Tuesday, January 1, 2019

End of one year, beginning of another

Recently I've been thinking a lot about this blog, and what I'm hoping to accomplish.  Ultimately it's about you: if what you find here doesn't make your life better in some way, what's the point?  How can I make it easier for you to find what you are looking for, and make use of what you find?  I'm posting about my experiences, but hoping you'll find some value, even if only to shake your head at my pratfalls.

So, what has this year been for me, musically speaking?

This has been a year to reconsider and re-evaluate.  What am I doing?  Why?

I didn't play in public often in 2018.  The vast majority of my music-making has been at home, or in small gatherings.  Right now, that's for the best.

This year I've been working on chorale preludes by Telemann, various organ pieces by Pachelbel, a sonatina by Clementi (Op. 36, No. 3 in C Major), a suite by Buxtehude (F Major), and so on.  This was also a year full of The Well-Tempered Clavier, book I; I've been working on memorizing the first several preludes and fugues (numbers 1-3 basically done, 4-6 in progress).  Underlying all of this has been a re-examination of technique.  It's been about thinking, and listening, as much as playing.

I've been going, slowly, through Clara Bell's translation of Philipp Spitta's biography of Bach, and matching his descriptions, where possible, with the pieces they're about.  While Spitta's opinions can't always be accepted without question, this three-volume set (formerly bound as two) does cover a large number of composers and pieces, and, in the age of the internet, you can hear most of them pretty easily, on YouTube, SoundCloud, or elsewhere.  This makes a great introduction (or re-introduction, if you already knew some music history) to some fine music, the people who made it, and the times and places they lived.  It's also a way to approach questions of what makes good music, and what makes music good.  Spitta doesn't hide his opinions, and even disagreeing with him is a learning experience.  He's dated, of course; comparing his work with more recent writing is part of the experience.

Composing?  2018 was a pretty dry year.  A goal for 2019 is to write more.

But the biggest goal for 2019?  Finding my way again, figuratively speaking.  Right now I feel lost.

Wishing you and those you care about health, happiness, and success for the coming year.









Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Seventy Solos for the Hammond Organ or Reed Organ

I'm a big fan of anthologies, especially older ones.  They almost always have worthwhile things I haven't heard of, and even if the music doesn't turn out to be particularly exciting, there are things to learn.  An anthology speaks to the historical moment when it was made, to the taste of the compiler(s), performers and audiences of the time.

Seventy Solos for the Hammond Organ or Reed Organ, compiled by Frederic Archer and published by G. Schirmer in 1944, is worth browsing.   The Hammond Organ, as its Wikipedia entry makes clear, got a much higher profile for its use in jazz and popular music than it did in the Classical world, yet from this anthology it's clear that, at the same time as Ethel Smith and others were using the instrument in popular genres and styles, the Hammond Organ was still being thought of as a cheaper alternative to a pipe organ.  Apparently many churches agreed; thousands bought them.

Many of the composers represented are familiar: J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Clementi, Gounod, Delibes, Lully (here spelled "Lulli"), Mendelssohn, Mozart, Paradisi (Paradies), Reinecke, Rossini, Schubert and Spohr are all included.  A fair number of these are transcriptions.  The Clementi piece, "Andante con espressione", is from the Sonatina in F Major, Op. 36, No. 4, originally for piano.  The anthology doesn't announce the fact.  Beethoven is represented by an "Adagio", which is a brief excerpt from the "Adagio molto" of Piano Sonata No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 10 No. 1.  Again, no reference is made to the original.  "Andante cantabile" by Mozart is from Piano Sonata No. 10 in C Major, K. 330.  "Marche de la cloche" by Leo Delibes is from Coppelia.  If a collection like this one were published today, mention of the sources of the transcriptions would be expected.

A four-part arrangement of "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier" by Bach carries no mention of the name of the chorale.  Again, someone who wanted to compile a similar collection today would hopefully include that information.

Other pieces in the collection are clearly marked as transcriptions, and the sources are (at least partly) identified: a chorus from William Tell by Rossini, a quartet from Woman of Samaria by W. S. Bennett, a trio from Athalie by Mendelssohn, "Funeral March" from the cantata, The Legend of St. Cecilia, and a duet from the opera, The Lady of Killarney by Julius Benedict.

August Reinhard had a particular interest in the harmonium, so while a registration for the Hammond Organ is provided, it's likely the "Marcia" here was originally a harmonium piece.

