Monday, August 24, 2015

Recording Edison Cylinders and Diamond Discs --- Just Take Those Old Records off the Shelf, Part 2

In my continuing series of recording selected cylinders from my collection of Edison phonographs, I've recorded a cylinder that has always been a particular favorite of mine.  The title of the cylinder is "Let Us Not Forget."  It's an address by Thomas Alva Edison himself.  Edison, always self-conscious of his voice due to his deafness, seldom allowed his voice to be recorded.  In this recording, however, he felt strongly enough about the topic that he read an address to the American people on the role of the allied powers in working with the United States to defeat Germany in World War I.

Although "Let Us Not Forget" was originally issued on a 4-minute Blue Amberol cylinder, the entire speech is just under two minutes long.  There are two different versions of this cylinder.  The speech is always the same, however, another version is followed by national airs of other countries.  My copy of this cylinder has blank grooves for another two minutes.



Announcer:
Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, has never before permitted his voice to be recorded for the public. Today, however, he has a message for you that is important enough to cause him to break his long established rule. Mr. Edison will now give you that message. I beg to introduce Mr. Thomas A. Edison:

Thomas Alva Edison:


Thomas Edison's Address "Let Us Not Forget" 1919
This is Edison speaking. Our boys made good in France, the word 'American' has a new meaning in Europe. Our soldiers have made it mean courage, generosity, self-restraint and modesty. We are proud of the North Americans who risked their lives for the liberty of the world. But we must not forget and we must not permit demagogues to belittle the part played by our gallant allies. Their casualty list tells the story. However proud we may be of our own achievements, let us remember always, that the war could not have been won if the Belgians, the British, the French and the Italians had not fought like bull-dogs in the face of overwhelming odds. The Great War will live dilately in the minds of Americans for the next hundred years. I hope that when we do reverence to the memory of our brave boys who fell in France, we shall not forget their brothers in arms who wore the uniform of our allies. I believe that the national airs of France, Great Britain, Italy and Belgium should for all time to come be as familiar to us as our own Star Spangled Banner."

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this cylinder recording.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recording Edison Cylinders and Diamond Discs ---- Just Take Those Old Records off the Shelf, Part 1

For many years I've collected phonographs built by Thomas Edison's National Phonograph Company.  It was an interest that began when I was in high school and continues more or less today.  It's funny when you're a collector how the passion for the project ebbs and flows.  Realizing that I've had several of these "reproducing machines" and cylinder records for close to 30 years now--which puts many of them over or approaching 100 years old--I thought I'd try to preserve some of the recordings I've enjoyed for many years and share them with anyone who stumbles across my posts. 

This will be a series of videos or recordings that I will post either on YouTube or on SoundCloud.  I think it's important to preserve these earliest sound recordings for future generations.  Other people are doing the same thing and I hope to add to their efforts with these few recordings.  d

In each post I'll describe the phonograph used and try to tell as much about the artist and recording as I can find.






"That Old Gang of Mine" Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, 1923, Edison Diamond Disc Recording.

Played on an Edison Diamond Disc Cabinet Phonograph, Model BC-34, 1923
 



The following biographical sketch retrieved from http://turtleservices.com/happiness.htm

BILLY JONES (born 3-15-89, died 11-23-40) and ERNEST HARE (born 3-16-83, died 3-9-39) met in 1919 and formed a team at the suggestion of Brunswick recording executive, Gus Haenschen. They recorded for Brunswick and many other companies as Jones and Hare, The Happiness Boys. Jones is the tenor; Hare, the bass/baritone.
When they performed on a network radio show for Interwoven Socks, they called themselves The Interwoven Pair. They also made theater and club appearances. They reached the height of their popularity in 1929-30. They also recorded as Billy West & Bob Thomas, Thomas & West, Henry Jones & Billy West, Harry Blake & Robert Judson, Blake & Judson, Lester George & Walter Lange, and Scott & Lewis.

They became known as The Happiness Boys, because as radio entertainers they were sponsored, beginning in August 1923 on Manhattan New York station WEAF, by the Happiness Candy Stores. By 1924 they adopted "How Do You Do?" as their radio theme song. In 1928, Jones and Hare became the highest paid singers in radio, $1,250 a week.

