Piano practice

As with anything, practice makes perfect. So, after some years away from my piano, I’ve begun again. It is truly a labor of love as playing music can be one of the most rewarding activities of human existence. There are some things that just sound right. Don’t ask me about music theory; I don’t know much about it. But one’s ear doesn’t lie. It sounds right; it is right. The following piece has some lovely chord progressions that I enjoy.


It’ll be many months before I can play this piece to the level I could years ago. It will be fun re-learning it and many others. Play on!

Published in: on February 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Great Pianist, RIP

Alicia de Larrocha passed away several days ago. Being in transit, I only learned of this sad fact last evening. A friend sent me some YouTube links of her in concert. Here’s one for those interested in seeing a great pianist making it look easy.

Even with those small hands, Sra. de Larrocha could play with ease, the true sign of a master. She will be missed not only in Spain, but the world over, for her beautiful music and legendary performances. As a side note, consider the magnificent tone of that Steinway in the video. Also a treat.

Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Writer Music

As stated in earlier posts, I enjoy writing in public spaces. I also do a bit of writing in a home office. The right music helps make the words flow and lately I’ve been listening to Alicia de Larrocha. Her recordings of the Mozart Piano Sonatas are nothing short of incredible. In the first place she plays them in what I would call a “clean” style, sticking to the score dynamics as penned by the composer. In other words, she doesn’t overdo it. Her phrasing is as crisp as good dialog and the subtleties of each piece are pleasantly accented without being intrusive.

If you like Mozart’s piano works, I highly recommend the RCA “Complete Collections” set by SeƱora de Larrocha. I found this on iTunes.

Finally, whatever piano she played to record this album should be in the world hall of fame for legendary instruments, or perhaps the Smithsonian.

Published in: on October 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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One Place to Write

As a film student at New York Unviersity’s Tisch School of the Arts, I had the opportunity to live in New York City. Of course, New York offers more chances at success and failure than perhaps any other place in the world (maybe Hong Kong has more of both). This is one of the unique aspects of the place that makes it attractive to people the world over.

Well, a friend of mine graduated from another program at NYU (not film school like me) and went to work for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. I went to visit one day and was given a private tour of the kitchens, the ballroom, all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on at a hotel. There’s plenty the guest never sees and that may be a good thing. By this time, I was writing steadily and one of the places I used to write was at a table in the Park Avenue Lobby. This area was called the Cocktail Terrace. Here’s what it currently looks like:

Not the greatest photo but the little round table there to the left of where that man is sitting used to be my regular spot. I was not yet twenty years old, but had a few decent suits and would put one on and go up town with my notebook and pen to scribble as long as the words kept coming. That piano in the frame was given to Cole Porter who used to have it in his suite. There was drink service and I consumed my share of Maker’s Bourbon and club soda at that table. A waitress named Gretchen used to enjoy the bits of stories I told her.

Here’s a longer view of the terrace:

The bar used to be in the back there. One of the fun things about sitting here was all the people watching. Well known people and strangers alike would come up those stairs from the Park Avenue entrance. It was possible to watch them without them watching you. Some of the things that happened after midnight were highly entertaining, if not a bit unnerving.

On the floor in the middle of this space is the Wheel of Life Mosaic, which was actually covered up for many years, until the entire hotel was remodeled in the middle 1980’s. Here’s a look at it:

It is worth a visit if you’re passing through town, especially given that many of the old style hotels like the Waldorf are going modern and losing this kind of older elegance. Some of them have become condominiums so they’re basically private residences.

For many years my mother was a florist and she loved to look at the flower arrangements in the big hotels. Here’s a look at what the Waldorf put on the day I took this photos:

Yes, they’re real and fresh and updated constantly. One more reason to pass through this lobby on your way through New York.

I’m grateful to my friend for allowing me to pass many nights at the Cocktail Terrace, and also to the management who never seemed to mind that I was there with my pen and paper. The stories I wrote here have yet to make it into print. They’re stashed away in a stack of scrawled notes. There’s some gems in there, I just have to make the time to mine them out.

Do you have a favorite lobby? Perhaps another space where you think or write or create? Let me know.