Monday, June 18, 2007


I just finished Norman Lebrecht's "Who killed Classical Music"
I just watched "Talladega nights"
I just watched "School of Rock"
I just read P.J. O'Rourke's "CEO of the SOFA"
I have invented an apocryphal history of music.
Caveman 1 bangs on a rock. "Listen to rock music", he says, gets girl.
Caveman2 bangs on 2 rocks. "Me invent counterpoint" he says, takes girl away from Caveman 1.
Things escalate, soon every body is banging on rocks and taking girls from each other.
Soon "Big Guy" takes all the rocks and all the girls
"Me invent MUSIC", he says.
Putting a stop to all that noise.
Thousands of years pass.
People twang on bows, blow through reeds, and bang on everything but rocks, rocks are taboo due to "tradition"
The noise becomes attractive, so religion bans it.
Except for THE CHURCH which uses it to attract customers. A large, hollow, chanting sound is invented that causes people to congregate, kneel down, and kiss up.
Hundreds of years pass.
Sackbuts, shawms, clarinos, chalumeaus, rebecs, rakets, theorbos, colasciones, curtals, citterns, and thousands of other things that make noise are invented.
That's the medieval period.

People find fault with THE CHURCH's music and start experimenting.
The concept of "tune" pops up. The inventor gets the girl.
THE CHURCH clamps down big time.
Thats the dark ages in which Ireland saves civilization.

Counterpoint is invented.
Counterpoint is when a musician hogs a bunch of "tunes" all to himself.
(Academic types try to pretend that there are "rules" to it.
Music begins to die even before it is even born.)
J.S. Bach did this more than anyone else and won, getting two girls, and a bunch of boys.
That was the Baroque (as J.S. said "If it ain't Baroque, it ain't music)

An embarrassed generation tried to make do with one "tune".
Beethoven took this one tune thing as far as it would go by simply repeating one tune over and over untill he won the Classical period.
He got one girl. Who was immortal.
She should speak up. She could undoubtedly shed much light on that part of history.
A very important part of history.
Not only were "liberte", "egalite", "fraternite", invented by the Frenche revolutione, and "democracy" by the American Revolution and the Industrial revolution started by Mesieur Cugnot (he invented the automobile, sort of, but most importantly, Beethoven stumbled, unwittingly, on the holy grail of Rock'n'Roll. (attitude, attitude, just listen to the 4th movement of the 7th symphony, close your eyes and imagine a really good rock drummer working it. Hah?)
That was the classical period.

Everybody else started wearing black, moved into freezing garrets, and got tuberculosis.
This was the Romantic period

One night in a vodka sozzeled dream, Beethoven visits Stravinsky, and leaves a mysterious message. The message was, "remember the rocks"
Stravinsky almost understood and invented "The Rite of Spring", which rocked, sort of.
Stravinsky won that round.
Having failed for millenia to be properly understood, Music apparently decided to commit suicide. For the mext 50 years music turned against itself shedding it's personality a piece at a time, tunes became "tone rows", counterpoint dissappeared,
harmony became a death screech, minimalism set in, somebody put music in a cage and deprived it of all sound whatever. A sad era.
It was called modern.

Fortunatly, thanks to M. Cugnot's invention, (which he called a "Fardier" which means "load carrier" [Hamlet agonized whether he wanted be one of those {he was a prince he'd rather die than bear a fardel]}) the automobile evolved, and with it, the most significant item in realization of real music, the garage.
Because of the garage, teenagers could go there and try to play music without suffering any "musical education".
Finally, music could live free.

Untill the record companies got ahold of it.

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Blogger butch said...

O.K., wow, where do we begin? We have all gone over much of the Lebrecht lexicon often.


Tagline: The story of a man who could only count to #1
Plot Outline #1 NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr. (Reilly). But when a French Formula One driver (Cohen), makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby's talent and devotion are put to the test.
Plot Synopsis: NASCAR stock car racing sensation Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a national hero because of his "win at all costs" approach. He and his loyal racing partner, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly), are a fearless duo -- "Shake" and "Bake" by their fans for their ability to finish so many races in the #1 and #2 positions, with Cal always in second place. When flamboyant French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) challenges "Shake" and "Bake" for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing's top driver.


Turbo-charged comic Jack Black shakes School of Rock to its foundations, wailing with born-again metalhead passion as Dewey Finn, a guitarist who gets kicked out of a band because he grandstands too much--or, to put it another way, enjoys himself. Through an intercepted phone call, Finn gets a job as a substitute teacher for a fifth grade class at a private grade school. Neither students nor teacher quite know what to do with each other until Finn discovers that some of his young charges can play instruments; at once he starts turning them into a blistering rock & roll troupe that can crush his former band at an upcoming competition. School of Rock is silly and formulaic, but director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused), writer Mike White (The Good Girl), and especially Black and co-star Joan Cusack invest the formulas with such glee that the movie is irresistibly fun.


Not content to rest on his laurels, the bestselling humorist O'Rourke (All the Trouble in the World, etc.) instead settles back on his caustic couch to offer a wide-angled worldview from his own living room, his salon of sarcasm. He introduces readers to his assistant, friends, family and smart-aleck babysitter, as he reflects on such topics as cell phones ("People are willing to interrupt anything, including hiding under the bed, to answer a cell phone"), Christmas catalogues, Instant Messaging, MP3s, Nasdaq, toddlers, TV and how the "Gettysburg Address" would have turned out if written on an iMac. On a serious note, he praises the "philosophical legerdemain" of Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He also reviews the "profound cogitations" of Hillary Clinton's 1995 It Takes a Village ("Some kinds of stupidity cannot be faked"), compares Vegas's Venetian resort to the real Venice ("Will video poker ever inspire a novella by Thomas Mann?") and contemplates the results of bias-free language ("What a piece of work is person!"). For "senior-management types," one hilarious chapter explains youth culture and current celebs, including Moby, Eminem, Carson Daly, Hilary Swank and Beck: "Beck dropped out of school after junior high so we can't blame the dot-com mess on him personally." Though his vitriolic wit is couched in humor that elicits the gamut from giggles to guffaws, O'Rourke never cushions its impact. The comedic crescendo is his centerpiece, a summary of mankind's achievements at millennium's end. This insightful (yet also funny) essay alone is worth the price of admission. (Sept.)Forecast: The 150,000 first printing is backed up with an appealing cover photo, a $150,000 promotional budget, a national ad campaign, an 18-city author tour plus online promotion. O'Rourke will undoubtedly find himself on the bestseller list again.

Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros, Managers, and Corporate Politics (Hardcover)
by Norman Lebrecht

A sequel of sorts to The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, Who Killed Classical Music? continues British author and critic Norman Lebrecht's version of the saga of how presenting classical music evolved from the (at least ostensible) nurturing of art into a brutal and fairly sleazy business. Lebrecht finds plenty of heads on which to heap the blame, and more than a few minor deities are toppled from their thrones. He's not always altogether accurate in the small details, but he's eminently readable and he's got the big picture dead on. Like its predecessor, this is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of classical music.

From Library Journal
Shocking! Revealing! Frightening! These cliches from the promoter's vernacular may not be associated with most studies of art music, but they fit this expose of the dirty underside of the classical music world, first published in Britain in 1996 as When the Music Stops. A music writer for the Sunday Times and other publications, Lebrecht believes that the less-than-artistic motives and dealings of present-day star performers, managers, and corporate owners are ruining the art. He presents hard evidence of massive corruption and artistic sell-out in all facets of the field and charts the resultant decline in audience interest. He pulls no punches, naming and pointing his finger at the culprits. The writing is hard-hitting and engaging, although his apocalyptic view is ultimately depressing. Highly recommended.?Timothy J. McGee

The Sackbut (var. Sacbutt; Sackbutt; Sagbutt;), a brass instrument from the Renaissance and Baroque Eras, is an ancestor of the modern trombone. The name is derived from the Middle French sacquer and bouter ("push" and "pull") and the term survives in numerous English spelling variations including sacbut, sagbut, shagbolt and shakbusshe. In France, the instrument was called sacqueboute; in Germany, Posaune, and in Italy, trombone. The term sackbut is usually used to differentiate the historic instrument from its modern counterpart. Increasing interest in authentic performance in recent years has brought many trombonists to the sackbut.

