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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