Frank Levin's San Francisco Souvenirs is one of the largest collections of music ever composed by one person to celebrate the city in all it's diversity: 26 tracks and 72 minutes of piano vignettes dedicated to San Francisco's sights, districts and citizens.
The music is as diverse as the city that inspired it. From the "Pier 39 Rag" and nostalgic "Windmills of Golden Gate Park" to the soulful "Third Street Blues," folksy "Russians of the Richmond," romantic "North Beach Nights," impressionistic "Bay Sailboats," baroque "At the Columbarium," elegiac "Farewell for Rosa," contemporary classical "Lullaby for Kevin," oriental "Irving Street Rhapsody," popular "Melody in C for Glen Lee," and jazzy "Party Time in SoMa," the stylistic and emotional influences range from Bach to Bernstein.
The music composed by Frank Levin over two decades is beautifully performed by Scott Pratt, a concert pianist who teaches at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is President of the San Francisco Branch of The Music Teachers Association of California.
This CD is a heartfelt tribute to the city that both the composer and pianist clearly love. Anyone who has ever admired, visited or lived in The City by the Bay will appreciate San Francisco Souvenirs.
Additional information about Frank Levin, including soundclips from other CDs and rare recordings of his songs; his sheet music, fake books, artwork, photos, practicing hints and much more may be found on Levin's website, www.franklevincomposer.com.
Scott Pratt may be reached at email@example.com.
Because of the popularity of the "San Francisco Souvenir" selections on my CD of piano music, Morning to Midnight, I decided to devote a new CD entirely to music about San Francisco. Some selections like "The West Portal Street Fair" come from my original collection but were not previously recorded. Others like "The Golden Gate to the Sea" and "Pier 39 Rag" are piano arrangements of songs I wrote at the same time as the original pieces. Many are new including "May in the Mission" and "Bay to Breakers." "North Beach Nights" is built around a musical fragment composed by the great Italian opera composer, Pietro Mascagni. Other selections including "A Farewell for Rosa" and "Lullaby for Kevin" were inspired by San Francisco friends. "For Dusty" is a memorial piece for my pet cat.
The twenty-six tracks are divided into four suites which may be listened to independently or together in sequence. The first suite generally has the most popular influences. Suites two and three are more classical in focus, and suite four is the most contemporary.
"PIER 39 RAG" is a piano arrangement of a jingle I composed with Jim Heisterkamp for the opening of that attraction.
"THE GOLDEN GATE TO THE SEA" is an arrangement of a song I composed with Dennis Goza. The song commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the famous bridge.
COCKTAILS ATOP OF THE HYATT is a piece I wrote for Gloria Cooper, a fine cocktail pianist who used to perform at the Hyatt on Union Square.
THIRD STREET BLUES was inspired by the traditional Negro spiritual and portrays this largely African-American, and often neglected, part of the city.
COMEDY IN THE PARK is a musical mime show named after that annual, summer afternoon of buffoonery in Golden Gate Park.
FOR AXEL was written for AXEL HSU, a talented, young San Francisco pianist I worked with briefly. He continued his studies throughout his university years, becoming both an accomplished soloist and chamber music performer. He now practices medicine in Hong Kong.
AT THE COLUMBARIUM, the visitor slowly climbs the burial vault's baroque rotunda and pauses in reflection before the niche containing the urn holding his loved one's ashes.
THE WEST PORTAL STREET FAIR is a lively rag written for the fair, one of many such events held annually in the various neighborhoods of San Francisco.
BAY TO BREAKERS celebrates the yearly, springtime run across the City from San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The event attracts over fifty thousand fun seekers and serious competitors. The middle section is a brief song of joy at having surmounted the gruelling Hayes Street Hill, and the music ends with a mad dash to the finish line.
MAY IN THE MISSION portrays a lazy May afternoon with The District's colorful Latino culture in mind. The main theme is patterned after Mexican folk music with some added tango rhythms, and the middle section, like the Mission District, is filled with energy.
THE STATELY VICTORIANS OF PACIFIC HEIGHTS are evoked through the image of an elderly, formally-dressed couple dancing slowly to a 19th Century waltz.
THE RUSSIANS OF THE RICHMOND has a Russian folk song character and celebrates the dynamic population of new Russian immigrants that live in this district.
MEGA-HIT AT THE METREON characterizes a typical action thriller at the state-of-the-art downtown Cineplex.
A FAREWELL FOR ROSA was written as a memorial for a dear San Francisco friend and piano teacher, Rosa Cutler. It incorporates music that is reminiscent of both her Jewish heritage and the counterpoint of Bach, whose music she so admired.
KITES ON THE MARINA GREEN soar and dance in the breeze high above the Marina District.
THE WINDMILLS OF GOLDEN GATE PARK is a nostalgic work honoring these graceful landmarks of a bygone era.
AT THE CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC where I studied, a student practices and practices and practices.
NORTH BEACH NIGHTS spotlights the traditional Italian district and is based on a beautiful fragment for piano the great Italian opera composer, Pietro Mascagni, composed in honor of San Francisco during his visit in 1903.
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE OPERA presents the final scene of an imaginary grand opera at the magnificently-restored War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. As the lovers sing of their undying devotion, tragedy fatefully intervenes.
MELODY IN C FOR GLEN LEE was written for one of my piano students and features the big chords he enjoys.
THE BLACK AND WHITE BALL celebrates the San Francisco Symphony's annual black-tie fundraiser with music modeled on the elegant and sophisticated Strauss Waltzes.
IRVING STREET RHAPSODY focuses on the bustling, largely Asian section of the street west of 19th Avenue, filled with produce markets, restaurants, shops of every description and noisy bumper-to bumper traffic. In the midst of all the activity, a young couple enjoy a romantic moment together.
