Archive for April, 2005

I found this article interesting–although over 5 years ago, while in Europe, I read about ringtones in the International Herald Tribune, and had contacted the director of www.mobiletones.com and he visited my home in New York. The meeting led to my creation of over 400 classical ringtones (Baroque through the present) and then 60+ holiday song ringtones. Even Ellen Taaffe Zwilich found her music in ringtone form online! If you have time to have some listening fun, one can find these tunes, er, tones, at www.mobiletones.com. Some early catalogue numbers were there prior to my connection to the company. My goal was to attempt to make the cellphone sound like a musical instrument–any comments?

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The other day, I was speaking with a board member of an orchestra I am working with–we were chatting about Beethoven and the effect his growing deafness must have had on him–the one thing he needed so much. I had mentioned that I sincerely remembered being deaf until the age of 3–there are 8mm black and white films to attest to my recollections–standing still near a giant 1960s stereo speaker cabinet–and gazing at the box–and I remember that, feeling the vibrations–a vague sound–everything was vague. I did not speak–I did not understand English. Fortunately, my parents took me to a series of doctors, asking why I did not speak. One doctor finally faced me to a wall and called my name. No answer. He affirmed their fears–I could not hear. At age 43, I still remember the most vivid experience from the surgery that the doctors performed to open my ear canals, which were closed off, along with the tonsillectomy. I rose above my body and floated over it, however briefly (several seconds atleast)watching over the surgery, watching my body. I know I remember it, as I had never experienced that out-of-body experience again. My world opened thanks to the miracle of hearing. I can now understand the torture of Beethoven’s demise. The board member had tears–for me, this was just a mere aspect of my beginnings, but how it relates to the fact that music became my life, is probably the irony of the whole story. Perhaps it is a part of my life that I should remember as the contributing factor why music chose me, and not the other way around.

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Based on my exeriences and background as an active concert pianist and composer, I have composed a short story that deals with music and time travel set in the 21st century. It begins on the date of my would-be 100th birthday and is told in diary form by a nameless character, who would be my great-grandson. This is part 2. Part one is the previous post.

11 pm. The door closed effortlessly around me. Within seconds, a gentle breeze entered the capsule and a soft ray of light was absorbed throughout my body. I felt a calm mood envelop me. I closed my eyes and within a short moment, total peace and serenity wrapped itself around my physical self. I felt a fading out sensation, followed immediately by a fading in.

I heard music. Beautiful music. It was Beethoven’s ‘Piano Concerto no. 4′. I looked closer and recognized the pianist to be that of my great-grandfather. Yes, Dr. Muzel, it worked. It was February 12, 2008, the Lasting Peace Concert. The front row in the audience seemed to be the most distinguished leaders of the time, as I knew them from the pictures in my history books. This was the historic concert that
celebrated the Peace Deal of the 21st Century. Listening to the most heavenly sound at the piano, I remembered the words ‘purpose’ and the ‘big picture’. Perhaps it had been my great-grandfather’s purpose to make the music come to life so that in the years to follow, I would then carry the torch of tradition.

My appetite to explore the past and learn from the masters had grown increasingly voracious. How I had wished that my great-grandfather could have seen me and had known I was there! Through history, it was indeed the music that shared common
bonds and values amongst the nations. Beethoven’s music had survived. The purpose of his eternal genius was ever more evident that afternoon. During the walks of life throughout time, the purpose of music must be evident, not necessarily defined as a purpose, but as an entity that is part of our daily existence. It is a language that communicates to the heart, awakens our spirit and is forever inscribed in our souls.
Therefore, I had to gradually go back in time to return to the time of Beethoven.

I felt a fading sensation, and noticed the absence of my grandfather and everyone that had surrounded me. My innermost desire at this phase of consciousness led me to the final concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein in 1990. His friends called him Lenny. He possessed an energy that was relentless. He conducted sublimely in tender moments and then bounced on the podium with aplomb when excited. I had attended the
100th Anniversary of his beloved musical opera, ‘West Side Story’ in 2057. The story was based on the Arthur Laurents’ book about a Puerto Rican gang against a New York City gang. It is still considered one of the best Broadway musicals ever created. My grandfather once told me that he had performed for Lenny. He was not a tall man, but a giant amongst the walking musicians. He told me he had worn a ceremonial
tallith around his neck and had spoken kindly to him.

That fading sensation again. My eyes then closed briefly, and slowly opened to the vision of the great Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Center. His sheer brilliance and aura took over the scene. The crowd went wildly enthusiastic. It was indeed a short visit, which inspired me to remember the legendary pianist, Vladimir Horowitz, who in 1965 returned to the concert stage.

He was married to Wanda Toscanini, the daughter of the illustrious and sometimes fiery Maestro, Arturo Toscanini. My eyes fell gently and when I breathed a short breath, I was instantly on the corner of West 57th Street in New York City waiting on line for tickets to see and hear the great pianist’s return. Carnegie Hall-the legendary concert hall. The old-fashioned taxi cabs and buses roared through the city streets, with a busy hustle-and-bustle of the great ‘Big Apple.’ A curious café
called ‘Horn and Hardart,’ an automat with automatic food that appeared when you made a purchase. A sweet smelling coffeehouse, Martinson’s, filled the air with a delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee. And funny little packets of a caffeine-free coffee called Sanka.

Freeze-dried coffee? Electronic stores had television sets in black-and-white and new color consoles lined up against the outside window for passerbys to watch. The news stated headlines of war in Vietnam and people chatted about the peaceful outcome of a very dangerous missile crisis stemming from Communist Cuba. Their great
President, John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated only a few short years prior to this date in time. On February 12, 1965, there had been a nuclear test off of the Pacific Ocean. Nuclear threats already permeated the society of the mid-20th century. Without waiting, a metaphysical segue brought me into the concert hall, standing room only, of course.

Mr. Horowitz walked onstage and began the famous ‘Toccata in C Major’ by J.S. Bach. As soon as he began, an audible note mistake! He was quite nervous. Though, what had followed was a miracle sent from the heavens above. He produced sounds at the piano that were beyond human abilities. The music was vibrant and alive. I had heard an
old scratchy recording of the concert, but the sound in the concert hall could never be exactly reproduced. It was sheer magic. Many people thought Mr. Horowitz resembled Frederic Chopin. Tears rolled down my face. How lucky the audience that was entranced for two hours. Had they truly realized what they were experiencing? New York City looked quite different from anything I had imagined. I left Carnegie Hall invigorated and inspired. I also heard rock music playing in the streets. It was February 12, 1964, that the British rock group, the Beatles, concluded their first American tour with two 25-minute shows in Carnegie Hall. As I had read in music history books, they visited the White House with British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home for a visit with President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson remarked to the Prime Minister, “I like your advance guard. But don’t you think they
need haircuts?”

My next leap backward was to the landmark premiere in 1924 of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’

1924: February 12. Aeolian Hall in New York City. My eyes opened and I heard the legendary clarinet trill, which began the immortal masterpiece. It was Paul Whiteman’s ‘First Experiment in Modern Music.’ These pieces that bridged serious music with lighter styles eventually led to the phrase, ‘crossover’ music. John Philip Sousa and the great violist Jascha Heifetz were in the concert hall. I noticed an absence of technology: no cellular vision-phones, PenPals, or solarwave
devices. That same day brought the New York City premiere of George Kaufman’s ” Beggar on Horseback” as well as a historic day when the Soviets invaded Georgia.

However, for the US, it was a great decade of prosperity, until the Great Depression was triggered by the ‘Stock Market Crash of 1929.’ New York was vibrant with flappers, vaudeville shows, movies, and the music of George Gershwin. The ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ was an electric piece of music. I had known the piece for my entire life, but it was fascinating to see the audience hearing it for the very first time. Watching the master Gershwin play his own piece was a dream fulfilled. It had been commonplace for composers to premiere and actively perform their own music. I bet George never realized how popular his music would become after his short life ended in 1937. My grandfather shared with me that the United Airlines Company had used
the famous theme of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ for their advertising.

I bet Mr. Mozart would have been surprised to see his name on a bottle of chocolate marzipan liqueur and on the sweet marzipan delectable chocolates
called ‘Mozartkugeln!’ Once again, the big picture was re-defined as a purpose to instill new traditions for the next generations to follow. Naturally, it wasn’t only Gershwin, Horowitz and Bernstein that were actively contributing to the musical life of their times. There had been literally thousands of musicians and composers.

They were the pioneers who were responsible for the perpetuity of their music and added to the vibrancy of the musical scene. Certainly the lives and passages of each composer gave the legacy for those who followed, as in the ever-flowing tides of a musical ocean.

Fearing that time was an issue, though I still had trust in Dr. Muzel’s invention, I needed to take caution in going back too far in time. I paused for a moment. My coat pocket felt a bit strange. I reached in and removed my PenPal. I had forgotten to give it to Mark. He was to have attached it to the computer to map out my tour for my InstaClone to embark upon. Was it my actual self and not my InstaClone that took
this metaphysical whirlwind through time? I quickly scribbled on the PenPal to Dr. Muzel, ‘Are you there?’ How 2061 seemed like light years away. He replied, ‘Where have you been? I have your InstaClone in a state of static freeze at Door B.’ My PenPal malfunctioned at that very moment. The solar chip had to be recharged. However, in 1924, there weren’t any solar chip chargers. Had anyone seen the device, I would have been whisked away in a paddy wagon.

Suddenly, whether or not I returned to 2061 didn’t matter. I was enthralled with the time to which I had traveled and wanted at that point to see Franz Liszt. I had to hear him play his ‘Sonata in b minor’. My body froze slightly and I felt myself fading once again. I felt myself melt like butter into a transient state of mind. I floated through a fast paced tunnel, and found myself in a totally different place.

1859

I paced on an old, rickety wooden floor. The scent was musty, and it was rather quiet. There were no airplanes, automobiles, air conditioners, fax machines, cash registers-all fantastic creations, mind you, in ‘the big picture’. I hesitatingly tiptoed to the side of the stage. There were large red velvet curtains. Before I could pull away the edge of the curtain, I heard short sounds. They were the octaves on ‘G natural’ in the low register of the piano. I drew the curtain slightly and saw a man with dark yet maturing features. As he played, I saw the audience get closer. It had to have been the phenomenal pianist Franz Liszt playing his sonata. As I listened, it sounded exactly like my teacher had taught it to me. The traditions
stayed alive for nearly two hundred years.

He was young, visceral and enchanting. The women were agog. This was indeed the essence of the Romantic Period of music. They wore regal clothing, and the opulence
and elegance filled the room. He played the piano like no one I had ever heard, although the pianists of the 20th century were very close to the tradition. I wished that I had brought a recording device with me to capture the moment. He played with great liberty, which we were taught not to do. However, his interpretation held together with an enormous sense of the whole piece. After all, it was his own sonata!

The people listened in sheer ecstasy-happy to be there. They knew nothing of the 20th century. This was the Industrial revolution. Art, music, literature and medicine advanced by leaps and bounds. It was hard to believe that Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann were alive and writing their masterpieces.

Time was of the essence, and somehow I had to believe that I could fulfill the prophecy of my expedition and still return to 2061. I wasn’t sure at this point that it would be possible to ever return. For that matter, it didn’t concern me at all. I picked up a newspaper that stated on February 12, 1850, the original George Washington Farewell Address manuscript sold for a mere $2,300! On February 12, 1848,
Gounod’s “Faust” premiered in Milan.

Why were the dates always February 12? February 12 is my birthday-was this a gift? ‘Please take me to see Frederic Chopin!’ I rambled on like a child. There was heightened anticipation in my trembling voice as a circular sensation spun me around in a dizzying fashion.

1830

I found myself sitting on the floor of a salon. Perhaps it was Paris. There was a distinctive Parisian quality in the items in the room. I could see women dressed in high couture and the room smelled like the finest perfume. Boom! An E-flat octave. I looked up and saw a man playing the piano. It looked like photos of Vladimir Horowitz, but it couldn’t be him. But was it him?

As the piece continued, I realized it was Frederic Chopin’s famous ‘Heroic Polonaise.’ It was also the composer himself. Frederic Chopin was of average height, and played quite strongly. They said he was ill later in his life, but when he
composed most of his great piano repertoire, he had to be strong, for he played much of it in public. He played with majesty, subtlety and sweetness when his music asked for it. The piano was not as strong as the ones that were created in the mid-19th century, though it had tremendous power. He then played the elegant ‘Waltz in A-flat Major’. I danced in my solitude backstage. He played so effortlessly, with a flowing beauty that depicted the ebb and flow of the waves. It was ever clear to me that each generation relied on the previous generation in order to go forward. How I wished I could have taken them all back home with me to 2061 to show my pupils how their music should be played!

However, there was indeed one more final step I had to take. Oh, how I wish I could see Johann Sebastian Bach! That would have been much too risky, I dare say. I hated to leave this salon in Paris, but if I had stayed too long, I would never have been able to go back to my life.

‘Be still, my eyes. Only visualize the portrait of the mighty Ludwig van Beethoven. I must go to see him.’

1807

The gunfire was deafening. No electricity. None of the modern conveniences. My PenPal was dead. I didn’t know where I was in location or time. Not a sound of music. Was I to see Franz Schubert, Franz Joseph Haydn? Now hushed-the gunfire had subsided for a while. I was in a dream state, the likes of which I had not felt until that time.

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. How could that be? I could not be seen nor heard. A soft womanly voice asked, “Sir, do you need something? You seem lost.” I replied, “Is this the concert hall?” She answered, “You are early. Herr van Beethoven has not arrived just yet.”

It worked. I was exactly where I had placed my thoughts to be. “That is alright, dear woman. I shall take my place and await patiently for his arrival”. She nodded, “As you please, dear sir.”

I looked at myself. My clothing had changed. Although I still wore a shirt and trousers, they were altered to befit the time. I sat quietly and took in the sights and sounds of a transformed world. Birds chirped, trees rustled, and horses carried people in coaches through the dirt roads. One horse and carriage stopped in front of this building I was in. A man emerged from the carriage with a black cloak and a worn hat. Nary a smile, the man nodded to the driver of the carriage who then trotted away.

The room was empty, but I had stayed off to the side so I would be hidden from sight. The man approached the fortepiano. He did indeed resemble some portraits of Mr. Beethoven that every good pianist had on the piano. However, it could have been someone else. He sat down in front of the keyboard. He paused silently. He then raised his arms slowly and brought them down toward the keyboard, leaning forward like a lion leaping toward the front of the cage. He played a crushing chord. It died out slightly after being held for what seemed like e
ternity. Soft chords followed.

I knew this piece. It was the ‘Pathetique’ Sonata in c minor. My eyes welled with tears. It was indeed him. Herr Beethoven was involved in his own world of emotion.
His soul cried out to me in pathos. He played with fervor, drastic shifts in sound from loud to soft, holding long pedals. It sounded like a full symphony orchestra reduced to that of a fortepiano. The dramatic effect he imbued and super-human persona radiated throughout the room.

To imagine that it was the norm to hear such music played had escaped my way of thinking. At this point, I had no intention of returning to 2061.

The slow Adagio movement was a reflection of the peace and beauty of nature that surrounded the theater. The absence of technology gave me an appreciation for the environment. The sun had settled down and the town never became a multitude of lights and flying skateboards.

However, the sounds of war had returned. Beethoven’s music reflected the effects of war on his spirit.

Charles Dickens wistfully brought Ebenezer Scrooge back to Christmas Present through his own desire to return and spread his good cheer upon his neighbors. I was not so lucky, for I didn’t have the resources to communicate with Dr. Muzel to aid my return. There was a tap once again on my shoulder. The young lady said, “You seem troubled, sir.” I replied, “I am troubled, for I am not from here and I do not know how to find my way back to my home and time.” She seemed puzzled by my
reply.

She kindly uttered, “You may stay here. I will help you until you are recovered. You are a kind man and I like to help people.” How she reminded me of my dear Marilena in 2061. Her smile and sweet fragrance filled my heart. Were we indeed together in 1807 as well as in 2061? Do the pages of history repeat themselves with the breath of a century?

All at once, a pulsating beeping noise and red light suddenly protruded through my coat pocket. In amazement, the young woman looked at me, shocked by this strange sight and sound. “Sir, what is that in your coat pocket?” With that, I departed the concert hall rather hastily. After running quickly, I had found myself alone with the PenPal. How did it ever re-activate? The screen pad read, ‘I was able to re-charge this PenPal from solar radioactivated satellites that
travelled through time sensors from 2061. I wish you luck. Signed, MB.’

A crowd converged around the young lady near to where I was standing. As I clutched my PenPal, I could still hear Beethoven’s playing and the sounds of gunfire becoming increasingly louder. ‘Please take me home-my purpose here has been fulfilled. I must go back!’ The sounds of war became deafening with the pounding of the piano. War sounds and battle cries permeated my hearing and Beethoven’s music echoed the war cries.

June 1, 2061

11:58 pm

Silence. Peace. No more sounds of war. Serenity. ‘Where are you, Mr. Beethoven?’ As my eyes opened ever so slowly, I had no idea where I was. Had I gone too far ahead in time? Did I pass 2061? There were no sounds. My eyes began to close as if I were to die. I felt as though I was traveling through myself.

June 1, 2061

11:59 pm

A gentle tap on my shoulder. Was it the kind young lady from 1807? Had she held onto my body and metamorphosized herself to another time? My eyes slowly regained consciousness. I raised my head up and looked around to see if the surroundings had been at all familiar. There was Dr. Muzel, transfixed by his successful accomplishment in metaphysical transport. How did I return to the time of my departure? Dr. Muzel fixed his eyes on my very existence in personal triumph. I was surely weakened by the enormity of what I had experienced. He had asked, “What did you see and what did you learn?”

I proceeded to share my diaries from 2008, 1990, 1965, 1924 and beyond. My question to him was, “How did I return if it was my physical self that had been on this journey through time?” He stated, “It was the power of your spirit. There was
indeed an InstaClone created before you had left. You passed through the cloned version of your self and upon your return, you passed through it to re-create your physical self.” Indeed, I did travel through my self in order to re-create my true self in 2061. Surely, Dr. Muzel’s accomplishments were intriguing. Dr. Muzel would inscribe his formulae for the next generation of transport through time.

As for me, I know understood the big picture. Through it all, my soul had survived with renewed inspiration, blessed by these visions of years gone by. I needed to share this thirst for knowledge with everyone I knew. Although technological and medical advancements have enabled my generation to live with ease, pleasure and longevity, it was indeed the gift of music which had remained ageless and eternal.

My purpose in 2061 was to impart what I had learned to those who will look back in the future.

