On this day in classical music: Serge Prokofiev’s “Visions Fugitives,” a collection of 20 brief works for piano, had its premiere in St. Petersburg in 1918. The composer, who was at the piano, also debuted his “Sonata for Piano No. 3.” The title comes from a poem by Konstantin Balmont: “In every fugitive vision I see worlds, full of the changing play of rainbow hues.” The works are known for their sparse textures and rhythmic interest. Listen to the composer perform excerpts from this popular suite. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk0jJyUh0T4
On this day in the musical theatre: “Next to Normal,” a dark musical that explored one woman’s struggles with bipolar disease, opened in 2009. The musical also addressed issues ranging from suicide and drug abuse to psychiatric ethics and suburban life. Featuring a Tony Award-winning rock score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, this unusual musical divided critics. Many were surprised when it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010, only the eighth musical to be so honored.
Musical musings: The soundboard is the soul of the piano. But not only the soundboard: The whole frame or “rim” of the piano is involved in producing the sound. It is all a part of the “sounding” body. One cannot determine beforehand how a given soundboard will react to pressure and tension of the strings — their tremendous “down-bearing” upon the bridge and soundboard. One piano can be extremely brilliant and also beautiful, while another has to be kept more mellow to give its best. If I take a piano and try to force it beyond its capacity, because the pianist wants it to soar over the sound of the orchestra — if it does not have this potential, my forcing it will give a tone that is extremely ugly, harsh and shattering. It would be more noise than tone. – Franz Mohr in “My Life With the Great Pianists.”