CHOPIN: REAWAKENING 55+ YEAR-OLD MUSIC & MUSCLE MEMORY – AGAIN!

My “Chopin Year” (August-to-August) ends of auspicious date (Aug 11)

My first new Belgrade piano recording, Chopin Waltz in G-flat, part of Chopiniana

Well, if I did not experience it myself, I would have had a hard time believing it. In just 4 days, I learned to play one of Chopin’s masterpieces – the Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor. The last time I played it, if I had played it before at all, would have been in the late 1950s. So more than 55 years ago.

I wrote the preceding introduction to my recording of Chopin’s Waltz in C# minor on April 16 of this year (see the full story below). And now it has happened again. In Belgrade. Only this time, it was the more technically challenging Chopin Waltz Op 70 #1 in G-flat that I recorded after only four days of practice.

The recording you are about to hear is far from perfect. But it is passable for an amateur pianist. More importantly, I played it with my heart not just my fingers. Just like that Waltz in C# minor last April.

This now completes my Chopiniana Suite, six months after I was inspired to create it. Which is why at the end of my recording I also bring you as a “bonus” the magnificent Marinskiy Ballet’s interpretation of the Chopin Waltz Op 70 #1 in G-flat in an orchestral version created by the Russian composer Glazunov in the late 19th century.

One more thing before I let you listen to and watch this video. I was also struck by the fact that in both of these recordings made four months apart I happen to be wearing a red shirt. Red is not my favorite color. Was it Chopin’s?

Chopin Waltz Op 70 #1 in G-flat after 4 days of practice – with Marinskiy Ballet performing the same as part of orchestral Chopiniana Suite – music and film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Aug 10, 2018


SOME STILL SHOTS FROM THE RECORDING


CHOPIN DREAM IS NOW COMPLETE

Chopin was never one of my favorites: “Too delicate”

Chopin was never one of my favorite composers. I played his pieces mostly to please others who reveled in his melancholy music. What did I say last summer about Chopin when his Grand Valse Brillante came to me in a dream in late July 2017 – that I thought some of his music was fluffy and maudlin? (too sentimental).

I was not the only one to think that.

On 11 Aug 1829, three weeks after completing his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, the 18-year old Chopin made his debut in Vienna. He gave two piano concerts and received many favorable reviews—in addition to some criticisms. In Chopin’s own words, he was “too delicate for those accustomed to the piano-bashing of local artists.”

Who might they be? Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann… and, of course, Mozart 40 years earlier. All of whom were and still are my favorites.

And yet here he is, larger than life and late in my life, Chopin came knocking on my doors and moving into my life again (see From my Dreams Journal: IBM AND CHOPIN, Feb 12, 2018).

And now I see, also with some trepidation and a lot of amazement that there is a reason my “Chopin Year” reincarnated has run August-to-August. And that Freddie had been most likely masterminding it from ethereal heights of the spiritual realm.,

On this day, Aug 11, 1829, Chopin was introduced to the world in the music capital of the world – Vienna.

Another amazing “coincidence!”

“And now that I have done what you asked of me Freddie, would you please let me go?” (my prayer to Chopin).

Chopin Waltz G-flat header 2.png

Background info

“CHOPINIADA 2018”, MY PRELUDE TO “CHOPINIANA”

The February Chopin dream inspired me to work on a “Chopiniada” music video (and stiry.  It is a ”ballet blanc” (white ballet), a shorter version of Les Sylphides, also known as “Chopiniana.”

Here’s the intro…


And also now the actual Chopiniana video which I recorded on my Clavinova.

April 16, 2018

CHOPIN: REAWAKENING 55+ YEAR-OLD MUSIC & MUSCLE MEMORY: Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Well, if I did not experience it myself, I would have had a hard time believing it. In just 4 days, I learned to play one of Chopin’s masterpieces – the Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor. The last time I played it, if I had played it before at all, would have been in the late 1950s. So more than 55 years ago.

This waltz is the No. 6 element of the famous Chopiniana – Ballet Blanc, or Les Sylphides – adapted to orchestra, and first introduced to public by the Russian composer Alexander Glazunov in 1893 – 44 years after Chopin’s death.

This music came to me in a dream on Feb 11 of this year, along with several other Chopin pieces, some of which I have also already recorded. But Elizabeth and I have been busy with a multitude of activities since then. So it was not until last week that I started to play this particular waltz. And it took off like wild fire. Even the fingering (and my old mistakes – I now remember) returned effortlessly. 🙂

It was like being 13 all over again. Except that now I wanted to get it right. Or at least as perfectly as my arthritic right hand would allow it. Hope Monsieur Chopin approves, wherever he may be today.

So here’s my first recording of this walt on my Steinway. Later on, I will also post the Clavinova (orchestral) version of it, along with the Les Sylphides ballet as a video background.

Chopin Waltz in C# minor Op 64 No 2: Steinway rendition – music and film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona on Apr 16, 2018

Here are also some more still shots from today’s recording session:

Chopin Waltz in C# minor Op 64 No 2: Clavinova rendition – music and film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 16, 2018


UPDATE APRIL 18, 2018

CHOPIN WALTZ IN c# MINOR: THE MAYERLING RENDITION

While (re)learning to play Chopin’s Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor after a 55 -year+ hiatus, I had imaged of a love story unfolding before me.

My childhood friend from Yugoslavia, Dr Mira Pavlovic, a professor at a Medical School in Florida, who also played piano at the time we were both teenagers, wrote back to me and said that Chopin told his teacher after he composed this waltz that it was a story about an older gentleman courting and proposing to a young beauty.

I had no idea about that until yesterday. Yet when I was considering what visual images to use for my own recording of the piece, I thought of Mayerling.

The Mayeling tragedy was a series of events leading to the murder–suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889) and his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera (19 March 1871 – 30 January 1889). Rudolf was the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Empress Elisabeth.

Since Chopin’s waltz does not end on a tragic note, I thought that perhaps my music video might be misunderstood by the viewing public. But after hearing what Mira had to say about it, quoting Chopin himself, I decided to create a Mayerling rendition of this wonderful waltz

 


 

Feb 2018

CHOPINIADA

Chopin was never one of my favorite composers. I played his pieces mostly to please others who reveled in his melancholy music.

What did I say last summer about Chopin when his Grand Valse Brillante came to me in a dream – that I thought some of his music was fluffy and maudlin? (too sentimental). And yet here he is, late my life, knocking on my doors and moving into my life again (see From my Dreams Journal: IBM AND CHOPIN, Feb 12, 2018).

Which inspired me to work on a “Chopiniada” music video.  It will be a”ballet blanc” (white ballet), a shorter version of Les Sylphides, also known as “Chopiniana.”

Alexander Glazunov had already set some of the music in 1892 as a purely orchestral suite, under the title Chopiniana, Op. 46. In that form, it was introduced to the public in December 1893, conducted by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. I have also done the same, recording some of it on my Clavinova, some on my Steinway.

Once I have mastered the five new Chopin waltzes, including the two from my dream, I may produce the full version of Les Sylphides. Meanwhile, here’s an introduction to the project:

And now, h ere’s my abbreviated, 16-minute version of Les Sylphides ballet, which runs for about 30 minutes with a full Chopiniana suite.

“CHOPINIADA 2018”, MY PRELUDE TO “CHOPINIANA” – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona – Feb 19, 2018 on a Steinway and a Clavinova – with Mariinsky Imperial ballet Les Sylphides dance (video only)


By the way, the term Les Sylphides fits perfectly Chopin’s music. Its a French expression that comes from the “Sylphs” – mythological air spirits, like air elementals akin to Santa Tierras (female earth spirits. Maybe that’s why I used a sort of derogatory term “fluffy” to describe Chopin’s music, without realizing that at higher levels that actually means ethereal – divine – heavenly.

 

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