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Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn

The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most uncompromising is Beethoven's. The one by Brahms vies with it in seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch. But the most inward, the heart's jewel, is Mendelssohn's.
  -- Joseph Joachim

Yes a new episode of Thursday Classical Music... In which we continue the violin concerto theme of last week.  Last week we listened to a kick-ass performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto by a somewhat eccentric interpreter, Ivry Gitlis.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I asked if we should do more Gitlis.  I heard back YES, and got requests, specifically, for Felix Mendelssohn's concerto, which Ivry Gitlis recorded at the same time as the Tchaikovsky concerto.

Everybody is familiar with at least a little bit of Mendelssohn.  Like, "Hark, the Herald Angel Sings."  Bugs Bunny couldn't start the day without dancing and twirling to Mendelssohn's Spring Song. You also probably heard some Mendelssohn when you were married.  Generally, the march down the aisle is done to Wagner's staid wedding march from Lohengrin.  The more boisterous music after the "I Now Pronounce You" is Mendelssohn.  (Or you can think of The Newlyweds Game show opening theme, if you prefer.)

The concerto we're going to hear today is part of the standard repertoire, a necessary part of the symphony orchestra lifecycle, a work frequently used in violin competitions, a kind of measuring stick for aspiring violinists.

Here's an interesting excerpt clip of violinist Maxim Vengerov leading a masterclass in how to perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, coaching a young woman who looks quite terrified and intimidated.

It's interesting to hear, above, how much even a small part of the piece changes as it passes from the hands of the student to the master.  At the end, he says, of the fragment they're working on, "It's like a conversation, like a search."

So this is very human music, and it does have that conversational "a voice speaking to you" feeling.

When I took Intro to Music Appreciation 101 as a pup some thirty-five years ago, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto was the piece we listened to and analyzed as our example of the concerto genre.  They broke it down, Sonata-Allegro form and all that, as I do in all these diaries, so this is familiar turf for me.  However, I've had a few years, obviously, to absorb and get a deeper feeling for the music.  Hopefully, I can outperform my music teacher and point out things he glossed over!

Mendelssohn has always reminded me of Mozart, even though he fits into the middle or early part of the Romantic Period.  Midsummer Night's Dream, for instance, was composed in 1824 -- two years after Beethoven's Ninth was premiered.  Mendelssohn was able to match Mozart's ebullience.  For example, the final movement today has that feeling of jumping out of your skin with [rational] ecstasy.  I think I need to emphasize that word, rational, though.  Mendelssohn's music is not the bipolar going-off-the-rails.  It's always well-structured and grounded, as Mozart was, and the joy is built atop that.

The first movement, in particular, reminds me of the first movement of Mozart's Symphony #40 in G minor (which is another piece we had to listen to in the same class).  

As a reminder, here's the first movement of Mozart's #40, conducted by my FAVORITE Mozart conductor, George Szell, back in 1970, from a live concert in Tokyo.

Notice how it begins with a short repeating minor key intro that basically just sets up the backdrop upon which the real theme will enter.  Like the Mendelssohn.  There's the hard minor key main theme, with worrisome chromatic notes adorning it.  [Chromatic means, black and white notes -- notes between the notes of the normal Do-Re-Mi scale.] Like the main theme of the Mendelssohn.  They feel similar, although the Mozart offers less hope.

Here's my handy-dandy blue graphic guide to Sonata-Allegro form, designed to save me some typing:

So... Let's hit the music!

Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, Opus 64 (complete), Ivry Gitlis violin, Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Swarofsky.  Recorded 1954 on Vox.

First movement: Allegro molto appassionato (Fast, very passionate)

The first movement is classic Sonata-Allegro form, so here we go again...

Introduction (0:11 to 0:13)

It's just a bar or so of music, music reminiscent of Mozart, a thrumming backdrop for the coming main theme.  But notice it has the main rhythmic motif of the movement right in that two little second, a sound like a beating heart.  da-DUM.... da-DUM...

Exposition First Theme (0:13)

The main theme begins, played by the violin with the beating heart accompaniment in the background.  It's a long winding melody, a very personal lament.  

What strikes me about this Gitlis recording (and it's true of the others he has on Youtube) is how hard he attacks this theme.  Every other violinist makes this sound wistful, the notes running together like lalaaaala lalaaaala.  He deliberately bucks the trend and puts a little more bite into it.  His whole performance is going to be more aggressive, more rock and roll, more stock car derby.  If you like your Mendelssohn the traditional way, I say, oh well, whatever.  I've heard it the TYPICAL way enough times for one life.

At 0:40, the lyrical part of the theme gives way to pyrotechnics from the soloist, setting up a strong cadence that leads to, at 1:03, the violinist drops out and the full orchestra taking up the main theme, giving it a new, extra level of angry growl.

At 1:31, the main theme over, the orchestra and violin give us a VERY LONG bridge passage, built out of parts of the main first theme.  This bridge passage is one of the coolest parts of the movement.  Bridge passages are meant to change the key, change the mood, segue us into the second theme.  Oftentimes they are just filler material.  But notice here how it LABORS back and forth between the mean E minor and the more optimistic G major.  At 2:32, it finally, with a delicious sense of AHHHHHHHHH... achieves its goal, finds peace, and settles down.  Now that we've arrived at our destination of G Major...

Exposition Second Theme (2:40)

The woodwinds, with great gentleness, introduce the second theme.  The violin comes in, next, and begins to unwind this full, long, and very romantic melody, one with long graceful leaps.  Wow.  Listen to how it just trails off on that sustained note at 3:32, disappearing into the clouds...  And then reappearing, very sheepishly, at the end.

This second theme will return, in a different form, in the finale.

Exposition Codetta (3:40)

The first theme is back, but it's so HAPPY now, in this very different atmosphere of G major land.  It's buoyance tells us that we're near the end of the exposition.  It bubbles over with joy.  At about 4:20, it begins working its way towards an ecstatic climax.

... BUT...  Oh no!

Development (4:24)

As it reaches for that climax, at 4:27 it runs headfirst into a concrete wall (notice how similar it is to last week's concerto, in this respect -- very similar forms).  A shrill, hair-raising chord from the full orchestra seems to say NO!  The violin tries again.  Again, NO!  And again...  

And thus we know we're in the development section, the part of the Sonata-Allegro movement where the previous themes, introduced in the exposition like characters in a play, are made to battle it out.  

At 4:46, the violin begins a journey, using the back half of the first theme, traveling through a series of keys.  (What do I mean by "traveling through a series of keys?  Well, just listen to that part.  That's what I mean.)

At 5:18, the optimistic version of the main theme (from the codetta), played by the orchestra, tries to assert itself.  Coming out of this, the violin takes charge, and the atmosphere cools... chills... chills.
And the orchestra drops out completely at 6:11, leaving the soloist alone, for a very long cadenza.  [A long showy solo for Ivry Gitlis to demonstrate why he gets paid the big bucks.]

At 7:24, as the violin trails off into a series of skittering notes, we find ourselves back in the home key (E minor), ready for

The Recapitulation (First Theme Again) 7:24

Above the skittering violin, the orchestra returns with the sane and familiar tones of the first theme.  Mendelssohn abbreviates it this time, because we've heard it before.  The transition, at 7:41, to the second theme is shorter and simplified as well.

Recapitulation (Second Theme Again) (8:11)

The flutes bring us back to the second theme, still gentle  and hopeful and full of love, but now in E major instead of G major.  It momentarily "disappears into the clouds," like before, but when it returns...

Coda (9:12)

When we were at this point before, in the exposition, he gave us a hopeful major key version of the first theme.  But there's clearly some new drama afoot, as we approach the end.  Returning to the dark music of E minor, the music becomes darker, intense, more passionate.  At 10:03, it runs into frustration, (The Wall, again).  

In dark, angry, frustration, the first theme huffs and puffs and stomps off the stage.  

End of first movement.  Not a happy ending!


Second Movement, Andante (walking speed) 11:06

But... there is one single note sustained (the bassoon), as the movement ends.  Mendelssohn has designed this concerto so all three movements are conjoined and run together. In this case by this one note.

As the first movement was dark and emotionally turbulent, this one, for contrast, will be peaceful and meditative.

There is a beautiful sense of expectation and awe as the music sorts itself out, establishing the new key, the new tone, as it prepares for the movement.

At 11:37, the violin returns, introducing the main theme of the movement, a long, winding song-like melody.  It reminded me from the very first time I heard it of the "I Don't Know How to Love Him" song from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar.  (Sarah Brightman sings it here.) I wonder if that similarity is purely coincidental.

