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Hello and welcome ...
CALL FOR READERS of and possible blurbs for the
Advance Reader's Copy of Volume 3 "Poetical Musings
on Pianos, Music & Life." Thoughtful, ordinary, senior,
or amateur pianist folk sought. It is not necessary to be
poetic or performance-oriented.Choose Word doc.
via email or print copy of paperback via snailmail;
reply email@example.com Copy of final
published volume will be gifted in appreciation.
I'm a dedicated, enthusiastic, amateur senior pianist, poet, feminist, and author of - "Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & Life" -
Volume I and Volume II (Barnes & Noble*). Click navigation button "Poems" above or scroll down to read sample poems. You may hear me read "Little Gold Dress" here).
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 58-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!
*Please shop at the link to Barnes & Noble; amazon.com has consistently gotten my two poetry book listings incorrect by - without authorization - reducing the price of Vol. I and failing to post the properly submitted cover image on Vol. II)
* * *
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 1927 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). She played my favorite piece by my favorite composer Rachmaninoff, "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini."
I hope you enjoy my latest blog:a"No Easy Task to Match Student and Teacher" (12.3.23) 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.
A.I. is not art! No robot or person may scrape and take any text or pictures from this copyrighted website.
We are happy to be hosting San Franciscan pianist Ian Scarfe at our first in-home Groupmuse Holiday Soiree on December 16. Happily all seats are now filled, however we hope you will investigate this wonderful musician-owned cooperative that offers intimate small-venue concerts in many urban cities across the US, all by remarkable instrumentalists. You might enjoy one in your location or consider hosting in your home or church.
"Waking" by Garreth Brooke (recorded 6.1 & 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
"Only put off to tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone"
--- Pablo Picasso
"Timid people prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."
Emily Dickenson said that possibility is the arena of Poetry, so what might the arena of Paradise be?
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
Twenty-three kids shot each day,
too late I’d say to drop and pray;
two heart stops on her bloody way
to the ER for this teenager, as George* did say.
And yet “we” find all reason to delay
restriction on guns with which some adults play
and enjoy their “freedom” at the expense of theirs--
young angels life-deprived with families in despair.
*News report on “Mornings with George,” ABC-TV, 12.3.23.
I write poetry because I want my voice back.
As Knorr says (Alyse, that is)
“An out-of-body possession (by man) taking
my voice and ways...”
(Did he come inside her and grab her soul,
or did he happen by by happenstance
when she was unawares and
giving herself away?
She does not say...)
I had a voice once, found it for a few years,
then got old.
They took my voice away again.
Seems my eternal pain
to be interrupted, ignored when young,
but then I fought and won,
and then again when old, in pain
they came for me and
took my voice again
until music struck
a lightening blow
and next came poems
fast and slow
and away I went
but did not know
if poetic worth
I had to show?
Dear Alyse, have you my answer?
If you boost me up (as you always do),
raise the curtains and define “protocols,”
then perhaps my critic will one day deign
to evaluate my poetry favorably,
but if not (as Rilke says),
I’ll look inside where peace abides
my truth from the roof
about love and joy found inside and out.
* A line from the poem “Xena:” by poet Alyse Knoff
in "Mega-City Redux."
I’m venturing out, since almost anything
is poetry. Or so I have concluded, but might be deluded?
To think that I could let go of 4-3-4-3 quatrains
and not slay the “protocols” as my first critic claimed
and thus defaced the name of “poetry” I first wrote.
From the start I wrote from my heart.
No doubt that,
but did it fall flat?
Not among friends who deigned to “blurb”
and say I inspired, though not always
what I imagined or desired.
No matter that.
I wrote and took a chance to put it all out there
come weather foul or fair; and did I care?
Not a bit.
I wrote poetry–all that in my heart fit
and would not let me sleep
until from the deep and dark recesses
of my muse, poems tumbled up and out
without my bidding, no doubt of that!
(drafted 10.1.23 as homework for a poetry class,
to write a poem using metaphor)
Barbed wire, it ran true, the lines surveyed in advance,
carefully laid out ’til the fields were surrounded,
then as cattle wandered, they could only go so far
sans escape from the estate as was founded.
Wire kept them well in and protected his own;
to guard property is surely no sin,
what all owners should do for precious treasures—
secure them from marauders who want in.
A lass happened by one day on her stroll,
spied a fur baby asleep in the grass,
her heart leapt a mile as on her face came a smile,
but the fence stood between them – alack alas!
She wanted to play with the sweet babe that she saw,
but as she approached, her prospects grew dim:
the fence, evidently practical to protect material goods
denied pleasure with the baby locked in.
Her heart’s joy dimmed quickly, no gate was in sight,
no possibility of a personal connection,
no way to pursue the joy of full being
or experience all her senses to come.
The rancher sipped coffee, some 40 miles away,
felt her shadow shape fall on his paranoia,
then quickly pass by as the lass gathered her sass
and strolled on to open pastures she’d enjoy.
What will equal and surpass
a summer meadow’s wild flower bloom?
What does best a newborn’s cry
to indicate the happiest room?
What suffuses one’s every pore
causing neurons to fire in tandem,
quicker than the step heard round the world
of a real lover or his requiem?
What foretells pure pleasure from repast
or beyond music from an inspired duet,
or compels atraxis, momentary in kind, than –
the first bite of a French baguette?
Prepping for My Party
It’s been well-nigh over a year
I got the crazed idea
to present a party for my eightieth
and make it my be-all.
So I set about ordering things
to decorate the hall
invited all my bestest friends--
the ones I could recall!
And then I decided to make posters
one for each major life event,
went searching through boxes of momentos,
and found two treasures heaven sent.
A picture of me in grade twelve
standing on pink satin toe shoes,
arms on high in the prettiest circle
wearing the prettiest of dancer’s tutus.
But even better, a few days later
I happened upon the prize:
no less the proof I danced on toe:
it clearly wasn’t a lie.
I found an old, wrinkled shoebox
and lifted up the lid
to find my disheveled toe shoes
in which one day a toe bled.
I took them out with loving hands
caressed satin ribbons wrapped ’round,
and took them to show at my party—
the loveliest memory I found!
Upon considering the October 2023
The dam burst – yet again! – and down they went,
the multitude of vegetables and out came gushing waters
flooding tiles of cracked linoleum, this morning mopped clean
but now inundated with wet – what’s that I must ask?
Their skins cracked open, they groan in despair,
yet again they are flooding the deli and its stairs
to down and down again straight into hell, it’s so clear.
The veggies they bled red with nary a prayer,
for what good would that do but repeat ad nauseum
like Groundhog’s Day repeats with hardly a pauseum.
The farmer’s they grow just like exiles build
again and again without guarantee
that a purchaser there’ll be or a market of buyers
or that peace will ever come
or they can trust their neighbors.
Glen Canyon Park Angels on a Cool Fall Day
“I am trying to get to the next sunny spot”
the father said,
daughter running ahead
as I sped by no faster than her kinder legs.
He smiled at me, as a dad
glad for the day as was I for
a walk in the park
midst traffic jams of kinderkids.
Then came a host, a veritable cascade
of chattering angels
with dads in tow. With mobile legs
they danced their ways
down narrow paths into the wild
among the pines that sighed and swayed,
my way delayed sometimes by tiny midget angels.
They did eventually go,
some faster and some more slow,
some running ahead, some behind
as sunlit park parts
dad and I tried to find.
Sliding into Winter
(drafted 10.1.23 as homework for a poetry class, to write a poem
as lipogram and omit one or more vowels, in this case the “u”)
Say goodbye to warm summer walks beneath tall trees,
comes the season of the sneeze and sniffle.
Little shifts begin as chill morning air
invites us in an open door.
We add a layer, button up, don our coat,
and choose our thicker socks.
But are we ready for a different day
when winter comes?
Or do we prefer to linger there in bed, who knows how long,
with a lover, two bodies joined, legs entwined,
heat irradiates two hearts and spirits,
and melting then, we sing
You may hear me read "Little Gold Dress" on Bay Area radio station KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM
Since October I have been attending online poetry crafting and appreciation classes at Lighthouse Writers (taught by Regis University Prof. Alyse Knorr) and also Coursera (free!). This collection of recent poems have been written as homework assignments or applying some crafting technique(s) that I have learned. Those who know my former poetry will see that I am venturing beyond the ballad form into less "formalistic" lyrical forms incorporating wider imagery.
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 Majorplayed 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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