The version for two tubas is undoubtedly in rehearsal...
And while we are in the world of weird and wacky performances, here is the Force theme from Star Wars played using a light saber for a bow:
And similarly, never try and listen to Justin Bieber as if he were J. S. Bach. Or vice versa. You could hurt yourself.“The true reader reads every work seriously in the sense that he reads it whole-heartedly, makes himself as receptive as he can. But for that very reason he cannot possibly read every work solemnly or gravely. For he will read 'in the same spirit that the author writ.'... He will never commit the error of trying to munch whipped cream as if it were venison.”― C.S. Lewis
Mr. Rose did not wait long to take up “The New Brandenburgs,” a set of six works commissioned by Orpheus, the conductorless New York chamber orchestra, as modern responses to the popular set of concertos that Bach dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721. Orpheus performed the works over several seasons, starting in 2006, and played the full set at a Spring for Music concert at Carnegie Hall in 2011. Mr. Rose and his Boston players offered their views on Friday evening at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall.
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No matter how many Turkish musicians are playing together at one time, they all focus on executing a single melody line, though each may interpret it differently.
Indian music is generated through a complex modal system ... which provides the basis for composition and performance to happen simultaneously (what Westerners call improvisation)
Whereas a Western composer notates the work on paper in a more or less fixed form ... Thai classical composers notate nothing: their compositions are created in their minds and then committed to memory.
Most of the female singers were jawari or qiyan, singing slave girls. These were indeed slaves, in that they could be bought or sold, but they were also highly-trained performers, sometimes fetching extraordinary prices... (referring to the music of Medieval Andalusia, al-Andalus)
Although the music was never notated - musicians have always learned this repertory aurally - by the sixteenth century songbooks had begun to circulate. These included the lyrics along with musical indications of the melodic modes. (referring to Andalusian music)
(In Chinese opera) Over time and a wide area, two basic creative approaches developed. One was the qupai system, where the librettist wrote lyrics to go with standard named tunes called qupai. To put it in Western terms, the librettist might specify, "sing to the tune (qupai) Yankee Doodle".
The instrumental groups of a gamelan perform specific functions, and their dense polyphony is created from just one melodic strand, drawing from a repertoire of patterns peculiar to each instrument.For most musicians, in most cultures, for much of history, music was an oral or aural tradition: it seemed entirely fitting that it be so as music is the most insubstantial of the arts, consisting of nothing more than compression waves in the air. By an act of pure creative genius, one Guido of Arezzo came up with an ideal solution for the notating of exact pitch: the simple idea of a horizontal line. All pitches could be judged in their relation to that line. Soon after, for even better precision, four more lines were added and voilá, the music staff was born. Mind you, it took another few hundred years to solve the problem of how to notate rhythms clearly and simply, but a few more acts of creative genius solved that too. As a bonus, since pitches could be written down clearly, that meant that Western musicians could notate not only melodies, but also harmonies. And if you stacked a few staves on top of one another, you could have a notation in which the entirety of an orchestral score could be seen at a glance. While there have been a number of other notation systems developed in other cultures, all of them are more like mnemonic guides than real systems of notation. The only time and place where a good music notation system was developed was in Western Europe between about 1000 AD and 1500 AD. Some other things that were uniquely developed in Western Europe: vaccines, antibiotics, the machines of the Industrial Revolution, the rule of law, and, sadly, modern warfare. But hey!
Now if we could only figure out what ancient music really sounded like!To come to these conclusions, the researchers applied a technique normally used in biology—building phylogenetic trees to trace linguistic attributes back to their origin. They started with 275 fairy tales, each rooted in magic, and whittled them down to 76 basic stories. Trees were then built based on Indo-European languages, some of which have gone extinct. In so doing, the researchers found evidence that some fairy tales, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, were rooted in other stories, and could be traced back to a time when Western and Eastern Indo-European languages split, which was approximately 5,000 years ago, which means of course that they predate the Bible, for example, or even Greek myths.The researchers placed confidence factors on different results, depending on how strong the trees were that could be built—some were obviously less clear than others, but one fairy tale in particular, they note, was very clear—called The Smith and The Devil, they traced it back approximately 6,000 years, to the Bronze Age.
