Final Concert of the 2016/17 Season


The final concert of the Phoenix Symphony 2016/17 season that Elizabeth and I will be able to attend (we will be away from the country starting in late May) was a great success. Two-thirds of it anyway.

The most successful part was Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. It was greeted by a thunderous applause and a standing ovation the crowd gave the Korean-born pianist Sung Chang after his performance.

Make that two standing ovations. After the second one, he played an encore – Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” – yes, the very first piece I played the other day on my Steinway to welcome it to its new desert home. Only Chang changed it in parts to make it sound like Gershwin music. So you could say we heard Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca alla Gershwin” last night. πŸ™‚

This magnificent piano piece, which tests the mettle of even the most accomplished pianists, was originally conceived in 1830 when Liszt was only 19. Lest we forget, Liszt was regarded as the greatest pianist of his time, some think possibly the best in history of music.

Liszt seems to have completed the his first piano concerto in 1849, yet made further adjustments in 1853. It was first performed at Weimar (Germany) in 1855, with the composer at the piano and Hector Berlioz conducting. Right from the start, it was a smashing success as it was last night.

Liszt’s concerto was sandwiched in last night’s program between the two Russian composers – Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.

The concert opened with another a orchestral piece by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. The orchestration and nuisances of this music are so rich that they have been used in many movies. Here are just some of them:

Columbo, Kim Possible, The Jazz Singer (1927), Wayne’s World, Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, Road Rovers, Taz-Mania, Tiny Toons, Scrubs, Seeing Double, The Ren and Stimpy Show, South Park, Clueless, A Christmas Story, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Moonraker, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pushing Daisies, Sesame Street, El Chavo, The Three Musketeers, among others.

The third piece on last night’s program was Stravinsky’s “Petrushka.” Like most of the 20th century music, it did not do anything for me, even though it was a very difficult and intricate piece for an orchestra to perform. After the performance, Elizabeth told me she felt the same way.

Which is why I said that last night’s concert was a great success 2/3 of the way.

PS: Elizabeth is wearing a dress she bought at Bloomingdale’s in New York last week.

Β * * *
UPDATE APR 30, 2017


Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a wonderful performance of the Phoenix Symphony at the downtown Symphony Hall.

Today, around noon, we did something we rarely do. We treated ourselves to a delicious brunch at the newly opened Eg N’ Joe breakfast-lunch restaurant in our neighborhood (

Elizabeth had something I have never seen her eat before – a “German pancake.” It is an oven-roasted creation in the shape of a big bowl with various fruity treats inside (strawberries in her case). I had blackberry crepes, which were also delicious.

Well, after that, we needed to do something aggressive to try to work off the extra calories. So we hit the Tom’s Thumb trail on the north side of the McDowell Mtns. It was only the second time Elizabeth has attempted that steep and slippery hike. And she did great. She made it to the 3,100 ft elevation. And back to the trailhead, of course.


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