Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holiday!

Happy Holidays and New Year's

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Marcel Duchamp and John Cage

New gould Film

I've not seen it yet, but this does look interesting.
Genius Within finds many witnesses to Gould's offbeat personality -- his inner life -- and illustrates them with intriguing footage of the man himself. The result is a portrait both well-trod and new of a visionary musician whose torments were both real and manufactured. As Kingwell says, he was only at home when he was playing music.


Equally of interest is an interview with Christopher Foss:

Mr. Foss, now 52, was 9 at the time his mother left his father, the famous pianist and composer Lukas Foss. Ms. Foss moved to Toronto with her two children in 1968 and stayed for almost five years to be with Mr. Gould before returning to her husband.
 Read the rest here.

The Fluid Piano

Now this I want...

Geoff Smith believes he has come up with the first multicultural acoustic piano – what he has trademarked as a fluid piano – which allows players to alter the tuning of notes either before or during a performance. Instead of a pianist having a fixed sound, 88 notes from 88 keys, Smith's piano has sliders allowing them access to the different scales that you get in, for example, Indian and Iranian music. For good measure, Smith has included a horizontal harp.


Check out it out -- video and details all found here. Or check out the video below the jump.

David Brubek

Break out the birthday cake for Dave Brubeck.


Born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920, David Warren Brubeck seems to have entered the
world with music in his blood. The Brubeck family also produced two more professional musicians, Brubeck’s two elder brothers. Young Dave took to the keys at an early age, taught by his mother who had studied classical piano in England.

20 questions with Pianist David Fray

Check out Playbill's game of 20 questions with pianist David Fray.

Most intriguing.. for my money is no 5

" 5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s): A: Ernst Krenek...

Regalado José

RIP. Noted pianist and pedagogue Regalado José passed away.

The AT&T piano....

Sad really...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday Tubes

From Albeniz's opera "Merlin"

Surf's Up

Some recent additions to WTB's list of favorites. Each of them offers music lovers loads of good things:

Svensk Musik / Swedish Music Information Centre

A special shout out for ICSM's "World New Muisc Day". Three Swedish cities 2009's World Music Days "an international festival focusing on contemporary music and sound art." The theme for this year is “Listen to the world”. Extra points for having a visually appealing splash page with a boxer on it. Point your peepers here: Link

And living up to it's motto of "A Life with music would be a mistake" is the Red Iberoamericana de Músicos / Iberoamerican Musicians Network. Noteworthy are the various piano-four hands arrangements found on the site here. The site also features a lively forum. Monolinguals take note: the site is in Spanish only.

Need to know what's "buzzing" in the classical blogosphere? Check out "Classical Music Buzz".

Happy surfing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Update:  testing a new blogging tool (a java based client). You can try it for yourself, if that sort of thing suits your inner geek, via Google's "Summer of Code ". Link

And Back Again

Another summer holiday comes to an end. Regular blogging to resume.

stay tuned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

 Richard Wagner’s Siegfried opera gets a jaw-dropping modern makeover with over 5 hours of video played through 14 simultaneous projectors; it debuted June 2008 in Valencia, Spain

forget counting sheep on Orchard Road.

SIEGFRIED from Martin Inda on Vimeo.

Meet the Dog

This is Albert. He's adorable. And he knows it.

adverse camber

Still cracks me up.

Leo Sayer

Oh yea!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

who killed mozart

Or rather what?

Now a group of Dutch researchers has suggested that he died from a bacterial infection spread by soldiers which was rife in Vienna at the time.

Given his symptoms this sounds very likely to be the case.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our Man In the Ballpark

Now here's something you don't read on the sports page everyday:

"In the coda of the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, composer Johann Sebastian Bach repeats the same chord sequence over and over again, leading the listener to anticipate one resolution, only to provide a tone completely different.

The only tones emanating from Nationals Park in the top of the first inning Sunday afternoon were the faded drones of an audience that had heard this composition too many times this season — game begins, visiting team assumes a lead, game ends in dreadful fashion. Arizona leadoff batter Trent Oeltjen looped a home run into the Washington bullpen in right field on the day’s third pitch, and the familiar chord sequence began."

via the Columbia Journalism Review.

musical cartography

Q:  Which U.S. state is most like a piano? A: Ohio.

Or so says one mapmaker --and it's not just because it has 88 counties.

I do like this:
A new form of paranoia arises, in which you think that all songs are actually maps. Even that burst of bird song that you hear in the alley behind your house at 3am is, you conclude, an unacknowledged spy's cartography, full of secrets to those who can decode it.

Move over Da Vinci Code and make room for the Ohio Code. 

Check it out folks

Music Map of Ohio

Too Much, Too Litte, Too Late

re: the NYT op-ed on piano competition

I didn't find the read as "explosive" as Jessica, but it is a starting point for further reflection/conversation. More about it later. But for now check it out. More importantly, what do you think?


it's raining men ... at the mostly mozart fest

so says the ArtsJournal blog. link.

the other mozart

Meet the Mozart Media player. Maybe not as perfect as the composer himself, but i want one... cheese factor alone scores big points (and, yo, what' up with the hair on those dudes in the ad).

point, click, enjoy

mozart and perfection and everything you never wanted to know

Please. Please don't feed the trolls. 

Is Mozart perfect?


and then there's this

A 77-year-old piano that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and has become a symbol for peace is heading to New York next year as the city marks the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
When the United States dropped the bomb on the Japanese city on August 6, 1945, the Yamaha upright piano was in the blast radius. It still retains very low levels of radiation and shards of glass are forever embedded in the black lacquer.


e la nave va

Not what Beethoven Had in Mind

 So not helping

The continuous wars between Arabs and Jews has moved from the battlefield to the symphony hall, as Jews in the Galilee, fed up with boisterous street parties after Arab weddings, counterattacked by turning up the volume of Beethoven and Mozart. Injuries have been limited to headaches.


Friday, August 07, 2009

The Morning Tube

Van Cliburn YouTube Competition

Here's something that might be of interesting to quite few folks. The always enterprising folks at the Cliburn foundation have launched the 2nd YouTube Contest for Amateur Pianists.

