Tag: music

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Ho hum. As often as conservative mourn the aesthetic traditions of our grandparents and centuries past, the sadder tale might be the indifference with which excellent works are met in an era when artistic talents abound and replicas of masterworks are obtainable at any Walmart.  Preview Open

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Should an Artist’s Wishes be Honored Posthumously?

 

Unknown When I heard that Harper Lee planned to publish a second novel, I got to thinking about whether or not artists should have a say in what happens to their unpublished works after they die. Harper Lee is still with us, of course, but how “with us” she may be is a matter of some dispute: she suffered a stoke in 2007, and has not been the same since.

I first pondered this question years ago when I read that Frédéric Chopin had requested on his deathbed that his unpublished manuscripts be burned. His mother and his sisters ultimately declined to honor this request, and went on to publish 23 of his piano works. Among them is one of his most famous compositions, the Fantasie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor.

My instinct is to honor the artist’s wishes. While the Fantasie-Impomptu certainly seems like a fully realized work, only the composer can know if a work is actually complete. Another good example is Mahler’s 10th Symphony, which he was composing when he died in 1911. With the exception of the Adagio — which was almost certainly completed by the composer — conductors like Leonard Bernstein, Bruno Walter, and Claudio Abbado refused to perform what was left of the work. Mahler was a meticulous composer, often making adjustments to his symphonies long after their premier. For this reason, it is a fairly safe assumption that he would not have wanted any part of the 10th Symphony to be performed. The same applies to “Blumine,” the movement Mahler dropped after the premier of his First symphony.

Musicians vs. Politicians, Part XCLVII

 

As Gov. Scott Walker took the stage at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit, a Celtic-tinged rock tune blared through the speakers. The song pumped up the crowd and garnered a few compliments on social media.

Campaign walk-on music usually consists of patriotic standards, inoffensive baby boomer nostalgia, or “Beautiful Day” by U2. (If C-SPAN paid ASCAP fees, Bono & Co. would own the network by now.)

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Christmas for my family ended at eleven o’clock last night with aching feet and dishpan hands. Because we celebrate on Christmas Eve, it’s not unusual for Christmas Day to leave us feeling rather flat. But hey, it’s still Christmas – and there are 12 days more of it – so there’s no reason for the […]

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Happy Birthday, Ludwig

 

Today is the 244th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, an occasion you may wish to celebrate by watching the video below of a performance of his 9th Symphony featuring Sir Georg Solti, Jessye Norman, and the London Philharmonic. I pity the man who is unmoved by Beethoven’s music.

http://youtu.be/QG2G4X6IMY4

The Most Menacing Time of the Year? An Annotated Guide to Troubling Christmas Music

 

I’ll admit it: I’m totally, hopelessly soft when it comes to Christmas. The trees, the lights, the otherwise indefensible notion that egg nog is something that should be consumed by humans rather than used to patch roofs — I go a little weak in the knees for all of it.

So it was that I found myself at home a few nights ago setting up the Christmas tree — a process that, in the Senik household, features an inadvisable mix of hard liquor and 10-foot ladders — with my iPod navigating an array of seasonal music. That’s when I noticed it: Peel away the cotton candy melodies and you will find, in the lyrics of many of our most beloved Christmas standards, a buffet of human dysfunction and malfeasance totally subversive of the ostensibly cheery holiday sentiment. As a public service (something the courts have been pretty insistent about where I’m concerned lately) I hereby provide you with a shorthand guide to some of the most troubling lyrical narratives of the Christmas season:

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As a GenXer, I came of age in the era of 70’s and 80’s rock music (classic rock and pop), migrated to late 80’s alternative for a while, then contemporary Christian in the 90’s.  With the occasional exception, I really have no love for most the 90’s and 00’s in terms of music.  Not really […]

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Florence Foster Jenkins, Patron Saint of Persistence

 

There are two opposing strains in American conservatism. The scolding, risk-averse strain likes nothing more than to remind people – especially young people – that no one is a special snowflake. In fact, you’re probably a bigger failure than you think you are. And no, you most likely shouldn’t follow your dreams.

The other strain recognizes the importance of risk taking and admires risk-takers (or at least admires them when they succeed). This is the strain that delights in pointing out that big government crushes big dreams. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen, the less scope there is for the big dreamers of the world.

