Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Today's Blog Pick

Have you visited the “The Art Post”? It’s a beautiful blog, in text and image, devoted to the topics of art, ballet, and classical music. The person behind the pixels, Margarita, is a photographer who also runs a second blog. It’s today’s blog pick. Give it a visit.


Revenge of the Dorks

What can account for it the man asks? Uh, just that you’re probably listening to the wrong medium for cool.

When it comes to scoring a pop hit these days, dorks rule…[a] conga line of conservative artists has created what could be the most unhip surge on the pop charts since before the rise of rock `n' roll. What can account for this?”

Read the rest.

Kitsch, Jazz, and Freedom

A very interesting story about a N. Korean piano players love for jazz

"I heard Richard Clayderman's 'A Comme Amour' and was fascinated by it. This made me want to escape North Korea," Kim said....Clayderman, with his soft renditions of pop tunes, is occasionally derided for composing kitsch, but Kim said the first time he heard one of his recordings, it was an epiphany." Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jump Starting Classical Music in the Digital Age

Here’s some food for thought.

“What marks out classical downloading from pop-based genres is that classical music has so much more to gain. Digital technology is fast becoming the new vanguard in the fight for audiences” (Emphasis mine).

This is my basic belief as well and I’m very pleased to see classical musicians embrace it.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Here are some more interesting tidbits worth mulling over:

“Of all the musical genres that have benefited from the emergence of the digital music market, perhaps the most unexpected is classical. While classical music accounts for less then four per cent of CD sales, it makes up 12 per cent of downloads from Apple's iTunes Music Store. A genre that many thought was dying out has made a surprising revival.” Link.


“There are stirrings of a gold rush in the world of classical music, and it comes from an unexpected quarter: the web. In a market whose consumers have been written off as so doddering they have barely got over the loss of 78s, the statistics are striking.” Link


“While sales of classical CDs in the United States decreased by 15 percent last year, SoundScan reports, digital downloads of classical albums grew by 94 percent. More significant, several labels are finding that the classical share of the download music business is about 7 percent, more than twice the share in physical retail outlets.” Link.

Agree? Disagree?

Update: You might also check out this related post over on Noble Viola.

Curious improvisations

This is curiously provocative.

“The non-idiomatic improvisational genre is informed by John Cage's chance-operation compositions, the delicate dissonance of Anton Webern's music, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Sun Ra. Musicians play with no predetermined structure, unlike in free jazz, which still includes a melody at the beginning and end of a piece”

Read the rest of this interesting write up here.

More Piano Competition Stuff

Nice write up of pianist Alexander Kobrin, winner of last year’s Van Cliburn, is online. I agree with this sentiment: “An important new player has arrived..” Read the rest here.

Speaking of the Cliburn, there’s this news item.

Another Competition Post

If you're in NYC, you might be interested in paying a visit to the first round of the Honens International Piano Competition in New York City (other sites are Hamburg and Calgary. It's free and open to the public.

You can find more info here.

I don't know that it's one of the first to spring to mind when you think about piano competitions, but it's admirably ambitious. One thing of interest is the amount of collaborative work required. There is the usual concerto and chamber music, but also some accompanying for lieder.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not Sid and Nancy

Rather it's "Nancy and Randall". The website shows a short video clip each week of the Faber's (Nance and Randall) giving a piano lesson. They even have a forum setup on their website were visitors can discuss the piano video clips. The clips are in .ram format. Requires RealPlayer. Link. I was wondering who had the URL "".

Leeds Piano Competition

A couple of articles on the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition appeared. Both note the onslaught of applicants from China, with 30 having made the cut. More than any other country. Read more here and here.

Piano Pooch

If you're looking to kill a little time online playing a computer game. You might like, or be a little frustrated by Piano Pooch. A game designed in part to celebrate Chinese New Year (it's the year of the dog).

Check it out here.

Friday, March 24, 2006


A long and fine post on Bach over at "Frog Blog". Read it here.

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

So much explained in so little:

" "When I was a little boy, a Tom and Jerry' cartoon inspired me to want to become a pianist," he said. "Tom was playing the piano -- he was my first piano teacher -- and the piece he was playing was Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. That work has stayed with me all my life."


Too cute by half.

Chat and Muse

I've added a new chat feature to the Well-Tempered Blog. You'll find it in the sidebar next to the "GuestMap". It's more of a test drive for now. How long it will last? Hard to say.

Keep on Rollin'

Going straight to the WTB blog roll is Steve Hicken's mighty blog "Listen" . Steve is no stranger to readers of Sequenza 21. And kindly appreciated is his link to WTB. Give him a visit. And, if you're game, he has a fresh pair of piano nocturnes for the asking.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Rumor de Paramo and more

"Weblog de Musica" points the way to Manfred Waffender's music and film work. Links here and here. Also noteworthy Carme's post on Mexican writer Juan Rulfo, a post which has inspired me to re-read Rulfo's "El llano in llamas".

On the topic of Rulfo, here's a link to a very interesting project, spearheaded by pianist Ana Cervantes, that sets out to chart musical responses to Rulfo's literary achievement:

"Rumor de Páramo’s joining together of composers from the US, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Spain, to celebrate the creation of a seminal Latin-American writer, exemplifies continuing international exchange and cross-disciplinary sharing." A CD is in the works. This looks like a very exciting project. Check it out.!

Separate checks?

I generally don't like extended discussion or debate about money when the check arrives at dinner in a restaurant, and if I even see someone break out a calculator, especially to figure out the tip, I go bonkers. I will gladly pay the tip and then some just so everyone else shuts up.

So I must say this scares me.

Looking for a Fugue

Then head this way. Especially if you're in Alaska.

Airwaves: Women's History

Devin Hurd has been doing some fine posts over on his blog to mark "Women's History Month". Be sure to catch this one.

At the Improv

The inimitable force behind "Music in A Suburban Scene" has up a new clip of him improvising at the piano. I like it. Nice bite and angular jabs. Hmmm.. A sneak preview of the music for "spam"?
Check it out here.

Musical Chairs: Job Info

Today's web tip: Musical Chairs.

This site (in Spanish, English, German, Italian, and French) bills itself as the world's best source for classical music jobs. Here's one pages devoted to piano related gigs in Europe and Asia.

I'm adding it to the WTB list of Music and Arts sites. Give 'em a visit.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Fans of Philip Glass take note, pianist Bruce Levingston serves up a new work by Glass on the 22nd (Wed). Read about it and more here.

Non-western music, a tape recorder and the modular synthesizer. All part of the origins of Minimalism, or so says John Adams in this brief write-up on the Minimalism festival at Disney Hall. But what, at the end of day, is minimalism? No, really.

Music That Warms the Heart

The first day of spring, but a few winter thoughts and sounds can't hurt.

I got a big smile out of a news article about a Swedish Orchestra performing on instruments made entirely of ice. Yes, that's right, I said ice. Strings and woodwinds. Perhaps that be should "icewinds". At anyrate, the performance ran into difficulties when the flute started to melt. Read about it here.

Some pictures of the ice instruments and an audio clip are found here. Amazing.

And if that's not far out enough for you. Here is a link to an attempt to record the sound of ice melting. The 70's. Nuff said.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

At the Mets

Just because I've got spring fever. Link.

At the Movies

I love it. Link.

About competitions

So it crosses my mind that piano competitions would be a lot more interesting if they were, say, just a little more like Iron Chef. Tonight's secret ingredient: Neapolitan Sixths.

Yea !

Blogger is back online ! Woo-hooo!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Speaking of Competitions

Here's an encouraging piece of advice from pianist and Cliburn winner Jon Nakamatsu:

"Part of the advice I tell young competition winners is you basically need to use the post-competition period riding the wave," he said. "Then you spend the next period trying to find your own wave. You need to be invited back because of who you are, not because of the medal you won."

Sage advice! Read the rest here.

Competition Note

Dmitri Levkovich was named winner of this year's Hilton Head International Piano Competition. You'll find more information here (HHIPC website) and here, is often a step to larger prizes, and so hopefully we'll hear more of Levokovich.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Music of E-mail

Amusing. And, hey, it sort of flows with the Antheil post.

The sound of email being processed: "Spam volume is represented by the violin and percussion gives the overall server load. The harp represents the 10 to 15 per cent of e-mail that is genuine and is delivered as it should be." Read all about it here. You can have a listen to this music here. In case you were wondering, SMTP response code is represented in this scheme by the piano.


I was taken aback by news that Yanni had been arrested. Details.

16 Pianos, 0 Pianists

This is my kind of event. Seriously.

"It's a concert without musicians when 16 baby grand player-pianos accompanied by a variety of drums, bells, xylophones and a siren perform American composer George Antheil's "Ballet Mecanique," or Mechanical Ballet." Read the rest.

