All posts by Gary


About Gary

Piano Teacher with over 40 years experience, teaching in the Fort Lauderdale area. Teaches exclusively at All County Music in Tamarac FL.

Dvorak 7th Symphony

FRIDAY, January 24, 2020

Two Recordings…

Try listening to just a little of both recordings, then see if you hear any difference at all. They are not easy to hear. The one with Kubelik stretches things a big more, varies the tempo and does things like gigantic swells in the brass. But both are excellent and at the top of the list of recommended recordings.

This is not short…

Try listening to just a little of both recordings, then see if you hear any different at all. The differences are not easy to hear. The one with Kubelik stretches things a big more, varies the tempo and does things like gigantic swells in the brass. But both are excellent and at the top of the list of recommended recordings.

I don’t expect most people to listen to listen to something this long, but a good way to learn to listen to longer compositions is to put them on while doing other things, to introduce your brain to a slower, more relaxed way of experiencing sound, so you might try listening to this or other things like it while doing other things. For me this sometimes means writing here, or answering mail, or reading forums. I can register everything in the background, to get a feeling about whether or not I want to listen again without doing anything else. For me it is also sometimes helpful to watch videos where I can see people playing the music, or read about the music.

Dvorak was mentored by Brahms…

Briefly, Dvorak was continually supported by Brahms, who always admired this Czech composer, and in fact it was and remains not all uncommon for geniuses to recognize other geniuses and promote their works. I love reading about how Brahms helped Dvorak throughout his career. Unfortunately I have not found anything short about this to share here. But without Brahms it is quite likely the world may never have discovered Dvorak in the same way.

Rafael Kubelik…

George Szell…

Szell was a legendary conductor. Although this recording was made between 1958 and 1960 the evolution of the sound we associate today as top notch was just about completed.

The sound is good although it is an early stereo recording…

It holds up very well against recordings made very recently, and the interpretation is legendary.


Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage

FRIDAY, January 17, 2020

Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage – Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt

Wiki has a bit of background on this piece. There is a second article about this overture. Of most interest to me is that Beethoven also used the same title for a cantata, and Mendelssohn obviously had similar ideas, all based on Goethe. This overture by Mendelssohn is not as famous as his Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Fingal’s Cave, but it is certainly fine music.

This is the second of three famous overtures…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1826, was written first. Then a couple years later came this piece, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, 1828. Finally came Fingal’s Cave, 1830-1832, but actually published in 1833. He wrote it in 1830 but revised it two years later.



Duke Ellington

FRIDAY, January 17, 2020

Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)…

He lived from 1899 to 1974, but there are not a lot of modern recordings with stereo sound. Satin Doll was one of his most famous compositions, written in combination with Billy Strayhorn and remains and incredibly popular standard to this very day.

Satin Doll…

Ellington is another talented music who was not taught how to read music…

He did not learn to read music until his late teens. But he certainly made up for it later. The phenomena of pianists growing up without reading music became more and more frequent in the 20th century and continues today.

Take the A Train…


Prince Igor Overture

FRIDAY, January 17, 2020

Borodin, born the same year as Brahms…

He lived for 53 years, from 12 November 1833 to 27 February 1887. Brahms lived from 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897, so Brahms lived for about 10 more years, but they were only about six months apart. It is more likely that Borodin heard the music of Brahms than the other way around, but I don’t think either composer knew much about this other.

I tried to do a lot of research about Prince Igor…

So you can read more about Borodin above, but this overture is not only a good introduction to Borodin but also highlights his influence on a number of famous film composers.

Prince Igor Overture…


Spotlight by Date

THURSDAY, January 16, 2020

(Go to SPOTLIGHT posts by composers…)

