Thursday, April 23, 2015

Four Centuries of Musical Instruments: The Marlowe A. Sigal Collection

Four Centuries of Musical Instruments
Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA
320 pages $69.99

When Marlowe A. Sigal was a teenager in Easton, Pennsylvania, he needed a tenor saxophone to join the high school band. His parents, who collected motorcycles, got him an 18-key Buescher Aristocrat tenor saxophone made in Elkhart, Indiana, in 1939. In 1960 Sigal's father gave him an out-of-commission Estey cottage organ (made in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1877) to restore, and in 1964 Marlowe Sigal started collecting harpsichords and pianos.

His collection of keyboard instrument grew. There are 8 harpsichords, 2 virginals, 2 spinets, 2 clavichords, 10 grand pianos, 11 upright pianos, 43 square pianos (!!!), 2 pipe organs, 4 practice keyboards, a desk piano, a lying harp piano, a keyboard carillon (think Die Zauberflöte), an awesome half round piano, a claviharpe (a cross between a piano and a harp), an orphica (a keyboard instrument held like a guitar), a dulictone, a bell piano (hammers strike metal bars), and a keyed monochord.

Sigal added wind instruments to the collection. There are 104 clarinets from various makers, beginning with his first metal Buescher "American Beauty" (1923). In the 1990s he added clarinets from the early 19th century (one of the early clarinets is a Grenser from 1807). Many are made from boxwood, and the instruments have a huge array of fingering systems and key configurations. The bores of the instruments also vary greatly. There is an American-made clarinet from 1865 made from ivory, and a plastic clarinet for children made around 1990 by Graham Lyons. There are bass clarinets, saxophones (14 of them, and even one with a slide), and 19th-century instruments that boggle the mind with their modern design.

The collection has all manner of double reeds: 52 oboes, 40 bassoons (with all their relatives) sarrusophones, a Rothphone, and even an intact rackett from the 18th century. Most interesting are two examples of "cup-mouthpiece" instruments: a bass horn and a Russian bassoon. I am, of course, extremely interested in Sigal's collection of 187 flute and whistle instruments, 132 of which are transverse flutes. The earliest transverse flute is a one-keyed ivory instrument from 1730, and the earliest recorders are from 1710. There is an 1818 glass flute from Paris, a Louis Lot from 1883, and dozens and dozens of instruments that I have never heard about before.

Marlowe's string instrument and percussion instrument collection is relatively small, but he does have a nice array that includes a pocket violin, a rebab, and a zither.

The book weighs close to six pounds, and aside from a few pages of text about the collection, a guide to abbreviations, a bibliography, a maker's index, and an index that organizes instruments by city and country of origin, it is a 300-page catalog filled with remarkable photographs of wonderful instruments. The collection is organized by instrument type, and each entry has a catalog number indicating when the instrument entered the collection. The book is beautifully bound, and the pages open completely, allowing the reader to see everything. There are some detail shots, and there are some instruments that have been photographed in their cases.

The collection is catalogued and organized by Albert R. Rice, who wrote the excellent introduction. I can't imagine any musician, any library, any school, any museum, or any collector who would not want to own this book!

You can visit the website here. There is a "look inside" feature, but the on-screen images are just shadows of the way they look on the page.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ging heut Morgen übers Feld

I just returned from a most glorious morning spring rain walk. It seemed as if every single flower on every single tree was either in blossom, about to blossom, or was in the process of releasing its blossoms to the ground. Everything was quiet except for the sound of rain and the sound of birds.

The trees were simply drinking in the water, and I was protected by my umbrella and my rain boots. Every once in a while I would stop in front of a flowering tree and watch the movement happening in the tree. Though I didn't actually see it happen, I felt that the flowers were opening up before my eyes.

Early spring used to be a horrible time for me. I used to identify with the sentiments of the 24-year-old Gustav Mahler in his "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" when he asks,
Nun fängt auch mein Glück wohl an?
and answers
Nein, nein, das ich mein',
Mir nimmer blühen kann!

[When will my happiness start?
I believe it can never blossom]

Ging heut Morgen übers Feld

This morning my "Feld" was paved, and the things that were (and still are) blooming were planted by people who probably never imagined the amount of happiness their work could give to people who would probably never personally and directly thank them for making their corner of the world a beautiful and inspiring place. It doesn't matter if people thank you for your labors of love, and it is clearly not a thankless task to plant trees or flowers. It's also not a thankless task to write music. It's kind of the same thing for me.

Today I had vivid memories of the rain walks I took during my childhood. Could it have been the rubber boots on my feet (I haven't had rain boots since childhood)? I tried to figure out why this sudden embrace of spring joy has so strongly replaced my usual lousy "April is the cruelest month" feelings. Could it be the recovery from our overly-long winter? Could it be my mature (nearly 56-year-old) hormonal state?

For some reason the hormonal state thing seems to resonate. After I was no longer a child, and before I became a mother I used to have an annual February depression. I could count on it. But in 1987, when I gave birth to our daughter on January 28, my February was filled with joy and wonder. I was expecting some kind of postpartum depression, but there was none. The hormonal changes that happened during pregnancy seemed to change me permanently. All the Februarys since 1987 have been just fine, but my "funk" seemed to switch to the time of year when everything is blooming (and I am not).

So here I am, with my hormonal state almost transported to the way it was before I was a teenager, and I find myself singing. I am thrilled by the flowering trees. Instead of feeling "left out" I feel inspired to create.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Robert Freeman's The Crisis of Classical Music in America: a minority opinion

I'm surprised to find almost nothing but praise on the Internet for Robert Freeman's 2014 The Crisis of Classical Music in America

Robert Freeman was educated at the Milton Academy, Harvard, and Princeton, taught at Princeton and MIT, and served as an administrator at Princeton, Eastman, New England Conservatory, and the University of Texas. Part memoir and part handbook, the book has chapters aimed towards specific audiences: parents of young musicians, current college students, college faculty, deans, provosts and presidents, and foundation directors. There is some excellent advice about ways of making orchestral concerts more accessible to audiences, and some of Freeman's examples could serve as inspiration for organizations that are suffering economically; but he does not address what seems to be the largest crisis facing institutions of higher learning in America: the treatment of adjunct faculty.

Musicians have been working as academic adjuncts for a long time, but now that other fields of study rely on more and more adjunct faculty members to teach courses, the problem is no longer one that only concerns the state of music in colleges and universities. Freeman's paragraph about what he calls "junior faculty" makes his vantage point clear:
A special faculty problem, I think, is the difference between institutions like Harvard and Princeton, which most often choose senior faculty from the outside, as a means of ensuring quality, and institutions like Texas and Michigan, where the promotion rate for assistant professors approximates two thirds. In the latter universities, senior faculty treat junior faculty as a human resource to be developed and nurtured, in the former as a temporary resource to be exploited. It makes no sense to turn a promising young colleague into a personal friend if he is about to be exiled to what one thinks of too easily as the minor leagues.
To this I utter a resounding "Huh?" If Texas and Michigan are the "minor leagues," and the people teaching in those schools are in "exile," I hate to think about how he would regard the smaller state schools in America where the state of music really is in crisis.

I live in a college town where music majors are no longer required to take courses in musical analysis (such a course is no longer offered). Most of the members of the music faculty do not have tenure-track positions, and all the required music history courses for music majors are shouldered by a single underpaid instructor who is grateful to have the position. All of the music appreciation classes are taught by applied faculty, and the applied faculty members who teach those courses are more accomplished instrumentalists and better teachers, for the most part, than the people who had tenure-track jobs teaching their instruments a dozen years ago.

I share Freeman's belief that music students should study humanities, but I find his statement about hiring people to teach courses outside of music suspect:
The continuing national oversupply of very gifted PhDs in the humanities made it relatively easy to hire very good people in this area, one that I thought should be strong enough to persuade Eastman students that the abilities to read with nuance and to write and speak with power were important skills for a modern musician.
Does "relatively easy" mean inexpensive and without commitment?

Robert Freeman's father was a member of the Boston Symphony, and Robert enjoyed a childhood filled with music making at the highest level. I also grew up as a child of the Boston Symphony member (one generation later), and I attended an elite musical institution (Juilliard), but my adult view of the world of music is informed from what I see and hear around me in 21st-century America, where I live and work as a musician. Freeman's elevated vantage point makes me feel uneasy.

Perhaps Freeman is able to speak to some the problems facing some of the elite musical institutions in America, but I can't seem to find much in this book that resonates with my experience. Perhaps a truer title for the book would have been "The Problems Elite Musical Institutions Face in America," but then it probably wouldn't sell.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Have something interesting to say . . ."

