Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Morning harmony

May 20, 2015

Yesterday’s morning name was L’Estro Armonico:

L’Estro Armonico (Harmonic Inspiration), Op. 3, is a collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1711. It augmented the reputation of Vivaldi as Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest) [so called because of the color of his hair, a family trait; Vivaldi was ordained as a priest at the age of 25]. Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot described the set as “perhaps the most influential collection of instrumental music to appear during the whole of the eighteenth century”. (Wikipedia link)

On YouTube, a recording of Concerto #06 in A minor for solo violin, strings and basso continuo, RV 356:

Don’t shade your eyes

May 18, 2015

Today’s Zits:

Has Jeremy been involved in “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” (NOAD2)? Well, he’s certainly passed off as his own work something that was not. His defense appears to be that there is no person whose work this was; he wasn’t stealing from anyone. A bold move, but one that’s not flying with his teacher.


Morning tune

May 12, 2015

Yesterday morning it wasn’t a name, exactly; it was a theme song, from the tv sitcom Three’s Company, that was stuck in my head. And remained stuck, as a dreadful earworm, all day long.

Here it is, if you’re willing to expose yourself to it:

Now to the show and its star, John Ritter.


Keith Jarrett

May 11, 2015

[Mostly about music, rather than language.]

Yesterday on NPR, an interview with pianist Keith Jarrett, on the occasion of his 70th birthday (and the 40th anniversary of his most famous performance, in Köln). From the interview:

Keith Jarrett hit a milestone this past week: The famed jazz pianist turned 70 years old, and he’s decided to mark the occasion with two new releases. One offers his take on two important classical works [by Samuel Barber and Béla Bartók]; the other, Creation, documents how his creative process plays out in front of a host of live audiences.

For Jarrett, inspiration and execution occur almost simultaneously. He doesn’t know what he’s going to play when he sits down to play a concert and simply allows the music to come to him. Creation is a collection of live recordings from throughout 2014, reshuffled into what could pass as one long improvised performance.

Jarrett today:



“The most famous beaver of the 17th century”

May 7, 2015

That’s what I thought I heard from the WQXR announcer last night. But then she went on to tell us about Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata VII in G for violin, which made a lot more sense than a 17th-century beaver.

Biber with a /b/, beaver with a /v/: acoustically very close.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern (12 August 1644 (baptised) – 3 May 1704) was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist. (Wikipedia link)

Ignaz Pleyel

April 29, 2015

Ignaz Pleyel’s Symphony in G Major (Benton 130) went by me on WQXR (classical music in NYC) yesterday, and I was reminded what a fascinating character Pleyel is. This will lead us to shapenote singing and then, via the composer’s personal name, to the Jesuits and Krazy Kat.


Armenian days

April 27, 2015

Some time ago I came to consciousness in the middle of the night to intriguing music from WQXR (classical music from NYC): a collage of melodies, many hauntingly semi-familiar. Hmm, Charles Ives? Not any Ives I recognized, and quieter and less assertive than you expect from Ives. Unfamiliar and charming.

Symphony No. 50 Mount St Helens by Alan Hovhaness. And that took me to Armenians in the U.S., especially to the west of Boston (near where I lived when I was in grad school); to the Armenian diaspora; and to the genocide, a hundred years ago, that triggered the dispersal of Armenians.


Elsa Lanchester

April 27, 2015

In idle chat with Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky at breakfast on Saturday, Elsa Lanchester’s album Bawdy Cockney Songs came up, including the double entendre in “Linda and her Londonderry Air”. My grand-daughter Opal finds these songs entertaining, but we’re not sure how much of this stuff she gets.

From the album, two songs (“The Husband’s Clock”, “Lola’s Saucepan”):

Then I pointed out that beyond her music hall performances, Lanchester was a well-known actress (most famous for Bride of Frankenstein but quite accomplished in many other, less campy, roles) and also the wife of Charles Laughton, with whom she often acted.


Morning: Great American Dream Machine

April 26, 2015

This morning’s name: the television show The Great American Dream Machine. Bonus: grades of olives and their names.


Youthful enthusiasms

April 24, 2015

(About music rather than language.)

In the May Harper’s, an entertaining piece on “New Music” by Terry Castle — a literary scholar (specializing in the history of the novel) at Stanford, and sometime writer on popular culture. The Harper’s piece is about old music become new, focusing on Robin Williamson, once of the Incredible String Band.

Terry begins with a confession:

Is there anything more shaming than doting on the electrified English folk-rock of the late Sixties and early Seventies? It’s taken me, I confess, a dreadfully long time to come to terms with it — to acknowledge that I adore, nay, have always adored, the whole tambourinetapping, raggle-taggle mob of them: Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, John Renbourn, Shirley Collins, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior, Richard and Linda Thompson, Lindisfarne. I still venerate Jethro Tull and its leader, the psychedelic flutist Ian Anderson, unforgettable for his dandified overcoat, harelike skittishness, and giant comic aureole of red beard and frizzy hair. It’s like admitting you’d rather go to the local Renaissance Faire than hear Mahler’s Lieder at Wigmore Hall.

One is cruelly dated by one’s doting. The British fad for switched-on folk reached its apogee somewhere between 1968, when the Incredible String Band released its sitar-laced masterwork, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and 1978, the year that the lissome but likely inebriated Sandy Denny, former lead singer of Fairport Convention, died of blunt head trauma after falling down a flight of stairs. Yes, one capered and twirled through it all. Alas, one is now fairly eldritch oneself — positively rime-covered.

I shared Terry’s enthusiasms then — and now as well. And I’m a dozen years older than she is. Rime-covered, indeed.



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