William Reese Jones, a tenor, tried his hand at banking, mining, blacksmithing, and other occupations. He made his recording debut in 1918. He used several names: Billy Jones,Harry Blake, Billy Clarke, Lester George, Duncan Jones, Reese Jones, John Kelley, Dennis O'Malley, William Rees, Victor Roberts, Billy West, William West, and Carlton Williams. He recorded with Cleartone Four (Harmonizers Quartet), Crescent Trio, Harmonizers Quartet. Premier Quartet (replacing Billy Murray in late Premier groups for Edison recordings).

Thomas Ernest Hare, a bass/baritone, began his recording career in 1918. During 1919 and 1920 he was Al Jolson's understudy during a run of "Sinbad." Hare's Jolson style can be heard on Grey Gull 1166-B "Knock Wood and Whistle." As Hare recorded with partners such as Al Bernard and Billy Jones, he continue to work as a solo artist using names such as Bob Thomas, Wallace Daniels, Arthur Grant, Henry Jones, Robert Judson, Walter Lang, Walter Leslie, Roy Roberts, Bob Thompson, "Hobo" Jack Turner and Frank Mann. He recorded with Cleartone Four (Harmonizers Quartet), Crescent Trio, Harmonizers Quartet. Premier Quartet (replacing Billy Murray in late Premier groups for Edison recordings).


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rally 'Round the Flag! Some Pipe Organ Fireworks for the 4th of July


The Battle Cry of Freedom!

Played by Richard Elliot on the Schoenstein Organ at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

 

This iconic song of the American Civil War was at one time so popular that the publisher's 14 printing presses ran around the clock and could not keep up with the demand from the public for copies of the sheet music.  Written by George Frederic Root in 1862, it was to become one of the most popular songs of the period.  It is estimated that over 700,000 copies were produced.

American composer and hymn writer George F. Root wrote the music and lyrics which were adopted by the Union Army as a pro-Union song.  The  song was even adapted as a campaign theme song for President Abraham Lincoln.  Despite this, the Confederacy found a composer (H. L. Schreiner) and lyricist (W. H. Barnes) to set the music and words with a pro-Confederate spin, thus it became popular in the southern states as well.

Mormon Tabernacle Organist Richard Elliott performs his own setting of the piece on the mighty 160 rank Conference Center Schoenstein pipe organ.  His arrangement is expertly thought out with a solid foundation and "horn" fifths treatment of the melody.  A second section with a piccolo-styled obbligato brings to mind the fife and drum corps.  Finally, some incredible pedaling passages suggest the folks running to "Rally 'Round the Flag!"



Enjoy!  And for those of you in the States, Happy 4th of July!


The Battle Cry of Freedom

chorus:
The Union forever
Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor
Up with the star
While we rally round the flag, boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

verses:
Oh, we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

(chorus)

We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

(chorus)

We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true, and brave
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And although they may be poor not a man shall be a slave
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

(chorus)

So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And we'll hurl the Rebel crew from the land we love the best
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

(chorus)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brian Ebie: A Checklist for Organ Practice

  
A Checklist for Organ Practice

This document provides the organ student with an outline of how to approach learning a piece of music. Activities to stimulate learning and retention from pre-practice to followup and evaluative assessment are included in this brief outline. Perhaps a bit idealistic here and there, but nonetheless a solid primer on building one's skills or returning them to a higher level of musical comprehension and executive ability. 

PRACTICE TECHNICS

I.  PRE-PRACTICE  Away from the keyboard

  • Decode the score - analyze for understanding
  • Determine structure of piece – which parts are the same and which present different challenges.
  • Identify scale and chord outlines in order to plan fingering. Note key changes and probable spots for registration changes
  • Determine starting points for practice - list by number in the score
  • Form a conception of the music - tactile and visual - hear it in your head

II.  BEGINNING PRACTICE

  • Warm up at the keyboard with manual and pedal scales beginning at a slow tempo;
  • Play a familiar hymn
  • Work out three basic rudiments in each piece: NOTES, RHYTHM & FINGERING
  • Work in small sections concentrating on one technical challenge at a time
  • Be consistent with similar passages that occur through a piece.
  • Use the same fingering on the same patterns wherever possible. Use fingering that helps you play the correct notes and rhythm
  • Analyze problem spots - correct them and reinforce by several repetitions
  • Work corrected spots into the texture of the piece by beginning a few measures before and continuing a few measures following them
  • Practice slowly with a metronome for consistent rhythm
  • Practice pedaling on floor while seated in a chair to gain an overview of foot and body movement

III.  REFINING PRACTICE

  • Approach errors with curiosity and objectivity; i.e. what is causing this spot to be difficult? How can I take the parts apart and correct the errors?
  • Avoid mindless repetitions at fast tempi. Vary repetitions to keep them fresh and avoid overuse of the same muscle groups
  • Practice in dotted rhythms to improve coordination, accuracy and steadiness
  • Avoid tension in your hands, arms and ankles. Incorporate hand and arm rotation principals into all playing. At the first sign of pain stop playing and observe what you were doing and how. Determine how to play the problem passage without tension and discomfort.
  • Begin practice at different parts of a piece each day and be able to start at any of these section set weekly practice goals; i.e. be able to play last two pages of Bach at a slow tempo with all notes and rhythms correct.
  • Conduct the piece all the way through away from the keyboard.
  • Keep in mind the adage that practice may not make perfect, but it does make permanent.
  • Practice the way you hope to play the piece.
  • Memorize difficult passages sections for technical and mental security

IV.  ON-GOING PRACTICE

  • Set realistic short-term and long-term goals
  • Consider how a practice technique used in learning a piece can facilitate learning a similar piece
  • Use practice as a preparation for performance; play for others regularly to gain experience in playing under pressure.
  • Record and listen to your own playing with a positive mindset – what sounded really good as well as what areas had glitches
  • In order to develop your own concepts of interpretation, listen to three performances of a work that you are learning as recorded
  • by competent performers. What do you like in what you heard? Which ideas might you want to incorporate in your playing of the piece?
  • Which ideas did not like and why?
  • Enjoy plateaus and look forward to the next level of learning and playing 


Follow this link for a downloadable PDF of this list.  




All materials courtesy of Drs. Barbara MacGregor and Brian Ebie


© Brian Ebie 2015. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In Memoriam Kelly Thomas. Tuba Professor, Father, Husband, Friend.


Dr. Kelly Thomas was a good friend and colleague. We were hired the same year at UA, performed together on "Octuba-ween" and in the Faculty Follies at UA, played a lot of golf together, ate too many Chipotle burros and JJ Gargantuan Subs at Jimmy John's, and generally laughed about everything.


Kelly taught me about breakfast burritos at Los Betos. I still have an irregular heartbeat.

Kelly was there for me as a friend when a relationship ended in 2002, and helped me move forward. The night she left, he came over and took me to dinner and to see Star Wars. He told me "watching Yoda whoop some ass" would make me feel better. He was right.


Another memory special to me... Kelly and Jana had me in their car, going to lunch one day and in the back seat was a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." They kept waiting for me to notice it, which I finally did. I was out of it, I guess, and just flipped through it for a minute. They both started cracking up and THEN it hit me... they were having their first baby.


Although I've not seen them in almost 10 years, I nonetheless hold a special place in my heart for Kelly & Jana. I'm shocked and saddened by his too-soon departure from this life. Although he's gone to see Heavenly Father, he will be much missed here below.

Dum invicem rursus occurremus... Until we meet again.

 
Below are articles on Kelly's passing from various news outlets, as well as some pictures.  I've complied them here with links to the originals.  Just wanted them in one place.

If you knew Kelly, or feel so inclined, please consider donating and sharing the funding site for Jana and their four young children...


 

In Memoriam: Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas, a tuba professor in the School of Music, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night.

Visitation will be held 5:00-7:30 p.m. this Friday with the funeral immediately following at Laycock Hobbs Funeral Home in Athens, Tennessee. The burial will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Clearwater Baptist Church, 964 County Road 180 in Athens.

Thomas was appointed tuba/euphonium instructor at UT in 2014.

“Even though Kelly was only with us for a short time, he made a huge impact on our school,” said Jeff Pappas, director of the School of Music. “He will be missed.”

Prior to his appointment at UT, Thomas was the tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Arizona for thirteen years. A native of Flagstaff, Arizona, he began his studies at Tennessee Technological University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. He earned a master’s degree in music education and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Arizona State University.

Thomas performed at the International Tuba Euphonium Association conferences in Linz, Austria; Las Vegas, Nevada; Conway, Arkansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; and Regina, Saskatchewan.