AHA!  The Internet is so cool.  Wikipedia is right on this:

Accusations of plagiarism

Lloyd Webber has been accused of plagiarism in his works. The Dutch composer Louis Andriessen commented that: "There are two sorts of stealing (in music) - taking something and doing nothing with it, or going to work on what you've stolen. The first is plagiarism. Andrew Lloyd Webber has yet to think up a single note; in fact, the poor guy's never invented one note by himself. That's rather poor". [20]

However, Lloyd Webber's biographer, John Snelson, counters such accusations. He acknowledges, for example, the strong similarity between the opening melody of the slow movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and the Jesus Christ Superstar song "I Don't Know How to Love Him", but opines that Webber:

...brings a new dramatic tension to Mendelssohn's original melody through the confused emotions of Mary Magdalene. The opening theme may be Mendelssohn, but the rhythmic and harmonic treatment along with new lines of highly effective melodic development are Lloyd Webber's. The song works in its own right as its many performers and audiences can witness."[21]

Well, fine.  I can enjoy both Mendelssohn AND Andrew Lloyd Weber without taking sides in a pissing contest.  They're both great!  IF he did steal, at least he stole from the best!  And he put it to good use!

So where were we?  11:37.  The violin begins spilling out this long, winding, intimate and peaceful song reminiscent of certain hit musical songs.  

As it winds its way to the end, at 14:25, the middle B section begins, more turbulent.  Surely we can hear that this is based on the first theme of the first movement, a sort of hybrid cross-breed.

15:56, we're back to the A section.  But notice how it has changed from the first time!  Having learned a lesson along the way, in proper narrative style, as any creative writing student could tell you.

At 17:42, it begins its peaceful exit.  But this leads immediately into:

Third Movement Allegro Molto Vivace (Fast, very lively) (18:02)

Introduction (18:02)

The movement has a short, introduction as if it's making up its mind.  This concerto really could go two different ways at this point.  Will it be tragic, and build on the first theme of the movement, or will it have a happy ending?  The music here, based on a fragment from the first theme, displays some dithering about that.  Which will it be?

18:53.  It decides!  Joy!  Whoopee!

The form here is sometimes called Sonata-Rondo form.  Sonata form we know and love but also despise.  Rondo is more like ABACADA.   How shall I break this down?  I'm going to go with Rondo form because it's easier to follow that way.

First theme!  (A section) (18:53)

And off it goes!  Skipping, tripping, bubbling with life!  I used the word ebullient, before.  It belongs here.  This is the kind of music Mendelssohn does absolutely best.  It's too fast to be danced to, but you can still imagine some supernatural nymph-like life forms trying to and doing it with perfect grace.  And it will become more lively as the movement goes along.

Now notice!  It's not very obvious at first, but if you listen to it for a while, and once you get Andrew Lloyd Weber out of your head, you might notice that this bubbly theme is reminiscent of something.  Hmmm...  I told you earlier.  It's derived from the second theme.  Skip back to 2:40 and listen to that again and come back.  This is just a highly elaborated version of that theme, but what a difference it makes!

Fanfare (B section) (19:57)

A more angular, less tripping theme, a heroic fanfare, alternates here.  At 20:39, he begins to develop upon that fanfare theme.

First theme again (21:03)

The first theme returns, with more energy, as new sub-themes begin to EMERGE out of it, as if it's spinning off mini-tornados.  (At this point, I really am pointing out stuff my Intro to Music App teacher would have glossed over.)

At 21:12, the violin spins off in its own direction with a new, less manic theme, one that EMERGES NATURALLY from the other, one that flows slowly and gracefully, with the first theme.  It basically is the first theme, but stripped of its ornamentation and calmed down.

At 21:27, our new, subversive little melody gains more life, moves to the deeper strings as the violin bounces and bubbles.  At 21:48, it gets even more fleshing out.

Fanfare Again! (22:10)

Our B section returns.  Like the first time at first, but then it gains energy as it heads towards

Coda (22:42)

We rush towards the finish line, picking up speed...  And finally...

The End!

This was a bit too sloppy for a college presentation, I'm sure, but I hope I managed to point out a few things you might not have noticed before --  and maybe my old teacher never even noticed.

Next Week:  I'm open to suggestions, again, for what we should do next week, but I think I like this violin concerto streak.  

So I'll ask you guys.  I would like it if we could do any of these violin concertos: Sibelius, Brahms, Bartok, Szymanowski, Prokofiev.  Speak up in the comments if you have a preference, because I won't cover all of them.

Originally posted to Dumbo on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 06:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.


Next week's violin concerto should be (listed alphabetically so I don't play favorites):

9%6 votes
34%22 votes
12%8 votes
31%20 votes
4%3 votes
6%4 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  AAArrrrgghhhh... Damn Dailykos. (8+ / 0-)

    Why can't I edit the diary?  Every time I do, it tells me I'm not authorized to change the poll.  And I'm not even trying to change the poll, just the text of the diary.  

    •  Eh, I figured it out. It forces you to (8+ / 0-)

      vote in your own poll before it will let you edit your own diary.  Nevermind.  A message to that effect would have been helpful, though.  What I got was this:

      We're sorry.  There was a problem saving your story: You are not authorized to edit this poll
      All fine now.
    •  someone may have answered this already (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, martyc35, Dumbo

      but I experienced the same thing.
      and I think the reason may be that once the poll is set and people vote, if you were allowed to change the elements of the poll it would be distorted because some people already voted with the earlier information.
      so the new poll would have more choices? less choices? and the earlier voters might have done something differently.
      maybe that's the reason.....

      Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

      by eve on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 06:13:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since you mentioned it, how about the Brahms? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, cfk, ExStr8, martyc35, Portlaw

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:01:35 PM PDT

  •  The second and third movements didn't load. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, cfk, martyc35

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:01:59 PM PDT

  •  Here's a concerto you missed: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, martyc35, Eikyu Saha, Amber6541

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:18:48 PM PDT

  •  Thank you so much!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo, Portlaw, Amber6541

    Another great diary!

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:19:29 PM PDT

  •  The inclusion of the master video (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, martyc35, ER Doc, Portlaw, Amber6541

    is quite illustrative.  That helped me a lot.

    I always enjoy these conversations that you have with the music. Thanks for letting me eavesdrop on you, Ivry and Felix (with a couple of asides to Andrew and Wolfgang).

    And I love the opening illustration; it's very endearing.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:24:50 PM PDT

    •  What I liked about that clip, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, martyc35, a gilas girl, ER Doc, Amber6541

      was that I was listening to the girl, and thinking, yeah, that's pretty good!  I like that...  And then he interrupts her and plays the same part.  And it is so astonishingly better in his hands you realize how much more to it there was than you realized.  The contrast between the two, that way, opens your eyes.

      And I felt sorry for that girl, just imagining how intimidated she must have felt, not just before she began, but after he showed her how it could have sounded.  I would have thought, "I'll never be able to do that."

      •  I thought her eyes glistened just a little, and (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, a gilas girl, MT Spaces, ER Doc

        I'll bet she worked and worked until she got it.

        Thank you, D! A stirring presentation and great analysis. I like the Mini-tornado approach, and back in my time (college in the 1950s) we would have loved a few more "subversive" melodies.

        I am growing fond of Gitlis and have bookmarked a few more of his performances on YT to listen to this week.

        After our talk about Erica Morini last week, I went online and found a (remastered) CD of the 1945 recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto, and it arrived in the mail today, just lovely, just as I remembered it, and I think she will always be my favorite on that. I noticed that she was ensconced in Chicago, recording and performing Hungarian songs on the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Gives me a chill to think how many European families came here to escape WWII. Many of the musicians and composers went right to work on scores for movies. I'll bet there was a fair amount of unconscious plagiarism going on then. But to create a blended culture in which we could ultimately hear Lou Reed singing Kurt Weill, well, that's an incredible accidental feat.

        I voted for Brahms, but I could easily be persuaded to change my vote to Sibelius. I love his music, too.

        Thanks again for the great post.

        W. H. Auden: "We must love one another or die."

        by martyc35 on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 08:27:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  German expatriates who came to Hollywood... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          martyc35, ER Doc, Liberal Protestant
          Gives me a chill to think how many European families came here to escape WWII. Many of the musicians and composers went right to work on scores for movies. I'll bet there was a fair amount of unconscious plagiarism going on then. But to create a blended culture in which we could ultimately hear Lou Reed singing Kurt Weill, well, that's an incredible accidental feat.
          Be sure to check out this diary, "Degenerate Art," about Kurt Weill and many of the other Germans who escaped to Hollywood.

          Glad you got your Morini recording back :)

          •  I might have known you had already done a diary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            on those guys:-). I just stumbled on your stuff last week, so now I have so much to look forward to. Duly bookmarked to read tomorrow. That Tom Waits song is on the recording of various artists doing Kurt Weill, the same one with Lou Reed singing "September Song." I play it a lot. I have (still on vinyl) a recording of The Three-penny Opera with Lotte Lenya. I need to dig around and set up that damned turn-table I bought so I could cut CDs from all those records. Pissed that I don't have The Doors doing Brecht/Weill, too, "Alabama Song" from Mahagonny. Loved that.

            This has been fun, thank you.

            W. H. Auden: "We must love one another or die."

            by martyc35 on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 08:55:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Posted because I wanted to... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, martyc35

    Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.  With a much younger and much, much less rotund Sarah Brightman.

    I've never heard it sung by anybody that I liked other than Michael Crawford.  There's a certain fog-cutting quality to his voice that is perfect for this part.

  •  One of my music teachers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, martyc35

    taught me a little song to sing along to the opening theme of the first movement:

    "Nie wieder, nie wider, das Mendelssohn-Konzert!"
    {it also appears as "schon wieder"}

    In other words, not again!

  •  Breaking up with a girlfriend... (5+ / 0-)

    I heard this on the local classical station played by Anna-Sophie Mutter.  The first movement, particularly the recap of the main theme has always been a favorite of mine.  When it was done the announcer said Ms. Mutter was in town (San Francisco) for a concert that night.  Since I wrote for a local paper I thought "I know, I'll make some calls, get an interview with her, she'll fall in love with me and then I'll spend the next couple of years travelling around the world being kept by a beautiful young violinist... that'll show her!"

    Made the calls, got the interview and within two hours found myself interviewing Ms. Mutter in her suite at the Four Seasons.  Needless to say the second part of my plan didn't quite pan out, but it certainly did take the sting out of an otherwise mundane breakup.

  •  Thanks dumbo!!!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo, ozsea1, Amber6541

    you always make Thursdays a little better than other days for me with your diary.

    btw I love the Beethoven with the original Beethoven cadenza.

    It is so good.
    And as crazy as Beethoven may have been, I feel that his music is the sanest.
    It's clean - meaning free of emotional distortions and disturbances.
    And it makes me feel the best.

    As much as I love classical music, often the inner pain of the composer comes through.
    But with Beethoven there may be rage but not some of the emotional disturbances unique to each composer and always recognizable.
    Maybe because he wrote his in a major not minor key?????
    (I don't know much about that - or anything else for that matter, lol)

    My husband's favorite is the Mendelssohn.
    Thanks for another delightful diary.

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 06:26:38 AM PDT

  •  Re: ALW Plagiarism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lulusbackintown, martyc35, Dumbo, ozsea1

    Then there's that other famous controversy: a Webber tune from Phantom's "Music of the Night" as actually coming from Puccini's La Fanciulla Del West's duetto - starting at counter 6:03 in this YouTube:

    Here's the Webber "steal" at counter 0:30:

    I think I read somewhere there was a settlement with the Puccini estate.

    I don't know if it's really theft or not. These gems float around in the musical soup. Webber may have heard it once at the opera, but it may have sunk into his sub-consciousness, to resurface when composing Phantom. He probably deemed it original, but he paid anyway.

    Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

    by msirt on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 08:53:26 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for being the only one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      msirt, ozsea1

      to comment on the Andrew Lloyd Webber thing I tossed in there.  :)

      When I wrote that line about how I felt that I had heard that before, I had no idea that a quick Google search would show up the same thing was already on Wiki.  When I first heard Mendelssohn, it would have been about 1974.  Jesus Christ Superstar was still a recent big popular hit, and songs from it were still being played on AM pop radio all the time, so it was close to the forefront of my consciousness when I first heard Mendelssohn.  Thus making it easy to make the connection.

      I wasn't familiar with the Puccini opera (I'm not very familiar with most opera) but as soon as I played that part of the clip you posted, I knew where and what you were talking about.

      An interesting thing about this is that as classical music buffs, we're USED to looking for similarities between different themes and melodies that other people might just shrug off.  So it's much easier for us to notice these things and become outraged!

      •  Funny thing is ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        .... my wife and I saw "La Fanciulla" in a movie theater (one of the Met's HD broadcasts).  I'm the musicologist of the family, but it was she who turned to me and said:  "I've heard this tune somewhere else...".  We discovered the connection when we got home.

        Even if it was the accidental memory lapse of ALW that allowed this to happen, still,the operatic quality of the Phantom song, especially at the end where that tune returns fully dressed (3:44 in the 2nd YouTube), makes one really suspicious.

        Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

        by msirt on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 05:54:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can knock it all your want (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (and I realize you're not), but the final three-part sing-off at the end of Phantom, where all three songs are reprised simultaneously, was great music.  Even if he did find inspiration in classics (and how anybody can fault him too much for that, I don't know), the masterly way it was all brought together at the end justified it all.

          And, besides, the whole concept of the musical is kind of corny.  It forces you to suspend your disbelief and play a game with a different set of ground rules.

  •  I voted Bartok (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo

    ... but the Berg had slipped my mind. Can't re-vote for "other", but the Berg should definitely be on the short list.

    Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

    by msirt on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 09:04:01 AM PDT

    •  Yup, I suppose I could do Berg. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had the LP, listened to it enough times, think I understand it well enough to do it, but I'm not a big fan of it so I wouldn't enjoy it very much.  Maybe somebody else will volunteer to do a diary on that and give it justice.

      •  I might try it... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... sometime in the latter part of April. (too much on my plate right now).  I think I know enough about the piece to do something with it.

        I could first do a "serialism for dummies" bit and then go on into how Berg turned Schoenberg's "science of dodecaphonicism"(I think I may have coined that - red flags from the spell checker) into a powerful means of dramatic expression by making it work contextually with triadic harmonies that are more familiar to the general ear.

        I might start with an analogy: One does not like the taste of picked herring when young but one acquires a taste for it as one matures.

        Incidentally, there's lots of intrigue with Berg, in that his famous courtship and marriage to Helene (who was of a higher class because her mother was a mistress of the Austrian monarch) was compromised later on with a secret affair with one Anna Fuchs.  Secret love messages were woven into some of his later works, including the Lyric Suite, Lulu, and the Violin Concerto (the last work he completed before his death - Lulu was never quite finished).  And the Violin concerto was apparently a hymn to a teenage lover who, with young Berg, produced an illegitimate daughter.

        I'm tempted.

        [will message this to you]

        Evolution IS Intelligent Design!

        by msirt on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 06:27:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  At some point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo

    if you haven't already done it, at some point I'd love to see your take on Chopin's Polonaise and Revolutionary Etude (this is a political site, after all).  There are two wonderful YouTube videos of the Polonaise.  One is Rubenstein playing before a Moscow audience on Soviet state TV in the 60s.  The other is Horowitz playing at the White House.  Horowitz's performance is that of a virtuoso playing a great piece of music before a genteel audience.  Rubenstein's performance is an act of nationalist defiance.

    •  You know, I was just thinking about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Protestant

      Chopin, only a few minutes ago, and how I WISHED I could do a decent diary on Chopin, but I don't think I'm able to.  I would love it if we could get somebody to do a Chopin diary who really knows Chopin and can point out the inner workings and little distinctions that most of us wouldn't notice the first time.

      I did a diary that analyzed a short Chopin piece (Nocturne #1 I think), but I didn't really contribute much to it.  It's the early diary I wrote on Romanticism, back in the single digit OPUS numbers.

      •  Well, I love Chopin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but my interest is purely an amateur's.  I'll happily butcher a couple of the Nocturnes and waltzes in the privacy of my own home.

        In my view, one of the surprising things about Chopin is that (or at least it seems to me) Scott Joplin imitated his short piano piece structure in many of his rags.

        There's also the story that the so-called "Minute Waltz" was Chopin's answer to a challenge that George Sand had given him to set her dog's chasing its tail to music.

        Thanks for these diaries, and for the interesting selection of performances to highlight!

  •  Love this concerto... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martyc35, Dumbo

    Saw Isaac Stern perform it many years ago, and have seen Itzhak Perlman do it twice -- he does it with so much enthusiasm and joy, it's so contagious.

    Great music. Thanks for this....

    Ich bin ein Wisconsiner!

    by Apphouse50 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:11:46 AM PDT

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