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The (old) Chopin Orange trick

Posted at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2008 by Fred Child (3 Comments)

Several recent stories about Chinese pianist Lang Lang have cited a particular youtube video to point out his irreverent, fun-loving character. The video shows Lang Lang goofing at the piano, coming close to playing a terrifically difficult Chopin Etude by running an orange over the keyboard.

Cute, clever, fun, yes. But not original. Here's an audio recording of the always entertaining Nicolas Slonimsky doing the same thing, from the terrific music and media library at Other Minds.

(Not sure who came up with the idea -- a comment on the Lang Lang youtube page says Slonimsky learned it from Arnold Schoenberg.)

Comments ( 3 )

Hello Fred,

Just listened to the marimba piece. There's something missing: *All* marimbas in Guatemala BUZZ. T here's a hole a few inches in diameter near the bottom of each resonating tube which is covered with a piece of pig's bladder, and it buzzes every time a note is struck. Marimbas in the US lack this essential component of the sound.

Salutations, David L

Posted by David Lewiston | August 7, 2008 6:22 PM

The YouTube page says Lang Lang learned it from Daniel Barenboim.

Slonimsky apparently also does the Tannhäuser Overture with a brush:


Posted by Mike Ernst | August 8, 2008 12:49 PM

David: you're so right! Yes, Valverde wrote his piece for Guatemalan marimbas, but of course...to get it played at a classical festival in the states, you have to make do with the marimbas on hand. So that "clean" sound of classical marimbas playing a piece meant to have the buzz of Guatemalan marimbas. (Reminds me of the way some classically trained vocalists sing jazz standards or spirituals...TOO clean.)


Posted by Fred | August 8, 2008 1:29 PM

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