A Gert History of Music
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire … and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth …. … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: A Cocktail for the End of Time →
In 1809, Vienna was under siege by Napoleon and Beethoven, now more or less completely deaf, was hiding in his brother’s basement. Terrified and feeling, perhaps more than others, the constant percussive effect of war, Beethoven produced one of his best compositions, the Emperor concerto. It would prove to be his final statement on the … Continue reading Under Siege: Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto →
At some point in the 1980s or early 1990s, rock musicians began to abandon functional harmony–the idea of building music around a tonic chord or key. Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana is a good example of this. Drawing on a wide range of inspirations, such as The Pixies and Sonic Youth, Niravana began charting … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Collapse the Light Into Earth →
When I look back across my entire life, I find no event to place beside this in the impression it produced on me. Richard Wagner, on Fidelio In 1950, one of the greatest conductors of all-time, Wilhelm Furtwängler led a production of Beethoven’s lone operatic effort, Fidelio, in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg. And what a … Continue reading A Mass Made Operatic: Fidelio →
As Beethoven entered his Late Period, he was facing intense competition for his audience. While Beethoven was placing ever increasing demands on his audience, requiring them to accept novel harmonics, extreme dissonances, and uncertain forms, a young composer from Italy was giving Viennese audiences exactly what they wanted–timeless, easy melodies and a rollicking good time … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Chianti and Rossini →
He loved to be alone with Nature, to make her his only confidante. When his brain was reeling with confused ideas, Nature at all times comforted him. Countess Theresa of Brunswick How glad I am to be able to roam in wood and thicket, among the trees and flowers and rocks. No one can love … Continue reading Inclyti sed victi →
I’ve been a fan of the BBC’s Desert Island Disc series for as long as I can remember. The original premise was that if you were cast away on a desert island (presumably one with a working electrical power grid), which eight recordings would you choose to bring with you? Across the entirety of musical … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Fifteen Albums →
Art is most known for its iconic images. There are many in fine art: In sculpture too. But there are also iconic images from film: The performing arts too are notable for many iconic moments: Music too has its icons and the greatest of these–the one that has endured for more than 200 years, recognized … Continue reading The Making of an Icon: Symphony No. 5 →
The last days of summer don’t mean as much as they used to these days. While some, no doubt, will board their last train back to the City on Monday afternoon, or otherwise brave the traffic and the dreaded LIE, come Tuesday morning I will still find myself seated here, 100 miles from the office … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Music and Cocktails for the Last Days of Summer →
I can’t recall if my father owned a copy of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Our resources were limited and he most concerned himself with collecting the recordings of great pianists performing the highlights of the late Classical and Romantic repertoire. So it is entirely possible that my first brush with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto came in 1983 … Continue reading The Breath of Life: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto →
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