The shawm was a medieval and Renaissance musical instrument of the woodwind family made in Europe from the late 13th century until the 17th century. It was developed from the oriental zurna and is the predecessor of the modern oboe. The body of the shawm was usually turned from a single piece of wood, and terminated in a flared bell somewhat like that of a trumpet. Beginning in the 16th century, shawms were made in several sizes, from sopranino to great bass, and four and five-part music could be played by a consort consisting entirely of shawms. All later shawms had at least one key allowing a downward extension of the compass; the keywork was typically covered by a perforated wooden cover called the fontanelle. The bassoon-like double reed, made from the same Arundo donax cane used for oboes and bassoons, was inserted directly into a socket at the top of the instrument, or in the larger types, on the end of a metal tube called the bocal. The pirouette, a small cylindrical piece of wood with a hole in the middle resembling a thimble, was placed over the reed—this acted as a support for the lips and embouchure. Since only a short portion of the reed protruded past the pirouette, the player had only limited contact with the reed, and therefore limited control of dynamics. The shawm’s conical bore and flaring bell, combined with the style of playing dictated by the use of a pirouette, gave the instrument a piercing, trumpet-like sound well-suited for out-of-doors performance.

The clarion or claro (from the Latin word, clarus "clear," "penetrating," "loud," "shrill") is a type of cylindrical brass instrument dating from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries. The clarion is the ancestor to the trumpet and was used by cavalries in camp and as a signal during war. It had a narrower, and perhaps shorter, tube and produced a more acute and shrill tone than the modern trumpet.

Clarin or clarino also came to refer to melodic playing in the upper register of the trumpet "with a soft and melodious, singing tone, as distinct from 'principale playing' (Principalblasen), which meant to play with a powerful, blasting tone [in the lower register]."[1]

Sopranino Chalumeau

Sopranino (forerunner of the clarinet) oiled Pearwood.

The rebec (sometimes rebeck, and originally various other spellings) is a bowed string musical instrument. In its most common form, it has three strings and is played on the arm or under the chin, like a violin

A theorbo (from Italian tiorba, also tuorbe in French, Theorbe in German) is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second peg-boxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the arciliuto, the French théorbe des pieces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angelique or angelica. The etymology of the name tiorba has not yet been explained. It is hypothesized that its origin might have been in the Slavic or Turkish "torba", meaning "bag" or "turban".

Theorboes were developed during the late sixteenth century, inspired by the demand of extended bass range for use in opera developed by the Florentine Camerata and new musical works based on basso continuo (such as Giulio Caccini's Le Nuove Musiche). Musicians adapted bass lutes (c.80+ cm string length) with a neck extension to accommodate open (i. e. unfretted) bass strings, called diapasons or bourdons. The instrument was called both chitarrone and tiorba. It is important to note that, although theorbo and chitarrone are virtually identical, they have different evolutionary origins, the chitarrone being a descendant of chitarra italiana (hence its name).

Similar adaptations to smaller lutes (c.55+ cm string length) produced the liuto attiorbato and the archlute, also similar-looking but differently tuned instruments.

Gallichone / Mandora,


In the early 18th Century, although a few large theorbos survive by Schelle (1728) Alban (1704) and others, German lute makers pricipally made two types of instrument: 13-course lutes for solo music, and the Gallichone (gallichon, gallischon, mandora). The latter were used for continuo playing, although there is an extensive solo repertoire, and also duet pieces and pieces for chamber ensembles by, amongst other composers, Brescianello, Schiffelholz and Telemann. Illustrative of the general level of ignorance concerning the gallichon/mandora is that the entry on Brescianello in Grove makes no mention of the 18 sonatas he wrote for the instrument, merely that he was a violin composer. Interestingly, the only probable depiction of Silvius Leopold Weiss shows him playing a gallichone, not a theorbo, at the Dresden Opera House. There are several other 18th Century drawings, watercolours and engravings showing lutenists playing these instruments, the larger versions of which, with their typically powerful, clear tone, make excellent continuo instruments for 18th Century German music.

Current research strongly suggests that these lutes were far more widely used at this time than has been previously realised by modern makers and continuo players. We have carefully researched and measured a large number of these instruments (including all of those by Schelle), many of which have survived in original condition, from this 'lost' period of lute history, including the only known extant 6-string colascione.

1. After Sebastian Schelle, Nürnberg 1719 (Salzburg, Carolino Augusteum Museum C112)

9 ribs in plum striped with birds-eye maple; maple neck and pegbox painted dark brown; curved rosewood fingerboard and points; dark-stained fruitwood pegs;simple, narrow moulding along treble and bass edges of soundboard; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
String length: 640mm (stringing: 1x1 / 5x2)
Pitch: f#' or f'.


This beautiful little lute is the earliest dated instrument by Schelle, and one of the earliest dated gallichons, and has been much played. Its beautiful, striking back, from prettily-figured birds-eye maple striped with dark red plumwood (known as Zwetschge in Germany) is a classic example of Schelle's signature elegant design.

2. After Sebastian Schelle, Nürnberg 17.. ( Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, XXV/3)

9 ribs in poplar striped with rio rosewood; maple neck and pegbox painted dark brown; curved ebony fingerboard and points; dark-stained fruitwood pegs; simple, narrow moulding along treble edge of soundboard; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
String length: 683mm (stringing: 1x1 / 5x2)
Pitch: f'


Very similar to, but slightly larger than the instrument above, but with no label, although quite obviously the work of Sebastian Schelle. Its pegs are identical to those of Salzburg C112 above, and similar in design to those used on 13-course baroque lutes by Schelle dated 1721 (Nürnberg GNM MIR902), 1726 (Yale No.260) , and 1744 (Nürnberg GNM MI46). It also has an ivory button identical in design to one found on the Widhalm 13-course lute (Nürnberg GNM 1755).

The interesting choice of rio rosewood in combination with poplar for the ribs further illustrates Schelle's eclectic use of timbers, as confirmed by Baron, who, writing in 1727, tells us that Schelle has a "large stock of all sorts of rare, dry, and beautiful wood best suited for instruments".

3. After Simpertus Niggel, Füssen 1754 (Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum MIR895)

9 ribs in figured, flamed maple or birds-eye maple; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved, dark-brown stained maple fingerboard and points; ebony pegs; delicate, elegant narrow moulding along treble edge of soundboard; pegbox with decorative, scrolled-edge aperture, moulding across end, and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
String length: 720mm (stringing: 1x1 / 5x2)
Pitch: e'


This instrument is in excellent original condition, and was built by a renowned Füssen maker usually known for his basses. It has all the 'typical' features one expects to find on a mandora, which by the time this instrument was made, would have reached a fully-developed form. Its back has been painted black, but this seems to have been done in relatively modern times. A similar instrument by Niggel, a 7-course dated 1747, is in the collection of the Museum der Stadt Füssen, although it has an open pegbox which terminates in a square finial, with laterally-inserted pegs.

The instrument shown above is a close copy of the original, excepting that, at the request of the player, we have veneered the neck with ebony.

Simpertus Niggel (1702 - 1759) was one of the most celebrated violin and lute-makers of Füssen, and it is known that during the heyday of his working life, he was barely able to keep up with demand for his instruments, so high was their quality and reputation. Archive documents state that a contemporary of Niggel's, Franz Stoss, had taken a number of instruments by Füssen makers to Paris to sell, and that those of Niggel had been snapped-up first. Füssen town council archives record this information, going on to say that without the Niggel instruments, Stoss would not have been able to sell the other instruments he had taken to Paris.

The house of Simpertus Niggel can still be seen on Rotterstraße in F.

4. After Gregori Ferdinand Wenger, Augsburg 1742 (Augsburg, Maximillianmuseum N.11-916)

9 ribs in figured maple; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved ebony fingerboard and points; simple ebony moulding along both treble and bass edges of soundboard; narrow ebony half-edging; pegbox rear with carved and pierced leaf-trail decoration, moulding across rear, and chanterelle rider. Seven courses.
String length: 752mm (stringing: 1x1 / 6x2)
Pitch: e'


This 7-course instrument by Wenger is beautifully-proportioned, and seems to be in original condition; it also seems to have been played extensively. Like the Niggel, it is an example of the larger size of gallichon/mandora.

5. After Gregori Ferdinand Wenger, Augsburg 1747 (Augsburg, Maximillianmuseum MIR 896) *

9 ribs in lightly-figured maple; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved ebony fingerboard and points; boxwood pegs; simple moulding along treble edge of soundboard; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
String length: 732mm (stringing: 1x1 / 5x2)
Pitch: e'


A similar but smaller-bodied instrument to the Wenger of 1742; it has been heavily restored, but retains its original soundboard, bridge, rose, and back. ( * currently on loan from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg)

6. After Johannes Blasius Weigert, Linz 1740 (Vienna, Kunsthistorischesmuseum SAM 719)

9 ribs, in plain maple with a light birds-eye figure, stained and varnished dark brown; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved, dark-brown stained fingerboard and points; ebony pegs; simple rosewood moulding along treble edge of belly; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
String length: 752mm (stringing: 1x1 / 5x2)
Pitch: e'


Apparently built on the same mould as an 11-course lute by Weigert in 1721 (which was originally a 13-course) in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg (MIR898); it has the same details at the end of its capping-strip as MIR898.


7. After Johannes Schorn, Salzburg 1688 (Private collection)

9 ribs in figured maple; cherrywood neck with open, gamba-like pegbox, with a carved lion head; slightly-cambered fingerboard in cherry, with room for 12 frets; single-layer rosette in wood and parchment; cherry bridge and inlaid heart-shaped decoration at the upper and lower ends of the soundboard; boxwood pegs.
String length: 886mm (stringing: 6x1)
Pitch: a (tuning: a-e-c-G-D-A {or C} )

£3400 (£POA with carved head as below)

This unique instrument, which is the only known surviving Colascione with 6 single strings, is very similar to the one belonging to Godfrey Finger, and described in the James Talbot manuscript (Finger's instrument also has 6 single strings, but its string length is longer at 930mm). It is in absolutely original condition, and has extensive wear-marks, suggesting an active and substantial playing life. This is definitely not the 3-stringed Colascione seen in many depictions of Commedia dell 'Arte characters (of which but a few examples survive from the 17th Century) but a proper continuo instrument in its own right, which, according to Finger, was commonly used in Bohemian musical circles.

The tunings given above are as given to Talbot by Finger when he was in London. Johannes Schorn, the maker, was a celebrated Salzburg violin maker, particularly noted for his violas d'amore; this instrument is dated from the middle of his active period.

The instrument shown above is a close copy of the original, built for Axel Weidenfeld of.Oldenburg, Germany. Axel has made a special study of the Gallichon and Colascione, and also owns the Niggel Gallichon copy shown above; professor of lute and guitar at Oldenburg University, he has recorded and performed with both instruments.

We made 6 special punches to make the parchment layer of its unique rosette, and the carved lion's head is copied from that on the original. Its gut strings were specially made by Nicholas Baldock.

Johann Schorn (c. 1658 - 1718) was the earliest and most significant Salzburg court violin-maker, and because his instruments were made using Füssen methods and style, it is assumed that he received his early training there. Interestingly, however, the violins made in Salzburg are all heavily-influenced by the work of Jakob Stainer (c.1617 - 1683). Schorn (as were his sons) was employed as a musician in the court orchestra, although only his eldest son was employed as a violin-maker for the orchestra. Schorn was a prolific maker whose output was interesting and varied: for example, as well as this colascione, there are several violas d'amore (dated around 1700), a kontrabass dated 1692 and another from 1713 which has two pairs of extra soundholes cut above and below the instrument's f-holes, there survives a Hamburger Cithrinchen dated 1703 (in the Landesmuseum für Kärnten, Klagenfurt).

The text of Schorn's labels – all handwritten – varies quite a bit; the 1688 colascione's reads: "Joannes Schorn fecit / in Miln prope Salib. / Anno 1688", the kontrabass from 1692 reads: " JOANNES SCHORN / Fecit in Salisburg 1692" whilst the 1713 kontrabass reads : "Joannes Schorn, Hoff Musicus und Lautenmacher, Salisburgi

The lion's head carved on the original instrument - which we have copied above - is very similar to other such heads on Schorn's instruments, and seems to have been modelled on one of Jakob Stainer's; it closely resembles the head on a violin by Schorn from 1700.

The Curtal is a double-reed instrument similar in range to your bassoon. However, the conical tube of the curtal is hollowed out of a single piece of wood and is not jointed. The long, flat billet of maple, pear, box, etc, is bored from the bottom upwards along one side, and from the top downwards, for the wider part of the conical windway, on the other side. The two bores are connected at the bottom by a cut-away chamber closed by a plug of wood. The brass crook on which the double reed is placed is inserted into the narrower bore. The wider bore ends a short flare.
Although it is not known for sure where it originated, most believe it an Italian product from the second quarter of the sixteenth century. But it soon spread as far as England by the last quarter of the century.

The cittern is a stringed instrument of the lute family dating from the Renaissance. With its flat back, it was much simpler, and therefore cheaper, to construct than the lute, in addition to which it was easier to play and keep in tune and, being smaller and less delicate, far more portable. Thus, although it was played by all classes, the cittern was a premier instrument of casual music making for the common people, much like the guitar at the present day.

The name "cittern" has also been applied in the late twentieth century to a number of variant members of the mandolin family, for which see below.

The Renaissance cittern was one of the few metal-strung plectrum-plucked instruments from the period. Generally four courses (pairs) of strings, the cittern uses a range of only a major 6th between its lowest and highest strings, and employs a "re-entrant" tuning. The tuning and narrow range allow the player a number of simple chord shapes useful for both simple song accompaniment and dances, and its bright and cheerful timbre make it a valuable counterpoint to gut-strung instruments. Other variations on the cittern are the bandore (or bandora), a bass instrument. The Spanish bandurria, still used today, is a similar instrument.

Hey Dougie, I love your history of Music. It would make a great Disney Anime, or a Palmer Anime!

The Rite of Spring, commonly referred to by its original French title, Le Sacre du printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svjaščennaja) is a ballet with music by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, which was first performed in 1913. While the Russian title literally means "Sacred Spring", the English title is based on the French title under which the work was premiered, although sacre is more precisely translated as "consecration". It has the subtitle "Pictures from Pagan Russia".

After coming up with the idea of the piece in 1910 from a fantasy vision of pagan ritual (his fleeting vision of a young girl dancing herself to death) while composing The Firebird,[1] Stravinsky began forming sketches and ideas for the piece, enlisting the help of archaeologist and folklorist Nikolai Roerich. Though he was sidetracked for a year while he worked on Petrushka (which he intended to be a light burlesque as a relief from the orchestrally-intense work already in progress), The Rite of Spring was composed between 1912 and 1913 for Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Roerich was an integral part of the creation of the work, drawing from scenes of historical rites for inspiration; Stravinsky referred to the work-in-progress as "our child". After going through revisions almost up until the very day of its first performance, it was premiered on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and was conducted by Pierre Monteux. Stravinsky would later write that a better translation to English would have been "The Coronation Of Spring."

The Ballets Russes staged the first performance. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario—a setting of scenes from pagan Russia—shocked audiences more accustomed to the demure conventions of classical ballet. Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography was a radical departure from classical ballet. Different from the long and graceful lines of traditional ballet, arms and legs were sharply bent. The dancers danced more from their pelvis than their feet, a style that later influenced Martha Graham. Stravinsky would later write in his autobiography of the process of working with Nijinsky on the choreography, writing: "the poor boy knew nothing of music" and that Nijinsky "had been saddled with a task beyond his capacity."[1] While Stravinsky praised Nijinsky's amazing dance talent, he was frustrated working with him on choreography.

The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd, and there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Stravinsky himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying.[2]. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the première, (though Stravinsky later said "I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the premiere."[3]) allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars.

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Diaghilev was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted numbers to the dancers, who couldn't hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers are polysyllabic above ten, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat).[4]

Although Nijinsky and Stravinsky were despondent, Diaghilev (a Russian art critic as well as the ballet's impresario) commented that the scandal was "just what I wanted". The music and choreography were considered barbaric and sexual and are also often noted as being the primary factors for the cause of the riot, but many political and social tensions surrounding the premiere contributed to the backlash as well. Even though Nijinsky's original choreography was lost, the work is now a standard of dance troupes around the world and has been choreographed by Pina Bausch and Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

The ballet completed its run of six performances amid controversy, but experienced

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (26 February 1725 – 2 October 1804) was a French inventor believed to have built the first self-propelled mechanical vehicle or automobile. This claim is disputed by various sources which suggest that Ferdinand Verbiest, as a member of a Jesuit mission in China, may have done so around 1672.[1][2]

Cugnot was born in Void, Lorraine, (now departement of Meuse), France. He trained as a military engineer. He experimented with working models of steam-engine-powered vehicles for the French Army, intended for transporting cannons, starting in 1765.

Cugnot's Steam Wagon; from 19th century engravingCugnot was one of the first to successfully employ a device for converting the reciprocating motion of a steam piston into rotary motion by means of a ratchet arrangement. A small version of his three-wheeled "fardier à vapeur" ran in 1769. A fardier was a massively built two-wheeled horse-drawn cart for transporting very heavy equipment such as cannon barrels. The following year, a full-size version was built, specified to be able to handle 4 tons and cover 2 lieues (7.8 km or or 4.8 miles) in one hour: never achieved in practice. The vehicle weighed about 2.5 tonnes tare had two wheels at the rear and one in the front where the horses would normally have been; this front wheel supported the steam boiler and was steered by means of a tiller. In 1771, this second vehicle is said to have gone out of control and knocked down part of a wall, (the first known automobile accident?). However according to Georges Ageon [3], the earliest mention of this occurrence is in 1801 and it does not feature in contemporary accounts. More significantly, the vehicle was reported to have been very unstable due to poor weight distribution which would have been a serious disadvantage seeing that it was intended that the fardier should be able to traverse rough terrain and climb steep hills. Boiler performance was particularly poor, even by the standards of the day, the fire needing to be relit and steam raised again every quarter of an hour or so, considerably reducing overall speed. After running a small number of trials variously described as being between Paris and Vincennes and at Meudon, the project was abandoned and the French Army's experiment with mechanical vehicles came to an end. Even so in 1772, King Louis XV granted Cugnot a pension of 600 livres a year for his innovative work and the experiment was judged interesting enough for the fardier to be kept at the Arsenal until transferred to the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in 1800, where it can still be seen today.

And hell, my good friend, all this ado was only touching on the myriad of ideas you sparked off with this manic posting.


4:25 PM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Hey, I'm as funny as P.J. but I'm not so nasty.

10:38 AM  

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