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upcoming events:

November 17
Concert in a Cave! at Lincoln Cavern with East End Song Studio (4pm)

November 18 at 3pm (Sunday) -- organ recital at Heinz Chapel, Pittsburgh PA "Featuring the French" -- one dramatic
                                                   sonata, an otherworldly choral-prelude, and a  majestic offertoire
November 18 at 4pm -- Jr. Mendelssohn choir concert (I'm playing on one piece for choir, strings, and organ)
                                    Third Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh (about 1 mile from Heinz Chapel) 

November 20 Interfaith Thanksgiving service at Third Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh
The week's featured recording: (11/9)

Ave Verum Corpus
by Mozart, Arr. Liszt
Pianonoise Radio
Music for a Stressful Time (Gregorian Album)

One of the last pieces Mozart wrote, in the summer of 1791. It was originally for chorus and orchestra; Franz Liszt made an unusually restrained arrangement of it for solo piano.
This week on the blog:    Friday, November 9, 2018

Fake Blog

This isn't a political blog, and on Monday I plan to go back to writing about Mozart. But in the wake of the Synagogue shooting here in Pittsburgh, when I felt it necessary to both show support for the victims and try to imagine what drives people to go shoot their fellow human beings, I thought I would add my voice to the concern over a really basic problem we have in this country right now. That would be the refusal to agree on basic reality.


I have two examples, the first of which is much less destructive than the second. It concerns several people on Facebook who were ridiculing a tweet that supposedly came from Nancy Pelosi. Now before we go on let me make clear that this has nothing to do with whether or not you like Nancy Pelosi. I can think of several reasons not to. Having an opinion that ranges from extreme admiration to total disgust is still an opinion, and we are all entitled to ours. Nonetheless, the proxy object of scorn was the tweet itself, which read in part "I am angry at Donald Trump for allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn."


Obviously, this was an attempt to describe the tax cut. And obviously, there is a problem with it. Nancy Pelosi did not write it.

How do we know? Three ways.

Read More                

"classic" blog: from December 11, 2013

Page turn

....Now, I have a patented method for turning a page wherein my right hand leaves the keyboard and suddenly shoots up to the page like a frog catching flies with its tongue and I whip the page to the left in one snapping motion-- just like most accompanists. I then zip back down to the keyboard in time to play the next chord with my right hand. Got that? The sequence is play--whoosh! (page turn)--back to the keyboard, play the chord. Then I shoot my hand back up to the music again, which has not been able to keep up with my sudden moves, and has taken the time while I was playing the next chord to saunter leisurely across to its resting place. Only if the music is new, as it often is, what has happened is that the music has ricocheted--softly, we hope--back, and is thinking about either flipping right back to where it was, or else inconveniently coming to rest at some funny angle so I can't read the music. In any case, the book just doesn't want to stay open. So a beat or two later my hand shoots back up to the music and I make whatever adjustment is necessary. Occasionally I have to do it a couple of times. This is all predicated on the fact that I can't spend two beats waiting around for the page I've set in motion to actually arrive where I've sent it. I have music to play. Therefore my patented two-step, or three or four step, ninja moves.

Read blog

If the 20th century in music was anything--so goes the master narrative--it was wildly diverse, even chaotic. One gets the impression that many musicologists wish this were not so, and long for the good old days when one or two dominant styles got most of the attention, and made musical developments easier to trace. Still, ever on the lookout for ways to categorize diverse phenomena, musicologists have done their job on this century as well. Only a decade since its passing, the 20th century has already been packed away in little boxes in the musicological shoe closet, right along with its predecessors, even if it takes a few extra boxes this time.

If you are a member of John Q. Public, you may be under the impression that the 20th century was a particularly unfriendly time for music lovers, that composers heedlessly disregarded the things that once made music enjoyable, went their own way, making noises that were particularly odiferous. That part of the story is partly true, but, like most stereotypical ideas, it is far from fully accurate. If you think you don't like some musical styles from the 20th century, you are bound to like others--the menu is broad and varied. The following is just a quick startup guide following some of those musicological shoe boxes in which all of those musical developments are often placed:

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A Guide to the 'Isms'  

(a thumbnail guide to music in the 20th century)
Don't your fingers get tired?
A question and answer page for the curious

Was Liberace a Great Pianist?

When I was in elementary school, I would sometimes perform in school assemblies. My fellow students, impressed, would refer to me as the next "Liberace," who everybody knew was "the greatest pianist in the world." That should tell us something about our society--that we have to have a champion of everything, even in an area where such rankings are miles away from the real issue! Since I had heard that Liberace was so great, I asked my parents to take me to see him. After the concert, most of which Liberace spent in talking about how fabulously wealthy he was, I decided I didn't care much for him.

Read the rest of the answer

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