Friday, July 26, 2019

Autistic and blind teen piano prodigy performs at Madison Square Garden

Blind and autistic piano prodigy Logan Riman, 14, dazzled everyone as he performed with “piano man” Billy Joel at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, July 24, 2019.

Music definitely is somehow therapeutic and gives some people whole lives.  My own history was more moderated.

CBS News account is here

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"The Privilege of Escape": art exhibit puts people into teams with disadvantages they can't control

Jillian Steinhauer has a review of an art exhibit Oassis USA in Manhattan, called “The Privilege of Escape”, by artist Risa Puno, described in NYTimes Arts Section Wednesday July 23. 
People collect into teams and are given about 45 minutes to solve a succession of puzzles to escape.  Some teams do better than others because of luck-based elements they cannot control.
So you aren’t “better” than other people just because you proved you could escape.  Is this an argument against meritocracy?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

David Bennett explains the usefulness of 5/4 time or extra beats in popular music

David Bennett Piano, a British piano instructor and YouTuber, explains rhythm and syncopation and the use of occasional 5/4 in popular music, as with “Don’t let me down”.

It is common for modern composers to change meters often, particularly with quintuple meters.  An extra beat gives a melody or passage a sense of additional pulse. But Bennett explains that it is really 4/4 + ¼.  I don’t know if Sibelius allows a unary measure.  I think the Shostakovich Symphony #8 scherzo has an example of that.

5/4 wasn’t well known until Tchaikovsky showed how effective and natural it can sound with the second movement of his Pathetique Symhony #6,

Bennett then discusses 5/8 time in coordination with 4/4 in a song mocking nuclear war.
I remember some of these songs from the car radio in my coming of ages days in the 1970s.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

CD of Finnish piano music, most of it (except for the Sibelius Romance) obscure

Saturday I purchased a CD (old fashioned now) of Piano Music from Finland, “Pianomusiikkia Suomesta” played by Craig Randal Johnson, at the Finnish American Heritage Associate museum in Ashtabula, Ohio.

The CD, on the Tonttu label, has 26 tracks.

The first composition was Pelimannit, Op. 1, Einojuhan Rauyavaara (1928-).

The six movements have a lot of modal but decisive harmonies in loud, bell-like chords that work very well on a modern high-end “Piano Forever” like on the teen’s YouTube channel.

Next is Arnas Janefelt (1869-1958), a tender Berceuse.

There follow two pieces by Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947), “An Old Memory”, and another Berceuse.

The most popular composer, Jan Sibelius (1865-1957), follows with “The Spruce Tree”, Op. 75 #5, followed by the famous Romance in Db, Op. 24, #9, which sounds a bit like late Chopin.

There follows the longest work of the CD, “The Melancholy Garden” by Erkki Melerin, Op. 52, five pieces including a middle lullaby.

Then Martl Tuhkl (1919-2002), the first recording of the Romance Fantasy.

Joonas Kollojen is dissonant and Webern-like enough with the Five Bagatelles.
Erik Bergman (1911-) gets rowdy with the dissonance in two movements from “The Voyage of Christopher Columbus”.
Selim Palmgren (1878-1951) closes the disc with the quiet “May Night”, Op. 24, #4.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mahler's "Songs of a Wayfarer" on piano

July 7 was Mahler’s birthday (159). July 10 this year in my own 76th.

Given my upcoming travels, I thought I would present the sheet music piano version of the early song cycle, “Songs of a Wayfarer” (with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau).  In German, it is “Leider eines fahrenden Gesellen”.  There is an orchestral version also.

Two of the songs appear in Mahler’s First Symphony (in the slow movement).  Note how the first song oscillates between 2/4 and 3/8.  It’s rather interesting to look at Mahler’s composition on the piano.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

"Why Is Mozart Genius"? Because his music makes sense

Why Is Mozart Genius?

The two-part video comes from “Inside the Score”.

Mozart could start with the simple and make it inevitable, like it had always existed.

Mozart made a living mainly as a pianist and performer.  Most of his composing was freelance. I presume that means commissions, but not from one dependable source. 
Salieri and Haydn, on the other hand, made money on the court. Salieri, by comparison, seems trite and mundane most of the time.

The video discusses the play and movie “Amadeus” about a fictitious plot by Salieri.

The second video explains how Mozart combined chromaticism with diatonism.  Yet in a few of the late quarters and quintets, he achieved harmonic density that sounds almost Schoenbergian (like the slow movement of the D Major Quintet, or the Finale of the F Major Quartet).

A friend at that lost semester at William and Mary always said, Mozart “makes sense” and is “the real music.”
Mozart stopped making an income in 1789 and died in 1791.