Category Archives: music

Landscaping for Privacy: May 30 in Eve Beglarian’s a book of days

OK, let’s drive, let’s tour the hydrangeas
And the lawns. What could be more suggestive
Than a grassy mattress?

—Linda Norton

We have no hydrangea blooms in our yard as of yet, but the rhododendrons were peak this week. Then, by lucky happenstance on a fine spring day, after driving INTO New York City while others were escaping for more pastoral environs, we ran across Eve Beglarian‘s delicate setting of a Linda Norton poem, “Landscaping for Privacy.”

Beglarian wrote of the piece:

Landscaping for Privacy was written in August-September 1995 for twisted tutu (Kathleen Supové, keyboards and Eve Beglarian, vocals) while we were in residence at the Bellagio Center in Italy under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation. The poem is by Linda Norton. The keyboard part was written to be played using the arpeggiator function of a synth keyboard, sort of like a new convertible with an automatic transmission. I tried to capture the fragile elation urban types feel at driving out of the city on a beautiful Saturday morning in spring. [cite]

The poem begins like this:

The hedges along the parkway, the trees, the trees–
They sashay, they nearly genuflect, they breathe.
It’s good to breathe; it’s good to get away in summer,
It makes you feel clean. [cite]

And some favorite lines of mine are these:

And I forget,
What do people do with themselves in the suburbs?
The streets are empty, the lawns unused. If I lived here,
I’d spread out, I’d hang a hammock, I’d keep sheep,
I’d dig a well. I’d build hummocks to my own
Specs, I’d be positively pastoral.

But you’re right, of course. Of course, you’re right.
I couldn’t keep sheep, there’s probably an ordinance,
They’d shoot me for ruining property values. [cite]

The setting is part of Beglarian’s ongoing project, “a book of days.” She writes:

The twelve calendar pages . . . are links to the structure I have created for a long-term project I conceived in 2001, a book of days of text/music/visuals, one for each day of the year.

I think of these pieces as “mulling over” pieces, made in the spirit of commonplace books, collections of found thought that please me, and of medieval books of days. The pieces generally begin from found text for which I write music, and some are then illuminated (by video rather than medieval miniatures.)

I think I’ve unwittingly been working on this project pretty much since I first started writing music in the early 80’s. My hope is that over time, you will be able to experience this book of days not only as a quotidian and seasonal cycle, but also as a record of one life lived over how ever many years I end up being granted. [cite]

To sign up to receive “a book of days” in your inbox, click here. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Happy end of May.

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Listening List

Landscaping for Privacy, Eve Beglarian (1995)

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Credits: With thanks to Eve Beglarian for her kind permission to post the music and text. The photographs, such as they are, are mine.

Trolling the Heilbrunn Timeline: A Goldsmith in His Shop

Petrus Christus, A Goldsmith in His Shop (1449)

On returning from Italy, I decided it was high time I supplemented my scant knowledge of medieval and Renaissance art, so I gathered up a few books* on the subject. After reading said books, it occurred to me that a Renaissance art vacation extender might be available at the Metropolitan Museum, so I looked up the Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. I’d forgotten, if I really ever knew, what a rich resource this is, and trolling around the Medieval/Renaissance sections proved a time sink of the best sort. I picked out a few artworks to visit in person next time I could. Here’s one of those I visited yesterday. Continue reading

When in Rome: Final Days, Part 1 of 2

View from Janiculum Hill

We settled on a new strategy for our final two days in Rome. We were again “based” in Trastevere. This time our plan was to explore only more-or-less immediate neighborhoods in an effort to minimize time spent in the logistics of finding our way around. The strategy worked better than we had any right to expect. With a minimum of time spent getting lost, we discovered a trove of Roman treasures most of which would likely not have made it to a short-term visitor “must see” list. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Spoleto, Part 1

Spoleto Duomo bell tower

Chiesa San Gregorio Maggiore bell tower

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, we decided on Spoleto as the base for a week in Umbria. We found what looked to be (and was indeed) a comfortable, reasonably-priced apartment with lots of light and even a terrace with a view. The owners, British expats Norma and Laurie, were bursting with excellent information and, where needed, gratefully appreciated assistance in getting around. But it was more than that: they truly made us feel we’d arrived at a home away from home. Continue reading