Monday, November 24, 2008

In Memorium, Conductor And Humanist Richard Hickox

We must redouble our efforts ...

Symphonies for chorus and orchestra
Works are listed in chronological order. Works with an asterisk (*) indicate that text is used throughout the entire composition.

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, opus 125, by Ludwig van Beethoven (1824)
Roméo et Juliette, opus 17, by Hector Berlioz (1835)
Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, opus 52, Lobgesang, by Felix Mendelssohn (1840)
Faust Symphony, by Franz Liszt (1854)
Dante Symphony, by Franz Liszt (1856)
Kullervo, opus 7, by Jean Sibelius (1892)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection, by Gustav Mahler (1894)
Symphony No. 3 in D minor, by Gustav Mahler (1896)
Symphony No. 1 in E major, opus 26, by Alexander Scriabin (1900)
Symphony No. 3, by Joseph Guy Ropartz (1905)
Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major, by Gustav Mahler (1907) *
A Sea Symphony (Symphony No. 1), by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1909) *
The Bells, opus 35, by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1913) *
Symphony No. 4, by Charles Ives (1916)
Symphony No. 3, opus 27, Song of the Night, by Karol Szymanowski (1916)
A Symphony: New England Holidays, by Charles Ives (1919)
Symphony No. 3 in C major, opus 21, by George Enescu (1921)
First Choral Symphony, by Gustav Holst (1924)
Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Gothic, by Havergal Brian (1927)
Symphony No. 2 in B major, opus 14, To October, by Dmitri Shostakovich (1927)
Symphony No. 2, O Holy Lord, by Jan Maklakiewicz (1928)
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, opus 20, The First of May, by Dmitri Shostakovich (1929)
Morning Heroes, by Arthur Bliss (1930) *
Symphony of Psalms, by Igor Stravinsky (1930) *
Symphony No. 4, Das Siegeslied, by Havergal Brian (1933) *
Symphony No. 3, The Muses, by Cyril Scott (1937)
Symphony No. 4, Folksong Symphony, by Roy Harris (1940)
Symphony No. 4, The Revelation of Saint John, by Hilding Rosenberg (1940)
Symphony No. 6, by Erwin Schulhoff (1940)
Den judiska sången, by Moses Pergament (1944)
Symphony No. 6, In Memoriam, by Alexandre Tansman (1944)
Symphony No. 5, The Keeper of the Garden, by Hilding Rosenberg (1945)
Odysseus (Symphony No. 2), by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs (first performed 1946)
Symphony No. 3, Te Deum, by Darius Milhaud (1946)
Spring Symphony, by Benjamin Britten (1947) *
Symphony No. 5, by Dimitrie Cuclin (1947)
Symphony No. 4, The Cycle, by Peter Mennin (1948)
Symphony No. 10, by Dimitrie Cuclin (1949)
Symphony No. 12, by Dimitrie Cuclin (1951)
Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7), by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1952)
Symphony No. 9, opus 54, Sinfonia Visionaria, by Kurt Atterberg (1956) *
Deutsche Sinfonie, by Hanns Eisler (1957) *
Symphony No. 12, opus 188, Choral, by Alan Hovhaness (1960)
Symphony No. 13 in B-flat minor, opus 113, Babi Yar, by Dmitri Shostakovich (1962) *
Symphony No. 3, Kaddish, by Leonard Bernstein (1963)
Symphony No. 10, Abraham Lincoln, by Roy Harris (1965)
Vocal Symphony, by Ivana Loudová (1965)
Choral Symphony, by Jean Coulthard (1967)
Symphony No. 2, opus 31, Copernicus, by Henryk Górecki (1972) *
Symphony No. 9 (Sinfonia Sacra), opus 140, The Resurrection, by Edmund Rubbra (1972) *
Symphony No. 3, The Icy Mirror, by Malcolm Williamson (1972) *
Symphony No. 23, opus 273, Majnun, by Alan Hovhaness (1973)
Symphony No. 2, Sinfonia mistica, by Kenneth Leighton (1974)
Symphony No. 13, Bicentennial Symphony, by Roy Harris (1976)
Symphony No. 5, by Camargo Guarnieri (1977)
Symphony No. 7, A Sea Symphony, by Howard Hanson (1977) *
Sinfonia fidei, opus 95, by Alun Hoddinott (1977)
Symphony No. 2, Saint Florian, by Alfred Schnittke (1979)
Harmonium, by John Adams (1981) *
Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia da Requiem, by József Soproni (1983)
Symphony No. 6, Aphorisms, by Einar Englund (1984)
Symphony No. 4, by Alfred Schnittke (1984)
Symphony No. 58, Sinfonia Sacra, opus 389, by Alan Hovhaness (1985)
Symphony No. 2, by Erkki-Sven Tüür (1987)
The Dawn Is at Hand, by Malcolm Williamson (1987-89) *
Symphony No. 3, Journey without Distance, by Richard Danielpour (1989) *
Symphony No. 7, opus 116, The Keys of the Kingdom, by Jan Hanuš (1990)
Symphony No. 7, Seven Gates of Jerusalem, by Krzysztof Penderecki (1996)
Symphony No. 6, Choral, by Carl Vine (1996) *
Symphony No. 9, by Hans Werner Henze (1997) *
Symphony 1997: Heaven - Earth - Mankind, by Tan Dun (1997)
Symphony No. 5, Choral, by Philip Glass (1999) *
Symphony No. 4, The Gardens, by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1999)
Symphony No. 9, The Spirit of Time, by Robert Kyr (2000)
Symphony No. 7, Toltec, by Philip Glass (2005) *
Symphony No. 8, Songs of Transitoriness, by Krzysztof Penderecki (2005)

