14 June 2009

Stray Fragments of Reading

We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
Portia (as Balthasar in court before the Doge),
The Merchant of Venice IV.i

On March 5, 1953, Stalin died. His statue, eight meters high, was next to the opera house, and all around the block the grieving people of Ufa stood in line to place flowers at his feet. In Moscow, where Sergei Prokofiev died on the same day, the streets were blocked off, traffic was at a standstill, and all the florists’ shops had been emptied. “Nowhere could one buy even a few flowers to place on the coffin of the great Russian composer,” writes the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. “In newspapers, there was no room for an obituary. Everything was Stalin’s—even the ashes of Prokofiev, whom he had persecuted.”
Julie Kavanagh, Nureyev: The Life (p.29)

Don’t you realize what you’ve written?
Composer Nikolai Myaskovsky to Prokofiev,
of the latter’s Violin Sonata № 1 in F Minor, Opus 80

Of course, it requires greater effort to learn from one’s juniors, and their manners are not invariably good. But when you are seventy-five and your generation has overlapped with four younger generations, it behooves you not to decide in advance ‘how far composers can go’, but to try to discover whatever new thing it is makes the new generation new.
from Conversations with Igor Stravinsky

As for myself this week: I can scarce believe, not merely that there is no narrative whatever devoted to Feldman in the Phaidon book Minimalists, but that his name is entirely absent even from the index.

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