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.