Monday, May 30, 2016
Over the years, many composers, conductors, and others have shared their thoughts about how we might get more enjoyment from our listening to music. This included people such as Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Earlier today, I enjoyed a brief talk by yet another musician for whom I have great admiration. He is a pianist and a conductor, and also a man who has thought and written about other aspects of out world. The name of this musician is Daniel Barenboim. His talk with us is direct and simple. And for me it made a lot of sense. Explore what it feels like to take the time and listen attentively:
The conductor has written an affecting memoir of his life history with his fellow-Argentine pianist. I’ve known Martha Argerich since 1949. There was a house in Buenos Aires, owned by a former violinist and businessman, where chamber music was played every Friday. All the great musicians who came to Argentina – Adolph Busch, Igor Markevitch, Sergiu Celibidache – could be found there. That’s where I first met Martha. I was seven, she was eight. We played together underneath the piano…. There is hardly anyone I have known for so long. Read on here (auf Deutsch).
Not the cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason , who won this year’s competition, but one of the other finalists, horn player Ben Goldscheider. Read on: Ben Goldscheider was due to study at the Berlin Hochschule next year, but his plans have just changed quite dramatically… He has been approached by the Barenboim-Said Akademie (also in Berlin), a phenomenal new institution set up by Daniel Barenboim and the literary theorist and intellectual Edward Said. Their aim is to bring together the most gifted young musicians from the Middle East and Europe, and combine the study of music with the humanities. This part of the curriculum is designed to foster intellectual curiosity, critical reflection, and persuasive written and oral expression based on the study of philosophy, history and literature. Ben’s name was put forward by Radek Baborak, and he was chosen to be Baborak’s one student from applicants all over the world (Europe, Asia, North America, South and America and North Africa and the Middle East). He has been awarded a full tuition scholarship, weekly horn lessons with Baborak, piano lessons, conducting lessons, tutorship from Barenboim himself and playing opportunities with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Berlin State Opera. He will be one of the first 30 hand-picked students to start the Akademie which will formally open in October! Ben says, “I feel hugely privileged to be selected for this incredible academy. As an extension of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan project, I am unbelievably proud and excited to be in an institution that realises music goes beyond the four walls of a practice room. Along with the inevitable focus on solo performance, I will gain an extraordinarily wide ranging education, not only of music but also the history and philosophy of the periods studied. This rounded education is put into practice with projects that involve taking music to communities that have been shattered by the horrors of our modern world. There are no words to describe my excitement of approaching music from a new, wider perspective, to see how it can quite literally be people’s salvation in times of hardship and to learn and live with people that have a completely different outlook on life. I really think it is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and intrinsically rewarding.” (from June Emerson Wind Music Young Artists )
I encountered pianist Jonathan Biss via two musical occasions: First, I saw him as a participant in a Master Class with pianist Daniel Barenboim. And subsequently I attended a series of lectures by Mr. Biss on the compositional aspects of the 32 sonatas for piano by Ludwig van Beethoven. On my playlist today, Mr. Biss performs three of these sonatas: Numbers 4, 14, and 24. Jonathan Biss is a knowledgeable and well-trained musician, and he has a fine technique. He is also able to perform areas of the Beethoven sonatas that are sad, tragic, and require great expressiveness. have a look at the Spotify playlist, and enjoy these masterpieces that were composed during the 1800’s. The music says it all; no further words required..?
A reader has pointed out this YouTube trailer for the new recording of Donald Fraser's orchestration of Elgar's Piano Quintet which featured here yesterday. If we accept social media reaction as a meaningful measure of audience engagement, then this new expression of Elgar's chamber music masterpiece is engaging a lot of people. Proms founder Sir Henry Wood was a celebrated advocate of orchestrations; which raises the question as to why Ken Woods and the English Symphony and Chamber Orchestras were not invited to perform the orchestration at the 2016 Proms instead of one of the four Mahler symphonies. And if anyone accuses me of repeating myself about the predictable and uninspiring BBC Proms season, I will respond by saying that if yet another appearance by Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, by Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, and Rattle and the Berlin Phil is not repetition, what is? The credo of Sir William Glock, whose strong commitment to the new transformed the Proms, should be painted in bold letters on the wall of the Proms planners' office. Here is that credo as recounted by Robert Simpson*: Glock argued with some energy that the 'central' repertoire was by now continually available at other concerts (of which there were many more than there used to be) as well as on radio or records. This 'freed' the Proms to become a festival of wider reach..."Today classical music is making the grave error in its obsessive search for new audiences of trying only to extend demographic 'reach'. Reach is as important in repertoire, particularly if the core audience is to be retained. However the addiction to demographic reach is truncating repertoire reach, which in turn abrades the vital core audience. But there is a very good reason for this: classical music is locked into a vicious circle whereby the inflated financial demands of the repertoire-challenged celebrity circus can only be met by the income generated by huge audiences. How long before the Proms move to the O2 Arena for stadium Mahler? That quote comes from Robert Simpson's attack on repertoire myopia The Proms & Natural Justice. The quote is somewhat ironic as Simpson was a vociferous critic of Glock's Proms programming, particularly his exclusion of English neo-romantic composers such as Edmund Rubbra. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
We can only speculate as to why an FBI agent was perusing a post about the admirable but neglected English composer William Wordsworth. My theory is that the spook had visited the 2016 BBC Proms website and deterred by the bland fare on offer there - six Mahler programmes plus the mandatory appearances by Dudamel, Rattle and Barenboim - was investigating On An Overgrown Path for something more nourishing. Also on Facebook and Twitter. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).