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Bassoons, caught in a bad romance

“Come quickly!” Benevolent Dictator Jamie said last week, rushing past my cubicle (oh yes, I have a cubicle). “I have something for your blog!”

And she did.

Now THAT would be interesting

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Nobody panic! Your viola joke is here!

Q: Why is it that violists never practice?

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Well played, indeed

Naturally, you guys made it hard for me in the very best of ways. I got some great responses to the “define music major” Medal of Violar contest. In the order they were posted, here are some of the best excerpts (according to me):

From Sheri: My observation is that in reality most music majors work as hard, or harder, than any med student – at least those who are practicing hours a day in addition to keeping up other classes.

From Cate: If people think they are easy degrees to get, they are mistaken. You constantly have to produce creative work and find your own style, and better and better creative work at that, and then develop a thick skin since your creative work will regularly be judged and criticized.

From Christine Petrolati: People often refer to book smart people as brilliant. I feel just as strongly that Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Maurizio Pollini are brilliant as well!! You can be a music major and make a difference in this world.

From Jamie: I have a BM and MM in music and all I remember of school is being tired and the four walls of my practice room. In undergrad, I was the one who stayed up late working every night including weekends, while my pre-med friends were out partying… hmmmm.  But having said that, there are two types of music majors: Those who work themselves to the bone and those who slide by with almost no effort at all.

From Dr. Carney: So what is a music major? Awesome. And “awesome” in the very literal sense:  Someone who is expressive of awe as well as awe inspiring. Doesn’t that sound exactly like the description for music itself? I think so too.

You can read the full responses here. I especially recommend Dr. Carney’s offerings; he responded twice and the second one was even better than the first one.

And the winner is…….. JAMIE! Yes, yes, I know, she’s my benevolent dictator, but I cracked up at the part about the partying pre-med students, so it’s not nepotism, it’s a gigglefit. (Let that be a lesson to you: I can be bought with gigglefits.) Her name is now up on the wall of honor.

That having been said, I got a tremendous kick out of reading all the responses and highly encourage more of the same. Just because there’s no official contest doesn’t mean you can’t garner a Medal of Violar. If you’re consistently awesome – and I know you are – it’s inevitable.

It did lead me to one question, which I thought to put to the readers and decided to answer myself. Yes, you can win the Medal of Violar more than once. I don’t want to discourage the recipients from continuing to offer their brilliance. It’s harder to get it the second time, because if it comes down to two the newer applicant gets the nod, but it can be done. So keep commenting! It makes my heart happy. 😀

In the immortal words of Dr. Carney himself: peace out.

The Well Played! Ain’t Baroque Medal of Violar

I told you I’d get to it.

The Well Played! Ain’t Baroque Medal of Violar is a dubious honor. I mean it’s an honor I just made up. I mean it’s an honor! No need to qualify that. You can only get it by performing above and beyond the call of duty in the form of regular commentary and contribution and general awesomeness. Learn more and read the current list of honorees here.

There are occasionally shortcuts, however. For example, you have until 9 am EST tomorrow (Wednesday) to enter the “define music major” contest. The author of the most clever excerpt automatically makes it onto the list. Think of prestige!

Duly intrigued? Click here!

How romantic!

This week’s BSO concert is entitled “Three Romantics,” and features Canadian pianist Louis Lortie. Juanjo Mena is conducting, and the program includes R. Strauss’ Don Juan, Schumann’s piano concerto, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

I like the romantic period, but I can’t say I am particularly well-versed in any of these pieces, or composers really. So I perused the program notes to see if there was anything interesting. Here are some highlights:

On Strauss:

Strauss’ first two tones poems were unsuccessful, but his third, Don Juan, went well. It was inspired by Wagner. Make of that what you will.

On Schumann:

Before their marriage, Robert wrote to Clara: “I cannot write a concerto for a virtuoso. I must think of something else.” By a “concerto for a virtuoso” he was thinking of his contemporaries Paganini, Liszt, Thalberg and Hummel, who wrote works that served mostly to display their extraordinary technical abilities while the orchestra played discreetly in the background. In an article in his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Schumann praised a concerto by Moscheles because the piano “makes an imaginative interplay with the orchestra, each instrument having its own role, its own say and its own significance.” And this is what he achieved in his own concerto: a dialogue of soloist and orchestra, with the woodwinds—especially the solo clarinet and oboe—having particularly prominent parts.

On Brahms:

His symphony no. 3 is subtle. Also ruggedly masculine.

On all:

They liked girls.

The concerts are Thursday, May 13 and Friday, May 14 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff and Saturday, May 15 at 8 pm at Strathmore. In the immortal words of Dennis Owen: there you are. Now sit down and shut up.

William Tell walked around the corner and he walked around the block and he walked right into a donut shop

I was going to post the Silly Symphony with the Three Little Pigs because my memory insists that at one point the wolf dances to one of Dvorak’s Hungarian Dances, but upon repeat viewing I found I was making stuff up. Or maybe I missed it or watched the wrong one.

Luckily Disney never fails me, and I can instead offer you this 1935 cartoon of Mickey leading one heck of a sophisticated band concert.

I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of hot dog carts in concert halls, don’t you?

Oh, all right, Brahms can have one too

Brahms kitty writin lullaby  doin it prety gud akshully!

This one goes out to my boy Tchaikovsky on his birthday


Burn, baby

A violist comes home late at night to discover fire trucks, police cars, and a smoking crater where his house used to be.

The chief of police comes over to him and tells him, “While you were out, the conductor came to your house, killed your family, and burned the house down.”

The violist replied, Continue reading