Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Britney, Beethoven, and a Dash of Inspiration

Ya don't say

"It's really a question about inspiration ... what is it that Beethoven sees in this 32 bars of nothing?" says Kaufman. "I always say it would be like if Philip Glass found a song by Britney Spears and decided to spend the next four years of his life studying and making variations on it."



Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

"Zoe wants to play piano. She really wants to play. She idolizes the late great Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz, fantasizes about being a child prodigy and dreams of headlining at Carnegie Hall. Instead, she plays the organ: a "wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag" that her well-intentioned but socially phobic and easily swayed father was talked into buying at the Rewind Used Music store."

Going straight to the WTB reading list. Details.

Chopin. Composer. Pianist. Bar.

Sounds like my kind of place

Devoted to the Franco-Polish composer, his music reverberates around the tiny bar while drinks and décor are devoted to the great man, too.

Cheers. Read the rest here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What He Said

Your cheery thought for the day:

"It i s easy to play any musical instrument. All you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself". - J.S. Bach

Friday, September 07, 2007

Une Femme Mariee: Glenn Gould's Secret

Not exactly what you'd call a "Henry Orient" story, but it is one that's most intriguing for fans of Glenn Gould.

Now, for the first time, we know that the intensely private Gould carried on an affair for five years, beginning in 1967, with a married German-American painter named Cornelia Foss. She left her husband Lukas, himself a prominent pianist and conductor, and moved her two children to Toronto at the height of the affair. A year before her move, Gould had asked her to marry him.


Piano in a Can

Mad props to "Piano Geek" for uncovering the most useless keyboard ever.

Piano Can

At least it is very colorful!

Back to School Quiz

September means a new school year. And for the classical blogosphere it kicks off with a new quiz from "Soho the Dog".

1. What's the best quotation of a piece of music within another piece of music?

Definitely the acidic handling of a Shostakovich's 7th in Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra".

2. Name the best classical crossover album ever made.

Wendy Carlos's Switched-On Bach.

3. Great piece with a terrible title.

Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum

4. If you had to choose: Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett?

Benjamin Britten. The "Scottish Ballade" alone seals the deal for me.

5. Who's your favorite spouse of a composer/performer? (Besides your own.)

"My father made me neurotic and my husband made me crazy"
- Wanda Toscanini Horowitz

6. Terrible piece with a great title?

Daugherty's "Le tombeau de Liberace"

7. What's the best use of a classical warhorse in a Hollywood movie?

Love the use of the Delibes' "Flower Duet" in Five Corners. Or how about Mahler in Herzog's "Lessons of Darkness"?

There are so many great films with effective use of classical music it's not really possible to pin it down to one.

8. Name the worst classical crossover album ever made.

Has Rufus Wainwright finished his "opera" yet? No? Then put me down for "Saturday Night Fiedler". Why? Four words: "Night on Disco Mountain". Nuf said.

9. If you had to choose: Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye?

Sam Cooke.

10. Name a creative type in a non-musical medium who would have been a great composer.

Gustave Flaubert.


For opera nerds: If you had to choose:
a) Lawrence Tibbett or Robert Merrill?
b) Amelita Galli-Curci or Lily Pons?

a) Robert Merrill
b) Lily Pons.

For early-music nerds: Name a completely and hopelessly historically uninformed recording that you nevertheless love.

Edwin Fischer's WTC.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bionic Pianist?

"Conceivably". Did it or didn't it?

Mind-controlled prosthetic arm plays the piano - CNN.com
This dexterity approaches that of a native arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. A person wearing a Proto 2 could conceivably play the piano.

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The Return of the Red Baron

Sir Elton's "Red Piano" show hits the road.

If any other 60-year-old musician put on a show as self-congratulatory as this, you'd guess they were about to retire. Not Elton John. He is inexhaustible.

Sir Elton John in concert with his (red) piano - Telegraph

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Very sad to learn this morning of his passing.

AFP: Opera great Pavarotti dead at 71

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007