Thursday, 27 February 2014

Alice Herz-Sommer, concert pianist and Holocaust survivor, dies at 110

AP - Alice Herz-Sommer, who was believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust, is shown here in 2010. She died Feb. 23 in London at age 110.

Alice Herz-Sommer, a concert pianist who was widely believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust and who became known around the world for her belief in the redemptive power of music, died Feb. 23 at a hospital in London. She was 110.
Her daughter-in-law, Genevieve Sommer, confirmed her death to the Associated Press. The cause was not reported.
(FILES) This undated photo show US child film star Shirley Temple. Hollywood star Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85, US media has announced on February 11, 2014. During 1934-38, the actress appeared in more than 20 feature films and was consistantly the top US movie star. Shirley Temple Black was US Ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia. AFP PHOTO HO

By the end of her life — through books, YouTube appearances and a short documentary film nominated this year for an Oscar — Mrs. Herz-Sommer and her optimism had become known to tens of thousands of people.

Born in Prague in what was then Austria-Hungary, she grew up in a family that socialized with writers such as Franz Kafka and Rainer Maria Rilke. By her mid-30s, she had become an accomplished musician, a wife and a mother, and a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.
In 1943, Mrs. Herz-Sommer was sent with her husband and their 5-year-old son to the camp-ghetto outside Prague known in German as Theresienstadt and in Czech as Terezin. The camp served as a transfer point for Jews en route to death and labor camps. It also was used as a propaganda tool for Nazi officials seeking to demonstrate to Red Cross and other observers that European Jewry was not in danger.

Theresienstadt had a library. Artists imprisoned there were permitted to paint, and professors were permitted to lecture — in addition to performing forced labor. And amid the squalid living conditions, rampant disease and deportations, there was music.

Mrs. Herz-Sommer, who had studied under a former student of composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt, was said to have played in more than 100 concerts during her incarceration at Theresienstadt.
“We scavenged for potato peelings as people starved to death around us,” the Jerusalem Post quoted her as saying. “People ask, ‘How could you make music?’ We were so weak, but music was special, like a spell. Music was my food.”

At the camp, Mrs. Herz-Sommer performed largely from memory. She played Chopin’s notoriously difficult etudes, she played the works of Schubert and she played Beethoven.
“Beethoven is my religion,” she told the New York Times in a 2007 interview. “I am Jewish, with Beethoven as religion. . . . He gives me the faith to live and to say to me: Life is wonderful and worthwhile, even when it is difficult.”

The Daily Telegraph noted that Mrs. Herz-Sommer participated in performances of Verdi’s Requiem. Once, when asked by a reporter if the musicians had regarded the work as a requiem for the Jews, she replied, “Why not?”

She said that she dedicated herself during her imprisonment in Theresienstadt to shielding her son from the reality of what transpired there. She succeeded. The young man — who grew up to become the noted cellist Raphael Sommer — told an interviewer years later that he had “very good memories of that place,” thanks to his mother.

He was said to have served as her page-turner and played the sparrow in “Brundibar,” the children’ s opera composed by Hans Krása, who also was imprisoned at Theresienstadt.
About 90 percent of the 15,000 children who passed through Theresienstadt died in the death camps, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Raphael was among those who survived. His father, Mrs. Herz-Sommer’s husband, died after being transferred to Dachau.
“When I came back home it was very, very painful because nobody else came back,” Mrs. Herz-Sommer once told the London Guardian. “Then I realized what Hitler had done.”
After arriving in Prague, she sent a telegram to her few surviving relatives in Palestine with the declaration, “Tonight, I will play the Appassionata,” Beethoven’s celebrated piano sonata.
“That,” she told the British Observer, “is how I told them I was still alive.”
Mrs. Herz-Sommer was born on Nov. 26, 1903. Her father, who died before the Holocaust, was a merchant; her mother came from a musical family and encouraged her children to pursue active intellectual lives. One of her first piano teachers was an older sister.
In 1931, after beginning her career as a concert pianist and teacher, she married Leopold Sommer, who also was a musician. Their son was born in 1937, two years before the beginning of World War II.

Mrs. Herz-Sommer chose not to attempt emigration in part because she wished to care for her elderly mother, who also was taken to Theresienstadt and never returned. Before leaving, the older woman reminded her daughter to learn Chopin’s etudes. At Theresienstadt, Mrs. Herz-Sommer later recalled, “we tried even harder to reach for perfection, for the meaning in the music.”
After the war, she joined her relatives in Israel, where she became a music teacher and where her son pursued his career. She moved in 1986 to London, where her son then lived. He died in 2001 of an aortic aneurysm. Survivors include two grandsons.
Mrs. Herz-Sommer swam regularly and practiced several hours a day on her upright Steinway. When she lost the use of two fingers, she continued playing with the other eight, simply altering the fingering.

“More than a century after she performed for Kafka, she is capable of casting a spell at the piano,” New Yorker music critic Alex Ross wrote last year on the occasion of her 110th birthday.
As her story became more widely known, she was frequently visited by writers and documentarians. Books written about her include “A Century of Wisdom,” by Caroline Stoessinger, and “Alice’s Piano,” by Melissa Mueller and Reinhard Piechocki. Films about her life include “The Lady in Number 6,” the Oscar-nominated documentary short by filmmaker Malcolm Clarke.
“Every day in life is beautiful,” she said. “We should thank Bach, Beethoven, to Brahms to Schubert to Schumann. . . . They made us . . . happy.”

Watch short video about her on youtube

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Piano Wallpaper (HIGH Quality)

  • Just click on the picture you choose/you like
  • You will be directed to the picture link
  • Right click - Save picture
  • Set it as your wallpaper :D
  • It all high quality chosen picture

Monday, 17 February 2014

Piano Facts???

1. The Piano was invented in 1698 by an Italian called Bartolomeo Cristofori.

The piano as built by Cristofori boasted almost all of the features of the modern instrument. It differed in being of very light construction, lacking a metal frame; this meant that it could not produce an especially loud tone. This continued to be the rule for pianos until around 1820, when iron bracing was first introduced.

2. Three of the original Pianos built by Cristofori survive till this day.

- A 1720 instrument is located in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. 
-A 1722 instrument is in the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali in Rome.
-A 1726 instrument is in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of Leipzig University.

3. The name "piano" is an abbreviation of Cristofori's original name for the instrument: "piano et forte" meaning soft and loud

4. There are over 12,000 parts in a piano, 10,000 which are moving

5. the piano is known as "The King of Instruments"

The piano earned this title for a number of reasons including it's tonal range ( the piano covers the full spectrum of any instrument in the orchestra from below the lowest note of the double bassoon to above the top note of the piccolo), it's ability to produce melody and accompaniment at the same time, and it's broad dynamic range. It is also the largest musical instrument (excluding the pipe organ), most versatile and one of the most interesting.

6. A grand piano action is faster than a vertical (spinet, console, upright) because it has a repetition lever.

This allows the pianist to repeat the note when the key is only half way up. A vertical action requires letting the key all the way up to reset the hammer action.

7.The term "Tickle the Ivorys" refers to playing the ivory keys of the piano

Older piano keys were made from the Ivory from elephant tusks, however, ivory has not been used to make piano keys since about the 1950's (they are plastic now).

8. The worlds largest piano is a Challen Concert Grand.

This piano is 11 feet long, has a total string tension of over 30 tons and weighs more than a ton!

 In 2002, this monster stringed instrument was said to be located at a French estate.

9. The exact middle of the keyboard is not middle C, it is actually the space between E and F above "middle" C.

10. The final fact about pianos is that, even though it's a stringed instrument, it's placed in the Percussion section in a symphony orchestra.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Quote #5

To play without passion is inexcusable! - Ludwig Van Beethoven

Friday, 14 February 2014

Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children?

McMaster student Andrea Unrau has her mind read by a sensor net that monitors brain activity while music is played in the lab.

Researchers have found the first evidence that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year compared to children who do not receive musical training.

The findings, published 20 September 2006 in the online edition of the journal Brain [1], show that not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well. After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ.

