Archive for March 4th, 2012

1994, March 4 – “RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES” AS TANGO

“He is the last of a dying breed and the first of a new one” is how one critic described Richard Grayson…he has been called a genius for his ability to improvise on the spot, in any melody, in any key, in any rhythm, in any style…it is said  J. S Bach was one of a very few musicians in history who had this ability…in fact, as Richard himself points out, in the Baroque and Renaissance period it was customary for classical musicians to learn to improvise; today that talent is most often associated with Jazz musicians…in fact tango dancing, which is strictly improvisational shares this tradition with them…Richard started studying piano when he was six years old and as a child he loved to just sit at the piano and improvise on the sounds that he was hearing and feeling…he was  a winner of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which enabled him to study with renown masters in Europe…

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He later received a Ph.D in composition from UCLA and taught until retirement at the Occidental College in Los Angeles…he became legendary for his unusual concerts where audience members would challenge him on the spot to improvise on a suggested theme….out of his copious compositions perhaps his two most popular are “Mr. 528″ and“Shoot the Piano Player”…Ride of the Valkyries occurs in the beginning of Act III of “Die Walkure”, the second of  Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”….”Valkyries” has been used in many films starting with W. D. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 and more recently in 1979 in Francis Ford Coppola’s, “Apocalypse Now” in the horrifying scene of  helicopters attacking a Vietnam Village …according to Guy Sajer, a German tank officer in World War II, in his book “A Forgotten Soldier”, “Valkyries” was played on their short wave radios before attempting a breakthrough in the “Battle of Memel” on the eastern front

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1959, March 3 – L. LEOCATA DEBUTS ON RADIO BELGRANO

With tears running down her face, clasping her favorite embroidered apron she looked out the window to the orchard she had planted and whispered, “it is a miracle, thank you heavenly father”…Luciano would recall that day vividly many years later…his father had just received a letter from the landlord’s representative; he had passed away and, in an act of deathbed generosity, had cancelled the debt on the house…to the children who played on those 70 meters on which his father had personally constructed the house, it seemed like such a large place; with tremendous personal sacrifice, he had bought that property for twenty-three pesos a month…Luciano Leocata was the third of four children to poor immigrants from Sicily which had settle in the neighborhood of Almagro in Buenos Aires…one evening, when he was thirteen years old, from a distant neighbor’s house, he heard an odd, new sound that captivated him; he found out later it was the bandoneon…

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He began taking lessons and he quickly exhausted his teachers’ ability to teach him…he began playing in the neighborhood cafes and bars for spare change…the news of the “kid” reached Juan Pedro Castillo who have him his first professional job; it was the beginning of a glorious career culminating in a 50 year collaboration with the Florindo Sassone Orchestra…it was in 1940, that the most important event of his life happened; he met a shy, unassuming Aida Emma Gagliardino, “I heard music like I had never heard before”, he would say…they married on January 16, 1943..in time this event would produce two daughters, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren…Luciano composed some of the most beloved tangos in history…His “Volvemos A Querernos”which he presented on Radio El Mundo had the distinction of being a hit simultaneously on two different radio stations, played by two different orchestras and sung by two different singers…his “Y Todavia Te Quiero” to our very day is one of the most revered tangos played in milongas all over the world; there were many others…

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