Kenneth Woods has something interesting to say about making mistakes and getting second chances:
Believe it or not, having an interesting musical point of view is, in my experience, the rarest quality in musicians, and also the most important. Anyone can be derivative, literal, formulaic or wayward. If your take on the Beethoven Violin Concerto sounds just like Mutter’s or Perlman’s but with more mistakes, then the mistakes really count. If you’re doing lots of attention-seeking “musical” stunts, any mistakes will also attract maximum attention. There’s no shortcut to an interesting, personal and engaging interpretation- you’ve got to ask a lot of questions, live with the music, study the score away from your instrument, put your repertoire in context, challenge your ideas (and especially your teacher’s ideas), feed off your colleagues and be in the moment. Once you develop a really interesting point of view, you have to find the technical means to put it across to the listener. If you can play the Bruch Violin Concerto or the Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto in a way that makes your colleagues and the audience listen with excitement and anticipation, you can probably be forgiven missing the odd run. Why only nine things on the list? Because this one counts double. Have something interesting to say about the music and you’ll always give yourself the best chance at a second chance when you need it. Cause let’s face it: we all need a second chance sooner or later.
You can read his whole post here.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Plop and Pop: Creating a Reliable Left Hand Position on the Violin and Viola

Much of what I know about violin and viola playing comes from practice, obsessive observation, and intuition. A lot of it comes from my experience as a wind player; particularly my experience with the recorder, and a lot of it comes from advice I learned from friends who happen to be great musicians. I have never been "trained" as a Suzuki teacher. If I were to identify with a "school," it would be the rather dowdy Samuel Applebaum "school" because that is the method I used to learn to play the violin when I was a child.

I have been teaching students my "Plop and Pop" method for about ten years, and I think it's high time I share it with other upper string players. There are people who might disagree with me totally, which is fine. All I know is that when an intelligent student applies the principles of "plop and pop," s/he makes an excellent sound, plays well in tune, and develops the confidence to express himself or herself musically.

Here are the basic components:

A beginner violinist does two basic things with his or her fingers: plopping and popping.

The Plop

When (in the first position) you play a D on the A string you plop down your first, second, and third fingers in the configuration necessary for the key (e.g. the second finger will be "kissing" the third finger in keys that have C sharp, and the second finger will be "kissing" the first finger in keys that have B natural and C natural).¹ You always plop from above, and you always plop decisively. You don't need to press when you plop, and you never need to squeeze or clamp the hand down on the fingerboard. Plopping is kind of like sitting down on a nice chair, or putting down a bag of groceries. You use the weight of your arm to make the plop. The plop works most effectively when the wrist is dropped and when the left thumb is relaxed and not bent. It also works best when the arm is under the violin. Form follows function.

The plop works in any position, and conscientious plopping is a great antidote for students to tend to pull their strings sideways. The beauty of the plop is that it is premeditated. You "see" the fingers that are out of "sight," and you feel the half steps and whole steps during the nanosecond before the plop. In the case of the three-finger plop, the fourth finger needs to remain above (or the plop can't really happen). Once students pay attention to the necessity of keeping the fourth finger with the rest of the hand, the fourth finger learns to behave. A four-finger plop is more difficult (due to more half-step possibilities); but it is the logical next step after mastering the three-finger plop.

It is not always possible to plop all the fingers down comfortably (i.e. when you have a low first finger and a high third finger or when you play the viola), so the mental accounting for where the "unseen" fingers would land (if they could) works almost as well as an actual full-hand plop.

¹The "kiss" is what happens between the fingers during half steps. When you have a lot of half steps you get "Romantic" music!

The Pop

The pop is not as simple as it sounds. In order to get from the above mentioned D to the C sharp a half step below it you obviously need to lift the third finger. With the three fingers of the D on the A string "in hand," the second finger is already on the C sharp. The difference between just lifting the finger and "popping" is that before you lift the third finger you shift the weight of the hand to the second finger, using it like a lever to "pop" the third finger. The difference between using the moment before the change of note to shift the weight to the second finger before popping the third finger to "reveal" the C sharp and not shifting the weight is both audible and palpable. It takes a great deal of concentration on the part of the student and the teacher to recognize the physical and aural sensations.

I like to give the idea of a teeter-totter to "enlarge" the image. I also tell students that their fingers are like levers. The hand and arms really work like a group of simple machines when it comes to playing the violin and the viola.

[Click for a larger image, or go to the link above.]

If you use an arm-powered vibrato (as I do), it is easier to vibrate from one note to the next when you follow the principles of "plop and pop." If you do old finger shifts (as I do: it's the best playing therapy I know for left hand tendonitis), a modified plop and pop comes into play. It sure makes practicing interesting, and it makes everything sound better.

For some reason cellists seem to do this kind of thing naturally. When our son started playing the cello, he did it immediately. If you watch Nathan Milstein's left hand, it is clear that his weight is always shifting before he "pops." My father does it too, but when I explained my "plop and pop" theory to him a few weeks ago, it was new to him. Maybe you do it naturally too. But teaching others to do it is a different matter.

I find that while students are playing I can remind them to plop here and pop there. I also incorporate other words that come immediately to mind: stop, roll, and drop, but those are really matters to elaborate on in another post. Here's a brief preview:

Stop: The bow can stop at any time. It can make very short stops between notes in a shift. It can stop during the nanosecond before the left hand weight shifts to the next finger in order to "pop."

Drop: Drop the wrist.

Roll: The bow rolls to the next string in the case of a string crossing.

Note to violists:

Since the half-steps on the viola are not as natural as they are on the violin (we always have to make adjustments), there is an added level of "pre-thought" that goes into using the "plop and pop" method. The price we pay to play our glorious instrument well is that additional moment of thinking. Now I really understand the motivation behind my father's dictum, "You have to think all of the time, not just some of the time."

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tap the World with Ben Leddy!

Our son Ben wrote this fantastic patter song that will teach you the countries and territories of North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe in less than four minutes.

Friday, April 03, 2015

My Two Zuzims on Passover

This piece is part of a series of 12 preludes that correspond to the months of the Jewish year 5775. This one is my "two zuzims" on Passover, which falls during the month of Nisan.

You can listen to it here, and you can get the music here. I plan to put the whole set of preludes in the IMSLP when it is finished in August. I have limited myself to writing one per month.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rice Pudding Scone Muffin

Yesterday I tried to find a recipe for muffins that incorporated leftover brown rice. I found several recipes of the gluten-free variety, which didn't interest me. Since I wanted to use a combination of wheat flour and rice, I ended up making up a recipe. The result was delicious and satisfying muffin that tasted like not-too-sweet rice pudding, and had the texture of a scone.

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup leftover cooked short-grain brown rice

2 tablespoons coconut oil (you could also use butter, but I had some coconut oil around and wanted to experiment with it)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used soy milk because that's what I had around, but I imagine regular milk would also work)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup (or so) of raisins
lots of cinnamon to shake on top

Warm the eggs and the milk to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12-muffin muffin tin with paper liners. Melt the butter or coconut oil so it is warm, but not hot.

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and mix the eggs, milk, butter (or coconut oil), brown sugar, and vanilla together in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then mix in the rice and the raisins.

The batter will be very stiff (I imagine that it would hold up if you dropped spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet like scones). Divide the mixture among the 12 muffin tins (it won't rise very much), and shake a generous amount of cinnamon on the muffins. Bake for 25 minutes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

In Praise of Now

I always remind my students that when we play we are always thinking about where we are, where we have been, and where we are going at the same time. In order to make for a meaningful performance, we have to be aware of where a phrase started and where it is heading. In order to make meaningful musical moments we need to set them up and release them. We need to be aware of the structure of the music we are playing, and we need to be hyper aware of what we happen to be doing at any given moment and where that action is taking us musically. Since no two turns around the fishbowl are identical, we strive to make the most out of the tiny nanoseconds of expressive difference, and, sometimes those little differences can make a world of difference in the way a piece "goes" in performance.

The air is electrified with the thrill of discovery. The beginning of each phrase becomes a "now," the duration of each phrase is an experience of "now," and the end of each phrase has a cadential (sometimes) sense of "now."

If we know the music well enough (and knowing something by memory doesn't always mean that we know the music beyond the notes, articulations, and dynamics), we can trust ourselves and be thrilled and entertained by whatever waves might come along, or whatever curve balls are thrown at us during the "now" of a performance. We can direct our awareness outward towards the people we are playing with, and follow their whims. We can enjoy the novelty and intimacy of the exchanges. And those intimate and novel exchanges are what we share with the people who are listening. We have an obligation to saturate the time with a meaningful sense of "now."

Perhaps it is because of that sense of "now" that I rarely listen to recordings more than once. A recorded performance is an image of something that was a "now," but a recording is always limited to what the microphone "hears" and/or what the camera "sees." I prefer to listen to recordings made in concert. A recording made in a studio, and submitted to scores of edits, does not offer me the same sense of "now" that a concert offers. A recording may be "perfect" (it certainly has to represent the intentions of the people playing and has to satisfy the people publishing it), and a concert may not be "perfect" (I distrust the idea of perfection in music), but the concert offers me and the other people in the room a meaningful "now." Lately I have been spending most of my musical time with live music: practicing myself, teaching students, rehearsing, playing with friends, or going to concerts.

In extra-musical life we enjoy the sense of now. My sense of smell during the particular "now" while I am writing this post is stimulated by the chicken stock I made last night reducing in the oven so that its flavor will become more concentrated. Come dinner time my sense of taste will be satisfied by those hours and hours of cooking time (not a "now" in itself, I guess, because it is a process), and dinner will be more meaningful because of the time spent letting the bones and vegetables cook. I have all day to anticipate it.

When someone plays a concert his or her weeks and months prior to the performance have been filled with figurative stock-making. That hour or hour and a half has been deemed "sacred" well ahead of time. Someone who performs a lot has a lot of "sacred" moments in his or her future, and someone who performs rarely has fewer, but they are just as sacred.

Our daily practice prepares us for whatever "now" happens to be in our immediate or distant future.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Birthday Greetings to JSB

Dear Mr. Bach,

I'm writing this letter in the form of a blog post so that it can be seen everywhere in the world on the same day. That concept might seem odd and impossible from where you lived during the 17th and 18th centuries, but that is nothing compared to the number of musicians in every country of the world who spend much of their lives playing the instrumental music you wrote for Prince Leopold, the keyboard music you wrote for your children, and the choral and vocal music you wrote for your church.

Your music for solo violin and for solo cello has been in my ear since I was born. During my infancy and the chaotic years of my childhood, I became grounded by the direction of the phrases in the cello suites that my father practiced on the viola, the transcriptions of your music that my mother played on the flute, and the preludes and fugues that my brothers played on the piano. Your flute sonatas and flute obbligatos from the cantatas, passions, and masses that I played on the flute sustained me through my teenage years, and then they taught me how to play the baroque flute (the instrument you wrote them for). Your Brandenburg Concertos taught me how to play the recorder, and your obbligato arias served as a doorway for the cantatas, masses, and passions as whole works. Through those awe-inspiring works I have learned (and continue to learn) how infinite and esoteric music can be.

Your music for violin taught me (and still teaches me) how to play the violin, and your Cello Suites (which I play on the viola) teach me daily how to get more from music and how to give more through music. I never tire of playing them, and I play them daily. They have helped me to teach students of all ages and experience about the infinite possibilities contained in a single line of music. They have helped me to express my feelings in times of sorrow and in times of joy. Even though I play them by myself, they help me feel that I am communicating something. They keep me company, and they help me recall one of the greatest joys of my childhood: listening to my father play your music on the viola. Once in a while I sound a little like the way he sounded in my idealized memory's ear, and that makes me feel wonderful.

Your Preludes and Fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier are my piano teachers. The incipient pianist in me goes through them methodically, and the composer in me marvels at how you get from one point to the next. The student in me climbs carefully through the musical landscapes filled with double sharps, and the teacher in me understands why you put some of your very best music into those rugged landscapes, making the difficult journey through well worth the mental gymnastics. Hearing accomplished pianists, organists, and harpsichordists play your keyboard music brings me great joy because I can step outside and marvel at the architecture.

This year musicians all over the world are celebrating your birthday by playing your music in public places. Any city dweller reading this who does not know about Bach in the Subways should see what is happening in their city right now.

Mit herzlichen Grüßen aus Charleston, Illinois,

Elaine Fine

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Seymour Barab's Complete Philip Marshall on Vimeo

Margie King Barab just let me know that a video of Philip Marshall, Seymour Barab's Civil War opera, is available to watch on line. This work would certainly be appropriate to revive during this Sesquicentennial observance of the end of the Civil War. Here's an excerpt from E. Thomas Glascow's review in Opera News of the first performance in 1974.

ON JULY 12 came the world premiere of Seymour Barab's Philip Marshall, a timeless, engrossing drama (libretto by the composer) about a Civil War veteran who, on returning home, finds life irrevocably altered by the conflict. Sandwiched between a spoken prologue and epilogue (Mrs. Hannon's visit to the doctor of the mentally crippled hero), the opera unfolds as flashback in the minds of Philip and Mrs. Hannon; a single, functional set served through the two long acts, with blackouts and prop changes behind one of the spotlit characters carrying on a sort of memory trip. The opera seemed tailor made for television.

Barab's lyrical, tastefully orchestrated score (with arias and ensembles) got sensitive treatment from the large orchestra under Wolfgang Schanzer. In the role of Maritha--the naive impetuous girl in love with Philip--Julia Lovett proved herself a singing actress of the highest caliber, with a soprano voice of exceptional purity and range. The other roles were well filled, from Theodor Uppman's sympathetic, war-weary hero to tenor David Griffith's war-dodging prodigal son, Jonathan Hannon. Soprano Suzanne Blum sang a passionate Rosellen (Philip's fiancé-turned-madam), and as Lucius, baritone Ronald Holgate developed from sinister bordello owner to heartsick, jealous lover...

Here's the first act:

Philip Marshall part one from Ronald Blumer on Vimeo.

. . . and here's the second act:

Philip Marshall act two from Ronald Blumer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"More Greek Myths" on YouTube!

A performance of "More Greek Myths," a piece I wrote in 2007 for Susan Nigro, is now on YouTube!

Here are some program notes:

I. Apollo (begins at 0:01)
II. Artemis (begins around 2:15)
III. The Labors of Heracles (begins around 3:45)
IV. Aphrodite (begins around 5:56)
V. Dionysus (begins around 8:09)

The basic idea of this set of pieces is a progression from the Apollonian to the Dionysian. Apollo, the god of the sun, represents the ideas of individuality, critical reason, the artistic possibilities of human beings, and the concept of perfection. He is cerebral while Dionysus, who ends this set of pieces, is ruled by passion and instinct. He is the god of wine and is associated with intoxication, pleasure, loss of individuality and dissolution of boundaries. He is the god of excess, while his brother Apollo (both are children of Zeus) is the god of self-control.

After Apollo we get Artemis, who is Apollo's twin sister. She is the virgin huntress. The meter of her piece is 6/8, the usual meter of hunt music (Mozart's "hunt" quartet, etc.), and the ascending arpeggios are supposed to be like arrows flying into the air. The music is kind of self-contained: Artemis is content with her life on her island (where she prefers to live alone with the animals). Before Dionysus comes Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She represents everything that Artemis is not. The image that I had while writing this piece was that of Aphrodite (represented by the sexy voice of the contrabassoon) rising up from sea foam, as represented by the piano's rhythmic ostinato.

In the middle of the set we get Heracles. He is the only mortal in the lot. While all the gods around him get to bask in tonality (and Aphrodite gets all kinds of rich 7th chords), Heracles labors with a tone row, made more difficult by irregular meters, dotted rhythms, and a relatively slow tempo.

The title "More Greek Myths" came about because this is the second set of Greek Myth pieces I have written for contrabassoon and piano. The first set is called "Four Greek Myths," and "illustrates" the stories of Hades and Persephone, Icarus and Daedalus, Pan and Syrinx, and Echo and Narcissus.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Marshall's Memorial Service

It was a beautiful service. Organist Joseph Fort, who is also a terrific pianist, played a bunch of pieces from the WTC and finished with the E-minor Fugue from the second book, which was Marshall's fugue (he claimed ownership, and nobody else was permitted to play it). My father and I played the slow movement from the Mozart g-major duo (the only other time I have played the violin part was with Marshall playing Viola), and Susan played a Celtic harp piece at the end. Grethen Grimshaw gave a most personal and moving account of her experience with Marshall, and my mother, father, and I each spoke about Marshall. My mother's friends were there, and I got the distinct feeling that everyone left the church feeling somehow changed. It was a transformative experience, and a service that Marshall would definitely have approved of because everyone spoke directly and honestly, and because the music was good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Charlie Parker With Strings

The English Horn player definitely looks like Mitch Miller, and the violinist looks like David Nadien. The violist looks like he might be William Lincer.