Music lovers, get your calendars ready! Your local Northport Symphony Orchestra will be performing a free concert on Friday, November 20, 2015, at 8 p.m. at Northport High School. The program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in its entirety (and yes I am thoroughly enjoying playing flute in it!), the J.S. Bach Clavier Concerto in d minor, featuring local Steinway artist Carol Montparker and the Long Island premiere of James Cohn’s piece, Homage. Take time out from holiday cooking and shopping to come hear what will certainly be a very exciting concert.

To help you get in the spirit, the Long Island Flute Club presents “Silvery Sounds of the Season”,  a series of two free concerts by the Long Island Flute Club Holiday Flute Choir, The first will be Saturday, December 5, 2015, at 3 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Lake Ronkonkoma, 792 Hawkins Avenue, Lake Grove, NY. There will be a freewill offering to benefit charity. The same concert will be repeated on Sunday, December 6, 2015, at 1 p.m. at the Red Ballroom, in Old Westbury Gardens, Westbury, NY. Admission to this concert is free with a paid admission to the Gardens.

Our Library has recently acquired a couple of new music-related books which I myself can’t wait to read. The 2014 book Classical Music in a Changing Culture: Essays from The American Record Guide, was written by Donald Vroon, editor of The American Record Guide since 1987. The Guide, founded in 1935, is America’s oldest classical music review magazine. Vroon addresses topics which we should all be concerned about as classical music lovers: marketing and image, orchestra finances, attracting young crowds, the future of classical music, is the Internet the end of records, and more. Osseily Hanna, the author of the 2015 book Music and Coexistence: A Journey Across the World in Search of Musicians Making a Difference, began violin lessons at the age of eight. He played with the North London Symphony Orchestra and  gave up his successful career in financial markets to develop this book. He explores the world of musicians who compose and perform with their enemies or in extraordinary social situations. For example, Hanna describes Heartbeat, a group of Israeli and Palestinian youth who compose, record and perform music together. His book is considered both study and travelogue.

Our Did You Know? for today highlights the English composer, Benjamin Britten, whose birthday was November 22, 1913. He died December 4, 1976. Britten began composing at the age of five or six. He was very interested in childhood and children. Perhaps due to this interest, he composed his well known and educational piece: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1946). His operas Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951) are standard works in the opera repertoire. He was commissioned to write War Requiem (1962) for the re-consecreation of Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed in WWII. War Requiem is often considered to be the highlight of Britten’s works. It was written to include choruses, soloists, chamber orchestra and full orchestra. According to the San Francisco Classical Voice: “the soloists for the 1962 premiere performance of War Requiem were the British tenor Peter Pears (Britten’s life partner), the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. Their collaboration represented a reconciliation of opposing nationalities from WWII.”

Hope to see you at one of the upcoming concerts! “Stay tuned to The Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life!”

E. Susman, November 13, 2015



“I’m lucky to have had both music and being a Marine in my short life time so far. MusiCorps is the best therapy you could have.” –a severely wounded U.S. Veteran

November brings us to an important day we should all observe: Veterans Day. In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The U.S. Congress officially amended the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954. As a musician in various music groups, I always get misty when we play patriotic/military music. So when my husband, being the great educator that he is by always reading, learning and passing along interesting news stories, pointed out a wonderful story about the organization called MusiCorps, I had to share it here in my music blog. To quote the Wall Street Journal, it is “A revolutionary program to help war veterans adjust to postwar life.” MusiCorps is a music rehabilitation program that helps wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center to play music and “recover their lives.”  Recovery from the injuries suffered by so many of our wounded warriors is often long and extremely difficult. Post traumatic stress disorders, traumatic brain injuries as well as loss of multiple limbs are common and change lives of the military personnel as well as their families dramatically. MusiCorps helps in their recovery and adjustment to new lives. Arthur Bloom, a composer/pianist began MusicCorps when he visited a soldier recovering at Walter Reed. The soldier was concerned he would never be able to play drums again because he had lost a leg in a roadside bomb. So began the program which helps any wounded soldier who wants to learn or relearn how to play music. Take a look at the program and prepare to be moved:  MusiCorps. Especially make a point to view the videos. Thank you to all our veterans for your service and sacrifices.

Stay tuned to The Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life!

