Tag Archives: fritz kreisler

Music on Mondays (10-5-15)—Decades of music

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My musical life seems to run by decades, give or take a year or two:

Decade 1—1955-1965: My mom played the piano and organ, and her parents played the flute and violin. My musical life began with me playing the piano and violin.

Here is a video of a young lady playing a Fritz Kreisler (1876-1962) variation of “Tambourin” by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). I include this piece because I won a solo medal for my performance of it in sixth grade Texas violin competition.

Decade 2—1965-1973: I discovered The Beatles, The Who, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys. These were my junior high and high school years, so I had only my allowance with which to buy music. Since there was so much music I wanted, I had to resort to stealing music. Remember that I have freely admitted that I was a juvenile delinquent!

This probably is my most important music decade because of the formative years. I cannot pick a favorite song from this decade although The Beatles definitely are my favorite group. So here’s one of my favorite Beatles songs which I sang to my girlfriend, Lynda, at school on Valentine’s Day in 1973:

Decade 3—1973-1983: My first decade after high school graduation, and I was flush with money, almost all of it being spent on music and music equipment. My college years were spent at Texas A&M University in College Station, and the years after that were spent in Houston. By the time I left Houston in 1983, I had over 5,000 vinyl albums and the best stereo system money could buy.

Following is “Photograph” by Ringo Starr, another song that I sang to the Lynda, this time at Thanksgiving 1973. The Beatles as solo artists were important to me during this decade.

Decade 4—1983-1993: This decade was spent back in College Station and the music collection continued to grow. By this time, though, CDs were in the marketplace, and CD players were in the home and in the car. I did a lot of driving during this decade, so I forsook the home music system in order to have a booming car music system. The vinyl album collection stagnated at about 5,500 but the CD collection grew by leaps and bounds.

The Police probably take top honors for favorite song from this decade with “Every Breath You Take.”

Decade 5—1993-2003: This is my lost music decade. My life pretty much was in limbo and without any direction or will to live, I didn’t see a need for acquiring more music. When I left College Station in 1993 with the intent on suicide in Canada, I left behind a vast vinyl and CD collection, taking only 100 CDs with me to listen to in the car as I drove to Canada. Only about 50 CDs were added to the 100 CDs during this time.

I have been adding music to this decade for the past couple of years so I’m not completely familiar with all it has to offer. Smash Mouth is one of the groups from this decade that I recently discovered. Here is their song, “Walking On The Sun.”

Decade 6—2003-2013: My life took on a new direction and, with that new direction, a new interest in music. Vinyl and CDs were losing favor with the public in preference for digital downloads, which made it very easy to sit at home and buy music. During this time I ripped all the CDs and sold them, so my music now is all digital.

I discovered that Sir Paul McCartney’s son, James, had grown up and was doing a little music here and there. Here is his song, “Angel”:

Decade 7—2013-present: My music collection is divided into classical and non-classical. I bought over 20 hours of non-classical music this weekend so that collection currently stands at 1,707 hours and 48 minutes of music and takes me about 170 days (almost 6 months at 10 hours a day) to listen to it all. I do listen to it all, in chronological order.

I have been following Black Sabbath ever since the beginning back in 1970. They released “13,” their nineteenth studio album, in 2013, their first ever to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Considering that back in the ’70s they were considered anti-religious, anti-Christ, anti-everything, I thought it interesting that one of their singles from “13” is titled “God Is Dead?”. Note the question mark at the end of the title. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (10-20-14)—All is now right with the world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music has been an integral part of my life since I was two years old.

My maternal grandmother played the flute, my maternal grandfather played the violin, and my mom played the piano and organ.

Mom started her children on piano lessons when they reached age two, with her as the teacher. When we entered first grade, we had to choose a second instrument. I chose the violin. That was in Brigham City, Utah, in 1962.

I took a greater interest in the violin; my last piano recital was at our neighborhood Mormon church in Brigham City, but I have no idea what pieces I played. Here’s the church, though, which I tracked down using Google Maps, Google Street View, and Google Images:

Mormon church in Brigham City Utah stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although I don’t remember my first violin recital, I do remember the first medal I won for my violin playing. The medal still hangs on my office bulletin board. Looks like this:

UIL violin solo medal

That was in the eighth grade in the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition. Sadly, when I went off to college at Texas A&M University, my wise old grandmother sold all of my personal belongings that I left behind, including my other medals from grades 9-12. This first medal, then, is the only one I have left because it has always stayed with me.

Of course, we got comments on our performance:

UIL violion solo comments

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Stand up straight hold your violin up!
Leggiero means off the string (bounce)
You pay no attention to dots
d# in meas 68 also 92
This is just barely a I performance
make an effort to solve all the problems next year
You are on the right track”

The piece I played was “Tambourin” by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), one of the most important French composers and music theorists from the Baroque era. The comment sheet adds “Kreisler” to Rameau’s name, probably meaning that I played a variation by Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962).

Here is a performance of the piece that I found on YouTube:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I searched for decades to find that piece, but all I could remember was Fritz Kreisler. I looked at hundreds of sheet music and listened to YouTube videos but could never find it, obviously because the composer was Rameau rather than Kreisler. Not until recently when I was exploring some of my old treasure chests did I find the comment sheet with the title and composer names. All is now right with the world….

I continued to play violin until April 1993 when I moved to San Diego unexpectedly. My orchestra career including playing with the Texas A&I University Symphony while still in high school, the Corpus Christi Symphony in 12th grade, the Houston Symphony for six months in 1973-1974, and the Brazos Valley Symphony in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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