Thursday, May 25, 2006

Where to put an iPod

On a piano shaped table. Right?


A Piano in the Palm of Your Hand

Or something close to it.

I was intrigued by news that Samsung has applied for a patent to, more or less, transform a cellphone into a piano. According to reports:

"Samsung's idea is to use a small video projector, embedded in the phone, to project an image of a keyboard or drum skins onto a plain, flat surface." Link. You find the relevant bit about mid-page.

And a very different kind of piano phone is found here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Best Piano Album Cover

It's unfortunate that more people aren't hip to the early recordings by this duo. Why? Prepared pianos. Yes, it's true. More than just cheesy two piano arrangements, the early recordings by this duo featured "way-out" experiments with prepared pianos. Tip of the hat guys.

That's more like it!

Well almost.

A review of Philip Glass' new symphonie worth check out is found

On Top of Old Smokey

File this one under "Pianos in Strange Places". A rotting piano discovered on the top of Britain's highest mountain. Details.

Are Pianos A Threat to National Security?

Not if you ask piano tuner Benjamin Treuhaft. He's been traveling to Cuba to tune and rescue pianos for the past 10 years. He is also the founder of "Send a Piano to Havana". A recent news blurb on his work appears here and here.

Here's a link to his foundation.

He wanted to bring attention to an aspect of Cuban life that we don't consider: the countless young pianists, many of them incredibly well-trained, often by Russian masters, playing on pathetic antique American pianos with strings long since rusted through, or bad Russian pianos half-eaten by termites. As few new pianos are imported to Cuba, and replacement parts are unavailable, Cuba's musical community suffers.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Seeing the Harmonic Series

Today's web pick is a website that takes up Whitney's idea of animated graphic represetnations of musical materials, and gives it a "digital" twist. (Whitney is famous for his short films structured by harmonic relationships).

You may notice some interesting links between the visuals and the audio, especially if you are a musician. For example, when the pattern forms a 3-arm starfish, the chords you are hearing are diminished chords, which consist of minor thirds, an interval in which the notes are 3 chromatic steps apart. The chords you hear always bear this type of relationship to the pattern you are seeing, consisting of intervals which match the arrangement of arms.
more info here.

Visit the main experiment series here and play around with it.

It's all just a shade "Dr. Who".

hear a grand, there a grand, everywhere a grand

Who is the target market for this kind of stuff? Link.

I feel so lo-tech.

Jazz Great John Hicks is Dead at 64


Sad news.

Visit Hicks' website here.

Stealing Glen Gould

Or at least some doodles and personal items.

An American fan of Glenn Gould has been charged with stealing artifacts that once belonged to the famed Canadian pianist.
I wonder what mischievousness Gould would make of this?

It has had some doodles he made," Bazzana told the CBC's Nancy Westaway. "On one of them, he practised his signatures obsessively ... It says 'Glenn Gould' about twenty times on the page.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Beethoven's Hair Revisited

A company plans to turn some of Beethoven's hair into diamonds. According to the news reports, between 6 to 10 strands will be used to make three diamonds that will then be auctioned off. Details here.

I suppose it was inevitable. Beethoven's hair has had quite a remarkable history, as far as that sort of thing goes. Starting with a student cutting a lock of it from his corprse to , more recently, to scientific examination of it to determine illnesses and cause of death.

You can read more here about the Master's hair here (no pun intended). And there's even a film about Beethoven's hair that might interest you.

Sadly, there will be no diamonds for Sibelius fans. Just the music. Please.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Top Chef

I think I just found my new gym t-shirt. Check it out.

I am a fan of Bravo's "Top Chef" program/competition. And this just kicks it into overdrive for me.

And to think I would have settled for an oven mitt.

What Money Can Buy

A new piano concerto for one thing.

Lowell Liebermann's Piano Concerto No. 3 gets its debut this week. Thanks to a long haul to scrape up the money for it. Read about it here.

Most curious graf
"I hate to use the word 'accessible,' " Biegel said, "but the concerto is melodic and something you can grasp immediately. You can walk out of the hall singing the tunes, and you don't get that out of a lot of new music."

Must be a selling point.

The Ivory Coast

More and more I think of Texas as just that. I'm sure it's largely a consequence of Cliburn and company, but it seems to be on the most interesting places of pianophiles. Just ask the folks at SMU:

" Jeanne Roach Johnson, a Dallas private investor and Southern Methodist University business school graduate, has given $1 million to the piano program at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts. " Link

Very nice indeed.

as old as modern music itself

Elliott Carter.

a review of his recent work for piano.

