December 26, 2014 Comments Off on Funny enough: Victor Borge
Not his funniest 8 minutes, but the only instance I’ve seen of Borge playing with The Beatles AND the Maharishi in the front row.
December 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
Harold Rubens was a Welsh piano prodigy, shown here playing for George Bernard Shaw. When he got too old for the prodigy business he moved to South Africa, where he became active in anti-apartheid groups. Working with Nelson Mandela, his piano playing skills were in demand.
According to Norman Lebrecht, writing on Slipped Disc, resistance groups would meet in Rubens’ home, where he could play loudly to cover up the conversations and prevent their being picked up by the secret police.
Lebrecht quotes Albi Sachs: ‘We were meeting in the underground in their cottage in Newlands. We would hear him practising the fourth Beethoven piano concerto, going over it and over and over again while we were doing our secret planning in the room next door. Happily the music was very loud, and if there were any bugs, all the security police would hear would be Beethoven and not us planning resistance to apartheid. Beethoven would have been happy. Such complex and mixed-up feelings in this simple building.’
I wonder about that Beethoven being so very loud. I play that piece and it is impossible to get the right elegant effect if you are too heavy. I guess I won’t be invited to host any resistance meetings around here.
Rubens’ sister was the novelist Bernice Rubens who wrote the novel Madame Sousatska, based on Harold Rubens’ piano teacher in London. It was made into a movie starring Shirley MacLaine as one of my favorite movie piano teachers.
September 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
Here’s the hero of my youth and now my late middle age, giving a short class on Chopin. No one has played Chopin better in my lifetime. Here he is, old, blind, magnificent, riveting.
Here’s the second part
“Music is an art of emotion, of nobility, of dignity, of greatness, of love, of tenderness- all that must be brought out in music…. but never show off!”
July 24, 2013 Comments Off on Finally, the elephants get to tickle the ivories
One of the horrors of piano history was the killing of elephants so their tusks could be used as the ivory covering the white keys. As far as I know, they never got to play the dang things until now. This video shows an elephant in Thailand jamming on the modern plastics with a human blues player. The elephant deserves a more sensitive accompanist, but is enjoying himself nevertheless.
I would like to play the piano with an elephant, so if anyone knows an elephant who would like to jam, give me a call.
July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
I wonder what would happen if the athletes were told they needed to donate their labor. Seems like music and sports are roughly equivalent in terms of investment in training, personal dedication, expensive equipment needed, struggle and glory, etc. But we musicians get no help from sponsors.
Thirty years ago my husband got 400 bucks a month from Nike for being a low-tier runner in Eugene, OR. I think I’m a better pianist than he was a runner, but I would settle for the same rate today.
Nike, where’s my sponsorship?
June 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
Not exactly a piano, definitely not a kid, but possibly a bike or a bike-like object here in River City. Dezy Walls has brought his singing and piano playing to the streets of Portland. You can read all about it here.
Watch a video, listen to his songs, find out where you can next see and hear him here.