Monthly Archives: August 2016


Mame presents the story of an upper-crust woman who gains custody of her nephew after the death of her brother.  The family clearly had money – the boy and his nanny arrive in the New York party pad of Auntie Mame and first meet her as she’s hosting a soiree combining prohibition booze, top entertainers […]

A Lesson and Vibrato

I had a lesson yesterday – my first in three weeks.  I’ve been playing well enough recently, but I was out of town for a long weekend just prior to the lesson, so I worried about being rusty.  Happily, rustiness wasn’t much of a problem.  I’ve very nearly memorized the Seitz concerto, the first piece in […]


Northalsted’s Market Days is one of the biggest street festivals in Chicago.  Now, straightaway, I want to admit to having a complicated relationship with Chicago’s many summer street-fests.  On the surface, they are a source of pride and fun for many of the city’s neighborhoods, offering local businesses and artisans a chance to strut their […]

Tzigane: Ravel and French Impressionism

Maurice Ravel was a French composer living in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, regarded as one of the greatest ever to come out of France.  He was also a classically trained pianist, though he apparently never distinguished himself on the instrument.  I learned more about him yesterday reading Wikipedia as I listened to […]

Brain Acting Out

Last night as I warmed up with scales I was not getting the notes.  I would play the G major scale and play C# instead of C.  Conversely, I would play C instead of C# in the A major scale, a basic reversal.  Then, while playing the C major scale I’d play F# instead of […]

More Paganini

Niccolo Paganini was one of the greatest violinists ever to live, and a prolific composer of works for the instrument.  Born in Italy in 1782, by the time of his La Scala debut in 1813 he was living a rock-star lifestyle, touring Italy and Europe extensively.  He was also plagued by disease and mental health […]