List of all SPOTLIGHT posts by date…

  Composer Post Date
1 Dvorak Dvorak 7th Symphony 24 hours ago
2 Schumann Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage 2020/01/17
3 Ellington Duke Ellington 2020/01/17
4 Borodin Prince Igor Overture 2020/01/17
5 Williams Anakin and Padme Love Theme 2020/01/16
6 Williams Anakin’s Theme 2020/01/15
7 Williams Duel of the Fates Theme 2020/01/15
8 Williams Darth Vader Theme 2020/01/14
9 Williams Princess Leia’s Theme 2020/01/14
10 Williams Yoda’s Theme 2020/01/14
11 Williams The Force Theme 2020/01/13
12 Williams Luke Skywalker’s Theme 2020/01/13
13 Williams Star Wars 2020/01/12
14 Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra 2020/01/12
15 Mozart New – Eine kleine Nachtmusik 2020/01/12
16 Schubert Schubert: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D.960 2020/01/01
17 Dvorak Dvorak Piano Concerto 2020/01/01
18 Peterson Oscar Peterson 2019/12/31
19 Dvorak Dvorak and Grieg 2019/12/30
20 Vivaldi Bach and Vivaldi 2019/12/29
21 Vivaldi More Vivaldi 2019/12/24
22 Vivaldi The Four Seasons 2019/12/24
23 Scriabin Scriabin 2019/12/24
24 Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Ballet 2019/12/20
25 Nat King Cole The Christmas Song 2019/12/15
26 Van Heusen “But Beautiful”, a Great Standard 2019/12/12
27 Handel The Messiah 2019/12/12
28 Bruckner Bruckner Symphony #4 2019/12/08
29 Brahms Takashi Asahina 2019/12/08
30 Various Famous arrangers and transcribers 2019/12/04
31 Schubert Ben Hopkins 2019/12/04
32 Chopin Raindrop Prelude 2019/12/02
33 Schubert Schubert Gb Impromptu 2019/11/28
34 Collier Two mid-season pieces 2019/11/26
35 Mendelssohn Fingal’s Cave 2019/11/24
36 Smetana The Moldau 2019/11/17
37 Beethoven Janine Jansen 2019/11/11
38 Tchaikovsky Tchaikovksy 4th Symphony 2019/11/11
39 Mahler Mahler Quartet for Strings and Piano 2019/11/10
40 Queen Bohemian Rhapsody 2019/11/04
41 Bizet For Those Who Hate Opera 2019/11/01
42 Kanno Zankyou no Terror 2019/11/01
43 Collier Jacob Collier 2019/10/28
44 Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture 2019/10/25
45 Strauss The Beautiful Danube 2019/10/24
46 Verdi Triumphal March 2019/10/24
47 Orf Carl Orff 2019/10/22
48 Schubert Barry Lyndon 2019/10/22
49 Various Name that tune! 2019/10/22
50 Bartok Game of pairs 2019/10/22
51 Hut Hut 2019/10/14
52 Bach Brandenburg Concerto 2 in F 2019/10/10
53 Bach Bach’s Orchestral Suite 3 in D major 2019/10/09
54 Davis So What 2019/10/08
55 Schumann Schumann horn quartet 2019/10/07
56 Flanders & Swann Flanders & Swann 2019/10/07
57 Cookie Graham Cookie 2019/10/04
58 Pachelbel Pachelbels Cannon Encore 2019/10/03
59 Pachelbel Pachebel’s Cannon 2019/10/03
60 Hut Guitar Lydian Improv 2019/10/03
61 Mckennitt Loreena Mckennitt 2019/09/30
62 Simon @ Garfunkel Scarboro Fair 2019/09/30
63 Mozart Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 2019/09/30
64 Dovgan Alexandra Dovgan 2019/09/27
65 Liszt Consolation No. 3 2019/09/27
66 Clapton Eric Clapton 2019/09/27
67 Hut Dorian Improv 2019/09/27
68 Grofe Grand Canyon Suite 2019/09/24
69 Ella Ella and scat singing 2019/09/23
70 De Vorzon/ Botkin Jr. Cotton’s Dream 2019/09/22
71 Ravel Daphnis et Chloé 2019/09/19
72 Ravel Bolero 2019/09/17
73 Bach Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring 2019/09/17
74 Debussy The Girl with the Flaxen Hair 2019/09/16
75 Dukas Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2019/09/05
76 Holst Uranus the Magician 2019/09/05
77 Kabalesky Comedian’s Galop 2019/09/05
78 Anderson A Trumpeter’s Lullaby 2019/09/02
79 Mozart Mozart Symphony No. 40, 1st movement 2019/08/30
80 Strauss Don Juan 2019/08/21
81 Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade 2019/08/15
82 Strauss 2001 A Space Odyssey 2019/08/10
83 Beatles Eleanor Rigby 2019/08/09
84 Rossini William Tell Overture 2019/07/31
85 Bach The Romantic movement started here… 2019/07/28
86 Wagner Parsifal 2019/07/26
87 Joplin Maple Leaf Rag 2019/07/19
88 Debussy Interrupted Serenade 2019/07/02
89 Bizet Carmen Variations 2019/06/14
90 Debussy Reflections in the water 2019/05/26
91 Beethoven Für Elise 2019/05/16
92 Grusin Death of Love and Trust 2019/05/15
93 Debussy Claire de Lune 2019/05/07
94 Schubert Schubert Impromptu No. 3 in G Flat 2019/04/30
95 Rachmaninov Another piece in Eb Minor by Rachmaninov 2019/04/29
96 Rachmaninov Something Very Eerie 2019/04/19
97 Chopin Chopin 3rd Sonata, final movement 2019/04/14
98 Chopin Chopin Polonaise in A♭ major 2019/04/09
99 Chopin Fantaisie Impromptu 2019/04/09
100 Liszt Liebestraum 2019/04/07
101 Rachmaninov Rachmaninov C# Minor Prelude 2019/04/07
102 Beethoven Beethoven 5th Symphony, final movement 2019/04/02
103 Chopin Revolutionary Etude 2019/04/01
104 Saint Saens Carnival of the Animals 2019/03/21
105 Beethoven Claudio Arrau 2019/03/19
106 Saint Saens Danse Macabre Saint Saens 2019/03/18
107 Dvorak Twisted Dvorak 2019/03/14
108 Saint Saens Twisted Disney 2019/03/07
109 Dvorak Dvorak New World Symphony 2019/03/06
110 Saint Saens Organ again… 2019/03/05
111 Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf 2019/03/03
112 Dudamel The most amazing youth program in the world 2019/03/03
113 Beatles What are these kids playing? 2019/03/03
114 Scarlatti Scarlatti Sonata in C Major, K, 159 2019/02/25
115 Chopin The Minute Waltz 2019/02/20
116 Bach Dorian Toccata 2019/02/18
117 Rachmaninov Somewhere in Time and Rachmaninov 2019/02/06
118 Elgar Nimrod 2019/02/03
119 Williams Leitmotivs in Star Wars 2019/01/13
120 Various More Old Popular Music 2018/12/22
121 Various Classical Music Is Older Popular Music 2018/12/08

Anakin and Padme Love Theme

WEDNESDAY, January 15, 2020

Across The Stars…

It’s actually not clear if this theme is about Anakin or Padme, because it is used for both. You might call it a shared theme. However, Anakin has it’s own theme, so we could consider this a love theme, connected to both of them.

Attack of the Clones

The romance between these two, if you think about it, goes back to a very old theme – star-crossed lovers – and that goes right back to Romeo and Juliet. It is impossible that John Williams did not  know the music to the famous movie Romeo and Juliet from 1968. Is this love song as good as his composition? I don’t think so, though this is quite nice. But these are the arch-typical Shakespearean young lovers:

The same idea, but more than 30 years later…

If you listen carefully you will hear that this is in the same key as the love theme from Romeo and Juliet. Williams is a far more sophisticated composers, so he never stays in a key all the way through without varying something, so before long he moves from D minor to C minor. He is yet another in a line of composers who write tone poems, and this style of writing started a long time ago, eventually competing with the more traditional manner of writing symphonies. This is why his music bears so much resemblance to Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Strauss and on into the 20th and 21st centuries.

Anakin’s Betrayal…

This is yet another example of how Williams puts tone poems together. The same theme is in this piece, but there are just snippets, and it’s hard to hear. Incidentally, Willams is a tuba player. All brass instruments work the same way, so there is no one – and I repeat NO ONE – who writes better for brass. He has a perfect understanding of what is and is not possible for brass players.




Anakin’s Theme

WEDNESDAY, January 15, 2020

Anakin’s Theme…

It first appears in The Phantom Menace, and it’s quite amazing to think that 22 years went by between the first trilogy and the second. Of course the 2nd trilogy goes back and fills in the beginning of the story, so ironically the 2nd trilogy is the first in terms of time.

End credits of The Phantom Menace

The best part of any Williams score is the ending credits, which are always very carefully arranged medleys of all the important themes. This starts with the Skywalker Theme from the very first movie, but then he goes right into the Duel of Fates Theme, which is totally new in this film. Then finally he finishes up with Anakin’s Theme, and instead of ending in a big bang, the ending is soft, very quiet, a major chord, then you hear a bit of the Vader Theme, very slow, even quieter, and finally an open 5th.

There is a final A, strong, with just a hint of E. No C# or C. Open 5ths are always ambiguous. Is it happy? Or sad? Or just serious? We don’t know, but of course we do, because we already know what happened to Anakin later as he went over to the Dark Side.

How many people think John Williams knows this and was influenced by it in his Duel of Fates Theme?



Duel of the Fates Theme

WEDNESDAY, January 15, 2020

Duel of the Fates Theme…

The lyrics are based on a fragment of an archaic Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (Battle of the Trees), and sung in Sanskrit. It is first heard during the final lightsaber duel in The Phantom Menace.

It’s mostly morphing…

The most important thing: This is another piece that is about morphing minors. His first chord is Em, in the key of E minor, then it morphs to Cm. One note goes up, another goes down and the third stays, a double morph with movement in contrary motion.

This is not the only thing he does, but that is the exact same chord movement he uses in the Darth Vader Theme. Then he moves to the key of G minor, which is like a morph but leaving out a step. If you go from Gm to Eb, that’s a double morph, then from Eb to Gm is a single morph. He has set up all these minor chords – Em, Cm and Gm, then he morphs from Gm to Ebm. It’s all incredibly simple, but then with driving rhythms and amazing orchestration it is incredibly powerful.

You can’t hear things like this without knowing the patterns…

The reason I can hear all this is that I know his tricks. I know how the man thinks, so I expect certain chord combinations. Each composer uses certain chords, scales and rhythms, which become kind of a compositional handwriting.

Battle of the Heroes…

This is not exactly the same by any means. This is in D minor, but it has a related feel. It comes later in the Revenge of the Sith.

Yoda vs Darth Sidious Fight Scene – Revenge of the Sith

Williams starts with Darth Vader Theme, but then moves into Fates Theme here. There is a track, music only, that sounds like an abbreviation of theme, but the video integrates it all.