Was sort of sudden.No, it's about time for another interview, enough time has elapsed.
Well, OK, so where will we begin?
Let's begin with this blog and where it's likely to go before long.
What can you tell us about the response to this website?
So far, it would seem that the pianism of Franz Schubert has been promoted significantly.
What if you'd done one on the Beethoven sonatas?
Apparently that's fairly well trodden ground. I got no responses when I advertised to teach lessons on them two years ago now. Time flies!
You've restarted the Great Composer's series.
Yes and of course the next to consider is Johannes Brahms.
Perhaps you can tell us all what you think of Brahms.
He was someone who came up from obscurity to become a serious contender for one of the very best composers there ever was.
Or some have thought.
What perhaps is the least well known aspect of Brahms' life and career?
That he was incredibly gifted. He had perfect pitch and an incredible musical memory. Nonetheless, he seems to have taken incredible pains with his compositions.
Many of them didn't escape the flames.
You suppose we have missed something by not having more Brahms to listen to?
There's never enough good music, ever, but there aren't always times for any music.
Such as our present time?
It sounds very stark, but it's almost apparently so.
Would you be suggesting that the audience for ... what would you call it?
One might venture to call it “serious music” in the same sense as people usually mean “legitimate theatre” and by the way the whole gambit of live performance is significantly hampered by what hampers everything else these days.
But people capable of understanding what it is we experience
...A quasi-religious experience? Human accomplishment celebrated as people play astounding music that fewer and fewer find astounding? The entire human race destroyed by the atrocities of the present age? Afraid to get out of their homes or go anywhere other than somewhere to work, if there's even a job available? 90 million Americans out of work and growing? Meanwhile the few get richer and richer? All of that is serious hampering.
It makes you wonder.
In spite of all that there really is always wonderful new talent providing at least continuance.
You wonder sometimes as if we're headed into another Dark Ages?
Ever see Bladerunner? We would be heading into something like that.
Yes, that would be another 12 to 15 years away perhaps?
Weird, eh? So what are you doing?
More like what I've done. In fall of 2014, I went out West and lived with my folks for six months trying to help my old father lick his last great illness. He passed away in early March.
Oh, I'm sorry ...
No, it's OK. He lived into his 89th year. He couldn't go on. It's just that simple.
Grateful. Happy for him and grateful that I knew him. He was a good man.
Not in the least. As he grew older his appreciation for our music grew though. He said he couldn't stand listening to anything else. But then one of the last times I played for him, he bade me stop as it was too loud for him.
Well, how did you get interested in “serious” music?
I can attribute it mostly to my mother, my first piano teacher, but actually it was a gift of some LP records I received from my grandparents that did it. I was about 10 and from then on, all I really wanted to accomplish for a long time was to become a great musician like the great composers were.
Lots of things, but mostly the culture was in the process of change, had changed anyway many years before I was born. I was only later to find out that six years before I was born, the last great piano concerto was written and also the last great violin concerto.
Who wrote them?
Bartók and Korngold.
You like Bartók?
More and more all the time.
Ever play any?
No. Some music you find you can play and enjoy while other music you just like to listen to, hear other people play it.
How about Brahms?
Oh, I played a few pieces, but mostly I prefer listening to others play Brahms. Trouble is, hardly anyone plays Brahms the way I would like to hear Brahms played.
How is that?
Powerful and with deep conviction, whether played loud or soft.
So what is a good Brahms performance?
Heifitz playing the violin concerto. None could do it better than he could. And Gilels playing the 2nd piano concerto. Hardly anyone did it better than he did.
How about your own music?
I recorded a realization, a set of pieces that I have begun transcribing into my fourth piano sonata. It will be a long piece, almost an hour long.
I haven't composed anything since 1996 because well let's face it, who cares? Serious, so called “classical” music is about seeking after something that the world at large no longer considers important at all; the search for beauty.
No, I see nothing like that anywhere anymore.
Well it does exist, it's just not out in the open and I don't really know whether it ever was. Perhaps it was always only the pursuit of the intensely sensitive among us.
So what brought this new burst on?
I came to some conclusions about music and my music in particular and decided that since the world at large only cares to use music as a backdrop for whatever passes for the inconsequential aspects of daily lives, that I would intentionally devise music intended to be played as background music.
Not getting it
...Well, if I could explain it any better I'd just say that the recording of my own music is the only music I have ever composed or realized that I actually enjoy listening to. I even imagine it's by someone else. The distance is sort of weirdly appreciated. That way, as I transcribe it, I actually think seriously about every note that was played and how best to render that in notation without changing anything fundamental that the music contained.
Is it about anything?
No, but it was written coincident with a visit to Seattle so I'm calling it A Seattle Sonata.
OK. So are you going to perform it when it's done?
Oh, I might. Or I'll send it to a few pianist friends and see whether they're interested. None of it is going to be really difficult either.
What style is it?
Oh, it has lots of different things in it, all stolen form somewhere I suppose from both pop as well as classical.
So what else are you doing?
Culling my library, selling books, trying to start an online business, some other things too.
You still blog your alternative money idea?
Who got you started on that?
A mentor of mine from the UK who died back in 2010. He advised me that if I wanted to help people everywhere all over the world, the best thing I could do would be to persuade them to start using other money than what they had in their wallets.
Is that so. Did he have any ideas?
No. But within a short time E. C. Riegel was brought to my attention and I realized that he had stumbled on the solution. It wasn't original with him. Arthur Kitson, another Englishman, had discovered it too.
So you didn't invent it?
Oh no, I just changed the basis for it from one kind of money to another kind of money. It's still basically an idea from Riegel and Kitson before him.
How's that going?
It's not going. Too few people are at my level of awareness of the problems with the present system. They still think reform is possible, etc.
It's sort of a scary idea probably to most people.
Is it any more scary than a third world war? Facts are, that the money and war are directly tied together. If you really want an end to war, you must distance yourself from their money and their system sooner or later and there is no alternative that is really directly from each of us rather than from them.
I know that politics is off your radar ...
No, not off my radar, I'm just more than ever convinced than nothing can be accomplished through the usual political channels. It's a waste of time.
What do you see ahead?
Nothing very good, unfortunately. You hear all this “avoid the negative” or “don't give the negative power” kinds of talk.
One can only abide so much of that kind of “wishful thinking” or “ignoring the obvious” before one recognizes that certain things and institutions even simply can't go on and will not go on as anyone has planned or foreseen.
You want sweetness and light? Go talk to some one whose cheery for no particular reason then. Most people seem to want that now and not much more.
But where is there hope?
In each of us, where it's been all along. It's just been syphoned off to meet the requirements of others, rather than ourselves.
E. C. Riegel again...So what would you tell all your musician friends right now?
I'm afraid so.
I'm afraid so.
If you want a future for yourselves, your families, your children and your grandchildren, etc. and if you value civilization as we have always known it at best of times, exemplified by our great music, then you must gain an understanding of this money issue, grasp it and spread your understanding far and wide and then rather than worrying about changing things through any political action, we decide to go our own way, by the tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands ...
Yeah, I get it. You aren't laughing as much as we used to.
Not much in the world is very funny right now.
OK, so where is the website?
It's simple: ecriegel.blogspot.com.
Anything else before we close this one?
It would serve to bring hope to a lot more people if they read my book The Linton Bequest.
It's available on Amazon as a kindle ready download, right?
Yeah and I purposely kept it as cheap as possible so as many could enjoy it.
OK then, well call me up again when you want another interview, OK?
Sure and thanks.