Paradisi is best known for his Toccata (from Sonata VI); the Andante in this collection is new to me.

A lot of the composers are new to me.  I hadn't heard of Théodore Salomé, L. Mourlan, J. Schlute, Gustav Merkel, J. B. Jaillet, A. Justin, Hubert Ferdinand Kufferath, William Vincent Wallace, Ignace Leybach, or several others.  J. Wanaus, represented here by the "Choeur de Pelerin", was another new name.

Louis Lefébure-Wely is the best-represented composer in the anthology, with eight different selections.  No other composer comes close.

Archer also included four of his own pieces; I wasn't able to find them on YouTube or SoundCloud.
A few other pieces of his are on IMSLP.

Here, perhaps, is a point worth remembering: keyboard instruments have always been pretty generous about sharing their repertoire.  Organ pieces can be, and have been, played on the piano, and vice versa.  When new instruments (or new versions of older instruments, depending on your view) were developed, they took over repertoire from their predecessors.  Pianists play material originally written for the harpsichord and clavichord without batting an eyelash, though not all harpsichord music works well on the piano, and harpsichord-lovers may cringe.

If you're in a situation where you need a lot of short pieces of moderate difficulty, this collection will serve.  It also contains enough pieces for many enjoyable evenings of reading through things.

Thanks to YouTube user Chris S, some of whose videos are linked above.  Want to hear more music for reed organ?  Click over to his channel.

The notes of some of Chris's videos mention earlier collections by Archer, including Reed Organ Album (1914) and Complete Method for the American Reed Organ.











Saturday, April 7, 2018

Crossing Bridges: Book and Arts Fair, and starting a new piece!


An intercultural arts festival, Crossing Bridges, will take place in New York City from Saturday, May 19, 2018 through Tuesday, May 22, 2018, and I've been invited to write and perform a new piece at the opening event! The event will take place at the Brooklyn Public Library at 240 Division Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

I'm excited.  Events like this are a big deal for me, because there's a chance to meet so many wonderful people, and hear and read so much fine writing of all kinds.  Being invited to perform a piece of mine is icing on the cake!

This, however, requires a new piece, and that takes thought and work.  I've decided to take you along on the journey.

At an event in 2016, I presented a song I'd written, about a gardener who separates the fallen leaves (this was in fall/winter) carefully by color.  Of course, the wind comes along and mixes them up again, and the gardener thinks, "Isn't it more beautiful this way?"   The song is in Esperanto, and it's written in a mode known in Persian music as Avaaz-e Bayaat-e Isfahaan, in Azerbaijani music as Şüştər (Shushtar), and by other names in other musics of the general area.  You probably already know this mode, even if you know nothing about Central Eurasian or Middle Eastern music, because it has the familiar augmented second, much like the Western harmonic minor scale.  When anyone from the West first tries to write Middle Eastern-sounding music, this mode is the one they usually fall into.  It's probably about as intercultural as you can get.

For this event, I'd like to do something different.  I've been given a poem for inspiration, but I'm planning a keyboard piece.  The poem is called "Cruzando Puentes" ("Crossing Bridges"), and it's by Juan Navidad.  On a quick reading, the line that captures my attention is about "the most beautiful dreams" being "written from rage and injustice" (my translation).  I think I can work with that.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fun with Five Octaves


Partial list of music that can be played on a 61-key portable keyboard:

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach:
Some of the sonatas; the famous "Solfeggietto" won't fit

Johann Sebastian Bach:
Most of the Well-Tempered Clavier Books I and II, and the Inventions and Sinfonias (Sinfonia #6 doesn't fit)

"English" Suites:
  • I in A Major, BWV 806: Prelude, Sarabande
  • II in A Minor, BWV 807: the whole suite
  • III in G Minor, BWV 808: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavottes I and II, Gigue
  • IV in F Major, BWV 809: the whole suite
  • V in E Minor: the whole suite
  • VI in D Minor: the whole suite

"French" Suites, BWV 812-817:
All of Suites I, II, III, IV and V; all but the Bourée from Suite VI

Partitas:
  • I in B-flat major, BWV 825: Sarabande, Menuet I and II, Gigue
  • II in C Minor, BWV 826: Courante, Saraband, and Rondeau
  • III in A Minor, BWV 827: Fantsia, Sarbande, Burlesca, Scherzo, Gigue
  • IV in D Major, BWV 828: Allemande, Courante, Aria, Sarabande, Menuet, Gigue
  • V in G Major, BWV 829: Tempo di Minuetto, Passepied
  • VI in E Minor, BWV 830: Toccata, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Tempo di Gavotta, Gigue

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variations 6 and 18 require transposing the keyboard down an octave; Var. 24 contains a high d''' which will be out of range if the keyboard is transposed down to reach the G' at the low end.

Chorale preludes from Kirnberger's collection:
  • "Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten"
  • "Ach Gott und Herr" a 2 klav.
  • "Christ lag in Todesbanden" Fantasia a 3 Canto fermo in alto (but how will you bring out the chorale tune?)
  • "Christum wir sollen loben schon" Fughetta
  • "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" Fughetta
  • "Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes Sohn" Fughetta
  • "Nun komm'' der Heiden Heiland" Fughetta
  • "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her" Fughetta
  • "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" Fughetta
  • "Lob sei dem allmächt'gen Gott" Fughetta
  • "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt" (separating the voices will require some work)
  • "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier" (1 and 2)
  • "Ich hab' mein' Sach' Gott heimgestellt"
  • "Wir Christenleut'" (may be possible; definitely not easy)
  • "Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'"
  • "In dich hab' ich gehoffet, Herr"
  • "Jesu, meine Freude" Fantasia
Other pieces:
Canzona, BWV 588

Béla Bartók: 
  • All of Mikrokosmos, vol. II
  • All of Mikrokosmos, vol. III except Variations and the second Chromatic Invention
  • These pieces from Mikrokosmos, vol. IV: Notturno, Thumb Under, Crossed Hands, In the Style of a Folk Song, Diminished Fifth, Major and Minor, Through the Keys, Playsong, Children's Song, Clashing Sounds, Intermezzo, Variations on a Folk Tune, Bulgarian Rhythm (1 and 2), Theme and Inversion, Triplets in 9/8 Time, Dance in 3/4 Time, Fifth Chords, Two-Part Study
  • These pieces from Mikrokosmos, vol. V: Chords Together and Opposed, Staccato and Legato, Boating, Change of Time, New Hungarian Folk Song, Major Seconds Broken and Together, Studies in Double Notes, Perpetuum Mobile, Whole-tone Scale, Merry Andrew (this one has some held tones that may not work well)
  • These pieces from Petite Suite: Whirling Dance, Bag Pipe
  •  Rumanian Christmas Carols 1st Series: Number 10 is the only one that won't fit.
  • Rumanian Christmas Carols 2nd Series
  • Rumanian Folk Dances, nos. 2-5
Ludwig van Beethoven:
  • Nine Variations on a March by Dressler
  • Six Easy Variations on a Swiss Song
  • Variations on "Nel cor piu non mi sento"
  • Three Easy Sonatinas (C Major, G Major, and F Major)
  • 6 Ländlerische Tänze
  • 7 Ländlerische Tänze
  • Rondo in A Major
  • Numbers 1, 3, and 4 from 6 Menuette (not the famous one in G Major)
  • Menuett in E-flat Major
  • Rondo in C Major, Op. 51, No. 1
  • Two Preludes through all the major keys, Op. 39
  • Allegretto quasi andante, from Seven Bagatelles Op. 33, No. 2
  • Bagatelles, Op. 119, Nos. 4, 5, 8, and 9
  • Tempo di Menuetto from Sonata in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2
  • Five pieces for mechanical clock, WoO 33
Dietrich Buxtehude: All of the keyboard suites

Cecile Chaminade: These pieces from Children's Album, First Series, Op. 123:
Prélude, Intermezzo, Canzonetta, Rondeau, Gavotte, Gigue, Romance, Barcarolle, Air de Ballet, March Russe

Chopin: the following Mazurkas:
  • Op. 6, no. 2
  • Op. 7, nos. 1, 4, and 5
  • Op. 17, nos. 3 and 4
  • Op. 24 no. 3 contains a long note but is otherwise playable
  • Op. 33 no. 3
  • Op. 50 no. 2
  • Op. 67 no. 3
  • Op. 68 nos. 3 and 4
  • Op. posth. B-flat major, D Major (two of them), and C Major
      Waltz Op. 69/1 "L'adieu"