LULLABY FOR KEVIN was written to commemorate the birth of a San Francisco friend's son. The opening two-note motif that occurs throughout the piece is a musical representation of the boy's name.
BAY SAILBOATS was inspired by Debussy's En Bateau and has a decidedly impressionistic atmosphere.
FOR DUSTY was composed for my beloved cat, Dusty, a long-haired grey male with beautiful owl eyes and loving temperament. He was found as a stray in The Excelsior District and his passing after a lengthy illness inspired this dark music of grief, anger, consolation and ultimately acceptance.
PARTY TIME IN SOMA is brash and frenetic, like the hip-and-happening South of Market Street district that attracts a late-night partying crowd.
This CD is gratefully dedicated to my late parents, Ben and Shirley Levin, who always supported me in pursuing my dreams, and to the wonderful people and city of San Francisco who inspired it.
At the request of several reviewers of my CD, San Francisco Souvenirs, I have prepared the following list to help focus on the music that would be of most personal interest since the stylistic influences are so varied:
1. Baroque: tracks 7,14
2. Classical: tracks 10,11,12,15,16,17,18,19,21,24,25
3. Ragtime: tracks 1,6,8
4. Pop and Blues: tracks 2,3,4,5,13,20,26
5. 20th Century: tracks 9,22,23,24
REVIEWS FORWARDED TO THE COMPOSER
If you think this is going to be new age drivel, think again, for Mr. Levin is a composer skilled in creating music of a popular nature, some of it in a classical style, that we might call a potpourri of crossover. On this disk arranged around a San Francisco theme you will hear rags, ever so smooth cocktail piano, moody ballads and a few extended pieces that are more ambitious. Pier 39 Rag will bring a smile to your face, A Farewell to Rosa Cutler is a sensitive and moving elegy, Kites on the Marina Green opens like the sun from behind a cloud and The Windmills of Golden Gate Park is a charming piece I would be proud to have my students perform in recital. The playing of Scott Pratt, President of the San Francisco County Branch of The Music Teacher's Association of California is a testament to the high standards we so publically endorse. Lyn Bronson, Music Reviewer, for The California Music Teacher Magazine.
Wonderful, full of passion, nostalgia and intelligence....overall there is a true emotional sincerity. Marjan Mozetich, Canadian Composer of the award-winning "Postcards from the Sky."
Glad to see you are still turning out these winners. I loved the wistful "Windmills,"the raggy "West Portal Street Fair,"and the California Orientalism of "Irving Street Rhapsody." Kirke Mechem, Composer
Third Street Blues is one of my favorites. It celebrates in a quiet way the African American area of San Francisco, less well known than Pier 39, Union Square, or Golden Gate Park. Eric Friesen, Host, CBC Radio's Studio Sparks
About the CD, what a gem! While I've only been to San Fran.
once, this lovely city was remarkable. It's easy to see why you were so influenced to put pen to staff paper and bring about these gracious and truly divine pieces. Mary Palmer, Music Director, High Plains Public Radio.
I played your CD of San Francisco Souvenirs and was mesmerized by your music It put me in a totally relaxed mind-set. Amazing! Phyllis Sherman, Editor, West of Twin Peaks Observer
I listened to your music and had the loveliest time in the afternoon sun doing a few chores with the music on. It is such a mystery how you can write such!! Kate Potter, Host of the TV Yoga Show, Namaste
Very impressive, and not surprised at how wonderful it is. I'm not even jealous that you got all the talent in the family! Ruth Richlen, (My Cousin) and School Teacher
Congratulations on your wonderful CD. Chris Papalias, Software Designer
I like it even better than the first CD and I really loved that one. Esther Harding, Social Worker
I like the more full-bodied sound as compared to your Morning to Midnight CD. Bill Harmer, Retired Civil Servant
I especially loved the more classical 2nd and 3rd Suites. Scott plays your pieces wonderfully. Shari Levinger, Classical Vocalist and Piano Teacher
Nice pieces. I enjoyed them. Tony Rogers, Software Designer
One problem you don't have is distinguishing your own sound. Irving Street Rhapsody is lovely. Eric Milstein, Propery Manager
I love your album! Betty Fisher, Greeting Card Designer and Visual Artist
Congratulations on your new CD. Kwan Wang, San Francisco PTA and Education Fund Volunteer
Good luck with your new CD. Pam Catlett, Registered Nurse
Number one for me is Lullaby for Kevin; I found it quite emotional. How perfectly you have captured my own feelings! And it is the absolutely perfect way to lead into my number two favorite, Bay Sailboats. Rob Saunders, florist
Your San Francisco Souvenirs is absolutely a most pleasurable listening experience. You should be very gratified with this recording accomplishment. Steven Carnine, High School Teacher
Thank you for your electronic company. David Proserpi, Financial Analyst
Congratulations on San Francisco Souvenirs! It's a great and varied collection of very deftly written pieces. Scott did a great job. I'm not sure if I have a favorite, but A Farewell for Rosa and Irving Street Rhapsody would be two contenders. Adam Domash, Composer, Concert Pianist and Recording Engineer for the project
My favorite is For Dusty; my wife enjoys dancing around the kitchen to the West Portal Street Fair. Tom Keylon, retired Sheet Metal Worker and Pianist
I love your CD. I listened to it on the way home from work and was lulled by your music. Lois Kathnelson, Employment Counselor
Congratulations on the wonderful review of your CD, San Francisco Souvenirs in the Spring 2007 edition of The California Music Teachers Magazine. Esther Chan, Concert Pianist and Piano Teacher