Monday, December 31, 2007

Peace On Earth And In The Cosmos -- Goodwill Toward Mankind, Animals, And Plants

The Adoration of the Magi

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Mid-16th century, C.E.
131.5 x 90. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of the Synaxis of Our Lady in the village of Busovysko, Lviv region, Ukraine, Future European Union. Lviv National Museum.

Photo credit: (c) Icon Gallery, National Museum of Ukraine, Lviv. Via With thanks.


With many thanks -- and all best New Years Wishes -- to my faithful readers this past year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Peace On Earth And In The Cosmos -- Goodwill Toward Mankind, Animals, And Plants

Photo credits:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sirius Classical Music: Taking The Cosmos And The Last Half Of European Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen's Lifelong Creativity Seriously

"The whole movement [in America] toward a so-called pop art, in the visual arts as well as in music, I see as a disaster, really shameful for mankind, once orientated toward the highest, whose only goal in art was to glorify the divine and the cosmic spirit, and for whom everything in the human world was related to these invisible worlds. That this is now replaced, generally speaking, by garbage art, which celebrates material impermanence and decay, is a disgrace. It needs a tremendous mysticism to adore God through garbage; it is possible, but when you reach a point where images of a lipstick or hot dog have the same significance as the crucifix or Madonna in earlier cultures, it shows where a country is heading." – Karlheinz Stockhausen

"There are loads of people who'd say of Stockhausen's music after 1975 that he was adoring God through garbage. He just simply lost people and did precious few favors for himself. Every time he opened his mouth, there were more and more bizarre statements coming out. The showstopper was the claim that he was from Sirius, the binary star system that, at 9 light years distance, is one of our nearest interstellar neighbors.

Stockhausen was fond of saying that he could travel with his mind to distant places....

But his fascination with the cosmos was genuinely profound. He clipped any newspaper article he came across that had to do with space, especially the discovery of new stars. One of the things he was fond of doing was pronouncing prerequisites for musical education ('Every composer must spend time in an electronic music studio'), and after that book of photos from the Hubble came out, he became dead certain that every musician should look at it, because it 'is the best dictionary for musicians to compose by'.

Pedagogical theories aside, what matters to us most in this brief survey of his music is how this extraterrestrial fascination actually manifested itself in his work" ...

Composer and trumpeter Joseph Drew in ANABlog December 19, 2007

"This composite image shows the jet from a black hole at the center of a galaxy striking the edge of another galaxy, the first time such an interaction has been found. X-rays from Chandra (colored purple), optical and ultraviolet (UV) data from Hubble (red and orange), and radio emission from the Very Large Array (VLA) and MERLIN (blue) show how the jet from the main galaxy on the lower left is striking its companion galaxy to the upper right. The jet impacts the companion galaxy at its edge and is then disrupted and deflected, much like how a stream of water from a hose will splay out after hitting a wall at an angle."

Caption and image credit: (c) Chandra X-ray Center, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 2007 via Marc Kaufman "Jet From Supermassive Black Hole Seen Blasting Neighboring Galaxy" Washington Post December 18, 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Taking The Cosmos And The Last Half Of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Lifelong Creativity Seriously

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Which Pan Cogito Breaks Down And Reads One Of The Arts Funding Advocacy Letters That Regularly Reach His Desk

Dear Pan,

Last night, the U.S. House gave preliminary approval to an "Omnibus" appropriations bill for FY 2008 providing funding for about $474 billion in domestic spending programs. The Senate began considering this legislation today. With the President's expected signature later this week, the bill will provide about $145 million for the National Endowment for the Arts - a $20 million increase over last year's funding. The Humanities Endowment, arts education and public broadcasting [an additional $24 million!] programs are slated to receive modest increases over last year's levels and the federal museum office will see a slight decrease in funding....

Through this legislation, the National Endowment for the Arts is expected to receive a 16% increase - the largest given to the agency in the past 24 years! ...

Happy Holiday!

Above, President Richard Nixon, with American designer Charles Eames and Nancy Hanks, Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, at the White House [1973].

Below, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush [1984].

Photo credits: Library of Congress and Reagan Presidential Library Archives. With thanks.

Pan Cogito Prays That Prime Ministers - 'Elect' Vladimir Putin And Yulia Tymoshenko Will Be Able To Work Together For European Integration

"Parliament elected the fiery Yulia Tymoshenko prime minister Tuesday by the narrowest possible margin, in a striking political comeback likely to strengthen Ukraine's ties to the West and aggravate tensions with Russia.

Now the big question is whether the 47-year-old heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, which split the country between those who favor close ties to Moscow and those who seek greater integration with Europe, can hang onto her job.

Tuesday marked the second time Tymoshenko has won the prime minister's post: her first stint ended after just seven months, when she was fired by her Orange Revolution partner Viktor Yushchenko.

Speaking shortly before the vote, Tymoshenko said it was critical that the two parties put their differences aside....

Yushchenko has consistently advocated moving this nation of 47 million closer to the West, pushing for quick membership in NATO and the European Union."

Associated Press "Tymoshenko Elected Ukrainian PM" New York Times December 18, 2007

Photo credit:

With WETA-FM Now Taking Cues From Renaissance Research Playbook, Pan Cogito Feels Comfortable Enough To Contemplate Saint Nicholas Eve Holiday

Saint Nicholas surrounded by scenes from his Life, Miracles, and Generosity; from the sublime Icon Galleries of the National Museum of Ukraine, Lviv. [Latter half of the 16th century,
135 x 124 cm. Egg tempera on lime wood.]

The historical Saint Nicholas is equally remembered and revered by Orthodox and Catholic Christians (though perhaps more spiritually revered by Orthodox Christians).

[Click on image for enlargement.]


Tonight after 9 PM, classical WETA-FM, public radio in the Nation's Capital, will offer a full recorded performance of American classical composer Arthur Foote's Piano Trio #1 with the Arden Trio, on Naxos records. Solo and choral Western classical singing has also been reported to have been heard on classical WETA-FM, public radio in the Nation's Capital, the past few weeks for the first time in nearly a year.

Perhaps, next year WETA-FM will feel self-confident enough to program holiday works by such Western contemporary classical composers as Paul Constantinescu, Petr Eben, and many many others -- thus affording its classical listeners the broad, humanististically-based contemporary classical radio listening experience taken for granted in the rest of the advanced, educated world (especially Western and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong).

Image credit: (c) and the Virtual Lviv Icon Gallery [Ukrainian Icons In The 11th-16th c.] With thanks.


UPDATE: A Midnight Service Helps African Immigrants Combat Demons [in Washington, D.C.] Also see, Spiritual Warfare.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Beyond Stockhausen's 'Stimmung' -- Hilarion Alfeyev's Slavonic Orthodox 'Christmas Oratorio' At Washington's National Catholic Shrine This Evening

"On December 17, a week before [Western] Christmas, a leading Russian orchestra will travel to America to perform an exceptional "world premiere" concert of Russian Christmas music at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington [7:30 PM].

The music will be a completely new composition by a young Russian Orthodox Bishop, Hilarion Alfeyev, 42, the Russian Orthodox bishop for all of central Europe, based in Vienna, Austria. The music will tell the Christmas story in the deep, rich tradition of Russian ecclesial music, using the Russian language with English translations available.

"I see this unique Christmas concert, involving superb musicians and singers, as a real opportunity for Americans and Russians to share a moment of Christmas cheer, despite some of the concerns and tensions that have marked the recent relations of our two countries," Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, one of the sponsors of this concert, said. "And, as the concert will take place in the most important shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the United States, I hope it may have an even deeper spiritual significance, in the context of the message of Fatima, for the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church." [See also Fatimah (Arabic: فاطمة c. 605–632) for the youngest daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.]

The orchestra will be Russia's National Defense Ministry Orchestra, one of the country's leading orchestras, along with the choir of Moscow's famous Tretyakov Gallery....

The concert will be accompanied by an exhibit in the basement of the Basilica which will display the religious renewal of Russia after the suffering of Christians in that country during the Soviet era [through Wednesday, December 19, 2007 -- having previously been exhibited in Moscow, Russian Federation for a period of six months].

The concert is expected to be televised live around the world by the Catholic television network, EWTN."

Source: Inside the Vatican magazine


"Four Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca" for voice and piano (1984)

"The Divine Liturgy" for mixed choir (2006)

"Vigil" for soloists and mixed choir (2006)

"St Matthew Passion" for soloists, choir and orchestra (2006)

"Christmas Oratorio" for soloists, boys' choir, mixed choir and great symphony orchestra (2007)


Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology -- Lecture delivered at the Kiev/Kyiv, Ukraine Theological Academy on September 20, 2002

European composer, theologian, and Russian Orthodox Bishop, Hilarion Alfeyev. Father Hilarion holds a doctoral degree in philosophy from Oxford University, and a doctorate in theology from St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris. In May 2003, he was appointed Bishop of Vienna and Austria, as well as temporary administrator of the Diocese of Budapest and Hungary.

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


Sofia Gubaidulina's earlier 21st century musical masterpiece: Saint John Passion and Saint John Easter.

Speaking Of Massacres (And The European Enlightenment): The Upcoming 300th Anniversary Of Russia's Massacre Of 14,000 At Baturyn, Ukraine, In 1708

"Since July 2001, Dr. Volodomyr Mezentsev (Slavic Languages and Literatures) and medieval historian Professor Martin Dimnik (PIMS) of the University of Toronto, Canada, have participated in an excavation project in Baturyn, Ukraine.

Located in the Chernihiv region in Eastern Ukraine, Baturyn emerged as a fortress on the steppe border of the Chernihiv principality [Kyivan-Rus']in the 11th century. From the beginning of the 17th century, the significance of this small provincial town grew considerably. In 1648, the Cossacks led by Hetman Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyi liberated Baturyn from Polish occupation. In 1654, it obtained a Magdeburg Charter of self-government. Between 1669 and 1708, Baturyn was the official capital of the Hetman state in Left-Bank Ukraine.

The town flourished during the reign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1708), growing to approximately 100 hectares with a population of 20,000. Baturyn had 40 churches and a college for diplomats and government officials. The town's development was disrupted in 1708 during the war between Russia and Sweden. After Mazepa and his followers sided with Sweden, Baturyn was seized by Russian troops. The Cossack garrison of 8,000 troops and the bulk of the civilian population were massacred. Ukrainian researchers have estimated the number of casualties at between 13,000 to 15,000.

Baturyn remained deserted for several decades, recovering by the mid-18th century when it briefly regained its status as Hetman capital during the reign of Kyrylo Rozumovs'kyi (1750-64) until the Hetmanate was abolished in 1764. After Rozumovs'kyi's death in 1803, Baturyn went into decline. Now it is a small provincial town with a population of 4,000.

In 1995, an archaeological expedition from the University of Chernihiv began excavating in Baturyn. Over the next two years, archaeologists discovered remnants of two hetman Baroque palaces, urban dwellings, and town fortifications as well as masonry from the St. Nicholas Church at the nearby Krupyts'kyi Monastery. These excavations have uncovered evidence of the destruction from 1708....

Excavations were renewed in 2001 thanks to financial support from the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the US. Ukrainian and Canadian archaeologists and historians--sponsored by the University of Chernihiv and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto--have continued the field investigations of the hetman palaces, urban dwellings, and town fortifications; they also discovered 16 graves of the Cossack elite, which contain the skeletal remains of children and elderly people slain in 1708....

Continued donor support of the Baturyn project is vital to excavation work and the dissemination of research findings. For information, please contact:

Dr. Volodomyr Mezentsev, Slavic Languages and Literatures or
Prof. Martin Dimnik, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
At the University of Toronto, Canada


Palace of Kyrylo Rozumovsk'kyi, built 1799-1803, by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron -- architect to Catherine the Great of Russia. One of two extant 18th century, severe neo-classical structures at Baturyn, Ukraine, currently awaiting restoration funding. [Earlier, the Russians leveled the Ukrainian Baroque cultural capital city of Baturyn in 1708, in terrorist reprisal for Ivan Mazepa's alliance with the Swedish crown.]

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


Mazepa's Palace, a unique work of Ukrainian baroque architecture, was plundered and largely destroyed by the Russians in 1708. Restoration drawing based upon drawing from 1744 in the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo credit: Via [Hungary] With thanks.


Vilnius String Quartet (Lithuania, European Union)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
January 13 at 6:30PM FREE

West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court
Music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Onute Narbutaite

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Commemoration Held On 70th Anniversary Of Massive Japanese Slaughter And Rape Of Chinese Civilian Population In Nanjing

"Sirens sounded and students stood at attention Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's notorious wartime massacre of civilians in the Chinese city of Nanjing....

The city reopened a vastly expanded memorial to the victims of the massacre long known in the West as the ''Rape of Nanking.''

Air raid sirens blared at 10 a.m., followed by a moment of silence, and new artifacts testifying to the savagery of Japan's Imperial Army went on display in the memorial's collection....

''The Chinese government hopes that on the basis of taking history as a mirror for the benefit of the future, to develop long-term good neighborliness and cooperation with Japan,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

The events that began on Dec. 13, 1937, in Nanjing are still the subject of debate and controversy.

Angered by resistance as they invaded central China, Japanese troops began a rampage that many historians generally agree ended with the slaughter of at least 150,000 civilians. Soldiers were disarmed and executed and tens of thousands of women were raped in Nanjing, then the capital of China's Nationalist government.

China puts the number killed at 300,000, making it one of the worst atrocities of the World War II era." ...

Associated Press "Chinese Remember 'Nanking Massacre'" December 13, 2007

Nanjing, China Memorial Site

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'O Children, Prove Your True Nobility And Hence Depart Nor Seek To Witness Sights Unlawful' ....... Cue In God's Trombones!!!

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, while conducting a concert of his works in Budapest, in 1984, suddenly decides to take up the study of palmistry.


"MESSENGER Know well That he has passed away from life to death.

CHORUS How? By a god-sent, painless doom, poor soul?

MESSENGER Thy question hits the marvel of the tale.
How he moved hence, you saw him and must know;
Without a friend to lead the way, himself
Guiding us all. So having reached the abrupt
Earth-rooted Threshold with its brazen stairs,
He paused at one of the converging paths,
Hard by the rocky basin which records
The pact of Theseus and Peirithous.
Betwixt that rift and the Thorician rock,
The hollow pear-tree and the marble tomb,
Midway he sat and loosed his beggar's weeds;
Then calling to his daughters bade them fetch
Of running water, both to wash withal
And make libation; so they clomb the steep;
And in brief space brought what their father bade,
Then laved and dressed him with observance due.
But when he had his will in everything,
And no desire was left unsatisfied,
It thundered from the netherworld; the maids
Shivered, and crouching at their father's knees
Wept, beat their breast and uttered a long wail.
He, as he heard their sudden bitter cry,
Folded his arms about them both and said,
"My children, ye will lose your sire today,
For all of me has perished, and no more
Have ye to bear your long, long ministry;
A heavy load, I know, and yet one word
Wipes out all score of tribulations--love.
And love from me ye had--from no man more;
But now must live without me all your days."
So clinging to each other sobbed and wept
Father and daughters both, but when at last
Their mourning had an end and no wail rose,
A moment there was silence; suddenly
A voice that summoned him; with sudden dread
The hair of all stood up and all were 'mazed;
For the call came, now loud, now low, and oft.
"Oedipus, Oedipus, why tarry we?
Too long, too long thy passing is delayed."
But when he heard the summons of the god,
He prayed that Theseus might be brought, and when
The Prince came nearer: "O my friend," he cried,
"Pledge ye my daughters, giving thy right hand--
And, daughters, give him yours--and promise me
Thou never wilt forsake them, but do all
That time and friendship prompt in their behoof."
And he of his nobility repressed
His tears and swore to be their constant friend.
This promise given, Oedipus put forth
Blind hands and laid them on his children, saying,
"O children, prove your true nobility
And hence depart nor seek to witness sights
Unlawful or to hear unlawful words.
Nay, go with speed; let none but Theseus stay,
Our ruler, to behold what next shall hap."
So we all heard him speak, and weeping sore
We companied the maidens on their way.
After brief space we looked again, and lo
The man was gone, evanished from our eyes;
Only the king we saw with upraised hand
Shading his eyes as from some awful sight,
That no man might endure to look upon.
A moment later, and we saw him bend
In prayer to Earth and prayer to Heaven at once.
But by what doom the stranger met his end
No man save Theseus knoweth. For there fell
No fiery bol[t] that reft him in that hour,
Nor whirlwind from the sea, but he was taken.
It was a messenger from heaven, or else
Some gentle, painless cleaving of earth's base;
For without wailing or disease or pain
He passed away-- [an] end most marvelous.
And if to some my tale seems foolishness
I am content that such could count me fool."

Oedipus at Colonus
By Sophocles
Translated by F. Storr

The Internet Classics Archive by Daniel C. Stevenson, Web Atomics.
World Wide Web presentation is copyright (C) 1994-2000, Daniel
C. Stevenson, Web Atomics. All rights reserved.


Andrew Imbrie served in the U.S. Army, from 1944 to 1946, as a cryptanalytic translator of Japanese and immediately after, he spent two years composing while a resident of the American Academy in Rome.

-- Robert P. Commanday in San Francisco Classical Voice

"I was trained as a Japanese translator, but I was stationed in Arlington, Virginia, the entire time. I was never on the battlefield, and later on I was so curious about Japan that I applied for a Guggenheim when I was on sabbatical, and I spent eight or nine months in Tokyo, the vicinity, and was fascinated by the culture. I was trying to understand a little more myself about where these people were coming from—and they are very wonderful people—but I think they themselves must also face the ... come to terms with the past as well as the Chinese people that they massacred at that time. I think they themselves have to come to terms, and that's why I believe that this project is a very necessary one.

DO: Would you say a little more about that? Why you think a commemorative event is important? What's the value of bringing this up again?

AI: I think that the people have to acknowledge things. I think that they will feel better. I think that will heal everybody if everybody acknowledges these things. I don't know to what extent. For example, the Germans have come to terms with Hitler these days, but you get the impression ... I haven't been in Germany long enough to understand, really, but I understand—I've been given to understand one way or another—come to terms with this and are trying to show that they are democratic and that they are human, because in Hitler's time, you wondered whether these people were really human. I think now they are succeeding in convincing us that they are. And I think that's very necessary. Now I think the Japanese have convinced us of this, too, but they have to convince themselves as well as us." ...

Hun Quio Bridge of Souls

Andrew Imbrie interview transcript from Minnesota Public Radio
Recorded May 29, 2001
Posted September 10, 2001


James Weldon Johnson, 1871-1938
God's Trombones. Seven Negro Sermons in Verse.
New York: The Viking Press, 1927.


Photo credit: (c) Agence France Presse and Getty Images via New York Times. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Which Lamentations And Tears Turn To Eternal Hope (And Faith And Charity) As The San Francisco Symphony Announces An Unexpected Surplus Of $454,000

San Francisco Symphony finishes out its year with "an unexpected surplus of $454,000 on an operating budget of $58.3 million - a far cry from the $1.7 million deficit the organization was projecting just a year ago."

Joshua Kosman "Surplus (surprise!) for Symphony" San Francisco Chronicle December 11, 2007 (Via

How much do you suppose should be budgeted for SFS revival performances of Andrew Imbrie's 'Requiem' [1984] and 'Prometheus Bound' dance-cantata [1981]?

Porter, Andrew. "Musical Events." The New Yorker. December 10, 1984, p. 180-181


"According to a 2003 United Nations report into human development in the Arab world, more books are translated into Spanish each year - 10,000 - than have been translated into Arabic in the previous 10 centuries. Now this situation is being rectified by the sheikhdom of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven Muslim United Arab Emirates, which last month officially revealed its plans to translate 100 epochal foreign-language texts into Arabic by the end of next year."

James Adams "Arab world opens door to Western classics" Toronto Globe and Mail December 10, 2007 (via

And how much do you suppose the San Francisco Symphony should allocate to new commissions?

Children Without Musical Instruments in Angola.

When Children Are Accused Of Witchcraft

"On the dusty streets of the Palanca Township, we stumbled upon a small Pentecostal church. Through a metal door is a compound. On the left a small concrete out-house. There were people inside. We opened the door and what we found was shocking.

Sitting on the floor was a terrified, near naked girl of eight. Her head shaven. She cowers as her mother and a pastor shout at her. We take him outside. This is an exorcism he told us. The reason - the mother's marriage broke down. It's the child's fault and she's possessed with Kindoki."

Photo credit: (c) All rights reserved.

Neither Too Depressed Nor Too Conflicted Not To Wish Mr Elliott Carter A Happy 99th Birthday ... Happy Birthday, EC!

From 1939 to 1941, EC taught courses in physics, mathematics and classical Greek, in addition to music ...

"When John Ashbery and I decided to collaborate on a musical work (for which we applied and received a Composer-Librettist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts) I studied various texts he wrote for this project and chose his poem Syringa. This attracted me because of its fascinating, distant, quiet treatment of a familiar, many-sided, affecting subject: Orpheus and the power of music. The idea of accompanying the singer of Ashbery's text with another singer whose part would express the subliminal background that might be evoked in the mind of a reader, very soon suggested itself. Indeed, lines near the poem's end: 'In whose tale are hidden syllables/ Of what happened so long before that' led to the idea that the second singer could have a text that reflects some of the sounds, ideas, and feelings of the Ashbery poem in 'hidden syllables'-the 'hidden syllables' of classical Greek, since the poem is about a classical myth. The well-known story of Orpheus as referred to in the Ashbery poem ends in a kind of apotheosis, so the entire work is set in the frame of the Orphic cult that grew up around the musician when, after his dismemberment, his head, still singing, floated across the Aegean Sea from Greece to Asia Minor, and its burial place became a shrine." ...

Photo credit: (c)

In May 1972, I Heard Andrew Imbrie Discuss His Third Sym And Decided To Study Composition Further; Later, Roy Harris's Third Sym Was Played In China

Image credit: New York Times Archives for September 15, 1973.


September 1973

"The Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Lompoc, California is a low security facility housing male inmates. It is part of the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex (FCC).

FCI Lompoc is located 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles, adjacent to Vandenberg Air Force Base."


September 1973

"1973 Awarded Premio Umberto Biancamano, Milan; created Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris; exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum.

1974 Visited Canada for the installation and opening of the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

1975 Exhibition at the Tate Gallery on occasion of gift of graphics by the artist; awarded the Kaiserring der Stadt Goslar.

1976 Exhibition of war drawings at the Imperial War Museum, London; exhibition in Zurich organised by the Zürcher Forum."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Closer To My Berkeley Home... In Memorium, Andrew Imbrie (Master of Rarely Performed Late 20th C. Masterpieces Equalling Those Of Herr Stockhausen)

It has been a little over 31 years since I congratulated Professor Imbrie, in the Lobby of the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, after an SFO world premiere performance of his and Oakley Hall's "Angle of Repose" (based upon Wallace Stegner), and I foolishly asked him whether he was planning to attend all six or seven of his premiere performances that fortnight.

I also recall not seeing any of Professor Imbrie's other students from his graduate composition seminar there that night (or perhaps most especially the student who proudly announced after the opening seminar, in September 1976, that the idea of masterpieces made him want to vomit).

Photo credit: (c) San Francisco Chronicle. 1976. (?)

I believe that this photo was taken by a San Francisco Chronicle photographer for a preview article on the world premiere of "Angle of Repose". I remember that during an afternoon graduate composition seminar a photographer showed up (in October 1976, at Morrison Hall, U.C.-Berkeley) and Professor Imbrie posed for a few photos at the classroom piano. He is more likely holding his seminar notes than the libretto to "Angle of Repose", I recall.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Memoriam, Karlheinz Stockhausen

Under pain of water-boarding, I will admit to having been influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen. [But not serially, nor sonically.]

I first obtained and read theoretical material by Herr Stockhausen, in West Berlin, in September of 1972, before starting college. I first met Herr Stockhausen, in person, in Berlin, in March of 2002.

Memorable performances of his works that I attended: TIERKREIS, performed by a guest organist, at my great-aunt Esther's Synagogue Congregation Emanu-El, in San Francisco, in 1976; and OKTOPHONIE (OCTOPHONY) [1990/91] which is the 8-channel tape of electronic music in TUESDAY from LIGHT, and which plays through the entire second act. I heard it in Berlin in 2002, with the white-suited Herr Stockhausen focused throughout on the projected sliver of the moon in the darkened cube inside the New National Gallery, which was the first building to be opened at the Kulturforum, and which was designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Photo credit:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Inconvenient Truths In America ... Beautiful Faces And Fine Programming Fail To Address Underrepresentation Of African-American Classical Performers

"The Academy — A Program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute serves post-graduate musicians embarking on their careers by helping to bridge the gap between their academic and professional lives. The two-year fellowship provides performance opportunities, advanced musical training, and intensive teaching instruction and experience. It is designed to develop the skills and values leading to careers that combine musical excellence with education and community outreach."

The beautiful, tremendously gifted, all European-American and Asian-American new classical faces are half-way down the web-page.

The excellent chamber music programming is also about half-way down the web-page.


The Indiana University String Academy Summer 2008

Another picture worth a thousand more words?

Missing in Action: Why are Violist Eliesha Nelson's African-American peers and students not represented among the participants of these elite New York City and Indiana University Academies?

Violist Eliesha Nelson has performed everywhere from North Pole, Alaska, to Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo credit: (c) Roger Mastroianni 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks. Via Eliesha Nelson's web-site.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News Updates From Afghanistan And Pakistan ...

An Ashokan Edict, in Aramaic, from Afghanistan; and Relief of musicians in Scythian costume from Taxila Museum [dedicated mainly to the remains of Gandhara civilization. Taxila, in Pakistan, was an early UNESCO World Heritage Site].

[Click on images for enlargements.]


"Why are the poor so stricken by despair?
Why do the rich feel ever more alone?
It embraces everything, night and dreams, Silence that arouses anxiety.
Night that envelops sadness and despair.
Dreams of hope for a transformation.
Let us take heed of Job.
Then maybe we'll prevail against
The slogans, the labels, illusions and indifference,
The cradles that surround us."

-- Zbigniew Preisner


Photo credits: (c) LGPN Lexicon. University of Oxford, UK. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bored By SUDOKU? For A More Challenging (And Spiritual) Anti-Aging Experience, Try Contemporary Classical Music!


Metrical pattern to a 3-part, 12-bar trombone 'chant' from Morton Feldman's Violin and Orchestra (1979) [ca. 60'].

"Morton Feldman's late style is well represented [by] two extended works, Violin and Orchestra (1979) and Coptic Light (1985). The first piece, like several other works Feldman composed for solo instrument and orchestra, superficially resembles a concerto, for its focus is on the violin throughout. However, there are no virtuosic passages or cadenzas for the soloist, and the orchestra's activity is fairly constant and independent, admitting little of what could be called repartee or accompaniment. Even so, the shifting layers, rhythmic pulses, and shimmering harmonics still seem to be derived from the soloist's part, albeit cryptically, and violinist Isabelle Faust seems merely at the forefront of the orchestra's evolving textures. Where Violin and Orchestra is spare and fragmentary, Coptic Light is monolithic and hypnotic, and functions as a static mass of sound built up through many small cycles, stretched over a long time period. Yet an impression of vast stillness is created, which concentrates the listener's attention on details in the moment, rather than on what came before or may happen later. This recording by the Symphonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Peter Rundel, is of a live performance from 2002, and the sound is clear and satisfactory, in spite of a few distracting coughs." -- Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide


Happy Holidays!

[Mr Feldman aspired to be Western music's greatest Jewish composer.]

Morton Feldman
Location: Persepolis, Iran
Date: August 1977
Box 1; Item 47

Photo credit: (c) Jan Williams 1977. All rights reserved. Via Music Library, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. With thanks.

In Which A Small Output Of Classical Music Is Shown To Be More Powerful Than The Blind Rage Of A Tatra Mountain Avalanche

Mieczysław Karłowicz (1876-1909) [a founder of the Young Poland movement]

Smutną jest dusza moja (“My Soul Is Heavy with
Sorrow”), Op. 1, No. 6 (1895-1896)

Śpi w blaskach nocy (“In Moonlight Lies the
Quiet Sea”), Op. 3, No. 5 (1896)

Pamiętam, ciche, jasne, złote dnie (“I Remember
Those Quiet, Bright, Golden Days”),
Op. 1, No. 5 (1895-96)

Mów do mnie jeszcze (“Keep Talking to Me”),
Op. 3, No. 1 (1896)

Najpiękniejsze piosnki (“That Girl Taught Me All
Those Beautiful Songs”), Op. 4 (1898)

Full Texts

Karlowicz is widely considered to be Poland's greatest classical composer between Chopin and Szymanowski.

Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien and Pianist Howard Watkins perform Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Karlowicz, and Ravel at Hertz Hall, University of California Berkeley on December 9 and the Austrian Embassy, Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2007.

Babie Lato [Grandmothers' or Indian Summer] by Jozef Chelmonski, 1875. Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.

Of Mathematics, Classical Music, And An Abiding Respect For Living Classical Composers: Pianist Ivan Ilic To Perform At Phillips Collection On Sunday

"A rising star on the Parisian music scene, 28 year old American pianist Ivan Ilić is gaining international recognition for his “unique blend of a Gallic touch, a Slavic soul and a mathematician’s precision.”

A disciple of the legendary François-René Duchâble, Ivan is supported by the American Foundation in Paris, the University of Illinois, the Karić Foundation in Belgrade, and the Nadia Boulanger Foundation in Paris. He recently completed a one-year residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts.

Ivan started music studies at age 6 and gave his recital debut at 11. He went on to take degrees in music and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. After capturing all of Berkeley’s music awards, he left for Paris with a Hertz Travelling Fellowship from the University.

Shortly afterwards Ivan was admitted to the esteemed Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he took a Premier Prix (First Prize) in piano performance, followed by a Diplôme à l’Unanimité from the École Normale de Musique in Paris. At age 20 he launched a solo recital career that has taken him throughout Europe.

Ivan's playing is often broadcast on television and radio stations in America, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Serbia. The City of Paris sponsored his last recording.

Projects for 2007 include new works written for Ivan by Keeril Makan and Dmitri Tymoczko [as well as 'newer' commissioned works by John Metcall, John King, Renold Tharp, and Fernando Benadon]. Ivan will give his Carnegie Hall recital debut in June 2008."

From the artists official Website, where the pianist provides links to these contemporary classical composers:

John L King*

Fernando Benadon**

Keeril Makan***

Dmitri Tymoczko

Reynold Tharp

*Ivan premiered John's Piano Sonata on October 18th 2006 in Inverness, Scotland. The Inverness Courier wrote: "Its darkly resonant opening phrases and agitated, pulsating figures were developed and expanded in skillful fashion..." [review]

**Ivan premiered Fernando's Búgi Wúgi on April 13th 2007 in Wexford. He recorded the work in May in Washington DC and has performed it over a dozen times, including the John Field Room in Dublin. The Coleraine Chronicle recently called the piece "exceptionally cheerful." [review]

***Ivan premiered Afterglow in Swansea on September 20th 2007. John Morgan of the Western Mail wrote "Makan exploits the natural timbre of the piano and its harmonics to great effect, and at moments one had the impression of listening to a piano for the first time." [review 1] [review 2] [review 3]

Pianist of classical and contemporary classical music, Ivan Ilić.


Sunday Afternoon 4 PM Concerts at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Ivan Ilic performs works by Alessandro Rolla, J.C. Bach, Bartok, and Schnittke.

Photo credit: (c) Ivan Ilić's official Website. 2007. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 03, 2007

In Which Mr Cogito Wonders At The Deep Mysteries Underlying A 'Partial Count' Showing Vladimir Putin's 'United Russia' Winning More Than 99% Of Vote

... "In Russia's troubled region of Chechnya [Chechen Republic] [bordering the Republic of Georgia and the Autonomous Republic of Dagestan - on the Caspian Sea], run by pro-Kremlin President Ramzan Kadyrov, electoral officials have said a partial count showed United Russia won more than 99% of the votes on a 99% turnout." ...

BBC News "Monitors denounce Russia election" December 3, 2007

Grozny's Minutka Square in early 2000 where the presidential Palace is reported to have once stood.

Photo credit: (c) Eric Bouvet and Human Rights Violations in Chechnya. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Classical Music -- Miraculously -- Continues To Be Born; While Classical Singers And All Other Human Beings, Plants, And Animals Must Pass Away

"“Neruda Songs,” a song cycle written by composer Peter Lieberson that became a parting gift to his dying wife, has earned the 2008 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

The work, a group of songs based on five love poems by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, was chosen for the prize among 140 entries from around the world.

Lieberson began writing the song cycle in 2003 for his wife, the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who was ill with cancer. In 2005, she learned that she was [again] ill with cancer. She performed it with the organizations that jointly commissioned it, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony, before she died in 2006.

Each song represents a different stage of love, from first passion to the end of life, said Marc Satterwhite, a UofL music professor who directs the award program. “The piece has beauty and surface simplicity, but great emotional depth and intellectual rigor as well,” he said." ...

University of Louisville: Dare to Be Great December 2, 2007

The New York MET Opera's Les Troyens: Elena Zaremba as Anna and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson as Dido

Classical singer Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Classical composer Peter Lieberson have now both reached the absolute heights of their beloved artforms.

Photo credit: (c) Marty Sohl for the Metropolitan Opera. All rights reserved. With thanks.