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Based on my exeriences and background as an active concert pianist and composer, I have composed a short story that deals with music and time travel set in the 21st century. It begins on the date of my would-be 100th birthday and is told in diary form by a nameless character, who would be my great-grandson. It was indeed a challenge to write, yet it brings several issues into focus that deal with the cultural scene today as echoed it appears
2061. New inventions and terms were fun to include, adding a science-fiction element. I provided the title referring to the ‘wings’ offstage and travel ‘through the wings’ of time. I sincerely hope you find it enjoyable to read.

Through the Wings
by Jeffrey Biegel
May 31, 2061

3:30 pm. A cup of Javalotta. Fruity sconettes. Envirosafe banapples ““the sweet fruit created by cross-breeding apples and bananas in 2040. Cufflinks: check. Vest: check. Tie: where did I place that colorful one that matches the vest? Perhaps I best not wear that today. It is certainly a serious concert and I don’t want to upset my audience. Must go with the ‘classical’ look. The elders still respect it. White tie
and tails. The image of the ‘maestro’. Lucky if we get a young crowd to come for only half a show. With their MTV2R (Music Television Virtual Reality), they would probably rather go to a nearby Café-lotta and produce their own demo chip with the hottest teen idol on the scene.

Beats seeing me hammering away at the 98s! Was I ever glad when Rockin’ Rocky Road penned out a half decent piano concerto in the 2020’s following his long career as the generation’s number one flip-flop artist. I truly believe that the flip-flop artists had a genuine respect for the classics. They bounced back and forth between the styles, making their music accessible to everyone, including me.

Hard to believe I’m about to perform a solo piano recital that spans music written over three hundred years! Great piano-a vintage 2030 Steinway concert grand. I’ve planned an interesting yet traditional program: the Bach ‘Toccata in G Major’, Elton John’s eclectic ‘Sonata no. 3′ and Paul McCartney’s revolutionary ‘Souls’. After a short water break for an intermission, I’ve saved the daunting ‘Sonata in b minor’
by Liszt. Luckily, that hasn’t been played too often in the last fifteen years-hard piece. It has a deeply rooted meaning to me, since Franz Liszt was my great-grandfather’s teacher’s, teacher’s teacher!

Going through my repertoire list for the 2061-62 concert season, the American Philharmonic has asked if I would celebrate both their Fiftieth Anniversary and the centennial of the spectacular ‘Piano Concerto’ by Samuel Barber. They have invited me to take it on the road on a whirlwind international tour: New York, Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Manila, Hanoi, Bombay, Baghdad, Palestine, Tel Aviv,
Cairo, Damascus, Teheran, Morocco, Moscow, Rome, Paris, London, Manchester, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, Helsinki and finally back to the United States to record it on vid-chip (video recorded chips).

Naturally, I have great expectations for this tour. Since the Great Peace Plan, which the leaders devised in 2008, there has been great freedom to travel and perform throughout the planet. I vaguely remember my great-grandfather telling me stories of his tours to these places. The Renaissance of Culture flourished.

However, it has become increasingly difficult in the last few years to witness fully attended concerts. With nearly every performance available online, many people
prefer to be at home in their virtual concert halls. As I gaze through the wings offstage, I see an aging audience. What will it be like in ten, twenty, or thirty years when the elders pass on?

8 pm: This was by far one of my finest concerts. My sweetheart, Marilena, approved of the concert! She’s always my toughest critic. Surprisingly, there were many young people in the crowd. I signed many vid-chips and posed for some impromptu cyber photos. Following the recital, a curious gentleman hesitated toward me and had asked to share an interesting tale. His father was the renowned George Muzel, composer, pianist, conductor and impresario in the 2030s. Mark Muzel attended my recital and was illuminated with the sound and style which he witnessed. I had to admit that a wonderful piano enhances everything! He mentioned that his father had passed away two years prior. Mark is a solar radioactive physcientist. As I understand, he’s
a scientist who also practices the medical properties of physical science through modern day applications. I recall reading articles about his attempts with the science of transport. While we spoke, he sensed that I deeply respected and longed to keep the musical traditions of earlier centuries alive. I had already recorded thirty vid-chips for Concert Chips International. Although my career was
flourishing, I still craved to reach the youngest audiences to perpetuate the enjoyment of the world’s greatest music. Mark played on the fact that I murmured an intense desire to see and hear just how Beethoven or Gershwin might have played in their lifetimes. He paused briefly, and asked if we might meet quietly the next day to discuss something in total confidence. I agreed.

June 1, 2061

11 am: Tapestrys. A quiet café with coffee from Africa-a sensuous blend of flavorful beans which can’t be found anywhere else. I like to eat the Billy Goats with this coffee. They are made from scratch and remind me a bit of the tiger muffins with the fruit filling that my grandmother always baked. The neo-electronic music filled the air with a sense of pro-modernism. What ever happened to symphonic background
music?

