This is giving me some ideas, I have to say. I am working on my string quartet and I have a section where all the instruments are doing glissandi in different directions and my Finale program frankly just isn't up to it! So I may have to see if Garageband can handle it. Looks like it might...
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Here is a wonderful interview with ex-Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating who is an avid (perhaps obsessive) aficionado of classical music.
If you're going to listen, then listen!KEATING: I’m a listener; I’m not an occasional listener. I find it very difficult to do something with music in the background. In fact, I can’t do something with music in the background. I always have to listen. So, what I normally do, I block out about six hours on a Saturday afternoon. I generally begin about 2:00 in the afternoon and finish about 8:00; but I’m always finishing on the big symphony, and after eight the neighbors, you wear the neighbors down, so I don’t press my luck past 8:00 p.m.KAPLAN: That’s amazing.KEATING: Yeah. I have six hours but I start off on some songs, or a violin concerto, or some encore pieces by Fritz Kreisler or, you know, something I was playing last week, I was playing Fritz Kreisler, playing in 1929 the Mendelssohn. There’s just a kind of lyricism that comes with that middle European feeling, you know? It was not something I had played for years, but there it was, and I thought, how good is that?KAPLAN: Wonderful. So that’s quite extraordinary. You actually play music non-stop for six hours on a Saturday afternoon.KEATING: Yup.
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Alex Ross rediscovers Salieri in this week's New Yorker.
Salieri is one of history’s all-time losers—a bystander run over by a Mack truck of malicious gossip. Shortly before he died, in 1825, a story that he had poisoned Mozart went around Vienna. In 1830, Alexander Pushkin used that rumor as the basis for his play “Mozart and Salieri,” casting the former as a doltish genius and the latter as a jealous schemer. Later in the nineteenth century, Rimsky-Korsakov turned Pushkin’s play into a witty short opera. In 1979, the British playwright Peter Shaffer wrote “Amadeus,” a sophisticated variation on Pushkin’s concept, which became a mainstay of the modern stage. Five years after that, Miloš Forman made a flamboyant film out of Shaffer’s material, with F. Murray Abraham playing Salieri as a suave, pursed-lipped malefactor.Lovely summary!
The classical-music world has fostered a kind of gated community of celebrity composers. Our star fixation produces the artistic equivalent of income inequality, in which vast resources fall into the hands of a few. That arrangement lands particularly hard on contemporary composers, who must compete with a group of semi-mythical figures who are worshipped as house gods. Salieri is better seen as the patron saint of musicians who prefer to live in a republic of like-minded souls rather than in an authoritarian regime where only certain voices count. With that in mind, I left my cheap rose on Salieri’s grave.I'm not quite sure that I welcome Salieri as my patron saint...
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One of my obsessions is how little most musicians get paid. Here with one story is techcrunch:
Tired of noisy music venues where you can hardly see the stage? Sofar Sounds puts on concerts in people’s living rooms where fans pay $15 to $30 to sit silently on the floor and truly listen. Nearly 1 million guests have attended Sofar’s more than 20,000 gigs. Having attended a half dozen of the shows, I can say they’re blissful… unless you’re a musician trying to make a living. In some cases, Sofar pays just $100 per band for a 25 minute set, which can work out to just $8 per musician per hour or less. Hosts get nothing, and Sofar keeps the rest, which can range from $1,100 to $1,600 or more per gig — many times what each performer takes home. The argument was that bands got exposure, and it was a tiny startup far from profitability.The exploitation of young musicians by wily promoters is an old, old story.
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A violist friend alerted me to the fact that the new emperor of Japan is an avid violist a while ago. Now Slipped Disc has the story that President Donald Trump, on his recent visit to Japan, presented the new emperor with a viola:
Slipped Disc has learned that the viola was sold to the US State Department by a violin shop in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was made in 1938 by Ivan W. Allison of Charleston, West Virginia.Message from Joe Joyner, owner of the Little Rock Violin Shop:On April 30th I heard a news story that Japan’s Emperor Akihito was stepping down and that his son, Naruhito, would be taking his place. 24 hours later I received a call from the U.S. State Department seeking an American made viola to give as a diplomatic gift. Shortly after this call, I began seeing news stories about Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito being a violist.Nearly a month later, I can now say that last week I sold the Emperor’s new viola, an instrument made in 1938 by Ivan W. Allison of Charleston, West Virginia. The instrument was presented to Emperor Naruhito by President Donald Trump today.
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Let's have a listen to the Viola Concerto by William Walton. This is the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra with soloist Antoine Tamestit: