Monday, May 26, 2008

A Happy Memorial Day

It is a cold and rainy day here in Utah. Not ideal for visiting the gravesites of family, but nonetheless a day for remembering our ancestry. I've been thinking a lot of my paternal grandmother these last several weeks. She past away several years ago. Her name is Belva (Coon) Jones. When I was in highschool I made an album of music to sell so that I could help pay for my missionary service in Japan. When my grandma found out that I had made a recording of piano music, she insisted on buying one. She didn't have a CD player at the time and so I told her I would make a tape recording for her. She asked what the difference was and so I explained to her some of the differences. When I told her I was able to fit two more pieces of music on the CD than on the tape, she insisted that she needed to have the CD. So she went out and purchased a CD player to accompany my CD. What a sweetheart. My sister also came out with an album of her own music shortly thereafter, and to my knowledge, that CD player was only regularly used to play those two CDs.

One of the works on my CD was Franz Liszt's Nocturne in A-flat, Liebestraume, or "Dream of Love." My grandmother would frequently tell me that this was one of her favorite songs. "We used to listen and dance to this during the depression," she would recall, with her eye-lashes batting, her body swaying, and an overly dramatic expression of love on her face. Then, in a whisper, she would lean to me and say, "I want you to play this at my funeral." Year after year, she would remind me of this. The night that she past away my father called to let me know. I sat down at the piano and played through Liszt's Nocturne, over and over again. I guess that was my way of mourning the loss of my grandmother. A few days later, I fulfilled her request and played the Nocturne (Liebestraume) at her funeral service.

So now, several years later, it is memorial day and I'm sitting here thinking of my grandmother. Before I get the day started, I think I'll go sit down and play through "Dream of Love" and reminisce on my heritage. You are welcome to join me in listening to this beautiful Nocturne. I've recorded this piece several times (because I almost always include it in public recitals) and have one of these recording posted on my Lisztonian site. You can click here to visit that page on my Lisztonian site, or you may use the embedded player below.

Have a happy memorial day, and be sure to spend some time remembering the great people in your heritage.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chopin Nocturne in E Minor
Dedicated to Two Individuals

Chopin's Nocturne in E-minor is one of my favorite Nocturnes. It is a short, yet profound work of art that takes the listener through several of life's most important emotions. It can stir the soul and awaken the spirit. This nocturne can carry a listener through a world of sorrow, anguish, joy, and hope all within just a few minutes. For this reason I would like to dedicate this recording to two very special people. The first is a new friend of mine, Randy. The second is my father, Keith Jones. Both of these individuals have been diagnosed with devastating illnesses. I have sat many hours with my father and spent many, many more just being flooded with the several emotions I mentioned above. As my wife will confirm, I am not one to openly share my emotions on a regular basis - at least not verbally. I do, however, try to let my spirit speak through my music. I have learned that the most powerful of emotions is that of love. So it is with sincere love that I dedicate this recording of Chopin's Nocturne in E-minor to my dear father, Keith Jones, and my friend, Randy. Let the examples of these two great men remind us to always keep hope and optimism in our hearts.

To listen to this recording, you can visit this page of my Lisztonian site, subscribe to my iTunes podcast (free), or use the embedded player below. I hope you enjoy my music!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Create a Custom CD of Piano Music!

After receiving a few request from people I've decided to add the ability to order CDs from my Lisztonian website.

All of my recordings can still be downloaded free! You do not need to purchase a CD to listen to free classical piano music.

However, if you would like to purchase a CD then you can click here and select all of the songs you want on your CD (up to 70 minutes of music).

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don Giovanni

Last night my wife and I attended the Utah Opera's performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni! I thought that it was fabulous. The music was wonderful. I've always enjoyed the music to Don Giovanni, but this was my first time actually seeing the opera. It was a wonderful experience.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mozart's Don Giovanni, let me give you a brief summary (in my own, uneducated words).

Don Giovanni is Mozart's creative genius combined with the legend of Don Juan all put to extraordinary music. Don Giovanni is the main character and is a womanizer to say the least. He has an easily intimidated servant who, although outwardly disagreeing with his master's actions, is somehow always convinced to remain faithful to his master's bidding. The opera opens with Don Giovanni attacking a girl who is currently engaged to be wed. The girl's father appears and attempts to fight of the attacker (who is disguised at the time) but ends up dead. While the duel is taking place, the daughter has run off to find help. She returns to find her father dead. Her fiance swears to avenge her father's death.