One point that caught my idea: "One difficulty in realizing Antheil's dreams, according to Lehrman, is that his instructions seem to call for piano-playing as fast as 152 beats a minute, but even today's technology has only been able to reach 138 beats. Human pianists can only do about 120.."

And that reminds me to mention that Liberace was billed in Ripley's "Believe it or Not" as the world's fastest pianist? Personally I find that less impressive than his role as a villain on the old Batman series. Details here. Liberace. Cross-over star?!

Back to Antheil. If you can't make the concert, check out this page devoted to the "Ballet Mecanique".

Friday, March 10, 2006

Seeing Red

Seems there are loads of "famous pianos" up for auction these days. Bobby Short's and now Elton John (Sir Elton) is auctioning off his famed "red piano" (nicknamed "Fiona") on the eBay website. The money will be donated to an AIDS charity. Details and more are found here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Today's Web Pick

Today's pick probably needs little introduction to the digerati among classical music lovers. It's "Classic Cat" and it's a gold mine of links and information about about the world of classical music. I'm honored to be one of their blogs listed in their directory. It's a fine web destination. Give 'em a visit.


A bit of a mess

Update: Enough of that. I moved the stickam media bar to the rh sidebar. We'll see how it goes.

OK. If you're wondering what the heck is happening here, it's an experiment. I've used "Castpost" before and now I'm trying "Stickam". Both provide you with a clip of yours truly playing a sliver of Bach on the clavichord. The same clip. The problem I've had with Castpost is if you browse away from the page and come back, it reloads and re-plays the audio file. The result is annoying. Stickam doesn't have this problem. But I find the interface (GUI?) a little akward. But I'm leaning towards sticking with Stickam (no pun intended). Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Cat Piano

The famous (or infamous) "cat piano":

"In order to raise the spirits of an Italian prince burdened by the cares of his position, a musician created for him a cat piano. The musician selected cats whose natural voices were at different pitches and arranged them in cages side by side, so that when a key on the piano was depressed, a mechanism drove a sharp spike into the appropriate cat’s tail."

more here.

Competition Note

The Hilton Head International Piano Competition is underway. Details here. Bosendorfer is the official piano for the competition.

Alas there's apparently no webcast.

Katrina's Piano Fund

A Website for a group aiming "to get instruments and musical equipment into the hands of New Orleans musicians and technicians who have lost everything." You'll find it here.

greatest living composer or alienating ogre?

It is odd, even spooky, the ways things intersect at times.

Just last night I was listening to Elliot Carter's "Variations for Orchestra", a wonderful work, and thinking about how much I experienced it as a work suffused with light.

Today I come across an interesting article on Carter's music. It's actually a discussion about Carter's music and, more generally, contemporary music. Key graf:

"It's sometimes easier for a person who's musically naive to open up to new music. Another part of it is that any music that's in flux is going to be difficult for listeners who are used to themes that are repeated or modified in ways that are recognizable. What Carter does is create textures that are ongoing for a certain amount of time, and there is never the kind of repetition that can be called thematic. That makes it hard. So if you're listening for that, you're going against the grain of the music, and that makes the music cognitively dissonant." (bold emphasis mine) Read the rest here.

This reminds of me of some provocative thoughts over on "Music in a Suburban Scene" (a fine blog that I enjoy reading): "If the listener can not recognize something in the music, if the pattern can not be deciphered auditorily (since the medium of music is sound, not images), then it is failing to give the listener much intellectual material to work with, aside from pure sonic material."(bold mine) Read the rest here.

Repetition. Patterns. Representation. These are the terms that I keep coming back to in thinking about music. Why? Because I don't think there is anyway to make sense of aesthetic experience (musical or otherwise) without first grappling with the hard-nosed problems of epistemology. Struggling with the way in which aesthetic experience is represented and displaced in the machinations of understanding and judgment.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


FullerMusic has a tasty link to some very nice treasures at WGBH. Check it out.

Today's Blog Pick

Regular readers already know that I'm a fan of Antonio Bricio-Hernández's blog "punctus contra punctus". It regular features interesting music commentary and examples. media rich with sounds, fotos, and more. For those suffering monolingualism, this fine blog has now gone bilingual. You'll find posts in both English and Spanish. It's a must click adventure. Scroll down on the page to find a video clip of Antonio at the keyboard. Find it all here.


Yes, yes, it's old news now to most people. But I only heard about it today. Julliard is set to receive a very nice set of manuscripts. Details. And a new reading room to boot.