Tag: Classical Music

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In need of a break from the ugliness of politics, I turned to my current favorite classical guitarist, Xuefei Yang, an example of the best of China. As I noted in a recent post on music memories, her work points back, in part, to Julian Bream. Bream was a masters of the guitar and lute, […]

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Xuefei Yang posted two short pieces recently. “Three Variations on Plum Blossom” demonstrated her talent interpreting traditional Chinese music on the classical guitar. A week earlier, a Dubussy piece, arranged by Julian Bream, called to mind my earliest encounters with classical guitar music, when Julian Bream was one of the leading masters of the guitar […]

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“A light, bright, fine day this will remain throughout my whole life. As from afar, the magic notes of Mozart’s music still gently haunt me. A world that has produced a Mozart is a world worth saving. What a picture of a better world you have given us, Mozart!” –Franz Schubert Playlist 8: Mozart and […]

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The Best of the Great Courses

 

I listened to my first Teaching Company courses, now known as The Great Courses, over 20 years ago. A dear friend suggested that I listen to The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Prof. Daniel N. Robinson. It was magnificent, and I soon had finished ALL of Prof. Robinson’s courses: The Great Ideas of Psychology, Consciousness and Its Implications, Greek Legacy: Classical Origins of the Modern World, and American Ideals: Founding a “Republic of Virtues.” Every course was incredibly illuminating.

In college, I could count the number of Great professors on one hand: my Trig/Statistics/Calculus professor, an American History professor, and the great David Bell, an English professor. Daniel N. Robinson had all the qualities of a great teacher, primarily the ability to present a survey class, like The Great Ideas of Philosophy, which included the Western philosophers from the pre-Socratics into the 20th century, as if he were a full believer of the philosopher on whom he was lecturing.

I have since listened to (and occasionally viewed, but I much prefer listening while driving or walking) dozens more. Here is a list of some of the other professors I find to be great, “great” meaning I will listen to their courses again and again with unfailing pleasure.

Mozart: The Child, the Myth, and the Man

 

“Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement…21 piano sonatas, 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, 18 masses, 13 operas, 9 oratorios and cantata, 2 ballets, 40 plus concertos for various instruments, string quartets, trios and quintets, violin and piano duets, piano quartets, and the songs. This astounding output includes hardly one work less than a masterpiece.” — George Szell, Hungarian conductor

Chapter Playlist 3: Mozart and Great Music (16 videos, 6 hrs. 20 min)

How do we account for Mozart’s amazing skills as a composer and performer?

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Music featuring wind instruments has never been central to my home catalog. Yet, a series of performers and pieces, across genres, stand out over the decades of my life. This is the windy music soundtrack of my life. My mother likes jazz, while my father does not. So, us kids got early exposure to jazz […]

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Why We Need Mozart Now More than Ever

 

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”
— Mozart

“In art there is Leonardo da Vinci, in literature there is Shakespeare, in music there is Mozart.”
— Itzhak Perlman

In this age of political unrest and divisiveness, one question stands out: Why is Mozart great?

Ты будешь моим другом?: Thanksgiving for Unlikely Musical Friends

 

The world of classical music, no matter the age, is not one that we think of as full of friendship. And with good reason; the tales of divas, rivalry, and compositional disputes are far more rife than any about peaceful partners and easily co-written sonatas. But when, once in a blue moon, a deep and abiding musical friendship occurs, then it almost always produces beauty that we can be thankful for. 

On the face of it, Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten were unlikely candidates to be friends. There was a fourteen year age gap between the two men (Britten, born in 1913, was the elder), they came from entirely different, indeed opposing, societies, and knew nothing of each other up to the moment of meeting. In fact, right up until Dmitri Shostakovitch offered to set up a meeting, the Soviet cellist thought that Britten was centuries dead, a contemporary of Purcell. 

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A presidential election year means one thing for rock musicians: demands that Republican office-seekers not use their music. This year such champions of principle and justice as Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and Neil Young insist that President Trump cease and desist. Preview Open

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If you’re looking for a book of sheet music for Star Wars or Lord of the Rings in Wasilla, Alaska, you aren’t going to find one. No way. But if your father is a drummer residing in Los Angeles who loves any excuse to hit a music store, you may be in luck — quarantine […]

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Mae Mae’s Cooking Up More Than Food for Your Belly

 

Mae Mae’s Happy Table brings home cooking and home-spun wisdom to YouTube. Mae Mae, with her husband Tuck on the camera, has recently added a weekly meal video, with each item explained and likely detailed in a separate video. This week, we got even more. Mae Mae had been visiting relatives and live-streamed a meal at a restaurant. This prompted Karens to attack and Mae Mae responded in the strength of the Lord. Never mind The Rock, do you smell what Mae Mae’s cooking?

Here is a delicious, homely meal of green beans from Tuck’s garden, rolls from the store, sweet tea (naturally), and a delicious pot roast.

Home Cooking and Concert, 1st Week of July

 

As America heads into a long holiday weekend, however distorted by the great political fight for permanent tyranny or another season of liberty, it is fitting and proper that we should again reflect on our many blessings, including our national heritage. Our basic governing document has only been truly changed, legitimately amended, 27 times in 233 years, with 10 all at once at the very beginning, part of the agreement under which the base document of the Constitution was ratified.

We all profit by Saint Paul’s admonition to the early church at Philippi:

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Your occasional musical correspondent was perambulating though the all too quiet streets of his metropolis, if a jumped up small town street may be so called. The quiet was on account of the orders from our state’s great lord Ducey. Into the silence sprang the musical muse. “What of Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony in B minor, […]

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Classy Music from a Garden in Spring

 

My new favorite classical guitarist, Xuefei Yang, has taken to playing short pieces for us from her garden. It is very professionally done, the guitar coming through perfectly along with a bubbling fountain and birds chirping. The camera looks through the branches of a tree, blossoming in spring. Enjoy!

Music critic and historian Ted Gioia joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the 4,000-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval—topics explored in his new book, Music: A Subversive History.

The music business is a $10 billion industry today. But according to Gioia, innovative songs have always come from outsiders—the poor, the unruly, and the marginalized. The culmination of his decades of writing about music, Gioia’s new book is a celebration of the social outcasts who continue to define this art form.

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The problem with working is that I have to rely on Lileks to find out when I’ve missed a great post, so it’s always too late for me to comment. But both of Doc Robert’s posts ( Why We Need People Who Have ‘Too Much Money’ and Memories of the Cleveland Orchestra, 10/4/19) strike near […]

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Cloudburst — only a paper cloud?

 

“Tell me, burnt earth: Is there no water? Is there only dust? Is there only the blood of bare-footed footsteps on the thorns?” “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

Eric Whitacre is a conductor and composer with matinee-idol good looks, personal magnetism, a slick marketing strategy, and arguably common sense, too: he recommends young composers not waste time acquiring training in academic theory beyond what they need to write music that sounds good. Whitacre is beloved in the choral world, but also, sometimes, disdained — for being overrated (he is, although overrated can still be good), for being gimmicky (also true, though his gimmicks often land), and for writing music “suffused with a sense of easy spiritual uplift… Everything [is] maximally radiant and beautiful, and beautifully sung. And that [is] the problem.”

If that’s the problem, it’s a problem many composers would like to have. Or at least it’s a problem many performing musicians wish the composers whose music they have to perform had. Our disdainer continues, “Whitacre is so sincere I suspect he would glow in the dark.”