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Of Cartoons and Advertising

 

My younger generation might not know symphonies and concertos by name, but we recognize many melodies. Relatively few of us have attended classical performances — and fewer still seek them out — but we have at least a passing knowledge of the great composers’ works, even if we never listen to the songs all the way through and know little about the composers themselves. 

How did we gain this basic familiarity with classical music?  Through TV advertisements, film soundtracks, and (like Baby Boomers) through Looney Tunes.  The latest generation is learning these songs through video games like Peggle.  

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Editor Gabriel elevates Ramones to the exalted position of rescuing music. ‘By 1976, rock music had run its course’ he claims. ELP and Yes were ‘pretentious’ and there was nothing worthy at all in The Bee Gees or The Bay City Rollers. ‘Rock had become overproduced, overwrought and no fun at all,’ he says. Ugghhh! This narrow […]

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Why The Ramones Mattered

 

RamonesSocialismLate last night and into today, music lovers mourned the passing of Tommy Ramone — the last original member of the seminal New York band. Why the outpouring of affection for a group that never topped the charts? Although they weren’t the most popular, The Ramones were arguably the most influential band since the Beatles.

By 1976, rock music had run its course. The raw, raucous, rebellious teenage anthems of the ‘50s and ’60s had given way to plastic imitations. The Bee Gees and KC and the Sunshine Band played in the discos. The Bay City Rollers and “Afternoon Delight” topped the charts. The more serious listeners were wearing out pretentious LPs like Brain Salad Surgery and Tales from Topographic Oceans (the latter a double album with just four songs, carrying understated titles such as “The Revealing Science of God [Dance of the Dawn]”).

Rock had become overproduced, overwrought and no fun at all.

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Ricochet is rightly proud of its Code of Conduct. Nonetheless, having such a code is not unique. I belong to two other organizations — the Society of Actuaries and the Barbershop Harmony Society — that require their members to adhere to a Code. And friends, I regret to inform you that the latter’s Code of […]

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I went to a concert Tuesday evening. It was chamber music performed by five members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. They played several pieces in various configurations. They started with Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Keyboard Number 2 in A major BWV 1015. In Bach’s time, the modern pianoforte didn’t exist. The small keyboard instruments […]

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Classical Music We Love to Hate—Midget Faded Rattlesnake

 

Our most recent thread on classical music favorites revealed a surprising amount of hate for Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Or maybe it’s not surprising. Perhaps there’s no surer way to torture a music lover than to force him to listen to music that doesn’t, for whatever reason, meet his expectations of what music should be. And that got me thinking about classical music that I hate. Turns out there’s a fair amount of it.

I can’t be the only one around here who feels passionate hatred for certain pieces of classical music, so I thought it would be fun to start a thread on what classical music we hate and why. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite hates:

Worship or American Idol-atry? — Jon Gabriel

 

My wife and I have dragged our daughters to many churches over the past several years. We’ve enjoyed most of the sermons, congregations, programs and pastors, and my wife has liked most of the music. As for me, I’ve pretty much given up on finding any worship music that doesn’t drive me a bit batty.

For background, I’m a plain-old Christian, sans denomination, though I have enjoyed Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, Reformed and other congregations over the years. Most of the churches I’ve attended are evangelical, with several that would fit into the “megachurch” category. Most have offered inspiring teaching with solid, if not terribly deep, theology. But the music… oh heavens, the music.

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I first encountered Tenebrae at a Lutheran church, conducted, with German efficiency, all at once on Maundy Thursday night. Just as it grew dark, the congregation entered a sanctuary lit by two candelabra. As the story of the Last Supper and Passion was read, interspersed with gloriously dirge-like hymns, and maybe a motet by the […]

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First Concert, Last Concert and Best Concert — Jon Gabriel

 

As many of my Twitter followers know (and regret), I’m a bit of a music geek. In the evenings, I often spin obscure tunes, inflicting my off-kilter tastes on an unwilling audience. Yes, it’s tragic when people don’t recognize genius in their midst, but I soldier on. In addition to collecting terabytes of MP3s (and before that CDs, cassettes and vinyl), I’ve always loved live music. Heading into a busy weekend, I’d love to hear the first concert you ever attended, the last concert you attended, and your favorite show of all time. Here’s mine:

First Concert: Cheap Trick