Variations for 2 Pianos by Morton Gould
Performance by the Dranoff Competition winners, Dominique Morel & Douglas Nemish

As Loretta Dranoff began putting together the foundation of Dranoff 2 Piano, she had three goals: discover young artists, commission great composers, and promote her field of two piano music.
She grew up in New York City, studied with the great teacher Clarence Adler (whose father was Richard Adler of “Damn Yankees” fame ) and knew everyone in the classical music world. People found her vision and Loretta herself irresistible. But she did not do it alone.

Let me introduce you to two people who became part of the DNA of the Dranoff: Martin and Janet Bookspan. Marty was the greatest classical broadcaster of all time, and Janet, his beloved, gorgeous muse, was one of the top vocal coaches from the Manhattan School to the Metropolitan Opera. Marty Bookspan was for over 60 years the voice of Lincoln Center, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a top announcer on daytime television and the only broadcaster to be inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame.

Loretta and Murray Dranoff met the Bookspans in New York at the height of their performance career.  Marty arranged a booking on television and the Dranoffs became the first piano duo to appear on TV. Their friendship expanded and their professional connections became deeper. When Loretta dreamed up the Dranoff 2 Piano Competition after her husband’s death, the Bookspans became her connection to the top composers she wanted to engage to expand the two piano repertoire.

The very first was Morton Gould. Loretta had admired Gould since she was a teenager playing his unpublished music under the guidance of her teacher. From classical movies to Broadway shows, Morton Gould was at the top of the American composition scene. Martin Bookspan was a colleague, including serving as chair of  the classical department of ASCAP, where Morton Gould was president. And so  - the connection was made.

Today we feature the very first commission for Dranoff 2 PianoFoundation. We will also be follow the evolution of Loretta’s vision and work, making other people part of the creative process and including popular culture across genres. This rich and innovative collaborative performance tradition led to the inception in 2004 of our performance and education program PIANO SLAM.

Each year, PIANO SLAM uses one of the Dranoff commissions as a theme for teenagers to write poetry about the role of music in their lives. Morton Gould’s Two Pianos was the theme of PIANO SLAM 4. I am adding links not only to the performance by Katherine Beltres of her winning poem of the 2012 writing competition; I also share a poem by Morton Gould's great friend and contemporary Nobel laureate, Joseph Brodsky.

I hope you'll enjoy the music and the poetry.


Gabriele Fiorentino 
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation
Piano Slam

Citizens of the Music, a poem written and performed by Katherine Beltres
PIANO SLAM 4 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, May 2012. Link

Six Years Later 

So long had life together been that now
the second of January fell again
on Tuesday, making her astonished brow
lift like a windshield wiper in the rain,
   so that her misty sadness cleared, and showed
   a cloudless distance waiting up the road.

So long had life together been that once
the snow began to fall, it seemed unending;
that, lest the flakes should make her eyelids wince,
I'd shield them with my hand, and they, pretending
   not to believe that cherishing of eyes,
   would beat against my palm like butterflies.

So alien had all novelty become
that sleep's entanglements would put to shame
whatever depths the analysts might plumb;
that when my lips blew out the candle flame,
   her lips, fluttering from my shoulder, sought
   to join my own, without another thought.

So long had life together been that all
that tattered brood of papered roses went,
and a whole birch grove grew upon the wall,
and we had money, by some accident,
   and tonguelike on the sea, for thirty days,
   the sunset threatened Turkey with its blaze.

So long had life together been without
books, chairs, utensils—only that ancient bed—
that the triangle, before it came about,
had been a perpendicular, the head
   of some acquaintance hovering above
   two points which had been coalesced by love.

So long had life together been that she
and I, with our joint shadows, had composed
a double door, a door which, even if we
were lost in work or sleep, was always closed:
   somehow its halves were split and we went right
   through them into the future, into night.


Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation | Website |||| PIANO SLAM | Website