Mark entered the room quietly, rather serendipitously, as if he were just browsing by. He found me sipping the coffee and sat himself down in front of me with his back to the room. “So you want to hear Herr Beethoven?” He added, “I suppose you would like to peek through the wings at a Beethoven recital?” Total silence, which, for me, was very unusual. Perhaps he was hallucinating.

I replied quite realistically, “A flight to the Beethoven Museum?” He sat silently and laughed for a moment. “The Solar Project, my 98 key friend. Now you must never speak of this to anyone. Of course, I am not quite ready to be called the ‘Mr. Pioneer’ of travel toward the 22nd century, no thank you. It might not work. Perhaps it will succeed. I will, however, need a victim, er, volunteer. Yes, yes. It will work, I tell you. Don’t be afraid. Now, I cannot pay you, for in the end, you probably will want to pay me!”

I was stunned and wondered what this genius was babbling about. My first question stumbled off my lips. “Surely, Doctor, you are referring to the virtual tours of the great composers.” Rather snide, he replied, “You are a great pianist, but a silly man. Are you so desperate to return to the techno-free era that you forgot you are here?”

I was now very concerned about the eccentric doctor’s emotional stability. I thought he had invited me here today to offer his father’s manuscripts to me in his last will and testament. He went on, “Not 1807 at first. I cannot assure that would work. It must be a gradual expedition. You can indeed return to 2008, when your great-grandfather performed at the Lasting Peace Concert.”

Delusional! Lost his mind! I have been played for a fool. I answered, “Silly man you call me? I hardly know you and your psyche is not at all comfortable to be around. However, your aura is quite mystical, yet I cannot decipher your true reality base.”

He snapped back rather defiantly, “That is why I asked to meet with you, dear man. As an honest musician, you seem to be constantly searching for the ‘right’ way to be true to the composers’ wishes. I th
ink I can put some, or all of your questions to rest.” By now, I thought he would disintegrate me with a solar radioactive laser and I would indeed go to the next phase of existence and see my idol composers standing in a line telling me whether my interpretations of their music was correct or absurd!

He added, “Dear Maestro. If you are willing to work with me, you will have your questions answered. You will also understand the validity and purpose of your life, and together, we might revolutionize time travel for the rest of eternity. I can take you back in time, but not forward. Perhaps my pupils will accomplish that when I am long gone. For me, as an old-school philosopher, the future is something we
must strive for. It destroys the mystery of today if we know about tomorrow. However, in returning to a past date, we can appreciate the values and painstaking efforts it took to accomplish that which was done for the benefit of the present and future.”

In total accordance and mesmerized by this man, I asked, “Where shall I go?” He replied, “Where would you like to go?” I removed my PenPal from my coat pocket
and fingered the itinerary on the screen pad. I copied and pasted my plan to Mark’s PenPal. I find this invention developed in 2045 much easier to use than the old Palm Pilots. It is so much easier to use my fingers as a writing instrument to write down my thoughts. I am still trying to be more aware and accepting of modern technological advances.

The mere fact that I can perform a three-hour concert in New York at 4 pm and be transported to Los Angeles for an 8 pm performance is no longer anything extraordinary. Why not take him up on his generous offer? He could have asked anybody else, indeed. If he turns out to be as scholarly in his studies as his father was in music, this could be quite a remarkable experience. I must keep my mouth closed, eyes down, shut off all electronic and solar devices. No communication whatsoever.

One question: would I return to the time I had left? He hurriedly said, “Maestro, you will meet me tonight at 11 pm behind the Muzel Memorial Cultural Center. There are no shows tonight, so it will be deserted. Bring nothing but yourself. You will return from your journey before midnight. If you go back in time for two hours, two weeks or more, it will not matter. The time will be compressed accordingly.” He
concluded, “Until tonight, goodbye my friend.”

June 1, 2061

10 pm. I sat peacefully in a chair, gazing at the photos of my family and my dear Marilena, and statues of my favorite composers. I laughed aloud, actually humored by the notion that I might very well visit the gods of music past. Then I was concerned that Dr. Muzel might not show up and would have played me for a fool. Can he truly send me through the wings of time? Perhaps I will travel on the wings of angels so as not to perish along the way. Why did I meet with him? I suppose it is because I had to give myself this chance that might never present itself again. Marilena knows nothing about this escapade. I’ve left my Last Will and Testament in my online filing cabinet-she’ll know exactly where to find it should anything happen to me in years gone by.

10:45 pm. Behind Muzel Memorial Cultural Center

A whispering voice murmured through the fog. “Maestro, I am here.” I turned slightly to the left and saw Mark standing next to a machine, the likes of which I have never visualized. “Please step onto Platform A at Door A.” I finally trusted my doctor friend and obliged.

As I paced toward the platform, Dr. Muzel calmly spoke to me. “Many years ago, Maestro, I heard tales of an early televisional program titled,
‘Lost in Space’. The episode dealt with anti-matter clones of the characters in the show. It was quite fascinating. However, the anti-matter clones were quite evil, working against their good alter egos. In 2060, InstaClone has enabled me to utilize my own metaphysical and research skills to develop this machine that can instantaneously re-create you at the present time and preserve you as you are. Your
re-created self would then be solarically sent to the time and place of your choosing. Your PenPal will be connected to the computer on the side of the machine and map out your adventure as you go along. Your actual self shall be frozen in time as your clone is sent back. It takes virtual reality to the next plateau! Are you in accord with this exploration?”

Of course, I was already standing on the platform. Where was I to go? If I stepped off the platform and left with no questions asked and nothing answered, I would never know what I had missed. Dr. Muzel did say that my body would not go on the journey, only my re-creation. This was indeed a chance of a lifetime, a chance I had to take. “Yes, Doctor, I am in full accord.” He simply replied, “Very well. Have a wonderful time. Keep in mind the words ‘purpose’ and ‘the big picture!’”

(Tune into tomorrow for part 2)

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During a rehearsal with the Rogue Valley Symphony this evening in Ashland, Oregon, I realized that after the three other times I had worked with this orchestra, they have truly become a major sounding ensemble. Thanks to Arthur Shaw, their maestro for 18 years, they sounded wonderful. In my estimation, with the turnover of musicians in the regional orchestras and so many new players graduating from terrific schools, the playing is awesome. It was a smooth sailing rehearsal with the tricky rhythms of the Duke Ellington ‘New World A-Comin’ and Leroy Anderson’s ‘Concerto in C’. They nailed it.

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http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/entertainment/music/classical/s_321723.html

This is quite interesting–and referring to the youthful recordings, I bought a vinly lp in Russia in 1987 of a very young Lorin Maazel conducting a very young Vladimir Ashkenazy with Tschaikowsky’s First Piano Concerto. The young Vladimir’s sound was warm, spacious and beautiful.

What strikes me in the article is that there was indeed $$ to record these talented conductors when they were young–with today’s high prices to record, we are prohibited from possible recordings of musicians in their youth to serve as a legacy for tomorrow.

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http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=11904073_1

This is a well put-together article by Terry Teachout assessing the 21st century concerns of the direction of ‘classical’ music. I think people are waiting for the next great work or composer to change the direction of music in the 21st century–if we could all program now with combining the best of over 300 years without fear that we’d be reprimanded becuase it doesn’t stick with the norm, there’s a great wealth of music out there–and I’m waiting for a foundation or commissioning project that invites the creme-de la-creme movie score writers to start churning out symphonic works and concerti. The agency Gorfaine/Schwartz has the arsenal of composers–have many of them been commissioned to compose for the concert hall as of yet?

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This article is a summation of the current assessment by Norman L about classical music and its attendees. However, I still see decent sized audiences in the heartland of America when I perform–some old fashioned values perhaps still exist in rural areas, and those who still love the concert experience in the bigger cities are in attendance as well. I do agree with him that record labels are trying to cash in on sexier younger images–hey guys, there’s lots of middle-aged ripened artists out there–I’m one of ‘em!! We still look pretty good too:

