Happy Monday.

The US general election ends tomorrow with the final day of in person voting. It has been a very long slog, made to feel even longer by the restrictions and difficulties related to the virus. One of the few things that seems to have helped so many of us during this era of stress is music. Hence the Dranoff Music Mondays and Breath of Music programs. I hope you have liked receiving them, and that they accomplished what we had hoped they would – a bit of connection and a bit of calm. 

Because of this moment, we thought it would be enjoyable to look at music that is connected with leaders of our past. With all the myths and facts, stories and reportings swirling around those personalities, we tend to forget that they might have also have had personal passions that reflect their humanity. 
Vote. Stay safe. Be kind to yourself.


Gabriele Fiorentino 
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation
Piano Slam

Georg Friedrich Händel: Sonatas for flute and harpsichord 
Jean-Pierre Rampal, Robert Veyron-Lacroix
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The existence of these United States sprang from the disavowal of the British rule, represented by a  king detested by many, with its hated policies and laws. This king was George III, who had to deal with a disease not understood at the time, and with mental health issues that today would be identified as bipolar disorder.  What may not be so widely known is that for King George III as well as for Queen Charlotte, music was of the greatest importance. 
His taste for the music of Handel was resolute and in his later years he would often recall with pride Handel's words, 'while that boy lives, my music will never want a protector'.  And in 1764, an eight-year-old Mozart played for the king and queen. He subsequently dedicated six sonatas for the harpsichord with violin or flute accompaniment to the queen. 
Like Charlotte, the king was proficient on the harpsichord as well as the pianoforte and the flute. Playing the flute in particular must have been a consoling occupation for the king as he often played to himself during recovery of his illnesses. 

El cant dels ocells 
Pablo Casals
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The 35th President John F Kennedy entertained many artists in the White House as a means of expressing his interest in promoting the arts. So strong was the magnet that very public arguments arose in the culture community about who got to play in the JFK White House first.  When word got out that Pablo Casals had been chosen for that prestigious honor, Igor Stravinsky publicly denounced that decision.  He did not perform, but he was honored with a special dinner at the White House a few months later. 
The great cellist performed this traditional Catalan Christmas song and lullaby at the White House on November 1961.

Nixon in China, an opera by John Adams. Act 1, Scene 1.
Premiere in 1987 at the Houston Grand Opera
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Richard Nixon, the 37th US President, was an amateur classical pianist and performed for friends and talk show hosts during his first term in office. Nixon may be the most written about president of his time. What often gets relegated to the dusty corners of our recollection is that he acknowledged the vitality of developing wide appreciation of the arts and the humanities. He vastly increased federal funding for both in part to find ways to deal with the societal rifts of his time. 

In 1972 Nixon visited China to open communication and trade with the largest communist country.  This groundbreaking visit is the theme of American composer John Adams’ first Opera Nixon in China which premiered in 1987 at the Houston grand opera in a production by Peter Sellers with choreography by Mark Morris.

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