Back in Mozart’s time, a chamber orchestra was the orchestra. That’s what he, Brahms and Schumann all worked with, and they enjoyed working with it (as we know from Brahms, for instance, and his extremely fruitful connection with the Meiningen Court Orchestra). It’s not that alien from a symphony orchestra, just fewer players. Perhaps 30, as opposed to at least 90 musicians. Big difference? Big difference.
Nowadays, we’re told that size really matters. We’re all obsessed with what’s big in entertainment; the next big thing. The blockbuster film with its enormous spaceships and outsize special effects. Towering stage sets. In classical music, that trend was set by the huge orchestral forces demanded by Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner (who, of course, used the larger orchestra for music that needed those big forces).
I heard Claudio Arrau in concert, aged over 80, playing Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata, and it seemed to me that he never went beyond a mezzo forte. But the intensity was so immense as to render that performance full of weight, depth and real inner drama.
That’s what you get from a chamber orchestra. You hear every last bit of concentrated detail in the playing. Every player is much more exposed, every instrument is not just heard but is somehow alive, in full characterisation. You can almost see the different characters – the oboe, the bassoon, the clarinet, the violins – and they have conversations. Suddenly it’s as though you have an opera stage in front of you and everything is alive upon it, telling its story.
One of the things symphony orchestras do well is build bridges, creating bonds through music. That was certainly a goal when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Leonard Slatkin, commissioned the young Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz to write a concerto for Maya Beiser, an Israeli-American cellist. The resultant work, “Desert Sorrows,” received its premiere on Jan. 14—unconventionally, in a synagogue in nearby Southfield, Mich. Not till two nights later, following a second performance in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township, did the piece make it to Orchestra Hall, the ensemble’s ornate and acoustically gratifying downtown home.
Mr. Fairouz’s concerto embraces various musical traditions, particularly the Arabic modes known as maqam, yet much of the work feels familiar to Western ears. In the opening movement, “Yowm Ad-Dīn” (“Day of Reckoning”), rhapsodic figurations in the cello (slightly amplified, as called for in the score) recall Elgar’s and Dvořák’s great concertos for this instrument—though Mr. Fairouz’s use of contrasting elements like motoric flutes, tambourine and various Minimalist gestures give individual voice to his efforts.
Yep, that is exactly the Narrative. But we underrate Alex Ross, because he follows that with some of the truth about Boulez:In the wake of the Second World War, a phalanx of young composers took hold of European music, determined to discard a compromised past and remake their art. Chief among them were Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, and Pierre Boulez. They were in their late teens or early twenties when the inferno ended, and they bore scars—some physical, some psychological—from what Europe had endured. Boulez, who died on January 5th, at the age of ninety, never reached the front lines, but he exemplified the ethos of his generation. Cool, brutal, elegant, fiery, he established a kind of International Style in music, and propagated it in polemical writings and through institutional networks. As a conductor, he was an exacting, absorbing interpreter of the advanced styles he favored. His death marks the end of an epoch: all those revolutionaries of the mid-twentieth century are now gone.
After Arnold Schoenberg’s death, in 1951, Boulez wrote a rather cruel article titled “Schoenberg Is Dead,” in which he said that the modernist master had lost his way in later years and should not be mourned with “pointless melancholy.” It would be antithetical to Boulez’s spirit, then, to offer nothing but banal praise at his passing. He was brilliant, and he was also infuriating; his pugilistic politics did not always serve his cause. The ferocity of his opinions—at one time or another, he found fault with Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Copland, Shostakovich, Britten, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms, not to mention a great many contemporary figures—was hardly surprising in an active composer; artists almost require such animosities to clear the air for their own work. It was more troubling in a music director, an administrator, a mentor to young musicians. And Boulez frustrated not only those whom he deemed insufficiently radical but those whose experiments went too far.I tend to summarize my own view as follows: Boulez was a first-rate conductor, a second-rate composer and a third-rate ideologue.