He was a founding member and tubist for the Original Wildcat Jass Band, a traditional New Orleans and Chicago jazz band. The touring ensemble has appeared throughout the Southwest and Mexico as well as New Mexico, California, and Colorado, and has released released several recordings.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Jana, and four children. A memorial fund has been established for the Thomas family at Give Forward.


Be Sociable, Share!


Ex-UA music prof dies from allergic reaction to wasp sting





According to a Facebook posting from the UA's Fred Fox School of Music, Thomas died from an allergic reaction to a wasp sting. He was 40 years old.

Thomas, a native of Flagstaff who earned his undergrad degree at Tennessee Tech University and his graduate degrees at Arizona State University, taught tuba and euphonium at the UA from 2001 until 2014. He took a position last fall with The University of Tennessee Knoxville; his wife was from Tennessee and the couple had family in the area, said Bruce Chamberlain, a lUA colleague and director of the Fred Fox School of Music choral activities.

"We are just shocked that he is no longer with us on this earth," Chamberlain said.

"We are absolutely heart-broken," said Willie Hintze, former music director at  Sovereign Grace Church on the north west side, where Thomas was active. "He was one of the nicest, most giving guys I’ve ever known." 

Hintze, who had known Thomas since 2006 and whose two children were friends with Thomas's four kids, said the families were also involved in a local homeschooling group. Hintze moved to Gilbert in 2011 but the families stayed in touch, he said.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Jana, and their four young children, Janelle, Keljan, Joelle and Kenton. Funeral services will be in Tennessee. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. June 20 at Northland Christian Assembly, 1715 W. University Ave., in Flagstaff. Chamberlain said no services have been planned yet in Tucson.  

Original Article from Tucson.com



"Our Lovable Nature": Remembering UT Tuba Professor Kelly Thomas

Matt Shafer Powell
University of Tennessee School of Music instructor Dr. Kelly Thomas died Sunday night after suffering an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.  Thomas was 40 years old.

In a message sent out to School of Music faculty, students, staff and alumni, Director Jeff Pappas referred to Thomas as "our beloved tuba professor".

Thomas was hired to teach tuba and euphonium at the University of Tennessee in 2014.  A native of Arizona, Thomas began his studies at Tennessee Tech, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education.  He went on to earn his Master's and Doctorate degrees at Arizona State University.  
"Even though Kelly was only with us for a short time," Pappas wrote, "he made a huge impact on our school."

Thomas was married with four children.  Details about services have not yet been released.

Original Article from WUOT 

Kelly's Obituary



Serving McMinn County Since 1986

DR. KELLY GENE THOMAS, age 40 of Niota, TN, of the Tranquility Community, passed away Sunday, June 7, 2015, in Starr Regional Medical Center in Athens, TN due to a severe allergic reaction. 
He was native and resident most of his life of Flagstaff, Arizona, former resident of Tucson, Arizona and resident of McMinn County, Tenn. since December 2013.
Dr. Thomas was appointed tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Tennessee in 2014. Prior to his appointment at UT, Dr. Thomas was the tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Arizona for thirteen years. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Tennessee Technological University, Master of Music degree from Arizona State University, and Doctor of Musical arts degree at Arizona State University in 2006. Dr. Thomas had participated with many tuba ensembles throughout the United States and World and was a founding member and tubist for the Original Wildcat Jass Band, a traditional New Orleans and Chicago jazz band and had been featured throughout the southwest and Mexico as well as New Mexico, California, and Colorado.  Kelly also founded and was a featured member of an exciting new chamber ensemble Eufonix and was an artist and clinician for Besson/Buffet Crampon and also a member of University of Tennessee Faculty Brass Quintet. 
He was a member of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, and a member of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville, TN, and was preceded in death by infant son, Kelton Thomas.
Survivors : Wife of 18 years:  Jana Elizabeth Simpson Thomas of Niota, Tenn. Two Daughters: Janelle Thomas and Joelle Thomas  Two Sons: Keljan Thomas and Kenton  Thomas all of Niota, Tenn. Father and Mother: Ken and Nancy Parker Thomas of Flagstaff, Ariz. Brother and Sister-in-law: Ross and Julia Thomas of  Phoenix, Ariz., Sister: Tawni  Wimberley of Flagstaff, Ariz. Father-in-law and Mother-in-law: Milton and Judy Bohannon Simpson of Niota, Tenn., Sister-in-law and husband: Jody and Steve Dake of Niota, Tenn., Several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be 7:30 P.M. Friday in the chapel of Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home with Rev. Bill Kittrell and Rev.  Walt Alexander officiating.
Interment will be 11:00 A.M. Saturday in Clearwater Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Steve Dake, Jamin Dake, Mike Simmons, Scott Wilson, Sam Olsen, Glenn Bohannon, Mike Ball, and Mitchel Bohannon. Honorary pallbearers will be Cody Shell and Joseph DeChristina. 
In lieu of flowers contributions or donations to help Jana and the children may be made to https://secure.giveforward.com/donate/270609 or in care of Jana Thomas,  The Kelly Thomas Family Memorial Fund at Citizens National Bank. 
The family will receive friends from 5-7:30 P.M. Friday in the funeral home.



 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Art and Craft (2014): A story of an unlikely art forger. By Brian Ebie

"Art and Craft" describes the story of a talented art forger named Mark Landis, who for many years, copied artworks nearly exactly and then donated them to museums around the United States.  Comfortable in all types of media, he easily forged masterworks using watercolors, charcoal, oils, pencils, and other genres.

I first heard about this movie because of a news article on my local NPR station, WKSU.  An exhibit based on Landis' works was coming the the Canton, Ohio Museum of Art and screenings of the movie locally were to follow. We were not able to make it to the exhibit, and the movie only played at a couple of art theaters in Cleveland.  So, I waited for it to hit Amazon Prime.

We watched the movie and enjoyed every minute.  Mark Landis is a likeable person who you're never quite sure is aware that what he is doing upsets museum curators.  Over the course of several years, Landis donated artworks to major museums around the country often using pseudonyms or even dressed as a priest.  His forgeries are of lesser-known artists and are very convincing up front.  Many museum staff are not familiar enough with the artists he has copied to spot a fake, and as one writer put it, are less likely to scrutinize a donation.

Mark Landis Side by Side with Original
Three Women by Charles Courtney Curran, 1894 (image retrieved from Slate.com 5/28/15)

Three Women by Mark Landis (image retrieved from Slate.com 5/28/15)

As with any good scheme, there is always the risk of getting caught, and indeed Mr. Landis gets caught.  Unfortunately it's by a disgruntled art registrar who worked for a museum and was fully taken in by a donation from Landis.  Enter Matthew Leininger.  Mr. Leininger was apparently duped at his previous job with a museum in Oklahoma and while working in Cincinnati at the art museum, became so obsessed with "hunting down" Landis that he lost his job.  He's sort of a pathetic, whiny character throughout, hell-bent on making certain Mark Landis serves time in prison.  Leininger actually wants Landis imprisoned.  Leininger devotes his stay-at-home dad time to hunting down Landis, even to the point of sending him anonymous--and what some might call--threatening emails.  He goes so far as to call an FBI Agent in charge of art thefts to seek prosecution for Landis.

Though he donated forgeries to art museums, Mark Landis does not appear to have run afoul of the law, despite his intent to deceive. He was careful, it seems, to neither sell or take tax write offs on his forgeries.  He was protected from prosecution simply because he did not profit from his donations, and because he directed his forgeries to the specialists in the museums who should have been able to discern that the works were not authentic. 

Alec Wilkinson, writing in the New Yorker put it this way:
"Why Landis was giving fake paintings away Leininger didn’t know; he knew only that Landis seemed unwilling to stop. When he found an e-mail address for Landis, he began writing him as Sleuth 38. His remarks sometimes had a peremptory tone. “What are your plans for 2013?” he wrote. Landis didn’t answer. Leininger wanted “to get him thrown into the slam,” he told me. “The guy’s a crook. Fraud is fraud.” He contacted the F.B.I., where he spoke to Robert Wittman, the senior investigator of the Art Crimes Team, who is now in private practice. “We couldn’t identify a federal criminal violation,” Wittman told me. “If he had been paid, or taken a tax deduction, perhaps. Some places maybe took him to dinner, gave him some V.I.P. treatment, that’s their decision, but there was no loss that we could uncover. Basically, you have a guy going around the country on his own nickel giving free stuff to museums.” "
Having spent a career in the arts, I found the pious rantings of Leininger and other art registrars to be both typical and tedious.  Spare us your righteous indignation.  You were fooled.