The YouTube Contest is open to any classical pianist who does not derive a significant portion of his/her income from performance, composition, and/or piano instruction and is at least thirty-five years old. The winner may not have won any previous Cliburn competitions.

Sounds like great fun!

Rules and Details here.

Here's the Cliburn YouTube Page.

There is plenty on both sites to keep you busy thru your midmorning coffee break :)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

So you want to work in a piano store

I did enjoy this quote from a novel published in 1887

"He had no particular aptitude for trade, and that by which he lived (he had entered upon it thirty years ago rather by accident than choice) was thoroughly distasteful to him. As a dealer in pianofortes, he came into contact with a class of people who inspired him with a savage contempt, and of late years his business had suffered considerably from the competition of tradesmen who knew nothing of such conflicts between sentiment and interest. A majority of his customers obtained their pianos on the "hire-purchase system," and oftener than not, they were persons of very small or very precarious income, who, rabid in the pursuit of gentility signed agreements they had little chance of fulfilling; when in pecuniary straits, they either raised money upon the instruments, or allowed them to fall into the hands of distraining creditors. Inquiry into the cirumstances of a would-be customer sometimes had ludicrous results; a newly-married couple, for instance, would be found tenanting two top-floor rooms, the furnishing whereof seemd to them imcomplete without the piano of which their friends and relatives boasted. Not a few professional swindlers came to the office; confederate rogues, vouching for each other's respectability, got possession of pianos merely to pawn or sell them, having paid no more than the first month's charge. It was Mr. Lord's experience that year by year the recklessness of the vulgar became more glaring, and deliberate fraud more artful."

via "Iron Tongue of Midnight".

One for the Hippy in All of Us

This pretty much cracks me up:

On Sunday, classical music lovers and Deadheads will unite when conductor Marin Alsop leads the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in the fourth live performance of Dead Symphony no. 6, the cornerstone of a concert commemorating the 14th anniversary of Garcia's death. The 12-movement work, which features improvisation and in-jokes such as a reference to the Dead's favorite warm-up song, the Italian ditty "Funiculì, Funiculà," will be performed alongside Australian composer Matthew Hindson's techno music-inspired Rave-Elation (Schindowski Mix). The concert will be followed by a discussion with Johnson, longtime Dead publicist and biographer Dennis McNally and David Gans, host of the nationally syndicated "Grateful Dead Hour" radio show

I really want to hear the Dead Symphony.

Piano Lesson via Skype

Jeffrey Biegel has discovered distance learning with the help of skype.

My own take is that at best this is an excellent tool that can be used within certain limits -technical and musical. My sense is that the art of teaching (and learning) one-on-one in the studio is still best. The communication (spoken and unspoken), immediacy, and the entire practicable field of perception is much greater. What say you? Still it has a place -and can be an important tool.



Jack Wright points the way to an interesting angle to the recent story of the fake bomber who turned up at La Guardia airport. He reportedly is a talent classical pianist.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cleveland International Piano Competition - Updates

I hear loads of of good things -and I'm not surprised- about pianist Dmitri Levkovich, and by all accounts he is doing rather nicely at the Cleveland competition. Details and more on him and the others can be found here.

Lekovich won the Iturbi earlier and you should check out his facebook page. Deets.

Gould in Love

Gould fans can look forward to Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould  a new  a new film by Peter Raymont and Michele Hoze that's showing at the Toronto film festival. I hope to see this one. It sounds like an interesting flick.

"People think of him as this weird, reclusive, paranoid person. In part, he was that, but he was also a very normal person and a very loving person ... he had a healthy sex life," Raymont said at yesterday's packed TIFF announcement at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, which drew dozens of Canadian filmmakers.


More on the recently discovered piano works

Last sunday a performance of the 2 new works by a very young Mozart was given. You can now hear them for yourself online -- a short composition and what is believed to be a 1st movement of a harpsichord concerto.

Details and audio clips found here.

scroll to the bottom for the clips.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Interstices: Christopher O'Riley Interview

This is definitely worth having a listen to: an interview (including performances) with pianist Christopher O'Riley exploring his "transcriptions" of rock and pop music.

O'Riley is certainly one of the most interesting and enterprising of pianists about. He hosts the enormously popular "From the Top" classical showcase for young talen on Public Radio and is one of the few classical musicians you might legitimately describe as having "cross-over" appeal to pop music lovers (his transcriptions  of Radiohead, Nirvana, and Nick Drake are phenom).

Link to Interview. 

His website (including blog and loads of rich media) is found here. Chris and noir... That sounds about right :)

New Piano Competition in the Works

The Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Orchestra are joining forces to launch a competition for young performers. This is looks promising and gets underway next year with a competition piano performer. 2011 it will follow with a violin competition.

"The top three competitors will also be awarded full four-year scholarships to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, pending admission, valued at more than $100,000 each. In addition to prize money, the first-prize winner will receive concert engagements with orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai, China."

Nice!  Details are more are found here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kitten on the Keys? Not.

Does Fanny Waterman know about this? I wonder...The playing's got something going for it in that Galina Ustvolskaya kind of way :)

and speaking of Mozart

Check out this article on the Keyed Glockenspiel --photos and audio clips included. Link

And The Hits Keeping on Coming: New Works by Mozart Discovered

Precious little is known about them. The details will be announced next month on August 2nd when they receive a"premiere" on Mozart's own pianoforte courtesy of the International Mozarteum Foundation.

More here.

Close Encounters of the BBC Kind

The Proms poster does remind me of a scene straight out of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".  Classical music lovers, the mother ship awaits you.

update: now that I think about it, the must from the film isn't too shabby at all. Link.

