Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for pianists

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Erroll Garner

Erroll Garner performs Col Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You, circa 1960: Erroll Louis Garner (1923-1977) was a 5’2” miracle: a virtuoso jazz pianist whose performances had the nuanced textures of big band charts; whose sheer, overpowering and contagious joy could not help but overwhelm listeners; who created a style of playing that was and remains his and his alone. The official Erroll Garner website contains the following, rather breathless though entirely accurate paragraph: “Garner released music on over 40 labels, received multiple Grammy nominations, and recorded one of the greatest selling jazz albums of all time, Concert By The Sea. His published catalog contains nearly 200 compositions including Misty, which was named #15 on ASCAP’s list of the top songs of the 20th century. He scored for ballet, film, television, and orchestra. One of the most televised Jazz artists of his era, Garner appeared on TV shows all over the world: Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavett, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, and many others [including the Jackie Gleason show, Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall, the Garry Moore show, London Palladium show, the Andy Williams show, the Joey Bishop show, the Flip Wilson show, the Pearl Bailey show, the Mike… 

Continue Reading…

Dr. Bob Prescribes: a Long Winded Contemplation of Pianists, the Talent Pool, and the Advisability (or Inadvisability) of Wearing Push-up Brassieres While Performing

Last week, in the process of recommending recordings of Claude Debussy’s Préludes for Piano, I brought up the pianist Roger Woodward, whose recording of the Préludes I adore. The response I received from many of you was not unexpected but still shivered my timbers: “Roger WHO?” Yes: when I introduced Roger Woodward last week, I did so by calling him: “the greatest pianist in the world that you have probably (and sadly) never heard of.” THIS MUST END, at least among those who are discriminating enough to follow me. So here’s my game plan. I’m going to spend the remainder of this post ruminating on the depth of the pianistic talent pool, the fickleness of fame, and yes, something having to do with brassieres. I will return next week to address two recording YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT: Roger Woodward’s recording of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues. Let us begin by recognizing an almost terrifying truism: when it comes to wonderful pianists, the talent pool is deeper than the Marianas Trench. In last week’s post, I mentioned that – if I have to choose – my all-around favorite pianist is the Milan-born… 

Continue Reading…