Muzio Clementi:
  • Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 1
  • Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 3
François Couperin:
from Ordre II:
  • Menuet
  • La Charoloise
  • La Diane
  • Fanfare pour la Suitte de la Diane
  • La Florentine
  • La Babet
  • Les Papillons
from Ordre III
  • Gavotte
  • L'Espagnolette
  • Les Matelotes Provencales
from Ordre VI
  • Les Moissonneurs
  • Les Langueurs-Tendres
  • Le Gazoüillement
  • La Bersan
  • Les Bergeries
  • La Commére
  • La Moucheron
Louis Couperin:
  • Chaconne, C Major
  • Passacaille, C Major
  • Sarabande, C Major
  • Menuet, C Major
  • Chaconne, C Minor
  • Chaconne, G Major
  • Branle de Basque, F Major
Jean-François Dandrieu: most of the 25 Noëls
         (but you will have to do some thinking about changes of registration and contrasts of color)

Louis-Claude Daquin: Le Coucou

Antonín Dvořák: Humoresque

Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Rondeau

Many of the pieces in The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book

César Franck:
  • L'Organiste, vol. 1 (59 pieces), FWV 41
  • 5 Pieces for harmonium, FWV 26
Girolamo Frescobaldi:
  • Gagliarda, G Minor
  • Passacaglia, B-flat Major
Froberger:
Most of the organ music (occasional chords have to be re-written because they require the pedal)
Toccatas 3-15 from the collection linked above
Note that Toccata #17 is actually by Johann Caspar Kerll

Alberto Ginastera:
“In the First Pentatonic Minor Mode”, No. 5 from Doce Preludios Americanos

Grieg: These pieces from Lyric Pieces:
  • "Arietta", Op. 12, No. 1
  • "Watchman's song", Op. 12, No. 3
  • "Elfin Dance", Op. 12, No. 4
  • "Album-Leaf", Op. 12, No. 7
These pieces from Op. 38:
  • "Skipping Dance", Op. 38, No. 5
  • "Elegy", Op. 38, No. 6
  • "Waltz", Op. 38, No. 7
Georg Frideric Handel:
Suite in B-flat Major (G. 30-33)

Franz Joseph Haydn:
  • Sonata in D Major (1767)
  • Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI/1: Allegro
  • Sonata in G Major, Hob. XVI/8
Fanny Hensel
Mélodie (Op. 4, No. 2)

Johann Caspar Kerll:
Toccata VII (it was included, incorrectly, in the Froberger collection above, where it's number XVII.)

Edward MacDowell:
from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51:
"To a Wild Rose", "Will o' the Wisp", "In Autumn", "From Uncle Remus"
Transposing the keyboard down an octave to play "At an old Trysting Place", and "A Deserted Farm"

from Sea Pieces, Op. 58:
Transpose the keyboard down an octave to play "A.D. 1620" and "Song"

from New England Idylls, Op. 62, transpose the keyboard down an octave to play "With Sweet Lavender"

Marianne Martinez:
Sonate No. 3

W. A. Mozart:
complete sonatas
  • Sonata in E-Flat Major, K. 282
  • Sonata in C Major, K. 545
individual movements
  • Sonata in F Major, K. 280, II. Adagio
  • Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 281, III. Rondo. Allegro
  • Sonata in G Major, K. 283, II. Andante
  • Sonata in D Major, K. 284, II. Andante [Polonaise en Rondeau]
  • Sonata in D Major, K. 311, II. Andante con espressione
  • Sonata in C Major, K. 330, I. Allegro moderato
  • Sonata in C Major, K. 330, III. Allegretto
  • Sonata in A Minor, K. 331, III. Alla Turca. Allegretto
  • Sonata in F Major, K. 332, II. Adagio
  • Sonata in F Major, K. 332, III. Allegro assai
  • Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 333, II. Andante cantabile
  • Sonata in F Major, K. 533, I. Allegro
Other pieces:
Minuets in G Major, K. 1, F Major, K. 2, and C Major, K. 6
Adagio for glass harmonica, K. 356

