That and more here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Memories of Christmas Vinyl Past

Go here. It's whack.

Toolbox Carols

An entire album of Christmas carols performed on hand and electric power tools.

Tasty. Click here to listen to a bit of the "Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy". It's all right here.


Bizarre. Delicious. Tibetan chant meets alpenhorn.

It's here.

Christmas 76

It's about 10 minutes of a family testing out the tape recording on Christmas day 1976. Think of it as "found sound" meets way-back machine. You find it here.

And while you're at it check out the "Six Million Dollar Man Christmas Album" and other oddities of the period. It's here.

52 Weken

Today's web pick is "52 Weeks" - bringing you rare musical treasures . The "Abba fur Kindern" is not to be missed. Link.

The Unexpected Gift

Great post.

"My stint as a Baghdad church musician -- 10 weeks, until relieved by the chaplain's assistant -- was not distinguished. If I found 15 minutes during the week to peruse the music, then I'd lucked out. Free time was that scarce. Yet playing on Sunday proved to be no burden -- quite the opposite. Plunking on Beethoven, picking through "Holy Holy Holy" became the week's subtle, unexpected center, a moment of rough but sincere melody in trying, troubling circumstances. It was an unexpected gift." Read the rest here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Competition Note

Heads up, Arizona! The Bosendorfer International Piano Competition is coming your way next month at Arizona State University. Here's the list of competitors. Follow the links for more info.

Seeing Failure: The Pianist Stumbles

An interesting exploration of sight-reading by visual artist Jenny Perlin.

"A three channel video projection depicting three professional pianists attempting to perform a piece of music that they have never seen before. Each pianist is shown in a separate projection, and each starts the piece at the same time. They then continue playing at their natural speed. The work, Robert Schumann’s piano concerto in A minor, is challenging, and the pianists make mistakes. After a mistake, the pianist’s screen goes dark for five seconds, and their music stops, while the other pianists continue uninterrupted. Then the projection resumes, and the pianist continues playing. The more challenging the piece becomes, the more mistakes the players make, and the more the three projections turn off. In this piece, the editing itself becomes the taskmaster; the act of cutting determines a player’s presence as performer." More Here.

Described by one reviewer this way: " What begins as familiar music ends up as disjointed dissonance -- but with each pianist laboring honestly to create artistic perfection." Link.

I've really been intrigued by this idea since reading about it.

Unclassical classical

Interesting profile of Jamaican pianist Rhoden:

"Orrett Rhoden has been stirring those kinds of reactions and impressions from playing the piano since his childhood, being recognised as a prodigy certainly by the age of eight." Read the rest here.

And the Winners Are...

The winners of the Dranoff Two Piano International Competition have been announced.

Seo & Kato Piano Duo - 1st Prize
Varshavsky-Shapiro Piano Duo - 2nd Prize
De Stefano Piano Duo - 3rd Prize

Be sure to check out the competition website for vid clips. The De Stefano Clip leaves me wanting to hear more. Pity the clips are so short.

Thanks to the Dranoff Competition for making these available online.

Congratulations to the winners! !

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Meme of Four

Caught the meme bug reading HurdAudio. Watch out it's catching.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Waiting for Guffman, Duck Soup, Annie Hall, Female Troubles
Four TV shows you love to watch: The Colbert Report, Malcolm in the Middle, The Simpsons, Strangers with Candy, Smallville.
Four places you've been on vacation
: Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Adirondacks
Four websites you visit daily
: TalkingPointsMemo, The Onion, Salon, Google (or pick any four from the WTB Blog Roll).
Four of your favorite foods
: Thai, Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese
Four places you'd rather be
: Spain, Iceland, New Zealand, Mexico.

That's it and now it's your turn! Tag.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Channukah Songs for Children

Treasures abound at the Judaica Sound Archives. Here is the sites "Chananukah Songs for Children". The Archives main page is found here.


You can't help wondering at the seemingly colossal blunder that is Rootgate. In Texas more woes:

" Abbott invoked the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The attorney general alleges the company's "MediaMax" technology for copy protection violates the state's spyware and deceptive trade practices laws in that consumers who use these CDs are offered a license agreement. But even if consumers reject that agreement, Abbott says, files are secretly installed on their computers, posing additional security risks"

Read the rest here.

Best quick take: "Digital media represent a truly revolutionary change in the nature of "content." Attempts by companies to legislate their old business models into the new era will lead to odd and foolish consequences — including, just possibly, this one." More.

Risky Gifts?

iPod gets a parental advisory of sorts in the UK. Details.


Today's web pick is the "Piano Pedagogy Forum", a site chock full of interesting bits concernging piano teaching method and theory. It's also now added to the WTB "Piano Links".

Career Note: Good Grief

If you've been wondering what happened to the piano playing "Schroeder" of Peanuts fame, we've got some news. In the new theater play "Dog Sees God":

"Snoopy’s death has made CB (Charlie Brown) question everything in the world, and that spurs his wandering through Peanuts-ville – he wants to know what the others think of it, whether they believe in heaven for dogs and so on. The crazy twists and turns their lives have taken quickly overpower CB’s quest, though, and the plot soon switches to being more about discrimination against gays than about understanding death. This is because Beethoven (i.e., Schroeder) is, on just one tragic piece of evidence, presumed to be gay, and tortured by the others for it. Logan Marshall-Green is perfect in the part, from the moment he’s glimpsed on stage, hunched over the piano just like his cartoon counterpart."

Move over Peppermint Patti, indeed. Read the rest here.

Dranoff Competition - Update

Some news this morning from the Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. Specifically, the finalists have been announced and they are:

De Stefano Piano Duo
Seo & Kato Piano Duo
Varshavsky-Shapiro Piano Duo

They will compete in the finals to be held tomorrow evening. Best of luck to all.

Some additional prizes were given out to non-finalists:

Piano Duo Yoshie & Takashi recieved the award for "Best Performance" of the commissioned work for the competition, a work by composer Marcel Bergman. And Duo Scarbo got a nod receiving the "Audience Prize". Congratulations!

Check out the Dranoff website for the competition. There you will find photos and videos (in .wmv format) online of the following duos

Wang Piano Duo
Marzec-Tsalka Piano Duo
Varshavsky Shapiro Piano Duo
Piano Duo Yoshie & Takashi
Unison Piano Duo
De Stefano Piano Duo

Quite good all around.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Farewell to Stromness

Head on over to "On An Overgrown Path" to check out Pliable's recent post on Peter Mawell Davies. I share Pliable's guilty delight in Davies "Farewll to Stromness". It's perhaps the most unassuming, elegant, and moving short pieces of piano music ever penned. There is a link to an audio excerpt on Pliable's site if you'd like a listen. Better, I recommend my favorite recording of it (and other gems): Christopher Riley's CD "At the Break".

Monday, December 19, 2005

Alexei Sultanov

The Chicago-Tribune is running a 3 part series called the "The life and rebirth of a musical mastermind"I don't know about the "musical mastermind" bit, but Alexei Sultanov was one of the most fiery and gifted of pianists. The article covers his development as a pianist and the cruel tragedy of his stroke. It's a great read. You find it here. There's also another hero to marvel at in this story and it's wife Dace.

Read it here.

Bach and the Brain

Strangely, just yesterday I was asked what my choice would be if I could have the music of only one composer to study and perfom. Without hesitation my answer: Bach. There is something about the music that pleases me on so many levels. I always feel like I learning from Bach, and my hands love following the various twists and turns. There is a very strong physical component to it. Something I can't quite pin down. The best I can say is that it simply pleases the hand and delights the readers mind. And maybe there's a very good explanation.

"Robert Schumann cured himself of a severe episode of mental illness by studying Bach's counterpoint, setting himself a task of composing six fugues on the composer's name. Neuro-musicologist Arthur Harvey, of the University of Hawaii, claims: "Bach's music consistently makes the brain work in a balanced way better than any other." link.

and this:

""Of all the music we tested in medical school with patients, colleagues and others, Bach's music consistently made the brain work in a balanced way better than any other genre," said Arthur Harvey, who is also an internationally known neuromusicologist." link

Music from the Holocaust

"It's hard to imagine a Nazi concentration camp as a center of artistic creativity, but one of them, Terezin, or Theresienstadt in German, proved to be just that, spawning music that is haunting to this day. For the past several years, Shelburne pianist Paul Orgel has been researching and performing works by four composers who were prisoners at the Czech camp." Read the rest here.

More about the CD and pianist Orgel can be found here. A brief interview with Orgel about the recording can be found here.

Pollini - Chopin Nocturnes

A review that suggests everything I would have imagined. Link.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cool Online Site

Here's a site worth checking out. Let's you search for music similar to music you know you like.

Composer Martino Dead at 74

Sad news. Link.

Spidey Sense?

I agree. Details.

Ultimate Opera

Very funny stuff. "Musical Perceptions" points the way to a good chuckle or two. Find it here.

Speaking of the Digital Age

Nice catch over at "Music in A Suburban Scene" (a very worthy blog)which points the way to the "" site for the ensemble "the alarm will sound". They are found here. And while you're out and about check out Brian Sacawa's very tasty MySpace site. And give his blog a visit here. Damn nice playing,Brian.

And while you might not be able to download any Bach, you can download about 13 minutes of delicious improvising courtesy of the aforementioned Music in A Suburban Scene. It's quite a spray of notes. Check it out, here.

BBC Radio 3 and Bach

BBC 3 has created a blog for their Bach marathon. Performances of every work of J.S. Bach.
You find on the blog a schedule, notes from those involved, a treasure trove of links, and more.

You'll find it here.

No word on free downloads as with the Beethoven Experiment. I suppose that's no doubt good news for the recording industry. Speaking of which here are some quotes and thoughts on the latest regarding the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) flap over royalties:

A quote from Music Managers Forum (MMF)"... “This is a battle between the suits and the talent, and we are on the side of the talent. It’s the talent which creates the wealth in the first place - performers who are often writers. The music industry hasn’t handled the online market very well, and now they’ve got into bed with the online providers and are attempting to squeeze the income of the artists.” Read the rest here.

and this

Musicians hit back in downloads dispute

and this:

"The group also challenged the record labels to reveal just how much money they currently receive from digital downloads. The Music Alliance has said that if the BPI gets what it wants, then BPI members would receive 40p - 50p per download whereas composers and song writers will get just a few pennies. "We have now submitted our reasons for why the record industry should adopt fresh economic thinking in a digital age to sustain the composing community upon which they rely." said Adam Singer, head of the Music Alliance." More.

Much food for thought all around.

Melvyn Tan: A No Show Twice Over

A "no show" for national service is now a "no show" for the concert.

"Pianist Melvyn Tan, the man at the centre of the recent controversy over National Service evasion, said he would defer his public appearance at the Esplanade and not be a judge in a local competition." Details

And this: "Pianist Melvyn Tan, a native of Singapore, has canceled a planned concert there amid accusations that he received special treatment after dodging the draft, Malaysia's Bernama news agency reports."

Most Disappointing Music Critic

Any nominations?

Nippon Symphony

Nippon Symphony has a new music director: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Details here.

So That's How They Do It

"They told me not to worry because in every Merchant Ivory movie there's a scene where a woman plays piano and they know how to shoot around it. I was pleased because the noise coming out of this piano was so horrendous I couldn't concentrate on the scene. I was a total failure at it."

Every Merchant Ivory movie? Okie Dokie.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Radio Waves

A couple of thoughts this morning on classical music on the nation's airwaves. I often wonder if the "classical music is dying" routine doesn't amount to a certain self-fulfilling prophecy. But first this.

Playbill Arts recently ran a bit on classical music on the radio titled " Who Knew? Classical Music Can Be Good for Ratings" on the effect of dropping classical programming at WETA in Washington D.C.. . The last paragraph caught my eye:

"a greater range of ages are now tuning in, citing ratings showing that the percentage of WETA's audience in the 65-74 age bracket has dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent in the past year, while those aged 25-34 rose from 10 percent to 13 percent."

Is that really good news? What's gained might be a loss. I wonder.

And in Boston the three B.'s (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms) are likely to be knocked off the airwaves by country music. WCRB has been sold. Two stories to read this earlier one, speculating on the likely purchase coming down to two buyers Greater Media and Clear Channel:

"...that leaves Greater Media and Clear Channel. Interesting that McCord once ran Greater Media.Both operators have their reasons to buy, but neither of them necessarily include a proclivity for Schumann and Schubert."

And it's now reported that:

" certainly seems that we’re going to hear country on (WCRB),” said Scott Fybush, editor of the online newsletter NorthEast Radio Watch. “That’s the most logical thing for them to do.”

I'm inclinced to agree with the head of Marlin Broadcasting: "
“To be a genuine world-class city, not to have a full-time commercial classic music station is kind of embarrassing.."

It isn't just "kind of" it is.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pianist Gyorgy Sandor Dead at 93

Some sad news this morning. The passing of legendary pianist Gyorgy Sandor, one of Bartok's greatest students, at the age of 93. His magnificent recordings of Bartok's piano music are milestones and his book on technique, "On Piano Playing" is found on many a pianists' shelf .
Also noteworthy are his transcriptions of the music of Dukas ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice") and Shostakovich ("Russian Dance of the Golden Age"). More here and here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

No Lunkheads

What do do you listen to to while excercising?
I freely admit classical music isn't high on my all-time greatest hits for the gym. but check out this list of classical music recommendations for gym rats. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Sweatin' to the Oldies". Choice quote: "All four concertos as well as the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini are packed with surging emotions that will push you into your aerobic zone." More.

