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Tag: the Beatles

a juxtaposition of verb moods

 

       the-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog.jpg!Blog.jpg

           The Wanderer above a Sea of Fog (1818) 


                   Caspar David Friedrich

 

                         _______________

 

 

a cardinal rule, the juxtaposition of two 

things of the same sort will exponentially

increase the information gleaned of either

 

therefore the following

 

The Impossible Dream“, listen 

 

       To dream the impossible dream

       To fight the unbeatable foe

       To bear with unbearable sorrow

       To run where the brave dare not go

 

       To right the unrightable wrong

       To love pure and chaste from afar

       To try when your arms are too weary

       To reach the unreachable star

 

       This is my quest, to follow that star

       No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

       To fight for the right

       Without question or pause

       To be willing to march

       Into hell for a heavenly cause

 

        And I know if I’ll only be true

       To this glorious quest

        That my heart will lay peaceful and calm

        When I’m laid to my rest

 

        And the world will be better for this

        That one man scorned and covered with scars

         Still strove  with his last ounce of courage

         To fight the unbeatable foe

         To reach the unreachable star

 

and Climb Every Mountain, listen again

 

        Climb every mountain

        Search high and low

        Follow every byway

        Every path you know

 

        Climb every mountain

        Ford every stream

        Follow every rainbow

        ‘Till you find your dream

 

        A dream that will need  

        All the love you can give

        Every day of your life

        For as long as you live

 

        Climb every mountain

        Ford every stream

        Follow every rainbow

        ‘Till you find your dream

 

        Climb every mountain

        Ford every stream

        Follow every rainbow

        ‘Till you find your dream

 

 

an initial similarity, they are both

inspirational

 

an initial divergence, the former is 

in the infinitive mood, which is to 

say that the lesson is for all time

in all places and for all people, 

while the second is an imperative,

in other words, an exhortation,

something only pertaining to the 

future, though the other conditions,

of place, and of person, can still 

apply  

 

note that the verse, in either, is in 

the indicative, in keeping with, in

each, the altered air, the second,

and contrasting melody, which in

both, note, personalizes, makes

the recommendation actual, no

longer merely idealized, the

indicative is the only mood which

deals in facts, the other moods

are all imagined, dreamed

 

let me point out that in comparison

with songs in the indicative, love

songs and the like, the show tunes

above find their source in medieval

religious music, hymns, liturgical

stuff, and more recently,

comparatively, specifically in

England after the Protestant

Reformation with Handel’s both

church and ceremonial music

 

in which England went on to

specialize, incidentally, while other

forms of music there, the racier,

secular European stuff, had been

demonized, deemed sinful, and

thus proscribed

 

England would only get its mojo back

in the 1960s with the Beatles

 

R ! chard

 

 

 

       

Cello Concerto no 1 in C major – Joseph Haydn

st-george-and-the-dragon.jpg!Large

     “St. George and the Dragon (c.1470) 

                Paolo Uccello

                    ________

it isn’t easy for me to leave Bach behind
whenever I start listening to him, I could 
ride his musical train forever

but the middle of the 18th Century did, put 
him aside, for about a hundred years, until 
Mendelssohn rediscovered him

Bach’s Cello Suites were themselves only 
reinstated in the 1930s by Pablo Casals,
the Classical 18th Century had considered 
Bach too fussy, his pieces, they thought, 
were technical exercises rather than 
actual entertainments, form was  
overtaking, for them, function 

there’s a wonderful book about all this,
The Cello Suites“, written by Eric Siblin, 
a Canadian journalist, which is not only 
amazingly informed and probing, but also 
beautifully written, it holds a place of 
honour on my bookshelf, along with other 
inspired, and inspiring, texts

not only was Bach set asunder, dismissed,
during the Classical Era, but all of the 
formative music also he had written, for 
cello, violin, keyboard, in other words,
the entire curriculum

which, since Bach’s reinstatement, has 
become, paradoxically, the very  
foundation for learning these instruments

imagine playing a tune with the right 
hand, then a few notes later, picking 
it up in the left hand while the right 
hand keeps on going, imagine what
that does to your fingers, never mind  
to your mind, that’s what his Two-Part
Inventions are all about, fifteen of 
them, eight in major keys, seven in
minor, consider the technical 
difficulties, intricacies, imposed 
both compositionally and upon 
the harried performer 

then Bach follows through with his 
Three-Part Inventions to top it all 
off, for the keyboard at least, and 
only for the moment – there’ll still 
be his transcendental Goldberg 
Variations” among other 
incandescent masterpieces – 
wherein one juggles three tunes at 
time, and all of them in the same 
assortment of fifteen contrasting, 
foundational, keys, the “Inventions
 – if you can do that, you’re on your 
way, one would think, to knowing 
entirely what you’re doing

but time marches on, the Classical
Era hits, Haydn takes over, not
unimpressively

the same thing happened in my 
generation to Frank Sinatra via 
the Beatles, not to mention, a little 
later, to either, with Pink Floyd

listen to Haydn’s First Cello Concerto,
note the bravura inherent in the 
composition, this is not Bach’s 
meditative music, the very Romantic 
Period is, through Classical reserve, 
expressing already its imminence, 
individual prowess is taking over 
from community, which is to say 
religious, affiliation, the same way 
the Renaissance artists, Duccio
GiottoFra AngelicoFilippo Lippi
Uccello had stood out, incidentally, 
from their brethren in the standard 
communal art schools dedicated to 
decorating the ever burgeoning 
churches sprouting out in the still
fervent European environment 

musical, though unaristocratic, 
talents, this time, were beginning, 
within German context, to flex 
their decidedly not unimpressive 
muscles, and gaining some 
significant purchase

and who wouldn’t when a Cello 
Concerto would’ve sounded like 
this, listen


R ! chard

String Quartet in C major, opus 76, no 3, “Emperor” – Joseph Haydn

Ludwig_Streitenfeld_001.jpg

    Francis II as Holy Roman Emperor (1874)

          Ludwig Streitenfeld

               _____________

Haydn’s String Quartet, opus 76, no 3
is nicknamed the Emperor cause the 
second movement, the poco adagio;
cantabile, is a recapitulation of an 
anthem Haydn had earlier written for 
Francis ll, the Holy Roman Emperor
– not, incidentally, for Napoleon, the 
Emperor of the moment, who was to 
defeat Francis lleventually, at the 
Battle of Austerlitz, December 2, 1805, 
thereby dissolving that Holy Roman 
Empire, which had been established 
by Leo, the very Pope, lll when, on 
December 25th, 800, which is to say 
preceding Austerlitz by a thousand 
years, he crowned Charlemagne its 
Emperor 

Haydn must’ve been a monarchist


you’ll recognize that second movement
as the present day anthem of Germany

but listen to how Haydn makes it glisten, 
explicitly, with articulations and filigree 
that render it utterly irresistible

the adagio is usually the moment that
remains immutable, if the composer
is doing hir stuff, it’s the one you walk 
home singing, the faster movements,
however histrionic, are nearly a dime 
a dozen, though ever nevertheless 
often dazzling 

this adagio is utterly Romantic, though
I’m sure Haydn didn’t know what he 
was doing, cause despite their push
against the democratic surge, even 
monarchists, princes, dukes, dutiful 
composers, were finding, and voicing, 
their personal, and individual, which 
is to say, their democratic, opinions, 
however aristocratic their pedigree

artists had done a similar thing when 
their personalities began to single 
themselves out as especially gifted 
when the Renaissance was 
happening, it was now music’s hour, 
individual voices were staking their 
claim, Haydn’s manifestly superior 
based on talent and, after widespread 
economic affluence, audience appeal, 
Haydn’s commercial boots were made 
for walking, and he filled them both
magnificently and incontrovertibly

the poco adagio; cantabile is not 
courtly music, it reaches for not
merely elegance, but the heart,
we’ve entered another 
transformational generation, 
something like the revolution 
that triggered change in the 
cultural upheaval of the1960s 

our first step then was the Beatles, 
theirs was Haydn, or rather Elvis
Presley shoring up the Beatles, 
Beethoven was more aptly John,
Paul, George and Ringo 


but watch the rapture on the players’ 
faces, Francis ll would’ve been 
appalled, much like parents in my 
generation facing the pill, drugs, 
unorthodox sexual couplings, and, 
of course, raucous and unruly rock 

music

today, under the spell of the 
Romantic Period, and encouraged
by that very Sexual Revolution, the
Calidore String Quartet’s Elysium
their evident blissemotionally 
manifest, and utterly arresting, sells 
tickets, for better orhopefully not, 
for worse

but you call the shots, to decorum or 
not to decorum, that is the question

watch, wonder, listen 


R ! chard

on art, its purpose

poet-with-flower-2008-jpgblog

                                Poet With Flower (2008)

                                          Stefan Caltia

                                                 _____

wherefore art, I’ve long and often wondered,
with only a wink to Juliet’s Romeo, for my
question dug deeper, why, indeed, itself art

we build our souls on the stories we’ve 
heard, the impressions we’ve received
from voices that spoke directly to our 
senses, painters with paint, musicians
with music, writers with words, poets 
with poems

it started with fairy tales, which told of
right and wrong, good and bad, courage,
kindness, responsibility, and dire 
consequences for discord

Biblical stories also took up a lot of my own
childhood, Jesus, Adam and Eve, Moses
and the Ten Commandments, this last 
reinforced by Cecil B. DeMille’s epic

but soon enough it was Oliver TwistLittle
Nell, and by an inescapable authorial leap, 
since these were all by an irresistible 
Charles Dickens for a guy my age, Sydney
Carton, who valiantly stands in for his
friend, Charles Darnay, at the guillotine, a 
quantum, even existential, leap from 
Peter Pan and Mary Poppins 

though I had the good fortune to learn to 
read and write music as a boy, play music, 
learn about Bach, Brahms and Beethoven, 
it didn’t take anyone else much more than
their enthusiasm to see what the Beatles
were similarly doing, the Rolling Stones, 
the Supremes, they were not only singing, 
but making history, shaping it, and us, we 
followed the questions they rose, their 
responses, the effects upon ourselves
for nothing is considered until it’s 
mentioned, spoken, made clear, and they
were those prophets

the same goes for art, we see as we see
cause Monet, Picasso, Warhol showed 
us how to see, what to look at

and of course poets, Shakespeare, 
RostandDanteGoethe, to inform, each,
their individual language, and culture

I have been Philip CareyScarlett O’Hara, 
Blanche DuboisGary Cooper in High
Noon“, both Martha and George in 
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf“, lately 
I’ve been even Hank Williams

as Babette would say, a French doll who 
gets abducted in Raggedy Ann and Andy:
A Musical Misadventure“, an animated 
movie from the Seventies, – oo aahrr yoo 

Richard

psst: all of them have been me too,
      incidentally

December, 2015‏

"December" - Theodor Severin Kittelsen

December (1890)

Theodor Severin Kittelsen

__________

for Susan

several years ago, a friend of mine
invited me to a concert, Sir Edward
Elgar
‘s The Dream of Gerontius“,
to my mind, a double mountain to
cross, both English and ceremonial,
this is not music you can dance to,
nor even dream on, but music that
demands your allegiance, as well
as your attention

to my mind English music, nearly
an oxymoron, remained stagnant
from Purcell, 1659 to 1695, to the
Beatles
, 1960 to 1970, with very
few exceptions, never managing,
mostly, to hold, even, a tune

ceremonial music suffered much
from its rigid partisan bent,
whether political or religious, try
singing La Marseillaise or
The Stars and Stripes if you’re
not of those nations, you are
instantly sidelined, a mere
spectator, try How Great Thou
Art
at a party, however
inspirational

but the ticket was free, my friend
couldn’t think of anyone else she
could invite who’d enjoy the show,
she’d received the tickets in a
bundle

Gerontius, an old man – you’ll note
the Greek root, geron, as in
gerontology” – is dying, fears the
other side, friends comfort him and,
in particular, a priest sends him on
his way, that’s act one

act two, he’s on the other side,
wherein the dream of being on the
other side, should he still be alive,
or the actuality of being on the
other side, confront him, have I
died, he wonders

I could tell you something about
that

an angel appears to lead him to,
the programme boasted, no less
than God eventually, in a burst,
for the occasion, of musical
pyrotechnics

well, I wondered, let’s see what
they’re going to do with that

it was unforgettable, though my
friend was somewhat more
equivocal, perhaps not as intent,
quite yet, as I was, about meeting
her divine

in search of something lately to
commemorate the several recent
worldwide atrocities, I quickly
settled on the only work I could
think of, apart from anything,
of course, by Bruckner, to mourn
appropriately