Source: Wikipedia Choral Symphony entry. With thanks.

Photo credit: (c) Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Music And Dance Before Babyn Yar: On Glinka's Modest But Energetic “Kamarinskaya” Dance Tune

..."This spills into the modest but energetic “Kamarinskaya” dance tune. Its thirteen repetitions would wear out their welcome quickly but for Glinka’s constantly enriching them with countermelodies, building up the orchestral texture at first as if he were spinning out a fugue and then providing a constantly changing background of varying colors for the vigorous dance. The whirlwind dies down and the wedding tune makes another brief appearance. But this side-step is short-lived, and as soon as we have caught our breath the repeated notes return (this time in the solo clarinet and again emphasized by ornaments), and the “Kamarinskaya” dance breaks out again, now for a further twenty-one variations. The first violins hold tenaciously to the tune, but beneath them Glinka provides an encyclopedia of possible orchestral combinations, sometimes as slender as horn-calls or trumpet-calls in octaves, sometimes employing imaginative voicings of the entire orchestra.

On the surface, Kamarinskaya may strike a listener as small potatoes. The two melodies don’t amount to much, and in any case Glinka didn’t even write them. And yet a closer look clarifies why Glinka’s composer-descendents exalted this piece as they did. Most of the ensuing Russian nineteenth-century symphonists tried their hands at constructing symphonic monuments on unassuming folk tunes while maintaining their sources’ essential spirit, a process for which Kamarinskaya serves as the prototype. The piece’s emphasis on orchestral color as an essential force of composition also became a foundation of Russian symphonic composition. But it was Glinka’s demonstration of how an unassuming folk tune might serve as scaffolding for a constantly changing symphonic background that made this short work an icon of Russian music, one that is echoed, in varying ways, in ensuing compositions by composers such as Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, and Stravinsky."

James M. Keller [for the Program Notes prepared for the San Francisco Symphony]

On Disc and in Print

On Disc: Vassily Sinaisky conducting the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (Chandos) | Konstantin Ivanov conducting the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra (Regis) | And just for fun, arrangements for the Red Star Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble, with balalaika (Teldec; also a DVD on Kultur Video) and for guitar duet, featuring—who can resist it?—The Czar’s Guitars (Profil)

In Print: Memoirs, by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, translated by Richard B. Mudge (University of Oklahoma Press) | Mikhail Glinka, by David Brown (Oxford University Press) | A History of Russian Music from Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar, by Francis Maes (University of California Press) | Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions, by Richard Taruskin (University of California Press).


Header: The monument to Mikhail Glinka at the Theater Square in Saint Petersburg.

Photo credit: Lite via Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Which Pan Cogito Notes That The NSO, Under Yakov Kreizberg, Will Be Performing Franz Schmidt's Symphony #4 ("Requiem For My Daughter") This Autumn

Reposted from July 30, 2008


... 'And laugh over the untroubled water' ...

Franz Schmidt

Symphony No. 4 in C Major

"Written in 1933, this is the best-known work of Franz Schmidt's entire oeuvre. The composer called it "A requiem for my daughter". It begins with a long 23-bar melody on an unaccompanied solo trumpet (which returns at the symphony's close, "transfigured" by all that has intervened). The Adagio is an immense ABA ternary structure. The first A is an expansive threnody on solo cello (Schmidt's own instrument) whose seamless lyricism predates Strauss's Metamorphosen by more than a decade (its theme is later adjusted to form the scherzo of the symphony); the B section is an equally expansive funeral march (deliberately referencing Beethoven's Eroica in its texture) whose dramatic climax is marked by an orchestral crescendo culminating in a gong and cymbal crash (again, a clear allusion to similar climaxes in the later symphonies of Bruckner, and followed by what Harold Truscott has brilliantly described as a "reverse climax", leading back to a repeat of the A section)."

