The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music review: Native son Eric Daub’s fine piano recital at Farley’s reunites family and friends

July 22, 2010
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

I attended two special events this week where music was advertised as the main point, the focal point or pretext, if you will. But music was not by any means the only meaning to be drawn from the two events.

Music, in short, possesses a special power to bring people together, as these two events demonstrated so vividly.

Today, I will blog about the first one, a family and friends event. Tomorrow, I will write about the second one, an inter-generational event that brought together young and old.

The first one took place Sunday’s night at Farley House of Pianos on Madison far west side. Farley’s sponsors some very fine piano recitals, which I will write about at length another time and which Renee Farley (below), wife of owner Tim Farley, explained before the concert.

On this occasion, the event was a recital by Eric Daub (below), a professor at Texas Lutheran University who grew up in Madison and received his bachelor’s degree in piano from the UW-Madison School of Music, where he studied under Tait Barrows and Leo Stephens.

His recital, play on Farley’s historic restored 1877 Steinway “centennial” concert grand (below) – which has scrolled woodwork and even has iron bass strings (not the copper used today) that affect the softness of the tone – featured a combination of Austro-Germanic Romanticism and softer, more sensual Spanish and Latin American music.

Daub was articulate and personable in speaking about himself and offering prefatory remarks about the program.

The contrasts worked terrifically. Each half was a kind of fusion concert.

The first half featured Beethoven’s “Variations on a Theme in C Minor” and a number of extremely appealing bitter-sweet and poignant miniatures by the 20th century Spanish-Catalan composer Federico Mompou. (Daub did his doctoral thesis at the University of Texas –Austin on Mompou.)

The second half featured Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, Op. 143, a difficult and very Beethovenian work, plus the folk-infused suite  “Andalucia” by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. (His “Malaguena” was a dramatic staple of piano students when I was learning to play decades ago. But we rarely played it with the subtlety and musicality that Daub brought to it.)

And then as an encore, it all came together when Daub, who teaches music theory and performs jazz, improvised on a tune by jazz giant Chick Correa.

But as enjoyable as the music was, the real joy I saw was people making contact and reuniting.

After all, Daub left Madison 25 years ago – so this recital was the return of a native son, who, even before the concert mingled with the audience and greeted people. One had even come from Singapore to attend his friend’s concert.

This concert was a chance for him and his family and friends to get together and meet his wife and prize-winning flutist daughter, both of whom came with him to Madison.

Indeed, Farley’s has a cultivated approach to offering concerts. It always throws in a very light post-concert reception with wine, tasty dips and excellent bread, fruit kabobs plus lots of conversation.

The reception room is all done is a very appropriate atmosphere  — discarded piano parts and old posters line the walls (below). The atmosphere usually offers great informality — Daub changed from his formal tux into a T-shirt and shorts — and sociability.


It was there that family members lined up for several friends who wanted to take a photo (below: the daughter, the wife, Eric Daub, his mother, his father Ed Daub (a retired UW professor) and his brother).

It was there that Daub’s boyhood friend, outgoing Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, who took his piano-paying daughter to meet his fellow 1976 West high school classmate and graduate.

The music and performance were memorable enough.

But the real pleasure was seeing how people gathered around the music and the musician.

Music, too, is food — fine nourishment that sustains friendship and family.

Little wonder, then, that music generates almost universal appeal and admiration as well as a desire to make it.

Music may indeed be the greatest of human languages — and an invaluable social bond, don’t you think?


Posted in Classical music

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