Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Musical Weekend

Saturday was for the Rainier Symphony. They did a wonderful job on the Brahms 3rd Symphony. A difficult work.
It was quite revealing to hear it played in the intimate IKEA hall in Renton, WA.
Being close to the orchestra allows one to hear more of the intricate detail. I usually think of Brahms as a nice warm blanket, but, up close and live it has much more going on internally.
The Rainier is an all volunteer orchestra.
They are presently having a fund drive. They are looking for 75 grand. one of the things they want to do is hire a "consultant" for "development" that brings chills.
Anyway more power to 'em
Hey! Joshua Bell was just awarded 75 grand! (*)
I like to see things that aren't and say "Why Not"
So, Sunday. Poncho theater at Cornish. (John Cage and others)
The Seattle Chamber Players. A quartet of excellent musicians.
Season Preview Concert. A potpourri of pieces from around the world. No Cello this time, but various duets for piano & violin, flute & tape, clarinet & piano, violin & portable tape recorder, alto flute & guitar, clarinet & tape.
Loved it all! Yes I did.
Especially Paul Taub's flute.
It seems to me that a lot of new music is based on a sort of hypnotic appeal.
Tape pieces are often "noise" assemblies that provide a background of infinitly deep sound over which the lead instrument plays without interacting. Individual against environment so to speak. Attitude vs message. Alone in a universe not of our making. Who knows?
No tunes.
Is writing a melody really that hard, or is it just too revealing for a composer to declare "This Is A Melody and I expect you to see what I really mean by it"?
Are we all becoming cast adrift in the space between ourselves and the noise of the world we live in?
Afraid of our vulnurability
This is getting heavy, I feel a giggle coming on.
The modern day composer wants your love.
I mean what's wrong with a little sentiment, anyway?

O.K. Monday.
Monday is composition class w/ David Paul Mesler @ Seattle Central Community College
We discuss melody, tunes, songs.
What distingushes a melody from a random string of notes?
Why do things like Greensleeves or Amazing Grace or other lines have such a deep impact?
What is the psychological connection that makes these noises different?
How do you write one?
What would you do with the royalties from "Yesterday"?
Writing a good tune is even harder than finding a name for a piece.
At least it is for me.
Anyway, listen to Stardust some time and tell me how it manages to be such a lovely tune and at the same time be so totally, noodly, random.

(*) J. Bell also has about thirty two dollars he can't have too much use for.



Blogger butch said...


Sounds like you and Frau really soaked up the classical culture last weekend. I really envy your dedication and follow-through, raising your middle digit to the profit whores at SSO, and supporting the community classical offerings there in Renton, and over at Cornish. Does the UofW have a lot to offer from its music department, or Seattle U?

I have never heard Brahms' Symphony #3, but it certainly is intruiging to know you dig it. Here is some data I found regarding it:

Johannes Brahms - Symphony No.3, Op.90
Key: F Major
Orch: 2 Fl., 2 Ob., 2 Cl., 2 Bsn., 1 Cbsn. / 4 Hrn., 2 Tpt., 3 Tbn. / Timp. / Str.
Approx.: 32 Min.
Composed: 1883

Allegro con brio
Poco Allegretto

Mozart composed his Symphony no. 1 at the age of eight. Brahms did not finish his first symphony until he was forty-three. The delay is not due to a lesser degree of talent. Rather, Brahms put off the task because he was intimidated by the example of a previous composer, a musical marvel with whom Mozart did not have to contend. By the late 1800s, Beethoven had come to represent the epitome of symphonists, the standard against whom everyone would be compared. Brahms delayed writing symphonies because he knew he would face that comparison, and he was right. When his First Symphony at last appeared, it was hailed as "Beethoven's Tenth." His Second Symphony was seen as analogous to Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony, and his Third Symphony was dubbed by "Brahms' Eroica," by renowned conductor Hans Richter. Such epithets might have annoyed Brahms, but at least they were intended as compliments. They were admissions that Brahms' works shared the mastery and genius of those by Beethoven.
Brahms' Third Symphony was written in the summer of 1883. The fifty-year-old composer was spending that summer in Wiesbaden, where his friend, the contralto Hermine Spies, lived. As usual, it turned into a working vacation. Brahms set to revising some pieces he had originally written as music for Goethe's Faust. Gradually, they evolved into the central movements of a four-movement Symphony in F major, his Third Symphony, which had its premiere December 2, 1883 as Hans Richter conducted the Vienna Philharmonic. Beginning with that first appearance, the piece was highly acclaimed. The famed critic, Eduard Hanslick, viewed it as the most perfect of Brahms' symphonies, "the most compact in form, the clearest in the details," and orchestral directors apparently agreed. The symphony quickly reached the stages of Berlin, Leipzig, Meiningen, and Wiesbaden. Its popularity was such that, before long, the composer took to calling his Third Symphony "the unfortunately over-famous symphony." Performances may have been too frequent for Brahms' own tastes, but it was, indeed, a masterpiece, worthy of such adulation. Even the great English master, Sir Edward Elgar once remarked, "I look at the Third Symphony of Brahms and I feel like a tinker."

© Elizabeth Schwarm Glesner

I do get excited just reading Italian words like allegro con brio, Andante, and Poco Allegretto. They have a poetry, or music itself in them as they roll off one's tongue. Perhaps you can elaborate for we composition and classical music neophytes. That would be cool.

I wonder if you could contact Paul Taub and get him to play a Palmer handmade flute, just to see what it sounded like with a master's lips wrapped around it.

Man, you were heavy into theory and philosophy when you penned this posting. "Are we becoming cast adrift in the space between ourselves and the noise of the world we live in?" Are you asking if we are disconnected, spaced out?
Please specify and elaborate on these points. They lead us in a fascinating direction. You know philosophers refer to the "music of the spheres", and metaphsically their are those who believe that this is the only plane of existance on which, in which, there is not a constant humm of music in the air constantly. No, not street noise that can suggest, or be contorted into a cantada --real music. That each entity hears his or her own music; that there are other entities and spirit guides that get to know all the likes and dislikes and quirks of each inhabitant, and they compose a 24/7 symphony that plays in their cranium at will; no need for an ipod that will deafen you and give you cancer. So for me, I would be hearing big choral arrangements, and back up strings when I pass through the mists in the mountains. I swear sometimes I can hear it even here, on earth. In the barrio I would hear slide guitar blues, and gutteral bluesspeak, like those great blues rip off the super groups do, like WHEN THE LEVY BREAKS by Led Zepplin, or WAITING FOR THE BUS: WHEN JESUS DONE LEFT CHICAGO by ZZ Top, and some of the early Rolling Stones. The Beatles never quite got past R&B did they? No kick ass blues for the mop heads. Ever notice how similar the Chinese reed sounds like the Native American flute, or the South American pan flute? Give me a dose of Ry Cooder or Stevie Ray Vaughn anytime; right now would be cool.

Man, get off the nihilist kick. "Alone in the Universe not of our making," No, no, no. Together in the universe we co-created with All-That-Is. Never alone. We have our pets, our spouses, our thoughts, our talent, and in the grave even our flesh has insects, mice, and worms to keep in company. Never alone, but sometimes lonely. Just get busy. Just do it. Exorcise that grinch that is selling you a line of bullshit, sir. And God forbid that we ever exist in the devilish vacuum "without tunes". Even the tone deaf, and the totally deaf live in lively silence, hearing their own heartbeat, right?

Thanks for sharing.


7:19 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Sir Savent:

I forgot to ask, who the hell is Joshua Bell? So I was forced to go and find out for myself:

Joshua Bell was born in Bloomington, Indiana, the son of a psychologist and a therapist.[1] Bell's father was the late Alan P. Bell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Indiana University, in Bloomington, a former Kinsey researcher.[2] Bell began taking violin lessons at the age of four when his mother discovered her son had taken rubber bands from around the house and stretched them across the handles of his dresser drawer and to pluck out music he had heard her play on the piano. His parents got him a scaled-to-size violin for their then five-year-old son and started giving him lessons. A bright student, Bell took to the instrument but lived an otherwise normal midwest Indiana life playing video games and excelling at sports, namely tennis and bowling, even placing in a national tennis tournament at the age of ten.[3] Bell studied as a boy first under Mimi Zweig, then switched to Josef Gingold after assurances from Bell's parents that they were not interested in pushing their son in the study of the violin but simply wanted him to have the best teacher for their son's abilities. Satisfied that the boy was living a normal life, Gingold took Bell on as his student and to this day, Bell speaks of Gingold fondly as a great teacher and mentor. At the age of fourteen, Bell appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti. He studied the violin at the Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, while managing to graduate from Bloomington High School North in 1984,[4] a year ahead of schedule.

[edit] Career
Joshua Bell made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He has since performed with almost all of the world's major orchestras and conductors. As well as the standard concerto repertoire, Bell has performed new works—he is the dedicatee of Nicholas Maw's violin concerto, the recording of which won Bell a Grammy, and gave the world premiere of the work in 1993. He performed the solo part on John Corigliano's Oscar-winning soundtrack for the film The Red Violin and was also featured in Ladies in Lavender. Bell also made an appearance in the movie Music of the Heart, a story about the power of music, with other notable violinists.

Bell's instrument is a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin called the Gibson ex Huberman, which was made in 1713 during what is known as Antonio Stradivari's "Golden Era." This violin had been stolen twice from the previous owner, Bronislaw Huberman; the last time the thief confessed to the act on his deathbed.[5] Bell had held and played the violin, and its owner at the time jokingly told Bell the violin could be his for four million dollars. Shortly thereafter, by chance, Bell came across the violin again and discovered it was about to be sold to a German industrialist to become part of a collection. According to the Joshua Bell website (joshuabell.com), Bell is quoted as saying "I was practically in tears" in reaction to the sale of the violin to the German industrialist. Bell then reportedly sold his current Stradivarius, the Tom Taylor, for a little more than two million dollars and made the purchase of the Gibson ex Huberman for a little under the four million dollar asking price. His first recording made with the Gibson ex Huberman was Romance of the Violin (under Sony Classical) in 2003. It sold more than 5,000,000 copies and remained at the top of classical music charts for 54 weeks. Joshua Bell's most recent CD is called the "Voice of the Violin" and was released in September 2006. It features vocal pieces arranged for the violin.

Bell is an artistic partner for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (starting in the 2004–2005 season) and a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also serves on the artists selection committee for the Kennedy Center Honors and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[6]

In a curious experiment, Bell played as an incognito street busker at the Metro station L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. Among 1,097 people who passed by, only one recognized him and only a couple more were drawn to his music. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 (not counting $20 from the passerby who recognized him).[5]

It was announced on April 8, 2007 that Bell had won the Avery Fisher Prize, given once every few years to classical instrumentalists for outstanding achievement. It was awarded at Lincoln Center on April 10, 2007. [7]

[edit] Personal life
Joshua Bell has never been married and does not have any children. His mother, Shirley Bell, continues to reside in Bloomington, Indiana, where she works with gifted children. He has one older half sister Terry, an older sister, Toby Jo Bell, and a younger sister, Rachel Bell.

Bell currently resides in Gramercy Park, Manhattan.

Gee, I wonder if Josh Bell would be interested in putting a Palmer original handmade violin or viola through their paces. He sounds like a guy with both a sense of humor, and who is in touch with all the music crashing through his system from several parallel dimensions. Contact the guy in New York, and find out if he is going to do any concerts here in Seattle, or B.C., and then do a publicity piece with him playing one of your violins, and manage to slip in some vitreolic comments about SSO in the interum.


11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for melody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We need more of them!!! Why are contemporary composers other than D. Palmer afraid to write them???
In January I heard many fabulous melodies in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" which just had its premiere in a new production here at the State Theater in the city where I live. Great!! I can't hear these melodies too often!!!!
One reason contemporary classical compositions don't remain in repertory is that they do NOT have MELODIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joshua Bell's recital partner is pianist Jeremy Denk, who also has a greaat Blogspot (Jeremydenk.blogspot.com), "Think Denk", well worth visiting.
Could this partnership be the reason both are "unmarried"??????

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More typos by me:
Jeremy Denk's Blogspot is "great", not "greaat", unless that means VERY great; then it IS the correct word!
Jeremy's blogsite is: jeremydenk.blogspot.com

8:18 AM  

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