E. Susman


“In my world, history comes down to language and art. No one cares much about what battles were fought, who won them and who lost them–unless there is a painting, a play, a song or a poem that speaks of the event.” — Theodore Bikel

Growing up in a musical household, we listened to, attended and watched many concerts, musicals and operas together. I have memories of listening to one of my favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, with Theodore Bikel. The world said good-bye to him on July 21, 2015, at the age of 91, but thanks to your library and technology, his movies, songs and books will live on for generations to enjoy. Why not check out some of the movies that helped make him famous? Try: The African Queen (DVD), See You in the Morning (DVD), My Fair Lady (DVD), The Russians are Coming (DVD) or The Defiant Ones (DVD). The original Broadway cast recording of the Sound of Music with Theodore Bikel is available as a music CD through Interlibrary Loan. His autobiography was updated in 2014 and is available through Interlibrary Loan also as is the Songs of the Earth, a CD of folk songs sung by Bikel, originally released in 1968.

Our Did You Know? of today is about a Baroque composer who was also a lawyer and worked in public service: Benedetto Marcello. I chose Marcello in part since he also passed away in July, on July 24, 1739, of tuberculosis. He was only 53 when he died, but had composed quite a repertoire of various genres, including a number of lovely flute sonatas, vocal and organ works (oratorios, songs, sacred works), a variety of chamber music and pieces for harspsichord. Marcello’s brother, Alessandro Marcello, was also a notable composer. They were born into a noble family and because of that, Benedetto’s marriage to his singing student in a secret ceremony was unlawful and declared null by the state after his death.

Fall is fast approaching. How about curling up with a good book over these last few weeks of summer; combine your love of music with a good read? Here are some suggestions: Hot Ice by Gregg Loomis is a murder mystery combining an assassin who is a classical music lover with his job in the intelligence community; La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith, the popular author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, is set in 1939, with a divorcee fleeing World War II London and organizing an amateur orchestra. The healing powers of friendship and music make this a sure book to enjoy! A very new book, The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya, portrays a young classical pianist torn between her country, Azerbaijan, and the West. Paganini’s Ghost is another mystery surrounding an art dealer who is found dead in his hotel room the day after a concert. This book by Paul Adam, is available from our Library as an audiobook on CD or as a printed book through Interlibrary Loan.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and remember to “Stay tuned to The Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life.”

E. Susman, August 3, 2015


“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes

We are in the dog days of summer and hopefully you have had a chance to take your own music bath by attending local summer concerts. See the last Quarter Notes Blog for venues on Long Island to attend. Our very own Northport Community Band started their summer season July 2 with a full crowd in attendance at the beautiful Northport Harbor Park Robert W. Krueger Band Stand. Be sure to come down each Thursday in July with your chairs, blankets and picnic dinners.  Downbeat is at 8:30 p.m. for your musical bath. You will not be disappointed!

Summer is a good time to curl up with a good book but also to continue learning musical terms you might not be familiar with. In a prior Quarter Notes post, I shared a few with you. Here are a few more thanks to The Naxos Website: The World’s Leading Classical Music Group:

mesto:  (Italian: sad) used in directions to performers to indicate the mood. The slow movement of the Horn Trio by Brahms is marked “Adagio mesto”

nonet: a composition for nine performers

ondes Martenot: an electronic instrument invented by French musician Maurice Martenot which produces single sounds via a keyboard that controls the frequencies from an oscillator. It became popular among French composers including Milhaud, Honegger, Ibert, Messiaen and Boulez, among others.

passacaglia: a baroque dance variation form on a short melodic formula usually occurring in the bass. A famous example of a passacaglia is Johann Sebastian Bach’s C minor Passacaglia for the organ.

quadrille: one of the most popular ballroom dances of the 19th century, generally in a brisk duple meter. Click on the term to find a DVD which includes the quadrille from Die Fledermaus, performed by Andre Rieu and his orchestra in a live performance from Vienna. Come to the Library and check it out!

quodlibet: (Latin: what you please) is a light-hearted composition generally containing a combination of well known tunes. An example may be found in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, where the composer combines the theme of the variations with two popular songs of the time.

