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Passing of Award-Winning Feline Composer

Stock Photo, Flickr Creative Commons

The world of piano-playing cats lost an award-winning composer on Wednesday of last week when Ketzel (Yiddish for “cat”) passed away at the age of 19.

Ketzel, named in the book, The World of Women in Classical Music, “composed”  her masterpiece one morning in 1996 as she stepped across the keys of her human’s grand piano. Ketzel was no stranger to classical music — her human was none other than the late Morris Moshe Cotel, who retired as chairman of the composition department at Peabody Conservatory.

Cotel, struck by the structure of the tune, quickly transcribed it and set it aside. He only revisited the short piece in 1997 when he saw an announcement for Paris New Music Review’s one minute competition. The entry could be no longer than one minute…Ketzel’s musical number was just perfect!

Although, on the entry form, Cotel disclosed the paws that wrote the piece, the judges were not aware the composer’s feline identity. Her purrsona was soon revealed and she was bestowed a special award: “Piece for Piano, Four Paws.” Ketzel received a few royalty checks for her masterpiece, the first being made out to Ketzel Cotel, in the amount of $19.72.




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12 comments

  • July 21, 2011 10:26 amPosted 3 years ago
    Joyce Yoho

    I’m sorry. RIP. I wish there was a video of the music.

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      August 3, 2011 12:35 amPosted 3 years ago
      Elizabeth Jonca

      The New York Times article included an audio clip of Piano Piece, Four Paws. It’s amazing.

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    July 21, 2011 10:28 amPosted 3 years ago
    Diane Hall

    R.I.P. Kettle. >^..^<

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    July 21, 2011 10:29 amPosted 3 years ago
    Diane Hall

    Supposed to be KETZEL!!! (dang you autocorrect!!!)

    Reply
  • July 21, 2011 10:35 amPosted 3 years ago
    Alma Ramirez

    My deep condolences

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    July 21, 2011 10:54 amPosted 3 years ago
    Mary Funkhouser

    Very sad. :(

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    July 21, 2011 11:14 amPosted 3 years ago
    Roxy White

    *kitteh kisses* RIP babygirl :(

    Reply
  • July 21, 2011 11:16 amPosted 3 years ago
    Lisa Neff

    I wish there was a file to play her composition!

    Reply
  • July 21, 2011 11:20 amPosted 3 years ago
    Rosalinde Bonnett

    So sorry to hear this – always sad to lose a pet, especially at this age.

    Reply
  • July 21, 2011 12:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Life With Cats

    There is an audio file, Lisa.

    Reply
  • July 21, 2011 12:09 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Life With Cats

    The obit blog post in Monday’s NYT has the audio clip. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/a-musically-inclined-feline-mews-her-last/

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    July 22, 2011 2:05 amPosted 3 years ago
    Mary Whitmore Kuster

    Thank you for posting the above link.

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