Friday, May 31, 2019

Media reports on blind children who become piano prodigies

The mainstream media has reported at least two blind children who have become piano prodigies, a four year old girl and a six-year-old boy.

For example CBS video reports on a boy playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” songs.

How early kids with musical ability should start with lessons, and how focused they should be, remains controversial.

It’s hard with some things, like piano practice and chess, to become good enough to make a living on it as a future adult.

But piano skills can contribute to other things, like skills in math in science, or in other directions like stagecraft and film.

I’ve heard gifted teens play odd things on piano by ear, like, in one case, a theme by ear from an Arvo Part piece similar to this

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slave" is a convincing potboiler; the Soviets censored it for "political" motives

Time to talk about Tchaikovsky again, this time his 10-minute potboiler, the “Marche Slave”, Op. 31, published in 1876.

In B-flat Minor, this program piece seems to quote well-known themes, especially at the opening. The closing theme also occurs in the 1812 Overture (which is in E-flat). But, as stirring as it is, it is based on a hymn “God Save the Tsar”.  The program concerned a now obscure war between Serbia and Turkey. 

In the performance above, Leonard Bernstein conducts the Israel Philharmonic.
I “sketched” a proposed Symphony in E Minor (imagined in 1960 when I was a senior in high school) and the finale has a similar theme, as recorded by Sibelius when I played it on a Casio by ear.


A visitor sent me a link to this "Soviet" version of the Marche where the Tsar theme is censored out because it contradicts Communism.   

Monday, May 13, 2019

German song producer "The Fat Rat" has problems which suggest copyright trolls may trample even original music (under EU "Article 17")

There seems to be a real risk that as the EU’s “Copyright Directive” (especially Article 17, was 13) goes into effect in various countries in Europe (starting with France), composers and song writers will be sabotaged by fake claims from imposters claiming to have written their music.

The recent problems for German video song writer Christian Buettner (“The Fat Rat”), whose (large) channel was temporarily removed Sunday from YouTube for “community standards” violations (it was later restored) may be case in point.

Josh Katzowitz has a significant story from late December 2018 on the Daily Dot. 

Classical music, even my own, which I plan to put up more of soon, sometimes borrows tunes or themes from other music.  (The famous example is the use of the opening theme of Bruckner’s Symphony #8 in the conclusion of the Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony.)
This could gradually become a problem even for younger composers, some of whom I know personally.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Mozart's "A Musical Joke" almost sounds real

Richard Atkinson analyzes “A Musical Joke” (Ein Musikascher Spass) in F Major, K 522, a Divertimento.

The work was intended to make a parody of incompetent composers. For example, the opening has an awkward seven measure theme.  The slow movement has a passage where a horn and also strings tune themselves (Haydn did this in one symphony called “The Distracted”, or “Losing It”, which ironically is a name I gave one of my short pieces, and which has a hidden ritualized meaning in my own life.)

The finale has a lot of false modulations into the mediant, and ends with some bizarre polytonality which is supposed to refer to inadequate instruments.

Atkinson also shows how the counterpoint in the finale is deliberately perfunctory, mechanical and trite yet in some way is curiously effective.

Mozart did have a personality that mocked incompetence (as in the movie “Amadeus”, which was shown in a social studies class when I was a substitute teacher).

I got a present from a friend at William and Mary at the end of 1961, a record of the famous Divertimento in D, with the Cassation in B-flat. 

Timo Andres had somewhat comparable intentions with his recomposition in 2010 of Mozart’s Coronation Concerto (which I saw the score of in a trip to NYC for another work at the end of that year).  The left hand part (left open by Mozart) is composed with deliberate polytonality.