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3rd quarantine edition            

Friday, April 3 edition              
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this week's featured recording (4.3.20) 

1: Gideon's doubt concerning the victory promised him by God
from "Gideon" (the fifth "Biblical Sonata") by Johann Kuhnau

 This week on the blog:    Friday, April 3, 2020

Infinity Plus One

I spent an awful lot of time in first grade standing in line. The teacher would line us up to go out to recess, and then, tragically, insist on the lot of us being silent before she would dismiss us to the bedlam of the school yard. But a moment of order imposed on young humans is far too much to ask. Our young are endlessly fascinated by every syllable that comes out of their own mouths, and it was simply impossible to expect them to realize that 30 seconds of silence meant 30 minutes of play time. Instead, we stood in line for 20 of those thirty minutes nearly every day until some of them got the message.

I didn't realize then how the rest of life was really just an extension of first grade. The bad kids got all the attention. Everybody got punished for the behavior of a few. The dumb kids won every argument by saying "I know you are but what am I?" over and over in an effort to irritate the ones who could think. Now they call that owning the Libs. Back then it was just being a jerk.

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There have been those times when after merely typing the title of a blog entry I am called away by some unexpected obligation. Does this happen to you? You have just settled in to make use of some stolen bit of time to go on a creative jag when some other member of the animal kingdom, on two legs or four (such as the one currently out to steal the milk from my bowl of breakfast cereal) makes a demand on your time which may only take a few minutes, a few hours, or perhaps change the character of the entire day. This poses a difficulty for creative artists trying to concentrate on something they are trying to produce, compose, write, bring forth, et cetera.

There are known obligations aplenty as it is, and it is often hard to negotiate productivity around these. Sure, I'll think crossly, Dmitri Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies, but did he have to mow his lawn?
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Blogger, interrupted

In February of 2005, a fellow named Christo made news for putting several thousand bright orange gates in central park. It was a simple, repetitive gesture, which is the big thing in the art world these days, and, according to the press coverage I saw, art lovers loved it. I have not seen a poll asking whether the average man on the street thought highly of it or not; most of the people I spoke to thought it was a great idea, and some were thinking of actually traveling to New York just to see it.

     I didn't make the trip myself; somehow the eight-hour commute seemed too high a price to pay for the chance to see central park decked out like an Olympic slalom course. It might have been my loss. After all, something that massive, boldly cutting a swath through the ordinary with an artistic machete you don't get to see everyday. People may have seen it as simply quirky, or even liberating, and there did seem to be no shortage of people on news reports seen placidly strolling among the gates rapt in wonder as if entranced by the opportunity to experience that rarest of all things--an adult fairyland.

     Christo didn't get what he most wanted, which was the chance to get into a big fight with the city bureaucracy.  They sagely told him that they thought his proposal was a great idea and to just go ahead with it. Christo had already managed to get the German Reichstag wrapped in plastic over official protests and was responsible for that long fabric fence in Northern California, so he had a record of getting governmental officials to bow to his irrepressible artistic will. It could be that New York just didn't want to spend the money on legal battles. Or maybe they just have more imagination.

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Speak For Yourself  

Christo's Gates spark the usual diatribes about what art isn't, but it's not coming from the critics

"classic" blog: from April 8, 2013
Today's installment is about a single chord.

Let's listen first to Robert Schumann's Scenes from Childhood, a collection of 13 short pieces. Today I'm going to play for you the first piece, sometimes translated as "of strange lands and people."


It's a lovely piece; kind of wispy, perhaps, maybe sentimental. I don't know how well it captures childhood--it may have a bit too much of the adult-trying-to-remember-what-it-was-like quality, or rather, that latterday romanticized view we have of those glory days when we were small after the fact. Well, this is music from the Romantic Period, after all!

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