Back from Holiday

I had a fantastic time in the UK.. .Sites, sounds, and ales. Enjoyed a proms concert. Encamped just a stone throw or two  from Wigmore Hall, Steinway Hall, and some great pubs.  I do look forward to the next trip, but it's good to be home again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Punctum: Brahms Sunny Side Up

I was captivated by a post at the AllMusic blog on the  "The Semiotics of Classical LP Cover Art (ca. 1970), or, When Things Started to Get Fun". Don't worry you won't need to dust off your Roland Barthes to enjoy this one.. The album covers alone merit a visit. It's your must click mission for the day.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pianos and Automobiles

So if you're an auto maker and your company has reach it's 100th year, how to celebrate? By making a piano. That's what the folks at Audi are apparently up to. And I like it!  Check it out. Deets.

Gilmore Festial

Jazzy Jams?

Sounds like good fun. Link.

Speaking of Beautiful Pianos

Check out Tinkertunes. You'll find some beautiful pianos enjoying their retirement from the concert hall/practice room as elegant furniture. I especially like the opera house desk.


Ravel Writes a Letter

This post over at gave me a good chuckle. It's a bit of imagined advice from Ravel to Rufus Wainwright (who really isn't my cup of tea -in fact just hearing him sends me fleeing from a room. It's that voice and wall of sameness does me in. Your own mileage may vary).

"Might I remind you to please not be overly influenced by Philip Glass, and his habit of getting “stuck” in one register when composing for the keyboard. Look at the piano music I have written and especially Claude’s brilliant Preludes. In fact, I encourage you to set aside some time to compose your own set of preludes, much like Billy Joel did."

Read the rest here

Thursday Morning Bloggy Goodness

Check out Linda's Pianoblog for beautiful photos of some beautiful pianos.

It's your "must click" mission for the morning coffee break.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Out of his Hands and into My Ears

Or something like that...Anyhow, I was delighted to receieve a note a from White Tie Records announcing the August 18th release of a new album from pianist Christopher O'Riley. Yay!

From the release:

"Also included on the new album are “Mother” by Tori Amos; Elliot Smith’s “New Disaster;” Portishead’s “The Rip;” “Us and Them” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; “Woman In Chains” by Tears for Fears; “Blue Bell Knoll” by the Cocteau Twins; “World Leader Pretend” from R.E.M.; “Asleep”  by The Smiths; Reid Anderson’s “Lost of Love” and returning to Radiohead, from In Rainbows, “All I Need” and “Video Tape.” In his fascinating booklet notes, Christopher O’Riley describes the songs through a Classical lens, noting the Debussian fifths in “All I Need,” the Glassian arpeggiations on “Blue Bell Knoll,” the Schubertian focus on “Asleep” and the operatic duet in “Woman in Chains,” along with making musical comparisons to Sibelius, Chopin, Messiaen and Scriabin – all providing enlightening insight into his inimitable craft"

This is one to look forward to folks!

Be sure to point/click your way over to O'Riley's website. link.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

e-Piano Competition: Food for Thought

Interesting interview with Alexander Braginsky who is the artistic director/president of the Minnesota Internation e-Piano Competition. And here's something that stands out:

What I’ve learned, because amid the musicians, a specific and cynical point of view has been established: If a certain person is not present on the jury, then you won’t win. Once, at the Tchaikovsky contest, all six finalists were students of the members of the jury. ... The first thing I did, I forbade the students of members of the jury from taking part in the contest. The next restriction was that the performer could not be a student of a judge in the last five years. Also, relatives of the jury could not take part in the competition under any circumstance. And students of the artistic director also. ... which is why I, the artistic director, excluded myself from the voting process. The only thing I have to do is break a tie.

Now if only more competitions did the same!

Read the rest here

Friday, July 03, 2009

Concerto for Toy Piano

Check out, Matthew McConnell's delightful "Concerto for Toy Piano" perform by pianist (and composer) Keith Kirchoff.

and after that point your peepers to Kirchoff's own website, where among other things you can buy a dvd of the full performance of the toy piano concerto. Also take note of upcoming performances with cellist Nick Alvarez in music of Leo Ornstein.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

e-piano competition

The extraordinary e-piano competition is underway. Here's a link to the website. Link.

Loads of interesting things to found on the competition's webpage, including a user forum for discussion (though at the moment it's sort of overpopulated with spam for viagra and such).

More thoughts on this event to come.

Check it out.

history lesson

Some relationships really do have simple answers....

Fashion Bug Alert

a little something something for your next recital. I don't actually buy this stuff, I'm just fascinated with the whole "wearing your instrument thing"... Not judging... Just sayin'...Deets

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Morning Fray

Now this makes me very happy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

just in time for the 4th of July

comes this patriotic piano from Baldwin. read more about it here. note all that patriotic piano beauty will set you back about 15 grand...On closer inspection is looks a lot like a piano you might find on a london street corner. Just sayin....

Bringing out the Susan Boyle in All of Us

The London street pianos.  Interesting articles with more detail about the workings of the project and the reaction of folks to the pianos plunked down about the city. Link and link

Here's the website for the project. You can "book" a piano for event, have a look at photos of the pianos, and more. Link.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Opera in the Works!

Now that sounds just about right:

Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, the Queen's Master of Music, has announced that he is writing a comic opera about the MPs' expenses scandal. "Who knows, the set may have a few duck houses and moats in it," he said. "I may even invite a few MPs to the opening night. They will of course want free tickets, but be able to claim them on expenses for some fictitious fee." 


Street Pianos

I so want this in my town. Looks like good fun.

Mover Over "Guitar Hero"

Not sure what to make of this news:

Game Life announced today that this November they will be releasing Easy Piano for the DS. The game comes with a mini-piano accessory (exactly how mini isn’t mentioned) that will plug into the DS, giving the player their very own tiny keyboard to learn with.


world's oldest musical instrument

35,000 year old instrument found. A flute.  What's most surprising isn't the flute. It's the beer drinking.

The wing bone of a griffon vulture with five precisely drilled holes in it is the oldest known musical instrument, a 35,000-year-old relic of an early human society that drank beer, played flute and drums and danced around the campfire on cold winter evenings, researchers said Wednesday

Sounds like early man would fit right in at a frat party.


But this is what most struck me:

The presence of music did not directly produce a more effective subsistence economy and greater reproductive success, he concluded, but it seems to have contributed to improved social cohesion and new forms of communication, which indirectly contributed to demographic expansion of modern humans to the detriment of the culturally more conservative Neanderthals.

What leads one to suspect that music "seems to have contributed to improved social cohesion..." This the part where I shake my head and harbor dark suspicions that a good chunk of archeology consists of digging around in the dirt and making up good stories...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

j'adorable: otter plays keyboard

Iturbi Prize Winners

The winners of the week-long piano competition
$50,000 First Prize -      Dmitri Levkovich,(Facebook link) 29, Ukraine
$25,000 Second Prize -     Goran Filipec, 27, Croatia
$15,000 Third Prize -      Alexey Kudryashov, 20, Russia
$3,000 Spanish Prize -     Dmitri Levkovich, 29, Ukraine
$3,000 American Prize -    Alexey Kudryashov, 20, Russia
$3,000 President's Prize - Vladimir Khomayakov, 24, Russia
$3,000 People's Choice -   Vladimir Khomayakov, 24, Russia

Congratulations to one and all!
Hopefully next time around we can hear it online!
Levkovich has a string of prizes and concerts.
A performer to keep your eyes and ears on for sure!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

happy birthday stravinsky

Today is Igor Stravinsky birthday.. Celebrate by listening to some of his music. To kick things off here's vid of Fazil Say playing piano four hand arrangement of "The Rite of Spring"  with a specially adapted Bose concert grand.

And here's Igor in his birthday suit.

Mad Men of Another Sort

Actually, the ad campaign for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra actually kind of creeps me out... Yea... I get it, but its a creepy thought. Nobody needs to be up anybody's nose..

Classical Musics Pod People

A fine write-up on on the great success Naxos has had with its classical music subscription service. I prev. posted about Naxos and the cool online things have that happening -- such as their podcasts, Naxos Online Radio, and busy blog. Keep up with the happenings at Naxos by going here.

Read the LAT profile of Naxos' online presence here.  Let's hope others will follow the path Naxos is blazing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Accidential Pianist

If you read Oliver Sacks' "Musicophilia",  you area already familiar with the story of the accidential pianist.  And he has a CD out - don't know how long it's been available but its news to me. Tony Cicoria became the accidential pianist after a near death experience:

Dr. Cicoria’s musical career began rather remarkably when he was struck by lightning in 1994 while speaking on a public telephone during a family reunion near Albany.  Shortly thereafter he developed an insatiable desire to hear and to play the piano..
 I understand he also gives recitals of classical music and his own compositions. Anyone heard him play? How is it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Piano Lid as Coffee Table

I think I just found a summer project for myself. This is definitely WTB approved. Feeling motivated? Then check it out (instructions included).

You're In the Army Mr. Beethoven

A fine write up on a Staff Sgt. in Afghanistan who takes up the piano and discovers it's amazing magic:
"On my last deployment, I was angry for an entire month and it took me a while to get over a lot of things," he said. "On this deployment, I was reaching that point where I was getting angry at certain situations so when this opportunity presented itself for me to do something for me, I took it. Teaching myself how to play the piano has given me a certain calm that is helping me get through this deployment."

One night in the early stages of learning the basic fundamentals of playing the piano, there was a storm and the power went out in his building. The ivory of the piano keys were luminous in the pale green glow of the keyboard's reserve battery. This light allowed the sergeant to continue playing.

"Only the shadows of the keys were visible but there was enough light that I continued to play," Sergeant Began said. "In that moment, alone in the dark with the rain pouring down, I was able to forget where I was. It was so peaceful."
Read the rest here.

Cliburn Radio Documentary

If you missed the live webcasts, you can make up for it by checking-out a radion documentary of this years "Cliburn International Piano Competition". The broadcast, "The Cliburn 2009: Pursuit of Excellence",  airs tonight on WRR101.1FM - and you can listen to online here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

coming to a street corner near you....


The excellent "Celebrity Series of Boston Blog" posted an interesting bit about pianos being "deployed" about the street corners of London.

Details and more found here.

Now what would be interesting if these setup sort of like the NPR story booths, so that just anyone could walk up to one play something and have it recorded. Oh sure, you'd have to wade thru alot of chopsticks, fur elise, and so one. But you know there'd be a nugget or two that'd make it all worth. Just like gold panning. Call is "sound panning"... Or something.

Musikalisches Würfelspiel

12 sided dice with musical notes on them.  I want these!!  In fact, I want these as fuzzy dice to hang in my car window.  I also want these incorporated into a magic 8 ball (I'm working on it).

A big tip of my hat to Classical Convert for pointing the way to these gems.

The dice also be played with a tarot card / board game called the Muzoracle, but I think I'll skip that altogether.

They can be used in composing Aleatory and 12 tone-music, or as a basis for improvisation; they’re fun in a jam session. They also make an effective study tool: they can be used as “musical flash cards” when learning harmony, and their randomness makes for fresh and challenging exercise in sight-singing and ear training. 

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Cliburn Chatter: Cliburn Competition Winners Announced !

Whoa... no third place winner...!!

That Mariangela Vacatello did not even rate at least 3rd place is a pity and a shame. I'm really shocked.

Zhang is a solid pick and musically a typical "Cliburn" 1st prize winner. I was more than just a little reminded by his playing of Alex Kobrin (1st prize winner of the last Cliburn). That said, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. At 19 and the youngest of the pack it would be easy to dismiss him as a less than mature pianist. But you'd be wrong.

Zhang is a musically safe choice and yet for the sheer fact of his age a surprising one. He was one of the pianists I thought was someone to keep an eye on, and I'm not disappointed. I look forward to hearing more from him, especially more daring and originality!

Tsujii on the other is an inexlicable pick for first prize -technically there was nothing 1st prize worthy about it to my ears compared to the others. I'd have pegged him for 2nd prize.

I've no regrets that Bozhanov was sent away without a prize. All that cartoonish mugging for the cameras got old and quick!

