Piano Improvisation Series

Writings About Music

Maria Improvisation

This is a piano improvisation from December 8, 2017, based upon the song, Maria, by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, combined with related Indian ragas. There was some extra time left during a meruvina recording session, and even though I don't own a piano or keyboard, I have been playing about once a month at a friend's house the past year or so, and thought it would be fun to do this. It even occurred to me that some who may have difficulty relating to my music for meruvina might appreciate hearing me play a recognizable instrument with recognizable material. After preparing this recording for online listening on YouTube - there was no editing or overdubbing made to my spontaneous performance - I went shopping at Whole Foods, and was breezily stunned to notice the unusually friendly checkout clerk's name on her lapel as I went to pay: Maria.

Michael Robinson - piano (piano score available by request)

David Amram sent these thoughts about Maria Improvisation:

"Just sending you a quick note to thank you for this REALLY OUTSTANDING piece of music. It is truly original and makes you want to LISTEN!! I enjoyed it and all those ragas intertwined with Lenny’s use of the tritone are very moving and like the Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune, it has its own category."

Here are three of my essays related to Leonard Bernstein, who I was fortunate to meet and have classes with at Tanglewood, in addition to attending his rehearsals and performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra interpreting Mahler and Shostakovich.

Leonard Altman had invited me to study at Tanglewood immediately after playing for him my very first compositions, Promenade des Tortues and Spring Rains, on the Steinway piano in his Greenwich Village apartment.

East West Side Story


Lee and Leonard

Summer Streams, from the Trembling Flowers album, originally conceived for string quartet, was composed in memory of Leonard Bernstein when I learned of his passing in 1990.

Here is Summer Streams, added today, August 25, 2018, his 100th birthday.


- Michael Robinson, December 2017, Los Angeles (addition August 2018)


© 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).