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New Program Offerings 2022 & 2023

Michael Arnowitt, pianist

Note: for a prettier, graphically designed version of the content of this webpage, please click here to view a pdf file of our new programs color brochure.


At the top here are one sentence descriptions of each of Michael Arnowitt’s current classical piano program offerings. If you click on any of these program title links, it will jump you to a medium-length description of that particular program. From there, if you wish to return to the list of programs, click on “Return to Top.” You can also scroll down the screen to read all the program descriptions as the text is all on this one page.

All of these programs are totally new, fresh creations presenting piano music Michael Arnowitt is currently most excited about. In many cases, further information on a particular program is available on a separate individual web-page (look for “learn more” links to these pages near each individual program description below).

Link to Jazz Programs page

Past programs may be available for performance upon request. A sampling of some of the more interesting programs from Michael Arnowitt’s career is at the bottom of this webpage.


Brief Description of Each Program and Quick Links

    Lively, colorful, and evocative music by Bach, Debussy, Ligeti, and the Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva
    Profound, highly personal and expressive pieces by Arthur Lourié, Victoria Poleva, Schoenberg, Debussy,
    and a piano transcription of the first movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony
Musical Landscapes
    This program centers outstanding recent music from the 1980’s to the present
    by Elliott Carter, Elisabeth Lutyens, Victoria Poleva, George Benjamin, Gyorgy Ligeti, and more
J.S. Bach’s Six Keyboard Partitas
    Complete performance of all six Bach masterworks
One hour short program
    Congenial program of Bach, Brahms, Ligeti, and Ginastera suitable for a noonhour or short Sunday afternoon concert
From East to West
    Influences on Western classical music from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Far East


Program descriptions and piece listings


Colorful, imaginative music by Bach, Debussy, Lutoslawski, the British composer George Benjamin, and a selection of the widely-praised piano études of Ligeti that have been among the most talked about classical compositions of recent decades. The featured music on the program are four pieces by the present-day Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva, whose absorbing music Michael Arnowitt is championing and trying to raise awareness of in North America. The pianist will also perform his Burana Bop, a jazz arrangement of musical material drawn from Carl Orff’s famous Carmina Burana, inspired by 13th century medieval secular poetry. Burana Bop has consistently received enthusiastic positive comments from audiences since its premiere in early 2021. Altogether, Kaleidoscope offers a lively concert experience that nicely balances serious and lighter fare with evocative music at turns enchanting, rambunctious, stirring, and joyful.

Learn more – click here to read a full program description
J.S. Bach ⋅ Selections from the 3-Part Sinfonias
    (F major, E minor, A major, D minor, G major, D major)
Claude Debussy ⋅ Selections from 12 Études (1915)
    Étude no. 11 Pour les arpèges composés
    Étude no. 6 Pour les huit doigts
    Étude no. 3 Pour les quartes
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Excerpt from the music to her ballet
    “Mirror, Dreams” (2021)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Lacrimosa and Music that is not yet,
    from Marginalia (1998-2008)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Witold Lutoslawski ⋅ Study for Piano no. 2 (1941)
George Benjamin ⋅ Selections from Piano Figures (2004)
    Spell - Knots - Alone - Hammers - Mosaic
Michael Arnowitt ⋅ Burana Bop (jazz improvisation based on
    music from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana)
Gyorgy Ligeti ⋅ Selections from Études for piano, Book 1 (1985)
    and Book 2 (1988-1994)
    Étude no. 2, Cordes à vide (Open strings)
    Étude no. 4, Fanfares
    Étude no. 5, Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
    Étude no. 10, Der Zauberlehrling (The sorcerer’s apprentice)

Encore: Michael Arnowitt ⋅ Bi Bim Bop
(a jazz fugue, mixing Bach and bebop jazz)

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Crossroads is a special program full of profound, highly personal and expressive pieces, music well-suited to Michael Arnowitt’s style. The centerpiece of the program is a piano transcription of the first movement of Mahler’s celebrated Ninth Symphony, universally recognized as one of the greatest symphony movements of all time, expressing Mahler’s feelings on the earth, nature, and death. Highlights of the program include the recent pieces Ischia Island and Sonata “quasi una fantasia” by the Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva, whose emotionally moving and deeply spiritual music Michael Arnowitt greatly admires and is trying to raise appreciation of in Canada and the United States. Also featured is a set of the wonderfully creative piano pieces of the early 20th century composer Arthur Lourié, whose forgotten music has only just been receiving attention from performers in the last few years. The program is rounded out with shorter pieces by Bach, Schoenberg, and Debussy.

