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Hello and welcome ...
I'm a dedicated, enthusiastic, amateur senior pianist, poet, feminist, and author of "Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & Life (Volume I is in process of being republished and Volume II will soon to be published; click "Poems" above or scroll down to read sample poems).).
I encourage anyone to take up the study of the piano, listen to more music, and pursue your creative muse - at any age! At exactly the right time in my life I came back to my high school piano and lessons - after retirement following a 63-year gap to pursue a legal and then a fashion business career!
Now I'd like to connect with people, experiences, things - and music - that make my body come alive, my bones shake with laughter, my mind understand, and my soul and creativity take flight.
I'd also love to connect with those who support the inclusion of women as artists, music writers, and piano technicians, as well as those who believe that amateurs can be "serious" about their music love!
My hope resides in another day, a new song, and perhaps you -- a new friend to join my email list, submit a Guest Blog, or meet in San Francisco, CA for coffee and to share our music love!
P. S. My heart is often aflame in the pure delight of playing Rhapsody-Arabesque, DMB (The Duchess of Music & Bliss), my rebuilt and refinished Golden Age 1928 Steinway Model M, as I discover new or remembered Romantic era compositions by composers whom I deeply respect and admire.
On special occasions I enjoy the good fortune to attend a musical event such as the lovely, intimate music salon sponsored at Brani Piano Atalier by Groupmuse in early September featuring the pianist Ian Scarfe, or the San Francisco Symphony on June 2, 2023 to hear Beatrice Rana (pictured right on the marquee and with guest conductor of the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck). She played my favorite piece by my favorite composer Rachmaninoff, "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini."
NOTE: Pianist Ian Scarfe will perform in San Francisco at our home at 7:30 pm Sat. Dec. 16 in an intimate holiday Groupmuse Soiree; details posted here; we have room for only 10 more guests so kindly consider reserving now. The tentative program includes Chopin, Albeniz, Granados, and DeFalla.
I hope you enjoy my latest blog: "When Music Makes You Feel Free" (9.26.23) and recordings on this page of sweet romantic pieces by some of my favorite composers. And a warm thanks to musicologist, piano teacher & writer Frances Wilson for linking to my blog and experience in leaving a piano teacher.
Where am I now? Home I think,
And waiting there all these years,
The tears I never cried from missing...
What? I do not know. I only know,
I’ve found it now, lost no more
But wrapped in shimmering, silver tissue wings,
Aloft, in flight, rising up, in love,
The 440 Hz tuning for "Waking" is to the right (or on cell phones on the bottom) on this page. On the 9.5.23 blog, the 440 Hz tuning for "Waking" (same pictures) is on bottom and for "Loving" is on the top.
"Waking" by Garreth Brooke (recorded 9.1 & 6.23; one is recorded with The Duchess tuned at 432 Hz & the other at 440 Hz; can you tell which is which? Hint: answer is on the left of this page at bottom of my Hello message)
Etude No 38 in 50 Etudes
00:00 / 01:19
No. 38 from 50 Etudes by Stephen Heller
A. Beach Waltz 2
00:00 / 02:28
Waltz Op. 36 no. 33 by Amy Beach, Children's Album
00:00 / 02:09
"Ivan's Tale" (Andantino) Vol 1 Children's Album by Khachaturian
Evening Tale 3.22.23
00:00 / 01:57
"Evening Tale" Vol. 1 Children's Album by Khachaturian
"Sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left." -- Itzhak Perlman after one of four violin strings broke during a concert -
and he carried on!
"There is a harmony which underlies all endeavor, without which there is no true greatness in art or science.”
— Albert Einstein
“The secret to living well is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.” – Tibetan Proverb
From Readers of "Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & Life
"Reflecting on the myriad of emotions and moods that music evokes within us, Ann Grogan’s two-volume collection of poetry will be especially meaningful to music lovers and makers. I particularly enjoyed finding out the specific sources of inspiration for the author, in the instances she chose to share them. Whether it was Lupu’s magnificent tone, Yudina’s intense character, or Yuja’s glittering pianism, it made me reminisce about my own experiences. We often say how music can speak where words fail. What a delightful twist to read about the deepest emotions music evokes within us.”
Anna Shelest, pianist; https://www.annashelest.com/
"I absolutely loved this second volume of light-hearted poetry about playing the piano in maturity. "Andante" or "Allegro" particularly resonated as I try to live my life at an Andante tempo, while my brain tries to force Allegro upon me! And Grogan captures the state of flow at the piano with her poem "I Heard My Piano Play"
"I heard her join in with what I played,
but speak in a different voice,
fuller and richer than I’d heard to date.
I completed the phrase, but in a haze,
wondering what I had heard?"
This is a great collection for older adults who brave the bench, and know what it is to love the piano, the process, the pain and the deepest pleasure."
- Gaili Schoen, composer and piano teacher; UpperHandsPiano.com
"A heartfelt journey of rekindled love for the piano, blending playfulness with attentive study and unequivocal permission to pursue one's passions at any age."
- Cary Ann Rosko, LMFT, mezzo-soprano
"Ann's words are those of love of music to be sure, but also love of life, abundance, family, and humanity...she understands all that is music: its essence, poignancy, and soul-stirring centrality to life...Her poems will inspire you to learn more, seek out more, and play more music!"
Janine Borchgrevink, piano teacher, artist and architect
"Ann's clever word play lifts the soul taking you on a journey through music filled with excitement and laughter."
Lisa Johnson, CMT, Reiki Master, and Chi Nei Tsang practitioner
"Ann's book provides fun facts about the musicians she mentions and stoked my interest to find out more about music. Obviously she has a deep love for her material."
Chris B., amateur guitarist and composer
Scroll down to read sample poems & reach our Women in Music and blog sections.
Some of My Favorite Poems
On Which Music is “Best”?
What is “natural”
Is not better
Or “natural” at all.
Music in the Western world
Is preference, after all.
But “nature” calls us to acquit
What we believe is best.
“Tis only choice or habit set,
But not from God is blest.
To Love One Song
To love one song
Does not mean
I love the others less.
Each score is blessed
With blessed intention
By composers, all!
No one will fall
Into disrepute with me.
Not equal though they be,
Each one unique,
A gift the goddess gave
To man or woman,
Angels all who heard the call
Took up their pen
Or quill, they said,
Until they were dead
To gift us all
With glories be:
Truth, passion, and despair,
Love, romance–it’s all there
To thrill and chill our bones.
Sense comes from all the tones
Together. Then there’s rhythm,
Contour and tempo,
Resonance and rubato,
Because the pianist who plays the score
Renders it a living thing,
And total pleasure then does bring.
And as Proust said,
“Music is communication
Thus, to music we are called.
The problem with labels is that,
They give rise to judgments at best,
And inherently they include
Hierarchies of bad and good,
Things anathema to me you might know.
But if you don’t, then I’ll show
That those things I just won’t brook,
Nor stop to consider or look,
For freedom I value the most,
Less to me, is nothing but toast.
For if I cannot live free
Then I surely cannot be me,
Nor can you, except in my mind
Where surely you may find
The freedom to be fully you.
But if you’re afraid, in truth,
To go there with boundaries set loose,
Brook anxiety and stress as it comes,
And prevail o’er distractions not fun,
The rewards I promise are many,
Your travails so puny, if any,
And soar as you will in delight,
To the heavens you’ll surely take flight.
Vols. 1 & II available soon at all major distributors. V
A New Word!
Hail me no “member” nor think me the same,
much less treat me as one in the crowd with one name.
“Interpellate” me not, nor corral me on trails,
I’ll just osmose through the strongest of rails.
Wrestle me not to the cold and hard ground,
for my spirit on the floor will never be found.
I’ll be lifting off there, far out of your reach
of the lies that you spew and the cant that you teach.
True freedom exists far from labels or groups,
and I’ve no use these fine days for inclusion with troops,
but pursue with most vigor where other’s don’t tread
and pursue my own muse without any dread,
Or choose whom I love or revere and respect,
as guides or as friends from a heart I detect
in their treatment of others and no less of me,
who value as I do, the task to live free.
From Oxfords Reference, online, https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100008265;jsessionid=745DF6B9538023B5630C0C16C2D130F4
“Interpellation” - Althusser's term to describe a mechanism whereby the human subject is ‘constituted’ (constructed) by pre-given structures (a structuralist stance). By being named or ‘hailed’ as a member of a group, a person is led to see themselves as an ideological subject. For example, when a politician addresses a crowd as ‘citizens’, or a teacher addresses a class as ‘students’, the people in those situations are being asked to adopt a certain subject position or social role that is conducive to the maintenance of the social order.
Who’s On Top?
Can one love be more serious than any other?
Does one parent love one daughter over the other?
Can we choose who lives or dies
between two equal brothers?
Is one composer really greater than another?
Could single never exceed the joys of being a mother?
Why is “who’s on top?”
more important than the bother
to simply appreciate just what you’d druther?
The TV and consumers are consumed with pop news;
is there nothing left to debate?
Short shrift is given to the Ukrainian war
with cluster bombs sent to the fray of late.
Nothing goes on in the world of hunger
(to sell consumes the interstitial spaces);
no one needs a job? Or has time to sob
or indulge in the simple social graces?
“Everyone’s on social media,“ claims a music, professor,
speaking from a well intentioned, elite position,
assuming the poor have time to so indulge,
for their “business” or even for fun.
How about using social media or even A.I.
to not only address but solve
the worlds greatest problems like violence that abounds
or income inequity resolve ?
How about childcare for single mothers
not to mention more prenatal care?
How about medicine taking women’s complaints seriously
or artists paid equitably -- so rare!
The only solution to a world gone mad
and to avoid pure insanity,
is to be sure that the choices I personally make
help others–and me-to live free.
Scroll down to read about Women in Music and reach our blogs.
Far Beyond an Ornament:
Women in Music
To Fanny Hensel (Felix Mendelssohn's sister), their father said: "Music will perhaps become [Felix’s] profession, whilst for you it can and must only be an ornament, never the root of your being and doing.” Cecile Chaminade's father would not permit her to attend the Paris Conservatory. Amy Beach's husband thought it inappropriate for women to take to the stage so Beach concentrated on composition. And yet the women prevailed in music as composers and pianists of note! (statement of intent by US Senator Elizabeth Warren!)
I am heartened to have opened my eyes to the substantial world of Women In Music (including transwomen). I hope you, too, will join me in promoting the voices of women composers, musicians, and feminist musicology scholars; one or two is never enough representation! Please consider joining me in writing a letter to the music director of your local symphony asking that more compositions by women and women virtuosas be included in their next season, or bringing pieces you find by women to your piano teacher for inclusion in lessons.
Here are my favorite female voices and from pro-feminist musical male friends and supporters.
Featured composition by Cecile Chaminade Etude No. 35 "Autumn" played by Anna Shelest, Ukrainian pianist (SLAVA UKRAINI!). Heart-felt interpretation of an incredibly beautiful composition that is one of my all-time favorite lyrical Romantic-era pieces by this well-regarded French composer. Anna's delicate touch, tone, musicality, and love for the composition shines through to feature a stunning, simple melody and a passionate, yet contained, drama. Anna is an advocate for many women composers of this era. Her commitment to bring forward the voices of women in music reflects in Donna Voce (Woman’s Voice), a virtuostic piano program that puts listeners up close and personal with many female composers of the last three centuries. By sharing their compelling life stories and wide ranging oeuvre, Anna makes the case for the power of this music to capture the hearts and minds of today’s listeners. Of special note in support of the courageous people and wonderful musicians past and present of Ukraine, she and her husband Dimitri at their Carnegie hall debut in 2018, introduced us to the Ukrainian composer Alexander Zhuk, in his lyrical Ukrainian Rhapsody,
Featured American piano teacher, pianist, and composer Gaili Schoen (UpperHandsPiano). Gaili prominently features an all-inclusive approach to piano studies for anyone of any age, especially seniors, and has published an amazing compendium of piano pieces and YouTube videos for the beginning and intermediate level pianist. She loves poetry and in a brilliant approach to reducing tension for students, instead of hosting recitals which can be quite daunting for early students, she sponsors periodic tea parties. There incorporates poetry reading and voluntary playing by those attending. She is known for her scores for the films "Festival in Cannes" starring Maximilian Schell, Anouk Aimée, Ron Silver, and Greta Scacchi, and "Déjà Vu," starring Stephen Dillane and Vanessa Redgrave, both directed by Henry Jaglom.
9.15.23 Congratulations to conductor MARIN ALSOP and Donne's efforts to have Alsop entered into the Guiness World Record for being the first female Last Night of the Proms conductor on 7 September 2013. Watch Alsop partner with amazing South Korean ianist Yunchan Lim at the Van Cliburn piano competition 2023 (Kim won first prize) when Kim played his final challenge, the hour-long Third Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff.
Featured British composer, Anna Clyne. In 'Within Her Arms" Anna reflects on the death of her mother, and expresses a gorgeous melodious line to express deep grief, thus drawing us all in to share this common human experience. She is resident composer with the British Philharmonia Orchestra for 2022-2023.
Featured pianist Sara Buechner performing Rudolph Friml's sweet waltz "Festival of Roses." and selected pieces. Buechner also performs on stage "Of Pigs and Pianos" which debuted in 2021 as her "new autobiographical theater show, detailing my journey through music and life as a transgender woman coming of age in New York City at the end of the 20th century." She has an elegant, delicate touch with relaxed phrasing in music suitable to calm our troubled minds in these politically turbulent times in the US and abroad.
Featured sound compilation by Jana Winderen, "Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone," Norwegian artist whose has deep concern about environmental destruction. She accurately records melting ice, cracking glaciers, and other natural sounds. I was compelled to write this poem immediately after listening to this impactful recording of nature. It raises the question of what is "music" and how can music inspire and connect us all to care more about and protect our gorgeous world?
Strange Songs That Belong to Us
Is failing ice a new song,
a music of some style,
a modern tone poem for this age
that comes along once in a while?
In music inheres the concept of movement,
then some say rhythm is the next
element that distinguishes music
in the arts from all the rest.
The planet moves just like music,
in rhythms that calve and crack,
then rumbles are heard from deep below
as ice melts from the cold it lacks.
The timbre shifts, the shapes transform,
the wind adds to mass cacophony,
cold kettle drums foretell the final act
while the gulls scream in agony.
No longer ignorant, we yet ignore
a certain path to our destruction.
Now a shone light reveals it all,
while ice music foretells our extinction.
Featured composition by Maria Szymanowsky (Polish pianist, contemporary of Chopin) Nocturne in Bb Major played by Natasha Stojanovska, Macedonian pianist and composer. My favorite interpretation with deft and delicate touch on a superb piano! Her debut CD Album is “Uncommon Voices” exploring music by Eastern European Women Composers with Navona Records, PARMA Recording. "Uncommon Voices, Part II: American Women Composers” is due for release in December, 2023.
Featured composition by Amy Beach "Dreaming Op. 35 No.3" played by Evgenia Nekrasova. A lovely
interpretation with some higher waves and gentle passion expressed in a nice tempo. In her program
"Women Compose" she presents works by Fanny Hensel, Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Elfrida André,
Nadia and Lili Boulanger. Here is my January 2023 recording (Just after learning for the first time to implement
phrasing) of Beach's lilting and interesting Waltz Op 36. No. 3 from The Children's Album.
Featured composition by Professor Jennifer Jolley, "March".
One of the most compelling modern pieces I have heard! Not from my preferred romantic style of music,but I cannot turn away and have listened to it multiple times. Like me, you might hear an obvious musical allegory of two possible futures: one a chilling robotic patriarchy vs. a vibrant human, caring community. Dr. Jolley teaches at the Texas Tech School of Music.
Piano Music She Wrote Pianists Sandra Mogensen and Erica Sipes decided in 2020 to pursue their shared interest in helping people explore the world of piano music composed by women. They have published two volumes of pieces they arranged, for beginning and early intermediate level pianists. You may hear each piece on YouTube. The also offer ($15) a directory of hundreds of pieces by women composers, clearly a huge labor of love.
Louise Farrenc (French composer and pianist) From LibertyParkMusic.com I am learning Op 50 No. 15, the sweetest one-page waltz etude in F# minor!
Donne Italian for "women." Project of opera singer Gabriella di Laccio whose mission is to make more visible the prodigious contribution of women to music. She reports the astounding and devastating fact that, in October, 2022, almost nine out of ten pieces played by orchestras around the world were composed by Caucasian men. She provides a list of more than 5,000 women composers, and offers program consultation services to music directors who are committed to the inclusion of women, including minority and LGBQT women, to achieve a more just musical world.
Feminine Endings: music, gender, & sexuality by Dr. Susan McClary (Case Western Reserve University) The seminal 1995 book that brought feminist analysis of musicology throughout history to the present day, into the academy; a must read!
The Future is Female - is a performance available by prolific, talented pianist, writer, and producer Sarah Cahill featuring more than 70 compositions by women around the globe, from the Baroque to the present day, including new commissioned works. Cahill performs regularly in the Bay Area and leans toward modern and experimental music, has a fabulous website and leads a musical radio program on Sunday evenings at 8 - 10 pm live streamed on YouTube.
National Music by Women Festival at the Mississippi University for Women, Founder & Executive Director, 2016–Present. The annual conference brings together a diverse, inclusive group of women composers and performers. Dr. Julia Mortyakova has a prodigious background in music and leadership in both academia and the community. She currently serves as the Department of Music Chair at MUW and has fostered inclusivity in all aspects of music studies and performance.
What I Know About Music and My Piano
I’m so glad you share my love of music and the piano! I want to celebrate that love and my recent journey back to music via former career paths through law and fashion corsetry. Shortly after a happy retirement in 2020, a creative muse took my hand after 63 years and chose to bring to life the musical sounds within my heart via poetry and returning to play my piano -- and she brought me fully to life again!
"Touch me with care, and the gentlest of sounds!
The piano's the thing that lifts with no bounds."
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