Composed Music’s primary virtue is its blunt veracity. It is what it says it is: works by a singular mind, fixed and promulgated in written form. When you think about it, that is probably the one and only thing that unites all eras and styles of so-called Classical Music. Composed Music covers everybody and every work we’ve ever described as Classical Music, plus anything written in the 20th and 21st century, right up through right now, without privileging any era or style. Perhaps it can vanquish the reflexive recoil we see sometimes see from “Contemporary” or “Modern” music or the peculiar banality and meaninglessness of “New” music. With its inclusivity and candor, Composed Music wins for plainspokenness.Oddly enough, I was just thinking along these lines while reading the book "The Other Classical Musics" because the problem with that book is that it wants to elevate every musical style and genre in the world into a "classical" music if it has any longevity or prestige. But all those musics of world cultures tend to, like pop or folk music, be oral traditions with all the inherent limitations. Perhaps it is the case that the best way to identify what we have been calling "classical" music, is to call it "composed" music. But do we really have to welcome Jonny Greenwood into these ranks?
In my first year at the University of Chicago, the question I asked myself was, "Where does music come from?" The attempt to answer that question led to the composition of my first piece of music.
More than a dozen years later, still pondering the same question, I asked Ravi Shankar where music comes from. His reply was to bow toward a photo of his guru and say, "Through his grace, the power of his music has come through him into me."
Over time, for me, the question has evolved into another question: "What is music?"
For a while, the answer I found was that music is a place.He goes on to say that he means this poetically: you can take a plane to Chicago either in reality or in your imagination and you can go to the place "music" in your imagination. I think I have talked about this in several places. Just before a performer begins a piece on stage, he goes to that place called "music". I often think of it as a place in the mind, but it seems to be a particular place in the brain as well. There was the case of the German cellist who had a terrible infection in his brain that wiped out much of his memory: he could no longer recall his friends or relatives or place names. But he could still read music and play the cello, indicating that these functions were in a different part of the brain. Glass talks about this quite differently, but I think that the basic idea is similar.
The big jump in Sibelius' performances is attributable to the fact that 2015 was the 150th anniversary of his birth. It is also very nice to see Joseph Haydn break into the top ten. Here is their list of the top ten most-performed works:Top 10 concert composers in 2015 (2014 position in brackets):
I'm not sure what this tells us other than Beethoven is a pretty good symphony composer and the violin concerto is an always popular genre. About the only other statistic of interest is the top ten operas:10 most played concert works(2014 ranking):
- Beethoven: Symphony no. 5 in C minor (9)
- Handel: Messiah (1)
- Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor (22)
- Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 5 in E minor (26)
- Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor (29)
- Beethoven: Symphony no. 7 in A major (2)
- Brahms: Symphony no. 1 in C minor (13)
- Beethoven: Symphony no. 6 in F major "Pastoral" (17)
- Mozart: Serenade no. 13 in G major, "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" (48)
- Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major (14)
Mozart and Puccini are the only composers with three operas in the top ten and Mozart is the only composer who excelled at both opera and instrumental composition. Notice that none of the other composers on the opera list appears on the two other lists.Top 10 operas of 2015 (2014 ranking):
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I was something of a fan of Bowie's for a short time in the 1980s when he released the album Let's Dance:Bowie’s 25 albums produced a string of hits including Changes, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. He was known for experimenting across diverse musical genres, and for his alter egos Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke. He also had a notable acting career.His latest album, Blackstar, was released last week to coincide with his 69th birthday, and had received widespread critical acclaim.
Follow this link for more.On New Year’s Eve, a couple living in North Edmonton, Alberta were putting the finishing touches on their homemade ice rink on the pond behind their house, when a cop showed up to fine them $100 for modifying the “land in a way likely to cause injury.” Their crime? Clearing off the snow and hooking up a hose from their house to the pond to smooth out the top so that their kids could skate.The mom, Morgann Tomlinson was really angry.
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Here is an English translation of the text of the first sung movement of the Boulez, "L'artisanat furieux:The wine we drink through the eyesThe moon pours down at night in waves,And a flood tide overflowsThe silent horizon.Longings beyond number, gruesome sweet frissons,Swim through the flood.The wine we drink through the eyesThe moon pours down at night in waves.The poet, slave to devotion,Drunk on the sacred liquor,Enraptured, turns his face to HeavenAnd staggering sucks and slurpsThe wine we drink through the eyes.
This is even more surrealist than the Giraud.The furious craftsmanshipThe red caravan on the edge of the nailAnd corpse in the basketAnd plowhorses in the horseshoeI dream the head on the point of my knife Peru.
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The technology that Jagger and Stones road manager Ian Stewart fitted into a good-sized truck to go mobile is now available inside a well-equipped personal computer and sophisticated audio interface. It’s now possible to make a very good sounding record in a project studio -- particularly if the goal is to record a demo recording; drum machines and drum loops eliminate the need for a large room and scads of expensive condenser mics to record a drummer, and excellent samples of strings and other orchestral instruments are readily available. Guitar and bass modeling devices, and beautiful sounding hardware and software synthesizers fill out the rest of the band. A vocalist can be recorded via good condenser mic, a portable vocal booth, and a carefully-treated room.
I have no idea what kind of suit Mark Steyn threatened the Ottawa Citizen with, but it must have been a doozy!"Norma Adams-Wade's June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite." - The Dallas Morning News."Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the number of years E.B. White wrote for The New Yorker. It was five decades, not centuries." -The New York Times."Just to keep the record straight, it was the famous Whistler's Mother, not Hitler's, that was exhibited at the recent meeting of the Pleasantville Methodists. There is nothing to be gained in trying to explain how the error occurred." -Titusville (Pa.) Herald."Karol Wojtyla was referred to in Saturday's Credo column as "the first non-Catholic pope for 450 years". This should, of course, have read "non-Italian pope." -London Times."The Ottawa Citizen and Southam News wish to apologize for our apology to Mark Steyn, published Oct. 22. In correcting the incorrect statements about Mr. Steyn published Oct. 15, we incorrectly published the incorrect correction. We accept and regret that our original regrets were unacceptable." - Ottawa Citizen and Southam News.
Casals' first visit and tour of the United States came in the year 1901, when he traveled across the nation with a popular vocal artist, Emma Nevada. It was to have been an extensive series of engagements, with performances in 80 different locations! However, midway through the tour Casals suffered a serious injury to his left hand, while hiking in California. He had been climbing Mount Tamalpais, near San Francisco, when a large rock somehow become dislodged, and fell on his hand, crushing some fingers. Casals said that the first thought that came to his mind at the time was, "Thank God, I'll never have to play the cello again!" It may be helpful to amateur cellists, and young professionals, to remember that even the truly great musicians of history have had to contend with self-doubt, stress and burn-out. Casals, master of the cello that he was, still was always nervous before and during performances.
Pierre Boulez, who has died aged 90, was arguably the single dominant figure of the classical musical world through the second half of the 20th century and beyond. Without his compositions, his legacy of recordings as a conductor, his writings on music and his administrative skill and drive, the musical scene today would be of a quite different order. To some extent this dominance was achieved by the application of remorseless logic to both organisational and interpersonal problems. But at the same time he was a man of great warmth and charm.I will have some posts on Boulez in the near future, but I see that Amazon is temporarily out of stock of his Oeuvres Completes. There is much that I would disagree with in the above evaluation, though. As a conductor, he was outstanding, as a composer, however, he had little influence in the last few decades, tied as his music is to the hyper-complexity of the immediate post-war years. There are lots of people that might disagree with that statement, but I hope to provide some basis for it in future posts. It is as an ideologue and behind-the-scenes manipulator that he had perhaps an unfortunate influence on the music world. Still, it is time for a thorough re-evaluation and perhaps I might change my mind!
This is not to deny that Williams has a history of drawing heavily on established models. The Tatooine desert in “Star Wars” is a dead ringer for the steppes of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” The “Mars” movement of Holst’s “Planets” frequently lurks behind menacing situations. Jeremy Orosz, in a recent academic paper, describes these gestures as “paraphrases”: rather than quoting outright, Williams “uses pre-existing material as a creative template to compose new music at a remarkable pace.” There’s another reason that “Star Wars” contains so many near-citations. At first, George Lucas had planned to fill the soundtrack with classical recordings, as Stanley Kubrick had done in “2001.” The temp track included Holst and Korngold. Williams, whom Lucas hired at Spielberg’s suggestion, acknowledged the director’s favorites while demonstrating the power of a freshly composed score. He seems to be saying: I can mimic anything you want, but you need a living voice.