29 May 2013

La centenaire du Sacre

What a blast, even on YouTube, to watch a crack performance of Stravinsky's Le sacre, all the while thunder & lightning are playing outside the windows here in southern New England.

23 May 2013

Red Letter Day

At last, I've listened to music of Roger Sessions.

And, damn, it is good!

21 May 2013

Yin and yang

If you haven't seen [insert name of show here], you haven't been to Boston.

But the word on the street (and heard on three different streets in two months) is, if you've seen it once — that's enough.

19 May 2013

Plain speaking

One line in a recent review of the latest blockbuster:

No matter. As with Brown’s other works, it’s more fun to read “Inferno” when you accept that every whoa-ful tidbit is true[....]

This is still striking me as essentially, it’s more fun to read the rubbish after your lobotomy.

Ticket stub

Hook, last night. Hoffman, Hoskins and Williams (oh, and Maggie Smith) are big positives, the inevitable pools of Spielbergian sentimentality are moderate negatives. Julia Roberts has neither my blessing nor my curse.

Oh, and the script includes one of Spielberg’s top 5 bee-fart-sniffingest dud jokes, as Williams whips out a checkbook in response to Hook’s challenge, “Draw your weapon!”

Always a bit tickled by Phil Collins’s cameo.

Just saying

Here, to-day, on the street where I live … I heard a track from The Knack’s debut album blaring from a house window.

Note 1): I don't know of any album by The Knack, other than their inaugural album

Note 2) For decades (and I mean decades) I hadn't remembered any track by The Knack other than "M. Sh." Until hearing this blast from a neighbor's house.

Note 3) It is next to the funniest thing in the world, that this happened the same week as The New Book by D. B.

07 May 2013

Just thinking, really, so far

Conventional Cooking Directions:
  1. Empty packet into bowl […]
Unconventional Cooking Directions:
  1. Place bowl atop head
  2. Toss packet in air
  3. Attempt to catch in bowl atop head, before packet comes to earth
My recent just-before-shuteye music has been Louis Couperin harpsichord solo works. Not surprisingly, I owe my awareness of this composer to friend Paul Cienniwa. At some point, I had the notion of writing an extended harpsichord solo piece, but I think it will be some while before Paul needs such a piece from me (if needs be le mot juste).
That idea has not sat idle on a back mental shelf, though; it’s jumped a neuron as a result of my getting back in touch with an old mate from Buffalo, who asked for a new piano piece.
So the current compositional foment between my ears is not only the piece for soprano and clarinet, but an extended piano solo work, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.

05 May 2013

Meaning, and getting on with it

A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean.


“But a man may then imagine in your work what he pleases, what you never meant!”

Not what he pleases, but what he can.  If he be not a true man, he will draw evil out of the best:  we need not mind how he treats any work of art!  If he be a true man, he will imagine true things:  what matter whether I meant them or not?  They are there none the less that I cannot claim putting them there!

— Geo McDonald, from the Preface to The Light Princess and Other Fairy Stories

Chatting with Marc last night, he's reading about work (and other) habits of famous writers. Some of them, frankly self-destructive.  (Habits, I meant, though really, I suppose it works out the same.)

Went to the Pascha Vigil at the Epiphany, always a great uplift to the soul.

More work soon on The Mystic Trumpeter.
There was blood and a plate of SpƤtzle,
But just who shot who?
At the Copa, Copacabenna,
The hottest spot north of Vienna . . . .

02 May 2013

Laying the groundwork

Yesterday, although I did not actually compose anything, I re-read the text for The Mystic Trumpeter.
[Parenthetically: There is a Holst setting of this text, and while I have never heard it, chances are excellent that I was first aware of the text by seeing this setting in a list of the great English composer’s works.]
Firstly, I find myself liking the text better than ever, which is certainly the good thing.  Secondly – well, hang on a sec.
There is a 34-measure draught dating from last year (probably; maybe the year before), complete for both performers, which I may keep or may not.  There follow four measures of text setting, which may just be jettisoned.
So: secondly, in reading the text through last night (first I had read it in its entirety in a long time) I found myself “audializing” several of the various sections much clearer than ever before.  This may be another residual benefit of the still-recent task of setting Poe’s “Annabel Lee.”  I see the piece as more vivid; possibly a matter of my compositional optics.
There is the “old pageants” passage for which I am not sure just what tone I want to strike.  Two or three ideas which arose straight off seem to me immediately unacceptable; but I am sure that the right solution, the solution which I shall be completely content to ‘own’, will come to me.
Still not sure just how long the entire piece will be. (Will it run half an hour?)  In all events, the singer will need several resting places.  The clarinet will not require equivalent rest, but musically we should still have a substantial-ish stretch of voice only; and perhaps two moments for a ‘deep breath’ (do I need to clear water out of that key-hole?)
Excited at resuming this piece!
The performance will be early October, so I want to have the piece done so that rehearsal can begin in August (if the singer should wish).

01 May 2013

Just thinking at present

Re-reading the Whitman.