Thursday, May 7, 2009

Richard Addinsell and Leo Litwin - WHO??

The reader may not be familiar with the names Richard Addinsell and Leo Litwin; however, their names crossed my mind the other day, and so I thought that I should share with you their places in music history:
Addinsell was a well-known composer in Great Britain during the 20th century, and became famous throughout the musical cosmos by way of his 1941 contribution; namely, The "Warsaw Concerto." This incarnation was written as a dedicatory contribution to the memory of Warsaw and its destruction in 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, resulting in World War II.
It became very popular, especially in America, and was gobbled up by thousands of pianists, some of whom recorded it for posterity.
The most famous recording was made by the Boston "Pops" and its conductor, Arthur Fiedler, and many music lovers became owners of this recording. The pianist was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, who became a staff pianist of the "Pops". He was Leo Litwin, and his name is forever fused with the Warsaw Concerto.
While in high school, I fell in love with this hyper-Romantic, Rachmaninoff-like piano tidbit (though it IS rather difficult, and only accomplished pianists can handle the piece).
And so I used a portion of a week's allowance to buy a copy of the music, and proceeded to learn it.
I never DID inform my beloved piano teacher about my secret little project, as I thought that he would not approve of this music, as it was on the "pop" side of the musical spectrum.
Well, I became the hero of the high school I attended, and was asked constantly to play it whenever I was near any piano in the school. Both student-friends of mine and many different teachers; that is, teachers of English, History, Science, etc. would prevail upon me to play it during the school day whenever it was possible to do so. Even the members of the varsity baseball team I was a pitcher on began to call me "Maestro", and called me that even during any game I would pitch in.
This went on throughout that entire school year, which included a rather focused diatribe on the part of my piano teacher, who discovered my immortal discretion, and who berated me for wasting such time on music "of that kind".
Interesting - on an occasion when I gave a formal performance (it may have been my last performance in public of the "Concerto") in the auditorium - I remember, as I bowed to the applause, I noticed a figure standing at one of the exits - it was my beloved piano teacher.
A final note - in the town I live and have worked in for so many years, it is a great coincidence to me, that of all the towns in this country, I found that one of the residents of this town was none other than Leo Litwin, who had been living quietly here for years, and had been teaching here just as I began to establish myself as a professional in the same field.
Litwin and I never met - he died during my early days in this community.
What a mystery the Path of Life can turn out to be!

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