Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley has died at age 82. The force of his ideas will no doubt continue to spur debate, but there is little for disagreement about his passion for music, in particular his passion for the harpsichord.

Many of the obits appearing in the new today repeat the notion that Buckley took up the harpsichord in 50's. But, in fact, Buckley actually began exploring the world of plucked instruments in college. His first interest in the clavichord.

An interesting interview with Buckley via WNYC Radio that ranges across such topics as harpsichords, Wanda Landowska, and Elvis Presley. It's well worth the read.

You'll find it here.

Buckley: I think Bach would have composed for any instrument that accomplished anything singular and although much of what was written for the harpsichord I would just as soon hear on the piano; nevertheless there's some pieces in my judgment which only really come alive in the harpsichord. It's also inconceivable to me that he would scorn what a piano uniquely gives you. So I think he would have been enormously excited to hear his own compositions played on the piano.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Christopher O'Riley

Interesting interview with pianist Christopher O'Riley on classical music and pop. And, yes, why did it take him so long to hear of Nick Drake. C'Mon...

O'Riley is still astonished that it took him so long to discover Drake's music, which was recorded in the early 1970s before his death.''It was a lightning-bolt moment,'' says O'Riley, recalling the first Drake song he heard ''five or six years ago'' while dining at the Three Muses in Minneapolis."

Read the rest here.

Palm Beach Atlantic International Piano Festival

The Palm Beach Atlantic International Piano Festival gets under way this week.

"The program, run by the Fondation Bell'Arte in Belgium, focuses on pianists who are embarking on their careers.The nine-month program is unique in that students and teachers from around the globe meet periodically at venues in various countries rather than congregating in one place. Only 10 to 12 students are accepted each year."

Check it out.

amores perros: dogs and music

"All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog." - Kafka

Do dogs listen to music? I think so.

My dog often curls up beside the piano while I practice. I like to believe this is because he love music. (interesting aside: he doesn't care for Liszt). And maybe I'm right.

According to recent news report:

"Concert pianist Lisa Spector noticed that, when she practiced her piano, her rambunctious dog calmed down."

Spector's observation sparked a study by sound researcher and a veterinary neurologist, that found"

".. when slow, simple classical music was played for shelter dogs, more than 70 percent became noticeably calmer."

Read the rest here. Check out the website "Through a Dog's Ear" to find samples of music dogs love.

And it's reported that a dog training centre in the UK treats their pooches to classical radio broadcasts:

"They seem to respond to the classical music best so we leave it on for them whenever we can." Read the rest here

Of course one of the greatest dogs lovers was Glenn Gould. A very interesting article about Glenn Gould and dogs ("Glenn Gould in the Key of Woof") is well-worth a read.

Some interesting bits:

" By the age of 12, Gould’s preference for animal companionship found further artistic expression in the composition of a libretto in which the dominance of the human race was supplanted by an empire of animals. “In Act I,” he recalled, “the entire human population was to be wiped out and in Act II they were to be replaced by a superior breed of frogs.” (These for whom he had even composed a few bars of a chorus in the key of E major, despite an admitted “casting problem.”)"

and this

" Toward the end of his life, he talked often about his dream to buy land on Manitoulin Island on northern Lake Huron where he could establish an animal sanctuary. According to Ray Roberts, it was Gould’s idea of an “ideal existence. ... The ‘Puppy Farm’ was his vision of a place where all lost, stray and sick animals would be welcome.”

It was not to be. Two days after his fiftieth birthday in 1982, Glenn Gould suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. He died a week later on October 4, the saint’s day of Francis of Assisi, patron of animals and animal welfare societies. Gould had bequeathed his considerable estate in equal portions to the Salvation Army and the Toronto Humane Society.

Read the rest here

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Alfred Brendel - Good Bye

Some months back I mentioned on this blog his retirement. The mainstream media now has some stories up on his final tour.

Loved as he is, it's hard to argue with this kind of clear headed reasoning:
"When asked why he's chosen this year to stop playing publicly, he answers, "Because I am in good shape and I don't want to stop when it's too late," then adds a touch of black humor: "I feel like I should not wait until I disintegrate." Turning more reflective, he adds a final thought: "And I feel that 60 years was . . . sufficient."
Read the rest here. He'll be missed.

More reads here and here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hopkins says Not True

I suppose it was too good to hope for... all that juicy blogging gone.

Anthony Hopkins has dispelled rumours he is to embark on a world tour as a concert pianist, despite reports to the contrary..

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


"But how many pianists alive are so willing to risk so much, to think aloud, to feel their way so openly and generously - even at the cost of wrong turnings? Barenboim can rush passages, fumble notes, blur intricacies and even, on occasion, depart from the score - though he can also draw gasps at the fastest, lightest pianissimo fugal dexterity you could hope to hear. But so what? He moved the audience onto another plane where they stopped thinking about technique, or mere pianism, and came face to face with the music, with Beethoven himself."

Read the rest here.

I wish there were more pianists of that mold. It is a is bracing relief from consumptive theatrics of some of today's younger pianists.

The Glenn Gould Prize - Jose Antonio Abreu

Well deserved award!

Abreu is the father of "El Sistema," a national music-education system focused on developing the talents of mostly impoverished children in every part of Venezuela. The program is directly responsible for the international prominence of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, which Abreu founded in 1975, and of its 27-year-old conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, who was recently appointed incoming music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Several other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe are developing programs based on El Sistema.

Read the rest here.

Glenn Gould: All You Can Eat

Could the news be any sweeter for lovers of Gould's piano playing?

"Sony Classical recently issued "Glenn Gould: The Complete Original Jacket Collection," an 80-CD, limited edition boxed set of all the studio recordings the pianist made for Columbia and CBS Masterworks"

more here.

You'll find it for the buying on

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You're not just driving it, You're playing

An orchestra made entirely of car parts!


Dilettante Delight

If you haven't already treated yourself to it, surf on over check out "Dilettante" a remarkable new site for classical music lovers. Social networking. Webcasting.

You find it all here.

A great write up on the site can be found on the Times website here.

Check it out!


You just knew that this was inevitable.