My mother was a very keen music fan. Even in my pre-school years I remember listening to her records with her on her tiny Hi-Fi set. She collected 45 RPM 7 inch singles. In those days the “singles” had picture sleeves which added to the fascination for me. Her favorites were Hank Williams (Senior, that is, not his less talented offspring) and The Everly Brothers.
I developed a sort of record buying fixation and I would convince her to purchase a new record every week. This was a big thrill to me. We would walk down to Red Owl each week and I would scour their small record rack. Red Owl was a grocery chain but the store two blocks from our house had magazines and records as well.
I got my first guitar at the age of six and this interest in recorded music only intensified.
I so wanted to make records that I would ask my mother to write my name on the label of a record (one I was less fond of) just to see what my name would look like on a recording.
My career choice was thus made at a very tender age. This is probably inadvisable but my passion was pretty intense and those embers still have some glow left.
I have since made and played on many records including 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and MP3’s.
I’ve been listening to a variety of music again these days. Here are a few I thought you might be interested in and some history about them.
Fritz Kreisler – Though he passed away more than 50 years ago and his prime recordings were done before 1940 I have to say that I am, none the less, a true believer. Kreisler was one of the last composer/virtuosos.
His warm tone and even vibrato express great character. His compositions also have this peculiar charm.
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Concertos-I love all five of them and especially the recording by pianist Michel Beroff with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Kurt Masur.
Melodically, rhythmically and harmonically Prokofiev’s music slays me and the piano concertos are especially effective. Prokofiev too was a composer/virtuoso.
Samson Francois (the complete piano works of Maurice Ravel)-Francois died at the early age of 46 in October, 1970. He lived an intense life and his virtuosity as a pianist extended to a keen interest in jazz. In 2013 box sets of his Ravel and Debussy recordings were released and they are a real treasure.
Anyone who knows me is familiar with my interest in Ravel. Since the age of 18 I have been collecting recordings and books on Ravel. I have about 20 different biographies and studies in English on this very French composer. I have visited his home in Montfort L’Amaury several times (it is now a museum). I have played his piano and I helped do some research for the museum by tracking down reviews and accounts of his concert in Minneapolis on his only U.S. tour in 1927. I did this research at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
December 28 marked the 79th anniversary of his death.
So what about you? What are you into as we head into 2017?