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Posts Tagged ‘Mozart

“Mozart died too late rather than too soon”*…

Glenn Gould was a gloriously talented and profoundly iconoclastic pianist, unafraid to challenge the conventions of the canon.

His April 1962 performance of Brahms’ first piano concerto, with the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein conducting, gave rise to an extraordinary situation in which Mr. Bernstein disagreed with Gould’s interpretation so vehemently that he felt it necessary to warn the audience beforehand. The performance was subsequently broadcast on the radio with Bernstein’s comments included. A draft copy of those comments can be found in the Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress and is available to read online…

But perhaps his most egregiously unpopular opinion was his conviction that Mozart– especially late Mozart– was a “bad composer.”

How Mozart Became a Bad Composer, which was originally broadcast on a weekly public television series titled Public Broadcast Laboratory in 1968. The Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center recently digitized the episode that includes the 37-minute segment from a two-inch tape found in the Library’s collection. It is now available on the web site of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, which is a collaborative effort by the Library of Congress and WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts.

On the reception of the program, Peter Goddard in The Great Gould (2017) wrote, “Recognizing the outrage-driven ratings possibilities here, the Public Broadcasting [sic] Laboratory series by National Educational Television, the precursor to PBS in the United States, broadcast Gould’s thirty-seven-minute-long How Mozart Became a Bad Composer on April 28, 1968. After that, the show disappeared from sight worldwide, and a version of the script was only uncovered years later by New York-based documentarian Lucille Carra.” Kevin Bazzana in Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould (2004) notes, “The program outraged viewers in both the United States and Canada, including formerly sympathetic fans and critics.” The program is now widely available to the public for the first time since its broadcast. Although, ardent Glenn Gould fans may remember his interview in Piano Quarterly, which was reprinted in The Glenn Gould Reader (1984), “Mozart and Related Matters: Glenn Gould in Conversation with Bruno Monsaingeon,” in which he expresses many of the same reservations about Mozart’s music that are heard in the television segment…

Cait Miller (of the Music Division of the Library of Congress) puts it in a personal context:

My parents are or were both musicians – my father was a composer – and so my appreciation for classical music was probably equal parts nature and nurture. So, when I entered graduate school as a musicologist and met a fellow student named Masa Yoshioka, who became one of my best friends during my doctoral study, it was more than a little shocking when, during one of our many extended conversations about music, he revealed to me that he did not think that Mozart was a particularly interesting composer. As a musicologist who had come from a previous incarnation as a classical singer, this was tantamount to heresy. However, due to my regard for Masa and his well-thought-out opinions, I did not discount it out of hand. Instead, I took it as a challenge to listen to the music of Mozart and, in fact, the music of all composers, with fresh ears every time I encountered it and to let no preconceptions that I had learned as a child allow me to speak as a child when I heard new works by a composer whom I had been conditioned to revere. It is with this spirit in mind that I hope you will view Glenn Gould’s television segment…

Your correspondent would agree. In any event, enjoy:

The Unpopular Opinions of Glenn Gould or “How Mozart Became a Bad Composer.”

[image at top: source]

* Glenn Gould (who also once suggested that “Beethoven always sounds to me like the upsetting of a bag of nails, with here and there also a dropped hammer”)

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As we tickle the ivories, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976 that another group of musical iconoclasts, The Sex Pistols, released their single ‘Anarchy In The UK‘. Originally issued in a plain black sleeve, the single was the only Sex Pistols recording released by EMI, and reached the No.38 spot on the UK Singles Chart before EMI dropped the group on 6 January 1977. (The band ran through five labels; their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977; #1 on the UK charts) was released by Virgin.)

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November 26, 2020 at 1:01 am

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians”*…

 

Physicist and saxophonist Stephon Alexander has argued in his many public lectures and his book The Jazz of Physics that Albert Einstein and John Coltrane had quite a lot in common. Alexander in particular draws our attention to the so-called “Coltrane circle,” which resembles what any musician will recognize as the “Circle of Fifths,” but incorporates Coltrane’s own innovations. Coltrane gave the drawing to saxophonist and professor Yusef Lateef in 1967, who included it in his seminal text, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Where Lateef, as he writes in his autobiography, sees Coltrane’s music as a “spiritual journey” that “embraced the concerns of a rich tradition of autophysiopsychic music,” Alexander sees “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s” quantum theory…

Explore the connection at “John Coltrane Draws a Picture Illustrating the Mathematics of Music.”

