Sunday, August 28, 2016


My long-time blog followers have seen these videos. Just be polite and pretend that you didn't.
This for for all the new victims of my blog who haven't seen them.

There are issues with these videos:

I was a professional pianist in California when I was in my early twenties.
These videos were made in San Angelo, Texas - over 25 years later, when I was over the hill and out of practice.

I used an El Cheapo camcorder propped up on a bookshelf. The video quality is extremely poor. And the mic was much too close to the piano, resulting in a loud, harsh tone.

Other than that, everything is perfect.

Make sure your volume is turned down slightly - I'm not joking

Clair de Lune 
by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

I never think of "moonlight" when performing this piece. It was originally titled Promenade Sentimentale, which I think is much more appropriate.

Some critics don't like my interpretation of this piece. That's nothing. I don't like some of my critics. 

Music from the opera Turandot
by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Piano transcription by Jon V.

I wrote this piano "transcription" when I was an eighteen-year-old music student in Los Angeles, and I still like it. If I'm drunk enough, it can throw a mean punch.

It starts out kind of "slow". Be patient. It will get better.

The video quality is so poor that it's embarrassing, and the day I recorded this (in Texas) it was over 110 degrees.

Be kind with your caustic comments - - I'm extremely delicate and sensitive....



  1. Over the hill and out of practice ... hardly. You are naturally gifted and there's no denying that. Bravo. I applaud you !

  2. I remember these Jon ... and I'm happy you re-posted them.
    Now I hadn't noticed your fingers before, but it appears you absolutely define the term, 'pianist's hands.' (There's a compliment in there somewhere ...)

  3. First time for me.
    You are always honest so I'll be honest too.

  4. You're extremely sweet and sensitive, but can throw a mean punch. Hmmmmm. My bullshit meter is hitting 100. I turned the sound UP so that Joe and I could both listen. Clair de lune is one of my favorites, as it is for most people. BUT the best part was watching you, Jon. I recently picked up my guitar, bought new strings, tuned it, and prepared myself to take off....only to reali2e I had forgotten how to make a simple B chord. Among others. Emotionally disastrous, isn't it.

  5. Me again.I have found the e mail address you gave me (thought I had lost it)so have written.

  6. Both pieces are lovely, and it was a joy to watch you play. You are a very talented man. Clair de lune was always a favorite piece, but is now poignantly tied for me to the Challenger explosion in 1986. I can't hear it without thinking of those men and women. And the Nessun Dorma aria gives me goose bumps every time, your beautiful playing included. Thank you!

  7. I love these. Music never dies. Are you entertaining the notion of making some new ones?

  8. I didn't know about Claire de Lune's original title, though feel I ought to have done. Consequently I've tended to judge interpretations of it on how much they succeed in evoking the visual sensation of moonlight. Now that I know, I can see/hear the justification for your own pianistic interpretation, which will now put a different slant on my future hearings.
    It was one of the pieces I was getting to know to play for the first time (after so many years!) when Mr Nasty moved in downstairs and put my entire playing programme on hold, and where it's been ever since.

    I've only got to really appreciate Puccini in the last twenty years or so. I was brought up on the attitude, so prevalent in the 50s and 60s, that he was just too 'light' to be considered seriously. How erroneous that was. True, it's music to 'drown' oneself in like just about no other composer - and there's nothing wrong about that. Nowadays, given the chance, I'd far rather attend or listen to a Puccini opera (virtually any of them) than one by Verdi, even Wagner - and even Mozart (with all those blasted recitatives, which to my ears, only serve to devalue the rest!).
    Your arrangement of Turandot music here is most impressive. It holds the ear and mind as prisoners.

    Btw: Have you played, or do you play Scott Joplin? I love, or used to love, playing his rags, marches and other stuff, and have had great fun with them.

    1. 'ClairE' indeed! My excuse is that one of my nieces is called Claire.

    2. Ray, in my biased opinion I've always thought too many pianists are unnecessarily "delicate" and slow when they play "Clair de Lune" - trying to evoke scented visions of moonlight. I don't see it that way - but, then, I've always been far removed from the crowd.

      Funny that you should mention Scott Joplin! I loved his music for a long time - - long before it became popular from the movie "The Sting". I have recorded nearly ALL of Joplin's rags on cassette tape. As cruel fate would have it - my Joplin tapes were among the things the movers "lost" when I came to Tennessee.
      I did find one tape that I recorded of the "Peachtree Rag" but the other thirty or so are missing....

      I agree with you - Joplin's music is a lot of fun to play.

    3. Even if Joplin's pieces are hard - and so much if it is rather difficult, at least for me, I often seem to find a smile appearing on my face as I play. Happy music, Jon, happy music!

    4. Actually, I meant to say "Peachirine Rag", not "Peachtree".

    5. Yes, it's in my book of his 'complete ragtime solos' so I must give it a trial burst when I get the chance.
      Btw: In this volume his 'Maple Leaf Rag' is in what is for me is the most difficult of keys to play fast, Ab. I don't know if it's just me but I find it such an unwieldy key to play in rapidly, must be something to do with the lay of the notes vis-a-vis the natural spread of fingers. I suppose this must be the key he wrote it in. When I first got to know it some 30 or more years ago it had been (presumably) transposed down a semitone - much easier, of course. And it's one of his best rags too, in my opinion.

  9. Hi Jon, I found your blog from Ron @ Retired in Delaware. I always wish I learned to play the piano, I guess it's never too late to learn, almost. I always like Debussy's piece Clair de Lune when I came across it on You Tube a few years back. The style you play it is very unique, in a good way of course.

    1. Hi, Randy - you caught me at a rare moment, since I seldom post videos of my piano music. It's definitely never too late to learn to play, but I'm glad I learned when I was ten because I wouldn't have the patience to do it now!
      Thanks for the visit, and I hope you'll return.

  10. I sure enjoyed these videos, Jon, and am glad you posted them again.

  11. I have no clue what a transcription is, but I loved both of these. You have heart and drama in your hands. :)

    1. My transcription was merely extracting a few random tunes from the opera and sloppily pasting them together in a piano arrangement.

      If that makes sense, I'll be surprised.


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