The Canadian-based researchers reached these conclusions after measuring changes in brain responses to sounds in children aged between four and six. Over the period of a year they took four measurements in two groups of children -- those taking Suzuki music lessons and those taking no musical training outside school -- and found developmental changes over periods as short as four months. While previous studies have shown that older children given music lessons had greater improvements in IQ scores than children given drama lessons, this is the first study to identify these effects in brain-based measurements in young children.

Dr Laurel Trainor, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University and Director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, said: "This is the first study to show that brain responses in young, musically trained and untrained children change differently over the course of a year. These changes are likely to be related to the cognitive benefit that is seen with musical training." Prof Trainor led the study with Dr Takako Fujioka, a scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute.

The research team designed their study to investigate (1) how auditory responses in children matured over the period of a year, (2) whether responses to meaningful sounds, such as musical tones, matured differently than responses to noises, and (3) how musical training affected normal brain development in young children.

At the beginning of the study, six of the children (five boys, one girl) had just started to attend a Suzuki music school; the other six children (four boys, two girls) had no music lessons outside school.

The researchers chose children being trained by the Suzuki method for several reasons: it ensured the children were all trained in the same way, were not selected for training according to their initial musical talent and had similar support from their families. In addition, because there was no early training in reading music, the Suzuki method provided the researchers with a good model of how training in auditory, sensory and motor activities induces changes in the cortex of the brain. Brain activity was measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG) while the children listened to two types of sounds: a violin tone and a white noise burst. MEG is a non-invasive brain scanning technology that measures the magnetic fields outside the head that are associated with the electrical fields generated when groups of neurons (nerve cells) fire in synchrony. When a sound is heard, the brain processes the information from the ears in a series of stages. MEG provides millisecond-by-millisecond information that tracks these stages of processing; the stages show up as positive or negative deflections (or peaks), called components, in the MEG waveform. Earlier peaks tend to reflect sensory processing and later peaks, perceptual or cognitive processing.
The researchers recorded the measurements four times during the year, and during the first and fourth session the children also completed a music test (in which they were asked to discriminate between same and different harmonies, rhythms and melodies) and a digit span memory test (in which they had to listen to a series of numbers, remember them and repeat them back to the experimenter).
Analysis of the MEG responses showed that across all children, larger responses were seen to the violin tones than to the white noise, indicating that more cortical resources were put to processing meaningful sounds. In addition, the time that it took for the brain to respond to the sounds (the latency of certain MEG components) decreased over the year. This means that as children matured, the electrical conduction between neurons in their brains worked faster.
Of most interest, the Suzuki children showed a greater change over the year in response to violin tones in an MEG component (N250m) related to attention and sound discrimination than did the children not taking music lessons.
Analysis of the music tasks showed greater improvement over the year in melody, harmony and rhythm processing in the children studying music compared to those not studying music. General memory capacity also improved more in the children studying music than in those not studying music.

Prof Trainor said: "That the children studying music for a year improved in musical listening skills more than children not studying music is perhaps not very surprising. On the other hand, it is very interesting that the children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ than did the children not taking lessons. The finding of very rapid maturation of the N250m component to violin sounds in children taking music lessons fits with their large improvement on the memory test. It suggests that musical training is having an effect on how the brain gets wired for general cognitive functioning related to memory and attention."
Dr Fujioka added: "Previous work has shown assignment to musical training is associated with improvements in IQ in school-aged children. Our work explores how musical training affects the way in which the brain develops. It is clear that music is good for children's cognitive development and that music should be part of the pre-school and primary school curriculum."
The next phase of the study will look at the benefits of musical training in older adults.

Music Training Linked To Enhanced Verbal Skills

Music training, with its pervasive effects on the nervous system's ability to process sight and sound, may be more important for enhancing verbal communication skills than learning phonics, according to a new Northwestern University study.

Musicians use all of their senses to practice and perform a musical piece. They watch other musicians, read lips, and feel, hear and perform music, thus, engaging multi-sensory skills. As it turns out, the brain's alteration from the multi-sensory process of music training enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading, the study concludes.   