* Thelonious Monk

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As we square the circle, we might recall that it was on this date in 1786, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, that Mozart’s glorious Le nozze di Figaro The Marriage of Figaro— premiered.  Based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”), which was first performed two years early, Mozart’s comedic masterpiece has become a staple of opera repertoire, appearing consistently among the top ten in the Operabase list of most frequently performed operas.

Early 19th-century engraving depicting Count Almaviva and Susanna in act 3

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May 1, 2017 at 1:01 am

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere”*…

 

From Sean Tejaratchi, creator of the zine Crap Hound

More– oh, so much more– at LiarTownUSA.

* Dr. Seuss

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As we revel in the ridiculous, we might pour a cup of birthday tea for English mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican cleric, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson– better known as the author Lewis Carroll– born on this date in 1832.

“There is no use in trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice in Wonderland (nee “Alice’s Adventures Underground,” then “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”)

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And we might might spare a sympathetic thought for Dante Alighieri, who was exiled from Florence on this date in 1302… sympathetic– and grateful– as it was on his subsequent wanderings that he wrote The Divine Comedy

Dante, as painted by Giotto on the wall of the Bargello in Florence; the oldest surviving portrait of the poet, from before his exile

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Happy Mozart’s Birthday!

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 27, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Everything we do is Music”*…

 

It was… difficult to put a modern day figure on [the earnings of] the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner… for a few reasons. For a start, a lot of the musicians we took a look at were paid in long dead currencies such as thalers, ducats and florins – then there’s the fact that composers were also more likely to have made supplemental income from compositions and tutoring. Nevertheless, even with the usual caveats (there are admittedly a few problems with comparing 18th century incomes with 21st century incomes) we still thought you’d want to know if you’re out-earning the musical superstars of their day. So without further ado, why not take a look at the modern day salaries of famous composers…

Play the pay scales at “Do you Make More Money than Mozart?

[via Slipped Disc, thanks to friend MK]

* John Cage

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As we struggle to keep up with the Johanns, we might spare a thought for (the moderately-remunerated) Joseph Haydn; he died on this date in 1809.  An accomplished composer who was, effectively, the architect of the Classical style, Haydn wrote 106 symphonies, and was instrumental in the development of chamber music. His influence on later composers was immense: he mentored Mozart and taught Beethoven; his contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet.”

Thomas Hardy‘s portrait of Haydn

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 31, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”*…

 

Colon, Michigan (the name comes from a pair of nearby lakes shaped like the punctuation mark), a sleepy, one-streetlight town somewhere between Detroit and Chicago proudly bills itself as “The Magic Capital of the World.”  It’s home to around 1,000 residents and holds at least 30 dead magicians [including native son Harry Blackstone, Sr. –The Great Blackstone] in its single small graveyard. The Colon High School mascot is a giant bunny rabbit. Though it lacks the soaring Gothic cathedrals of Hogwarts, it just might be the most magical place in the United States.

For the past 80 years, Colon has hosted Abbott’s Magic Get Together, an annual gathering of several hundred magicians from all over the world who convene for a week of shows, lectures, and trick-jamming. At night, tipsy magicians mingle in bars and restaurants along Colon’s single block of downtown, practicing their craft on passersby. The Get Together is less a conference and more a “family reunion”…

But like any good family reunion, the Get Together has its share of drama. Infighting over the town’s magical heritage has made it harder for aging magicians to cooperate in attracting new members to their community. And modern, everyday technology — not to mention the proliferation of the internet — has made it harder for magic to seem… well, magical.

Still, when you throw hundreds of born-and-bred entertainers into this mecca of illusions, you’re bound to get a party…

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Prepare to be amazed by the story at “Welcome to Colon, Magic Capital of the World.”

* “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl, The Minpins

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As we take one card from the deck, remember it, then slip it back in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1791 that Mozart’s last– and arguably most glorious– opera, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte, K. 620), premiered in Vienna.  Mozart conducted the opening, though he’d fallen ill only weeks before in Prague; he died 10 weeks later.

Hear the overture here.

 

Librettist Emanuel Schikaneder, shown performing in the role of Papageno.

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Playbill from opening night

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

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