Category Archive 'Classical Music'
22 May 2018

Weaponizing Bach

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In the LA Review of Books, Theodore Gioia reports on classical music being used as bum repellent.

At the corner of 8th and Market in San Francisco, by a shuttered subway escalator outside a Burger King, an unusual soundtrack plays. A beige speaker, mounted atop a tall window, blasts Baroque harpsichord at deafening volumes. The music never stops. Night and day, Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi rain down from Burger King rooftops onto empty streets.

Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.

RTWT

Gioia has all sorts of problems with this. It makes classical music elitist and turns it into a class signifier. Using music to chase people away is inimical to recruiting the same people into its fan base. And, finally, any non-performative use separates the art from its own native listening experience.

When Karen and I first visited the kennels of the Casanova Hunt at Weston, the former home of that hunt’s founder, Charlotte Nourse, we found the hounds listening happily to Beethoven. Apparently, huntsman Tommy Lee Jones found classical music had charms to sooth the trouble-making breasts of foxhounds.

Mr. Gioia may stroke his chin and frown disapprovingly, but I think it’s more appropriate to admire the ingenuity of people who find other ways of harnessing the power of art.

I bet representatives of today’s establishment intelligentsia would deplore the use of crucifixes to repel vampires, arguing that Religion was intended to be all-inclusive!

20 Mar 2018

50 Seconds of Busoni

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22 Feb 2018

Niccolò Paganini: Caprice No. 9 In E Major “The Hunt”

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17 Feb 2018

Bunky’s Day of Music

Bunky Mortimer III is clearly one of the great fanatical connoisseurs of the recorded repertoire. Over at Taki’s Magazine, Bunky has prepared a well-thought out program of recorded music to take you through your entire day.

Some sample recommendations:

[Late Morning]

My chaise-lounge-bound researches reveal that the sinewy modulations of a violin concerto are well suited to the onward section of the morning. Sibelius’ has an icy gymnasticism that is most refreshing, while Tchaikovsky’s stays just the right side of sentimentalism (the only absolute sanction is against the regressive schmaltz of Brahms’ offering; one of the few pieces of music we would be better off without). And then there is the beautiful arc of Beethoven’s; the last movement of which has a piratical swagger, which is a great tonic if planning to break the law later in the day. You will notice this morning menu crosses the peaks of the Romantic repertoire—yet contains no opera. Morning music—like morning drinking—is a means to an end: the day itself. Opera is too distracting and all-encompassing to serve this end; although we may make an exception for its instrumental passages. Here we can catalog some Wagner. The Tannhäuser overture will send you out the door as if fired by a circus cannon (if it were made by Krupp and pointed at Poland, that is). “Siegfried’s Funeral March” carries a similar risk: that unless you’ve repositioned your country’s borders by lunch, you’re going to feel like an underachiever. The same nourishing snarl is present in the opening of Mahler’s Second Symphony. By now a palate cleanser may be needed with your pre-lunch cocktail. For this you may turn to the final piece of classical music ever created: the last of Strauss’ Four Last Songs, fittingly entitled “Im Abendrot (At Sunset).”

[Ending the day:]

Where then to end? With the greatest musical recording ever made: Dinu Lipatti’s rendition of Bach’s “Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Mein Herr (I Call to You, My Lord).” Lipatti was dying of leukemia and recorded it against the instructions of his doctors. Its sublime cadences instruct us fully in the acceptance of our condition. As he called out from the keyboard, Dinu Lipatti was approaching eternal rest. You will hopefully not be: Soon another day will dawn, and your journey can begin anew.

RTWT

13 Jan 2018

Fantasia dei Gatti – Augustin Hadelich | Paganini Caprice No. 17

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HT: Bird Dog.

16 Apr 2017

Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture

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31 Oct 2016

Halloween Music: Camille Saint-Saens, Danse Macabre

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29 Aug 2016

Definitions of Musicians

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Violinist

13 more here

15 Jul 2016

Franz Schubert: “Der Leiermann”

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16 Jan 2016

Music and Math

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How is it that Beethoven, who is celebrated as one of the most significant composers of all time, wrote many of his most beloved songs while going deaf? The answer lies in the math behind his music. Using the “Moonlight Sonata”, we can begin to understand the way Beethoven was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics.

Beethoven1

The standard piano octave consists of 13 keys, each separated by a half step. A standard major or minor scale uses 8 of these keys with 5 whole step intervals and 2 half step ones.

Beethoven2

The first half of measure 50 of “Moonlight Sonata” consists of three notes in D major, separated by intervals called thirds that skip over the next note in the scale. By stacking the notes first, third, and fifth notes – D, F sharp, and A – we get a harmonic pattern known as a triad.

Beethoven3

But, these aren’t just arbitrary magic numbers. Rather, they represent the mathematical relationship between the pitch frequencies of different notes, which form a geometric series. The stacking of these three frequencies creates ‘consonance’, which sounds naturally pleasant to our ears. Examining Beethoven’s use of both consonance and dissonance can help us begin to understand how he added the unquantifiable elements of emotion and creativity to the certainty of mathematics.

For a deeper dive into the mathematics of the “Moonlight Sonata”, watch the TED-Ed Lesson Music and math: The genius of Beethoven – Natalya St. Clair

Animation by Qa’ed Mai

Via Ratak Monodosico.

17 Dec 2015

Beethoven’s Birthday

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BeethovenRoomBonn
Bust of Beethoven in the room where he was born. Bonn, Germany, 17 December 1770. (photo,1934)

String Quartet no.15 op.132 “Lydian”- Budapest String Quartet.

06 Sep 2015

Anti-Pachebel Rant

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

06 May 2015

Vivaldi: Summer, From the Four Seasons

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Trondheim Soloists. Artistic Director: Øyvind Gimse. Soloist Mari Silje Samuelsen.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

18 Aug 2014

Salut Salon: “Wettstreit zu viert” — “Competition of Four”

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An excerpt from the film, “Salut Salon: Lady-Power im Quartet” by Ralf Pfleger about the Hamburg female quartet, Salut Salon.

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The complete film.

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