I really can't come up with a good reason for Son reaching 2nd place. Inexplicable.

Official Results:

Gold: Haochen Zhang, Nobuyuki Tsujii
Silver: Yeol Eum Son
Crystal: not awarded

Prize for Best Chamber music performance: Evgeni Bozhanov and Yeol Eum Son (tie)

Prize for Best performance of a new work: Nobuyuki Tsujii

Discretionary awards: Alessandro Deljavan, Eduard Kunz and Lukas Vondracek

WTB's own choices if I were handing out the prizes: 

Gold: Zhang
Silver: Tsuji
Crystal: Vacatello

Monday, June 01, 2009

classical meet mr. emo

Seriously. Am I like the last person on the planet to hear about this guy... ?

Beds I Have Known

Just in time for my summer reading (and gardening) comes a splendid recommendation from a WTB reader.

Martha Smith's Beds I Have Known: Confessions of a Passionate Amateur Gardener. I don't know how this gem escaped my notice previously. If you love gardening and laugh out loud funny writing, then Smith's tome is your cup of tea.

Check it out.

Cliburn Chatter: Final Stretch

If you've been following this year's Cliburn Competition you already know who the finalists are:

Evgeni Bozhanov (*)
Yeol Eum Son
Nobuyuki Tsujii
Mariangela Vacatello (*)
Di Wu
Haochen Zhan (*)

(*indicates a WTB pick)

Of the 5 pianists that I liked going into the competition, three have made it to the final stretch. Not bad. I'm still bullish on them, particularly Bozhanov. I am very surprised Kunz did not advance. Both Son and Tsuji surprise me in having advanced this far.

By and large, this seems to me the most unexciting crop of Cliburn competitors that I can recall. Most of the playing strikes me as fairly uninteresting and uninspired. I've not heard many sparks of originality and imagination. Upper-tier conservatory-grade recital playing (with the usual slips here and there) seems the norm. I'm hoping things get turbo charged in the final stretch.

On the upside, just 1 Rach 3 to hear.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Cuban Mazurka

Saturday is lookin' good!

Friday, May 29, 2009

classical music going down the tubes

So they are piping more classical music on the tube in the UK. And how's that going? Apparently not to well. Still I give them kudos because I'd like it. On the other hand this really can't be about "soothing" stressed out commuters can it? I mean don't half or more them have an iPod or other mp3 player plugged into their ears?

Deets here

quote: "Camden Town is the first station on the Northern line to get a dose of Puccini, although there have been trials in Brixton, Vauxhall and Wood Green. The station has 40 hours of music to choose from. One staff member said it was “too early” to tell if the music was a help or a hindrance, but said anything was worth trying to encourage customers to behave more politely towards harassed staff."

Noteworthy Net

An interesting spot on the Net that merits your attention is the "Project Martha Argerich"
You'll find it here. why visit? multimedia baby! Check out the links of the piano participants to performances you can listen to online. Favorite of the moment: Montero.

cliburn chatter: the semi-finals

So the semi-finalists have been announced and it's pretty much as expected. The only surprise, at least for me, was that Beus didn't move forward. By and large, it's been a pretty snoozy competition. Lots of boring safe playing (think Spencer Myer) and lots of goofy facial expressions (during the prelims Ran Dank looked mostly like he was taking bong hits rather than playing the piano). Here's the list of semi-finalists. In bold are those I think have a strong change at advancing further.
More chatter later.

Evgeni Bozhanov
Ran Dank
Alessandro Deljavan
Kyu Yeon Kim
Eduard Kunz
Andrea Lam
Michail Lifits
Yeol Eum Son
Nobuyuki Tsujii
Mariangela Vacatello
Di Wu
Haochen Zhang

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shopping for a Piano

Here's a nice bit on the NEC search for a new concert grand:

This week, a posse of pianists on faculty at the New England Conservatory traveled from Boston to the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Queens, N.Y. Their mission was to try out and buy a new concert grand for Jordan Hall, the NEC’s world-class performance space. 


.. and the money quote: "“They’re not like violins,” he says. “They don’t, for the most part, improve with age. They’re more like cars than violins." Yea? Tell that to the folks on craigslist who've put grandma's spinet up for sale :)

Piano Bling

It's really almost blinding.....

Record Length Piano Performance

This is pretty amazing!

Canadian musician and producer Gonzales broke the world record for the longest-ever solo concert Monday, successfully playing piano for 27 hours, three minutes and 44 seconds.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it !


Cliburn Chatter: And They're Off!


They've drawn "lots" at the Cliburn and here's the lineup (names in bold I'm interest in hearing):


1. Natacha Kudritskaya, Ukraine, 1pm
2. Stephen Beus, USA, 2:05
3. Ran Dank, Israel, 3:10
4. Chetan Tierra, USA, 7:30
5. Spencer Myer, USA, 8:35
6. Eduard Kunz, Russia, 9:40
7. Soyeon Lee, Korea, 1
8. Di Wu, China, 2:05
9. Vassilis Varvaresos, Greece, 3:10
10. Nobuyuki Tsujii, Japan, 7:30
11. Naomi Kudo, USA/Japan, 8:35
12. Zhang Zuo, China, 9:40
13. Ning Zhou, China, 1
14. Michail Lifits, Germany, 2:05
15. Alessandro Deljavan, Italy, 3:10
16. Lukas Vondracek, Czech Republic, 7:30
17. Feng Zhang, China, 8:35
18. Mariangela Vacatello, Italy, 9:40
19. Victor Stanislavsky, Israel, 1
20. Evgeni Bozhanov, Bulgaria, 2:05
21. Ilya Rashkovskiy, Russia, 3:10
22. Ang Li, Canada, 7:30
23. Andrea Lam, Australia, 8:35
24. Haochen Zhang, China, 9:40
25. Amy J. Yang, USA/China, 1
26. Yoonjung Han, Korea, 2:05
27. Kyu Yeon Kim, Korea, 3:10
28. Yeol Eum Son, Korea, 7:30
29. Mayumi Sakamoto, Japan, 8:35

Friday's lineup looks interesting. First there's the Beus (who generated buzz at his last go at the Cliburn), Ran Dank, and finally, grizzled old man of the competition, Spencer Myer.

You can catch all the fun by way of live webcast: Find it all here.

Piano Fingers

I'm filing this one under "creepy".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holiday Over

I have been away enjoying some much needed vacation time. Spent my time in North Carolina and I can tell you the "blue" ridge mountains really do look look blue. Ate lots of yummy food and enjoyed Asheville very much. Lots of hikes. Visted an old timey auto museum. Loads of fun all around.

Here's a quick couple of snaps -more to follow.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Andre Watts Interview

Read worthy Q&A with pianist Andrew Watts. You'll find it here.

Disturbing Strokes

Music does indeed make all the difference. A clever "experiment" of sorts. Replace the cheery jingle that accompanies the opening credits of the old sitcom "Different Strokes" with some creepy Hitchcockeque atmospheric music.

That's what I'm talkin' bout Willis.

Soyeon Green or Bag Lady Extravaganza, Eleganza?

OK. OK. Kidding aside.

Soyeon Lee is married to an enterprising recycler  (force behind TerraCycle). He has posted up photos of Soyeon's gown made from recycled tea labels, the CD case for her albume rEinvented (a CD of, you guessed it, transcriptions and what nots), and he has a podcast. Check it out.

Soyeon Lee returns to compete in this year's Van Cliburn. Best of luck.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Even More Uses for Old Pianos

Make a Retaining Wall

Friday, May 01, 2009


Today's web pick is "An Eroica Project". A website that is dedicated to exploring everying nook and cranny of Beethoven's Symphony no3 since recordings of it started -check out the 1926 performance by Sir Henry Wood and company.


Practice, Practice, Practice: Composers for the 2009 Cliburn

This is the part of the competition I would find the hardest -unless I really liked the work.

Yesterday, the competition announced the four finalists it had selected from 28 entries solicited from notable composers. They’re a strong group: Mason Bates (whose new piece for the San Francisco Symphony is having a sneak preview when the YouTube Symphony plays one movement of it on tonight’s Carnegie Hall concert), Derek Bermel, Daron Hagen, and John Musto (known to Washington audiences for his operas Volpone, at Wolf Trap, and Later the Same Evening, the Edward Hopper piece done by the Maryland Opera Studio).

More here

and then there were none: last UK piano factory closes

Some sad news.

"Kemble and Co in Bletchley has been making pianos for almost 100 years. Main shareholder Yamaha decided that it was no longer viable."

Read more here.

The Proms Line Up for 2009

Deets from the Beeb for this year's Proms.

The Must not miss: Argerich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

more from the cliburn confidential series

next up an interview with Soyeon Lee


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guest Map

Please, if you haven't already,  sign my guest map. I love knowing where my visitors come from. (My "Visitors Map" has been restored after being inadvertently deleted from my blog some time back).


size matters

They'll have to do better now that a teenager in NZ has them beat.


John Lennon's Piano

Lennon's Piano has its own website.

Who knew?

Check it out. Link

way back machine

way back. back when people had get up and go. Gumption.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pianist with Tourette Syndrom Returns to the Concert Stage

This is an awesome news story and I wish I could be there for the concert. soon as his fingers touch the piano keys, however, the tics cease. “I like to think of them sitting on deckchairs and enjoying the music. It shuts them up,” he says. “For a few seconds before I start to play, I experience what it is like to feel that wonderful word: normal.”

Van Bloss was seven when he woke one day to find he was shaking uncontrollably. From that point his body was held hostage by vicious yelps and violent compulsions, but it was not until 21 — ten years after taking up the piano — that Tourette syndrome was correctly diagnosed.


2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition

The competitors for this year's edition of the Cleveland International Piano Competition (often a stepping stone to larger treasures) have been

2009 Contestants

Mr. Hoang Pham, 24

Mr. Evgeni Bozhanov, 25

Mr. Dmitri Levkovich, 30

Mr. Kuok-Wai Lio, 20
Mr. Chun Wang, 19
Mr. Yunqing Zhou, 20
Ms. Zhang Zuo, 20

Ms. Martina Filjak, 30

Mr. Gerhard Vielhaber, 26

Mr. István Lajkó, 27

Ms. Kyoko Soejima, 21

Ms. Soo-Yeon Ham 23
Mr. Jae-Weon Huh, 22
Ms. Sangyoung Kim, 25
Ms. Ju-Eun Lee, 28
Mr. Jong-Hai Park, 18
Mr. Yekwon Sunwoo, 20
Mr. William Youn, 26

Mr. Evgeny Brakhman, 28
Ms. Anna Bulkina, 23
Ms. Olga Kozlova, 22
Mrs. Maria Masycheva, 26
Mr. Alexander Osminin, 27

Ms. Angelike Fuchs, 21

Mr. Michael Brown, 22
Mr. Sean Chen, 20
Mr. Martin Labazevitch, 29
Ms. Pallavi Mahidhara, 21
Mr. Edward Neeman, 25 (USA/Australia)
Ms. Esther Park, 24
Ms. Marina Radiushina, 29
Mrs. Anna Shelest, 26
Mr. Kwan Yi, 24
Mr. Eric Zuber, 24

Mr. Kristhyan Benitez, 25



Brain Power: Code Mozart

This just in from the always excellent "Sounds and Fury" blog:

Not satisfied to be a perfectly useless, entirely superfluous, and forever inept, bungling, and budget-draining creation of the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to go into the therapeutic music business. Does the brain naturally compose melodies to rival those by Mozart or Chopin? Researchers at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) think so. What's more, they suggest that piano renditions of an individual's cerebral music can help in dealing with insomnia and fatigue in the aftermath of a stressful experience.


and this from LaLa Land

Now this news item gave me pause..

Now we know that Mel Gibson’s wife Robyn has had it with his twinkly smile and tequila-breathed Jewish ranting, it’s time to work out why the divorce is happening. Is it because of Mel Gibson’s rumoured canoodlings with Russian pianist Oksana Kolesnikova?


Said pianist says it just ain't so:

"Reps for Oksana Kolesnikova deny, deny, deny that the Russian pianist/singer is responsible for the break-up of Mel Gibson’s 28-year marriage."


Liberace Goes Broadway!

Good news for Liberace fans (and who doesn't like a little kitsch, er camp, from time to time?).

a musical about Liberace, the pianist and entertainer who put the flame in flamboyant, is planned for Broadway this fall.

Deets here. More here.

Now if they would just finish that dang biopic.

Van Cliburn Competition: By the Numbers.

Point.Click. And put your peepers on some number crunching on the Cliburn Competition via the always excellent blog "The Omniscient Mussel"

Here's teaser of the good nuggets awaiting you:

Number of competitions, on average, that a 2009 has competed in already: 3.3

Chances that a participant was born in Asia: 1 in 2

Percentage of Asian participantss that were born in China: 53.3%

Countries represented in the 2009 competition that have not had a winner in previous years: Greece

Check it out. Link

Connecting the Dots: Bill Evans, Rachmaninoff and Van Cliburn

Now this is interesting:

By his own account, the piano music of Sergei Rachmaninoff was long a favorite of jazz pianist Bill Evans; on his final European tours he carried with him a cassette of the composer's Fourth Concerto, and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which he and the trio would study and enjoy. Fellow pianist Warren Bernhardt has related how he and Bill would spend hours playing through the two-piano reduction of the composer's Third Concerto, fascinated by the rich harmonic textures of the work's slow movement in particular.

I love Bill Evan's music. This just simply makes sense. Good sense.

More about Evans and Cliburn's victory in Moscow can be found here.

Krystian Zimerman's "shocking" Announcement

According to the LAT Zimerman shocked his audience with a political rant and an announcement that he no longer be performing in the US.

The key graf:

Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s "Variations on a Polish Folk Theme," Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. In a quiet but angry voice that did not project well, he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world. 
“Get your hands off of my country,” he said.  He also made reference to the U.S. military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

I don't find it terribly outrageous or shocking (it's quite a ways from the Dixie Chicks zone). And good for him and too bad for us he won't be back.

On the upside: no more schlepping his piano around in pieces.

He travels with his own Steinway piano, which he has altered himself. But shortly after 9/11, the instrument was confiscated at JFK Airport when he landed in New York to give a recital at Carnegie Hall. Thinking the glue smelled funny, the TSA decided to take no chances and destroyed the instrument. Since then he has shipped his pianos in parts, which he reassembles by hand after he lands


London Internation Piano Competition - Finalists

Here are the announced finalists for the 2009 London Int. Piano Competition and the concerto they will perform in the final round.

Andrejs  Osokins, Latvia   (Liszt - Concerto no.1 in E flat)
Alessandro  Taverna, Italy   (Chopin - Concerto in E minor, op.11)
Behzod  Abduraimov, Uzbekistan   (Prokofiev - Concerto in C, op.26)

Final round is tomorrow night. Good luck to all!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

cliburn confidential

Check out the "Cliburn Confidential", a series of links to conversations/interviews with the current crop of Cliburn hopefuls. here's some of what you'll find.

Stephen Beus

Evgeni Bozhanov

Yue Chu

Ran Dank

Ang Li

Chetan Tierra

Natacha Kudritskaya

Michail Lifits

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And then the acid kicked in

2009 Avery Fisher Career Grants

Made props to pianists Inon Barnatan and Alessio Bax. They are 2 of 5 musicians to be
awarded the 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grants.

read more here

The Cliburn Competition in 3 minutes - YouTube

Here's some Youtube goodness to prime the pump for ya all.

Speaking of Piano Competitions: Cliburn 2009

Next month Van Cliburn International Piano Competition gets underway. It is arguably the most important of international piano competitions.

Here' s a list of this year's competitors . Ranging in age from 19 to 30,  there  are some new faces, and some  familiar from the competition circuit. (A few competed in the last Cliburn).

Like last year the competition will feature blogs and live webcasts. Details here.  And twitter? I'm sure there will be tweets a plenty. Why not?

(*) Indicates competed in the last Cliburn. Those in bold  I'm especially looking forward to hearing.

(*) Stephen Beus (USA) 27
Evgeni Bozhanov (Bulgaria) 24
Yue Chu (China) 25
Ran Dank (Israel) 27
Alessandro Deljavan (Italy) 22
Yoonjung Han (Korea) 24
Kyu Yeon Kim (Korea) 23
Naomi Kudo (US/Japan) 22
Natacha Kudritskaya (Ukraine) 25
Eduard Kunz (Russia) 28
Andrea Lam (Australia) 27
(*) Soyeon Lee (Korea) Age 29
(*) Ang Li (Canada) 24
Michail Lifits (Germany) 26
Spencer Myer (USA) 30
 (*) Ilya Rashkovskiy (Russia)Age 24
Mayumi Sakamoto (Japan) 26
Yeol Eum Son (Korea) 23
Victor Stanislavsky (Israel) 26
Chetan Tierra (USA) 25
Nobuyuki Tsujii (Japan) 20
Mariangela Vacatello (Italy) 27
Vassilis Varvaresos (Greece) 26
Lukáš Vondráček (Czech Republic) 22
(*) Di Wu (China) 24
Amy J. Yang (United States/China) 25
Feng Zhang (China) 23
Haochen Zhang (China) 19
Ning Zhou (China) 21
Zhang Zuo (China) 20

Good luck to all ! !

Friday, April 24, 2009

Facebook: Gig Finder?

"The online social networking site helped a Switzerland-based artist manager who was vacationing in Israel track down a New York pianist performing in Colorado and book him for a concert in Colombia."

I'm surprised Facebook has been used for this sort of thing before now. link

Scenes from a Piano Drop

Obligatory YouTube clip of the 2009 Piano Drop at MIT.

Best quote: "“This is much more exciting,” said MIT sophomore Teresa Gomez as she rifled through the piano’s broken parts on the ground. “The guts are all out.”"


London International Piano Competition - Semi Finalists announced

And those to make thus far are:

    * Andrejs  Osokins, Latvia
    * Stephanie  Proot, Belgium
    * Ishay  Shaer, Israel
    * Alessandro  Taverna, Italy
    * Hwan-Hee  Yoo, Korea
    * Behzod  Abduraimov, Uzbekistan
    * Ran  Dank, Israel
    * Sasha  Grynyuk, Ukraine
    * Sofya  Gulyak, Russia

Some worthwhile thoughts about the "politics" of competitions can be found Jessica Duchen's splendid blog. Link.  Some compeitions are better than others.  There's definitely lots of room for reform and improvement. Worth checking out it is the

Muscial Wonder House

I came across a fascinating Flicker stream - "The Musical Wonder House" -

A wonderful museum of music machines, from grand player pianos to automatons, to coin-operated stereopticons.  The photos are pure eye candy for music lovers.

It's today's web pick. Give 'em some bloggy goodness. Link

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Teenager Builds World's Largest Piano

mad props to our man Hucbald at the mighty blog "A Monk's Musical Musings" for pointing the way to this news story about a teen in New Zealand who has built what's being called "the world's largest piano".

He started building it at the age of 16 and finished it this year (four years later). It is a monster! Twice the size of the modern concert grand. It is nearly 19 feet long. Yikes! This surpasses the Challen which lumbered in at 11.5 feet in length.  85% of it is built from recycled materials.

video of said monster is found here. read more about it here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Piano Hybrids Coming Soon

For about 15K USD you can enjoy sometime in May the latest from Yamaha: the Avant Grand. Billed as a blending of old and new, digital and acoustic, the new piano sports some fancy features. It's the new synergy.
"acoustic and electronic pianos have been developed separately by different departments at Yamaha, but the company became convinced that a synergistic effect can be produced by leveraging the strengths of the two departments."
 But what I though most interesting was this nugget: "According to Yamaha, the number of users who do not discriminate acoustic and digital pianos from each other is increasing. Such users sometimes prefer an electronic piano even though they have enough budget and space." Wow. I guess that shouldn't surprise me, but it does.

a bit more description of the instrument

 Yamaha developed a special keyboard operation mechanism for the new piano. Each key has two sensors that contactlessly detect a key stroke and its strength when producing sound. One of the sensors is attached to a key while the other is located on a component provided in place of a hammer of a grand piano.
The pedals can be used just like those of a grand piano.... Skilled players delicately change their pedaling to have desired expression in their play. Yamaha improved the mechanism to duplicate the feelings of a grand piano.

Something to keep your eye open for next time your on piano store crawl

Photos and deets found here.

video clip found here.

Roll Your Own Postmodern

Just scroll down this blog and start clicking on any three youtube videos. let them play simultaneously. nice.

keyboard excercises

This is just how blogging ought to be done

New Uses for Old Pianos

Don't send that clunker to the landfill just yet!

I am genuinely inspired and pleased by these clever re-purposed old pianos.

Check it out.

Dog Accompanies Himself



Yea.. I'm happy for Reich to finally get a Pulitzer. But, honestly, the time came and went long ago to make that award.  So I'm a little disappointed that they didn't recognize someone else -someone doing something "new" (c'mon he's been riding that horse for awhile).

Anyway here's a short clip of the rehearsal

And I send you along to Alex Ross for more deets.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Girl and Her Piano

A great blog post! I'm always rooting for a neglected piano.


What Would Beethoven Do?

Words of inspiration for the "Wall Street" set.

Buck up! If you've got the power tie and a whole stack of "Power Classics", I can easily image that this article from Harvard Business could appeal to you. Why? Why not, the whole premise is self-interested enough.
it's article titled, "In a Crisis, What Would Beethoven Do?".

It offers up such gems as: "This explosion of innovation, executives today might note, followed from a risky decision to take drastic action after a long period of being stuck--including cutting loose from a controlling parent."

I imagine some folks at AIG would agree.

I do like this bit: "Beethoven's strategy seems relevant today. Fearing that his limitations would be exposed and destroy him, he revised his mission statement, in effect, and put rule-breaking at its core. "

T bottom line, if you didn't already see it coming, is this: "In the worst of times, whether you're a composer or a chief executive, iconoclastic invention can be your best strategy."

Then again maybe that's not the lesson here. Read the rest.

In the meantime somebody ought to start bustin' out those bracelets.

YouTube Pick

The Lady Loves Opera

Really. What more is there to say :)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

recently added

I just added "MuseOpen" to WTB's "general music" links. Point. Click. Enjoy.

Oh, Marianne !

Just lovely!


Friday, April 03, 2009


A little more about the music maker behind the "burning piano video" posted a few days back.
"Wherever I play, people are surprised," Bertelman told in an extensive interview. "When I'm playing in front of an indie audience, people are just discovering more classical music. And when I play in front of a classical audience, people are surprised by how experimental a piano concert can be. "
Read the rest and enjoy some sample audio clips here.

end of an era

I am sort of surprised it hadn't ended sooner... Sadly

The last new-issue piano roll that went off the assembly line Dec. 31 was the company’s 11,060th. The song was “Spring is Here,” by Rodgers and Hart, recorded by Buffalo-based pianist Michael T. Jones.


Somebody Needs a Chill Pill

Paging Henny Penny:
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is freaking the eff out about the rise of illegal downloading on the internet, declaring that there will never be a Beatles again and moral relativism will conquer the Earth.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Musical Anatomy


Musical instruments are prosthetics for body parts we never had. They can extend and transform voice, gesture, and exhalation. The mystery of their forms is matched by the invisible oddity of their sounds. But what if the prosthetics were unnecessary? This series imagines bodies with musical anatomies, referencing musicians from a variety of genres and traditions.

I found it all just a little creepy.

Point, click, and have a look. Link

that other burning piano

Hauschka - Morgenrot from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.

doh !