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Filtering by Tag: ragtime piano

Vernon Taranto, Jr. -- Composer Extraordinaire

Cory Hall

BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is happy to announce the newest composer whose piano music has been accepted for publication: Vernon Taranto, Jr. Paramount to BachScholar's mission is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today, and Dr. Taranto certainly fits this bill. To read more about Dr. Taranto, please CLICK HERE! Below is my performance of Taranto's work that will soon be published:


In just seven months in business as of this writing, BachScholar Publishing already has a roster of five featured composers whose piano works have been accepted for publication and are currently in production. These distinguished composers' works vary from classical to jazz and from sacred to secular. Five Vignettes by Vernon Taranto, Jr. offers pianists an exciting adventure into space, the stars, and our galaxy. Philip Kim has composed some awesome arrangements of traditional Christian hymns and patriotic songs that pianists are sure to love. Jeremiah Bornfield has penned some outstanding neo-Baroque and Bachian style works for piano. Tiago Videira has graced us with some highly original and inventive impressionist-style piano pieces. And last but not least, GRAMMY winner Norman Henry Mamey will put a smile on pianists' faces with his well-crafted and catchy jazz pieces for students and professionals of all levels. To read more about BachScholar's Featured Composers, CLICK HERE!


1. Vernon Taranto, Jr. (ASCAP) 2. Philip Kim (ASCAP) 3. Jeremiah Bornfield (BMI) 4. Tiago Videira (SPA-Portugal, ASCAP affiliate) 5. Norman Henry Mamey -- GRAMMY winner! (ASCAP)



Established in 2011 and making its debut on the internet in September 2012, BachScholar Publishing, LLC, produces quality digital sheet music for pianists. With an emphasis on clean and accurate "Urtext" editions, each BachScholar™ score is meticulously engraved with staves up to a full inch longer than conventional sheet music resulting in exceptionally clear and easy-to-read manuscripts. All scores -- formatted for "letter" and "A4" paper sizes -- are delivered via PDF files for instant downloading, printing, or saving for future reference. BachScholar™ is the first and only publisher in the world to publish and produce exclusively digital sheet music. (Please note that all of the most popular digital sheet music companies on the internet today are retailers rather than publishers.)

BachScholar Publishing holds publishing memberships in both ASCAP and BMI (the latter, doing business as "BachScholar Global Publishing"), permitting composers belonging to either performing rights organization to officially register and publish their works through BachScholar's ASCAP or BMI affiliations. Benefits of publishing with BachScholar™ include: one-on-one personal interaction with the editor and publisher, highest quality musical manuscripts, marketing on YouTube, music presented and sold on a high-quality e-commerce website, royalties for each copy sold. One of BachScholar's missions is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today.

In addition to publishing and producing the highest quality digital piano sheet music on the internet today, BachScholar™ also offers Piano Lessons via Skype to students worldwide. Dr. Hall is a devoted piano teacher with over 30 years' teaching experience who welcomes students of all ages and levels. BachScholar's website also offers a large selection of musical instruments and CDs by popular, worldwide artists. BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau of the United States and Canada.

Gottschalk's Great "Souvenir de Porto Rico, Op. 31"

Cory Hall

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) was a great American composer who incorporated Creole, Latin American, and Afro-Cuban elements into his unique and exciting music, which many consider to be the earliest forerunner of ragtime. I remember first being introduced to Gottschalk around the age of 12 by my piano teacher at the time, Aline Asmundsen. She was a very nice "older" lady who taught piano and happened to live just a few blocks away from me. I remember riding my bike to lessons every week to Mrs. Asmundsen's house. I had already been playing ragtime for at least a couple years and remember around this time playing Maple Leaf Rag for my 6th grade music class in school. Mrs. Asmundsen introduced Gottschalk's music to me from a record and then we decided I work on Tournament Galop, an exciting "solon" virtuoso piece. I remember wearing out our old upright piano with Tournament Galop. Here is a performance of it, much later at around age 46 when I decided to revive it for one of my YouTube videos: [youtube]

Many pianists and musicologists consider Gottschalk's greatest solo piano work to be Souvenir de Porto Rico, Op. 31, composed in 1857 and published in 1860. It bears the subtitle "Marche de Gibaros," "Gibaros" referring to the Puerto Rican peasants of the time. What I find interesting and that I was not aware of for many years is that the work is based on the Christmas folk song Si me dan pasteles, denmelos calientes (Wikipedia). Another remarkable trait about Souvenir de Porto Rico is that "The piece makes free use of Latin and Afro-American melodies and rhythms almost fifty years before early ragtime and jazz would popularize its use" (Wikipedia).

Not only is Souvenir de Porto Rico remarkable because of its infectious, quasi-ragtime style rhythms, but its highly unique form also contributes much to its success. It consists of only two sections -- "A" and "B" -- which are repeated a total of six times, in a sense, much like a theme and variations. It begins calmly and with each successive repetition of the "AB" section it gains more energy and momentum by Gottschalk's ingenious and effective use of additive note values. After the climactic fourth section, replete with bravura-style octaves, the piece begins winding down until the music simply dissipates into an identically calm atmosphere of the beginning. The overall effect of this symmetrical form is hypnotic and mesmerizing. Here is a visual layout of the large-scale form:

AB (calm), AB (more), AB (yet more!), AB (climax!), AB (winds down), AB (winds down more), Coda

I have my own strong opinions about its performance. I believe that the more one changes tempos throughout the variations, the more the piece suffers in its musical effectiveness. There is no reason to begin slowly and speed up the second and third variations up to a "presto" style fourth section and then slow down gradually until the calm ending. In fact, I believe this popular approach (taken by most pianists I have heard) ruins the music because most of the hypnotic and mesmerizing effect is created through unity in tempo. In my performance, I stick to one tempo from beginning to end with perhaps a slight accelerando into the climactic octave section. This is the main way in which my general conception and performance differs from most other pianists. I hope you enjoy it!