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This tag is associated with 6 posts

Free concerts/noise violations

My inspiration struck around 7:15 pm last night, as I walked from the gym back to my apartment building. It was a quiet, drizzly, and entirely un-muse-like evening.

Then I heard it.

Buh… buh buh buh buh… Buh duh SQUEAK duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh dah dah duuuuuuuuh…

Can you guess? A portion of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony number six, as rendered by a decent but – SQUEAK – clearly still amateur french horn player hidden somewhere in the apartment building I was passing. I was all the way out on the street and I could hear him clear as day. Including the SQUEAK.

And I thought back to that horrible night I attempted to play the violin again, and how I cringed and tried to remain pianissimo lest the neighbors hear me. And then I thought about Artur Rubinstein. “Sometimes,” he said, “when I sit down to practice and there is no one else in the room, I have to stifle an impulse to ring for the elevator man and offer him money to come in and hear me.”

That guy on the French horn was playing with all his might, mistakes and all. I, on the violin, spent half an hour trying to play as softly as possible and then five minutes stifling my own impulse, which was to jump up and down on top of my violin until it was so many toothpicks. And Artur Rubinstein, of course, always hoped that somewhere out there someone could hear him.

I can’t be sure, but I’d say that horn player was completely oblivious of his captive audience; he wasn’t thinking about them at all. Whereas I was thinking about it entirely too much, and it added another unfortunate layer to my doomed proceedings. Rubinstein, of course, was only disappointed if he had no audience, so between the three of us, we have things pretty well covered, no?

So – where do you fall on this spectrum, either as player or neighbor? How does it make you feel when you practice and you know you can be heard? And have you ever wanted to pound on the wall and scream “SHUT UP” to the tone-deaf clarinetist next door?

Doing it badly

I got into my car this morning on my way to work, and what was on the radio the moment it started? Why, Gustav Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite! I LOVE St. Paul’s Suite! I played it my freshman year of high school, the really awesome year where we had like five people in the orchestra and I WAS the first violin section. I stayed in my car three extra minutes after pulling into a parking space at work to hear the end of the fourth movement (no worries; I was early).

This evening I had dinner with my grandmother, and as I started my car for that trip I was regaled with the final few bars of the “Jupiter” movement from Holst’s The Planets. And I said to myself, what, is it Holst’s birthday or something? The deejay confirmed. So as a means of commemorating this very special day, being as it is the day of possibly my very favorite British composer, I present to you: a quote by the man himself, on amateur musicianship.

“If a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing badly.”

Amen, brother.

A German Requiem, but not for me personally

It’s just one exciting thing after another here at Strathmore! Today I am late in posting because I just spent the past 4+ hours in Tessitura/TMS hell (don’t ask). But I’m here now, and ever so eager to tell you all about the BSO concert I attended last Thursday.

It was the “Brahms’ A German Requiem” concert that I mentioned last week, the last concert of the regular 2009-2010 season. The program was very simple – Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Brahms’ A German Requiem. Here’s what I thought!

The Barber: I really enjoyed this piece. It was everything promised – mellow, gentle, unerringly Southern. Janice Chandler-Eteme, the soprano performing, had a beautiful, easy voice; she didn’t sound like she was straining to show off, and her tones were pleasant and simple and befitting such a piece. I must say, though, girlfriend needs to work on her diction. I could only understand one in maybe seven words.

The Brahms: I actually have very little to say about Brahms. I’m going to post two quotes about him instead. Please keep in mind that I did not say them. I just posted them. This makes me an innocent intermediary, right? Oh, Brahms is okay. I guess.

The real Brahms is nothing more than a sentimental voluptuary… He is the most wanton of composers… Only his wantonness is not vicious; it is that of a great baby… rather tiresomely addicted to dressing himself up as Handel or Beethoven and making a prolonged and intolerable noise. (George Bernard Shaw)

I have played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms. What a giftless bastard! (Tchaikovsky)

A measure’s rest, if you will

Today we are taking a brief break from music. I know; sacrilege, right? But here at Ain’t Baroque we believe in being well-rounded artistic individuals, and as such, I am again hearkening back to an earlier post. As part of my new “oldies for newbies” program (weekends I post links to old entries) I recently dug up my musical quotes post. In it I noted that I had a bunch of quotes related to other cultural endeavors, and if there was interest in branching out a bit I would put them up too. There was, so I am. As promised, Salvador Dali delivers.

  1. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” E. L. Doctorow
  2. “I don’t understand anything about ballet; all I know is that during the intervals the ballerinas stink like horses.” Anton Chekhov
  3. “Do not imagine that art is something which is designed to give gentle uplift and self-confidence. Art is not a brassiere. At least, not in the English sense. But do not forget that brassiere is the French for life-jacket.” Julian Barnes
  4. “All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” Federico Fellini
  5. “This is a thousand times more frightening than The Exorcist. I intend to cover it with mayonnaise.” Salvador Dali (I told you)
  6. “I’m not confused, I’m just well-mixed.” Robert Frost
  7. “Those who make a distinction between education and entertainment don’t know the first thing about either.” Marshall McLuhan
  8. “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp
  9. “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” Catherine Drinker Bowen
  10. “It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man.” Loren Eiseley
  11. “Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” Anna Freud
  12. “The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.” Richard Wright
  13. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo Buonarotti
  14. “Beautiful? It’s all a question of luck. I was born with good legs. As for the rest… beautiful, no. Amusing, yes.” Josephine Baker
  15. “Take me! I am the hallucinogenic!” Salvador Dali
  16. “Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult.” Sir Laurence Olivier
  17. “At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted.” Eric Idle
  18. “I will be brief. Not nearly so brief as Salvador Dali, who gave the world’s shortest speech. He said ‘I will be so brief I have already finished,’ and he sat down.” Edward O. Wilson quoting Dali

Whew! Sorry, that one got away from me. I skipped a couple, too.

The aftermath of purging files

Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry, all I mean is that I ran across my old quote collection from five, six, even seven years ago (of course I’m dorky enough to have had a quote collection) and while sifting through it I figured you might enjoy some of the music related ones. So here you go.


  1. “When I was young, I used to have successes with women because I was young. Now I have successes with women because I am old. Middle age was the hardest part.” Artur Rubinstein
  2. “Sometimes when I sit down to practice and there is no one else in the room, I have to stifle an impulse to ring for the elevator man and offer him money to come in and hear me.” Artur Rubinstein
  3. “Berlioz says nothing in his music, but he says it magnificently.” James Gibbons Huneker
  4. “When I was young, I was told: ‘You’ll see, when you’re fifty.’ I am fifty and I haven’t seen a thing.” Erik Satie
  5. “When a piece gets difficult, make faces.” Vladimir Horowitz
  6. “My music is best understood by children and animals.” Igor Stravinsky
  7. “The Prelude to [Wagner’s] ‘Tristan und Isolde’ reminds one of the old Italian painting of a martyr whose intestines are slowly unwound from his body on a reel.” Eduard Hanslick
  8. “The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” Pablo Casals
  9. “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer

I chose to sift out the non-music arts quotes, but if you guys feel like seeing how the other half lives, let me know. Salvador Dali alone is worth the price of admission (“Take me! I am the hallucinogenic!”).

There are many princes, but there is only one Beethoven.

Today for work I had to search “Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony, first movement.” I can’t tell you why because the reason is presently top secret. Indeed, I fear if I so much as give a hint I will be flogged for inappropriate distribution of context. But I can tell you it made me feel really, really stupid, like the search function was laughing at me. “This girl,” it was chortling in an anthropomorphic manner, “clearly knows nothing about classical music.” And that hurts. To quote Turk, even, it hurts me deep. Especially about Beethoven, my would-be lover.

Wikipedia tells me this; to summarize, the hypothetical “Beethoven’s tenth” is an amalgamation of fragments of what Beethoven may have begun before his death combined with bits written by a guy named Cooper to patch up the holes. I dunno, Cooper. As the man himself said, “There are many princes, but there is only ONE Beethoven.”

All I’m saying is, this better have not been a joke. I bet Brahms is involved.