Richard Nixon's piano play

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Richard Nixon's piano play

Post by Simkin » Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:12 pm

Did anyone hear Richard Nixon's performance?

Or of others of his kin, like Truman or Kanzler Schmidt?

Is it possible to get recordings somewhere?

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Re: Richard Nixon's piano play

Post by Lance » Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:44 pm

Simkin wrote:Did anyone hear Richard Nixon's performance?

Or of others of his kin, like Truman or Kanzler Schmidt?

Is it possible to get recordings somewhere?
I'm unaware of Nixon, Truman, or any president having been recorded on the piano, be it the White House Steinway or their home pianos.

The closest I've come is to have a recording or two of Harry S. Truman's daughter—Margaret—singing (RCA Victor 10-inch LPs), and the reviews were very bad. In fact, the following is the story:

"December 6, 1950. President Truman, infuriated by the disparaging review by Paul Hume in the Washington Post of a song recital by Truman's daughter Margaret, dispatches a letter to him written in longhand on White House stationery as follows: 'Mr. Hume: I have just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an eight-ulcer man on four-ulcer pay ... Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens, you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below.'"
Quoted by Nicolas Slonimsky
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Post by Ralph » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:21 pm

Today a President who sent a note like that to a music critic might be up for mental examination. But Margaret wisely gave up singing for mystery novel writing.

There is a photo of Truman playing the piano with Margaret sitting on it. I have a copy on my office wall.

I've never heard of any recording of Nixon or Truman playing an instrument. There are videotapes of Clinton playing the sax.
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Post by Lance » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:36 pm

Ralph wrote:Today a President who sent a note like that to a music critic might be up for mental examination. But Margaret wisely gave up singing for mystery novel writing.

There is a photo of Truman playing the piano with Margaret sitting on it. I have a copy on my office wall.

I've never heard of any recording of Nixon or Truman playing an instrument. There are videotapes of Clinton playing the sax.
I've heard that Clinton was quite the sexophonist. I wonder if any recordings were ever issued?
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Post by Werner » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:46 pm

Another top politician who was a competent musician was British Prinme Minister Edward Heath. If I remember correctly, he preceded Margaret Thatcher - who was no musician. and I don't know whether there are any records of Heath in performance.

As Prime minister, his performance did arouse comment, both pro and con.
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Post by Ralph » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:02 pm

Werner wrote:Another top politician who was a competent musician was British Prinme Minister Edward Heath. If I remember correctly, he preceded Margaret Thatcher - who was no musician. and I don't know whether there are any records of Heath in performance.

As Prime minister, his performance did arouse comment, both pro and con.
*****

Yes, I have a CD somewhere of Heath conducting and there are both audio and videotapes.
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Post by Simkin » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:06 pm

Werner wrote:Another top politician who was a competent musician was British Prinme Minister Edward Heath. If I remember correctly, he preceded Margaret Thatcher - who was no musician. and I don't know whether there are any records of Heath in performance.

As Prime minister, his performance did arouse comment, both pro and con.
I read somewhere that he made a recording with Chancellor Schmidt. I could not find the recording itself, though.

Do you have any idea what is the best place to look? Some database of musical recordings?

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Post by Simkin » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:12 pm

Ralph wrote:Yes, I have a CD somewhere of Heath conducting and there are both audio and videotapes.
One can easily get a CD with Herbert Kaplan conducting.
I wonder: can it be that an orchestra can just play without a conductor?

Do you have a recording of Heath playing an instrument?

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Post by Donald Isler » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:29 am

Recordings with former Chancellor Schmidt:


http://www.musicabona.com/schmidt_helmu ... iano&hl=en


Helmut Schmidt
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Konzerte fur 2, 3 und 4 Klaviere, Concertos for 2, 3 and 4 Pianos, Concertos pour 2, 3 et 4 Pianos, Concerti per 2, 3 e 4 pianoforti:, BWV 1060, 1061, 1063, 1065
Christoph Eschenbach, Justus Frantz, Gerhard Oppitz, Helmut Schmidt, Hamburger Philharmoniker, Christoph Eschenbach
1 CD (DDD)
Total time: 56:28
Usually dispatched within 3 days Price: $25.50
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Post by Donald Isler » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:35 am

BBC Music magazine Article About former Prime Minister Heath


Sir Edward Heath, the musical politician
How the former Prime Minister showed a rare talent at the keyboard and on the podium
19/07/2005

Sir Edward Heath, who has died aged 89, was a musician of some talent. Encouraged by his mother, Heath's first piano lesson at the age of 8 led to a lifelong fascination with the instrument - when, 46 years later, he became Prime Minister, his Steinway grand was one of the first pieces of furniture to be installed at 10 Downing Street.
It was as an organist, too, that he was able to further his educational and subsequent political career. Arriving as an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, he eased the financial burden placed on himself and his parents by gaining an organ scholarship which brought in £80 a year for playing at chapel services. At Oxford, he also devoted himself to the university's musical life, training the Balliol Choral Society, and conducting the Oxford Orchestra.

Nor did the music stop on leaving university, and Heath continued to perform as a conductor and pianist during his rise up the political ladder - as Prime Minister, he fulfilled an ambition by directing the London Symphony Orchestra in Elgar's 'Cockaigne' Overture in 1971.
He wrote in Music: A Joy for Life, first published in 1976, that playing and conducting music gave him a sense of power: 'but not of power over people: it is the power of contributing sound to the general uplift of those making music together'. One of Heath's greatest friends included the pianist Moura Lympany, whom it was once suggested he should marry, and who predeceased him by only a few weeks.

COPYRIGHT © 2004-2005 ORIGIN PUBLISHING LTD.
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Post by pizza » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:57 am

Shortly after WW1, Paderewski took a break from concertizing to became the Polish Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs for a couple of years, and of course there are many of his recordings available.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:01 am

Ralph wrote:Yes, I have a CD somewhere of Heath conducting
Whatever for????
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Post by Ralph » Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:08 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Yes, I have a CD somewhere of Heath conducting
Whatever for????
*****

He really had a knack for conducting.
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Post by MaestroDJS » Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:48 am

One of the best non-professional conductors was Danny Kaye. He conducted mostly for charity fundraisers, and there was a great spirit of fun because he was of course a comedian. However one had the impression that Kaye knew what he was doing as a conductor, even though he said he couldn't read music.

Photo: Danny Kaye and Maurice Abravanel
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Post by Simkin » Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:41 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Recordings with former Chancellor Schmidt:


http://www.musicabona.com/schmidt_helmu ... iano&hl=en


Helmut Schmidt
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Konzerte fur 2, 3 und 4 Klaviere, Concertos for 2, 3 and 4 Pianos, Concertos pour 2, 3 et 4 Pianos, Concerti per 2, 3 e 4 pianoforti:, BWV 1060, 1061, 1063, 1065
Christoph Eschenbach, Justus Frantz, Gerhard Oppitz, Helmut Schmidt, Hamburger Philharmoniker, Christoph Eschenbach
1 CD (DDD)
Total time: 56:28
Usually dispatched within 3 days Price: $25.50
I saw this one on Amazon. But those are performances with several pianos. It will not be immediately obvious which one is Schmidt. I need a recording of him as a soloist.

Besides are you sure that Helmut Schmidt on the CD is Kanzler Schmidt?
Helmut and Schmidt are very common names.

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Post by Simkin » Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:43 pm

pizza wrote:Shortly after WW1, Paderewski took a break from concertizing to became the Polish Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs for a couple of years, and of course there are many of his recordings available.
He was a professional musician turned politician. However, to achieve my goals I need recordings of a non-professional musician.

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Post by Donald Isler » Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:44 pm

No, you won't be able to tell which of the pianists is the former chancellor, but ONE of them is he! Otherwise you'll have to ask him to make a new solo recording for you!
Donald Isler

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Post by Ralph » Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:16 pm

Donald Isler wrote:No, you won't be able to tell which of the pianists is the former chancellor, but ONE of them is he! Otherwise you'll have to ask him to make a new solo recording for you!
*****

Not a single political note that tips off who the pianist is?
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Oh not not him again!

Post by violinland » Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:18 am

Let us not forget that Mussolini ( not a President perhaps, but a leader at least) played the violin well enough to have considered a musical career.
Last edited by violinland on Sat Sep 24, 2005 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oh not not him again!

Post by Ralph » Fri Sep 23, 2005 8:36 am

violinland wrote:Let not forget that Mussolini ( not a President perhaps, but a leader at least) played the violin well enough to have considered a musical career.
*****

Too bad he didn't go that route.
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Re: Oh not not him again!

Post by Simkin » Fri Sep 23, 2005 9:31 pm

violinland wrote:Let not forget that Mussolini ( not a President perhaps, but a leader at least) played the violin well enough to have considered a musical career.
Would be great to get his recordings. This would be such a good accompanement to
my quiz with Hitler's paintings

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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 9:37 pm

Ralph wrote:
Donald Isler wrote:No, you won't be able to tell which of the pianists is the former chancellor, but ONE of them is he! Otherwise you'll have to ask him to make a new solo recording for you!
*****

Not a single political note that tips off who the pianist is?
Of course. In Germany, it would always be B-flat. But only English speakers would get the joke.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Simkin » Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:33 pm

I got Harry Truman's piano recording from his presidential library.

Wonder: do they have similar establishments in Germany, where I could request Kanzler Schmidt recording?

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:35 pm

I just came across this conversation on Nixon, politicians and musical performances. Nixon played a piano piece on television, perhaps on the Ed Sullivan show. I think it was sometime during the 1960s, in his "wilderness years", when he was quietly preparing his comeback in the Presidential Election of 1968.
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Re: Oh not not him again!

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:16 pm

violinland wrote:Let us not forget that Mussolini ( not a President perhaps, but a leader at least) played the violin well enough to have considered a musical career.
Since this thread has been revived and I missed Cheniston's post the first time around, it is worth pointing out that Mussolini's son was a famous jazz pianist.

There's no particular reason to think that Thomas Jefferson was a good violinist, but George Washington spent a cool thousand pounds to import a harpsichord for his adoptive daughter. That is like a million dollars today.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Those who didn't quit their day jobs

Post by RGM » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:35 pm

I forget the occasion, but my wife awakened me one night
to observe Condaleeza (sp?) Rice accompanying a cellist in
a movement from one of the Brahms Sonatas. She played
accurately, but I didn't think especially interestingly.
However, that view should considered in the context that I'm
not a fan of Brahms's cello sonatas, I'm sorry to say.

I've several times seen a film of Truman playing the "Missouri
Waltz" competently. This was a piece that he later professed
to despise, saying he only played it as a politician. He said his
favorite piano piece was Chopin's Grande Valse Brillante, which
he invariably identified complete with key and opus number.
One suspected that it may have been the only serious work he
knew.

And I have seen one film of Nixon playing the piano. It was
at some sort of White House fete, and someone pushy (was it
Pearl Bailey?) maneuvered him so that he couldn't get out of
it without seeming surly. He was obviously embarrassed and
annoyed. I don't remember what he played. It was just a novelty.

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:59 pm

This is completely off topic, but Richard Nixon, like his immediate predecessor Lyndon Johnson saw two daughters get married while he was presdent (that is such an extreme improbability that it already seems astonishing even to those of us who lived through it). I think it was Tricia Nixon Cox who was actually married in the White House (the other daughter Julie was married (to the grandson of Dwght Eisenhower) at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception). But I may be conflating this with the memory of Johnson's daughters' weddins (I'm sure I'll be corrected). I distinctly remember there being a tent on the White House grounds for reporters, and Nixon just walked in for a spontaneous chat with, among others, Dan Rather. He was like any father giving away his daughter: Somewhat befuddled and incoherent, for one day in his life completely uninterested in politics. He was human for once, and even as a child I loved him for it. Later, he danced a (rather clumsy) waltz with his daughter as the first dance of the reception in the East Room.

Nobody can ever deny that Richard Nixon had his human side. I know what others will say, but I would have been happy to shake his hand (and could have if I had been bold enough; he was the only president I have seen live, at West Point.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Oh not not him again!

Post by Gary » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:12 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Since this thread has been revived and I missed Cheniston's post the first time around, it is worth pointing out that Mussolini's son was a famous jazz pianist.
I take it he's dead now :?:

I saw him on TV once. I think Clive James was the host (no doubt visiting Italy that time). The son was quite a humble-looking man, nothing like his father.
RGM wrote:I forget the occasion, but my wife awakened me one night
to observe Condaleeza (sp?) Rice accompanying a cellist in
a movement from one of the Brahms Sonatas.
I'm not sure what the occasion was, either, but I recall seeing maybe two seconds of that on the news. I'm pretty sure the cellist was Yo Yo Ma.
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Re: Those who didn't quit their day jobs

Post by Simkin » Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:21 pm

RGM wrote: I've several times seen a film of Truman playing the "Missouri Waltz" competently.
You sure it was not "Black hawk waltz"? I got this one from Truman library, and it was his only recording they have.
RGM wrote:And I have seen one film of Nixon playing the piano.
What movie was it? Nixon library replied me that they don't know of any recording of his piano play.

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Truman and Nixon

Post by RGM » Fri Nov 25, 2005 1:46 pm

Re: Was it the "Missouri Waltz"?

That is what I recall. My mother was from Missouri, so I can identify
the piece. Don't know the "Black Hawk Waltz". It is entirely possible
that I'm confusing the common association of Truman with the "Missouri Waltz" -- I remember when he was president -- with the occasion when I saw him playing the piano.

The Nixon incident was more a newsreel type of film. Whatever he played lasted for only a few seconds, and would never be cited as evidence that he was musical.

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Tue Nov 29, 2005 11:52 am

RGM and I may be referring to very different video clips of Nixon playing the piano. While Nixon never pretended to be anything like a master musician, the clip did seem to suggest he could play the piano quite respectably. And he seemed to like classical music. A biography of Nixon mentions his putting on a record of the Rachmaninov Concerto # 1 by the Philadelphia Orchestra on a sleepless night in the Lincoln Sitting Room when he was troubled over the Vietnam War and the antiwar demonstrators who had arrived in town, and some of whom he could see gathering by the Ellipse. He shortly thereafter called his security, etc. and made an impromtu trip over to the Lincoln Memorial where he had a spontaneous conversation with a few of the protestors.

Before his political days, and sometimes during - Jan Paderewski was a great pianist and a great composer - I have a great recording of his piano concerto. Sitting on my desk as I write this is an LP I recently acquired of Paderewski in concert, playing Mendelssohn, Schubert Chopin, etc..
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Point

Post by mouth404 » Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:23 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Recordings with former Chancellor Schmidt:
Okay, ya i can see your point.

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Post by premont » Sat Dec 03, 2005 6:28 pm

Simkin wrote: I saw this one on Amazon. But those are performances with several pianos. It will not be immediately obvious which one is Schmidt. I need a recording of him as a soloist.

Besides are you sure that Helmut Schmidt on the CD is Kanzler Schmidt?
Helmut and Schmidt are very common names.
As far as remember from the sleve of this recording, Helmut Schmidt played exclusively in the Quadruple concerto (the Vivaldi transcription) and not in the other concertos. There is a photo of him on the sleve sitting in a group with the others, some of them standing (Eschenbach et.c.), and he really looked like the kanzler. I never acquired the recording - I think modern pianos are out of the question in this music.

A propos the topic, the Danish king Frederik the Ninth 1898-1972 was a keen conductor, and recorded in the 1950es with the Royal Danish Chapel some very listenable music (available on Danacord) among others a very fine interpretation of Beethovens Seventh symphony. I wonder if any other royal person in our age was a semi-professional musician.

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