I found this extraordinary production
from no less than London’s St Paul’s

though not an oratorio, according
to the composer’s strict intentions,
Elgar‘s The Dream of Gerontius“, a
concert piece, is played here in a
church, an Anglican, indeed,
cathedral, despite the flagrantly
Catholic story being told, Elgar had
converted to Catholicism, the piece
transcends, however, religions

an oratorio, incidentally – not to be
confused with Ontario, the Canadian
province – is an opera conceived
without sets or costumes, usually
associated with significant religious
occasions

the text of “Gerontius” is taken
from a poem of Cardinal John
Henry Newman
, 1801 to 1890,
a Catholic convert himself, only
recently beatified, as a matter
of fact, not yet, however, for
insufficiency of miracles, it
would appear, canonized

The Dream of Gerontius is
Cardinal Newman‘s retelling of
Dante‘s Divine Comedy“, our
original tour guide through
Purgatory, Heaven and Hell,
Newman‘s take on it is
particularly poignant, Elgar‘s
musical accompaniment not
any less

the conjunction of divine,
composer, sacred venue and
superior performers is an
extraordinary occasion,
despite, not least, a
scratchy recording, the
experience here is
profound

bring your solemnity

Richard

by the way: December is the end of
the year, 2016 is already act two, are
you ready to meet your own God/dess

from Beethoven to Pink Floyd


in juxtaposing inadvertently recently
Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”
with Beethoven’s String Quartet no 14
in C# minor, opus 131
, I was once again
struck by how one resembled implicitly
the other, both had achieved structurally
an operatic concert, an original musical
form for each their epoch, a piece of
instrumental music – with, even with
Beethoven eventually, voice – see his
9th Symphony for that – in the form of
opera

stay with me

songs started off as ditties, see, for
instance, in our time, She Loves You“,
the Beatles, in Classical music that’s
the equivalent of a Mozart sonata,
quick, easy to hum along with, and
spirited

then MacArthur Park came along, in
1968, with a song twice the length,
seven minutes and some, of anything
heard before, check out Jimmy Webb,
Richard Harris, and the process

that sounds a lot like Beethoven, I
thought, throw in extrapolations of
symphonic proportions and that
sounds a lot like Beethoven too,
saying, this is not just pretty, people,
it’s potentially momentous, listen

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club
Band
then put several compositions
together, without breaks, to give us
the first concept album, an
uninterrupted flow of various musical
ideas held together by an, however
inexplicit, theme

or MacArthur Park“, in other words,
amplified

in 1826, it had been Beethoven’s 14th,
where all this started out, no one had
ever done this sort of thing before,
confounded so intimately contrasting
musical forms, but he’d got it from
the Christian Mass

thus Beethoven, a secular prophet

and thus, in his eminent footsteps,
Pink Floyd, solely, among
contemporary artists, addressing
God

it all seems nearly inevitable today,
but it was 1968 then, a time of, if
you’ll recall, revolution

and all of these had been, for better
or worse, once again, our rallying
cries, anthems, towards a better
world

Richard

“I’ve Got a New Attitude”‏


as the Beatles once sang, Roll Over Beethoven

I’d been touching up my blog, specifically my
Elizabeth Barrett Brownings
, which WordPress
had to my dismay defaced, when one of my
submissions, the XXXlst, gave me the choice
of his Appassionata or Patti LaBelle, to
accompany me on the dishes, my ritual
homage to Sisyphean labour before the
limitless

both are electrifying

but I opted for a change, the effect of, maybe,
springtime, chose Patti, who’d awakened by
her very name a world of magical memories
for me, even inspiring me to find finally a
long lost friend, an ardent fan, then, of Patti

I looked for an appropriate, concert, length,
enough to finish my dishes, this is what I
found

I’ve been hooked on divas ever since

I hope you’re also enjoying them

Richard

psst: more Patti

Beethoven piano sonata no 23, opus 57, “Appassionata”‏

despite its apparently appropriate appearance
Beethoven’s “Appassionata” once again was
not so titled by Beethoven, but posthumously
even only, by an otherwise inconsequential
publisher with respect to our story, it is filled
with brilliance and verve, as had been
Beethoven’s wont, but a new spirit has
invaded this work, to my mind, which
hadn’t been evident in his earlier, even
more recent sonatas  
 
Beethoven has ceded to contemplation,
no longer merely the bravura that bristled
thrillingly when his fingers flew across a
dazzled, surely, keyboard, dashing off
feats of musical dexterity, indeed of
outright improbable prestidigitation, the
inspired and omnipotent fury of a youth
in all his promise and pulsating
exhilaration
 
here, in the second movement mostly,
the very heart of the piece, his quest is
philosophical, this is no longer merely
a musical air, but a striving for meaning
 
from here on Beethoven, where earlier
he’d been an adventurer, a Johnny
Appleseed, if you’ll remember my calling
him that, in his idyllic Pastorale“, full of
determination and fire, still impervious 
to any danger, now has suffered doubt,
and begins here, at the height of his
compositional powers to display it 
 
this is no longer entertainment, this is
conversation, it’s like going from the
Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand to
John Lennon’s Imagine having been
through the intermediate Sergeant
Pepper“, the later works meant to
actually change the world, not only
just to regale it 
 
this is also only the start, Beethoven
will become extraordinary, a sage, 
music’s highest priest, and prophet  
 
watch, listen, wonder
 
 
Richard
 
 
 

Beethoven: Sonata no. 21 in C major, op. 53 (Waldstein)‏

the “Waldstein” Sonata, no. 21 in C major, opus 53, is
one of the few compositions that Beethoven named
himself, which is to say that he dedicated it to a
friend and patron, Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel
von Waldstein
, if you can call that naming it

the ones with descriptive titles, the Moonlight, the
Pastorale“, The Hunt“, for instance, were mostly so
labeled by his publisher for ease of identification in
the growing market place, a more affluent merchant
class eager to take on the refinements of the nobles,
see such an instance of social mobility, however
lampooned, updated and upended, in again the
engaging and not at all unperceptive The Beverly
Hillbillies

this means that the suggestive names we’ve come
to associate with his sonatas, Moonlight”, Pastorale“,
The Hunt“, were never conceived as such by
Beethoven, his compositions were ever purely musical
inventions, or more accurately inspirations, prophetic
pronouncements of a much more oracular order,
like Prometheus Beethoven was delivering nothing
short of fire

to match music to specific visual, or even emotive,
cues, incidentally, Pictures at an Exhibition“,
The Carnival of the Animals“, for example, came
later, already a nod to Beethoven’s even indirect
propositions

that titles were given to music, rather than the more
clinical and mnemonically difficult numbers, which
is to say, not easy to remember, isn’t very different
from the evolution of popular music in the early
1960′s

the Beatles, you’ll remember, had cuts on albums
that had nothing more than their group name in
the titles, or the title of one of the album’s cuts,
“Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” came
along to change all that, we saw the birth of the
concept album, where the whole extended affair
becomes a musical metaphysics, this is no
different from the move from the music of Mozart
to that of the more expansive Beethoven, music
is no longer a ditty but an extended technical
and philosophical text, listen to Pink Floyd take
on this mantle superbly in the Seventies, the only
other body since ever to effectively challenge
Beethoven in that especially rarefied field, with
the probable exception of the sublimely expressive
Schubert perhaps, who died much too young for us
to tell, for him to have decisively dialectically proven
himself beside these erudite peers, all having,
however, found ways to have us touch beyond the
sky, the very infinite, and into the no less infinite
confines of our more private and secret selves

what they state is that creation itself, absent any
other meaning, remains potent, perhaps even
ultimately redemptive

creation as a bold and noble response to eternity,
art as affirmation

you’ll note here that the structure of this sonata
is entirely Classical, unity of tone, unity of pace,
and the eventual return of the initial melody,
essential Classical components, what has
changed is the personal bravura of the composer,
Beethoven is not playing for the aristocratic court,
but for a wider, an infinite, audience, he is
pronouncing his and, by extension, our own place
and validity in the universe, by our ability as humans
to create, to respond creatively, and even sublimely,
out of only our otherwise flailing and indeterminate
existence

it is the Romantic response to the waning belief
in God, and incidentally a profound spur to,
argument for, our present notion of inalienable
individual rights

the personal soul has taken over from the earlier
unchallenged deity, the wavering concept of God
has had a seismic fall, and all the king’s horses
and all the king’s men will never be able to put it
together undiminished again

Beethoven is showing us that future

Richard

psst: Helena Bonham Carter plays excerpts from the
Waldstein“, incidentally, in A Room with A View“,
a movie entirely worth a revisit