Learn more – click here to read a full program description, including what Alban Berg wrote about Mahler’s Ninth Symphony
J.S. Bach ⋅ My Favorite Fugues, four selections from
    The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2
Claude Debussy ⋅ Étude no. 3, Pour les quartes (1915)
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Ischia Island (2019) and
    Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Arthur Lourié ⋅ Mazurka op. 7 no. 1 (1912), Intermezzo (1928),
    and Marche from Quatre pièces (1927)
Arnold Schoenberg ⋅ Piano Piece op. 11 no. 1
    and Six Small Piano Pieces op. 19
Gustav Mahler ⋅ Andante comodo, first movement from
    Symphony no. 9, transcribed for piano by Iain Farrington

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Musical Landscapes

Musical Landscapes presents a cornucopia of pieces Michael Arnowitt has been currently fascinated with, spotlighting both some of the finest solo piano pieces of recent decades and some important works of the early 20th century that foreshadowed the music of the past 100 years. Two British composers are highlighted on the program: The Nature of Water (1981) by Elisabeth Lutyens, a provocative, outspoken composer with a larger-than-life personality best known for her film scores, and George Benjamin’s Piano Figures (2004) which has enchanting, highly creative depictions of knots, hammers, a mosaic, and more. Elliott Carter’s exciting 2006 Caténaires (Cables) has become one of the hottest pieces of new music of our time. Composed at the astounding age of 98, it presents a super-fast single note line, a whirlwind that flies through the different regions of the piano in quicksilver fashion. The Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva is represented by her Sonata “quasi una fantasia” (2011), a dramatic and spiritual work of great emotional depth. A special feature of the program is a set of five études by the Hungarian-born composer Gyorgy Ligeti, wonderfully imaginative and widely-praised pieces that have become instant classics of our times since their publication in the 1990’s. Shorter works on the program include pieces by Bach, Schoenberg, four of Dennis Bathory-Kitsz’s Landscape Preludes (2002), based on the color and density content of Vermont autumn photographs, and a sampling of pieces by Arthur Lourié, one of the most interesting forgotten composers of the 20th century.

Learn more – click here to read a full program description, including a quote from Victoria Poleva about composing
J.S. Bach ⋅ My Favorite Fugues, selections from
    The Well-Tempered Clavier and The Art of the Fugue
Arnold Schoenberg ⋅ Six Small Piano Pieces op. 19 and
    Piano Piece op. 23 no. 3
Victoria Poleva ⋅ Sonata no. 2 “quasi una fantasia” (2011)
Elliott Carter ⋅ Caténaires, no. 2 from
    Two Thoughts About the Piano (2006)
Gyorgy Ligeti ⋅ Selections from Études for piano, Book 1 (1985)
    and Book 2 (1988-1994)
    Étude no. 2, Cordes ŕ vide (Open strings)
    Étude no. 3, Touches bloquées (Blocked keys)
    Étude no. 4, Fanfares
    Étude no. 5, Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow)
    Étude no. 10, Der Zauberlehrling (The sorcerer’s apprentice)
George Benjamin ⋅ Selections from Piano Figures (2004)
    Spell - Knots - Alone - Hammers - Mosaic
Dennis Bathory-Kitsz ⋅ no. 11, 20, 14, and 2 from
    Tirkiinistra: Landscape Preludes (2002)
Elisabeth Lutyens ⋅ La Natura dell’Acqua
    (The nature of water, 1981)
Arthur Lourié ⋅ Selected pieces
    Mazurka, op. 7 no. 1 (1912)
    Intermezzo (1928)
    Upmann – A “Smoking Sketch” (1917)
    A Phoenix Park Nocturne (1938)
    Marche from Quatre pièces (1927)

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J.S. Bach’s Six Keyboard Partitas

Bach said on the title page of his publication of the six partitas, “composed for music-lovers, to refresh their spirits.” His six partitas are particularly cherished by pianists as topline pieces universally regarded as among Bach’s very best compositions for keyboard. The partitas take as their starting point old dance traditions from different countries of Europe. Bach created musical shapes evocative of not just the arm and leg motions of these dances, but more generally of many aspects of everyday living: walking, running, even the act of thinking and countless human emotions are touched on in these extraordinary pieces. The true achievement of these partitas is how Bach magically transforms these shapes far beyond background music for dance to the pure, spiritual, joyful, and lively music of his own unique soundworld that is some of the most satisfying music ever created.

Michael Arnowitt has throughout his career been gradually learning all six of Bach’s partitas, and he is very excited to be ready now to present the complete set in performance. These partitas, which will also be the music of his next piano recording, each have their own distinct personality and character and are surprisingly different from each other. After a lifetime of reflecting on Bach, gaining insights and developing musically, Michael Arnowitt offers this program of Bach partitas as a wonderful opportunity for audiences to hear the pianist perform live these remarkable and unique masterpieces.

Learn more – click here to read about Michael Arnowitt’s accomplishments as a Bach performer

J.S. Bach ⋅ Six Partitas
    Partita no. 1 in B-flat major
    Partita no. 2 in C minor
    Partita no. 3 in A minor
    Partita no. 4 in D major
    Partita no. 5 in G major
    Partita no. 6 in E minor

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One hour short concert

The program opens with a half-dozen of Bach’s miniature 3-Part Sinfonias, companion pieces in 3-part counterpoint to Bach’s more familiar 2-Part Inventions that have been learned by generations of piano students for 200 years. Bach’s Sinfonias are delightful jewels, the music evoking a range of moods at turns spirited, good-humored, lyrical, mysterious, and joyful. The major work on the program is Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, transcribed for piano from the original orchestral version by Michael Arnowitt. Based on a cheerful melody known as the St. Antoni Chorale, the wide-ranging adventures Brahms takes us on makes this his greatest composition in the theme and variations form. The Hungarian-born composer Gyorgy Ligeti, in the final decades of his life, wrote three books of piano etudes Michael Arnowitt regards as the best piano pieces of the last fifty years. He will perform Open Strings, Rainbow, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, showcasing the amazing imagination and creativity of these pieces full of beautiful new piano sounds and textures. The program closes with the rousing finale of Alberto Ginastera’s dynamic Piano Sonata no. 1, based on folk music influences from the pampas region of Ginastera’s native Argentina. Altogether, this program of lively, colorful music should make for a congenial time together enjoyable to all.


J.S. Bach ⋅ Selections from the 3-Part Sinfonias
    (F major, E minor, A major, D minor, G major, D major)
Johannes Brahms ⋅ Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Gyorgy Ligeti ⋅ Open Strings, Rainbow, and
    The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Alberto Ginastera ⋅ Finale from Piano Sonata no. 1, op. 22 (1952)

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From East to West

From East to West explores the influence on Western classical composition of the music of eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and southeast Asia. The program includes many pieces by great composers of the past, including Mozart’s well-known “Rondo alla turca,” music by Gustav Mahler based on 8th century Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty, and Debussy’s “Pagodas,” influenced by his experience seeing a gamelan group from Java at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. The program also presents several intriguing and colorful pieces from recent decades, including Peter Feuchtwanger’s “Tariqa 1,” which offers an amazingly realistic evocation of the meditative, mesmeric sounds of the santur, an Iranian dulcimer, and Fazil Say’s “Black Earth,” based on a song for saz, a Turkish lute. The East’s influence on the West in the area of spirituality is featured in Alexander Scriabin’s powerful “Black Mass” Sonata, music strongly affected by Scriabin’s knowledge of Eastern views on mysticism. The program also reveals the flip side of the coin, how the West has influenced the East, through pieces from Japan and China as well as the charming jazz-influenced classical music of the Russian pianist-composer Nikolai Kapustin. Michael Arnowitt is half-Korean, and discovered his mother’s uncle was a leading pianist, conductor, and composer in Korea in the mid-20th century. Like the program’s title, Michael Arnowitt is himself a mixture of East and West.

Learn more – click here to read a full program description
Peter Feuchtwanger ⋅ Study no. 4 in an Eastern Idiom,
    Tariqa 1 (1982)
W.A. Mozart ⋅ Rondo alla turca (1778)
Claude Debussy ⋅ Pagodas, from Prints (1903)
Alexander Scriabin ⋅ Sonata no. 9 “Black Mass,”
    op. 68 (1912-1913)
Toru Takemitsu ⋅ Rain Tree Sketch (1982)
Gustav Mahler ⋅ The Lonely One in Autumn, from
    The Song of the Earth (1908-1909),
    transcribed for piano by Michael Arnowitt
Fazil Say ⋅ Black Earth (1997)
Excerpt from Chinese opera ⋅ Red Lake (transcribed for piano)
Nikolai Kapustin ⋅ Preludes 3 and 13 from 24 Preludes
    in Jazz Style, and Scherzo from Sonata no. 2 (1989)

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Selected past programs

Water Music
    An intriguing multi-media performance combining music, photographs, and writings about water, our planet’s most essential element
Beethoven & Arnowitt VIII
    The last of eight installments in Michael Arnowitt’s Beethoven sonata cycle, featuring Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas
    op. 109, 110, and 111, universally regarded as among the most spiritual and transcendent music of all time
“If Music Be the Food of Love...”
    Music about food, intended to be performed as a special multi-sensory event with the simultaneous serving
    to the audience of tastes of the particular food dishes that inspired the composers
    7 fascinating pieces all written in the single year 1911, a crossroads time between the old and the new,
    with music by Bartok, Rachmaninov, Ives, Ravel, Scriabin, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky
    A program originally created for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for their special exhibit “When Art Danced with Music:
    Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes,” featuring music by Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Ives, Ornstein, Scriabin, Satie,
    and the complete Part 1, The Adoration of the Earth, from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, transcribed for piano by Michael Arnowitt
The Composer’s Menagerie
    A program of music about animals by great composers, suitable for adults or for a children’s concert


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