Monday, August 6, 2012

Quick Updates From Earlier Postings

Here are just a few updates:  (1) Kickstarter funding fell far short of what was required, so that project must be held in abeyance.  (2) There are now two CDs of my father’s music.  (3) Perhaps some time soon I shall be able to work on those “in-home” concerts, but I have no such plans at present.  (4) Music – both my own and my father’s – has been sent to various publishers for consideration:  stay tuned!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


The texts below are taken and "recycled" from the site.  They are presented in reverse chronological order, also as originally posted.

On July 14, 2012, titled, "Updates on Music":

I now have a nice website,, which includes links to my father's music. I still hope to get more of these compositions -- his and mine -- recorded and transcribed to legible musical notation (i. e., Finale or Sibelius software). That, however, is another project.

I applied for KickStarter funding -- a mere $1,400 to cover the costs of getting my father's Scherzo-Tarantella and string quartet copied onto Finale. However, I shall apparently not generate anywhere near enough, and the project will have to be put aside for a while longer.

In August, 2011, I completed some very successful recordings. These included my violin sonata, performed with Sarah Darling, the oboe sonata, with Audrey Markowitz, a number of my father's songs, with Paul Halverson, and some solo work. The violin sonata is available on my website. Although not altogether happy with the finished products -- the piano went out of tune fairly early on! -- I can state these are by far the best to date.

I had a rather good recital in June, 2011, featuring the Goldberg Variations; a rather mediocre and disappointing recital in April, 2012, featuring my own audacious interpretation of the first movement of Beethoven's Op. 106 sonata ("Hammerclavier").

On the compositional front, I have set both Shakespeare's "Sonnet 73" and Frost's "Stopping by Woods" to music.

I find it more difficult (i. e., more physically painful) to put in long hours at the piano, so I am uncertain about future performances.

A post way back on January 14, 2011, discussed the following: 

Last summer, I recorded my father's "Mazurka for Flute and Piano," along with arrangements of his song, "Far Away," for both flute and piano as well as oboe and piano. The results were gratifying.

During the same session, we recorded two of my "Songs Without Words for Flute and Piano," and the slow movement of a projected oboe concerto (with piano reduction). These, too, came quite well.

An announcement on September 4, 2009, read as follows:

Alfonso Cavallaro ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS, Volume One has been completed!
The first CD is "in the can," simply awaiting the pressing of the actual disks. It will include the two organ works, the orchestral piece, my transcription of a song, and all the chamber music recorded last month (including four works for violin and piano). A striking picture of my father, photographed in the 1930's, will be included!

On June 8, 2009, a song was "born" (after a fashion):

I have recently completed my setting of "Heartbreak Hill," by Celia Laighton Thaxter, for soprano and voice. A preliminary read-through proved most gratifying, and I look forward to the formal debut of the work on August 5th at the Ipswich Performing Arts Center.

2009 marks the 375th anniversary of Ipswich; the town was settled in 1634. Thaxter's title alludes to the location known today as "Castle Hill," site of the Crane mansion. The poetry is by no means remarkable, but it does appear to lend itself to some nice harmonies! I hope that the music will prove a worthy effort for the town's 375th, and should certainly like to provide another composition for the 400th!!

One of the lengthiest, most interesting posts came on March 1, 2009:

Dan Shaw wrote a piece entitled, "Call Her Style Concert-Cozy," in today's New York Times. I love the idea of "In-Home" concerts, and I also wonder whether a small circuit of such events can be established. As correctly noted, below, these aristocratic salons hosted many of the 19th century's giants (e. g., Chopin and Liszt)!

<< NINA KUZMA-SAPIEJEWSKA does not call the main room in her two-bedroom apartment the living room. “This is the salon,” she said in her sturdy Polish accent.

Ms. Kuzma-Sapiejewska gives piano lessons in her prewar apartment in Larchmont, N.Y., and in the past, also gave a lot of house concerts. “I wanted my children to experience what I’d read about in books on Chopin and Liszt, who would play almost every day in someone else’s salon,” she said wistfully. “They would visit different aristocrats’ houses. Chopin’s music was not composed for large halls of 3,000 people. I thought I could give my children a taste of what it was like, even in my more modest circumstances.”

Her goal is to keep classical music alive from the bottom up. “I want people to gather together, whether in a hut or a grange hall, to hear Chopin,” she said. “It doesn’t even have to be piano. It can be the guitar or the tuba. The important thing is for people to be together.” >>

Indeed -- at a time when we face economic collapse, what could be more appropriate than classical music "from the bottom up"?

The debut of my reconstructed Haydn received mention on January 25, 2009:

I was most fortunate that I was given the January 25th date, since heavy snowfall obliged the Salem Philharmonic to cancel the preceding two Sundays. The collaboration with Alan Hawryluk was, once again, very successful. Alan suggested using the entire string section, rather than a diminished 7-piece set as I had originally planned. Given the power of the nine-foot piano, this was a good recommendation. Alan also took somewhat slower tempi, and given the climate -- the room was really not adequately heated, and all the musicians suffered from cold fingers! -- this, too, was an excellent idea.

From all we could tell, the concerto "worked" in its expanded form. I look forward to hearing the CD of the performance. I am also toying with the idea of writing an orchestral reduction and trying to get the concerto published as a work for high school ensembles. We shall see.

I had discussed the Haydn -- and what I did with it -- more extensively on December 6, 2008:

Among Haydn's immense body of compositions are a number of concerti for various solo instruments. Some are full-sized works, while others have received such designations as "toy concerto" or "concertino."

Some years ago, I discovered a "toy concerto" for keyboard (Klavier) in C Major. It was scored for first and second violins and cello, and the solo part sometimes served as continuo. I decided to expand the piece to a full complement of strings. This objective was relatively easy to achieve; I merely doubled the cello part with a double bass, and then added a viola part, carefully enriching harmonies if possible or else doubling some other part judiciously. I then set about examining the full score, and decided to change a few of the harmonies -- although, lest the purists grow apoplectic, the alterations to the original were relatively few and relatively minor.

The final touch involved the interpolation of a cadenza in the first movement. In the classical period, the cadenza comes after the recapitulation, as the tutti (orchestra) draws to a I-6/4 harmony. Alas, Haydn was not thinking in these terms, but I did find a I-6/4 in the development, just before the recapitulation. I decided to exploit this opportunity, added a "ritardando" to the preceding measures, and wrote in a "fermata" at the cadenza chord. After the "hold," I obliterated the remainder of that measure, so that the soloist (here, pianist) can play, and interpolated a cute little cadenza which draws from three of Haydn's thematic ideas.

Many other blogs, including those dealing with music, have been summarily deleted.  I shall certainly hope to keep more dynamic blogs -- on both literary and musical topics -- hereafter!

Purpose of the Blog

This blog, gleaned from the original, will be devoted solely to my musical ventures. I shall report news of performances (if any), compositions, recordings, and -- I hope -- publications. All editing, ghost-writing, and literary consultation news can be found on the site, while only personal news will be left on the LennyCavallaro.blogspot.