The Book with Seven Seals

"Franz Schmidt's crowning achievement was the oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (1935-37), a setting of passages from the Book of Revelation. His choice of subject was prophetic: with hindsight the work appears to foretell, in the most powerful terms, the disasters that were shortly to be visited upon Europe in the Second World War. Here his invention rises to a sustained pitch of genius. A narrative upon the text of the oratorio was provided by the composer.

Schmidt's oratorio stands in the Austro-German tradition stretching back to the time of Bach and Handel. He was the first to write an oratorio fully on the subject of the Book of Revelation (as opposed to a Last Judgement in a Requiem like that of Verdi). Far from glorifying its subject, it is a mystical contemplation, a horrified warning, and a prayer for salvation. The premiere was held in Vienna on 15 June 1938, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Oswald Kabasta: the soloists were Rudolf Gerlach (John), Erika Rokyta, Enid Szantho, Anton Dermota, Josef von Manowarda and with Franz Schütz at the organ.

Schmidt's premiere was made much of by the Nazis (who had annexed Austria shortly before), and Schmidt was seen to give the Nazi salute. His conductor Kabasta was apparently an enthusiastic Nazi who, being prohibited from conducting in 1946 during de-nazification, committed suicide. These facts long placed Schmidt's posthumous reputation under a cloud. His lifelong friend and colleague Oskar Adler, who fled the Nazis in 1938, wrote afterwards that Schmidt was never a Nazi and never anti-semitic but was extremely naïve about politics. Hans Keller gave similar endorsement. Most of his principal musical friends were Jews, and they benefited from his generosity.

This work provided the only actual model for the fictional oratorio Apocalypsis cum Figuris described by Thomas Mann in his 1947 novel Doctor Faustus. Mann invests his fictional oratorio and its composer with the demonic conflicts in German society leading to the catastrophe of the Nazi ideology and the Second World War. That was indeed the context in which Schmidt's oratorio appeared, but his private character and artistic motivations (as distinct from the society in which they existed) are not to be construed, in reality or in sum, through the lens of Mann's literary formula, which was assembled from a very wide array of Germanic themes and personalities."

Texts and photo credits: Wikipedia and (c) David Ploch (Steinhof "Memorial to the History of Nazi-Medicine [Euthanasia] in Vienna" photo; and Franz Schmidt Memorial photo). Copyright controlled. With deep thanks.

[Click on all three images for enlargements.]


"The Viennese euthanasia clinic Am Spiegelgrund scrupulously listed all deaths from the clinic's foundation in July 1940 to the end of the war. Although the euthanasia killings were systematically disguised by means of incomplete entries, the Book of the Dead represents an invaluable source which made possible the reconstruction of the names of 789 Spiegelgrund victims, with the dates of their birth, committal to the clinic, and death.

The existence of the book was kept secret by the Psychiatric Hospital of the City of Vienna at Baumgartner Höhe (today's Otto Wagner Hospital, formerly Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Am Steinhof) until 1998. It has been in the Muncipial and provincial archives of Vienna since 2002.

The portraits of Spiegelgrund victims are based on photographs stemming from the case histories of the euthanasia clinic. Commissioned by the city of Vienna, they were produced by the artist Anne Schmees on the occasion of the burial ceremony in 2002. The surviving case histories and the original photographs are today preserved in the Muncipial and provincial archives of Vienna."


The composer's first wife was killed by the Austrian Nazis in 1942 after 23 years confinement in Steinhof.



Das Buch mit 7 Siegeln für Soli, gemischten Chor, Orgel und Orchester
October 21, 2008, Salzburg/Austria/European Union
Junge Philharmonie Salzburg/Elisbeth Fuchs

[Elisabeth Fuchs conducts Junge Philharmonie Salzburg in Schmidt's oratorio on YouTube.]

Symphony #4
November 20-22, 2008, Washington, D.C./United States
National Symphony Orchestra/Yakov Kreizberg

Das Buch mit 7 Siegeln für Soli, gemischten Chor, Orgel und Orchester
April 4, 2009, Dresden/Germany/European Union
Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden

Ticket Price Matters: With Andrea Bocelli And Plácido Domingo In Kennedy Center Opera House Saturday, NSO Stands To Lose Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars

Thursday 3 PM Update


National Symphony Orchestra: Yakov Kreizberg, conductor/Lars Vogt, piano, plays Mozart November 22, 2008 at 8:00 PM

Select → Seat Section ... Price Availability

Box $80.00 23% avail
Stage Box $80.00 78% avail
Orch Premium $78.00 23% avail
Orch Prime $59.00 60% avail
First Tier Center $59.00 54% avail
Parterre Box $59.00 42% avail
Orch A-C $50.00 35% avail
Orch GG-LL $45.00 51% avail
First Tier Side Row A $45.00 45% avail
Second Tier Center $45.00 79% avail
Choristers $25.00 41% avail

First Tier Side Row B $25.00 Sold Out
Second Tier Sides $20.00 Sold Out


One thousand unsold $56 tickets (average price) costs the Kennedy Center $56,000.

Why is the National Symphony excluding Saturday night's performance from the promotion mentioned in the preceeding post?

Isn't the Kennedy Center charged by Congress with maximizing earned income through ticket sales?

Do the Kennedy Center's and National Symphony's financial patrons know that many weeks during the season, up to $100,000 is lost by the National Symphony Orchestra due to unsold seats?

Photo credit: (c) Copyright controlled via Kennedy Center Web-site. All rights reserved.


The two performances of Gioachino Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle by the Washington National Opera are nominally sold out, but tickets -- up to $500 each -- are almost certainly available upon petition to the WNO's box office.

National Symphony Orchestra Lowers Orchestral Level Ticket Prices In Attempt To Reach Audiences And Avoid Waste Of Scarce National Cultural Resources

National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C.

Nov 20 - 22, 2008

DVORÁK - Carnival Overture, Op. 92

MOZART - Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466

SCHMIDT - Symphony No. 4 in C major


The National Symphony, starting this morning, is offering the huge inventory of remaining, unsold orchestra level seats to the above - generally excellent - program for $20.08 (for Thursday and Friday only); and this appears to have led to increased sales of the normally $78 premium orchestra seats. At noon Thursday, 44% of the premium tickets to Friday’s 8 PM concert remained unsold, but only 11% of the premium tickets to Thursday's 7 PM concert remained unsold. [The required promotion code is 35282.]

Despite the outstanding guest conductor and pianist, Yakov Kreizberg and Lars Vogt (left and right, above, respectively), I wonder whether many more seats might sell at the discounted prices if the concert had opened with, say, CRUMB’s A Haunted Landscape, DUSAPIN’s Apex, ADÈS’s - Overture, Waltz, and Finale from Powder Her Face, KELLOGG’s - New Commissioned Work to be announced, THOMAS’s - Helios Choros I, or ANDERSON’s - Imagin'd Corners – all very exciting contemporary classical works slated by the NSO for later in the winter and spring (as the U.S. and world economy hopefully begins to come out of its deep recession).

Photo credits: (c) Copyright controlled via the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Website. All rights reserved.


Program Notes by Peter Laki to the above NSO concert.

"Holodomor: Through The Eyes of Ukrainian Artists" Exhibition At The Ukrainian House, In Kyiv, Through November 30

Victor Cymbal [1901-1968] "Year 1933" 1953 (New York) 330 by 112 centimeters. Lithographic print.

[Click on images for enlargements.]

The "Holodomor: Through The Eyes of Ukrainian Artists" exhibition at the Ukrainian House in Kyiv consists of over 250 original artworks by outstanding Ukrainian artists which show in a very moving, compelling and visual way all aspects of this tragedy against the Ukrainian people. The exhibition consists of artworks assembled over the past 12 years in Ukraine and is the largest exhibition of artworks ever held about the Holodomor. The exhibition will close on Sunday, Nov 30th.

There are several other Holodomor historical, informational and dramatic exhibitions now at the Ukrainian House including those from the Ukrainian Institute of Memory, the Ukraine 3000 Foundation, the SBU, the Archival Department and the Ministry of Culture. All of the exhibitions together comprise the largest exhibition ever held to commemorate the millions of victims of the Holodomor and to remember the political system and government leaders that caused millions to die.

For further information contact the International Holodomor Committee of the Ukrainian World Congress. The Ukrainian World Congress is an umbrella organization which has been representing and coordinating between Ukrainian Diaspora organizations since 1967.

On Saturday November 22 at 5 p.m., the Official Holodomor Commemorative Requiem Service, will take place at the Taras Shevchenko National Opera House, Kyiv, Ukraine. (By invitation only.)

Image credit: (c) Estate of Victor Cymbal. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via E.Morgan Williams, Founder and Trustee.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Memorium, American Abstract And Figurative Painter Grace Hartigan

'Grand Street Brides' [1954]
Oil on canvas 72" x 102.5"

"Ms. Hartigan’s move to Baltimore coincided with a drastic shift in artistic fashion, as Pop Art and Minimalism eclipsed Abstract Expressionism. Out of the spotlight, Ms. Hartigan embarked on what she later recalled as “an isolated creative life.” For decades she painted in a loft in a former department store and taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The college created a graduate school around her, the Hoffberger School of Painting, of which she became director in 1965. She taught at the school until retiring last year [at the age of 85].

William Grimes "Grace Hartigan, 86, Abstract Painter, Dies" New York Times November 18, 2008

Image credit: (c) Estate of Grace Hartigan via Copyright controlled.


“Her art was marked by a willingness to employ a variety of styles in a modernist idiom, to go back and forth from art-historical references to pop-culture references to autobiographical material,” said Robert Saltonstall Mattison, the author of “Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World” (1990).

Lincoln Center's Renovated Performing Arts Campus Slated To Gain Even Wider National Arts Media Profile

"A glass-walled public-television studio will open on Lincoln Center’s renovated campus in a creative collaboration between that performing arts center and, the organizations said on Tuesday.

The studio, at the base of the newly expanded building that houses Alice Tully Hall and the Juilliard School, at Broadway and 66th Street, will primarily be used to produce programming for two of’s media outlets, Channel 13 and WLIW/Channel 21.

The studio is part of a broader effort by Lincoln Center to make its campus more transparent and welcoming.... Building on a relationship that already includes “Live From Lincoln Center” and “Great Performances,” WNET and Lincoln Center will produce fare similar to Channel 13’s new weekly arts program, “SundayArts, ” at the studio. The host of that show is Paula Zahn, the former CNN anchor, and Philippe de Montebello, the departing director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art." ...

Robin Pogrebin "Lincoln Center and WNET Team Up" New York Times November 18, 2008

Image credit: Via Copyright controlled.

National Gallery Of Art, Washington, D.C. Celebrates, Through Recent Acquisitions, 100 Years Of Modern American Classical Drawing And Painting

William Merritt Chase, Study of Flesh Color and Gold, 1888/1889 (drawing)

James Rosenquist, White Bread, 1964

Alex Katz, Swamp Maple (4:30), 1968

[Click on images for enlargements.]

Recent Acquisitions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

(The Director of Classical WETA-FM, so-called 'classical music public radio', in the Nation's Capital, Sharon Rockefeller, is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Gallery of Art. Today is another American classical music-less day on 'classical music public radio', in Ms. Rockefeller's Nation's Capital.)

Image credits: (c) The National Gallery of Art. 2008. Copyright controlled.


Sunday Concerts at the National Gallery of Art celebrates Native American and other American choral composers, this coming Sunday at 6:30 PM. Free.

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Dangerous New Music': Philadelphia Treated To Two Major New Elliott Carter Classical Scores Yet Unprogrammed In Nation's Capital

"In an era that thinks music's job is to entertain, the most subversive composer alive might be Elliott Carter, whose 100th birthday is Dec. 11. As if to drive the point home, Orchestra 2001 and artistic director James Freeman stacked Saturday afternoon's program with two recent Carter works, which also apparently served to drive the audience away.

Whatever happened to the idea of curiosity as a core music-lover quality? The concert drew a pitifully small number of listeners to the Independence Seaport Museum - perhaps a few dozen, making it feel more like a rehearsal than a concert - to hear the important Philadelphia premieres of the Asko Concerto from 2000 and Dialogues from 2003. What is it about Carter that repels listeners? On first approach it has an arbitrary quality. And it's true that melody doesn't emerge in an easily recognized form.

Either you like the aesthetic or you don't - the minimally acerbic dissonances, his particularly recognizable choice of strange intervals, the alternating nocturnal and volcanic atmospheres. But despite knotty harmonic language, the logical structure always gives you a helping hand. Not to mention an eventful narrative.

Just consider the last five minutes of Asko: The music builds toward an arrival point, then dissolves into a decidedly spooky texture of harp tremolo and piccolo. The lower-register instruments work hard to thwart something else going on in the small ensemble. Small cabals resort to cheeky interjections. A bassoon solo grows so grotesque the piece has no choice but to end.

Pianist Emanuele Arciuli told the audience that the title of Dialogues was a paradox, since the piano and small orchestra spend the entire concerto basically not talking to each other. I'm not so sure. But this is a piece that jabs, stomps around, quietly gropes, asks some accusatory questions, and then slinks off to a defeated finish." ...

Peter Dobrin "Mixed memories for Orchestra 2001 audience" [Philadelphia Inquirer] November 17, 2008


Face Vessel

Made in South Carolina, United States

c. 1860-70

Attributed to the Thomas J. Davies Pottery, Edgefield district, South Carolina, c. 1862 - 1870

Glazed stoneware

7 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches (19 x 19.7 cm)

Gift of Edward Russell Jones, 1904

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Photo credit: (c) Philadelphia Museum of Art


Imagine an American Fine Arts Museum which did not deeply cherish American art ... Then imagine Sharon Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, so-called classical music 'public radio' in the Nation's Capital.

German Enlightment Joined By Dutch Enlightenment? ... Desperately Seeking American Enlightenment

Dutch Culture Minister halts Concertzender closure

DEN HAAG 17 NOV 17.35h - Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk has approached the Board of Directors of the Dutch Public Broadcasting System (NPO) to insist that classical internet station Concertzender remain onair. This promise was made by the Minister in response to questions posed to him by Parliament Member Boris van der Ham (party D66).

Concertzender heard last week that the NPO would terminate its financial support as of January 1st. "I am ready to enter into discussion with the Board of Directors to figure out how the valuable contributions of Concertzender to the Dutch music culture can be given an appropriate spot in a new structure," says Plasterk.

Van der Ham had asked Plasterk for clarification regarding the situation in the middle of October. According to Van der Ham the Concertzender makes a positive community contribution, with "exceptional programming of serious music which is not available from other public radio stations."

Via On An Overgrown Path, Norwich, United Kingdom


Sharon Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, so-called public radio in Washington, D.C.


The 'German Enlightenment 2008' Show at the Zach Feuer Gallery, New York

Judith Leyster [1609 - 1660] 'A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel'. National Gallery, London.

Signed, right: iudiyh [sic], followed by a star.

"It has recently been suggested that this painting serves as a warning against foolish and mischievous behaviour. The boy has used the small eel to entice the cat into his grasp and then withholds the bait, while the girl teases the cat further by pulling its tail. Judging by its extended claws the cat is about to scratch the boy. The picture thus seems to allude to the Dutch saying: 'He who plays with cats gets scratched', meaning he who looks for trouble will get it. It was common in Dutch 17th-century painting to use children in order to point out the foolish behaviour of adults."

Image credit: National Gallery of Art, London

Damn This Recession/Depression, Let's Use This Stressful, Dangerous, And Lost Time To Get Our Civilizational House In Order

"Households [around the 'developed' world] are retrenching after the greatest wealth loss in equities and housing in history."

Jeffrey D. Sachs "A Bridge for the Carmakers: The Future Is in Sight. They Just Need Help Getting There" Washington Post November 17, 2008

Unlike some new American Opera Houses, the new Singapore and Oslo Opera Houses look to their own 21st centuries for their artistic inspiration.

Photo credits: (c) [Snohetta] and (c) flo and With thanks.


Opera International -- its roots in Karachi, Pakistan. "Your Dreams, Our Inspiration"

Keeping An Eye On The Prize: More On Contemporary Classical Music, Literature, And Art; 'Radio Strategy'; And Civilizational Growth and Decline

"On Thursday November 13, 2008 at 5:30pm, the chairman of the Concertzender Nederland organisation came to report to the employees and volunteers that the Dutch Public Broadcasting System (NPO) plans to pull the plug on the Concertzender. In the very near future, all funding will be cut. In a studio in the MCO building in Hilversum, Bierman informed the employees and volunteers present that the NPO no longer considers the Concertzender suitable for the public broadcasting roster. The Concertzender is primarily interested in content – music – and not in the size of the audience. Despite over 135,000 Internet listeners per month - and we're not counting the listeners via the cable, Digitenne or RadioOnDemand – the NPO's board of directors doesn't consider the Concertzender to be a good fit with their radio strategy, which primarily targets market share.We are hereby informing our 6,000 donateurs, 125 volunteers, and thousands of interested parties and collaborators in the music sector of their decision. The music sector will be very interested to hear about this. For it will have an impact there as well. The Concertzender records around 250 concerts every year and support and promotes musical innovation. We have received masses of letters of support from all over the world (see for examples).The future? It's uncertain. The Concertzender hopes to continue to fulfill its role as a music broadcaster by and for the music sector. Without NPO financing, if necessary, although we feel that the Concertzender is exactly the kind of broadcaster that the public broadcasting system was designed to include. We would therefore welcome a continued role within the NPO, but one that acknowledges the identity and value of the Concertzender as a whole."

Via On An Overgrown Path, Norwich, United Kingdom
Photo credit: (c) Anton Henning, Berlin and Manker, Germany; and 2008. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. With thanks.
Anton Henning "German Enlightenment", Zach Feuer Gallery, New York.
[Pan Cogito owns a huge conceptual photograph by Henning inspired by a manuscript page to Schubert's Trout Quintet found in his grandmother's home in Wannsee, Berlin.]
My post of last Friday morning -- on opera -- was hacked ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Choruses Matter ... A Public-Sector Prelude To The January Inauguration And A Changed Classical Musical Culture In The Nation's Capital?

The Congressional Chorus Rediscovers Choral Treasures
from the Archives of the Library of Congress

Saturday, November 15, 2008, 8 p.m.
The Alden Theater
1234 Ingleside Avenue
McLean, Va.

Sunday, November 16, 2008, 4 p.m.
The Church of the Epiphany
1317 G Street NW
Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Chorus ranges all over the musical map, from spirituals to operettas, with simple and complex, funny and emotional and folksy and sophisticated selections from a collection of America’s best classic choral music. This special collection was newly assembled by the Library of Congress and the American Choral Directors Association. We are among the first groups to take advantage of this exciting resource.

In an era before recorded music and radios became ubiquitous, these songs were eagerly embraced and performed by the burgeoning community choral movement all over America. Encouraged and supported by popular singing societies and clubs, several talented and prolific American composers, working between 1870 and 1923, helped create a new and distinctive kind of American music.

We draw from the most illustrious of those composers, including John Knowles Paine, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwick, Horatio Parker, John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert. The program will highlight the works of the leading female composers of the day, Amy Beach, Margaret Ruthven Lang and Mabel Daniels, as well as the leading African American composers R. Nathaniel Dett, Harry Burleigh and Will Marion Cook.

Discount price tickets available through the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Works Progress Administration: United States of America Children's Choral Group, 1935.

After the American Renaissance of 1870 to 1923?

Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum via Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.


Detroit's City Beautiful and the Problem of Commerce, by Daniel M. Bluestone © 1988 Society of Architectural Historians.


Edward H. Bennett and Frank Miles Day's plan for Detroit's Center of Arts and Letters in 1913 culminated the local City Beautiful movement. Cass Gilbert's Detroit Public Library and Paul Cret's Detroit Institute of Arts were built on axis, on either side of Woodward Avenue, in the middle of the center. In scrutinizing the center's origin and form, this essay outlines a broader interpretation of the City Beautiful movement, one that goes beyond explanations that focus primarily upon the formal model presented by the design of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. In late 19th-century American cities, commercial forms increasingly disrupted a traditional hierarchy in which civic, cultural, and religious buildings had dominated the cityscape and the skyline. Looking at the earlier architecture and the urban context of the institutions housed in the Center of Arts and Letters, this essay argues that the City Beautiful represented a powerful and conservative attempt to restore the dominance of civic buildings and landscapes in the face of commercial monumentality. The City Beautiful in Detroit set out to redress the "most unworthy contrast" presented to the civic landscape by commercial forms and interests.

Opera Matters .. While Kaiser and Wilker Set To Rescue New York City Opera And Washington National Opera Set To Revive Porgy, Many Eyes On Peter Gelb

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nation's Capital Celebrates Classical String Quartets from Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert to Bela Bartok, Helmut Lachenmann, and Matthew Hindson

[Back from a mid-week, mini-retreat in the clear and cool -- and then foggy and wet -- Virginia mountains which were standing in for Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain).]


November 13, 2008
8 pm
The Kuss Quartet performs Haydn's 'Lark' String Quartet, Lachenmann's String Quartet #3, and Schubert's late 'Rosamunde' String Quartet
Library of Congress
(Free, first come first served)


November 14, 2008
8 pm
Takács Quartet and Muzsikás
with Márta Sebestyén. Bartok S.Q. #4, Violin Duos, and folk-songs.
Library of Congress
(Free, first come first served. Limited availability)


November 16, 2008
6:30 pm
Euclid String Quartet
Quartets by Beethoven, Matthew Hindson, and Grieg
National Gallery of Art
(Free, first come first served)


... "Matthew Hindson writes of Industrial Night Music: “The piece was commissioned by Sandra Yates and Michael Skinner in memory of Michael’s father. One of the aspects of Michael’s father’s life was that he worked as an army engineer. This created a sense of resonance to me as I grew up in the Illawarra, a region of Australia dominated by the steelworks at Port Kembla, briefly working there and also in the blast furnace at the steelworks at Whyalla. The outer sections of Industrial Night Music are built around musical expressions of mechanical and industrial processes viewed at close quarters. These include pollution, grime, dirt, ugliness, heat, a (male) worker surrounded by a surfeit of continually grinding interlocking gears, ‘mecchanico machismo.’ The middle section is quite different: slow-moving, it portrays the still beauty of a large industrial workplace at night, viewed from afar, lit up by thousands of lights like a giant Christmas tree. It is only after one goes within the structures themselves that the true nature of the processes involved are revealed.”

Industrial Night Music received its United States premiere in July 2008. The New York Times said “[it] opened like a roller coaster with two gears: very fast and crazy fast. You could just about catch your breath during a twinkling interlude; then it was full speed ahead to the end.”

Program Notes to National Gallery of Art concert the Euclid String Quartet on November 16, 2008 at 6:30 PM.

Aboriginal Rock Art, Ubirr Art Site, Kakadu National Park, Australia

Photo credit: (c) Thomas Schoch via Wikipedia Commons. 2005. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Uneven Creative Reception: New American Classical Music Coming To American Indian Museum, But Not Washington National Opera And Classical WETA-FM

Nilchi Shada’ji Nalaghali (winds that turn on the side from the sun -- in Navajo)


Emanuele Arciuli

Classical and Contemporary Piano Compositions

Tues., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.

National Museum of the American Indian

Italian pianist Emanuele Arciuli is the leading proponent for music for piano by Native American composers. This concert features works by Louis Ballard (Quapaw/Cherokee), Brent Michael Davids (Mohican), Barbara Croall (Odawa), and George Quincy (Choctaw), and the world premiere of Nilchi Shada’ji Nalaghali (winds that turn on the side from the sun), composed for Arciuli by Raven Chacon (Navajo).

Arciuli has earned a reputation as a champion of both Classicism and 20th-century Music, particularly the Second Viennese School and American contemporary classical music.


The Coast Orchestra

November 9 at 6:30PM

East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Silent film, In the Land of the Head Hunters, with live music
Presented in conjunction with the National Museum of the American Indian; in honor of George de Forest Brush: The Indian Paintings

Concert Notes



"Our nation’s creativity has filled the world’s libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression."

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Library of Congress American Memory Project:

Words and Deeds in American History

Letter with colored sketch, James W. Duke to an unidentified cousin, written from a Union prison camp, 31 August 1864. (Charles Buford Papers)

Image credit: Library of Congress American Memory Project.


In Memorium Miriam Makeba

At the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Honors Awards Gala this coming December, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, but not Miriam Makeba?

Photo credit: Associated Press.

Pan Cogito Contemplates A Great Washington National Opera Company That Does Not Have Its Own Wagnerian "Ring" Cycle

Change and the American Arts and Humanities?


"A "Ring" is also a statement of a company's artistic stature. In 2007, [Francesca] Zambello told The Post that "it's a great benchmark." She added, "This demonstrates that Washington National Opera is an international company on the level of many of the great companies of the world, and you wouldn't be if you didn't have your own 'Ring' cycle.""

Anne Midgette and David Montgomery "Economy Puts Pinch On WNO's 'Ring' Cycle: Postponement Saves Opera Company Up to $6 Million" Washington Post November 10, 2008


Given quickly rising American unemployment, bankruptcy, and homelessness, and the commencement of America's Second New Deal next year, how many U.S. citizens are gravely bothered that the so-called Washington National Opera will follow up this spring's local staging of Wagner's "Siegfried" with two concert performances of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" and staged performances of Ambroise Thomas's "Hamlet", Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" and a revival of "Porgy and Bess" in 2009/2010?


Stephen DeStaebler "Two Women Walking", bronze, 75 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 31", 1992.

Photo credit: (c) Stephen DeStaebler and Andy Brumer. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pan Cogito Calls For Re-Nationalization Of Washington National Opera

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Exiting Gracefully?

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press via Washington Post. Copyright controlled.


Censorship in Silver Spring, Maryland?

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Chang W. Lee and the New York Times. Copyright controlled.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Voting Matters: A Vote For Obama Could Be A Vote For Reduced Poverty And A Renewed Contemporary American Classical Arts, Music, And Operatic Culture

Moving beyond "for old times' sake"

Image credit: (c) Bromley via the Financial Times. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Did The Lure Of Renee Fleming Keep The Washington Post And Ionarts From Reviewing Arnold, Greenberg, Festa And Lowenthal At Library of Congress?

Tony Arnold, Jacob Greenberg, Paul Festa, and Jerome Lowenthal gave powerful and wonderful performances of contemporary classical songs and violin and piano works by Olivier Messiaen, Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Kurtag, John Harbison, and Thomas Ades Saturday night at the Library of Congress before a half-full audience (about the same as for the National Symphony's all-Wagner performance, under Ivan Fischer, at the Kennedy Center that same evening; but unlike the sold-out gala performance of Renee Fleming debuting with the Washington National Opera in the homoerotic pot-boiler by Hugo, Romani, and Donizetti, Lucrezia Borgia -- which was conducted by Placigo Domingo.)

The highlight of the evening was the immediately ovationed performance by Ms. Arnold and Mr. Greenberg of Olivier Messiaen's almost hour long song-cycle, Harawi, of 1945, which was inspired by Tristan und Isolde, surrealism, and Quechuan poetry.

I didn't see reviewers from the Washington Post or Ionarts at the Library of Congress on Saturday evening, but perhaps they sent persons I didn't recognize.


Work and a slight cold keep me from enjoying the fine program of 17th century European classical vocal and instrumental music at the National Gallery of Art last night. I am sad and diminished.

Here is the program and the program notes.

Images by Paul Cezanne copyrighted (c) by the The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania and National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Image of Lucrezia Borgia by Bartolommeo Veneto in Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany via Wikipedia. With thanks.