Our Did You Know? composer for today,  Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, was born this month on July 26, in 1791 and died July 29, 1844 from stomach cancer. Hopefully you recognize the name: he was the last of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s six children. Only two, both sons, survived infancy. Franz’ father died before Franz was six months old. He started his first piano lessons when he was five years old. One of his teachers later on was Antonio Salieri who stated the boy had “rare talent”  and predicted a career “not inferior to that of his celebrated father”. Franz, who was always called Wolfgang by his parents learned to play both the piano and violin, composed mainly chamber music and a few orchestral works, including two piano concertos. The following epitaph was etched on his tombstone: ‘May the name of his father be his epitaph, as his veneration for him was the essence of his life.’ Watch our Library’s catalog for a CD of the second piano concerto of Franz Mozart which we are ordering!

Expand your musical repertoire and come to the Library for a wonderful Friday Night Concert on July 24 at 7 p.m. The centennial birthday of ‘Ol Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, will be celebrated by the musical group Two Guys. Tickets are limited to 2 per cardholder and are going fast, so come in soon to get yours to hear your favorite songs performed.

Enjoy and remember “Stay tuned to the Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life.”

E. Susman, July 10, 2015


“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”

–Maria Augusta von Trapp

Thank you to all of you loyal Quarter Notes Blog followers! Again, I have had to suspend posting due to a recent project I have been working on: the Veterans Testimonial Project. If any of you are veterans or know of veterans from our local Half Hollow Hills Community, please have them call me at the Library. We have been interviewing U.S. veterans and recording their military experiences. This is in collaboration with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, which has continually helped and supported me as I embarked on our Project. Our first annual reception for the participating veterans was held May 9, 2015 and what a moving and emotional event it was. Over 125 people attended with family members of all ages, high school students, and local politicians adding to the celebration. We had five bagpipers from the Nassau County Fire Pipes and Drum Corps welcome the attendees by playing military tunes as people arrived. Local high school students sang the Star Spangled Banner. One of the highlights of the afternoon was the playing of taps by a World War II Army Air Corps veteran from East Northport, Long Island. William J. Thomas, Jr., or “Blackey” as he is known, honored us with the playing of taps on his cornet at the end of the program. Blackey has played taps every day in his army uniform since he left the service in the 1940s. It was a wonderful and meaningful culmination of the program, as we honored our veterans. Check out the pictures of the festivities on our Half Hollow Hills Community Library’s website, under Veterans. You may also view some of the interviews of the vets at the same link.

But, are you surprised, that music was such a large part of our celebration? I have written here in the past about music helping people to celebrate, cope, enjoy, remember, and honor. I incorporated it throughout our veterans’ reception in May. Take a look at this link of an American World War II veteran as he shares his story of playing the trumpet for a German sniper. The powers of music never cease to amaze!

The summer band season is soon upon us. Don’t forget to stop by the beautiful local settings available to you on Long Island: the Northport Community Band concerts at lovely Northport Harbor begin July 2, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. and continue through July 30th. Please come up to the bandshell to say hi! You can find me in the front row flute section. Remember: rain at 8 no date! Next door at the Huntington Hecksher Park , you’ll find the Huntington Community Band performing every Wednesday in July at 8:30 p.m. on the Chapin Rainbow Stage in the park.

Our Did You Know? for today is on a recent birthday boy, Italian Baroque composer, Claudio Monteverdi, born May 15, 1567 in Cremona Italy and died November 29, 1643 in Venice. Monteverdi published his first collection of sacred songs at the age of 15. He is known for his operas and madrigals; he published 8 books of madrigals and a ninth was published after his death. His operas include one of the most important operas of the early 17th century: Orfeo, as well as The Return of Ulysses to His Homeland and The Coronation of Poppea. According to the San Francisco Classical Voice,  the most famous part of Poppea, a duet between Nero and Poppea in the last scene, was actually composed by someone else. Unfortunately, many of Monteverdi‘s compositions are lost, including more than 10 stage works and much sacred music.

Enjoy and remember “Stay tuned to the Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life.”

