Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Miscellanea

Now that's funny! Commentators add additional anecdotes to one related by Norman Lebrecht:
At the end of the opening movement of Brahms’s first symphony, a cellphone went off at Charlotte, NC, on Friday night.
At the third ring, Charlotte’s British music director Christopher Warren-Green turned round to the audience and said: ‘Answer it. It might be Brahms.’
For example:
Among the best was Jac Van Steen at the Halle Orch. As a ringtone rang and rang, piercing the slow mvt of Brahms 4th. Van Steen put down his baton, turned to the audience and said: “If that’s my wife, tell her I’m not here.”
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 Montreal-born composer Samy Moussa has just won the 20,000 Euro Hindemith prize. Let's have a listen. This is Crimson, for large orchestra:


For some reason that reminds me of Richard Strauss "through a mirror darkly." Which is pretty good, actually.

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The top-selling musician of the year in 2016 is Drake, a Canadian! Here is his single One Dance (Blogger won't embed so you have to follow the link):


What is it with these interminable, inarticulate melodramatic introductions?

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And the world's least sexy musical genre is NOT, oddly enough, chamber music or latin motets, but show tunes, musicals! We know this because the BBC tells us so. I suspect you still can't go wrong with Barry White:


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I spoke too soon when I said in last Friday's Miscellanea that we didn't know Trump's musical tastes; apparently he is a big Puccini fan, according to Slate:
Trump’s interest in Puccini goes beyond “Nessun Dorma.” In February, he used an arrangement of the composer’s aria “O mio babbino caro” in a video touting his building projects. In his 2004 book How to Get Rich, he praised the late soprano Beverly Sills, stating, “I may not enjoy sitting through opera, but I have always respected opera singers and enjoy the highlights of opera.” Opera, or at least the “highlights” of the genre, easily plays into the image of an outsized billionaire.
Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, a Georgia College music professor and creator of Trax on the Trail, a website devoted to presidential campaign music, believes opera suits him. “There’s certainly a disconnect on many levels between Trump and the leftist artists he uses despite their protests,” she says. “But opera is believably Trump’s music.” 
So there you go. Obviously we need to launch a serious Puccini boycott--or maybe opera in general?

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Sadly, universities have long since ceased to be the oases of learning that they used to be. Case in point:
Last year the University of New Hampshire made news when one of its librarians, Robert Morin, who had saved almost 50 years of paychecks, left $4 million to the university upon his death. UNH spent $1 million of the librarian’s gift on a 30-by-50-foot high-definition scoreboard for the new, $25-million football stadium. The university defended its decision by stating that the donation had been used for "our highest priorities and emerging opportunities." Adjuncts in the English department there reportedly receive $3,000 per class. They already knew they weren’t a high priority.
This is from a fairly lengthy article on the astonishing exploitation of non-tenure-track professors: The Great Shame of Our Profession.  Worth a look.

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NPR has an interesting interview with the composer of the music for Game of Thrones, Ramin Djawadi:
You were telling me earlier that sometimes ideas strike you at the weirdest hours. What does that look like? Do you sneak out of bed and start recording something?
I used to just scribble things on a piece of paper whenever an idea came to mind. Now with cellphones, that's gotten a lot easier. I can just take it out and sing into my phone. Sometimes I just wake up — usually at night, actually, at night or first thing in the morning, that's when I have ideas because it's quiet. I sneak into the bathroom so I don't wake up my wife.
What do you do then? Are you humming?
Yeah, humming — sometimes I whistle. The main title theme for Game Of Thrones, for example, I was humming in my car after I saw the visuals. As I was driving back to the studio, I had the idea to the theme.
Wait a minute — you were in your car, humming what has become one of the most iconic themes on television.
Yeah, that little melody can just come at any time.

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What shall we choose for our envoi today? Have we had the aria "O mio babbino caro?" I don't think so. I used to play an arrangement of it for flute and guitar. Simply lovely tune. This is Montserrat Caballé in a concert performance in Munich in 1990:


15 comments:

Christine Lacroix said...

Thanks for the lovely romantic music you posted for Valentine's day. My favorite 'romantic' music will forever be the very first Beatles songs just because I was so young and easily imprinted when they came out.
Those were hilarious reactions from the conductor's to the phones ringing during their concerts.
And in response to your occasional defenses of Donald Trump check this out:

http://video.genfb.com/10154858423400127

Take that!

Christine Lacroix said...

just in case the link I gave you didn't work:
try this one:

https://www.facebook.com/MarieClaire/videos/10154858423400127/

Patrick said...

Amazing that you continue with tunnel vision vis-a-vis universities. In your mind, apparently, they are islands of intolerance and bigotry. The medical, scientific, environmental, etc. research that goes on there that is helping to increase our understanding of the world and thereby make life better for humans? Completely overlooked, never mentioned and thus implicitly denigrated. I guess regular readers of your blog need to put 'filters' on when reading to account for these prejudices - I know I do.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Christine! Re Justin Trudeau: it's the hair, isn't it?

Hi Patrick, sorry for noticing those occasions when universities certainly seem to have an agenda that might be questionable. But I can't fault your defence! Yes, some of my happiest times have been spent on university campuses where the wells of learning run deep. Actually, I think a lot of what I write implicitly honors universities. But they do seem to be wandering in some odd directions recently.

Christine Lacroix said...

I promise never to post anything else about Justin Trudeau if you agree to stop posting about Donald Trump. Deal?

Christine Lacroix said...

Patrick,
Bryan does have his quirks as do we all. But to his credit, he made an amazing effort at self-restraint throughout the whole of the American election so please give him some credit for that! He occasionally slips into political mode but as a long time reader, I definitely forgive him. Nobody is perfect. And it's his website after all!

Bryan Townsend said...

Uh, ok?

Christine, thanks so much for the character reference!

Christine Lacroix said...

I will defend you, you can count on it. But I'm really hoping I won't need to! :)

Bryan Townsend said...

The thing is, sometimes I put things up that I hope will start a discussion. So if someone leaves a critical comment, this is, to me, a good thing. And I welcome the opportunity to respond. But it is a bit disappointing when the commentator just disappears and doesn't follow up.

Christine Lacroix said...

I suspect that people who are attracted to The Music Salon are not looking for political polemics. It feels a bit like a sucker punch when you come for the music and you get political controversy. I understand however your desire to discuss topics that you hold dear such as protecting Western Civilization from the barbarians at the gate. Why don't you try Breitbart or Politico or some other site where there will be lots of people eager to trade punches with you? Your musical followers don't seem all that interested.

Marc Puckett said...

I do always find it amazing, Patrick's sort of criticism. There is an economics professor at the University of Oregon here in Eugene, William Harbaugh, who keeps a blog called UO Matters ('the unofficial safe space of the UO') which, I imagine, a great number of administrators there and a certain sort of faculty member would happily suppress if they could, since he drills away at a certain few sins or peccadillos that the administrators et alii seem over many years, habitually and repeatedly, to commit. He obviously loves his job and respects the legitimate goals and purposes of the institution &c &c but is, at the same time, not blind to the wrongs and missteps that besmirch it. The 'solution' for those who have issues with his blogging is of course to engage intellectually with his arguments or to stop reading the damn blog, so it seems to me, anyway, not to tell him to get him to a camp and reform his manner of thinking.

Sorry I missed this last Friday. Had to smile at Mr Trump's admission that he admires the Beverly Sills of the world, and "highlights". I suspect that the "highlights"-are-the-thing approach is not limited to rapaciously busy executives.

Marc Puckett said...

Christine, That's the first time I have ever looked at Marie Claire!

I didn't make it too far into the video, ahem, but don't suppose they included a snippet that caught M. Trudeau hastening himself across the floor of the parliamentary chamber, managing to knock the female MP down? Last year, sometime. (Honestly, I don't remember the details and even to my reactionary eyes there was an element of 'fake news' to the media coverage of that incident. As I recall.)

Bryan Townsend said...

Some interesting points. Christine, very fair critique about political polemics. My sense is that what I am doing is responding to cases where the political world is, in my eyes, invading the realm of music to its detriment. Or I am critiquing the political stance of someone in the world of music, like Alex Ross. But I can certainly see how some readers might not notice this and just receive it as a "sucker punch".

But here's the thing: last month I did a nine-part series of posts on all the Prokofiev piano sonatas that received not a single comment! But this post, with its single wandering across the line into the politics of academia, has received twelve comments so far!

I will have to seek out the writings of Prof. Harbaugh! Thanks, Marc.

Christine Lacroix said...

I understand that you are yearning for thoughtful discussion on topics that you feel strongly about, but on the internet, mudslinging seems to be the norm for anything even vaguely political. If you manage to find a website where there is a respectful exchange of informed ideas let me know! People probably don't leave comments on music topics on The Music Salon because they are too much in awe of your erudition. What can one say?

Bryan Townsend said...

I'm not exactly yearning to discuss politics on this blog: it is more like occasionally I see that the world of music might need a bit of defence FROM politics. But hey, our perspective on that may differ! I will try to have a fairly strict line and avoid crossing it. As far as political sites free from mudslinging, I'm not sure if they exist. But I find the largely libertarian site Instapundit to be free of the most onerous forms. You might give it a whirl. Ann Althouse tends to be fairly neutral, so that might be worth a read as well.

I have noticed that the history and repertoire posts only tend to attract comments when I make a mistake about something, so maybe you are right!