Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Wrong, Wrong, Wrong" In The Nation's Capital (... And I'm Not Talking About Politics)

The National Gallery of Art; the Concert Halls of the John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts, the Library of Congress; the Smithsonian Institute's American, Indian, Asian, and African Arts Museums; the French Embassy; the Austrian Embassy; the Swiss Embassy; the National Academy of Sciences; the universities, of course ... Everywhere in the Nation's Capital there is a living classical music culture -- except, of course, on reactionary WETA/WGMS-FM, public radio in the Nation's Capital.

Yesterday, the young Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas (POA) visited the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts performing an exciting new classical work by Enrico Chapela [corrected] and a superb classical arrangement of Astor Piazzolla, by Lev Zhurbin.

POA's stated primary mission is to "open doors for young performers and composers from the Americas," and in 2007, it initiated a Young Composers Competition for a short orchestral work. The winner was Martin Capella, born in Mexico in 1981; his composition, Ixbalanqué, is based on a Mayan legend about twin brothers who can revive a man they have killed with a magic spell; the music depicts that life-restoring moment.

Tonight, the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Insitute celebrates Chinese-born contemporary classical music composer Ge Gan-ru. Don't expect to hear his classical music on public radio in Washington; though you probably can on public radio in the U.S. at large; as well as in Europe, China, Japan, Canada, Latin America, and Australia.

Chinese-born composer Ge Gan-ru's music has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet and performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. For this unusual concert, Margaret Leng Tan and the ModernWorks ensemble devote an entire evening to his highly original chamber music. ModernWorks performs Ge's first and fourth string quartets and gives the world premiere of the fifth. Margaret Leng Tan delivers the world premiere of Ge's music-melodrama "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!" a sonic tour-de-force for voice and toy orchestra, inspired by a Song dynasty poem about love denied.

New York City-based pianist and composer Margaret Leng Tan (above) and New York City-based violist and composer Lev Zhurbin (below), through their occasional visits, help try to sustain a living classical music culture in the Nation's Capital, as the Course of Classical Music History shifts eastward and southward.

Photo credits: (c) Justin Bernhaut for the New York Times 2007; and (c) Inna Barmash 2005. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In Which Pan Cogito Contemplates The New European Vogue For Operatic Minotaurs; While America Breathlessly Awaits Revival Of 'Einstein On The Beach'

Loose ends ...

"Hans Werner Henze, today's most venerable composer for the theater, turned 80 last year but his creative drive shows no sign of weakening. With some 20 operas and other music-theater pieces behind him, plus numerous ballets, he has written a compelling new opera, "Phaedra," which on Sept. 6 had its world premiere at the Berlin Staatsoper in a production that moved to the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels, on Saturday.

Although early in his career Henze took pains to mitigate the harshness of the twelve-tone technique in which he was reared in Darmstadt, Germany, and elsewhere, his music can often be as challenging for the listener as it is for the performer. Yet in his selection of subjects, particularly as they involve love, he is a traditionalist, albeit one who takes a distinctly personal approach. His first opera, "Boulevard Solitude," was a updating of the Manon story. In other works the Aristotelian elements of terror and pity participate to an almost frightening extent. Take "Das verratene Meer," for instance, with its gruesome murder by a youth and his gang of his mother's lover.

Not surprisingly, the story of Phaedra - perhaps mythology's most stomach-churning tale of love - proves to be quintessential Henze material. Phaedra, wife of the Athenian king Theseus, is possessed of an all-consuming love for her stepson Hippolytus, a love she recognizes as repugnant but is powerless to resist. According to mythological accounts, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is responsible for Phaedra's crazed love, but in Henze's version the goddess acts as a kind of alter ego of Phaedra in tempting Hippolytus. Contrary to other later treatments of the Phaedra story, such as Racine's tragedy, the libretto by Christian Lehnert includes no love interest for Hippolytus but depicts him as a devoted follower of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Phaedra and Hippolytus are thus each allied with a goddess.

The resulting duality is reflected in Henze's music, as the voices of Phaedra, a mezzo soprano, and Aphrodite, soprano, often join mellifluously in duet. The wind-dominated orchestra of 23 players reinforces the idea as two solo wind instruments often play intertwined musical lines. ... Henze's essential outlook remains modernistic, yet the music has a consistent rhythmic vitality and often an otherworldly beauty that is hard to resist.

Peter Mussbach's striking production, designed by Olafur Eliasson with costumes by Bernd Skodzig and lighting by Olaf Freese, deliberately avoids a representational treatment of a work enigmatically labeled by Henze a "concert opera." In an attempt to surround the audience with the drama, the orchestra is positioned at the rear of the main floor, with a ramp between it and the stage allowing access by the singers to both locales....

A commission and co-production by the Staatsoper, the Monnaie, the Vienna Festwochen, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Berlin Festival, "Phaedra" can also be seen, after its current run in Brussels, next spring in Vienna, Frankfurt and Amsterdam."

George Loomis "Hans Werner Henze's new tragic opera 'Phaedra' compels" International Herald Tribune September 17, 2007

Scene from Henze, Lehnert, and Mussbach's new version of Phaedra.

Photo credit: (c) Ruth Waltz via International Herald Tribune. 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.


OPERA Europa

OPERA America

2008 European Opera Days will reflect the European Commission’s initiative of Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Royal Opera House -- A World Stage presents Birtwistle and Harsent's The Minotaur

Harrison Birtwistle in 1995 with sculpture by Beth Carter.

Photo Credit: (c) Malcolm Crowthers. All rights reserved. Via the ROH Website.

Yo!! That's Some Golden [And Diamond-Studded] Cockerel!!

"A rare enamel-and-gold Faberge egg that had been in the Rothschild banking family for more than a century sold for record-setting $18.5 million at auction Wednesday.

The sale of the translucent pink egg topped with a diamond-studded cockerel was a record for a Faberge work of art, Christie's auction house said.

The price also broke the record for Russian artwork, excluding paintings, easily beating the $9.6 million paid for a Faberge egg in New York in 2002, Christie's said.

Russian Czar Alexander III commissioned the first of the elaborate eggs from craftsman Peter Carl Faberge as an Easter gift for his wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna.

The empress was so enamored of that 1885 piece -- an enameled egg with a golden yoke, golden hen, miniature diamond crown and ruby egg inside -- that the czar commissioned a new egg every Easter.

After the czar died in 1894, his son Nicholas continued the tradition until the Russian Revolution in 1917. Nicholas and his family were executed in 1918.

Faberge created more than 50 eggs for Russia's imperial family, though not all survive....

The piece was sold to a private Russian bidder after 10 minutes of bidding, Christie's said."

Associated Press "Rare Faberge Egg Sells for $18.5 Million" New York Times November 28, 2007


Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov The Golden Cockerel (Russian: Золотой Петушок, Zolotoy Petushok)

The opera was completed in 1907, and received its premiere in Moscow in 1909 [where I saw it in March 2003 at the Moscow Bolshoi Chamber Opera Theater, in a wonderful, traditional gold on black production from Saint Petersburg].

Act 1

The bumbling King Dodon talks himself into believing that his country is in danger from the neighbouring State governed by the beautiful Queen of Shemakha. He asks for advice from a mysterious Astrologer, who gives him a magic Golden Cockerel, which promises to look after his interests. The Golden Cockerel confirms that Queen of Shemakha certainly has some territorial ambitions, so King Dodon foolishly decides to make a pre-emptive strike against the neighbouring State, and sends his army, led by his two sons, to start the battle.

