From Glory to God, an anthem for Christmas Eve:
Monthly Archives: December 2010
Revels 2011. This is a duet between a grandmother (Fiona) and her granddaughter (Sadie). Sadie is a college freshman and aspiring singer; Grandma always wanted to be an artist, but married for money instead and now regrets it. Sadie’s mother is dead (I think). Cue song:
p.s. the woman who originally sang this song was Welsh. That’s really no excuse for my singing it with any accent other than my own American one, but when the shoe fits…
Follow your heart, be brave and be bold,
Live for your art, I wish I’d been told.
There’s one life to live and the one there to live it is you.
The road that’s been tried is never as true,
The path that’s uphill is the one to pursue,
The end might be further, but Sadie, just think of the view.
So follow your heart and I promise you’ll know what to do.
Grandpa’s aloof and afraid, but secure,
Mother once glimmered, but now she’s obscure,
And grandma’s advice seems so sage and so pure,
So I’ll have to forge my path.
I’ll follow my heart, etc…
I wrote this song for the Revels 2011. It’s a recitation of one of the University of Chicago’s notorious ScavHunt lists (and of course for everything to rhyme, I had to make up my own list.) The authors of this annual list are well known for their self-satisfied inscrutability and scatological tastes, and I like to think I captured some of that in the lyric (luckily, those are two of my strong suits.)
A pork-pie hat
I’ve got one of those!
A bump on a log
I could find that!
A laboratory rat – oh! –
And the toilet where he sat – ugh! –
And a perspicacious insight on a blog.
Oh come on, that doesn’t even exist!
A Welsh nun’s habit
Why, there’s one in my closet!
Some live New Hampshire Mooses
Mooses? It’s ‘Meese’!
Hum a tune by Milton Babbitt,
Eat a prune with pickled rabbit,
Which is lovely if you dab it in its juices.
Yes, we’ll persist on this list
And we really must insist
That we not just get the gist or the brunt.
There’s no point to resist
So enlist and assist
‘Cause how could we exist without a hunt?
A brassiere – ooh! – from Zaïre – ugh! –
Which I fear, we must be clear
Isn’t worth a point if its clasping joint is unlinked.
A chronology of astrology
With a catalogue of terminology
Which you’ll enhance with a dance where each stance
Takes a clear position on the superstition –
Be it haughty, naughty, thoughty,
Brainy, grainy, zany,
Easy, breezy, sleazy –
Please-y, be succinct.
Oh perfect! – What? – That was my junior thesis!
A pork-pie hat that’s made of real pork,
A bump on a frog on a log that’s a stump,
A soap-box sports-car, a Snow White dwarf star,
A minor key cantata on a chicken enchilada,
It’s so insane and so inane to wrack a brain just to obtain
The many items on this list.
And if we grunt, it’s no affront – it’s quite a stunt that we confront
And to be blunt, we can’t exist
Without a hunt!
Béla Bartók, The Miraculous Mandarin
The CSO’s own Beyond the Score series is an astounding resource on The Miraculous Mandarin. Here’s the first part:
- Amanda Bayley (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Bartok – google books – amazon – Get any book in the Cambridge Companion series and you will be richly rewarded.
- Peter Laki (ed.): Bartok and His World – google books – amazon – Includes an excellent and thorough chapter on “The Miraculous Mandarin”.
Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 in D
Heiligenstadt (map) was once a remote country village and spa – now now it’s a cozy Viennese neighborhood. Here is the cottage where Beethoven did the better part of his work on the Second Symphony in 1802:
It’s also where he wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament – a heartfelt document that Beethoven hid away in a secret drawer in his desk for the rest of his life and intended to be read upon his death. I’ve copied the famous opening lines below; the full text is here.
Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, my heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was even inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible).
As classical music enthusiasts in the 21st century, we are (perhaps unfortunately) accustomed to thinking of a composer’s music as a soundtrack to his life. Sometimes, that is what he has intended (Mahler and Shostakovitch are prime examples). However, with most composers, the relationship is much more complicated than that – an artist can often try to escape into his work and avoid the torments of everyday life. Perhaps that’s what Beethoven was trying to accomplish in his cheery second symphony:
- Edmund Morris: Beethoven: The Universal Composer – google books – amazon – If you’re shopping for a classical music lover this season, look no further – this little book is wonderfully written, thorough, and keenly perceptive. It’s great reading for the casual listener and a useful resource for the connoisseur.
When it comes to the Beethoven Symphonies, I find Abbado hard to beat. He’s recorded them all with the Berlin Phil and the Vienna Phil. Take your pick:
However, for only $8, you can get a very respectable set of recordings of all 9 Beethoven symphonies by the London Symphony with Joseph Krips – that’s less than $1/symphony!! –Amazon MP3–
Her name is Christine Pedi, and she is spectacular. The pianist’s name is Matthew Ward, and he’s pretty fantastic himself. The conclusion of the actual “Twelve Divas of Christmas” doesn’t happen till about halfway through the second video, but just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Here’s as many as I can get:
Marlene Dietrich (thx 2 Tammy) – Joan Rivers – Patti Lupone – Bernadette Peters – Carol Channing – Angela Lansbury – “Edith Bunker” – Julie Andrews
Rudolf/Liza Minelli – Carol of the Bells/? – Dreidl/Judy Garland – Elaine Stritch – Barbra Streisand – Bette Davis – Katherine Hepburn