Tuesday, September 29, 2009




“”At the beginning of the 1970s Zbiegniew Herbert arrived in Los Angeles, where he lectured at one of the colleges (this is when “Pan Cogito” was written), in the years 1975-80 he lived in West Berlin, from which he returned to Warsaw for his mother’s funeral. He returned back to Poland for the “Solidarity” movement, and was involved in the opposition forces….”


Strange Days: Zbigniew Herbert in Los Angeles

... "On their last day in America, Zbigniew and Katrina drove to Yosemite National Park in a rented car." ...


Zbigniew Herbert Angels of Civilization (poem, uncollected)


The Labyrinth on the Sea: Essays

Bela Bartok Virtual Exhibitions

The Bartok Virtual Exhibition

"The principal scene of my research has been Eastern Europe. As a Hungarian I naturally began my work with Hungarian folk music, but soon extended it to neighbouring territories—Slovakian, Ukrainian, Rumanian. Occasionally I have even made jumps into more remote countries (in North Africa, Asia Minor) to gain a broader outlook. …

From the very beginning I have been amazed by the extraordinary wealth of melody types existing in the territory under investigation in Eastern Europe. As I pursued my research, this amazement increased. In view of the comparatively small size of the countries—numbering forty to fifty million people—the variety in folk music is really marvellous! …

What can be the reason for this wealth? How has it come to pass? … Comparison of the folk music of these peoples made it clear that there was a continuous give and take of melodies … This give and take is not so simple as many of us might believe. When a folk melody passes the language frontier of a people, sooner or later it will be subjected to certain changes determined by environment, and especially by the differences of language. …

It is obvious that if there remains any hope for the survival of folk music … an artificial erection of Chinese walls to separate peoples from each other bodes no good for its development. A complete separation from foreign influences means stagnation: well assimilated foreign impulses offer possibilities of enrichment.

There are significant parallels in the life of languages and the development of the higher arts. English is impure in comparison with other Teutonic languages; about forty per cent of its vocabulary is of non-anglo-Saxon origin. Nevertheless it has developed incomparable strength of expression and individuality of spirit." …

Source: Bartók, “Race Purity in Music” (1942), Béla Bartók Essays, ed. Benjamin Suchoff (London, 1976), 29–31


“The 1908 Violin Concerto is still within the symphonic tradition, but the many small piano pieces of this period show a new, authentically Hungarian Bartók emerging, with the 4ths of Magyar folksong, the rhythms of peasant dance and the scales he had discovered among Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak peoples. The arrival of this new voice is documented in his String Quartet no.1 (1908), introduced at a Budapest concert of his music in 1910.

There followed orchestral pieces and a one-act opera, Bluebeard's Castle, dedicated to his young wife. Influenced by Mussorgsky and Debussy but most directly by Hungarian peasant music (and Strauss, still, in its orchestral pictures), the work, a grim fable of human isolation, failed to win the competition in which it was entered. For two years (1912-14) Bartok practically gave up composition and devoted himself to the collection, arrangement and study of folk music, until World War I put an end to his expeditions. He returned to creative activity with the String Quartet no.2 (1917) and the fairytale ballet The Wooden Prince, whose production in Budapest in 1917 restored him to public favour.” …

Source: The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music edited by Stanley Sadie
© Macmillan Press Ltd., London.

Photo credits: (c) Peter Bartok and the Bartók Archives of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Institute for Musicology, 2004-2005. Copyright controlled.


Bartók and World Timelines
A year by year alignment of Béla Bartók's life with events in the wider world
by Malcolm Gillies

Monday, September 28, 2009

Daydream: Ivan Fischer Refuses To Perform National Anthem With National Symphony Orchestra At Gala; Congress Cancels National Symphony Funding

Three Transcultural New Music Notices: Why? Because A Great Nation Deserves Great New Music And A Vibrant, Transcultural Musical Life

Those local readers who were fascinated by the New York Philharmonic opening its 2009-2010 season, under Alan Gilbert, with the world premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s new orchestral overture “Expo” (televised nation-wide) should check out the following three new music events:

On Thursday night, the Post-Classical Ensemble, under conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez at Washington’s beautiful new downtown Jane and Sidney Harman Hall (home recently to Helen Mirren and the National Theatre), explores aspects of late Schubert songs (with baritone William Sharp) and contemporary jazz and avant-garde inflected new music (with bass trombone David Taylor), and then both Schubert and new music together at the same time. With the Post-Classical Ensemble Taylor will perform on bass trombone a medley of harrowing late Schubert songs, plus a pair of jazzy and rambunctious Daniel Schnyder scores: subZERO Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra(DC premiere) and RoTor (world premiere).

The trans-cultural Todd Reynolds Quartet - Music From China Ensemble performs an acoustic, processed, and computer music concert of music of Neil Rolnick (who was in the same graduate composition seminars at Berkeley that I was in back in the 1970s) is now being promoted on Classical WETA-FM, so you might want to plop down $4 for an advance ticket and not count on getting a last minute free ticket.

Finally, here is a link to a fascinating nine-minute orchestral work for orchestra and computers by Edmund Champion, as recorded recently during a performance by the University of California, Berkeley, Orchestra, under David Milnes.


“The Post-Classical Ensemble may be the most thought-provoking music group in town . . . using its concerts as laboratories for musical thought experiments. Their performances can be demanding-- but they're invariably beautiful, and never dull.”

- Stephen Brookes, THE WASHINGTON POST

“In a brief introduction, Joseph Horowitz, the artistic director of the Post-Classical Ensemble, said that crossing boundaries is what this group is about and may be a key to the future of classical music. This program showed exactly what he meant.”


Header credit: Classical musicians today are not all of pure European ancestry. The Todd Reynolds Quartet - Music From China Ensemble (c) 2009. Copyright controlled.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pan Cogito And The National Symphony Orchestra Decide That It Is Time For Us To Understand 20th C. Classical Music As Thoroughly As 19th C. Music

Program notes are currently available for the following six works to be performed by the National Symphony Orchestra this autumn:

KODALY - Dances of Galánta

BARTÓK - The Wooden Prince

MARTINU - The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca

BARBER - Violin Concerto, Op. 14

PROKOFIEV - Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100

PROKOFIEV - Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26


Program notes are not currently available for the following four works to be performed by the National Symphony Orchestra this autumn:

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV - Suite from The Snow Maiden

MAAZEL - The Giving Tree for Orchestra, Cello Obligato and Narrator, Op. 15

MACMILLAN - Í (A Meditation on Iona)

HIGDON - Piano Concerto


Still going on: San Francisco Symphony Mahler Festival 2009

Coming soon to "Renaissance Research": Review of San Francisco Symphony "Keeping Score - Season Two (Berlioz, Ives, and Shostakovich)"


Header image:

Installation (Project)
Oleg Kudryashov
Drypoint and watercolor
41.5 x 28.5 x 8 inches
Collection of Jean-Paul and
Norsiah Pinard
Photo by Greg Staley for the Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C.

Kentridge and Kudryashov: Against the Grain
Oct 3 - Dec 30, 2009

Header credit: (c) Copyright controlled 2009. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Pop Quiz: Whoo ... Who Has Been Changing The Cover Art On The Old CDs In My Music Collection?

And who said that the age of the Composer was not over?

(Or, isn't it?)

Image credit: (c) Nmc 2008. Copyright controlled.


Extra credit: Who created this avant-garde classical music cover art and would you know him from Adam if you passed him on the street?

Great Nation Update: U.S. Central Bank Pulling Back On Program That Let U.S. Investment Banks Trade Bad Debt For Safe Treasury Debt

“I would like to know if by any chance you would be interested in getting paid to publish reviews of products and websites on your blog http://renaissanceresearch.blogspot.com/.

If you are interested please let us know the amount of money you want in order to publish a review.”




Header: Samson by the Ukrainian And European Baroque Sculptor Ioann Heorhii [Johanne Gyorgy] Pinzel (ca. 1707-1761). Lviv Pinzel Museum, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union.


Federal Reserve Board

National Endowment for the Arts

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Equinox Harvest Bouquet For Ukrainian And European Baroque Sculptor Ioann Heorhii [Johanne Gyorgy] Pinzel (ca. 1707-1761)

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Abraham and Isaac by Master Ukrainian baroque sculptor Ioann Heorhii [Johanne Gyorgy] Pinzel (ca. 1707-1761)

Pinzel Art Museum, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

© Rada Miejska Lwowa 2008.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Last night top MET gala tickets went for $1,250, a reminder that the opera house remains a playground for the wealthy despite efforts to reach out"

Michigan Central Depot, from Forgotten Detroit

Metropolitan Opera

Copyright 1999 - 2008, David Kohrman

Monday, September 21, 2009

National Symphony Orchestra To Open Fall Season (Non-Gala) With Three Performances Of Bela Bartok's Rare Hungarian Folktale, The Wooden Prince

... "The ballet represents a side of Bartók that is often overshadowed by his more angularly dissonant and more fiercely rhythmical scores. The idiom of The Wooden Prince is gentler and more Romantic, inspired by Bartók's lifelong love of nature. Of course, the influence of folk music is never far from the surface. The story itself bears the imprint of Hungarian folktales. Appropriately, the Prince's music uses the pentatonic scale Bartók had discovered in the oldest Hungarian folksongs; this style contrasts with the verbunkos tone characterizing the haughty Princess -- this 19th-century, semi-popular Hungarian repertoire carried negative associations for Bartók in the 1910s. True, the opening of the ballet was modelled after the Prelude to Wagner's Rheingold, and the orchestration is often reminiscent of Debussy. Still, Bartók's originality is evident at every turn, and the final apotheosis of nature is entirely expressive of his personal artistic philosophy." ...

Bela Bartok's The Wooden Prince © Peter Laki

The National Symphony Orchestra Principal Conductor Iván Fischer conducts Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony No. 6 and Bartók's The Wooden Prince on October 1, 2, and 3, 2009.


Woodwinds: 4 flutes (third doubling on piccolo 2, fourth on piccolo 1), 4 oboes (third on English horn 2, fourth on English horn 1), 4 clarinets (third doubling on sopranino clarinet, fourth on bass clarinet), 4 bassoons (third and fourth doubling on contrabassoons),Alto saxophone in E flat, tenor saxophone in B flat (doubling on baritone saxophone in E flat)

Brass: 4 horns, 6 trumpets (4 trumpets and 2 cornets, all in B flat), 3 trombones, tuba

Percussion (timpanist and 5 players): timpani, bass drum, cymbals, snare drum, field drum, triangle, tam-tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, castanets
2 harps, celesta for 4 hands

Strings: 16 first and 16 second violins, 12 violas, 10 cellos, 8 double basses


Bartók used a scenario by the poet Béla Balázs, who was a roommate of Zoltán Kodály.

Photo credit: Oravsky Castle, Slovakia, Present-Day European Union, where F.W. Murnau filmed "Nosferatu", was built in 1267 CE. www.worldbuildings.net (c) 2006 2007 2008 On Topic Media PTY LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leon Kirchner, In Memorium ... (Because A Great Nation Deserves Great Art, And Kirchner Provided Us Some Near Great Music)

Leon Kirchner
Photo by Lisa Kirchner Courtesy G. Schirmer/AMP


Suggested listening: Kirchner Music for Cello and Orchestra with Yo Yo Ma, David Zinman, and the Philadelphia Orchestra; and the recorded excerpts from the opera, Lily, based upon Saul Bellow's novel, Henderson the Rain God.


Leon Kirchner's opera "Lily" of 1977 and Andrew Imbrie's opera "Angle of Repose" were two highly ambitious American operas in the severe 12-tone style of the mid-1970s. I recall the critical response to the Imbrie opera being rather more positive than the response to the Kirchner opera.

In revisiting his study "The Language of Modern Music", first published in the 1960s with a burning focus on Arnold Schoenberg (and his school) and Igor Stravinsky, musicologist Donald Mitchell, in 1992, wrote that he now thought that, looking forward, Benjamin Britten would inform 21st century musical language (especially opera) as much as Schoenberg and late Stravinsky.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Quiz: Which Upcoming 2009-10 Season Washington National Opera Production Did These Photos Inspire?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reality Bites The Rich And Famous

"Sir Elton John cannot adopt a 14-month-old boy because he is not married and too old, a Ukrainian minister has said.

The star, 62, said on Saturday that he hoped to adopt a boy, named Lev, whom he met while visiting an orphanage.

But government minister Yuriy Pavlenko told the Associated Press that the age difference between an adoptive parent and a child must be 45 years or less ..."

BBC News "Elton 'cannot adopt in Ukraine'" September 14, 2009

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press 2009. Copyright controlled.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This Week WETA, In Nation’s Capital, To Broadcast Onute Narbutaite’s S.Q. #2, Olivier Messiaen Song Cycle With Renée Fleming, And Magnus Lindberg WP

Front Row Washington
Delayed Broadcast from the National Gallery of Art
Vilnius String Quartet
Mon., September 14, 2009
9:00 PM
(Onute Narbutaite’s String Quartet no. 2 -- Atverk uzmarsties vartus [Open the Gates of Forgetfulness], and Quartets by Beethoven and Brahms)
Program Notes

Live from Lincoln Center
Wed., September 16, 2009
8:00 pm
New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert
(Messiaen's Poèmes pour Mi, featuring soprano Renée Fleming; overture written by composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg; Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique)

Header credit:

Living classical composer Onute Narbutaite.

Photo credit: (c) Aanonsas [Lithuania, European Union]. All rights reserved. With thanks.



N. and I tremendously enjoyed, last night, the Vilnius String Quartet performance of Onute Narbutaite’s beautiful String Quartet no. 2 at the National Gallery of Art (free):

"The imagery of Onute Narbutaite’s String Quartet no. 2: Atverk uzmarsties vartus (Open the Gates of Forgetfulness) is both tragic and lyric. The quartetis a single movement marked by a minimal use of resources. The transparentpolyphonic texture renders each detail clearly. Individual sections of thequartet are separate domains of sound that reflect one another and intertwineonly at transitional moments. The course of development of the quartet isbased upon the juxtaposition of passive and active elements. Serene melancholyis dominant in the first section — the sound is muffled while newrhythmic pulsations of repeated seconds and thirds seem to strike new poeticassociations. The unreal, dreamy, and subconscious moods of the first sectionare overcome by the active element of the second, as diverse rhythmic patterns are achieved by the movement of sixteenth notes. Gradually rising to a higher register, the music moves to a climax that, in fact, brings no resolution. It is rather a kind of question mark, which is followed not by an answer but by a micro-reprise of the first section, a reminder only of the initial melancholy."
(c) Rūta Gaidamavičiūtė

Some Of Our Art Has Temporary Nice New Surroundings, Even If We Don't


October 3 - December 30, 2009

Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: (c) Oleg Kudryashov 2009. All rights reserved. Photo by Greg Staley for the Kreeger Museum 2009. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Extra! Extra! Once Bizarre Kennedy Center Honors Awards Joins United States Of America In Declaring Independence From Great Britain!!

"Start spinning "Born in the U.S.A." The Kennedy Center unfolded its 2009 roster of five Kennedy Center honorees this morning, led by two quintessential leaders of the bands, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Brubeck.

Also to be honored this year, the center announced, are actor Robert De Niro, writer-director Mel Brooks and opera singer Grace Bumbry.

All are American-born innovative artists" ...

Jacqueline Trescott "Kennedy Center Reveals 2009 Honorees" Washington Post September 9, 2009


"Throughout the years, the Kennedy Center Honors has upheld a tradition of recognizing the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nations' [sic] most-prestigious artists [including, in the past five years, Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey of The Who, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Elton John].

The honorees are chosen by the Kennedy Center’s Board of Directors.


Header photo: British pop artists express disappointment that the Kennedy Center Honors Awards did not honor one of their own this year, as the bizarre Kennedy Center Honors Awards did in the past five seasons at the expense of American artists. Copyright controlled.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Beyond Bayreuth And Castleton Farms

Black Rock, Nevada, September 3-4, 2009

Photo credits: (c) Frederic Larson / The San Francisco Chronicle 2009. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Quiz: Whose American Opera "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" Is Coming To The S.F. Opera In June 2013?

[Click on image to better see Mary Magdalene's uncovered red hair and provocative foot.]

Image credit: Meister der Aachener Tafeln, also Meister des Marienlebens from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Köln, Germany, European Union. Via Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pan Cogito Dreams Of An Ideal Composing Lodge ... Also, Introducing The Chervone Marsh Bird Sanctuary, Ukraine, Future European Union

Another Hint To Quiz Below: This Great Work Of American Choral Music Was First Sketched On A San Francisco Streetcar

Photo credit: Courtesy of the San Francisco Market Street Railway preservation organization. Copyright controlled.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Pop Quiz: Which Composer Began A Choral Work On This Day Seventy Years Ago When The Nazis Invaded Poland?

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Hint: The composer was an American.

Header photo: The Thomas-Mann House in Nida, Lithuania, Present Day European Union. German writer Thomas Mann and his family spent three consecutive summers in Nida from 1930-1932. In 1995 the Thomas Mann Cultural Center was established in the house and it became a museum. (c) Igor Sarembo and the European Press Agency. Copyright controlled. Via the European Commission Enlargement Archive.