And there he was on Friday night at Carnegie Hall, 97, standing to receive applause after the New York premiere of "Intermittences." Written last year for the pianist Peter Serkin, who performed it in his solo recital, the piece has more vim and vitality than plenty of music by composers a third of Mr. Carter's age.
More here.

And this
The work was typical Carter, arbitrary and interminable (although short). Honestly, any other note could have been substituted for any one of these and no one would have been disappointed. Was Mr. Serkin faithful to the score? Who knows? Mr. Carter was on hand for a nod to the crowd.


Lately, actually for good while now, I've been sorely disappointed with the Times (to say nothing of the Sun) in terms of the music criticism and reviews. More interesting writing I found in other places. Usually places far from New York.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Speaking of Kansas

This looks very tasty. An opera about that "axe-wielding saloon-smasher" of days gone-by: Ms. Carry A. Nation. Link.

Beethoven's Unknown Piano Concerto

And no we're not taking the piano version of the violin concerto, but rather Piano Concerto No. 0.

Pianist Kuerti has been busy working on a reconstruction of an early Beethoven piano concerto
he has been reconstructing a 6th piano concerto written by Beethoven at the age of 14, which only exists in a single-piano reduction.

If interested, you can find a midi file and some concise background on this work at one my favorite spots on the web for all things Beethoven: "The Unheard Beethoven Project" Link

Message to Dorothy

We're not in Kansas.

So says Jonathan Leaf in a promo note for an upcoming piano feast of sorts in New York City.

key graf

Saturday night, the handsome Norwegian wunderkind Leif Ove Andsnes pairs with pretty-boy English tenor Ian Bostridge—the most popular lieder singer in the world right now—performing songs by Beethoven and Schubert in the hall’s smaller and more intimate downstairs space, Zankel Hall. Think of it as blue-eyed soul without the close vocal harmonie.
Please, calm down Ms. Moneypenny.

That's got to be the most laugh out loud promo note I've read in a good long while.

And "blue-eyed" soul? Puhleeze. And perhaps "smaller" and "intimate" can be ran thru the super-secret hermeneutic decoder ring and rendered as "sans vocal heft"? Just wondering. Can you still be called a "wunderkind" in your mid 30's.?

then there is this:

Mitsuko Uchida, the world’s greatest player of Mozart, plays his sonatas.
Be still my heart.

I like the ending.

"No, we’re not in Kansas anymore—and thank goodness"

Do tell. I think someone needs to get out more often.

witness this

Eric Kuhn-Sahlen is going to try (again) to beat the Guinness record for continuous piano playing. Apparently he tried last time but "failed" because he didn't have a witness present for the whole time. You can read about it here and if you're in the area in early June maybe it's a good way to pass the time at 3am.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Brain Port

Totally off topic. But this seems kind of creepy.

The Steinway Out West

The Bay Area (california) Steinway Society has quite a line-up for next year. The must-see of the lot, in my opinion, is Sa Chen.

Details here.

Home to Oblivion

I wanted to get to this earlier, but it slipped thru the virtual cracks.

Chris O'Riley's Elliott Smith tribute album is pure goodness. You can find a fairly recent NPR interview with O'Riley here. And better yet, you can get your groove-on by picking up a copy of the CD. Info here.

Ashkenazy Down Under

Interesting write-up on pianist-turned-conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Conducting, says Ashkenazy, has enabled him to explore a repertoire far greater than that available to him solely as a pianist. "You can't complain about the piano repertoire - it's fantastic, there's far more written for it than there is for any other instrument - but the orchestral repertoire is probably even larger, or maybe just about the same, but there is so much variety.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Met Alex Ross, Got Wild, and Got a Life

Not really. I just couldn't resist riffing on the literary uproar du jour.

Anyhow, Music in a Suburban Scene has a post up on attending Alex Ross' recent talk in Seattle. And Ross has a post up in response to a request from a reader in Seattle. Any connection?


of young pianists to keep your eye on, I was happy to read that Stephen Beus (who served up a helluva good barn-burning Barber Sonata at last year's Van Cliburn) was awarded a hefty prize. He was named Max I. Allen Classical Fellow by the American Pianists Association. A $75,000 award. Very nice.

Details here.

a pianist to watch

Blogger and music reviewer Greg Stepanich identified a pianist worth keeping your eyes and ears on: 17 year old Jacek Kortus. Link.

Ebony and Ivy

Pianist Robert Blocker is the newly minted Dean at Yale. Details.

Taste Test

"Better a bit of cartoonish excess, however, than a middle-of-the-road performance."


This more or less confirms my belief that spectacle nowadays often trumps (and tropes) performance. It's rather sad really.