Johann Pachelbel:
At least the following chorale preludes:
(numbering and page numbers, where given, are from this collection)
  • “Ach, Gott vom Himmel sieh darein” (the shorter setting)
  • “Ach, Herr, mich armen Sünder” (the shorter setting)
  • "Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht"
  • "Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund"
  • Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (at least two of the settings)
  • Es spricht der unweisen Mund wohl” (both settings)
  • Es woll' uns Gott genädig sein”(both settings)
  • "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir" (the choral tune in the pedals has to be played an octave higher)
  • "Gott Vater, der du deine Sonn'"
  • "Ich hab' mein' Sach' Gott heimgestellt"
  • "Jesus Christus unser Heiland, der den Tod", no. 40, p. 111
  •  "Jesus Christus unser Heiland, der den Tod", no. 41, p. 112 (take the bass up an octave)
  • "Jesus Christus unser Heiland, der von uns", no. 42, p. 113
  •  "Komm Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist", no.  43, p. 115
  • "Komm heiliger Geist, Herre Gott", no. 44, p. 115
  • "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn", no. 45, p. 116 (take the bass up an octave)
  • "Lob sei Gott in des Himmels Thron", no. 46, p. 117
  • "Mag ich Ungluck nicht widerstahn", no.  47, p. 118
  • "Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren", no. 51, p 122
  • "Nun lob mein' Seel' den Herren", no 52, p. 123
  • "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig", no. 53, p. 124
  • "Vater unser im Himmelreich", no. 55, p. 128
  • "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her", no. 57, p. 131 (take the bass up an octave)
  • "Was mein Gott will, das gescheh' allzeit", no. 61, p. 136
  • "Was mein Gott will, das gescheh' allzeit", no. 62, p. 137
Preludes:
1 in D minor, 2 in E-flat major, 3 in G major, 4 in G minor, 5 in A major, 6 in A minor
Toccatas:
1 in C major, 2 in D minor, 3 in D major, 4 in C major (take the pedal part up an octave),
6 in D minor
Fantasias:
E-flat major, p. 28
G minor, p. 29
Ricercares in F-sharp minor and C major
Prelude and Fugue in E minor
Toccata and Fugue in B-flat major 

Fugues:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 in C major, 10 in C minor, 11 in D major, 12 in F major, 13 in G major, 
14 in C major, 15 in G minor, 16 and 17 in A minor, 18 in D minor, and 19 in G minor

Bernardo Pasquini: Partite sopra l'aria della Folia d'Espagna







Camille Saint-Saens: Fugue, Op. 61, No. 2

Franz Schubert:
  • Moments Musicaux Op. 94/2, Op. 94/3
  • Variation on a Waltz by Diabelli
  • Andante (C Major)
  • Allegretto (C Major)
Robert Schumann: These pieces from Kinderszenen, Op. 68:
Von Fremden Länden und Menschen, Kuriose Geschichte, Hasche-Mann, Bittendes Kind

Florent Schmitt: Prelude in G Minor

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:

  • Chant sans Paroles, Op. 2, No. 3
  • Humoresque, Op. 10, No. 2
  • Feuillet d'Album, Op. 19, No. 3 (transpose the keyboard down an octave)
  • From The Seasons, Op. 37:  November ("Troika")
  • Most of Album for the Young, Op. 39 
  • Chanson Triste, Op. 40, No. 2 (transpose the keyboard down an octave)
  • Valse, Op. 40, No. 9



Georg Philipp Telemann:
  • Twelve Easy Chorale Preludes
  • Fantasias for Harpsichord, TWV 33:1-36

Things to think about:

  • This is NOT a list of music that is easy to play!
  • These pieces range from two octaves below middle C to three octaves above
  • Some of the pieces require long held tones, which may die out too soon (in voices named "piano")
  • Some of these pieces were written for organ; use a voice named something like "church organ" (or maybe "chapel") to play them
  • Most of the important music for piano, harpsichord, and organ is not on this list
Note added April 7, 2018: I've been expanding this list as I've run across appropriate music.  It would be good to know if anyone finds it at all helpful.

Note added January 2, 2019: Shortening my comments, and moving them to the bottom of the list.

Happy New Year!

It's been a long time since I've posted, which has been the product of two things.  One, I prefer doing things to writing about them.  Two, it's hard for me to come up with things to write that would actually justify the time I'd spend writing them.

2016 has been a year of a lot of changes.  Most of them aren't really on-topic for this blog; I'll leave writing about politics to others, and while it's attractive to write about the environmental, financial and humanitarian disasters both looming and in progress, it's not my purpose here.  My own life has had a major upset or two, and as a result I've had to re-think a lot of plans.

So, what has 2016 contained?

Not as many new compositions as I'd like, but that's par for the course:
Forebodings, Too Easily Dispelled for saxophone choir
     A companion piece, Ignore the Clouds, the Droplets are not Rain, is in the works

The beginnings of a set of pieces for hatun kena and piano; two pieces basically done, unsure how many will follow.

"The Gardener's Song," a short song in Esperanto about a groundskeeper who painstakingly sorts the autumn leaves into piles by color, and has to re-think when the wind comes along and mixes them up again.

A number of performances, of which the most interesting are probably the ones at the Spanish Benevolent Society with a group of Spanish-language writers, artists, poets and musicians.  It's an honor to share the stage with them, and I'm looking forward to more wonderful programs in 2017.  Here's where to find their upcoming events.

I also played some Azerbaijani music up at Lake George for the Autumn Esperanto Convention
in October; it was my first time attending that gathering, and already I can't wait for next year.

In performing terms, 2016 has been the year of the 61-key keyboard; mine has a very different sound and feel from the pianos and 88-key digital keyboards I've played, and I've enjoyed getting to know its more intimate feel.  I'm working on a list of music that can be played on such a keyboard; I was surprised to find pieces by Bartók, Chaminade, and Florent Schmitt that will fit.  It's not a surprise that most of the important works of the piano repertoire need a bigger keyboard, of course.

My wish list for 2017 is still in progress; the above-mentioned piece for saxophone choir heads the list, followed closely by some keyboard pieces.

Happy New Year!








Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cultura SIN Límites, May 3, 2016 - POSTPONED

The event that had been scheduled for May 3, 2016, Culture with NO Limits, has been postponed.  It will take place on June 7 at 7:00 PM at the same location (The Spanish Benevolent Society, La Nacional, 239 West 14th St., Manhattan, New York City).  My apologies to everyone for the inconvenience.



I didn't know, two years ago, when I posted about the 300th anniversary of the birth of C.P.E. Bach, what kind of adventure would follow.  I've discovered a rich collection of beautiful music, in which every page begs not only to be read, but repeated, savored, treasured.  This coming Tuesday evening, March 3, 2016, I'll be continuing that exploration, by playing C.P.E. Bach's Sonata in D Minor, W. 6/15.  Not all of his music works on a five-octave keyboard, but this piece certainly does.

For those unfamiliar, Culture with NO Limits has been a place to cross boundaries.  Previous events have included readings in Spanish, French, Portugese, English, and Esperanto, and songs in Spanish, Basque, Esperanto, Azerbaijani and Bengali.  This event will extend the tradition.


Friday, October 30, 2015

In Memoriam Gerald Ranck (1941-2015)

Gerald Ranck was the Music Director of the New York Society for Ethical Culture for almost 30 years.  He passed away in April, and was a kind mentor and dear friend.

This post celebrates a few of the many wonderful things about his life.

Foremost, of course, he was a harpsichordist and pianist.  He studied piano with Joseph Echaniz at the Eastman School of Music, and harpsichord with Sylvia Marlowe at the Mannes College of Music.

Gerry was a Scarlatti expert, and performed many concerts of his music.  He was also well-known for his Bach; here's the New York Times announcement of his performance of the Goldberg Variations at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Here are some YouTube videos of his playing:
Henry Purcell: Four Harpsichord Pieces: Z 655, ZT 682, Z 656, ZT 688

Farewell performance at the Society for Ethical Culture

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord (with Laurel Zucker, flute, and Samuel Magill, cello)
Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030

Sonata in E-Flat Major BWV 1031,
Sonata in C Major BWV 1033
Sonata in E Minor BWV 1034

J.S. Bach: Sonata in B Minor for Flute and Harpsichord, BWV 1030 (with Daniel Waitzman, flute)

G. F. Handel: Adagio, Op. 2, No. 3 in F (with Evan Johnson, violin, and Steven Machamer, vibraphone)

Georg Philipp Telemann: Die Kleine Kammermusik, Partita No. 2 in G Major (with Humbert Lucarelli, oboe, and Alan Brown, bassoon)


Daniel Waitzman: Sonata for Viola and Pianoforte or Harpsichord from 2008 (with Louise Schulman, viola)

At the Society for Ethical Culture, Gerry was known as much for his talks as for his playing; here are three examples:
"Tribute to our Progressive Conservationist President"
(about Theodore Roosevelt)
"Gun Violence in the Wake of Newtown"
"Clarence Darrow: Ethics, the Law, and Monkeys"

Farewell, dear friend.