World's First Musical Sandwich

Rossini would be delighted. A company has begun making what it bills as the world's first musical sandwich. According to news reports, "The concept of musical sandwiches is something we've been looking at for a while now and we thought Christmas would be the perfect time," said Tesco spokesman Jonathan Church."If they prove to be as successful as we think then we will consider a whole range of musical sandwiches."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Think About It

What was great about the 1950s was that for one brief moment (maybe, say, six weeks) nobody understood art."
- Morton Feldman.


Old Computers Making New Music

Music from old video games are making a come-back of sorts. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. Read all about here. Choice quote: "When I was in junior high, I'd wake up in the morning, turn on my Commodore and load up the game with my favorite music on it so I could get dressed, instead of turning on the radio.". I hadn't thought about the Commodore in years. :)

UPDATE: Thinking about the good old days, reminds me to point readers to the
The 1982 Atari Club Christmas Catalog. Step away from the Xbox and remember when. It's all right here.

Hey Big Spender

"According to study results, patrons spent 5 percent more when listening to pop tunes, and when classical music was played, they spent 10 percent more.

Classical music is apparently not only an effect way to chase off teenagers, but a good way to encourage diners to spend more money. Read all about it right here.

Can You Hum A Few Bars?

Maybe not. This is the kind of news that makes one wonder whether to laugh or cry.According to news reports, "It seems that the victories obtained in the war against illegal file-sharing have given the music industry enough confidence in order to move to other types of so-called infringement of copyright cases....a crackdown on sites that offer free lyrics, scores or guitar licks."

Perhaps we should just start shutting down the libraries while we're at it. Read the rest here. And more.

Dave Brubeck

A great profile of jazz master Dave Brubeck can be read here. A few days back I caught part of an intervew with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air". Check it out along with some of the other jazz links at the bottom of the website. Find it here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Up Blogoscope

Long over-due for addition to the WTB blogroll is the most excellent "A Monk's Musical Musings". Say that 10 times as fast as you can. LOL. It's a mighty fine blog. Check it out here.

It's on my "to-do" list...

I've always wanted to participate in one of these mega-monster piano concerts.

Edith Jankay

I was surprised to learn this morning that pianist, teacher, and sister of Miklos Rozsa, Edith Jankay, has passed on. More here.

Carnival Time Folks

Tasty links and commentary ahoy at the 23rd Carnival of Music ! Rap, Dylan, and more.

And, hey, volunteers are needed for the next installment of the glorious Carnival.
Give it a whirl, folks. Check in with TexasBestGrok for the details. C'mon it's easier than growing sea monkey and way more fun.

Ludwig B. and Lead

It's official (I suppose) that the cause of death was lead poisoning. It also accounts for some of his other, less than nobel, behaviors. Details here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Good Morning

Wake up. Coffee. Listen to Beethoven sonatas. Go for walk. Life is good.

Two for One

Some news this morning from one of the many pit stops on the piano competition circuit: The Wideman Piano Competition.

"Ji Yeon Shin and Tatiana Mitchko Tessman both won the Gold Medal Siskron-Rice Award of $2,000." Read the rest.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Very Different Christmas Special

If you're heading towards overload with the usual fare of television Christmas "specials", you might do yourself a favor and check out a remarkable DVD called "A Christmas Past". Description:

"A collection of enchanting silent films, "A Christmas Past" offers a nostalgic peek into the Yuletide pleasures of the early 1900s. Evoking the Victorian charm of Currier and Ives prints, these picturesque comedies and tender dramas were produced as cinematic Christmas cards offered to moviegoers of the silent film era."

"A Trap for Santa" (1909)
"A Winter Straw Ride" (1906)
"A Christmas Accident" (1912)
"The Adventures of the Wrong Santa Claus" (1914)
"Santa Claus Vs. Cupid" (1915)
"A Christmas Carol" (1910)
"The Night Before Christmas (1905, 9 min.)
"A Holiday Pageant At Home" (1901, 5 min.)
"Santa Claus" (1925)

The music by Al Kryszak is particularly effective. Check it out here.

And in Related News

A few days ago I posted a note about the BBC's planned Bach fest(including free mp3 downloads of Bach's music. Fellow blogger (and one of the best) Pliable offered up a different and not insignificant assessment titled "Musicians' Jobs before free downloads. In thinking about it, I'm not so sure that the argument doesn't flow the other way: downloads ultimatley might prove beneficial to their jobs. What's more, I'd like to believe that concern for the financial well-being of musicans is the animating concern behind objections to the BBC "free" downloads.

"steps by the record companies association, the British Phonographic Industry, to cut their earnings to 2p per download

"Composers and songwriters are arguing in the UK copyright tribunal that they should receive 7p to 9p from every track downloaded from the internet, instead of the current 5p. The demand, issued by the Music Alliance, which works on behalf of composers, is being made to counter steps by the record companies' association, the British Phonographic Industry, to cut their earnings to 2p per download."

Read the rest here

Buzz Kill

Pee your pants funny.

From the wags over at "The Onion".

"The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums." Read the delicious rest of it here.

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).


Powered by Castpost

I'm Back...

and here are some photos:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

On the Road

I'll be out and rambling about for the next week. So "The Well-Tempered Blog" will enjoy a "well-earned vacation". Lots of interesting things to share when I return. Or so I hope. In the meantime visit the WTB's "Blogs of Distinction". Also check out my Guest Map. Not everyone that visits has left a link, and please do if you have a blog, but there are some mightly interesting sites to visit listed on the map (for example the "Celebrity Series Blog").

And, if you're heading to New York City, make sure you check out "Classical Domain". It's really a fantastic website, one that truly lives up to it's billing as "A Comprehensive Guide to the Classical Music and Opera Concerts in New York City." Whoever is behind it deserves big kudos!

And check out Classical Domain's links to "Blogs" you'll find some familiar friends (blush) and links to new bloggers to visit (such as "A Solo Keyboard" and "Nectar and Ambrosia").

See ya...

Toy Piano Festival

From Alex Ross' blog I found out about this marvelous event: The Extensible Toy Piano Project and Festival.

From the website: "It has a deceptively simple mechanism--plastic hammers hitting steel rods. Yet, the toy piano produces a rich and quirky sound palette. John Cage brought the instrument from a treasured plaything to a bona fide musical instrument with his Suite for Toy Piano (1948). Our aim is to bring the instrument into the 21st Century. To that end, we're offering the electroacoustic composition community a complete set of high quality recordings of a classic Schoenhut upright toy piano.To encourage the creation of electroacoustic compositions that use both live and pre-recorded toy piano, we're sponsoring a composition competition. The project will culminate in a festival in November 2005 with concerts that will feature the winning compositions, and a symposium."

Read all about it here.

Even more fun, visit their audio archive here.

I'm there already.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Música Latinoamericana para Piano

While the piano literature is a rich and varied one, most pianists and listeners are really only familiar with a very narrow segment of it for one reason or another. So it's always rewarding to find something that's off the radar, something that opens the door to new treasures. Enter the "Latin-American Piano Music Laboratory" a true labor of love website from Japan. The site is in both Japanese and English.

The website is focused on composers and piano music from Latin America (Mexico, Boliva, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and rest). It is well researched with biographical notes, discography, and links to publishers. There you find composers such as Teresa Carreno, Pedro Allende, Juventino Rosas, and Luis Calvo.

You'll find it right here.

And to round out your travels have visit with "Educación musical". It's today's blog pick and going straight to the WTB's "Blogs of Distinction" roster. It's from Spain and provides interesting links and information. Also visit it's sister site "Weblog de Musica", how can you not love a blog with posts on Kristeva, Rothko, and Scelsi.

Calling All Music Bloggers

Join the blogerati and consider hosting the "Carnival of Music". It's really a great idea, I had fun hosting it, and it's a swell way to introduce your blog to new readers and to discover what others in the blogosphere are up to. I have long had a fancy that one or more of regular readers of "The Well-Tempered Blog" overseas would give it a whirl.

It's really quite simple. TexasBestGrok has the details. Give it a try folks. You won't regret it.

Jazz Singer, Pianist Shirley Horn Dies

Very sad news. Shirley Horn was one of the greats.

The Other Chopin

While you're out and about the web this weekend, spend a little time with that other Chopin: Henri Chopin , one of the more intersting cul-de-sacs of the French avant-garde.

Listen to some of his sonic poems here.

May I also recommend spending some time here listening to some sonic sculptures. "Introduction" is particularly ear tickling. Perfect for "Shocktober".

But what's been tickling my ears this morning is this

Chopin Competition Prize Winners

The prize winners for the Chopin competition have been announced. Blechacz take 1st prize. The only real surprise: No 2nd or 3rd prize awarded. Much to say but really to what end about that, it's largely fodder for flunkies. BBC details here.

What little I heard of no.1's playing was singularly pleasant, if ultimately, forgetable playing of a 20 year old pianist. I'll keep my ears open though for further persuasion. So I look forward to this CD. More news from the Chopin can be found on their website. On a related note, I did get a chance to hear Wunder's playing. Wow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bach for the MTV Generation.

The suits just don't get it. Latest tack promoting piano thumper Martin Stadtfeld.

"The bosses at Sony were suitably impressed with [Martin]Stadtfeld's recording. It wasn't long before the CD took the number one spot on Germany's classical music charts, and Stadtfeld was being toasted as a "sensation" and "the new face of classical music."

Sony wanted Stadtfeld to do for classical music what Josh Groban did for opera and Michael Bublé did for jazz -- attract a whole new target group to the genre. And indeed, a noticeable number of young fans can be seen in the concert halls where Stadtfeld appears."

Read the rest of this map of misreading here.

The "art critic" and Mozart: Jailarity ahoy

"A man who said he vandalized a modern statue honoring composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in order to protect society from such art may face jail time for his action, a prosecutor said Monday." Details.

Speaking of Chopin

"While classical musical organizations increasingly struggle to draw people into the concert hall, and Broadway has more or less resigned itself to being a purveyor of "products" that happen to be musicals, Felder has developed a hybrid form. He is one of those rare performers who can hold an audience in rapt silence while playing the most intimate Chopin nocturne or prelude, and then bring that same audience together to sing "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," the 1940s standard whose melody is based on Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu in C# Minor."

All about Monsieur Chopin

The News from Poland: A Stacked Deck?

Inquiring minds will wonder no doubt.

Here's the finalists for the International Chopin Competition here.

Interesting bit in English from Radio Poland:

"..the absence of Ingold Wunder from Austria in the finals is comparable to the jury decision to eliminate Ivo Pogorelich in 1980. But then every competition has its 'famous losers'.
There's no doubt that all lovers of Chopin's music will keep their fingers
crossed for Rałaf Blechacz. For the first time in many years, a Polish
pianist stands a great chance of winning one of the top accolades at the
Warsaw Competition."

No and No. We're a very long way from anyone near a Pogorelich having been passed over. And, yea, if Polish pianist Blechacz wins I'll only be mildly surprised. Surprised that a Japanese pianist didn't win. Not that I'm casting any votes. Fast than you can say Dang Thai Son the winner will likely fade and be forgotten this round. Hopefully, I'm wrong on that score. On the flip side, I'm keep my ears open of Mr. Wunder.


Piano student may claim insanity


And Loving It...



Friday, October 14, 2005

Mama's Gotta Jukebox: mp3 breast implants

File this one under "Insane Idea of the Week".

"Here's an appealing thought: an mp3 breast implant which will allow surgically-enhanced girls to store and play back their entire music collections from their 36DD assets...."flexible plastic electronics would sit inside the breast. A signal would be relayed to headphones, while the device would be controlled by Bluetooth using a panel on the wrist" Read the rest here.

No word on when the iWang will be available.

The Shape of Sound.

Check out Stephen Birkett's web page. He conducts some very interesting research and teaching on piano design and history at the University of Waterloo. You'll some rather nice mp3 clips on his website of Erard, Pleyel, and other historical pianos. Interesting stuff and it's all found right here. Follow the link on the LH side for "music" to hear the mp3's.

World's Largest Piano Lesson - Cont'd

The event continues the 16th of this month. Check out the website there are archived broadcasts, a chat group, and othe resources. Here's the program's details for the 16th.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 – 3 p.m. EST

Virtual ticketholders will participate in the worldwide internet broadcast of a 60 minute Webimentary™ including a multi-media experience. live performance and interactive question and answer with the live and on-line audience. Virtuoso pianist Richard Bosworth will instruct on three major works and perform the Chopin in its entirety.

Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in
E flat major, Op. 22 Frederic Chopin

Ballade in the form of variations on a Norwegian folk melody,
Op. 24 Edvard Grieg

Gaspard de la nuit Maurice Ravel

i. Ondine

ii. Le gibet

iii. Scarbo

More info here.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Woman Finds Handwritten Beethoven Score

This is simply stunning news:

"Heather Carbo, a no-nonsense librarian at an evangelical seminary outside Philadelphia, was cleaning out an archival cabinet one hot afternoon in July. It was a dirty and routine job. But there, on the bottom shelf, she stumbled across what may be one of the most important musicological finds in years. It was a working manuscript score for a piano version of Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge," a monument of classical music." Read the rest here.
It was a working manuscript score for a piano version of Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge," a monument of classical music.

The News from Poland 2

A few thoughts this morning on the Chopin competition.

The jury has completed it's second round of cuts and those still standing are:

Ann Soo-Jung - Korea
Piotr Banasik - Poland
Rafał Blechacz - Poland
Nicolas Bringuier - France
Chiao-Ying Chang -
Alexej Gorlatch - Ukraina
Hisako Kawamura - Japan
Yusuke Kikuchi - Japan
Ben Kim - USA
Szczepan Kończal - Poland
Jacek Kortus - Poland
Olga Kozlova - Russia
Rachel Kudo - USA
Ka Ling Colleen Lee - Hong Kong
Dmitri Levkovich - Canada
Dong Hyek Lim - Korea
Dong Min Lim - Korea
Marko Mustonen - Finland
Rieko Nezu - Japan
Miku Omine - Japan
Yuma Osaki - Japan
EstherPark - USA
Takashi Sato - Japan
Shohei Sekimoto - Japan
Yeol Eum Son - Korea
Gracjan Szymczak- Poland
Krzysztof Trzaskowski - Poland
Nobuyuki Tsuji - Japan
Sławomir Wilk - Poland
Ingolf Wunder - Austria
Takashi Yamamoto - Japan
Andrey Yaroshinskiy - Russia

I'm surprised at who didn't make the cut. Very surprised. For those with eyes to read, you can find more information in a small press bit from Radio Poland. The article is here. Scrolling down one finds the key graf:

"The biggest national contingents in the second round are from Japan - with nine pianists and Poland - with seven. Jury member Hiroko Nakamura from Japan, herself a prizewinner in the Warsaw competition forty years ago, is delighted with the success of her compatriots. She says that Polish pianists and music teachers have contributed to the great interest in Chopin's music in Japan."

Indeed! Things do look rather bright for Japan at this year's competition.

(I'd written a much longer post, but I realize now that it was just a bitter palliative).

Update: And then there's this from pianist/blogger and competition participant Lyudmila Chudinova:

"Warsaw Chopin Competition was an "impossible" competition in opinion of many participating there pianists. The Italian participant was beaten by Polish nationalists as a "nazi".Therefore, his back and shoulders were damaged and he played with mistakes.In fact, many pianists made mistakes due to the stage anxiety, not to the lack of preparation. Even such distinguished pianists as Elizabeth Schumann, Sean Kennard, and Nadia Shpachenko were eliminated. Many laureates of prestigious competition were eliminated before the first round.However, some not so distinguished pianists proceeded further, as a housewife from Finlandia that is competing "for fun". Link.

Worst. Competition. News. Ever.

The Silent Speaker: I am Dr. Brahms

Very nice post up at "Fuller Music" on the alleged wax cylinder recording of the great Brahms. Nice links to the audio clip and detailed analysis. Check it out, folks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Meet the Dulce Melos

I would love to own one of these jewels. It's one of the first keyboard instruments made. Check it out here.

The Last Nail in the Coffin

you decide. Details.

bye bye arts funding

"An advisory panel composed of over 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives has recommended ending all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The NEA is the federal government's chief source of funding for nonprofit theatre groups, dance companies, and arts presenters. The CPB is a major funder of noncommercial broadcast programming of the performing arts."


Today's Geek Alert for Musicians

If you got a paper cup, then you too can make a recording ala the retro cool "Edison Cylinder Plastic Cup Recording Device".

It's for real: "Use the same technology that Thomas Edison used, to record your own voice on a plastic cup -- and play it back! Replacing Edison's waxed pipe and stylus, the kit uses a plastic cup and a needle, but the end results are the same. "

And there's my personal fav, the Gakken Emile Berliner Gramophone Turntable:

"Simply place an old CD (AOL anyone?) on the gramophone, speak into the paper cup, and etch your record, which can then be played back on this (or another) Berliner Gramophone."

You can see the Edison in action here in this Quicktime .mov clip. That and more can be found on the awesome blog. It's today's blog pick.

Buy the gadgets here.

Why is this Man Singing Like Nina Simone?

You can find out if you attend his show at Carnegie Hall. The "he" being Anthony of "Anthony & the Johnsons" recipients of Mercury Music Prize. You can hear a bit of their music by following the link to their website.

I heard a bit this morning on NPR. (It's almost an invariable given that any "rock" or "indie" music review on NPR, ever on the demographic hunt, is delivered, imo, with the same awkward faux cool of your average undergraduate film course). Anyhow, before saying a word of commentary, just listening, it's the first thing that hits: A Nina Simone wannabe of sorts. Cut from the same recycle materials as Devendra Banhart (who I like alot more).

The "underground" background of the group seems strangely underscored in most articles/review. Perhaps just a tad too. Perhaps meant to provide some sort of waiver, a hall pass, for what it is touted as NTB (Next Big Thing). I wouldn't think of them as underground. Not at all. For all the hype, I find Anthony and the Johnsons to be a pleasant enough "act" of pastiche and cliche. But at the end of the day, the hook of novelty is not enough. I'd much rather listen to Nina Simone. It's much better.

