Search This Blog

Thursday, 19 November 2020

The Prescription is Music: Longevity of a Healthy Brain By Darlene Koldenhoven

The Prescription is Music: Longevity of a Healthy Brain

By Darlene Koldenhoven, M.M.V., B.M.Ed., iLs-APP, NLP, GRAMMY®, Indie Music Hall of Fame

In February of 2020 he AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) convened a Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH)in Washington D.C., USA, inviting an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars and policy experts from around the world who were working on brain health and cognition. What their research found was remarkable: that music in all its forms has a profound effect on keeping the brain sharp and the body actively functioning as we age. Those who were lucky enough to begin a deep exposure to music by formal music training or an abundance of music and singing in our environment prior to age 7, had an advantage in brain function that lasted a lifetime with permanent intellectual benefits. Those who started later in life also showed advances within the neuroplasticity of the brain.

With more advanced research, the scientific evidence of the advantage of music is no longer anecdotal; although much has been written or verbally passed down thousands of generations about the healing power of music as evidenced in the many books written by credentialed professionals and non-credentialed individuals on the subject. Still, much more research needs to be done and funding for such research needs to be raised, but the verdict is in and we all win with music.


Once again, singing may be the easiest and inexpensive ways to get started and one of the most beneficial ways of impacting your life with positive vibrations. Sadly, many have had the desire to sing stolen from them, sabotaged by parents, teachers, friends who just don’t understand that singing is a learned experience that takes time and practice. You get good at whatever you spend the most time at. The genetic research company, 23 and Me, has found that to a very small certain percent, the lack of ability to sing in tune is genetic. But that is no excuse not to try and I have successfully taught hundreds of pitch challenged individuals of all ages to get their ear/voice in tune. Although singing does not depend on formal training, it begins in infancy and takes action to exercise the muscles of singing, listening to yourself and others to achieve a reasonable goal in singing; not necessarily becoming a professional singer. Recently, a parent of a 12-year old girl student of mine told me several times that she did not see why her daughter (one of those in that small percent 23 and Me was referencing) had to vocalize for 20 minutes a day to learn to sing in tune in spite of me explaining all the muscular mechanisms and listening functions and audio processing time correlations within the brain necessary to achieve the goal. She actually said more than once that she did not want her daughter to do it and in front of the child, proclaimed that she never sounds good. Parental sabotage strikes again! Sadly, here I have to be careful to reign in my empathetic, championing, high horse and just do the best I can to teach and encourage that child. Some may be born with a predilection towards math, some not so much, but that doesn’t mean we don’t practice our multiplication tables growing up. Yet, not knowing your “times tables” does not create the emotional deficiency that not being able to sing does; unless you are made to recite those tables in front of the class. The more skills we have in life, the less depressed we will be. When it comes to singing, apparently it has quite a positive effect on the brain and the body and its functions. Our singing voice is the best instrument we have for our health.


The AARP study 1 found that choral singing has so many benefits. (Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put the kibosh on that for a while. Regardless, singing along to choral music helps in the mean time.) The studies of Dr. Gene Cohen and Jeanne Kelly revealed that after 9 months of singing, these older adult singers in their study group suffered fewer falls, had fewer doctor and hospital visits, took less medication and experienced less depression. Singing has benefits for both healthy aging and stroke patients. Some studies measured the amount of cytokines (protein chemical messengers in the immune system) in the blood after singing for an hour and found that singing boosts the immune system and help to regulate inflammation.

Listening to music has much value as well, stimulating many parts of the brain and promoting connectivity in the brain, resulting in better motor control affecting speech, walking, balance, swallowing and breathing. Music and dance are united showing a reduction in the risk of dementia. And, it doesn’t matter what country or culture you come from – music is universal in its healing and life enhancing properties. Here’s where scholars can agree: music supports the well-being and quality of life essential in benefitting brain health even if we don’t have definite evidence it mitigates a disease itself. Music improves our moods, lowers stress which affects activity of the autonomic nervous system, which ramps up the immune function. Studies also found that negative feelings undermine the immune function. So, particularly in today’s world, in addition to taking the vitamin C, D, and Zinc in your defence arsenal, get that music going and your inner song bird a warbling!

1 Referencing – “Music on Our Minds: The Rich Potential of Music to Promote Brain Health and Mental Well-Being” by the Global Council on Brain Health, a collaborative from AARP.


Darlene Koldenhoven, M.M.V, B.M.Ed, NLP, iLs-APP, Grammy Winner & 3-time nominee, Indie Music Hall of Fame Inductee. Recording artist with several multi-award winning, #1 New Age albums, some played in hospitals and hospices nationwide. Author, “Tune Your Voice: Singing and Your Mind’s Musical Ear.” International speaker on music education and sonic therapy. Private practice in voice and sonic therapy; in person or remotely. More info at,,,

©2020 Darlene Koldenhoven. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

In Review: the Singles by Steve Sheppard


In Review: the Singles by Steve Sheppard


Single compositions in most genres is now the way forward; I am so grateful we embraced this new culture of singles by creating the one and only, as far as I know, top 50 chart for the new age genre of music quite a while back, on One World Music Radio.

So I thought for this edition of In Review we would take a brief look at a few singles that have graced my path recently, and highlight them in a way that they really most certainly need to be highlighted.

We start this singular journey off with the latest offering from pianist Tim Neumark, who to be honest has been producing some very memorable tunes lately, and this is another one to enjoy, it may be short form at just under two minutes, but his performance is warm, one of those compositions that leaves you with a smile on your face at its conclusion, and called Eternity (Improv in B-Flat Major).

Going from one style and length of arrangement to another, we take a listen to the latest piece from flautist Bearheart Kokopelli and his seven minute single entitled Walk in Beauty. This is special, it’s multi-instrumental in flavour, with a percussive beat that is addictive enough to make you move your body; this light and happy composition is one of those that will brighten your day with ease.

So from Native American styled flute, we move to a touch of sexy and sultry Latin guitar from Victor Samalot. His latest single is called La Chica Bonita and it is the closest you can get to an instrumental acoustic styled Santana arrangement. Having said that, there is a really nice electric riff contained within that is superb, I mean what is their not to love about this vibrant and cheer filled song, perfect for sipping Sangria and long days on the beach, and of course so smooth!

So singles are here and here to stay and I shall look at a three more in my next article too, as well as music that has been inspired by the current pandemic and trust me that subject has spawned some amazing classics to enjoy in the years ahead.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Kerrys Corner #6 with Kerry Barnes: J S Bach


Hello Music Lovers! Welcome to another edition of KERRY’S CORNER …..where I delve into the lives and works of the Great Composers, today, it’s all about

J. S. B A C H.


Bach quite simply is the king of Sacred Music. He wrote for the German protestant liturgy, mainly cantatas, keyboard and instrumental music.

Schubert once said of him “Bach has done everything completely, he was a man through and through! (Schubert was born over 40 years after Bach’s death).

Many people have thought that Bach’s music fulfils a profound spiritual need and has an ‘other worldly’ quality to it. (I’ve been trying to tell my mum that for years, but she still can’t stand his music!)

Bach’s life was dominated by his devotion to the Lutheran faith, and his music was dedicated to its service.

He didn’t much like travelling (unlike his peers) and spent his whole composing life in his native Germany, and mostly in the region of Thuringia and Saxony. He came from a long line of organists and choir masters etc. and his father Ambrosius was himself employed as a musician by the town council of Eisenach.

Bach lost both his parents by the age of 10, (how tragic) so he was sent off to live with his elder married brother J.C. Bach and stayed until the age of 15. He then obtained a free place at St. Michael’s school in Luneberg 200 miles away in north Germany. There, he benefitted from a solid musical education and also sang in the choir.

(The organ Bach would have played)

At age 17 he returned to Thuringia to look for a job (is this still the man who wrote the 48 Preludes and Fugues, scratching round for a job!)

Initially he found a post as a violinist in a Weimar court, he got a bit fed up with that and began composing like a mad man! … (I can relate to this being a mad woman myself) … and it was at this time he made the legendary pilgrimage on foot to Lubeck (260 miles) to hear the celebrated organist Dietrich Buxtehude!!  It must have rubbed off because Bach went on to be a professional organist.

It was also at this time that he married his second cousin (is that still legal?).

Her name was Maria Barbara Bach and they went on to have 6 children of whom C.P.E. Bach bridged the gap between late Baroque and early Classical eras … so it kind of went CPE /Haydn.

1721 was the year of the Brandenburg Concertos, (I’ve always longed to play the continuo- harpsichord part in one of those, oh, and the powdered wig)

Can you believe that Bach composed over 200 Cantatas, he must have been at it all day!

One of my favourites of his is the Double Violin Concerto, I once saw a video of David Oistrach and Yehudi Menuhin playing it in black and white film, amazing.

Bach’s composing sprees were still going at top speed with additions like orchestral works, harpsichord sonatas and cello suites; whenever I hear the G major one, I immediately think of the film ‘Hangover 2’ where Teddy lost his finger and will no more be able to play it.

Being a German, Bach was very fond of the Italian styles of Corelli and Vivaldi and immersed himself in the intense study of them.

In May 1720, Bach’s wife died suddenly, but it didn’t take him long to find another girlfriend, whom he married the following year. His bride … Anna Magdalena. She proved to be a great asset to her husband and was herself a great musician, playing the harpsichord, singing and more. They went on to have 13 more children! (oh, that poor woman’s uterus) … but he still found time to compose the mega body of work that are the Preludes and Fugues, the staple repertoire of all great pianists. (I saw Andrass Schiff play them all from memory) … another little story if I may … many years ago I went to the Wigmore Hall in London to see a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and my boyfriend at the time fell asleep 15 minutes in … just as well we were sitting right at the back (of course I was riveted).

Due to the nature of relationships, Bach’s career became rather fragile, so he decided to move to Leipzig where he carried on composing till his death 27 years later. He took on some teaching work and wrote 250 works for the church there. Among his last major works were the Goldberg Variations for harpsichord, of which I had the privilege of seeing Virginia Black perform in London too (the finest harpsichord player England ever had).

Very sadly, towards his death Bach became almost totally blind, how awful for a prolific scribbler.

He will always remain one of the world’s most revered composers that ever lived. Rock on man!

Thursday, 15 October 2020

What about the Microwave? by Emma Thacker


What about the Microwave?
by Emma Thacker

There was a young man
And he was called Dave
He had an old friend
Who was a microwave.
Though he pinged a lot
He was well behaved
And his best friend Blender
Lived in a cave.

The cave was wonderful 
Warm and bright
Although there was really
No sign of a light.
There was a young man
Who said he just might
Steal poor old Blender
And ask for a fight!

But Dave came along
And stole the man's glove
So that he couldn't fight,
He was so much in love 
As the Blender took on
A most voluptuous form
And cradled the glove
The young man had worn.

Blender took his mate
Along to his cave
And in the glare of the dark
He most solemnly gave
The promise of love 
And a garden to pave
As long as the best man
Could always be Dave!

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Breath of Life by Lia Scallon


This poem is Lia’s attempt to articulate the powerful vision she experienced during the recording of  her album ‘Breath of Life’.

Time to leave this body – time to go home……
Eyes heavenward
You feel the breath of life….
Breath of Spirit beckoning
Breath of Spirit waiting to embrace you.
The arms of the Divine Eternal Mother
are open wide to receive you.
She draws you to her bosom
Into the beautiful vastness of the Universal One-ness……
The Universal Allness……
Which is your home.

You feel her fingers touch your heart
As She speaks to you…..
“Give me your pain”, she says
“Give me your sorrow…..
Give me your grief..….
Give me your fear………
I will take it……
Give it to me……
And………come to me……….”

As She speaks to you…..
“Give me your pain”, she says
“Give me your sorrow…..
Give me your grief..….
Give me your fear………
I will take it……
Give it to me……
And………come to me……….”

A wave of energy sweeps through your being
A rush of energy from above.
Surging soft, light energy from the Cosmos
And sweeps you up.
You merge into this wondrous, wave of Light
Absorbed into it
Immersed in it
You know you are home.

Looking down upon the physical body you have left
A feeling of great love floods through you,.
The physical form served you very well
But that is done…..
You belong to the Stars…….
It was but a brief visit – a journey – an exploration.

Your spirit overflows with lightness, joy and love!
Sparks of light fly off you, as you sweep through the universe
Part of…at one with…the Divine Cosmic Source.

Looking earthward again
You see
Other souls
Just like you
Waiting to leave………

You swoop
Like an eagle
Down to the Earth.
Part of the Great Wave of Source
You swoop
Around them ….
Through them….
Picking them up…….
Picking them up………. Bringing them home…….

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

The Long Way Home by Emma Thacker


The Long Way Home

I went the long way home today.
Through the woods
Among the ferns
Brambles leading the way.

I went the long way home
Peaceful birdsong
Scented leaves
A calmness for me alone.

A rare treat to cheer me
Greenness as far as the eye can see
Flash of silver birch tree
Mind roaming free.

I took the long way home this time
A sweet illusion
Clearing confusion
There is such a fine line

Between calmness and chaos
Between darkness and light
The everyday fight.
The road so close and now within sight.

I took the long way home today
But still home I must return
Life and duty, live and learn.
I took the long way home
And I am all the better for it.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Kerry's Corner Number 6 by Kerry Barnes


Hello Music Lovers

Welcome to the 6th Edition of Kerry’s Corner.

A series of articles where I delve into the lives and works of the “great composers”.

This edition is all about Rachmaninov one of the greatest Russian Composer’s ever!

Above…photo of the great man himself!

I have adored Rachmaninov since I was 13 years old, and I’ve been told by many people, that they can hear his influences in my own music.

If I may, I’d like to share with you my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences of this amazing composer, and then I’ll get on with the history etc.

I always wanted to play stuff by him, but on reflection this was never a good idea, as R had massive manly hands and could easily reach a 13th on the piano, whereas I can just about manage an octave with my chubby little paws!! You can see this pan out in his scores and manuscripts, where there are literally 4 staves for 2 hands only, the only way to fit his gigantic chord writings in!

Have a look at the score below of his Prelude in C sharp minor, and you’ll see what I mean!

Rachmaninov was famous for his use of ‘Chromatic Harmony’ giving his music a very gushing, romantic and sentimental sound, a sound that some critics call 'too sweet and corny’….but that’s exactly the reason I love him!

I think the British concert pianist Stephen Hough (who is also professor of piano at Trinity College London) is the best interpreter of Rachmaninov’s piano music, and I once saw him play R’s Paganini Variations on Proms TV and was blown away!

You know that thing where you envision what somebody looks like just by hearing their music…..well I was totally wrong about Rachmaninov. I had him down for a big, fattish man with a huge unkempt beard (rather like Brahms), sweating at the piano, puffing and blowing his way through the music! …….I couldn’t have been more wrong! HA HA!

I don’t know whether anybody else has thought this, but, Rachmaninov’s 2nd and 3rd piano concertos should chronologically be round the other way, especially in style. No.3 sounds like it would go with a black and white film of some sort, and that No.2 was a later more romantic work? …….don’t know if that’s just me!

Ooooh, and before I forget…..Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C sharp minor, is one of the relatively small group of pieces where the ‘middle-pedal’ on the piano is used.

Pic above is an album cover of Rachmaninov actually playing his own works!


Rachmaninov was the last of a tradition of great composer-pianists, and the last of the Russian Romantics.

His music has always been very appealing, with its sweeping drama and haunting melancholy, which immediately brings to mind the 2nd piano concerto.

His mother was actually a trained pianist and was the first teacher to give him piano lessons.  

As a later student, he studied at the St. Petersburg and Moscow conservatories. He famously studied composition with Anton Arensky (1861-1906). Whilst he was graduating, he finished the First Piano Concerto (hardly performed now).

The following year, he won the top prize for his one act opera “Aleko” (I must listen to this!) But then his luck changed with a disastrous performance of his first symphony because the conductor was drunk! ….and consequently gained terrible reviews …….but the worst thing of all, Rachmaninov had a complete nervous breakdown over it and couldn’t write for the next 3 years!

When he finally did return to composing, along came the music for David Lean’s film “Brief Encounter” and what a melody it was (I’m singing it now).

Anyhow, moving on from this time, he married his cousin Natalya Satina, and settled down to composing operatic material, until that is, his daughter Irina fell seriously ill and the family had to move to Dresden in 1906. Whilst he was in Dresden he wrote the symphonic-poem “The Isle of the Dead”, inspired by a painting by the Swiss artist Arnold Bocklin.

Above- pic of Rachmaninov’s hands! Ginormous!! (13 note stretch)


In 1909, Rachmaninov made his first visit to America and toured with a new work…’the 3rd piano concerto’. Then over the next few summers he wrote the horrendously difficult Piano Preludes, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostrom and Etudes for piano……..oooh, and not to mention 14 Songs and a 2nd Piano Sonata. He also carried on touring around the country until the outbreak of WW1.

1917 was a very dangerous time for Rachmaninov politically, and he was forced into exile. He stayed in America for the rest of his life. From 1918 he wrote little as he spent a lot of time performing.

Come 1934, he did however knock out the Paganini Variations for piano and orchestra, (of which number 18 is my favourite).

Rachmaninov died of cancer in Beverly Hills in 1943, aged almost 70.

I leave you to ponder and enjoy his most famous piano solo work, the Prelude in C sharp minor.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

The Seventh One World Music Radio Awards results by Steve Sheppard


The Seventh One World Music Radio Awards or the Owhamys as some have lovingly called them, climaxed this year with some amazing results, the show was unusually hosted by many of the radio stations presenters alongside Steve and Chrissie Sheppard, and a couple of guests, namely David Lanz and Kristin Amarie, which gave a wonderfully colourful flavour for the night.

So let’ get to the winners, the victors, whose names now ring proud in the hallowed halls of the new age music genre.

The Acoustic Award category was hotly contested, however Todd Mosby ran out an easy winner with his release Open Waters.

One of the newest categories seems to have really sparked the imagination of both listeners and judges alike as the Neo Classical Award was taken proudly by Javier Arnanz and the album Barbacana, La Huella del Lobo.

Album of the Year is always one of the top prizes at OWMR and this year Grayhawk and Voice of the Ancestors ran out the winner, it would be an amazing night for the US based musician, who also scooped the much converted Best New Age Album as well.

Dan Paladino was a worthy winner of the best Ambient Album Award with his album Pastoral Memory, and Holland Phillips would take the best Contemporary Album prize, with his collection of fine tracks entitled A Presence of Three Minds. The night was also celebrated by the legions of the stations fans, who voted flautist Chris Gurniak as their choice for the People’s Choice Award for 2019.

A beautiful full flowing and entertaining show was heard by thousands across the world, those fans would then find out that the winner of the best Piano with Instrumentation album would be won by a true blast form the past, and one of the finest pianists around, in Midlands UK based recording artist Stuart Jones and his lush offering Rippling Waters.

Rock is a growing genre on OWMR these days and fine shows packed with indie artists from that genre can now be heard on Tuesday night’s programming, the winners of the best Rock Album Award were the stunning The Ferrymen with their release, A New Evil. More than just music was being judged tonight as the panel took a look at the Best Album Artwork; a vitally important part of today’s sometimes sterile music business and after previously accepting the rock award, the Ferrymen’s album would take this prestigious prize as well.

Electronic music has been a massive part of the stations output since day one, tonight the winner of the best Electronic Music Award would be given to Andrew Kinsella and Cosmic Dawn II: Star Child, while in the magical world of singles Richard Dillions commercial masterpiece Right Now ran out an easy winner as Single of the Year.

As the night moved on we were given the news that Scott August and Beyond Summer had swooped for the best Flute Award, this year the category covered all styles of flute performances, so that was an extremely impressive win for the artist.

One of the most converted awards at OWMR is the hotly contested Solo Piano Award, there are probably more pianists releasing albums these days than ever before, and standing tall among them all was a new girl to the station in the amazing Holly Jones, her number one album Art on the Piano would take the award on the night.

Two new and growing genres would release their awards as well, and the judges would give the Best Jazz Album Award to The Soul Jazz Rebels for their album of the same name, while in the Best Vocal Award went to the ever so stylish Sangeeta Kaur who stole the night by winning the award with her stunning offering Compassion.

Our last two awards for this year were the World Music Award, winners of that prize would go to the AKA Trio for their album Joy, and finally the Track of the Year, a fascinating award that always seems to bring up some interesting results, was quite deservedly won by Pianist Lynn Tredeau with one of her best pieces of all time, entitled Photos Without a Memory, a moving moment was had here by many.

That would be it for the main awards evening, some weeks later the station would host their annual Life Time Achievement Award, and after years of trying and many second placements, finally British electronic synth and keyboard maestro Kevin Kendle, would scoop a most deserved award.

One World Music Radio have announced that this award would from now one appear on the same night as the awards show from on.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Kerry’s Corner #5 by Kerry Barnes

“Hello Music Lovers!” and welcome to the 5th Edition of ‘Kerry’s Corner’, where I delve into the lives and works of the Great Composers!!

French Impressionist Era - Debussy, Ravel & Satie


This period saw the gradual moving away from the tyranny of traditional tonality, which had lasted for 400 years!!

The leading pioneer of this ‘music of the future’ was the Frenchman Claude Debussy, with his fluid structures, tiny motifs and colouristic instrumental effects and likened to the impressionistic techniques in paintings from this time (eg Monet)

This music in a ‘New Framework’ sounds like it’s not in a set key signature, but rather a gravitational centre that’s constantly shifting – the result of CHROMATIC HARMONY.


The French composer Claude Debussy born in 1862, was the man who broke the German monopoly, and revitalised French music with his subtle art. He opened up a new sound world for the 20th century ……..the music of IMAGINATION.

He entered the Paris Conservatoire aged just 10 and unnerved the alumni with his experimental harmonies, but despite this, he won the coveted “Prix de Rome” in 1884 with his Cantata “The Infant Prodigy” (rather like him).

Debussy knew that his own music needed to be flexible and adaptable to acommadate his fantasies and dreams and that was his template from the get go.

His piano writing inparticular was based around “The Whole Tone Scale” which gave his music a feeling of not being centered and not having a fixed key. His early piano works using this device included the 2 Arabesques and Petite Suite, and he also loved oriental art, which flavoured his unique sound.

“Clair de Lune”, his most famous piano piece ever, was written as a result of a dream world peopled by Harlequins and Columbines playing mandolins and dancing the Sarabandes!! (wow-wish I had dreams like that!!)

1893 saw the creation of his most famous orchestral work “The Afternoon Of A Faun” based on the erotic writings of Mallarme’, and set in Greece on a hot and sunny afternoon……where the creature dreams of making love to elusive nymphs, no surprise then that this music turned into a scandulous ballet in 1921!!!!

Moving on, along came an operatic project where Debussy used the art of ‘silence’ as one of his musical devices. His wallet was also a bit silent, and never really saw a return from his composing which ultimately led to separation from his wife Gaby.

1905 was the year that the beautiful symphonic seascape ‘La Mer’ came into being and he very successfully played around with mosaics of melody, delicate scoring and instrumentations which reflected light and water.

More piano repertoire followed, most notably ‘Images’, ‘Children’s Corner Suite’ and some ‘Preludes’. ( I always loved to play the ‘Golliwog’s Cake Walk’) from this body of work which was much harder than the score looked!!

Sadly, by 1941, Debussy was gravely ill with colon cancer, yet he carried on writing till the very end.

I leave you to ponder over his Arabesque NO.1


MAURICE RAVEL 1875 – 1937 (a younger contemporary of Debussy)

Son of an engineer, Ravel, showed early promise as a pianist and entered the Paris Conservatoire aged just 14. He studied composition there with Faure’ and was a big fan of a certain instrument called the Javanese Gamelan. Russian music and the works of Wagner influenced him greatly too.

In 1899, Ravel (a man of tiny stature and elegant clothes) composed one of my favourite piano pieces “Pavan for a dead Infant” which is a heart wrenching thing to listen to (I have a recording of the British pianist Kathryn Stott playing it so beautifully). His “Jeux d’eau” for piano is regarded as one of the most demanding works in the repertoire, and dated 1908.

I wouldn’t even attempt to play his Piano Concerto in G major, maybe a few bars of the 2nd movement perhaps (and on a good day!), it’s slow waltz form has one of the most beautiful melodies on record and would definitely be on my bucket list to play it with an orchestra!! …….dream on Kerry, dream on.

Have a quick listen here:

(slow mvt of Ravel’s piano concerto in G Major)

…….he’s dishy too!!

I cannot believe that five times in a row, Ravel never won the Prix de Rome ……how is that even possible???

By now he was a member of a circle of poets, musicians, critics and painters whom I’m sure would have influenced his music greatly, and had already flavoured his evocative and most famous work of all time….”BOLERO”  and to which Torvill and Dean remain forever grateful!!!!! ……one of those images that stay with you forever, just like Susan Boyle’s BGT audition ……ooh, gives me chills.

Changing the subject completely, Ravel was deemed ‘too small’ to fight in WW1, anyway, his hands should have been fiercely protected. One man who’s right hand was lost to WW1, was the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, and Ravel actually wrote a ‘left handed’ piano concerto just for him!!

Ravel’s later years were tragic, consumed by Pick’s Disease, and eventually dying from brain damage caused by a car crash.

E R I K  S A T I E

Erik Satie, a recluse, and a heavy drinker, kept himself to himself, shut up in a room and just knocking out piano piece after piano piece. What a lonely life he must have lived.

Minimalism was his genre, and every piece a gem.

His most famous melody belonged to the first GYMNOPEDIE, used on TV countless number of times (and incidentally lends itself beautifully to orchestration, watch the YT video below)

Satie was a contemporary of Ravel and Debussy and an Avant Garde pioneer. His music was full of satire and eccentricity with a whimsical style.

He attended the Paris Conservatoire but with little success (I can’t believe that either!!)

Second in the line of fame were the Gnossiennes’  piano set which I particularly love and used a lot in my old teaching days.

Unbelievably, Satie earned only a meagre income by playing in bars and for cabaret, and secretively became involved in the occult sector.

He met Debussy in 1890 and remained friends for 25 years!!  A love affair with the painter Valadon must have been a bit trying in a small bare room though, with all that avantgardidness fizzing away!! (I made that word up by the way)

I’ve never heard music for typewriter but Satie certainly wrote some!! ……and for whistles and sirens, which caused a scandal at the time, reminds me somewhat of John Cage and his ‘prepared’ pianos complete with nuts and bolts!!.....not to mention his ‘silence’ for 4 minutes where the audience noise becomes the sound track……I need to write some tracks like that, would be less time consuming if nothing else!!

As the final phrase then, Erik Satie died of liver disease in 1925

Video above is the orchestrated version of Gymnopedie No.3 plus other delights!!