Whew. I just spent the last couple hours inputting analytics data. I’m all tapped out on decimal points for the next week or three, thanks.
So let’s leave the logical and soulless world of number-crunching behind and get all misty over the very last concert of the BSO 2009-2010 season. Wherever did the time go?
You know what this calls for? A requiem! And the BSO is here for… itself. And us. The final concert is entitled “Brahms’ German Requiem.” Guess what’s in the program!
Okay, yeah, but before that it’s Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. It’s based off a poem of the same name by James Agee, and, per the program notes, it has a smell.
Agee’s and Barber’s Knoxville seemed to strike a common chord in many other people who had grown up in that earlier, more tranquil America. Soprano Eleanor Steber of Wheeling, West Virginia, who sang its first performance on April 9, 1948 with the Boston Symphony under conductor Serge Koussevitzky declared: “That was exactly my childhood!” And Leontyne Price, who grew up in Mississippi and later also became a noted interpreter of this piece, said: “As a southerner, it expresses everything I know about my roots and about my mama and father … You can smell the South in it.”
Good times. The Requiem program notes, however, are rather more hard core. There’s a whole guide for how to listen to the music (uh, open ears, hold still, shut up?) plus cheerful anecdotes like this one:
Thus A German Requiem is actually a memorial to two important people in Brahms’ life: his biological mother and his artistic father. And it was an intensely personal and original work. Unlike most musical requiems, it is not based on the liturgical Catholic rite for the dead: a service emphasizing prayers for the souls of the departed. Rather, it is an idiosyncratic Protestant setting, with its text drawn by Brahms himself from the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha of Martin Luther’s German Bible. The emphasis is not on the dead but on finding consolation for the living, as stated in the Requiem’s very first line from St. Matthew’s gospel: “Blessed are they that mourn.”
All right, all right, I’m sad. You didn’t have to wring it out of me.
While I’m sniffling in a corner, peruse the concert dates:
(Psst. I have a discount code for $20 tickets. Email me and I’ll send it to you.)
That’s it for the Blog About Death for the week. Tune in tomorrow for a Blog About Blame! It’s a laugh a minute around here, no?