Schiff Recital

If only more people knew it. Sigh.

"the piano is about much more than musical athleticism and noise." Read the rest.

You'll find an interview with Schiff here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is the Recording Industry Being Had?

Tim Lee thinks so and makes a persuasive case for ditching DRM in the increasingly robust world of online music sales. Read it here.

Piano Pedagogy Research

A new institute that will officially open it's doors this week at the University of Ottawa.

"The official inauguration of the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory will take place on October 14th 2005. The long-awaited ceremony will highlight the laboratory's current and future research objectives while celebrating the significant milestones in its brief history."

Very interesting study and research programs. Check it out.

Kobrin Interview

Some interesting observations from this year's Cliburn winner can be found here.


"Not surprisingly, the 25-year-old Russian has strong opinions about the contests that pit pianist against pianist as though music were just another form of athletic endeavor. "First of all," he said at the outset of an interview by phone last weekend from Fort Worth, "I must say that I hate competitions......"We have to do them," Kobrin said. "The situation now is that you have to win the competition, then you can get some career. You can find just a few big pianists who have a career without doing any competitions -- like (fellow Russian Evgeny) Kissin, for example. His case was exceptional because he came out of the political situation at that time."

I sometimes think competitions are doing more harm than good, but it's symptomatic of a much larger problem or condition.

Russian School

Does this ring right with you?

"Alexandre Dossin utilizes a Russian style of playing, which is based primarily on the quality of the sound rather than technique, form or thought. " Link.


Monday, October 10, 2005

A Journey with Jack

If it's not already caught your attention, take a trip "On the Overgrown Path" to read Pliable's latest essay/post! It's a fine introduction to pianist Carol Lian's new CD and the musical treasures of composer/pianist Jack Reilly.


"Jack Reilly's La-No-Tib Suite is a compact three movement bitonal work. The Suite packs quite a punch for such a compact work (a bit like Webern). A triplet figure followed by a dotted eighth dominate the work, the pianist is called on to improvise in two of the three parts, yet there is an underlying melodic and reflective quality that acts as an appealing counterpoint to the advanced musical language."

Cliburn Documentary

If you're looking for a reason to skip seeing the Cliburn documentary, you'll find it here.

Key line: "The 90-minute documentary directed by French filmmaker Andy Sommer is little more than sentimental puffery, a species of Texas-style boosterism rather than a penetrating look at the arts."


Carnival of Music # 18

Wow! This week's installment of the blogosphere's Carnival of Music has landed at HurdAudio. Devin has done a great job! All I can say is my fellow bloggers truly r o c k!

Head on over to HurdAudio to enjoy some tasty links.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Definitely for Your Eyes Only

To brigten up the morning with a little cheer, I couldn't resist sharing this bit. It's no doubt familiar to some and squarely falls in the category of ROTFLMAO. I love the instruction for the cattle on stage.

This would make a very cool poster!

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Fragments for piano

From my Feldman fueled period of madness.

(comp & perf Bart Collins).

Hindemith Folllow-Up

I hope this work is recorded and soon!

"Composed in four uninterrupted movements -- this is a concerto in name only -- the work skitters out of the gate with the first notes of the introduction and keeps accelerating unimpeded into the busy second movement. The effect is complex, vibrant and oddly jaunty; Hindemith, who played every instrument in the orchestra, gives each section something brilliant to do.

After the headlong rush of the opening movements, the seductive slow movement comes as something of a surprise. Over a backdrop of cellos and basses, the piano is joined by the English horn in a series of long, languid lines taken up by solo flute. The finale returns to the biting rhythms and quicksilver melodies of the introduction.

Fleisher was an ideal soloist for the work. Playing with a keen blend of force and precision, the pianist met the score's technical demands with complete assurance. It was impossible to escape the irony of his performance; Fleisher's career was sidelined by a right hand injury 40 years ago, and he's just begun to play two-handed works very recently." Read the rest here.

Death's Waiting Room

"An hour-long piece for clarinet, soprano, and piano, Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice has most often been described as a song cycle, but the press release for its performance in the American Songbook series called it an opera. As the opening night performance made clear, however, thanks to Doug Varone's choreography, what we really have here is a ballet. The strict definition would be the one used by Kurt Weill to describe his Seven Deadly Sins: "Ballett mit Gesang," a ballet with singing."

More here. Photos here.

More about the background of the composer and this work is here.

Interview with Gordon about the work.

ASCAP has a very nice audio portrait of Gordon. You can hear the composer's voice and music.