Act 2

However, his sons are both so inept that they manage to kill each other on the battlefield. King Dodon then decides to lead the army himself, but further bloodshed is averted because the Golden Cockerel ensures that the old king becomes besotted when he actually sees the beautiful Queen. The Queen herself encourages this situation by performing a seductive dance - which tempts the King to try and partner her, but he is clumsy and makes a complete mess of it. The Queen realises that she can take over Dodon’s country without further fighting - she engineers a marriage proposal from Dodon, which she coyly accepts.

Act 3

The final scene starts with the great Bridal procession in all its splendour - and when this is reaching its conclusion, the Astrologer appears and says to the king “You promised me anything I could ask for if there could be a happy resolution of your troubles.......” “Yes, Yes,” said the king, “Just name it and you shall have it”. “Right,” said the Astrologer, “I want Queen of Shemakha!”. At this, the King flares up in fury, and strikes down the Astrologer with a blow from his mace. The Golden Cockerel, loyal to his Astrologer master, then swoops across and pecks through the King’s jugular.

Principal arias and numbers

Act 1

Introduction: "I am a sorceror" «Я колдун» (Orchestra, Astrologer)
Lullaby (Orchestra, Guards, Amelfa)

Act 2

Aria: "Hymn to the Sun" «Ответь мне, зоркое светило» (Shemakhan Tsaritsa)
Dance (Shemakhan Tsaritsa, Orchestra)
Chorus (Slaves)

Act 3

Scene: "Wedding Procession" «Свадебное шествие» (Amelfa, People)


"Music scholar Gerald Abraham, after going at some length to reconcile Rimsky-Korsakov's lack of religious convictions with the composition of his Christian-themed opera The Invisible City of Kitezh, finally admits, "We know that Rimsky-Korsakov was a religious sceptic." (Abraham, Gerald (1936). "XIII.-- Kitezh", Studies in Russian Music (in English). London: William Reeves / The New Temple Press, p.288. ) In his article on the composer in The New Grove Russian Masters, Abraham repeats that Rimsky-Korsakov was a non-believer who, nevertheless, could write music on religious themes. "This duality in Rimsky-Korsakov's musical style is matched by strange contradictions in his personality: although cool and objective to an unusual degree, a religious sceptic, he not only delighted in depicting religious ceremonies but was capable of total surrender to the nature-mysticism which possessed him during the composition of Snow Maiden." (Abraham, Gerald (1986). "Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov", The New Grove Russian Masters 2 (in English). New York: W.W. Norton and Company, p.27.)

According to Russian-music scholar Simon Morrison, "Andrei Beliy [author of Petersburg] apparently planned but did not undertake another novel, called Invisible City (Nevidimiy grad), which was to be based on the ancient Slavonic chronicle about Kitezh. That task was accomplished by another prominent artist of the Silver Age, the composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who was a positivist, not an idealist, and who feuded with his Symbolist colleagues. Moreover, he was an atheist who complained to his friends that institutionalized religion had become corrupt and hypocritical, since, in his estimation, doctrine promoted exclusion. Rimsky-Korsakov's attitude disturbed Lev Tolstoy, who had abandoned art for religion late in life and encouraged the composer to do the same. On 11 January 1898, the two held a casual debate about religious matters at the writer's home. It concluded in an awkward stalemate, and despite Rimsky-Korsakov's profuse apologies, Tolstoy described the evening caustically as a "face-to-face" encounter with "gloom." Irrespective of the composer's anti-religious outlook, however, in his 1905 opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya (Skazaniye o nevidimom grade Kitezhe i deve Fevronii), he explored themes of spiritual conversion and salvation." Simon concludes, "His decision at the end of his career to set a centuries-old tale of spiritual salvation using the music of centuries-old composers attested to his fervent belief that art-- especially musical art-- was in and of itself a kind of miracle."(Morrison, Simon (2002). "2. Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism", Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement (in English). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, p.116-117, 168-169."


In his decades at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Rimsky-Korsakov taught many composers who would later find fame, including Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, and Ottorino Respighi.

Text source: Wikipedia.

The artwork under discussion...


English: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov grave in Tikhvin Cemetery.
Русский: Могила Н. Римского-Корсакова на Тихвинском кладбище.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credits: Christie's via Bloomberg News and (c) Andrey “A.I.” Sitnik. Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation. 2007 [September 16]. All rights reserved. With thanks. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Shadow Of Berlin In Lights, New York City's The Philharmonic Orchestra Of The Americas To Perform Free 6 PM Concert At Kennedy Center Concert Hall


Wednesday, November 28, 2007 6 PM IN THE KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT HALL *FREE*

The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas shares the music of Latin America with original compositions by Latin American composers. Presented in cooperation with the Mexican Cultural Institute.

'Under the artistic vision of its Music Director, Alondra de la Parra, The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas embraces the concept of a contemporary ensemble that stresses the importance of high-caliber music from Latin America and the rest of the world. The orchestra is a laboratory for artistic expression, embracing a responsibility to support promising young performers, composers, instrumentalists, conductors and all kinds of diverse artists from Latin America and beyond. The orchestra strives to be an integral part of a twentieth-first century New York City, eager to share a heritage of passion for the music with a broad public. Most importantly, the POA recognizs the need for breaking the boundaries and stereotypes of the traditional concert format out of the necessity to bring symphonic music back to be a relevant part of people’s life.'

American classical music champion -- and no friend of reactionary WETA/WGMS-FM in the Nation's Capital -- Alondra de la Parra.

Old World Conductor and Humanist Kurt Masur called New World Conductor and Humanist Alondra de la Parra “a highly knowledgeable conductor who carries the will and intentions of the composers with great responsibility”.

Perhaps Condelizza Rice will take a break from the Annapolis Middle East Summit and invite Bush, Olmert, Abbas, and others to join her in attending this free concert of European and American classical music at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts?

Photo credit: (c) POA Website 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

World's Foremost Expert On Stravinsky [The Truest Post-Webernian?] Considers Alex Ross's "The Rest Is Noise" And Admires What He Reads

..."In Paul Griffiths's "Concise History of Modern Music" (1978), modern music begins with the delicious flute solo that opens Claude Debussy's "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune" (1894), just as for Griffiths the theories of Boulez (who first touted the idea of Debussy as founding father of modernism) are the key to music since World War II. But Ross makes light, not to say fun, of the "pseudoscientific mentality" of the Darmstadt summer schools in Germany, where Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen held court in the early '50s, "researching" ever more cerebral ways of writing music. Instead of Debussy, he opens 20th-century music with the Austrian premiere in Graz in 1906 of Richard Strauss's "Salome," a work subsequently admired for its daring and also hated for its vulgarity. [Similarly, Ross appears to end his history in ca. 2006; with significant early 21st c. works by "European" Georg Friedrich Haas ("in vain") and "American" Osvaldo Golijov ("Ayre" and "Oceana".]

From there Ross tracks through the next 100 years with a strong eye to cultural and political, as well as aesthetic, currents. After "Salome" he passes logically to the disintegration of traditional tonality in Debussy and Schoenberg (a pair not commonly wedded [This is not really true. Previously, musicologists of late 19th c./early modernist classical music have pointed to Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night" allegedly deriving from "Tristan and Isolde"; and Debussy's "Nocturnes" allegedly deriving from "Parsifal" -- modernist works from 1899 and 1897, respectively, I believe]), a chapter that links the violent folksiness of Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" with '20s jazz, another on the line of American music from the experimentalist Charles Ives to the jazz master Duke Ellington, and a whole chapter on Jean Sibelius, a composer routinely despised by right-thinking modernists but treated here as a radical who happened to prefer a transparent tonal language at a time when atonality was the essential style in progressive circles.... Finally, a brilliantly eclectic study of music since the war debouches in a survey of bebop, rock and minimalism, provocatively titled (after John Cage) "Beethoven Was Wrong."

Thus Ross declines to approve any of the doctrinaire positions of a century riven by battles of style and system. He discounts nothing on principle. So Stockhausen is here, but so are Benjamin Britten and bebop, Miles Davis as well as Olivier Messiaen. Behind all this, I suspect, is a reluctance to see the history of something whose outcomes are as yet unclear in any but an objective light. But, equally, the approach is fed by taste, experience and, to some extent, locale. As a New York critic, Ross is in a strong position to sample and assess every kind of music; at the same time there is an automatic American bias that is no doubt more apparent to a European like me. So such composers as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Henri Dutilleux, Hans Werner Henze and one or two others who might be expected to figure in a revisionist history of the last century are more or less ignored in favor of Americans such as Virgil Thomson and Carl Ruggles, who, from this side of the ocean, may now seem irretrievably minor.

Ross is ... writing a history whose American focus becomes more significant the more one inclines to ridicule the aesthetic infighting [Stockhausen v. Henze; Lachenmann v. Rihm?] that has plagued [Western and Central] European music since the last world war. After all, the intellectual gridlock in France and Germany was loosened by Cage and broken finally by American minimalists such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. Whatever one thinks of these composers' music, its contemporary influence is impossible to deny, its future significance an open book [O.K.] which, to his credit, Ross doesn't attempt to close.

This is the best general study of a complex history too often claimed by academic specialists on the one hand and candid populists on the other." ...

Stephen Walsh* "Outside the Boxes: A History of Modern Music That Does Not Respect Convention" Washington Post Book Review November 25, 2007

* Professor of music at Cardiff University, Wales, a music critic for the London Independent and author of a two-volume biography of Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky -- who appears to have studied, in the late 1940s to mid-1960s -- Anton Webern's late, J.S. Bach-inspired Cantatas Opp. 29, 31 [and the fragment for 32], as well as the triadic atonality of Josquin des Prez --more deeply than the infighting -- and "totalizing" -- Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis, and John Cage.

Stravinsky was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's star pupil in Saint Petersburg in the years leading up to 1906, and he didn't feel the need to begin from scratch in 1946 -- as did many of the "leading" European and Japanese (and British) composers and artists.

Photo credit: Via With thanks.


Today is a find your own links day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

As The World Turns: Australian Prime Minister-Elect Kevin Rudd To Address Issue Of Aboriginal 'Stolen Generations' Early In His First Term

"Australia's new government will issue a formal apology to Aborigines for the abuses they suffered in the past, prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd has promised. Mr Rudd, whose Labor Party swept to power in an election on Saturday, said the apology would come early in his first parliamentary term.

Outgoing Prime Minister John Howard had repeatedly refused to say sorry....

Indigenous Australians remain an impoverished minority, with a much lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.

Thousands of Aboriginal children were handed over to white families under Australian government assimilation policies from 1915 to 1969.

The issue continues to be a controversial one among Australians.

Mr Howard held back from offering a full apology to the so-called Stolen Generations, saying the current generation should not feel guilty about mistakes from the past." ...

BBC News "Rudd to apologise to Aborigines" November 26, 2007

Detail of the Great Australian Clock, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia.

The Queen Victoria Building, or QVB, is a grand Victorian building located in the heart of the Sydney central business district. The Great Australian Clock, designed and made by Chris Cook, weighs four tonnes and stands ten metres tall. It includes 33 scenes from Australian history (Wikipedia)

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Brian Jenkins 2004. All rights reserved. With thanks. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Life's Mysteries: St. Nicholas Buys A Carpet From An Old Man; St. Nicholas Gives The Carpet To The Old Man's Wife

"To help alleviate any end of year cash crunch, the Federal Reserve announced Monday that it will conduct a series of special operations starting this week...."

Associated Press "Fed Taking Action to Counter Cash Crunch" New York Times November 26, 2007


Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος , Agios Nikolaos, "victory of the people") is the common name for Saint Nicholas, a Lycian saint and Bishop of Myra (in modern-day Antalya province, Turkey). He was born during the third century C.E. in the village of Patara. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving ... Nicholas was never officially canonised; his legend simply evolved among the faithful. Among Orthodox Christians, the historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro.



[Click on image for enlargement.]

Latter half of the 16th century
135 x 124. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the village of Liskovate (Poland). Lviv National Museum (Ukraine).
# i-1181
166k, jpeg.


St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Lycia (Asia Minor) was famed during his lifetime as a model of faith and a paragon of gentleness. Legends about his good deeds and wonders he wrought brought him great fame among believers and led to his cult, especially widespread in democratic strata. St. Nicholas turned into one of the most reserved saints, and in the Ukraine he was famed as a protector from fires, a patron of travelers and a favorite hero of folklore. Many folk beliefs appeared in connection with the spring festival of St. Nicholas marking the translation of his relicts to Bari. Some legends are associated with Kyiv, e. g., The Deliverance of a Kyiv Boy From Drowning. [The original miraculous Icon of St Nicholas the Drenched, credited with saving a boy from drowning in the River Dnipro, has now been returned to the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv.]

Hagiographic scenes on the three borders of the middle part of the icon show (left to right):

The Nativity of St. Nicholas
The Baptism of St. Nicholas
The Installation of St. Nicholas as Bishop
The Apparition of St. Nicholas to Emperor Constantine
The Apparition of St. Nicholas to the Three Innocent Men in the Dungeon
St. Nicholas Deliver Agricus' Son From the Saracen Captivity
St. Nicholas Exorcises the Devil
St. Nicholas Delivers the Drowning Man
St. Nicholas Buys a Carpet From an Old Man
St. Nicholas Gives the Carpet to the Old Man's Wife
The Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas
The Entombment of St. Nicholas.

Photo and text credit: (c) Lviv National Museum and Lviv Icon Gallery (Room 6) at With thanks.

Pan Cogito Almost Falls Off His Limb After Hearing Stravinsky's The Firebird Broadcast On Classical WETA/WGMS-FM

Yesterday, Pan Cogito curled up with Richard Taruskin's* analysis -- from a generation ago -- of Igor Stravinsky's indebtedness, in his Petrushka, to his teacher Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, especially his Scheherazade [octatonic/diatonic harmonic interweaving]. He then listened to a recording of Petrushka, which he had not listened to for some time.

With only a slight break for dishwashing, he then turned on reactionary WETA/WGMS-FM, so-called public radio in the Nation's Capital, and was startled to hear Stravinsky's The Firebird.

This was not a usual evening in Greater Washington, and we next felt obliged to check the state of the world on BBC World News on Howard University's WHUT, public television in the Nation's Capital...


Opera and Drama in Russia as Preached and Practiced in the 1860's by Richard Taruskin
Author(s) of Review: Harlow Robinson
The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring, 1983), pp. 122-124

Pan Cogito's hero Sadko, as represented in Slavic Palekh Icon and Miniature Painting.

Image credit: (c) Sergei Naumov via All rights reserved. The image is being used as the primary means of visual identification of the subject or topic. With thanks.

Pesky American Classical Music Infiltrates WETA/WGMS Listeners' Choice Top 20, Securing 15 Per Cent Of Selections - Apparatus Calls Emergency Session

WETA/WGMS Classical Countdown

"Listeners selected the top 90 pieces and we counted them down
Thanks to all who participated in the Classical Countdown! We had an outstanding response with over 3,000 votes cast. Beginning on Monday, November 19, we began counting down the top 90 vote-getters. The countdown ended on Thanksgiving Day at 9pm. Your selections are listed below.

90. Mozart: Marriage of Figaro Overture
89. Borodin: Polovtsian Dances
88. Brahms: Double Concerto
87. Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol
86. Prokofiev: Symphony #1 Classical
85. Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music
84. Beethoven: Triple Concerto
83. Schubert: Symphony #8 Unfinished
82. Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
81. Brahms: Piano Concerto #1
80. Beethoven: Für Elise
79. Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
78. Mozart: Piano Concerto #23
77. Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
76. Marais: The Bells of St. Genevieve
75. Bach: Keyboard Concerto in F Minor (BWV 1056)
74. Schubert: Symphony #9 Great
73. Wagner: Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
72. Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances
71. Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
70. Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
69. Mozart: Clarinet Quintet
68. Brahms: Violin Concerto
67. Dvorak: Symphony #8
66. Mahler: Symphony #1 Titan [excerpt]
65. Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser
64. Kalinnikov: Symphony #1
63. Brahms: Symphony #1
62. Chopin: Piano Concerto #1 61. Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
60. Dvorak: Slavonic Dances
59. Albinoni: Adagio
58. Brahms: Piano Concerto #2
57. Smetana: The Moldau
56. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #5
55. Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
54. Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto
53. Ravel: Bolero
52. Mahler: Symphony #5 [excerpt]
51. Respighi: Pines of Rome
50. Bizet: Carmen Suite
49. Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5
48. Mozart: Symphony #40
47. Tchaikovsky: Symphony #6 Pathetique
46. Strauss: Blue Danube
45. Mozart: Piano Concerto #20
44. Beethoven: Symphony #3 Eroica
43. Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
42. Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1
41. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto #3
40. Beethoven: Piano Sonata #14 Moonlight
39. Bach: Sheep May Safely Graze
38. Mozart: Piano Concerto #21
37. Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
36. Sibelius: Finlandia
35. Bruch: Violin Concerto #1
34. Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries
33. Bach: Double Violin Concerto (BWV 1043)
32. Rachmaninoff: Symphony #2
31. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
30. Debussy: Clair de Lune
29. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
28. Handel: Water Music
27. Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
26. Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
25. Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
24. Mozart: Symphony #41 Jupiter
23. Grieg: Piano Concerto
22. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto
21. Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis
20. Dvorak: Cello Concerto
19. Copland: Appalachian Spring
18. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #3
17. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565)
16. Beethoven: Symphony #7
15. Barber: Adagio for Strings
14. Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
13. Beethoven: Violin Concerto
12. Pachelbel: Canon
11. Beethoven: Symphony #5
10. Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
9. Saint-Saens: Symphony #3 Organ
8. Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
7. Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
6. Beethoven: Symphony #6 Pastoral
5. Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
4. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2
3. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5 Emperor
2. Dvorak: Symphony #9 From the New World
1. Beethoven: Symphony #9 Choral

Frozen in time past, like WETA/WGMS for much of this past year:

The so-called Hitler's Bunker, near Aubers, France, where the future European dictator was stationed during the first World War. In 1940, after the crushing of France, Hitler came here and was photographed in front of it.

Photo credit: Via With thanks.


The Last Will of Adolf Hitler

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Following Vladimir Putin's Model, WETA/WGMS-FM Promotes Managed Democracy: Substitutes Frederick The Great Of Prussia And Mehul For Mahler

Realizing that it made a mistake in placing Mahler's Symphonies #1 and 5 on the official WETA/WGMS listeners' choice ballot, the station apparatus has decided to annul the listener voting results and impose "managed decision-making": they have decided that listeners did not really vote for, nor want to hear, Mahler's Symphonies #1 and 5, but rather Frederick the Great of Prussia's Flute Concerto in C Major and Etienne-Nicolas Mehul's Symphony #2. Thus, tonight WETA/WGMS listeners will again be treated to Sharon Percy Rockefeller's, Dan De Vany's, and Jim Allison's favorites:

9:00pm: Flute Concerto C Major
Frederick the Great of Prussia
Patrick Gallois (flute)
CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra
Peter Schreier (conductor)
[DG 439.895]

10:14pm: Symphony #2
Etienne-Nicolas Mehul
Gulbenkian Foundation Orchestra
Michel Swierczewski (conductor)
[Nimbus 5184/85]

Please write to Sharon Percy Rockefeller and demand a transparent and living classical music culture for Greater Washington:

Sharon Percy Rockefeller
President and CEO
2775 South Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22206
tel 703.998.2600
fax 703.998.3401

Anti-Semitism in and on the air?

WETA/WGMS-FM promotes its favorite composer Frederick the Great of Prussia (above), while censoring the Viennese-Jewish composer Gustav Mahler (below).

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cultural Historian and Music Critic Alex Ross Gives Five Reasons Classical Music Is As Alive As Any Other Type Of Music

1. "A tradition that has existed for 1,000 years, surviving the Black Death, the Thirty Years' War and the Holocaust, has something vital to say. [Listen up, WETA/WGMS-FM.]

2. Classical music provides an escape from electronically saturated culture. Beethoven's Ninth, heard live in a concert hall, begins in total silence, and the huge waves of sound that ensue are the result of simple collective effort.

3. Then again, composers today are writing pieces generated entirely on computer, or picking up rhythms from hip-hop, or echoing folk influences from every corner of the globe; they are furiously relevant.

4. Stereotyped as a prim, proper art, classical music can be just as violent, decadent and primitive as anything in pop. See Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

5. There's actually no such as classical music; it's not a style. Composers are simply creative artists reacting to the music of their time and of past times. Their music is infinitely adaptable, and will be around as long as the species survives."

Alex Ross in Washington Post's Express: A Free Publication of the Washington Post. Posted by Express at 7:16 AM on November 19, 2007

From Witold Lutoslawski's Symphony #3, a supreme masterpiece of the late 20th century.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Alex Ross on Lutoslawski's Symphony #3: "In old age, this Polish avant-garde master developed a nostalgia for grand, sweeping, Romantic gestures. The Symphony #3, [composed from 1973 to 1983 and] first heard in 1983, should by now be a popular favorite: the ending is orchestral showmanship of an exalted kind."


And Pan Cogito says that Witold Lutoslawski's Symphony #3 is a greater work than Steve Reich's more well-known [in America] "Music for 18 Musicians"; which Ross lists as one of his top ten classical hits of the twentieth century.

Image credit: (c) Witold Lutoslawski. All rights reserved. Via With thanks.

WETA/WGMS Listeners Demand Full Mahler! - Apparatus Throws Down Two Movements While Pan Cogito Demands Outside Audit Of So-Called Listeners' Choice!

Reactionary WETA/WGMS-FM, so-called public radio in the Nation's Capital, did not, in fact, program Mahler's Symphony #1 "The Titan", as they claimed that they would during their current "Listener's Choice" programming stunt. They did not honor their pledge to over 3000 voting listeners (sans Pan Cogito) to program "Listeners' Choice #66" -- Mahler's Symphony #1 "The Titan" -- as they said they would in their playlist for today, November 20, 2007:

8:06am: Symphony #1 "Titan"
Gustav Mahler [WETA/WGMS Listeners' Choice #66]
Cleveland Orchestra
Christoph von Dohnanyi (conductor)
[London 425.718]

Instead, they programmed one movement from Mahler's great youthful Symphony #1, from 1888, wedged between non-democratically chosen, status quo, single extracted movement WGMS legacy choices:

7:56am: Gustav III: Menuet
Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber
English Chamber Orchestra
Richard Bonynge (conductor)
[London 440.646]

8:13am: Oboe Concerto #2: First Movement
Franz Krommer
Alex Klein (oboe)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Paul Freeman (conductor)
[Cedille 90000.045]

On the ballot, WETA/WGMS offered the full Mahler Symphonies #1 and #5, and not single movements extracted from the Western classical music masterpieces. Please write to the FCC and demand truth-in-advertising by the out-of-control, unaccountable public radio station!

Similarly, listeners also demanded that reactionary WETA/WGMS-FM finally program Mahler's equally great Symphony #5. (More listeners chose Mahler's Symphony #5, than chose Mahler's Symphony #1 as one of their top 90 Western classical music masterpieces.) They did not vote for a single movement -- the lush Adagietto -- from the great Mahler Symphony #5; but for the full masterpiece.

However, despite promising to do so on their ballot, WETA/WGMS refuses to program full masterpieces which were not computer-based market-tested by WGMS and its staff of commercial marketers! Thus:

6:34pm: Adagietto from Symphony #5
Gustav Mahler
Simon Bolivar Youth Orch. Venezuela
Gustavo Dudamel (conductor)
[DG 0009837]

Please write to the President and CEO of WETA and demand that the WETA/WGMS voters' wishes, as indicated on the actual ballots, be honored! Demand that the President and CEO of WETA ask an outside panel of classical music, media, and democracy experts -- ones not associated with WETA or WGMS -- conduct a fair and unbiased investigation into ballot-tampering by the current WETA/WGMS programming regime.

Sharon Percy Rockefeller
President and CEO
2775 South Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22206
tel 703.998.2600
fax 703.998.3401

U.S. governmental and non-profit calls for rule of law, transparency, and lack of corruption worldwide should begin at home in the Northern Virginia Shirlington suburbs of the Nation's Capital.

Image credits: (c) 2007. All rights reserved. Via Eric M. Uslaner "The Civil State: Trust, Polarization, and the Quality of State Government," forthcoming in Jeffrey Cohen, ed., Public Opinion in State Politics (Stanford University Press).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Remember, Tonight's The Night That Sir Simon Rattle Leads Gyorgy Kurtag's "Gravestone On Which The Entire History Of European Music Is Written"

Remember, tonight, in Boston, the Berlin Philharmonic performs Gyorgy Kurtag's "Stele", a work that Sir Simon decribes as a "gravestone on which the entire history of European music is written."

Cultural historian and music critic Alex Ross has progressively provided, at his blog, a link to a sample of Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in this significant contemporary classical work [a work banned on WETA/WGMS-FM, in the Nation's Capital.]

Washington's WETA/WGMS-FM, in its new reactionary, Top-150, CD-based format, will not now be offering a delayed broadcast of this culturally important performance, as it should be doing. [Other American cultural capital cities will be receiving the delayed broadcast on SymphonyCast, from American Public Media; once on WETA-FM.]

But, there is a glimmer of hope: the Library of Congress has insisted, as a condition of their collaboration, that WETA/WGMS-FM broadcast, tonight, their recording they made of the Mandelring String Quartet performing Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet #2.

Please write to WETA President Sharon Percy Rockefeller asking that WETA, in the Nation's Capital, embrace a living classical music culture. [Please copy your letter to the Clintons, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, Richardson, Biden, and the other leaders of America's progressive party]:

Sharon Percy Rockefeller
President and CEO
2775 South Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22206
tel 703.998.2600
fax 703.998.3401

An aerial view of Berlin's Holocaust Memorial [Denkmal fur die ermordeten Juden Europas]

"The size of two football fields, much of the memorial has been erected over surviving underground tunnels used by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi's infamous propaganda chief."

Photo credit: (c) Jockel Finck and Associated Press via the Guardian. 2005. All rights reserved.

Stepping Onto The Podium For The National Symphony Concert Rostropovich Was Scheduled To Have Conducted This April ... Yannick Nézet-Ségui

I see that 32 year old Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been asked by the National Symphony Orchestra to conduct the April 10-12, 2008 program of Musorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich (with violinist Julian Rachlin) which the late Mstislav Rostropovich had earlier been penciled in to lead.

According to his official website, Mr Nézet-Séguin will succeed Valery Gergiev as the next Music Director of the prestigious Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, beginning with the 2008-2009 season. Currently, he is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal (since March 2000).

Good luck to Mr Nézet-Séguin with both the Rotterdam Philharmonic and conducting the NSO next Spring!


32 year old Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Photo credit: (c) Yannick Nézet-Séguin Official Website 2007. All rights reserved.


Also warming up in the bullpen:

The 28 year-old Latvian-born Andris Nelsons is the newly appointed Music Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, starting from the 2008/2009 season. [Click on orchestra link for a more contemporary, relaxed, and human photographic image of Andris Nelsons.]

Photo credit: (c) Marco Borggreve 2007. All rights reserved.

Logan Stones: Call For Renaissance-Level Research

Logan stones

"Logan stones are heavy stones that are located around the world in the same
way as menhirs, dolmens and other megalithic structures. Their speciality is
the fact that they aren't in contact with the subsoil by a surface, but only
by a point. Some of them are balanced in a way that wind swings them. In
other cases, rocks are placed onto a few smaller stones. A similar placing
could also be found with dolmens, where a top desk is placed on top points
of stones. The placing onto small surfaces isn't coincidental but has its
foundation. In my previous articles on , where I'm
writing about properties of cosmic energy, I'm stating the conditions under
which the flow of energy occurs. Matter could gain energy, it could be in a
balanced state or it could be losing energy. The construction of Logan
stones wasn't coincidental, the energetic loses were higher than the gains
in their locations and therefore it was necessary to minimize loses in a way
that the contact surface of the rock with the subsoil was minimized. The
same technology was used by the constructors of mounds and other clay
ramparts, who separated the matter of the rampart from the subsoil by
organic matter. In the case of Logan stones the matter of the rock is
separated from the subsoil mainly by an air gap.

This could easily be understood, but it's much more complicated in the case
of Logan stones that are swung by the wind. Balancing of such a heavy rock
was much labored and this must have had a significant reason. I was looking
for the answer by doing experiments. I connected a sphere made from red
granite that weighed 6 kilograms to a tree branch by a two meters long
string and swung it for fifteen minutes. I was surprised when I then
identified the energetic gain of the granite sphere - I measured its aura
having two meters in radius. I repeated the same experiment a number of
times in other places always with the same result. This proves that Logan
stones gain further energy by the swinging motion. This and previous
experiments show that the motion of matter could also be a source of cosmic
energy in other cases. It will be interesting to invigorate this phenomenon
in other cases.

I think that the time to correct our present opinion about the technical
level of prehistoric civilizations has come. Hundreds of thousands of
accumulators of cosmic energy (menhirs, dolmens, Logan stones, clay ramparts and
other megalithic constructions) located around the world hint that they
couldn't have been built by primitive peoples. On the contraries, we aren't
able to understand the purpose of megalithic constructions, which is
highlighting the forwardness of early cultures. If we think about it in a
way that the direction of their technical development could have been
different from ours it will induce an increased interest in further research
in this field."

November 2007

Miroslav Provod

Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir, welcomed by a Valkyrie as depicted on the 8th century CE Tängvide image stone.

Less is known about the role of Odin as receiver of the dead among the more southern Germanic tribes. The Roman historian Tacitus probably refers to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos, "the leader of souls".

[Sadly,] Odin was also a god of war and the wild hunts he led were often for a woman, who is captured or killed, or for a moss maiden [or Hamadryad].

Image and caption credit: Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.


Nikola Tesla (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла) (1856 – 1943)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Why Are Thousands Of D.C. Parents Being Asked For Advances On Allowances? Because Alex Ross Is Coming To Politics And Prose Next Tuesday At 7 PM!

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
By Ross, Alex

A Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse Event, Washington, D.C. [Northwest]: November 20, 2007 at 7 PM. Hosted by Andras Goldinger.

"Ross, music critic for the New Yorker, has written a political history of 20th-century music. Ross takes readers to Vienna before the First World War, to Paris in the twenties, to Weimar Germany and Stalin’s Russia, and to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies." [and?]



Please join the contemporary music forum/VERGE ensemble in presenting the World Première of Sanctuary by Roger Reynolds, performed by Steven Schick and red fish blue fish at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Atrium on November 18, 2007 at 6:30 PM.

Program Notes [18 Pages!] Now Available at this Link. ["NGA Staff", have your gal contact my gal if you want to talk.]

world premiere performance

Roger Reynolds (b. 1934)

Sanctuary (2007)

i. Chatter/Clatter
ii. Oracle
iii. Song



Readers are again encouraged to invest in Naxos's new, inexpensive [$3.99] recording, Sonic Rebellion: The Alternative Classical Collection; which includes works by many outstanding living and recent composers: Glass, Penderecki, Nancarrow, Cage, Henze, Scelsi, Riley, Wuorinen, Varese, Crumb, Ligeti, Gubaidulina, Plaetner, John Adams, Rautavaara, and Arvo Part. [Where is Lutoslawki, whom Alex Ross and I agree, is one of the best composers of the 20th century?] [Update: Upcoming Naxos releases featuring Lutoslawski, Gloria Coates, Rihm, Radulescu, and other contemporary classical masters are in the works...]

Naxos also produces the excellent American Classics series, of which WETA/WGMS-FM appears also to be largely ignorant. Unknown to WETA/WGMS, proud and exciting American conductors (including American conductors of African descent) are at this very moment recording American and contemporary classical orchestral repertoire with excellent orchestras in Kyiv, Kharkov, and Odesa, Ukraine, Future European Union.

Image credit: (c) Naxos of America, Inc. 2007.


O. K. Werckmeister Walter Benjamin's Angel of History, or the Transfiguration of the Revolutionary into the Historian

In late 1939, the Soviet Calvary marches into Lwow, Poland [now, Lviv, Ukraine], in order to protect the historic city from advancing Nazi troops. [Prior to 1919 and for 150 years, the city was names Lemberg, and was part of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empires.]

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: Borodulin's Collection Rarities of the USSR Photo-Chronicles via Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Despite Harassment, Pan Cogito Continues To Find Cause To Celebrate Contemporary Classical Music And Culture; And The National Symphony Orchestra

As an alternative to the very expensive Berlin Philharmonic concert, in Boston, this Monday, under Sir Simon Rattle (see reference in previous post), I had wanted to point to the following free violin and piano recital at the (La) Maison Francaise of the French Embassy, in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, I see that the seats for the free recital are already completely reserved:

Nicolas Dautricourt, violin, and Dominique Plancade, pianist, perform rare masterworks of 20th and 21st century French music:

- Francis Poulenc : Sonata for violin and piano

- André Jolivet : "Incantation pour que l'image devienne symbole"

- Nicolas Bacri : "Récitativo, In mémoriam André Jolivet"

- Olivier Messiaen : Thème and variations

- Maurice Ohana : "Sonate Monodique"

- Karol Beffa : "La Suicidaire" and "Après une lecture de Bach..."

- François Sarhan : "Deluxe Coucou"

- Claude Debussy : Sonata no. 3 in G minor


In consolation, I share the following discount code to today through Saturday's evening performances, at 7 PM tonight and 8 PM Friday and Saturday, by the National Symphony Orchestra, under Roberto Minczuk, in an exceptionally fine and recommended program:

- Revueltas Homenaje a Federico Garcia Lorca

- Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat Major, Op. 107 with Heinrich Schiff [performed in memory of Mstislav Rostropovich]

- Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade

"Thanksgiving Savings -- $20 Tickets! Good for all performances and most seating sections. Mention offer number "25686" by phone, in person, or online. Offer subject to availability. Not valid in combination with any other offer or on previously purchased tickets. Offer may be withdrawn at any time without notice. [A service charge of 9.5% applies to phone and online orders.]"

Source: Kennedy Center Advertisement in Washington Post Express Thursday November 15, 2007. Page E3.


Click on each of the composers' works above for Washington musicologist Richard Freed's superb program notes to these three outstanding late 19th and 20th century works. [And yes, "NSO staff", I have the written permission of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Office of General Counsel to include these links.]

Classical music conductor, Roberto Minczuk, is not afraid to share his love of 'American' classical music and 20th and 21st century classical music with audiences throughout the Americas and the world.

Photo credit: (c) [Government of San Paulo, Brazil]. All rights reserved. With thanks.



Another Currently 'Sold Out' Concert [1776 seat hall]:

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
Academy of Choral Art
Moscow Chamber Orchestra

Constantin Orbelian, conductor
From Russia with Love

'Opera star Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s impressive range and charismatic performances have earned him distinction as “one of the great recitalists of our time” (The Guardian). His powerful baritone lends depth and radiance to turn-of-the-century Russian and Soviet romances.'

Program includes:

Arhkangel’sky: Symbol of Faith

Chesnokov: Let My Prayer Be Set Forth in Thy Sight

Pakhmutova: Tenderness / You are My Melody / How Young We Were

Tuesday, November 20, 8:00 pm
The Music Center at Strathmore/Washington Performing Arts Society

..."The Man Was No Longer Conscious But Kurtag Sat At His Bedside, Matching The Rise And Fall Of His Own Breath With That Of His Friend"...

... "Kurtag's home [in the Southwest of France, near his son's family] is small and modestly appointed, full of books and furnishings that make it feel a bit like an island of Central Europe dropped into French wine country. The composer's studio is a narrow room off of the kitchen, with little more than a writing table, a bookshelf, and an upright piano with a special soft-pedal that he keeps permanently depressed.

It would be easy for Kurtag to fill his time with commissions, but the entire system, in which works are planned out years in advance and written for players he has never met, seems utterly foreign to his sensibilities....

More sympathetic for Kurtag are the dozens of pieces he has written in homage to friends and colleagues, or in memoriam. These short works can sometimes resurface as the kernels of much larger pieces, as with "Stele," whose final movement is based on Kurtag's "In Memoriam András Mihály" - a piece he wrote to honor a composer and conductor who had been a cherished friend and early champion of his music.

In halting tones, Kurtag recounted how he had visited Mihály in the hospital just days before his death. The man was no longer conscious but Kurtag sat at his bedside, matching the rise and fall of his own breath with that of his friend. Even after he left the hospital, the rhythm of the breathing was still with him. He began to write immediately. "From such things I can compose," he said. ...

With that said, Kurtag seemed suddenly eager to play the piece at the piano. With a slow deliberate motion, he shifted from his desk to the keyboard, and began playing with uncommon subtlety. The piece opens with giant, hushed chords of immense stillness. On Kurtag's muted piano, they sounded with a surreal cloudiness and a distant glow. As he struck each chord, he audibly released a breath. The playing continued for one minute, or possibly five. It was impossible to know....

The second movement is described in the score as a wild, desperate lament, with the trumpets sputtering out edgy rhythmic figures and the strings burrowing downward in long sorrowful lines. The winds and brass heckle until the textures begin to smear, the volume builds to a deafening climax. Then comes the strangest moment in the piece: a breath of silence out of which six flutes appear with a gentle, quiet music that seems drawn from another universe. The orchestra begins mustering its old attacks but the flutes have focused their collective gaze somewhere else.

Sitting at his desk, looking down at the score, Kurtag grasped for words to explain this sudden congregation of otherworldly flutes. Whatever it was, it seemed to be of vital importance and personal resonance. He ultimately leaned on an image from Russian literature.

This is music, he said, of someone lying wounded on a battlefield. "The fighting rages all around him, but he sees only a very clear, very blue sky." Kurtag paused, again searching for words. "His feeling is that nothing is as important as this sky.""

Jeremy Eichler "The Purist: The forces of history have helped shape Gyorgy Kurtag's uncompromising music" The Boston Globe November 11, 2007

The Berlin Philharmonic performs music by Kurtag and Mahler
Nov. 19, 2007 at Symphony Hall, Boston
presented by Celebrity Series of Boston [sic]
Tickets: $87-$187

Image credit: (c) Editio Musica Budapest
Victor Hugo street 11-15
1132 Budapest
Phones: +36 1 2361-100
Fax: +36 1 2361-101

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pan Cogito, Ever Lacking, Finds That His Blog's Reading Difficulty Level Is Below That Of Several Of His Peers; But Higher Than That Of Classical WETA

Conservative Writer Points To A Reason Why African-Americans Are Vastly Underrepresented Among Ranks Of U.S. Classical Musicians And Audience Members

"A series of scrupulously bipartisan new studies by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts [concludes that] even in a growing economy, only about a third of Americans can be considered upwardly mobile -- meaning they will end up with more inflation-adjusted income and a higher relative economic standing than did their parents. The rest are maintaining their standing or falling behind; about one-third slip down the income scale over the course of a generation.

When specific groups are considered, the news is even more unsettling. Men in their 30s have experienced a sustained slide in their inflation-adjusted incomes, which fell by 12 percent between 1974 and 2004.

And most shocking of all: About 45 percent of middle-income African American children end up falling to the bottom of the income scale over a generation, compared with 16 percent of white children -- meaning that even solidly middle-class African American families lead fragile economic lives.

According to the Pew studies, America has less upward economic mobility than Denmark, Canada or Finland. "In America, more than other countries," says project director John Morton, "the circumstances of your birth have more to say about where you end up than how we tend to think of ourselves."" ...

Michael Gerson "The GOP's Pocketbook Issue" Washington Post November 14, 2007

Two of today's distinguished African-American classical musicians and classical music audience members.

Amateur chamber musician Dr. Condoleezza Rice (above) is warmly welcomed by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on an almost weekly basis; while widely- recorded American classical conductor John McLaughlin Williams (below) is much less warmly welcomed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (although he is more musically talented. One of his 'problems' is that he believes deeply in American classical music).

Photo credits: (c) Stephen Crowley and the New York Times and © Eliesha Nelson [Violist] Cleveland, Ohio 44106. All rights reserved.

WETA-FM Critic At Large Jens F. Laurson And Pan Cogito Fail To Agree About The Depth Of Racism And Pseudo-Intellectualism In Classical Music Today

"For ionarts classical music contributor, and WETA-FM critic-at-large, Jens F. Laurson to call former Washington Mayor Marion Barry a “bona fide awful and utterly worthless human being;” and Tim Page “one of [Washington’s] very finest members” reveals, to me, some of the underlying racism and damaging elitism of classical music in America today – a topic discussed recently by Richard Taruskin in his long The New Republic article, “The Musical Mystique”.

Like Marion Barry and numerous other politicians, numerous members of the classical music profession have been arrested on drug charges – including, early in their careers, San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and violinist Elmar Oliveira ; or have faced tax and financial irregularity charges -- such as, more recently, conductor Stephen Simon.

In his new book, Alex Ross describes leading American, Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Adams as a user of illegal drugs both as a college student and as a young classical composer. Does that make him a “bona fide awful and utterly worthless human being;” or was Adams just lucky not to be caught -- and for the classical music world to be tolerant of illegal drug use?

It would appear to me that critic-at-large Laurson holds Thomas, Oliveira, Simon, and Adams as less “awful, despicable, and worth-less human beings” because they are “classical musicians” and “European-Americans”, and not “African-American” nor older politicians toiling for economic development and social justice in the slums of one of America’s richest cities.

Unlike Mr Laurson, Mr Page appears – according to the follow-up coverage – to have had the intelligence to realize the damage of his intemperate remark."

Garth Trinkl. Composer, librettist, and economist. Posted to Charles T. Downey's ionarts website under "Tim Page Leaving the Post Early" on Tuesday, November 13, 2007at 5:30 PM, EDT.


"Mr. Trinkel [sic], you [sic] incisive comment once again proves your superiority. How could I have missed in my own intemperate remark the signs of a severe affliction of racism. Can I make up for it by calling the aforementioned Michael Tilson Thomas, Elmar Oliveira, Stephen Simon, John Adams bona fide awful and utterly worthless human beings if they, too, don't pay their taxes and violate the terms of their probation and test positive for cocaine use after already being a convicted felon?

I had thought the idea of turning this into a race issue was the provenance of Mr. Barry himself - who linked the e-mail his staffer received with mass slaughter, feels like the e-mail only further contributes to it being "almost open season on black people in the country" and called Tim Page a "Low-Life". (There's irony, if you want it.)

To bring Taruskin's article into this veers between pointless hilarity and inane pseudo-intellectual hogwash."

[WETA-FM Critic-at-Large] Jens F. Laurson. Posted to Charles T. Downey's ionarts website under "Tim Page Leaving the Post Early" on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 6:20PM, EDT.

Hercules takes a break. The goddess Athena pours him a cup of wine.

Mount Holyoke 1925.BS.II.3, Attic black figure skyphos, c. 500 B.C.E.

"For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas' stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules' task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day."

The Augean Stables: Hercules Cleans Up

Photo credit: (c) Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. 2007.


Nikita Stewart "Some on [District of Columbia City] Council Now Doubt Wisdom of Hospital Deal: Members Say Faith in City Officials Was Shaken by 11th-Hour Notice of Financial Risks in $79 Million Plan" Washington Post November 2, 2007.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Critterdom Reconsidering Sharing World With 'Globalizing' Human Beings

According to the United Nations Environmental Program flagship report, Global Environment Outlook, the world’s population is devouring the planet’s resources at rates well beyond capacity.

Photo credit: (c) International Fund for Animal Welfare. 2007.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pan Cogito's Dreams For Enlightenment Knee-Capped By WETA/WGMS Listener Chosen Top 90 Thanksgiving And Alex Ross/Ben Ratcliff Chat On Uses Of Music

WETA/WGMS-FM Classical Countdown

"Help us select the top 90 pieces for our Thanksgiving countdown

This Thanksgiving, Classical WETA gives thanks for the greatest music in the world [sic] with our first annual Classical Countdown. From Thursday, November 8 through Wednesday, November 14, you can vote for your favorite classical music pieces. We'll tally the votes and play the top 90 pieces in reverse order during Thanksgiving week.

Here's how it works: The Classical WETA staff has constructed a list of over 200 of the top pieces we play on 90.9FM. Listeners can select up to three of these pieces and/or write in other pieces, which were not on the list. Each person can vote only once.

Beginning on Monday, November 19, we'll start the countdown with one or two pieces per hour and then present the remaining pieces all day long on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, culminating with the #1 selection at 8pm."

Vote now

[If Beethoven Symphony #9 wins, will they suppress the final "Ode to Joy" choral/vocal movement?]

[hmmm ... greatest music in the world, my foot. Addinsell, but no longer any Josquin nor Monteverdi. And don't even bother checking for Bach's Saint Matthew Passion (as featured on Minnesota Public Radio), or for any vocal music.]

[Pan Cogito wonders whether WETA/WGMS-FM receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a Great Nation deserves Great Art.]


On to Alex Ross and Ben Ratcliff chatting at Slate about inter-cultural dating between classical and pop and jazz music:

"Dear Ben,

People tend to listen to various kinds of music over the course of the day: rock at the gym, jazz on the drive home, maybe a little Vivaldi while waiting at the dentist's office for the root canal. There's a long tradition of mixed-genre listening in American culture: As Joseph Horowitz notes in his book Classical Music in America, opera houses in the 19th century would offer Don Giovanni together with "Ethiopian songs, choruses, solos, duets, jigs, fancy dances, etc." Yet conversations about music always seem to take place within a particular genre. Our concept in this Slate Dialogue is to converse for a day or two across the walls of specialized taste. I write mostly about classical music for The New Yorker, though I've touched on pop. You write about various kinds of music for the New York Times, with an emphasis on jazz. ...



Henryk Siemiradzki. Leading Light of Christianity. Nero’s Torches. 1876. Oil on canvas. 305 x 704 cm. National Museum, Krakow, Poland, European Union.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

[Pan Cogito and his colleagues are being prepared to be burnt by Nero in the upper right-hand corner of the painting.]

Photo credit: (c) Olga's Gallery -- On-line Art Museum 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Classical Music Not In Vain! Alex Ross Makes Georg Friedrich Haas's "in vain" And Gerard Grisey's "Les Espaces Acoustiques" Hot Sellers In America!

CD 1 1 Haas: in vain / Sylvain Cambreling Kairos $13.89 Shipped 1 on Nov 06, 2007


Previously on internet back-order with availability at any future time uncertain, Alex Ross's mention of Georg Friedrich Haas's 'in vain' in his 'The Rest Is Noise' has forced the kairos recording company, in Vienna, Austria, into CD production overdrive in an effort to keep with the new international demand for Brucknerian-'spectralist' new music.

Gerard Grisey's "Les Espaces Acoustiques" is a secondary beneficiary of Mr Ross's 20th c. music enthusiasms, as tens of thousands of readers suddenly realize that they have all of the recordings on Alex Ross's top-30 Recommended CDs.

kairos records Vienna, Austria, European Union

ecm new series Munich, Germany, European Union

Alex Ross The Rest Is Noise New York City, New York, United States

Paul Griffiths A Concise History of Western Music Cambridge/London, UK

Bob Shingleton On An Overgrown Path Norwich, UK [For constantly updated, recommended recordings of 20th c. music missed by Paul Griffiths and Alex Ross.]

Evan Johnson Crossing the Atlantic: A Primer on Euro-American Musical Relations New Music Box New York City Feb 7, 2007

GEORG FRIEDRICH HAAS In Vain Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord - 16 juin 2008 20h30

pour grand ensemble

Direction musicale Sylvain Cambreling
Klangforum Wien


Photo credit: (c) Jaume Plensa, L'Âme de la vallée, photo, Jacques Betant; and Opéra national de Paris. 2007. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cultural Historians, Composers, And Music Critics Descend On Nation's Capital In Critical Days For Capital And Nation ... Or At Least A Few Do

First, an important appeal for information:


Hi, I came across your name and link in conducting research on the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. I am producing a documentary on this history of the group - notably from 1918 when they first formed in Kyiv Ukraine, through the 20's and 30's surviving soviet persecution, and their subsequent reformation in Kyiv in 1941. I have read through much of andy gregorovich's work on the ukrainian ostarbeiter work force in germany during WW2.

the bandurist chorus (known to the germans then as the 'bandura band') were themselves sent as ostarbeiters to hamburg germany in august 1942 - to a location on the outskirts of hamburg on the river, known as 'schuppen 43'. from there they were signed up by the german organization 'kraft durch freude' to perform through the armament factories throughout the cities and towns across germany from the period 1942-1945.

would you know some specific locations i might locate archives - film, print, audio or otherwise that would encompass this topic?

also, would you know how i might be able to reach andrew gregorovitch? have you contact info - email for him?

many thanks,
orest sushko


Please join the contemporary music forum/VERGE ensemble in presenting the World Première of Sanctuary by Roger Reynolds, performed by Steven Schick and red fish blue fish at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Atrium on November 18, 2007 at 6:30 PM.

"about sanctuary

Sanctuary – as refuge, as asylum, as shelter from violence or the
penalties of law – has deep roots in many cultures. In classical Greece,
all temples offered sanctuary, and the Temple of Apollo at Delphi – with
its oracle – was known throughout the Mediterranean world. Sanctuary
continued as a right through the Western tradition in the Roman
Empire and into the Christian era. It is occasionally invoked today
around the globe, with recent examples in areas of sectarian strife and
immigration law challenges.

However, there is another powerful dimension of sanctuary beyond
protection: sanctuary as a place of tolerance and privilege. In this
sense, sanctuary is a place safe for expression, for experimentation, for
revelation. Privilege also involves license: license to define boundaries,
to test them. This is the powerful dimension explored in The
Sanctuary Project.

In today’s fractured world, sanctuary is elusive. My project intends to
create a place of refuge for the quartet, technicians and audience, and
to invite them to act on the privilege and the license so created - to
reveal themselves and, in turn, be revealed, perhaps transformed."

– Roger Reynolds with David Curry
October 2007

for more information - and


Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise, to Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, in Northwest, Washington, D.C.
November 20, 2007 at 7 PM.

For more Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse "Music News" email András Goldinger at,
call (202) 364-1919, or stop by the store.

"Kozak Mamai, the minstrel of Zaporizhian legend, was a common character portrayed in folklore paintings of eastern and central Ukraine popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Shown to be a freedom lover, never painted in battle or charging on a horse. Rather, he is depicted in a peaceful, thoughtful pose playing a bandura."

Caption and photo credits: and [Click for further information on Ukrainian Museum resources for this important style of folklore painting.]