Encores included Debussy and Handel. You don't hear Debussy on Baroque lute very often. Nor harmonics, for that matter.
UPDATE: Looks like they were reading the encores at least from a discretely positioned iPad.
All true. The Stones and the Beatles were/are fundamentally different kinds of musical acts. The Beatles were singer/composers who could also play their instruments. The Stones, once they settled into their groove, have always been a solid rhythm and blues band with a rough originality. The Beatles wrote hundreds of songs, each one unique, even the bad ones, like "Obladi-Oblada," are uniquely bad. The Stones have essentially delivered the same product, in different packaging, hundreds of times. It is a bit like the difference between Bach and Vivaldi. What the Stones do is great, but they do it over and over. This is undoubtedly why they are so long-lasting and so successful. The Beatles, on the other hand, couldn't stand to repeat themselves and their creative ferment drove them apart in less than a decade.The Beatles stopped touring early in their rise to stardom, reportedly because the screaming and carrying on from fans got out of hand. The boys from Liverpool hit the big time with their 1963 release of “Please Please Me,” but they broke up in 1970, with McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison all going their separate ways. Lennon was murdered in 1981 at age 40, while Harrison passed away from cancer in 2001 at age 58.The Stones, meanwhile, have been one of the largest touring bands every decade since the 1970s. All the members — Jagger, Richards, 76, Charlie Watts, 78, and Ron Wood, 72 — are out on the road every couple of years with a new show, which feature elaborate sets and amazing light shows.
Considering how culturally valuable and self-evidently important classical music is supposed to be, its proponents are a surprisingly defensive group. At performing arts organizations, press departments fret that the slightest negative comment about an artist might attract public notice. What little marketing that takes place with respect to recordings always assumes that the latest issue is necessarily “the best,” or at all events of earth-shattering importance. Classical music, we are assured, is really “good for us” intellectually, spiritually, and even physically, the aural equivalent of cod liver oil.That's in the first category. This immediately shows itself to be one of those defences of classical music that Taruskin, in a scathing essay, regarded as being in the "with friends like these, who needs enemies" category. The problem is that this is a gross exaggeration. Yes, classical music people can be a bit defensive, but that is because, in North America, the art form is under threat of simply being erased. When he simply advocates critical judgement he is on solid ground:
I propose a radical new idea: Tell the truth! Stop insisting that the classics consist of an unbroken chain of perfect masterpieces of equal worth, and let people compare, judge, and even (gasp!) dislike some of them.But when he goes on to list examples, categorizing them as "ten of classical music’s dirtiest secrets" he shows how unreliable his own judgements are in practice. Let's have a look:
It's like Charles Ives fused with Wilford Brimley and weighed in on classical music!
- Mozart really does all sound the same.
- Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge is just plain ugly.
- Wagner’s operas are much better with cuts.
- No one cares about the first three movements of Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.
- Schoenberg’s music never sounds more attractive, no matter how many times you listen to it.
- Schumann’s orchestration definitely needs improvement.
- Bruckner couldn’t write a symphonic allegro to save his life.
- Liszt is trash.
- The so-called “happy” ending of Shostakovich’s Fifth is perfectly sincere.
- It’s a good thing that “only” about 200 Bach cantatas survive.
The research is spotty and no conclusions possible yet, but why take the chance? Listen to some Prokofiev today!Noah Potvin, a professor of music therapy at Duquesne University, said classical music’s cultural associations include relaxation and refinement and a certain health image, and this is likely driving listeners to the genre.“Think of any Lexus or Mercedes commercial with soaring classical melodies,” he said. “That sense of security and peace is attractive right now.”Mr. Potvin is skeptical of some of the research linking music with the immune system, questioning whether it’s healthy to use music or any other tool to suppress anxiety.“The research is superficial, though I don’t mean that in a pejorative way,” he said. “I think the information we have is valuable, but we need to go deeper.”Music therapists use music to treat acute anxiety and stress, but Mr. Potvin said a more valuable use is exploring how music can help listeners work through anxiety and stress instead of simply covering over such sensations, which can be counterproductive. Using music for progressive muscle relaxation is a common technique at the moment, he said.Listening to music is not a cure-all. It’s another example of the much-discussed “mind-body connection” that has so captured the public consciousness in recent years, which deals with how emotional and mental health have physical outcomes.“I’m a skeptic by nature, so when I first heard of the mind-body connection I thought it was new-age woo-woo,” Dr. Levin said. “However, the more I learned about human physiology, and in particular neurophysiology and neurology, I became increasingly convinced that we actually underestimate how profound this connection is.”
Forced to close by the coronavirus crisis, Canada’s museums and public art galleries quickly redirected visitors to their digital offerings: social-media feeds, 3-D gallery tours, videos of curators’ talks, online exhibitions and image banks of their collections. Virtual experiences beckon, yet the truth is that only a tiny fraction of Canada’s public collections can be seen online.
One problem is latency, or the time lag for transmission:All musicians, dancers, theatre artists and other performers long for the return of the days of live audiences, but even when the lockdown ends, it seems unlikely that live streaming will vanish along with our N95 face masks. It’s a relatively inexpensive way for musicians to keep in touch with fans, and the intimate atmosphere has proven popular with many audiences.If live streaming is here to stay, however, there are still some technical hurdles to be overcome. When it comes to live music streaming, and in particular, the capacity to play together real time over the internet, the technology could be said to be in a nascent state — still very much under construction.
Latency is essentially the amount of time it takes for the digitized audio of a performance to zap through the ethernet, and the actual live broadcast of that sound. Think of it as a lag time. Simply put, information takes a minimum of 5 microseconds per km to transmit over the internet. Along the way, that signal may also have to be rerouted or switched, and may travel over different types of networks that may impede the speed.But a bigger problem that I have heard is balance: especially with a large group of musicians, achieving the right dynamic blend seems to be particularly hard.
It’s 1771, you’re in Milan, and your 14-year-old genius son has just premièred his new opera. How do you reward him? What would be a fun family excursion in an era before multiplexes or theme parks? Leopold Mozart knew just the ticket. ‘I saw four rascals hanged here on the Piazza del Duomo,’ wrote young Wolfgang back to his sister Maria Anna (‘Nannerl’), excitedly. ‘They hang them just as they do in Lyons.’ He was already something of a connoisseur of public executions. The Mozarts had spent four weeks in Lyons in 1766 and as the music historian Stanley Sadie points out, Leopold had clearly taken his son (ten) and daughter (15) along to a hanging ‘for a jolly treat one free afternoon’.Mozart’s letters deliver many such jolts — reminders that, however directly we might feel that Mozart’s music speaks to us, he’s not a man of our time. But for every shock of difference, there’s a start of recognition. Composers’ letters can make frustrating reading. Beethoven’s are brusque, practical affairs; Brahms hides behind a humour as impenetrable as his beard. But with Mozart, you get the whole personality — candid, perceptive and irresistibly alive.
Read the whole thing.Since its formation in 2008, the Tesla Quartet has been showered with critical accolades, released two recordings, hired a manager and lined up a full schedule at major concert halls around the world.Even so, life as a professional string quartet has been a hand-to-mouth existence. The four players, aged 34 to 38, have long relied on relatives, friends and concert presenters for temporary housing, while stashing their few possessions in a storage locker. Only during the past year did their advance bookings give them the confidence and means to rent their own apartments in New York.And then, in early March, their delicate world fell apart.Then came a cascade of cancellations and postponements. Foreign travel was suspended. By late March, their performance calendar through June, which had been full, was bare.Classical musicians are typically paid only after a performance is over, so the players suddenly confronted the prospect of no income for the foreseeable future. They doubted the few remaining summer festivals on their schedule would come through.
Another Canadian orchestra steps up to the plate and rescinds layoffs: COVID-19: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra rescinds layoffs and looks to online offerings.April 167pm CET: Igor Levit Hauskonzert.7pm CET: Alan Gilbert conducts the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in music of Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist, Mozart, and Haydn.8pm ET: Musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra perform from their homes.See also Recital Streams.
April 177pm CET: Daniel Barenboim and Michael Barenboim play Mozart sonatas at Boulez Saal.830pm CET: At the Schinkel Pavilion, Tabea Zimmermann and Francesco Piemontesi perform works for viola and piano.73opm ET: Pianist Pedja Muzijevic performs music of CPE Bach, Antheil, Glass, Satie, and Cage, courtesy of the 92nd St. Y.730pm ET: Violinist Alexi Kenney performs in lieu of a scheduled concert with the New Haven SymphonyApril 182pm CET: Dante Boon performers Tom Johnson's An Hour for Piano.April 195pm ET: The American Composers Orchestra presents the first in a series of commissioned solo works. Miranda Cuckson plays a piece by Ethan Iverson. Ticketed event on Zoom, with proceeds going to benefit artists.April 20830pm CET: At the Schinkel Pavilion, pianist Severin von Eckardstein performs Prokofiev, Medtner, Chopin.April 24830pm CET: At the Schinkel Pavilion, Gabriel Schwabe and Nicholas Rimmer perform cello-and-piano works by Schubert and Chopin.April 25April 265pmET: American Composers Orchestra presents harpist Ahya Simone playing a new work by Shara Nova. Ticketed event on Zoom, with proceeds going to benefit artists.* * *
A newly discovered opera by Sir John Tavener is to be staged for the first time after the late composer’s friend Prince Charles flagged up its potential.Tavener, one of the most acclaimed British composers of his generation, completed his final opera, Krishna, in 2005 but it has remained in manuscript form, unperformed and largely unknown, since then.A number of years after Tavener’s death in 2013, Prince Charles approached Sir David Pountney, then artistic director of the Welsh National Opera, to ask if he would take a look at Krishna to see if it was a viable opera project.“I did look and I thought yes it was definitely an interesting project,” said Pountney. “I was astonished to discover this massive complete work, never performed, and on a subject which is so close to Tavener’s music and life. It is a very exciting prospect.”
It was a Thursday, the day the music stopped. For us musicians, the emails and phone calls started as a trickle that turned into a flood. Two weeks of dates cancelled, and then before we knew it, two months. Every single concert, opera, festival, club date–our calendars were wiped clean. When it happened, some of us were out on the road, and we made our way home in confusion and panic. Some of us were getting ready to head out on tour, and we cancelled flights, unpacked suitcases. We were all stunned. It was surreal and impossible.Musicians like me exist in the present and the future at the same time, with our schedules planned out years in advance and our daily practice focused on performances months ahead. Always moving forward, never standing still. Always focused on tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. But that Thursday, when the scale of the global COVID-19 pandemic stopped us all in our tracks, I had to stop, too. Tomorrow was unknowable. As the world spun out of control, I had to stand still, and it made me dizzy.
This note also fosters hope.The Austrian lakeside festival, which begins late July, has issued an ebullient statement:As things stand at present, the Bregenz Festival should go ahead as planned from July 22 to August 23 2020. As last year’s production, ‘Rigoletto,’ is returning for its second run on the lake stage, considerably less preparation is needed than for a new production. Rehearsals are due to start in mid-June.
Dire warning from the director of the Association of British Orchestras, Mark Pemberton:There’s no easy way of saying this: the Covid-19 emergency has placed the UK’s orchestras in a critical position.Unlike orchestras in continental Europe and other parts of the world, which receive significantly higher levels of public subsidy, British orchestras are heavily dependent on earned income from ticket sales, international tours and commercial activity such as recordings, at an average of 50% of turnover. And for the many ABO members that do not receive public funding, the level of earned income is that much higher. With the forced closure of entertainment venues and recording studios, that income has plunged to zero.It isn’t just in the past few weeks that this has hit the orchestras hard. Tours to Asia, a crucial revenue earner for our members, started to be cancelled back in January, and it has escalated from there, with first international touring, and then concerts in the UK, grinding to a halt. This in turn threatens the financial sustainability of our members, and the livelihoods of the musicians who work for them.The 65 member orchestras of the ABO have different employment models for their musicians, with some, such as the BBC, regional symphony and the major opera and ballet orchestras being in salaried employment, and the rest, including the London self-governing orchestras and the chamber orchestras, operating on a freelance basis.There are over 2,000 members of the UK’s orchestras, of which 50% are self-employed, plus 12,000 engagements annually of freelance extras….
There is an old East European joke, concerning the differences between science, philosophy, and Marxism. What is science? It is trying to catch a very small black cat in a very large, entirely dark room. What is philosophy? It is trying to catch a very small black cat in a very large, entirely dark room, when it is not there. What is Marxism? It is trying to catch a very small black cat in a very large, entirely dark room when it is not there, and pretending that one has caught it and knows all about it.Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
Two weeks after temporarily laying off staff and musicians, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is offering them reduced hours. Everyone will be able to work 70 per cent of regular hours per week at home while the CPO is shut down.“Our musicians and staff have shown incredible dedication over the past two weeks, continuing to work hard and connect with audiences online even while facing layoffs,” says CPO president and CEO Paul Dornian. “We are so relieved to be able to give them a chance to earn more than they would be making on EI during this difficult time.”
Classical music is just as important in Cincinnati and Kalamazoo as it is in Washington. At a time when most of the 1,224 symphony orchestras scattered across the United States were already struggling financially, the cancelation of the spring musical season is nothing short of a disaster. When it finally becomes possible to hold public concerts again, it is likely that nearly every major orchestra and opera company in this country will be struggling to reopen the doors.
If it is worth bailing out restaurants and bars and other places where people congregate together for merriment and diversion, we must not neglect those institutions in which men and women come together for something that satisfies all the deepest longings of our species.While I applaud the initiative, I doubt that going to the symphony necessarily satisfies the deepest longings of our species. I think food, drink and sex might come first.
Standard punk, but maybe there’s more I should have picked up? He was the first number: Deal Wiv It. I was surprised he had his shirt off and trousers down so quickly. It takes a bit longer for a symphony orchestra.And the pop critic on the symphony:
My initial thoughts about the Philharmonia doing Mahler’s second symphony? There was an entire city on stage. 245 people in total. And two harps! It was fascinating enough solely from the point of view of economics – how on earth does the money work? Like a bumblebee seems too big for its wings, this sort of orchestral piece should be too big to stage. The vastness of the endeavour, so many parts pulling together, conducted by Jakub Hrůša, a conductor straight out of central casting, was truly impressive. I loved that there were “surprise” brass instruments playing from the circle. The massed voices of the choir had a humbling dynamic range.Well, a whole village, at least. And the short answer is no, the money doesn't work. No performance of a Mahler symphony has ever earned enough at the box office to actually pay the musicians.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
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Taruskin takes aim at some of the more uncompromising figures in this project such as one of my own heroes, Joseph Kerman, as follows:More advanced technique is now to be equated with enhanced moral standing. That way is now up. And so it is with the politicized critical vocabulary we use today, in which progressive is given a default aesthetic privilege and conservative is stigmatized.Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
Ignoring the recurring slaps ("moralistic contempt," "proper," "willful little pantheon," "irritable and prim," and so on) that Taruskin assembles to cue us as to how to evaluate Kerman's stance, I pretty much am on Kerman's side here. But, as aforementioned, with a disturbed uneasiness. Perhaps my own belief in some sort of aesthetic standards and purity is just so much codswallop. But I really can't disavail myself of the notion that yes, despite the enormous intellectual smokescreen Taruskin releases to hang over the battlefield, there is such a thing as aesthetic vulgarity. I offer as evidence a truly nauseating arrangement by André Rieu of the middle movement of the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo with the guitar solo given to a set of bells.Was there ever a musical writer as militantly highbrow as Macdonald? None but Joseph Kerman comes to mind. His Opera as Drama—derived from a series of critical essays he had written in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when he was a very young man, for the Hudson Review, one of the many “little magazines” devoted to high culture in midcentury America—is the only musicological book (or perhaps I should say, the only book by a certified, sheepskin-carrying musicologist) that seems to exemplify in all its purity the highbrow or snob position defined by Richard Peterson, the leading American sociologist of brows, as “moralistic contempt for and distancing from all cultural manifestations that do not fit with what is taken to be proper.” Kerman’s book has been compared with F. R. Leavis’s The Great Tradition as an exercise in winnowing. Its ten chapters comprise what John Updike (thinking of Vladimir Nabokov’s literary judgments) called a “willful little pantheon” of exemplary works. Its tone is suitably irritable and prim, in keeping with the class anxiety to which snobbery gives outward expression. As Peterson writes, to a thoroughbred highbrow “even the ‘serious’ study of popular culture by academics is a threat to ‘standards,’ because, within the received perspective, it is seen as lending legitimacy to that which is vulgar, and it thus threatens the sanctity of the status boundaries distinguishing between what is fine and what is common.” Opera as Drama starts right off with a warning that “flabby relativism is certainly the danger,” and with foreboding: “it is hard to think that all our operatic activity can proceed much longer without standards.”Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
If one sees the idea that art can improve oneself in some way as being illegitimate, then what does that leave? Art as a purely formalistic pleasure with no social context? Surely that is not what Taruskin is arguing?A religious, ethical impulse undergirds all art promotion that sees art consumption as a means of self-improvement. That especially includes middlebrow promotion, going all the way back to Matthew Arnold himself.Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
I had a bit of sober academic fun debunking these religious appeals in The Oxford History of Western Music, as regarded both César Franck and Elliott Carter. Nobody paid much notice in the case of Franck, but there was a furious reaction to the discussion of Carter, especially because the Carter chapter was paired with one on Britten to illustrate what I was calling “the essential question of modern art,” namely, “whether artists lived in history or in society.”126 Pretty much everyone with a stake in the question assumed I was coming down heavily on the side of society, and therefore on the side of Britten. That is how I gained my middlebrow and antimodernist spurs.
Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.Taruskin makes the claim that the history of the 20th century, specifically that of the relationship between the Nazis and classical music, forever severs claims to the moral benefits of classical music.
Without a moral claim, what is left of our brows? Just taste, which, to remind you, Bourdieu defined as “manifested preference.” The definition is important: it shows why de gustibus non est disputandum gets it wrong. We incessantly declare and dispute, in pursuit of social capital or (as it used to be called) social advantage, the very thing that the proverb tells us is beyond dispute. In an important sense, then, our tastes are not even tastes unless we are disputing them. As long as there was perceived social advantage in a taste for high art, and as long as its pursuit mandated the negation and avoidance of the low, the middlebrow could thrive—but, much more vitally, so could high art itself in countries, like the United States, without a tradition of aristocratic patronage. The middlebrow was part of the support system that sustained the art that could not pay its way, of which classical music was perhaps the archetype. The middlebrow’s much-deplored, easily derided commercial enterprises gave classical music a purchase it now seems to be losing irreversibly.
Taruskin, Richard. Cursed Questions . University of California Press. Kindle Edition.But, you know, my own personal history is at odds with this. I really never pursued classical music because of some notion of social advantage as there was none--not where I came from. There was only a sort of diffuse notional advantage in that knowledge of classical music, along with literature, philosophy, history and so forth, did offer one a wide perspective that, patently, was not very common.
Dear neighbours, I am temporarily living on the 7th floor, apartment 30. I will begin practising my singing on the coming Friday. My aim is to practise daily for around 2 hours between the hours 14-18.My apologies in advance for the extra noise caused.Kind regards,Karita Mattila