Harmoniumist, Pianist, Pianolist, Antique Keyboard Instrumentalist, MIDI Editor, and Author
I’m involved in a wide range of musical endeavors centering on the piano, harmonium, harpsichord and pianola. My goal has been to discover, perform and present worthy, unusual music from the past and present.
I expanded my performance range beyond the modern piano by acquiring a number of antique and vintage keyboards, including European and American harmoniums, an 1823 English square piano, an 1863 Steinway square, a 1912 upright player piano, and several vintage toy pianos. All of my instruments are fully restored and I’ve played on them in NYC concert venues as well in hundreds of YouTube video performances.
In 2020 I was honored that Friends of the Erben Organ went forward — despite the pandemic — to present a virtual concert (in collaboration with organist Jared Lamenzo) that featured my performance on my 1903 Mustel Art Harmonium and my 1887 Mason & Hamlin Liszt Organ.
Recorded at Old St. Patricks in Soho, NYC, it’s online and can be seen at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/organharmoniumconcert
I’m currently producing on a weekly basis a wide range of video performances and educational tutorials that showcase my antique instruments and new music by living composers for the modern piano.
Before the pandemic, I performed on harmonium in Switzerland and Italy and with the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center, the NYC-based Riverside Symphony, the Princeton Chamber Players, Cantata Profana, and in numerous solo and chamber concerts in the NYC metro area.
I’ve commissioned a number of composers to write new music for my harmoniums. These include Carson Cooman, Rachel Laurin, Thomas Parente, Leonardo Ciampa, and Dr. Paul T. Kwami. Others who have written works for me include Balazs Szabo and Dina Pruzhansky. In 2020, I jointly commissioned with the Friends of the Erben Organ a new work by Carson Cooman playable on both my Mustel harmonium and on the historic Erben Organ at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Soho, NYC. Several can be heard at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist? list=PL8-JSJNIy-tIa-tJ_GaVU2n3LD5OVGcNl
In 2011 I founded MELODEON, a chamber group for presenting little-known 19th C. American music. The main collaborators were singers soprano Marti Newland Slaten and baritone George Spitzer.
Dozens of live performance videos taken from our concerts are viewable at: https:// www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8-JSJNIy-tLMwJqC3oaNlvXfXoKBEULM
Commercial CDs and Print Publications
My best-known work resulted from a National Endowment Grant I was awarded for study of Gershwin’s piano rolls. Beginning with the release of “Gershwin Plays Gershwin The Piano Rolls” on the Nonesuch label, a succession of CD recordings followed related to the Gershwin era pianists and piano roll artists: on the Nonesuch label, Volume II of Gershwin roll selections, Jelly Roll Morton piano rolls, and on Warner Classics my “Zez Confrey, Piano Rolls,” and “Scores”. These recordings used the Yamaha Disklavier and my 88-note pianola vorsetzer from 1911, and the emergent MIDI-editing programs of the 1990s.
I produced the 5-Volume Pearl CD set, “Keyboard Wizards of the Gershwin Era” which featured landmark 78 rpm disc recordings of significant Gershwin composer/pianist contemporaries.
In 2015 Raven CDs released “Arthur Bird: Music for the American Harmonium” which I recorded on my restored 1918 Mason & Hamlin Normal Harmonium.
As a pianist, I was featured in Michael McNabb’s ground-breaking electro-acoustic work, “Invisible Cities” on the Wergo label.
M transcriptions of piano roll and 78 rpm recordings of George Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton are published by Alfred and Hal Leonard.
Oxford University Press published my essay, “Tracing Gershwin’s Piano Rolls”, and is available along with other of my print publications, including my doctoral dissertation at: https://www.academia.edu/12889586/Tracing_Gershwins_Piano_Rolls
My first piano teacher was Ludmilla Berkwic, a Russian pianist born in 1904 and a classmate of Vladimir Horowitz at the Kiev Conservatory. The other major influence was studied during my late teens with the American pianist, George Pappastavrou who was involved in the Ives and the early music revivals of the 1960s-70s. Subsequently, I completed a Bachelor of Music in Piano at the Manhattan School of Music, a Master of Music in Piano from Yale, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance Practice at Stanford University.
My work occupies most of my time, but I enjoy riding my 1970s Raleigh 3-speed bicycle and foraging through thrift shops, where you never know what you might find.
Contacting Artis Wodehouse
Email at: [email protected]