To make a long story short, the young lady and her fiance spend the rest of the opera chasing down Don Giovanni (they eventually find out he was the attacker). However, before they are able to kill him, he is confronted by the statue of the Comendatore (the girl's father). Yes, that's right - a statue. There is a statue of the Comendatore in the cemetary. While Don Giovanni and his servent are fleeing the mob that is after them, they end up in the cemetary where the statue begins to speak to them. Don Giovanni, thinking it to be some sort of trickery (while being inwardly frightened) invites the statue to dinner. He and his servant return home and prepare a marvelous meal, which Don Giovanni begins to partake of right away - he does this to show that he is not at all afraid of the "ghost" of his victim. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't a trick, and the Comendatore shows up for dinner! He (the statue), in turn invites Don Giovanni to return with him for dinner (implying the after-life). Don Giovanni accepts the offer, at which point he is told to "shake on it"... he does and the apparition's cold hand graps onto Don Giovanni's and does not let go. He commands Don Giovanni to repent several times, but Don Giovanni refuses. So the flames of hell come and drag him away. After this ghastly scene ends, the other characters enter the home looking for Don Giovanni only to find his frightened servant. The servant relays the story and they all rejoice and sing the moral of the story - which is that evil-doers are no good :)

My summary does not do the opera justice by any means. It is actually a very deep, complex, and yet witty, whimsical work of art. If you have never seen a performance of Don Giovanni, then check your local opera house or universities and find out when the next performance will be!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Over the last several days I have been publishing new recordings as dedications for mother's day. Please be sure to read the following posts and listen to the accompanying music:

Mother's Day Dedication #3
Chopin Nocturne in E-flat Major
For My Precious Wife

To my cherished companion:

Happy Mother's Day!

We have been married for almost 7 years now and each year my love and admiration for you grow. These past two years have especially brought a heightened and deepened respect for what a tremendous person you are. Our children our blessed to have such a dedicated and nurturing mother; and I am blessed to have such a strong and loving soulmate.

I recorded this Nocturne one evening while you were away. I didn't have time to pracitce because I wanted it to be a surprise for today; so I apologize for the many imperfections - I suppose that is just a reflection on my many imperfections that you already glance over on a daily basis.

If I were to title this recording, I would call it "First" as it represents to me the many "firsts" that we have shared together: our first date, our first kiss, our first tears, our first child, our first gift, our first success, and even our first argument. Each of these firsts have brought us closer and strengthened the eternal bond of marriage between us. We have an endless supply of firsts still waiting for us, and as my mind reflects on this, I feel that same twitterpation I felt as we first began our courtship.

I love you dearly and look forward to our life together.

You can click here to download this recording to your computer or you may use the player below to listen.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Dedication #2
Mozart Sonata in C Major K 300h (330)
Dedicated to Mom

Mozart's Sonata in C Major (K 300h) is one of my favorites. I fell in love with it after purchasing a Lang Lang CD with this piece on it. I encourage you to buy a copy of that CD to hear a master musician at work :)

For those of you with finely trained ears, you will notice that this is actually in the key of F Major and not C Major. This recording is only the Andante cantabile section of the Sonata, and this section was written in the key of F Major.

I am dedicating this recording to my mom :) I chose this piece because Mozart is her favorite composer and this Sonata is just such a beautiful work. My mom is the one who originally taught me to play the piano and I owe my passion for music to her -- thanks mom!

Our Mother - author unknown
Hundreds of stars in the pretty sky,
Hundreds of shells on the shore together.
Hundreds of birds that go singing by,
Hundreds of birds in the sunny weather;

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

To listen to this recording you can click here and download it to your computer. You may also subscribe to my iTunes podcast or simply use the player below.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mother's Day Dedication #1
To My Mom-In-Law

I'm breaking out of my typical weekly (or bi-weekly) posting this week in light of the Mother's Day holiday. This first recording is dedicated with great love and admiration to my sweet mom-in-law. I like to use the term "mom-in-law" because it seems more personal :) I love my mom-in-law very much. She raised a wonderful daughter and two sons who I also greatly admire (James and David). She is intelligent, talented, fun, and thoughtful.

I chose to dedicate Schubert's Serenada (arranged by Franz Liszt) to her because this is one of her favorite classical works. It is a popular vocal work by Franz Schubert but has been transcribed for a variety of other instruments due to the popularity of the piece.

Happy Mother's Day Omonee!

To listen to my recording of Schubert's Serenada you may click here or you can use the player provided below. You may also subsribe to my podcast at iTunes to stay updated on all of my new releases.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chopin - Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor
Dedicated to the Lloyd Family

Chopin's Nocturnes are among the best of classical music! This particular Nocturne was written in 1830 (while Chopin was about 20 years old). It was written around the same time as his famous 2nd piano concerto and even included a note with the first edition that specifically mentioned it as a "warm-up" of sorts to his second concerto. Chopin never had this work published. It was not released to the public until 1875, after Chopin had past away (he died in 1849). Thus it was published "posthumously", which simply means it was published after his death. Therefore it was never assigned an opus number by Chopin and remains a stand-alone Nocturne.

I am dedicating this recording to a friend of mine and his family — Steve Lloyd. He and his family have been wonderful supporters of my music. He also has been the source for many of the subtle features and changes on my Lisztonian site. Steve and his family represent the good in humanity and they provide all of us with a good example of what a family ought to be. Steve is also the founder of a family-oriented newsletter service that provides an ingenious solution for helping families stay in touch. So it is with great sincerity that I dedicate this Nocturne to Steve and his family - thanks for your support and encouragement!

You can listen to Chopin's Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor by visiting browsing my Lisztonian Website. You will have the option of downloading the recording as an MP3, WMA, or you may listen directly through the site. You may also find all of my recordings provided commercial-free through iTunes! For your convenience, I've also included a playbar at the bottom of this post.

If you enjoy this recording, please consider making a donation towards the purchase of a new Steinway piano!