Friday night with Mozart and Dvořák

A fun night in downtown Phoenix on a 2nd triple-digit day of the year


Last night, Elizabeth and I had a date with Mozart and Dvořák in downtown Phoenix. Jeffrey Kahane of Los Angeles played Mozart’s Piano Concerto #22 and conducted the Phoenix Symphony orchestra at the same time. They were all great.

In a way, that’s how this wonderful concerto should be played. Or at least it was when it premiered in Vienna on Dec 16, 1785. Like Kahane last night, Mozart then played the piano and conducted the orchestra at the same time.

The opening night was a smashing success. The highly musically sophisticated Viennese audience were so thrilled they demanded an encore. So Mozart and the orchestra obliged and played it again.

By the way, this piano concerto (in in E major) is Mozart’s longest (35 mins).  Here’s another interpretation of it.

With his piano concertos Mozart had elevated this art form to the level of a symphony

After the intermission, Antonin Dvořák entertained us with his lovely Nocturne in B Major, Op. 40. He was followed by Bela Bartok, whose Concerto for the Orchestra sounded like a steel factory production line in the middle of a busy day. Elizabeth and I walked out after the first movement.

Guess you can’t win them all.  It was still a great evening overall.


UPDATE MAY 6, 2018


When Elizabeth and I attended the Phoenix Symphony concert last week, I thought that was the last event of the season. The temperatures in the Valley of the Sun are already in triple digits. So our concert and opera season ends earlier than in the rest of the world.

I was wrong. Last night, I went to another Phoenix Symphony concert at the Music Instruments Museum. Which is basically in my north Scottsdale neighborhood. And what a wonderful treat it was, put on by the chamber music section of the Phoenix Symphony orchestra. The program consisted of these Tchaikovsky and Mozart pieces.


Mozart: Overture to The Abduction From The Seraglio 
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, “Turkish”
TchaikovskySérénade mélancolique
Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Suite No. 4, “Mozartiana”

Tchaikovsky worshiped Mozart, whom he said he “adored and idolized.” This season’s Chamber Music series spotlights Tchaikovsky and his favorite composer with three charming and exuberant programs. Hear works of sublime beauty and expressive power in a classically intimate setting, featuring exceptional soloists and musicians from your Phoenix Symphony

I have never heard of “Mozartiana” before.  Just like I had not heard of “Chopiniana” before last February (which I have now recorded in my own rendition – CHOPINIADA).


Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana” is a 24-minute chamber orchestra interpretation of a collection Mozart pieces written for piano.  Some of it is quite dreamy and serene. Other are playful as if written for comic children’s plays.  Great fun. Check it out:

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Suite No. 4 in G Major ‘Mozartiana’


During the intermission, I walked down the great hall of the Music Instruments Museumto a Steinway which looked rather lonely. I sat down and started to play Chopin’s Grande Valse Brillante. images.duckduckgo

The piano was far away down a long hall from the amphitheater where last night’s concert was held. My back was turned toward it. So I had no idea that I had an audience until the end when I heard the applause. I turned around to see quite a crowd which had gathered in what I thought was a lonely part of the hall. Power of music!

Here’s that Chopin valse now as I recorded it last October at my home.


The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) located in Phoenix, Arizona, is the world’s largest venue of its kind.  It opened in April 2010. The word “museum” connotes something old and static. There are indeed quite a few instruments on display here.

There is a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments and associated objects includes examples nearly 200 countries and territories, representing every inhabited continent. Some larger countries such as México, India, China, Russia, the United States and Brazil have multiple displays with subsections for different types of ethnic, folk, and tribal music.

But the place is anything but static. It hosts over 270 concerts every year! Like the Tchaikovsky-Mozart one last night. And many pop, jazz and popular music artists.

So in my humble opinion, the place should rightfully be renamed WORLD HALL OF MUSIC.




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