music clip of the day


Tag: Alfred Cortot

Thursday, March 5th

never enough

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat major; Alfred Cortot (1877-1962, piano), 1929




random sights

other day, Oak Park, Ill.


reading table

Error is boundless.
Nor hope nor doubt,
Though both be groundless,
Will average out.

—J. V. Cunningham (1911-1985), from “Meditation on Statistical Method”

Monday, February 4th

If told you had a week to live, what recordings would you want to listen to in your waning days? This, for me, would be one.

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), 24 Preludes (Op. 28); Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), piano, 1933/34




random sights

other day, Oak Park, Ill.

Saturday, January 26th


Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Prelude in C-sharp minor (Op. 45); Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), piano, 1949




random sights

today, Oak Park, Ill.

Saturday, February 11th

If I knew I had a week to live, this is one of the recordings I would want to hear.

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), 24 Preludes
Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), piano, 1933/34



reading table

dizzying, adj. making you feel dizzy. E.g., reading a John Ashbery poem.

Listen to it the way everybody
here was naughty today,
of how broad it is.

Foreign man with an affluent cigar,
he used to live on top of this bed
on the local rails he was so proud of
among the recyclables, this morning,
spouting words that I thought were other.
Yes, and they became addictive. Oh,

make me a boy again! Do something!
But the little candle just stood there,
reflected in its lozenge-shaped mirror.
Maybe that was “something,”
a lithe sentence.

He’s only going to do it for the first time.
It’s snowing hard.

Hand me the orange.

—John Ashbery (1927-), “Just So You’ll Know,” New Yorker, 2/13 & 20/17

Monday, January 12th

from my desert-island list

No matter how many times I hear it, this recording, made over 80 years ago, never fails to sweep me away.

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Preludes, Op. 28
Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), piano, 1933

Thursday, 11/22/12


Maurice Ravel, Jeux d’eau (1901)

Martha Argerich, live (1977)


Alfred Cortot, recording (1920)




After finishing, at midnight, their 24-hour Coleman Hawkins birthday celebration, the indefatigable folks at WKCR-FM didn’t rest for even a minute. Instead they embarked on a 4-day, 96-hour celebration of pianist Teddy Wilson’s centennial.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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for Mingus, Miles, Monk,

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for Von Freeman and Art Pepper and Vernard Johnson;

for Friedrich Gulda and Martha Argerich, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Ursula Oppens;

for Ed Blackwell and

for Phillip Wilson;

for Julius Hemphill and

Henry Threadgill and

D’Angelo and

Dorothy Love Coates;

and for all the others—singers, musicians, composers, painters, photographers, printmakers, novelists, poets—who have graced this site;

and for you, who have found your way here, somehow, from Mongolia and Slovenia and Jamaica and Saudi Arabia; from Myanmar and Syria; from Angola, India, Ethiopia; from Finland, Thailand, Ireland, Iceland, and over 100 other countries.

Sunday, 5/20/12

three takes

“Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” (E.C. Ball)
(AKA “Tribulations”)

Andrew Bird
Live, Nashville (Grimey’s New & Preloved Music), 2009


Wayne Henderson, Martha Spencer & Jackson Cunningham
Live, Maryland (Rockville), 2010


E.C. Ball & Lacey Richardson
Recording (Alan Lomax), 1959-60



listening room: (some of) what’s playing

 Face A Frowning World: An E.C. Ball Memorial Album (Tompkins Square)

• Merle Haggard, If I Could Only Fly (Anti- Records)

• The Canton Spirituals, The Live Experience 1999 (Verity Records)

• Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests, Moa Anbessa (Terp Records)

• Derek Bailey, Bill Laswell, Tony Williams, Arcana (DIW Records)

• Peter Brotzmann Octet, Machine Gun (FMP)

• Peter Brotzmann Sextet & Quartet, Nipples (Atavistic Records/Unheard Music Series)

• Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1967 (Columbia)

• Cecil Taylor European Orchestra, Alms/Tiergarten (Spree) (FMP)

• Alfred Cortot, piano, The Master Pianist (EMI, Icon Series)

• Nathan Milstein, violin, J.S. Bach: Sonatas & Partitas (Deutsche Grammaphon)

• Arnold Schoenberg, Das Klavierwerk, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)

• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)

Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)


Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture“new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads 
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
Cherry Blossom Clinic (Terre T, rock, etc.)
Fool’s Paradise (Rex; “Vintage rockabilly, R & B, blues, vocal groups, garage, instrumentals, hillbilly, soul and surf”)
Downtown Soulville (Mr. Fine Wine, soul, etc.)

• WHPK-FM (broadcasting from University of Chicago)

The Blues Excursion (Arkansas Red)

Thursday, 5/17/12

old stuff

Claude Debussy, Children’s Corner, 1908
Alfred Cortot (piano), Marcel L’Herbier (director), 1936

More Cortot? Here. And here.


Children’s Corner was written for Debussy’s three-year-old daughter, Claude-Emma (nicknamed ‘Chou-Chou’ [AKA Chouchou]) and bears the following dedication: ‘to my dear Chou-Chou, with the tender apologies of her father for what is to follow.’

All Music Guide to Classical Music (2005)


Claude & Chouchou
picnicking in a pine forest near Archachon, 1915

Thursday, 7/21/11

Time for just one?

I’d go with Alfred Cortot.


(an occasional series)

Of beauty you cannot have too much.

Frederic Chopin, Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 (1835-36)

Take 1: Vladimir Horowitz, live, New York (Carnegie Hall)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Take 2: Krystian Zimerman, live

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Take 3: Claudio Arrau

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Take 4: Alfred Cortot

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Take 5: Sviatoslav Richter, live (Kiev)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More Chopin? Here. And here. And here.



musical thoughts

[T]he things we feel in life are not experienced in the form of ideas, and so their translation into literature, an intellectual process, may give an account of them, explain them, analyse them, but cannot recreate them as music does, its sounds seeming to take on the inflections of our being, to reproduce that inner, extreme point of sensation which is that thing that causes us the specific ecstasy we feel from time to time and which, when we say ‘What a beautiful day! What beautiful sunshine!’, is not conveyed at all to our neighbour, in whom the same sun and the same weather set off quite different vibrations.

—Marcel Proust, The Prisoner (1925), trans. Carol Clark

(Originally posted 12/27/10.)

Saturday, 1/29/11

replay: clips too good for just one day

I’ve tried listening to his recordings while doing something else, but that hasn’t worked. Whatever else I was doing, I just put aside. If it was nighttime, I turned off the light. Some music occupies every available inch of space—there isn’t room for anything else.

Alfred Cortot: Frederic Chopin, “Farewell” (Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 69, No. 1 [excerpt]); Robert Schumann, “Der Dichter Spricht” (Op. 15, No. 13 in G major [excerpt])



Cortot looked for the opium in music.

—Daniel Barenboim

(Originally posted 7/13/10.)


If you want to stay right where you are, don’t even bother with this clip. But if, instead, you’d like to go somewhere you may never have been before, well, this might be just the ticket.

Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006), Three Etudes, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano



I listen to all kinds of music—new music, old music, music of my colleagues, everything.

—Gyorgy Ligeti (whose influences included not only the usual suspects [Chopin, Debussy, et al.] but also Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans and the Rainforest Pygmies and fractal geometry)

(Originally posted 10/6/09.)


Want a break from music that’s busy, busy, busy, busy, busy?

Try this.

Here, it seems, almost nothing happens at all.

Morton Feldman (1926-1987), Intermission 6 (1953)/Clint Davis, piano, live, Lexington, Kentucky, 2009



To almost everyone’s surprise but his own, he [Morton Feldman] turned out to be one of the major composers of the twentieth century, a sovereign artist who opened up vast, quiet, agonizingly beautiful worlds of sound . . . . In the noisiest century in history, Feldman chose to be glacially slow and snowily soft.—Alex Ross


Earlier in my life there seemed to be unlimited possibilities, but my mind was closed. Now, years later and with an open mind, possibilities no longer interest me. I seem content to be continually rearranging the same furniture in the same room.—Morton Feldman

(Originally posted 11/7/09.)


mail, etc.

Congratulations on your 500th post. I don’t know how you do it but I’m definitely looking forward to receiving your next 500 posts. Thanks for exposing me to so many great artists. Keep the music coming and thanks for what you do.


Lovely [Gulda/Mozart clip].


The Sonny Rollins clip was amazing and amazing doesn’t do it justice!


Oh, my goodness—and in such distinguished company as well! Thank you so much, Richard.

All best,
David [Kirby]


Richard McLeese checked in with some nice memories about Son Seals. Click here to enjoy them yourself, including a couple of great videos.

Andrew Vachss’ website

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