Conversation Pieces, Vol 2.

Released: 31 August 2018

I have been composing piano music since I was six. My first piece was “Let’s Go to the Bakery,” which, unfortunately, was written a few months too late for me to have played it at Woodstock. Conversation Pieces is a compilation of some of my favorite pieces from the last few decades. So that I could share more of these “highlights” with you, I have edited most of the pieces.

CD Artwork

Liner Notes

  1. Shades of Blue (edited): This piece was written as a gift for my friends, Jean and Flip Connell, and inspired particularly by Jean’s grace and selflessness as she faced her final illness. The name reflects their tremendous love for the University of Michigan.
  2. Strings: This piece was inspired by a novel of the same name by Liz Maxwell. The protagonist of the book is a violinist who battles depression.
  3. Nocturne for Violin and Piano: Sunset at Birchview (edited): This piece was dedicated to our friends, Claus and Wenche Borgnakke, whose vacation home has a fantastic view of the sunset over Lake Michigan.
  4. Dear TICS (edited): I started composing this lively piece early on a Saturday morning, a little too early for my wife, who had not yet had finished her first morning cup of coffee. Karen looked at me rather mournfully and asked: “Dear, must you play That Inordinately Chipper Song?”
  5. China Patterns (edited): Hoping to bring some spontaneity and freshness, I improvised this piece at the recording studio.
  6. Summer in Sylvania: This piece was composed in my hometown of Sylvania, Ohio while I was on summer vacation from college.
  7. A Minor Indiscretion (edited): This is a blues piece in A minor, partly written in advance and partly improvised in the recording studio.
  8. Un Boceta de España (edited): This “Sketch of Spain” was composed in 2011.
  9. Rumination (edited): There is universal agreement among philosophers that deep thinking must always be done in D minor. If it leads eventually to a cognitive breakthrough, that breakthrough may be in F major.
  10. The Chasing Music: When my children were younger, they enjoyed chasing each other in loops around the downstairs of our home. My job was to provide the “chasing music.”
  11. The Innocent Sleep (edited): This is a slow-paced tribute to the therapeutic value of sleep that was so eloquently described by Shakespeare in Macbeth: “chief nourisher in life’s feast”
  1. Slower Neighborhood Squirrels: Even the slower squirrels can get going pretty quickly! This ragtime piece with a silly title is dedicated to my terrific sister, Anita, who has a great sense of humor in addition to her many other fine qualities.
  2. Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano No. 2: Saku’s Smile: This is an updated version of a piece composed to celebrate the birth of my niece, Saku Yoshioka.
  3. The Silver Shovel (edited): “The Silver Shovel” is a prized teaching award at the University of Michigan Medical School. It is given out each year by the Galens Medical Society to one member of the faculty, who gets to keep the shovel for one year and then presents it to the next winner. In 2007, I wrote a song about it in which I described some interesting and unusual ways one might employ the shovel during that year. I only had enough space left on this collection to include the final chorus!
  4. Letters from an Antique Land: This is an improvised pair of very short pieces, each one deliberately simple and unstructured, languid and peaceful.
  5. Clouds of Glory (edited): This piece was written in 2007 to celebrate the life of Mary Helen Hertzfeld. The title is a phrase from William Wordsworth’s poem, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.”
  6. A Dance with Karen (edited): This piece was written in 2002 for my beautiful wife in honor of the many evenings we have spent together dancing at the Grand Hotel Ballroom on Mackinac Island.
  7. Redemption: This emotional song was written in 2009 for someone close to me who had been going through a rough time.
  8. Mowtown Blues: One Saturday in 2008, in need of something to do, I decided to challenge myself and to see if I could write an entertaining song about a boring topic. Then, I looked out the window!