“Audiovisual processing was much enhanced in musicians' brains compared to non-musician counterparts, and musicians also were more sensitive to subtle changes in both speech and music sounds,” said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, where the work was performed. “Our study indicates that the high-level cognitive processing of music affects automatic processing that occurs early in the processing stream and fundamentally shapes sensory circuitry.”

The nervous system's multi-sensory processing begins in the brainstem, an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain previously thought to be relatively unmalleable.
“Musicians have a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound in the brainstem, the neural gateway to the brain,” said Northwestern doctoral student Gabriella Musacchia, lead author of the study.

For many years, scientists believed that the brainstem simply relayed sensory information from the ear to the cortex, a part of the brain known for cognitive processing.
Because the brainstem offers a common pathway that processes music and speech, the study suggests that musical training conceivably could help children develop literacy skills and combat literacy disorders.

The study, “Musicians Have Enhanced Subcortical Auditory and Audiovisual Processing of Speech and Music,” will be published online the week of Sept. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The co-investigators are Gabriella Musacchia, Mikko Sams, Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus.

Study participants, who had varying amounts of musical training or none at all, wore scalp electrodes that measured their multi-sensory brain responses to audio and video of a cellist playing and a person speaking.

The data showed that the number of years that a person practiced music strongly correlated with enhanced basic sound encoding mechanisms that also are relevant for speech. Beyond revealing super-accurate pitch coding vital to recognizing a speaker's identity and emotional intent, the study showed enhanced transcription of timbre and timing cues common to speech and music.
“The study underscores the extreme malleability of auditory function by music training and the potential of music to tune our neural response to the world around us, ” Kraus said.
Previous research has shown brainstem transcription errors in some children with literacy disorders.
Since music is inherently more accessible to children than phonics, the new research suggests, music training may have considerable benefits for engendering literacy skills.

Benefits Of Piano Study

Why Study Piano?

Scan of Human Brain 
Why study piano? Many people ask that question
Piano lessons are a fundamental way to gain a broad appreciation of music. However, the real benefits that arise from playing the piano are primarily non-musical.
A piano student learns to read two lines of music, use both ears, arms, legs, feet and all ten fingers, with the brain giving each body part a different assignment to perform simultaneously. No other activity allows a child to exercise all of these skills in such a constructive manner.  Piano lessons, therefore, develop coordination in both mind and muscles, which transfers to many daily activities. This includes improved hand-eye coordination, greater enjoyment and ability in sports, and the full use of both left and right sides of the brain.

As a student begins to experience the benefits of concentration and coordination, he or she begins to experience a sense of confidence. Completing a difficult task is very rewarding and allows the student to feel good about what she has accomplished. As a matter of fact, learning to play the piano is one of the best methods of instilling confidence in children and adults alike. Concentration, coordination, and confidence form a foundation unsurpassed for helping students grow.
One recent MIT study determined that the cerebral cortex of a concert pianist is enlarged by 30% on average compared to people that are considered intellectuals, but who did not have instrumental music education. Another CA study found that 75% of Silicon Valley CEO’s had instrumental music education as a child.

This article talks about how music training is linked to enhanced verbal skills.
It is not as important for a student to play a piece of music with perfection as it is for him or her to develop to the best of his or her abilities. The piano is an educational tool that can help accelerate a child’s development and help adults maintain and gain benefits in brain age.

Follow the link to this article to find out how musical training affects brain development in young children.

Discipline, patience, determination and perseverance are some of the many other skills learned through piano training. Successful piano students have to work daily over extended periods of time in order to learn complex music. Piano helps students understand the concept of sustained effort, accomplish excellence and learn and to put to practice the meaning of hard work.

Chopin Sheets in PDF (All Composition)

Frédéric François Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, on March 1, 1810, in Zelazowa Wola, Masovia region, Duchy of Warsaw, Poland. He wrote his first piano compositions at the age of 7.
More information about the composer, visit here

Chopin Sheets
Ballade No.1 op.23 Youtube
Ballade No.2 op.38  Youtube
Ballade No.3 op.47  Youtube
Ballade No.4 op.52  Youtube
Etude op.10 no.1 waterfall Youtube
Etude op.10 no.2 chromatic Youtube
Etude op.10 no.3 tristesse Youtube
Etude op.10 no.4 torrent Youtube
Etude op.10 no.5 black keys Youtube
Etude op.10 no.6  Youtube
Etude op.10 no.7 tocatta Youtube
Etude op.10 no.8 sunshine Youtube
Etude op.10 no.9 Youtube
Etude op.10 no.10 Youtube
Etude op.10 no.11 arpeggio Youtube
Etude op.10 no.12 revolutionary Youtube
Etude op.25 no.1 aeolian harp Youtube
Etude op.25 no.2 bees Youtube
Etude op.25 no.3 horseman Youtube
Etude op.25 no.4  Youtube
Etude op.25 no.5 Wrong Note Youtube
Etude op.25 no.6 thirds Youtube
Etude op.25 no.7 cello Youtube
Etude op.25 no.8 sixths Youtube
Etude op.25 no.9 butterfly Youtube
Etude op.25 no.10 octave Youtube
Etude op.25 no.11 winter wind Youtube
Etude op.25 no.12 ocean Youtube
Trois Nouvelles Etudes 1 Youtube
Trois Nouvelles Etudes 2 Youtube
Trois Nouvelles Etudes 3 Youtube
Impromptu op.29 no.1 Youtube
Impromptu op.36 no.2 Youtube
Impromptu op.51 no.3 Youtube
fantasie impromptu op.66 Youtube
Mazurka op.6 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.6 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.6 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.6 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.7 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.7 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.7 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.7 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.7 no.5 Youtube
Mazurka op.17 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.17 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.17 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.17 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.24 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.24 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.24 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.24 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.30 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.30 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.30 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.30 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.33 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.33 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.33 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.33 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.41 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.41 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.41 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.41 no.4 Youtube
Mazurka op.50 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.50 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.50 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.56 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.56 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.56 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.59 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.59 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.59 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.63 no.1 Youtube
Mazurka op.63 no.2 Youtube
Mazurka op.63 no.3 Youtube
Mazurka op.67 no 1 to 4 Youtube
Mazurka op.68 no 1 to 4 Youtube
Nocturne op.9 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.9 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.9 no.3 Youtube
Nocturne op.15 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.15 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.15 no.3 Youtube
Nocturne op.27 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.27 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.32 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.32 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.37 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.37 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.48 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.48 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.55 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.55 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.62 no.1 Youtube
Nocturne op.62 no.2 Youtube
Nocturne op.72 no.1 (posthumous) Youtube
Polonaise op.26 no.1 Youtube
Polonaise op.26 no.2 Youtube
Polonaise op.40 no.2 Youtube
Polonaise op.40 no.1 Youtube
Polonaise op.44 Youtube
Polonaise op.53 Heroic Youtube
Polonaise op.61 - Polonaise-Fantaisie Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.1 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.2 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.4 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.5 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.6 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.7 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.8 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.9 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.10 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.11 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.12 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.13 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.14 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.15 Raindrop Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.16 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.17 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.18 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.19 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.20 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.21 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.22 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.23 Youtube
Prelude op.28 no.24 Youtube
Prelude op.45 Youtube
Rondo op.1 Youtube
Rondo op.5 a la mazur Youtube
Rondo op.16 Youtube
Scherzo op.20 no.1 Youtube
Scherzo op.31 no.2 Youtube
Scherzo op.39 no.3 Youtube
Scherzo op.54 no.4 Youtube
Sonata op.4 no.1 Military Youtube
Sonata op.35 no.2 Funeral March Youtube
Sonata op.58 - Piano Sonata No.3 Youtube
Waltz op.18 Grand Valse Brilliante Youtube
Waltz op.34 no.1 Youtube
Waltz op.34 no.2 Youtube
Waltz op.34 no.3 Youtube
Waltz op.42 Youtube
Waltz op.64 no.1 Minute Waltz (Petit Chien) Youtube
Waltz op.64 no.2 Youtube
Waltz op.64 no.3 Youtube
Waltz op.69 no.1 Youtube
Waltz op.69 no.2 Youtube
Waltz op.70 no.1 Youtube
Waltz op.70 no.2 Youtube
Waltz op.70 no.3 Youtube