Wolfgang Mozart and Milton Berle (seven cents)

I went to a four-hand piano concert at the Church of the Epiphany today.  The first piece on the program was Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”.  This was, of course, written as a chamber piece, but apparently has been used as a two person piano piece for some time.  I don’t know the history; I don’t know if there is a standard arrangement, or a group of arrangements.  I don’t really know much of anything on the subject.  But I do know that I like it much better with orchestral instruments than with two pianos.  In fact, I found the double piano rendition disconcerting enough, so that I didn’t know whether or not pianists Bonnie Kellert and Grace McFarlane played it well.

My question about their competence vanished, however, with the next three pieces: Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, Ravel’s Ma Mere L’oye, and Faure’s Dolly, pieces written for four hands, and played beautifully.

Milton Berle’s adopted son, Bill, published a book a few years ago called My Father, Uncle Miltie.  I have been reading it off and on over lunch at the office.  I have almost finished it.  As a piece of literature, it fails to get a passing grade.  As a curiosity piece, it is OK, if a bit unrestrained.  What do I learn from it?  That Berle was, not surprisingly, a man who thought an awful lot of himself, and who had more than his share of negative idiosyncracies.  Also, that I am very happy that I was not Milton Berle.  And equally happy that I am not Bill Berle, both of whom (to the extent you can believe the book) I am happy not to have had to deal with in person.


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