The movie examines Landis' mental health, often picturing his visits to a clinic, or meeting with his counselor, or case worker.  It also takes us on a journey through his daily life--watching endless reruns of old black and white television  shows and movies.  Glimpses into the methods he used to forge the art pieces were fascinating as well.  In many cases he worked free hand, and in others he photocopied the works and painted over the top of the copy.  Even with evidence of using a photocopy, there is no question that Mark Landis is a talented artist.  Many people in the movie asked why he doesn't release works under his own name.  He simply says it's all "just art and craft."




Mark Landis Side by Side with Original 
Mark Landis chalk drawing A Woman Lying on a Chaise Longue (from slate.com retrieved 5/28/15)
Jean Antoine Watteau's 1719 chalk drawing A Woman Lying on a Chaise Longue
(from slate.com retrieved 5/28/15)
 The movie Art and Craft concludes with Mark Landis attending an event showcasing his forgeries and his story.  Around 60 pieces of artwork by Landis, both forgeries and a handful of his originals, were part of the exhibition.  Along with the artworks he carefully wrapped up and mailed to the museum, Landis also packed his "Jesuit priest" costume. The art show was entitled "Faux Real."and was held during Spring 2012 in the Dorothy W. and C. Lawson Reed Jr. Gallery at the University of Cincinnati.

Leininger was there to meet him.  It seemed to me, however, that in his casual, unassuming way, that Landis was unfazed by Leininger's anger.  What was even more enjoyable was that Landis really couldn't have cared less.  

in 2015, Mark Landis' health is declining and he rarely appears in public.  He has stopped donating artworks--as far as we know--and is for the most part, a shut-in.  This concluding quote in the New Yorker article by Alec Wilkinson sums up best what Mark Landis would have you take away from his story.  He checks an article about St. Mary's Town and Country School on Wikipedia and is happy to see his name listed as "art dealer and philanthropist."  He is worried that someone might change those words someday as has happened on other sites....
“Otherwise, somebody might say something bad about me and change it,” he said. “And then I won’t be an art dealer and a philanthropist anymore.” 

Links of Interest:
"The Giveaway" by Alec Wilkinson
Mark Landis Documentary by Kristin Hohenadel
Mark Landis website
Art and Craft official site


Brian Ebie, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Songs My Mother Taught Me" by Antonin Dvorak Played on the Mormon Tabernacle Organ


Songs My Mother Taught Me


In this video Mormon Tabernacle Organist Richard Elliott performs his own setting of Antonin Dvorak's lovely "Songs My Mother Taught Me."  It is the fourth of seven songs in the Gypsy Songs cycle B. 104, Opus 55.

The flowing melody is rendered perfectly on the warm diapason solo and string chorus accompaniment of the Tabernacle's 206 rank Aeolian Skinner pipe organ.  From an episode of Music and the Spoken Word, Elliot arranged this piece and played it during the traditional organ solo spot on the broadcast.


A rough translation of the lyrics for Songs My Mother Taught Me are as follows:

Songs my mother taught me, In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children, each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory's treasure.


I hope you enjoy this wonderful video from Richard Elliott.

Happy Mother's Day!

UPDATE:  Rick played his arrangement again yesterday on the Music & the Spoken Word broadcast.  It was just a beautiful this time around.  I also played it at church yesterday and many people commented on how much they enjoyed hearing it... a simple, tasteful tribute to mothers.  As I've watched my wife teach our daughter little songs its made me remember back to my own mother and grandmother teaching me songs of all sorts.  I still have some of those music books and we use them now with our daughter.  Watching her sing these little melodies is amazing, and especially when thinking about her eventually passing them on to her family in the future as we did to her and as was done for us.  Music truly passes through time, generations, boundaries, cultures, and hearts.

I found an equally beautiful performance of the piece on YouTube, played by violinist Valeriy Sokolov and pianist Svetlana Kosenko this weekend.  I've always believed that good musicians take the time to listen to performances and learn from what others have done.  As I practiced up Rick's arrangement to play on Sunday, I listened to these two and gained an even better understanding of conveying the emotion in the musical line.

Here is the performance by violinist Valeriy Sokolov and pianist Svetlana Kosenko: