Thursday, October 17, 2019

Jose Altuve Is A Man, Yes A Big Man

As the Houston Astros have made the American League Championship Series for the third straight year, I think it appropriate to repeat this post about a really big man, Jose Altuve, the great second baseman for the Astros.

My tribute to the big man from Venezuela of the Houston Astros, second baseman, Jose Altuve, the 2017 American League's MVP.  The man with the most hits in baseball the last four years, and the man who helped bring Houston's first World Series Championship in their history.  Jose Altuve, in a special way only way he could say, said after a huge victory in the ALCS against the Yankees in 2017 that was pitched by Justin Verlander, "I literally love Justin Verlander".  Well, I along with all of Houston proudly say, "We literally love Jose Altuve".

My wonderful wife hearing me practicing this song said, "Oh, no, you are ruining one of my favorite songs."  :-)      Have no fear, a second opinion by the Tales law firm - Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe - thinks this is one of the Tales best efforts.  Hmm, now that I think about it, there wasn't a very high bar for me to clear.

So, without further ado, my tribute to Jose Altuve, sung to the karaoke music from Daniel Boone,

Jose Altuve Is A Big Man:

Congratulations and Thank You, Jose Altuve, a big man!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Raye Montague - A Great American Hero

Post first published a year ago:

Hat Tip: MSNBC TV [Ali Velshi] who recognized a great "monumental American" who recently died on Oct. 10, 2018, from Arkansas, Raye Montague.

From Jim Cunningham via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: "At the height of her career, she was briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff every month and teaching at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Many of her ship designs are still in use."

From the encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture:  "Raye Jean Jordan Montague was an internationally registered professional engineer (RPE) with the U.S. Navy who is credited with the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. The U.S. Navy’s first female program manager of ships (PMS-309), Information Systems Improvement Program, she held a civilian equivalent rank of captain. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame in 2018."

Raye Montague [Jan. 21, 1935 - Oct. 10, 2018]

More from Arkansas History and Culture"Montague’s career spanned the development of computer technologies, from the UNIVAC I, the world’s first commercially available computer, down to modern computers. She successfully revised the first automated system for selecting and printing ship specifications and produced the first draft for the FFG-7 frigate ( the Oliver Hazard Perry–class, or Perry-class, ship) in eighteen hours. This was the first ship designed by computer.

In 1972, Montague was awarded the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the navy’s third-highest honorary award. She was the first female professional engineer to receive the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Achievement Award (1978) and the National Computer Graphics Association Award for the Advancement of Computer Graphics (1988). She also received a host of other honors from military branches, industry, and academia. 

Montague worked on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and the navy’s first landing craft helicopter-assault ship (LHA). The last project with which she was affiliated was the Seawolf-class submarine (SSN-21).

Montague retired in 1990. In 2006, after fifty years spent in the metropolitan Washington DC area, she returned to Arkansas, living in west Little Rock, where she remained active with Life Quest."

From the Seattle Times: Raye Montague, A Navy "Hidden Figure" Ship Designer, dies at 83: "Montague was given one month to design a ship. She did it in 18 hours and 26 minutes."   Wow! 

Raye Jean Jordan Montague died on Oct. 10, 2018 from congestive heart failure. 

What a great American hero!   R.I.P.: Raye Montague

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Orchestra's Tutti vs. The Soloist's Cadenza

Repeat post first published in October of 2014

The Orchestra's Tutti vs. The Soloist's Cadenza:

In a concerto you have a soloist playing along with the symphony orchestra. The soloist will be alongside the conductor in front of the orchestra.  I have seen different meanings for concerto but will go along with the one my daughter's esteemed Russian American piano teacher gave-contest.   In that sense a concerto is like a competition between the soloist and the orchestra.  In reality, the soloist and orchestra are working together to make beautiful music.

For much of the concerto the soloist and orchestra will be playing together.  But there are moments in the concert where they will not be playing together.  Those times when you see the orchestra playing without the soloist it is called tutti.  Most concertos will have many tuttis, where the whole orchestra is playing while the soloist is silent.  In most classical concertos, there will be a long tutti at the beginning of the concerto before the soloist enters the fray.

So, there are times when the orchestra plays without the soloist. What about the soloist playing without the orchestra?  While there are usually certain passages when the soloist plays by himself, there is a special moment [and a longer period of time], usually near the end of the first movement in a concerto, when the soloist plays without the orchestra in order to exhibit his/her virtuosity.  That is called a cadenza.  When the cadenza occurs, you will see the conductor instructing  the orchestra with his baton to be silent and to put their instruments in a non playing position.  That is when the soloist takes over to "show his stuff."

As I said, the cadenza will usually take place in the first movement, but every once in a while you will find a cadenza in either the second or third movement, also.  When the cadenza occurs, all eyes in the concert hall then turn to the soloist.

While there will be only one cadenza [with very few exceptions] in a movement of a concerto, there will usually be many tuttis in each movement of the concerto that sometimes gives a break to the soloist in a physically demanding concerto, as he gets to rest while the orchestra is playing alone. 

In Beethoven's first piano concerto, there is a great illustration of both a tutti passage by the orchestra and the soloist's cadenza, as both are exaggerated for an unusally extended period of time.  Like in many classical concerti, the concerto begins with a long tutti, as the orchestra [without the soloist] gives an introduction of the various themes you are about to hear in the first movement of the concerto.  

L.V. Beethoven  [Dec. 16, 1770-March 26, 1827]
In Beethoven's C Major piano concerto notice that the opening tutti lasts for almost three minutes before the soloist enters.

Then near the end of the first movement Beethoven has written one of the longest cadenzas for the soloist that you will ever hear, almost 5 minutes long.  In this video the cadenza starts at 12:40 and lasts until 17:25, before the orchestra comes in to end the first movement.

Note: In this video the pianist, Polish virtuoso pianist, Kirstyn Zimerman, is also the leader [conductor], as this is played without the typical conductor.  

I love this concerto.  Beethoven's first concerto was actually written second, but it was called number one because it was published before the first one he wrote.  Only Beethoven's 5th piano concerto, "The Emperor", tops this one in my opinion.  All five of Beethoven's piano concerti are great, but this is my second favorite of the five.

Please turn up the volume to enjoy the first movement of this masterpiece piano concerto by the great Ludwig Van Beethoven and notice the long tutti to open the concerto and then the long cadenza that will be played by the soloist Zimerman near the end of the first movement.

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #1 in C Major, Movement 1, Allegro con Brio:

Now watch and listen to the first movement of the great Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major where you can clearly tell the many tutti sections in this movement and the long virtuosic cadenza.  A couple of examples of the tutti sections occur at the beginning [05-48] and a longer one at 6:26-7:43.  The cadenza occurs from 9:53-12:21 and it is unique in that occurs closer to the middle of the movement instead of near the end. 

Please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy one of the greatest violin concertos ever composed by Tchaikovsky [noticing the tuttis vs the cadenza].

P.I. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Movement 1, Allegro Moderato:

Now in this next masterpiece concerto, for those of you new to classical music, I am going to let you see if you can tell when the tutti's occur during this movement and when the cadenza occurs.  You will!  :-)   It is the first movement of Robert Schumann's Piano concerto #1 in a-minor.

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto #1 in a-minor, Movement 1, Allegro Affettuoso:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Soothing Rondo in A Minor By Mozart

Hopefully this is a peaceful and blessed day for everyone.  I thought perfect for a peaceful day is this pleasant soothing Rondo for piano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I was thinking if I was still in school, high school or college, or if I was doing any work that required thought, this pensive piece by the great Mozart is the one I would play in the background to aid me, by helping me relax and concentrate. 

W. A. Mozart  [1756 - 1791]
This one movement in A minor piece written for solo piano may not be exciting, but it certainly is relaxing and beautiful. 

Please turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy some soothing beautiful music from one of my favorite composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

W.A. Mozart: Rondo in A minor: