Mozart began writing dances when he was five years old! The minuet was slightly old-fashioned by Mozart's time. It was of aristocratic origin, elegant and stately. Mozart passionately loved dancing, and never missed the public masked balls in the theatre or his friends' domestic balls. Although a short piano piece, this is a good example of the simplicity of Mozart’s genius. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
This performance of “Fantasia in D Minor” is dedicated to and requested by my friend Monique B. Fantasy in D minor (composed in 1782), left unfinished by the composer, is one of Mozart’s most well- known and most popular pieces for the piano. For me, one of the most interesting things about this piece (besides its unique beauty) is that it was later discovered that the last 10 measures were completed by another musician - but nobody knew it for over a hundred years! It was only in 1944 – roughly a century and a half after Mozart’s death and the publication of the fantasy – that a scholar questioned the authenticity of the final 10 measures of Mozart’s fantasy. Now we know that the last ten measures of Mozart’s "Fantasy" are not by Mozart, but were composed by his contemporary and admirer, August Müller. Listen for a dominant chord and a long pause just before the final 10 measures - that’s where Mozart left it! Can you imagine the music Mozart would have written had he lived past the age of 35! You may notice that the keyboard that I am playing has rows of lights above the keys. [...]
Nevertheless was composed by Harry Ruby (born January 27, 1895) with lyrics by Bert Kalmar. Their songwriting partnership was portrayed in the 1950 MGM musical 'Three Little Words', starring Fred Astaire as Kalmar and Red Skelton as Ruby. I love those old ’tin-pan alley’ movies! Notable cover versions of Nevertheless: (I especially want to track down the Telly Savalas (Kojak) version!) The Andrews Sisters Fred Astaire Count Basie Bing Crosby Barry Manilow Dean Martin Liza Minnelli Olivia Newton-John Andy Gibb Harry Nilsson Frank Sinatra Rod Stewart Rudy Vallée Betty White Telly Savalas Bob Dylan Other songs by Ruby and Kalmar: “Who's Sorry Now?”, "I Wanna Be Loved by You” (sung by Marilyn Monroe in the film Some Like It Hot), "Three Little Words”, and the television them for “The Real McCoys” (1957-1963). They also wrote the musical scores for three classic Marx brothers films, Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup which Included the classics “Hello I Must Be Gong”, “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”, and “Everyone Says I Love You!” Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no [...]
On this day, Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim was born in 1927! "How Insensitive" is one of his more popular songs, having been covered by a large and diverse swath of people - from Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall to Liberace, The Monkees and William Shatner of Star Trek fame! Jobim is also known perhaps for his most popular song (and one of the most recorded songs in the world )- The Girl from Ipanema. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I've ever owned!!
This powerful, inspiring and iconic song, which Bllboard ranked as the No. 1 song for 1970, has helped countless people through challenging times. Paul Simon was inspired by gospel music for this one. It has become one of the most performed songs of the twentieth century, with over 50 artists, among them Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, covering the song. . The distinctive piano arrangement was performed by session musician Larry Knechtel of the famous ‘Wrecking Crew’, a loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and early 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits. Leon Russell and Glen Campbell were also Wrecking Crew members before their solo careers. "Bridge over Troubled Water" was composed by Paul Simon very quickly, so much so that he asked himself, "Where did that come from? (Similar to Paul McCartney saying that ‘Yesterday’ came to him fully formed in a dream and he just got up and played it right away so he wouldn’t forget it!) Will we ever understand fantastic musical ability and inspiration like these guys? Maybe it’s the one thing that artificial intelligence won’t be able to replace. [...]
On This Day, “Forever Young” was released by Bob Dylan with backing by the Band in 1974. Written as a lullaby for his eldest son Jesse, born in 1966, Dylan's song relates a father's hopes that his child will remain strong and happy. It opens with the lines, "May God bless and keep you always / May your wishes all come true", echoing the Old Testament's Book of Numbers, which has lines that begin: "May the Lord bless you and guard you / May the Lord make His face shed light upon you." Its always been one of my favorites - I played it for my son at his Bar Mitzvah. Today’s Music Minute is a truncated instrumental version, but if you’re not familiar with this song, it’s worth listening to Dylan’s version (I like the slow version) and looking up the words. It’s been covered by many artists including Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Band, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, the Jerry Garcia Band, Pete Seeger, the Pretenders, Norah Johns and even Meat Loaf! Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action [...]
Charles Zimmermann, composer of “Anchors Aweigh”, passed away on this day in 1916. “Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy and march song of the United States Navy. Zimmermann composed “Anchors Aweigh”, his most famous song, in 1906 when he was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. The lyrics were written by Alfred Hart Miles, a midshipman. The march was intended from the beginning to serve as a rousing tune for football games. The song was first played during the Army–Navy football game on December 1, 1906, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [P.S. I’m from Philadelphia - yay!] Navy won the game 10–0! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchors_Aweigh) The word 'aweigh' is now only used in this little phrase. An anchor that is aweigh is one that has just begun to put weight onto the rope or chain by which it is being hauled up. Sailors were fond of adding 'a' to words to make new ones, for example, 'astern', 'aboard', ashore', 'afloat', 'adrift', 'aground', etc. (https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/anchors-aweigh.html) I’d like to dedicate this song to my friend and senior Naval officer, S.L., and thank him for his service. Bosendorfer piano sound - For this recording I’m playing a [...]
I'm happy to introduce a new feature coming to our blog today - 'On This Day. In a way, it's less of a new feature and more of a way to give a bit more context to some of the music I'd like to share with you all. On this day in 1993, musician and songwriter Sammy Cahn passed away. Cahn wrote the song that I'm covering today - "The Things We Did Last Summer", which debuted in 1946. His songs won 4 Academy Awards including one for "Three Coins in a Fountain." I've always loved this melancholy and romantic song, and for me the classic version is sung by Sinatra. This was only one of many songs that Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote for Frank Sinatra. They were almost considered to be his personal songwriters - producing such songs as "All the Way", "Come Fly With Me", "High Hopes", "Call Me Irresponsible", "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is...)" and "Love and Marriage." With composer Jule Styne he is remembered for hits such as "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow", "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry", and this song, "The Things We Did Last Summer". He also wrote the [...]
As you've probably read in the email (you ARE on our email list right? ), I sat down to record a version of "Waltz of the Flowers" last night, and completed the recording only to find that I already had a previous version of the same movement! Well, rather than discard a take, I thought it would be interesting to share both pieces of music with you. While they are similar, there are certain differences in the performance that I can hear. I'm curious - which one do you like better? There are also slight differences in the recordings - (and a couple wrong notes) but I'm interested in the difference in performances, rather than sound quality or notes. This contest also gives me another opportunity to spotlight Weiss Music Minutes! As you may recall, I have been trying to offer evidence that the essence of many complete musical ideas (and songs) can be distilled down to under 60 seconds. I'm hope you'll agree that you will recognize this piece of music by Tchaikovsky as a complete musical concept - in just a minute! Let me know which one you preferred, and if your opinion happens to land in the majority, you'll get [...]
Christmas Day arrives tomorrow! But Christmas Eve is special in its own right. Last year I shared with you a piano rendition of Silent Night - this year I'm excited to have Jamie provide vocal accompaniment on a new version on Silent Night for you all to enjoy!