E. Susman, June 3, 2015

Happy Music

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaity to life and to everything.”–Plato

Plato, of course, was so right. Hope you enjoy reading about and hearing two different forms of what I call ‘happy music’, the first in honor of our Irish friends for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. Each year, my husband and I try to schedule trips to my hometown of Syracuse, NY to visit with my childhood friends and see either a Syracuse University football or basketball game. A few weeks ago we travelled to Syracuse for a weekend which was especially exciting. My longest friend, I refuse to say ‘oldest’ (since I was in the 2nd grade!), her husband and we love to catch up and meet at their (and now our!) favorite Irish Pub, Kitty Hoynes, which we did. My husband was so looking forward to it because his very favorite Celtic band was scheduled to play the same night we were having dinner there with our friends. The band is called Searson and is made up of outstanding musicians: Celtic fiddler, Colleen Searson, her sister, Erin,  on piano and vocals, plus a drummer and guitar player. All I could think of as we enjoyed the music was how happy it made us all in the pub; maybe the good beer had something to do with it too? Searson played with such wonderful energy, one song after another, with few and quick breaks. Each one composed by themselves. You may wonder why I include this experience in a classical music blog. Well, because Searson’s fiddle player was classically trained. You HAVE to check them out on their website. I know you will smile and start tapping your feet or clapping your hands to this very happy music. It’s unavoidable, even without the beer in hand! One more wonderful Celtic group that I just HAVE to share is Natalie MacMaster and her husband Donnell Leahy. We recently heard them live at SUNY Stony Brook here on Long Island, for the second time. Their incredibly talented young children played fiddle along with them, danced and sang. It was a night to remember. Take a look at Natalie’s website and then be on the look out for them as they tour the world. Maybe they’ll be near you. It’s a wonderful concert.

The Library has a number of Celtic recordings which you might enjoy after wetting your appetite with Searson and MacMaster. Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, try getting out of your strictly classical music, comfort zone, as I did and listen to some very Happy Music: Celtic Grace (by Aureole), Songs from the Heart or Believe (both by Celtic Woman), Voyage (by Celtic Thunder), Haunting Slow Airs from Ireland (by Kieran Fahy), The Celtic Album (Boston Pops Orchestra), to name a few.

You may not understand how a group called The Holocaust Survivors Band is included in this post of ‘happy music’. When you click on the link, you’ll see why. Klezmer music is one of my favorites because it brings home thoughts of my family’s heritage. This  Klezmer Band is amazing. PLEASE take a moment to read the article on them and listen to the brief videos. I know it’ll bring a smile to your day and quite possibly more tapping feet! As the article says “music is catharsis”, and this is one of the best examples of it. Until The Holocaust Survivors Band comes out with a CD, try checking these out at our Library: Klezmer Fiddle (DVD), My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs (CD), Songs of Our Fathers CD), or read about Klezmer in The Book of Klezmer: the History, the Music, the Folklore by Yale Strom or Klezmer!: Jewish Music From Old World to Our World by Henry Sapoznik.

Our Did You Know? for today is about Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), one of the most prolific composers of the German Baroque. His birthday is March 14, so I felt it apropos to share some interesting information about him. There didn’t seem to be any instrument Telemann couldn’t play: by the age of 12 he had taught himself three instruments. By 1712, he advertised himself as being able to play the violin, organ, harpsichord, recorder, chalumeau (early clarinet), cello, and calchedon (lute), as well as being an accomplished baritone singer. In 1714, he married the 16-year-old daughter of the city clerk in Frankfurt. They had eight sons and one daughter. Just listen to some of his works on the following CDs which you may check out at the Library and I guarantee you’ll be enchanted:  Wind Concertos, Die Ouvert uren Tafelmusik, and Concerto in A minor for recorder, viola, strings, and continuo. There are plenty more at the Library!

Enjoy and remember  “Stay tuned to the Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life!”

E. Susman, March 14, 2015

A Valentine for You!

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone about their area of expertise? It’s very interesting: be it architect, teacher, engineer, computer tech, physician, dentist, printer, seamstress, the list is endless. Each one has their own language that they use naturally.  As they try to make the information understandable to the layman they’re talking to, it can’t always be done. Every subject in the world has it’s own vocabulary. Music is no different. A number of times, my husband has asked me questions after a performance. I begin to explain using terms that come naturally to any musician, then I realize from his blank stare that I need to back up and explain in more “layman’s” terms, especially when he’ll say “I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