La Scena Musicale – Vol. 10, No. 7 April 2005
Who’s Afraid of Classical Concerts?by Norman Lebrecht / April 9, 2005
Whenever someone predicts the demise of symphony concerts, reassurances come fluttering from every obvious quarter. The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) produces a wireless device that allows concertgoers to follow the music interactively. A record label pays a million pounds to a schoolgirl violinist. A big-name soloist announces that more people than ever are tuning into classics.
As in any death foretold, these final rites will not affect the sad outcome. The Co-Co (short for Concert Companion) that the ABO showed in February at its annual conference enables listeners to zoom in on the conductor’s sweaty brow or the deep cleavage in the second desk of cellists, while receiving snippets of text information. It has novelty value but that will soon wear off once the menu options are exhausted.
Deutsche Grammophon’s huge deal with Nicola Benedetti, winner of BBC’s 2004 Young Musician of the Year, is equally flimsy. DG is in the market for physical assets. Benedetti, 17, an Ayrshire blonde of Italian blood, has been trailed in The Sun as ‘Scotland’s sexiest star’. Declining modelling jobs, Benedetti is keen to proselytise classical music among her own age group. But when her CDs are counted a year from now, DG will find that Nicola has sold overwhelmingly to middle-aged men in country towns and to grannies looking for an educative birthday gift ““ just as every other teenage wonder has done over the past two decades.
New audience? What new audience? Classical managers clutch at straws when they look to Classic FM, with six million UK listeners, for hope of renewal. Classic’s audience is chiefly passive: they may tune in, but they seldom buy concert tickets or extend their taste for Mozart to encompass a complete work. During the 12-year lifespan of Classic FM, concert attendances in Britain have steadily declined. Meanwhile, educational investments by many orchestras have failed to yield more than a smattering of children for whom classical music becomes a lifelong passion.
Why the world has gone off classical concerts is a conundrum in which almost every reasonable assertion is disputable. Take the attention-span thesis. Many in the concert world believe that its decline stems from the public’s flickering tolerance for prolonged concentration. If politicians speak in soundbites, how can we expect voters to sit through a Bruckner symphony?
It is a persuasive argument but one that I have come to find both fatuous and patronising. Around me I see people of all ages who sit gripped through four hours of King Lear, Lord of the Rings or a grand-slam tennis final but who, ten minutes into a classical concert, are squirming in their seats and wondering what crime they have committed to be held captive, silent and legroom-restrained, in such Guantanamo conditions.
Their ennui will not be relieved for long by an electronic gizmo which gives them an illusion of mechanical control, nor for that matter, by a kid soloist who has yet to grow a musical personality. These are gimmicks bred of desperation, not a coherent approach to a cultural crisis.
If the shrunken attention span is not to blame for the classical turn-off, nor is price. Most concert tickets now cost less than cinema stubs. Last year, the London Symphony Orchestra adopted an impulse price of four or five pounds but failed to attract first-timers. Let’s face it: in a busy metropolis with multiple counterattractions, most people won’t be dragged to a symphony concert at any price. As the New York impresario Sol Hurok used to say: “When people don’t want to come, nutting will stop them.”
So what, precisely, scares them off? In a word, the atmosphere. The symphony concert has stultified for half a century. It starts in mid-evening and last two hours. The ritual cannot be altered without inconveniencing the musicians and alarming the subscription audience; so nothing changes.
A Chinese businessman, David Tang, believes busy people want shorter concerts. He is launching one-hour concerts at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea, next week, but his revolution has been disabled from the outset by a standard 7 pm start.
The only concerts that attract twenty-somethings are those which play to their rhythms. In Madrid and Barcelona, concerts begin at 10 pm and are thronged by youngsters. In Vienna, the standing room at the rear of the opera house and the Musikverein is a singles-scene enclosure, walled off from the stuffy interior and giving the standees a sense of ownership and empowerment.
Elsewhere, the concert hall is a gerontocracy, its decorum enforced more rigidly than in places of worship, its exclusiveness innate. Thirty years ago, in my mid-20s, I used to sit in the backless choir seats behind the orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, studying conductors’ expressions. At the time, I was one of the older kids on the row. Today, at my present age, I’d practically be the youngest.
The greying of the audience is an admitted fact of concert life. Less acknowledged is the ageing of everyone else. One expects conductors to be in their seventies, but most soloists have been at it too long and there is barely an orchestral manager of any consequence under 50.
Small wonder that the concert hall atmosphere is about as lively as a cruise liner, its intellectual magnetism as potent as a pension plan. Why would any redblooded postmodern person want to spend an evening in God’s waiting room, even with a Co-Co to sex up the da capo?
Other arts, too, have rigid traditions. Theatre, you might argue, has also failed to alter its timing or rituals since Olivier was in full cry. But theatre has continuously overhauled its repertoire, making Shakespeare and Schiller fight for stage time against Pinter and Osborne, Stoppard and Hare, and Jerry Springer: The Opera. Theatre has sharpened its capacity to surprise, while classical concerts rely on stupefying familiarity.
There are ways to change the atmosphere. Design 40-minute concerts for under-40s. Provide free child-care on weekends. Introduce standing room. Try the late-night route. If there was a genuine will to refresh the concert experience, it could be done.
But, as any good shrink will confirm, the classical business music must first want to change ““ and I detect no such desire. The old gang won’t give up its hegemony and the last one to leave will politely turn out the lights.
Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on classical music and culture. His weekly column can be found at http://lebrecht.scena.org

Current IssueApril 2005
Vol. 10, No.7
(c) La Scena Musicale

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I met George Tsontakis after 20 years since Juilliard days–was thrilled to learn that his Piano Concerto will be premiered in Dallas in 05-06 with our mutual friend, Stephen Hough at the piano. Can’t wait to hear more about his piece. Curious: does anyone know if Schreker has a piano concerto?

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I was thrilled to invite Joan Tower to the NY Premiere of mutual friend Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s “Millennium Fantasy” last evening–where she is a distinguished professor of composition. We had a drink after the concert and I had asked Joan if she was aware of sequenza21 and she was familiar with the site–I sent her the link with the hope that she night indeed become more acquainted. Joan is an amazing composer and human being–it would be nice to see her at sequenza21 sometime. The concert went well, in the wonderful Fisher Center at Bard–wild design! The “Millennium Fantasy” for me, has formally entered the repertoire–I hope more pianists and orchestras will enjoy programming it well into the 21st century.

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