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This tag is associated with 19 posts

“Live and constantly changing, like a concert or ballet”

Hey! Remember when I said I wanted to talk about Fantasia periodically? Like, a year and a half ago or something? Let’s do it! Take it away, David Koenig, in your awesome, I-once-read-this-instead-of-playing-in-an-arcade book, Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation and Theme Parks.

As his excitement for the project grew, Walt [Disney] wanted to issue a partially new Fantasia each year, every few months replacing an old number with a newly animated one. That way, people would look at it not so much as music frozen on film, but as live and constantly changing, like a concert or ballet. They would have to ask not only where and when Fantasia was playing, but what Fantasia was playing.

Disney got as far as animating one whole sequence for inclusion in a future Fantasia, set to the tranquil “Clair de Lune.” Six years later, the animation was set to “Blue Bayou” and inserted in Make Mine Music, along with another previously scrapped idea, “Peter and the Wolf.” “Flight of the Bumble Bee” was finally used as a swing version, “Bumble Boogie,” in Melody Time.

I already gave you Peter, and I’m saving “Bumble Boogie” for a rainy day. Here’s “Clair de Lune.” Enjoy your Memorial Day!

Sunset Suite #12

I ❤ The Phantom Tollbooth. And I even love the movie version. Despite the fact that I’ve never done drugs.

In the book there was a symphony orchestra for Chroma to conduct through the sunset, but still, pretty good. I just wish they hadn’t cut The Valley of Sound (I may have a fix for this later this summer!).

I solemnly swear I’ll be up to no good

And now for an exercise in sheer joy (but not sheer unadulterated joy because that doesn’t happen without Disney parks).

Loyal readers, this is your last blog post until February 1. Why? Because tomorrow morning I am heading to my heart’s homeland — Orlando, Florida. Not — and this is the one circumstance that, to paraphrase The Mikado, modifies my rapture — because I am going to Walt Disney World, but because this time I’m headed to Universal Studios Florida. (Please don’t disown me, Disney! I’m still going to visit Downtown Disney and have lunch on your property! I’ll be back for real soon! <3)

There are a couple reasons for this: 1. Universal is cheaper. 2. They have The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and my friend Elizabeth is a big fan. Myself, I am only a 50% fan (I really liked the first one, then liked each subsequent one less and less as the protagonists got more angsty and by the last book I was ready to bring in Bradbury and torch the thing), but it sounds like the theming is magnificently done and the premier ride, a tour of the school’s castle grounds, is supposed to be a tour de force. We’re even catching breakfast at the Three Broomsticks one morning. Lukewarm as I may be on Potter himself, I’m excited.

I’m not leaving you all alone, though: I invite you to follow me on Twitter, as I will be — as I did during my last Disney vacation — be tweeting away about my musical experiences all through the parks. I will try not to rag on John Williams too much. Look for the hashtag #aintbaroqueFL.

In the meantime, why not vote in the Composer Cagematch!? You have until February 1st to get all your votes in, and I’ve added a nice, comfy radio button poll for your voting pleasure. Right now Stravinsky is narrowly edging out Prokofiev, but not by much — don’t let them decide it without you!

Other alternative activities: browse the archives, or hey, why not see a BSO concert? Brahm’s violin concerto, people, January 27, 28, and 29!

Okay, good. So you’re all taken care of. Don’t forget to follow my escapades on Twitter — I’ll be at it starting at 5 am, and I think that sort of dedication deserves your attention, don’t you?

P.S. “And soon the world’s Muggles will be under my control! LUMOS!

Aren’t you a little short for a guard?

The bows are back in town! Yup, the second half of the BSO season starts this week, and they’ve chosen to tempt karma by kicking it off with John Williams’ Star Wars suite. Come on, guys. Aim higher.

Luckily they counterbalance it with the Phillip Glass piece Icarus at the Edge of Time, which is based on a children’s book by physicist Brian Greene. Why, when I was a little kid I loved learning about physics. No, wait, that’s an enormous lie. Happily, the story is about “a young boy’s accidental adventure to a black hole.” Oh, okay, that I can get on board with. Very Star Trek, no? (Scoff not — instead go listen to Jerry Goldsmith’s Voyager theme. Beautiful.)

The program also features Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Ceres, and there are LOTS of expository videos on the concert pages. There are performance on Friday, January 14 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff, Saturday, January 15 at 8 pm at Strathmore, and Sunday, January 16 at 3 pm at the Meyerhoff. Wear your wax wings.

Updated to add: DISCOUNT!

12-Hour Sale, 50% Off Tickets!

The madness begins TOMORROW (Wednesday, January 12) at 6 p.m. and ends Thursday, January 13 at 6 a.m.!

Login to BSOmusic.org using Promo Code 14514 during these 12 hours to purchase your discounted tickets to Star Wars plus Icarus at the Edge of Time. You must login before adding tickets to your cart to view discounted ticket price. This offer is for online purchases only.

Quick, read!

All right, Captain Last Minute of the Procrastinator’s Brigade, you need a music gift you can pick up in a hurry? Most bookstores are open till six pm today. I can think of no type of store more likely to have stuff actually in stock, y’know?

Lucky for you, I did an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter earlier this week and collected a small list of good music-related books. Seek these out, and good luck to you!

  • Christine Petrolati says: “Music & Silence by Rose Tremain. I like the way it gets you to see how powerful and passionate music can be. I love how it shows you music can live on… That even in the silence, you still hear the music…”
  • StaffNotes says: “Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within by Kenny Werner. I tend to enjoy reading about the more heady aspects of music and performance.”
  • I say: “Evenings With Horowitz: A Personal Portrait by David Dubal. More than a simple biography of the famed pianist, it offers insights into the bizarre and fragile world of musicians. Because let’s face it, 99% of them are stark raving mad.”

Okay, kids, I’m out till December 26th, when I will post to enable you all to wish me a happy birthday. Then the rest of the week I’ll be doing something of a “greatest hits” retrospective, with links to previous posts that you or I seem to be particularly fond of, again on Facebook and Twitter, so you’d better follow/like me now so you don’t miss out.

Right then. Merry Christmas, everybody, if you celebrate it, and if you don’t, happy time off for no reason!

Music on the periphery

After yesterday’s post about the beautiful, magnificent All Creatures Great and Small, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure if Tristan was conducting Mussourgsky in the Mad Conductor scene in the book. So I went back and checked, and by God I was right:

Tristan raised his arms and gazed imperiously over his imaginary orchestra, taking in the packed rows of strings, the woodwind, brass, and timpani in one sweeping glance. Then with a violent downswing he led them into the overture. Rossini, this time, I thought or maybe Wagner as I watched him throwing his head about, bringing in the violins with a waving clenched fist or exhorting the trumpets with a glare and a trembling, outstretched hand.

It was somewhere near the middle of the piece that the rot always set in and I watched enthralled as the face began to twitch and the lips to snarl. The arm waving became more and more convulsive then the whole body jerked with uncontrollable spasms. It was clear that the end was near – Tristan’s eyes were rolling, his hair hung over his face, and he had lost control of the music which crashed and billowed around him. Suddenly he grew rigid, his arms fell to his sides, and he crashed to the floor.

Speaking of Tristan, meet his brother Siegfried:

I was turning to leave when he called me back. “Oh, there’s one other thing I’d like you to do today. My young brother is hitching in from Edinburgh today. He’s at the Veterinary College there and the term finished yesterday. When he gets within striking distance he’ll probably give us a ring. I wonder if you’d slip out and pick him up?”

“Certainly. Glad to.”

“His name is Tristan, by the way.”


“Yes. Oh, I should have told you. You must have wondered about my own queer name. It was my father. Great Wagnerian. It nearly ruled his life. It was music all the time – mainly Wagner.”

“I’m a bit partial, myself.”

“Ah well, yes, but you didn’t get it morning, noon, and night like we did. And then to be stuck with a name like Siegfried. Anyway, it could have been worse – Wotan, for instance.”

“Or Pogner.”

[Siegfried] look startled. “By golly, you’re right. I’d forgotten about old Pogner. I suppose I’ve a lot to be thankful for.”

What I love about these scenes – and others like it – is that All Creatures Great and Small and its sequels are books about a veterinarian. And yet author James Herriot throws in these little nods to the classical music world. It’s like having an inside joke with an old friend.

Do you have any other examples of classical music on the periphery, popping up in odd corners of ostensibly unrelated books and movies?

Getting oriented

Firstly! WordPress has offered another new sharing goody. If you don’t want to “Like” a post, maybe you’d rather tweet it? I know you would! Post pages (that is, entries on their own individual pages, not on the main home page) now offer a “Tweet” button that enables you to tweet a link to the post to all your Twitter follows without taking a cursor off the blog. Sweet, no?

Secondly! Loyal reader and awesome name-owner Gretchen Saathoff sent me the following:

First, I would like to invite you to find out more about my new E-book!  It’s called Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer.

My book was written with both teachers and students in mind.  In it, I discuss how to make steady progress without getting stuck.  There is absolutely NO JARGON used.

NEW:  Now, for the first time, there is a volume purchase rate available!  So, if you are a private teacher, a class participant, or a school administrator, this offer is for YOU!  To find out more, just reply to this email.  Please use the subject line:  “Book”.

Enjoy!  Any questions you have prior to purchase are most welcome.

She certainly LOOKS like a piano teacher, don’t you think? The erect posture, the sensible black dress. I definitely think she can orient your goals with efficiency and aplomb. Show your fellow Aintbaroquer (Aintbaroquian? Aintbaroquette?) some love!

“Love yourself, and make your instrument sing about it”

I have been planning to make this post for weeks now, but it something has always popped up to take its place. Well, finally the day has come. I want to talk about Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “The Kid Nobody Could Handle.”

First off, let me just say that I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Vonnegut. This is some serious, Beethoven-style love here. So I might be a little biased when I say that “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” takes the pure, undiluted form of the ideal music teacher and exposes what all the good ones really feel deep at the core. Helmholtz, the school band director, believes that music truly can save the world, and give a troubled boy’s life meaning. Read:

“Like listening to music?” said Helmholtz to Jim brightly, as they rode to school in Helmholtz’s car.

Jim said nothing. He was stroking his mustache and sideburns, which he had not shaved off.

“Ever drum with the fingers or keep time with your feet?”said Helmholtz. He had noticed that Jim’s boots were decorated with chains that had no function but to jingle as he walked.

Jim signed with ennui.

“Or whistle?” said Helmholtz. “If you do any of those things, it’s just like picking up the keys to a whole new world – a world as beautiful as world can be.”

Jim gave a soft Bronx cheer.

“There!” said Helmholtz. “You’ve illustrated the basic principle of the family of brass wind instruments. The glorious voice of every one of them starts with a buzz on the lips.”

The seat springs of Helmholtz’s old car creaked under Jim, as Jim shifted his weight. Helmholtz took this as a sign of interest, and he turned to smile in comradely fashion. But Jim had shifted his weight in order to get a cigarette from his tight leather jacket.

Helmholtz was too upset to comment at once. It was only at the end of the ride, as he turned into the teacher’s parking lot, that he thought of something to say.

“Sometimes,” said Helmholtz, “I get so lonely and disgusted, I don’t see how I can stand it. I feel like doing all kinds of crazy things, just for the heck of it – things that might even be bad for me.”

Jim blew a smoke ring expertly.

“And then!” said Helmholtz. He snapped his fingers and honked his horn. “And then, Jim, I remember I’ve got at least one tiny corner of the universe I can make just the way I want it! I can go to it and gloat over it until I’m brand-new and happy again.”

“Aren’t you the lucky one,” said Jim. He yawned.

“I am, in fact,” said Helmholtz. “My corner of the universe happens to be the air around my band. I can fill it with music.”

You can glean plenty about the plot from that snippet; I don’t want to tell you any more because it’s a short story, and if I started handing out more info I might as well just transcribe the whole bloody thing. But if you love music, you need to read this story now. It’s in Vonnegut’s short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House and I doubt it’ll take you more than half an hour to get through, and only that long if you’re a supremely slow reader. Duck into a bookstore, read that story, and put it back. I won’t tell. But I’d buy it if I were you. Vonnegut is awesome.

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon

I think most musicians are readers. Music is story, after all, and for my next holiday gift recommendation I’m offering you a book. It’s called The Sandy Bottom Orchestra and it’s by Jenny Lind Nilsson and Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion fame.

My dad bought me this book when I was about 12 as reading material for a lengthy plane ride, and technically it is a young adult novel. However, my mother and father both proceeded to read it and enjoyed it just as much as I. Centering around a young violinist in a small Wisconsin town not known for its fine culture, this particular coming of age story is none so hackneyed as similar stories often are. Any child training seriously in classical musicianship can probably relate to that feeling of “otherness,” and most adult musicians still have that kid inside.

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, how about: the Dairyland Symphony Orchestra, a musician who accessorizes with glitter, an Aida ice cream flavor, the fantasy of running away to Italy to become a bar pianist, why conducting your speakers with a pencil is not the same as actually conducting, the healing power of a white button-down shirt, a sexy cellist with nice hair, and a drive-in movie about killer squash. There.

The writing style is familiar to anyone who has read Keillor; there is a certain free-association-stream-of-consciousness thing going on so prevalent in his work, and the intimacy that comes of writing about a small town similar to his stories about Lake Wobegon. However, the plot is far more structured and less tangential than some of his novels (here I am thinking specifically of Pontoon; dude, Keillor, FOCUS!). Garrison Keillor is best as a miniaturist, but I think Nilsson’s influence enables him to keep his story on track for a novel’s length.

I understand there’s a movie too, but I haven’t seen it and I’m frankly dubious.

If you’ve been won over by this glowing review and want to buy this book for somebody and then cheerfully check them off your holiday list, here’s the Google price comparison.