So this post is a little Valentine’s gift to you of musical terms which you may not have heard of or if so, might not remember what they mean. Most of the following are taken from The Naxos Website: The World’s Leading Classical Music Group:

aubade: a morning song. A well known example of the Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner

cassation: of disputed origin and used principally in the 18th century in Southern Germany to describe a piece of music akin to a divertimento or serenade

giocoso: Italian for jocular, cheerful; sometimes found as part of a tempo instruction as in allegro giocoso, fast and cheerful

heldentenor: a tenor with a quality of voice suited to the heroic roles of 19th century French Grand Opera and of the music-dramas of Wagner, as in the part of Tannhauser, Wagner’s opera of that name

jota: a traditional Spanish dance, as in the Russian composer,  Glinka’s,  orchestral piece, Jota aragonesa

loure: a French dance of the 17th and 18th centuries, the name derived from a bagpipe used in Normandy. The dance is usually in 6/4 time and has been described as a slow gigue, as in Bach’s E major Partita for unaccompanied violin and in the fifth of his French Suites

If you enjoy learning less well known musical terms like these, please let me know by commenting on the blog and we’ll continue with more in my next post.

With all the cold snowy days we have had recently, you might like to add some exciting concert dates to look forward to on your spring calendar. The Library is hosting an exciting flute recital on March 22, 2015, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. You will hear winners of the annual Long Island Flute Club Competition perform. Come and be amazed at the young talent that’s out there! On Friday, May 8, 2015, at 8 p.m., at the Northport High School, the Northport Symphony Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 40  (this recording is by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra) as well as other classical favorites. Angela Wee, a high school senior, will be the featured soloist on violin. Both concerts are free of course.

Be on the look out for a new book that the Library has on order: The History of Music in Fifty Instruments, by Philip Wilkinson. This guide includes very interesting information for the full range of orchestral instruments, including the synthesizer, the instrument-makers, the composers who wrote for the instruments and the virtuoso musicians who played them. My only complaint with it is that a person who plays the flute (as in Moi!), is referred to as a “Flautist”. People who know me, know I,  as well as better known flutists, such as James Galway, much prefer “Flutist” be used. It is in fact, more generally acceptable by most. After all, we play the FLUTE not the FLAUTE!!

Many well known composers were born in February: Fritz Kreisler, 2/2/1875; Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, 2/3/1809; Alban Berg, 2/9/1885; Michael Praetorius, 2/15/1571, Arcangelo Corelli, 2/17/1653, Luigi Boccherini, 2/19/1742; Andres Segovia, 2/21/1893; George Frideric Handel, 2/23/1685; and Anton Reicha, 2/26/1770, to name just a few.

So our Do You Know? is about birthday boy Felix Mendelssohn (-Bartholdy) (1809-1847), born into the Jewish faith.  The parenthesis around Bartholdy are intentional: in 1816, Mendelssohn and his siblings were secretly baptized as Protestants and his parents converted to Christianity in 1822, adding “Bartholdy” to the family name. This, most likely, was due to renewed anti-Semitism in Germany at the time, as German nationalism was spreading. Mendelssohn’s grandfather was the famous philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn. A child prodigy, Mendelssohn performed as a pianist, organist, and conductor, giving his first public performance at the age of 9. Robert Schumann called Mendelssohn “The Mozart of the Nineteenth Century”. For those of us who love his symphonies, I found it interesting to learn that his five symphonies are numbered by their order of publication, not composition. The real order is: Symphony in C Minor, 1824 (No. 1), “Reformation” Symphony, 1830 (No. 5), “Italian” Symphony, 1833 (No. 4), “Lobgesang” (Hymn of Praise), 1840 (No. 2) and “Scottish”, 1842 (No. 3). His music melds influences from both the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy his Complete String Quartets, performed in this recording by the Emerson String Quartet or his well known Octet op. 20 for Strings performed by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Actually, the Octet may be found on both recordings I just listed. Why not treat yourself to checking them both out and compare the performances of both of these very acclaimed groups? One more suggestion especially during these winter months: snuggle up with a musical fiction book: Mendelssohn Is On the Roof by Jiri Weill (translated from the Czech by Marie Winn). It’s considered a ‘Holocaust novel’.

Hope you have a warm, happy and above all, musical, Valentine’s Day!

“Stay tuned to the Quarter Notes Blog and in tune with all the music in your life!”

E. Susman, February 2015