How did February slip by so quickly? I know it's a shorter month, but good grief! This has been the first winter in quite a number of years where we have had measurable snowfall - a couple of inches last week with the possibility of more on the way. Snow on the coast? Yup! Photos below. Hopefully we'll be heading into spring soon!
Of the 30 million pianos in America, about 90% are never played.
Music has always kept pace with printing technology. The first printed music was the Mainz Psalter in 1457. This was the second book ever made with movable type. Music symbols were cut individually into woodblocks and assembled by hand.
Until the 1790's, all of the music that was played by Americans was printed and published in England, even when it had originally been composed elsewhere.
We have quite an international crop of reviews this month. We reviewed artists from France, Cyprus, Switzerland, Canada, and Hungary in addition to US musicians. There is a pretty broad range of styles, too, so there should be something for everyone! Find them all here
I didn't review any sheet music in February, but I have Spencer Brewer's companion songbook for his Behind the Veil
album to do. I'll have that one reviewed this coming week so check back if you're interested!
Ignace Jan Paderewski gave the White House’s first full solo piano recital in 1902.
Tin Pan Alley was the birthplace of much of the 20th century's popular music. It actually had two locations within New York City. One was on 14th Street and the other was in the Times Square area.
Most opera singers have a career of about 25 years. Age thickens the vocal cords and dries the tissues.
New Interview and Article:
I did an extensive interview with pianist/composer Earl Johnson in February and have a few others in the works. Earl's might not be a familiar name (yet), but I think that's about to change! You can check out his interview here
David Nevue announced the four nominees for the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio Album of the Year this past week, so I set up a page with links to my reviews of the four nominated albums. I'm glad I don't have to choose one of this group as the winner, because all four albums are great! The nominated albums are:
Joe Bongiorno: Darkness Fades
Michael Borowski: Gardens of Zion in the Rain
Christine Brown: Reminiscent
Michele McLaughlin: Home
Here is the link to the page
Two Austrians took out a patent in 1824 for a concavely-curved keyboard. The idea was that a longer reach was possible on a curve.
By 1600, engraving was the method most often used for printing music. Symbols were sketched freehand with a sharp tool onto zinc, copper, or pewter plates. The plate was inked and the print was made.
The French horn was invented and developed in Germany.
Piano Pedal Leg?: As quite a few of you know, I've had an ongoing problem with my right leg for many years. For a long time, it just flared up from time to time, but it's pretty constant now. I've done exercises, physical therapy, heat, and it just never seems to get much better. The doctor I had several years ago said he thought it was sciatica, but the one I have now doesn't think so. Anyway, I had a visit from a house-call nurse for my health insurance last month (they do one every year) and as soon as she came in the door, she started commenting on my piano. I told her I'd been a piano teacher for forty years and then she noticed my limp. She said she suspected it was an overuse injury similar to the knee, leg and back injuries a lot of truck drivers get from using the gas pedal for long periods of time. She suggested pedaling with my left leg when I play the piano. I wasn't sure I could do that comfortably, but it really does help and I can play longer without my back and leg cramping up. I mention this because it never dawned on me that "pedal leg" was a thing! I've heard of many hand and arm injuries, but not leg and back. It makes sense, though, and if that revelation can help someone else, I'm more than happy to spread the word! My regular doc/p.a. said it just means that I have arthritis in my knee, but I'm hoping I'm on my way to a solution!
As the Queen Elizabeth II was making its way to the Falkland Islands in the spring of 1982 during Britain’s conflict with Argentina, the crew dumped a Bosendorfer piano (one of the most expensive pianos) overboard to make room for a helicopter to land on the ship.
The first documented reference to a harpsichord was in 1397.
In about 1720, John Walsh made punches for stamping note heads, clefs, and other musical symbols directly onto engraving plates.
March Musical Birthdays:
3: Mark Kroos
7: Behdad Bahrami & Isadar
9: Christopher Boscole & Tijs Ven
10: Matthew Shell
14: Jim Ottaway
15: Zachary Bruno
16: Brian Kelly & Eric Bikales
17: William Ogmundson
19: David Cullen
20: Michael Martinez, Patrick Lee Hebert & An Vedi
21: Heidi Breyer, Ken Pedersen, & Summer Swee-Singh
22: Michael Bohne
23: Bob Adern
24: Paul Spaeth
26: Chad Lawson & Mark Pinkus
28: Catherine Marie Charlton, Steven C (Anderson) & Hovig Nassanian
29: Kris Baines
30: Trine Opsahl
31: my brother, Loren Oakden-Parsons
The first gold record was "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller. It was presented on his radio program on February 10, 1942. The first gold album was the original 1949 Broadway cast recording of "Oklahoma!"
The song that has sold the most sheet music ever is “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” Isn’t that inspiring????
Ray Conniff was the first recording artist to use singers as instrumental sections on his recordings. He released his first album with these wordless vocals in 1956 ("‘S Wonderful").
Music Holidays and Celebrations:
All Month: March is National Music in Our Schools Month, Sing With Your Child Month and Play the Recorder Month. The week of March 20th is International Teach Music Week.
3/1: National Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Day
3/3: National Anthem Day
3/4: Marching Music Day & National Dance the Waltz Day
3/10: International Bagpipe Day
3/11: National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day
3/18: Play the Recorder Day
3/22: National Sing Out Day
3/27: National Acoustic Soul Day, Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, and World Theater Day
3/29: World Piano Day (celebrated on the 88th day of the year!)
3/31: Dance Marathon Day
The earliest German upright pianos were called pyramid pianos because of their symmetrical shape.
An "English flute" is more commonly called a "recorder." It is said to be the easiest of all instruments to learn to play.
Cristofori’s pianos had an una corde stop that was a knob on the cheek of the keyboard that moved the entire keyboard sideways so that the hammers would strike only one of the two strings for each note.
Wishing everyone a great March, a Happy St. Patrick's Day and a sunny First Day of Spring! The photos this month are of our recent snowstorm and Rosie's new method for getting a drink of milk.
In some music for stringed instruments, there is the instruction to play "collegno." What does that mean? Scrape the strings with the back of the bow.
Late eighteenth century England was the country where the largest number of pianos were built and where the commerce in piano music was the strongest. It had the most highly-developed economy in the Western world and the economy with the largest number of families able and willing to furnish their daughters with piano lessons.
The first recorded message was "Mary had a little lamb" by Thomas Edison in 1877. His assistant, Mrs. Harriet Atwood, played the piano, making her the first recording artist.
The best-selling pianos in the world are made by The Pearl River Piano Group in China. They also claim to have the largest piano factory in the world. The company was established in 1956 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. Pearl River is capable of producing over 125,000 pianos a year, and exports them to more than 100 countries. Most Pearl River pianos are considered entry level instruments. However, they make some (Ritmuller, Kayserburg, and Hallet Davis) to higher specifications with better materials. Pearl River pianos are mostly sold under the Ritmüller brand name for the US and European markets.
Trivia Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, the music trivia and "factoids" within Pianotes are true, but I can’t guarantee it.