Usually something grabs my attention, something intrigues me, and I don’t really know what it is. The sketch or the painting is an inquiry into that.
I write here to make a brief record of “things seen” in the past week. There was far too much to take on board in the time allowed, but at least I got a glimpse, as most of these exhibits have closed or will close before I have another chance to view them. My attempt to capture what I saw in photographs falls far short of what I saw “live,” but I’ll post a small selection in hopes of giving an idea, as well as including several links. Continue reading →
The final assignment for the music course was to write a program note 800-1500 words in length, meeting detailed specifications and chosen from one of the following: Mendelssohn Quintet No. 2, Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie, Rachmaninoff Moments musicaux, Op. 16, Schubert Quartet No. 9 in G minor, D. 173, or Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrushka. I have a keen appreciation for what it takes to write a good program note, and this was definitely an instance of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread . . .
Era: Olivier Messiaen composed the Turangalîla-Symphonie from 1946 through 1948, primarily at his summer home in Petichet, France. Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a significant supporter of new music, commissioned the work. This didn’t mean that audiences were eager to embrace new music, though, and market forces were leery, to say the least. Leopold Stokowski, another great supporter of new music, lost his job with NBC by insisting on a premiere of Schoenberg’s 12-tone Piano Concerto in 1944. Continue reading →
At this time of year, I’m particularly glad I’m not a professional critic assigned to assemble a “top ten” music list for 2012. Instead, what you’ll find is a year-end offering of highlights from my personal musical journey throughout the year. Continue reading →
More than twelve hundred years ago, King Offa of Mercia ordered a dyke built along the border between Wales and England. The Mercians dug a huge ditch on the Welsh-facing side and piled the soil into a rampart with open views to Wales. The story goes that “it was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to the west of it.” Continue reading →