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The stock market plunged again on Friday, but the [Florida] orchestra had an answer to the deepening recession: the fun, unabashedly schmaltzy music of Vienna's chief waltz manufacturer [...].

Rats! Oh well, there’s always next year, Mr. President.


And now for a word from Citigroup, the Ford Motor Company, and the St. Petersburg Times:

Lost most of your savings in the market over the past year or two? No worries, let the irresistible melody of On the Beautiful Blue Danube sweep your cares away.

Ignoring responsibility is always the best remedy.

Table 1. Buy more stuff


Return: Wherein Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Is Achieved Through Reinforcement of Stereotypes

Mr Tommasini, reliable scribe at the ol' Times, went to see some underperformed 20th century stage operas. He was clearly impressed by the music and performances. But a few tidbits...tidbit me along the way.

Songs of a Pilot Crashing


Over the years the conductor Leon Botstein has received well-deserved credit for programming many overlooked 20th-century works in his concerts with the American Symphony Orchestra.

Agreed on all counts.

But he has paid a price, as was evident in the poor attendance for Mr. Botstein’s latest adventure in programming at Avery Fisher Hall on Friday night.

Well. Adventurous programming has always been risky, I reckon. Part of that price is people not...paying...a price. To see the concert, you see. What factors, one wonders, could go into not selling 2738 tickets to the residents of a city of over 8 million people?

The program, intimidatingly titled “Persecution and Hope: Masterworks of Conscience,”

I don't want to make myself sound like some kind of badass,

Fig. 1: A Badass

...okay, not even a contemporary concert going badass,

Fig. 2: A Different Kind of Badass

but generally speaking, I am not intimidated by program titles. Besides, "persecution" is clearly set against "hope" and "conscience". And "masterworks" makes me want to see the program more than, say "second-rate commercial schlock".

Well...fine. I'll fess up. I am not a badass, as this:

Fig. 3: Noooooooooo!

scares the shit out of me. Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

The program, intimidatingly titled “Persecution and Hope: Masterworks of Conscience,” offered concert performances of two one-act operas by the Italian modernist

Red flag! Modernist!

Luigi Dallapiccola: “Volo di Notte” (1939) and “Il Prigioniero” (1948).

Got it. 60 and 70 year-old short operas of the WWII era.

It is baffling that these arresting operas, each less than an hour long, with librettos by Dallapiccola, are so seldom heard in the United States.

Is that because no one comes to see them, or is attendence low because they are seldom performed?

The admirably curious concertgoers

Seeking out the new or obscure is...admirable. Curiosity--athestetic, intellectual, or otherwise--is not a common trait among patrons of the arts, generally speaking?

gave a long ovation to Mr. Botstein, who conducted generally strong performances; the orchestra, which played with lush sound and dramatic sweep; the fine solo singers; and the excellent Concert Chorale of New York.

Well, at least all four of them liked it (and it sounds like the performances were good). But seriously: Telling people they are not supposed (or able) to "get" something will, likely, not encourage them to go next time. Or to subsequent performances.

Dallapiccola, who died in 1975, has never been able to shed the label “12-tone composer,” which will always put off segments of the audience.

No one said anything about this until you brought it up, Mr T. His inability to shed that label is attributable, at least in part, to writers repeating that line about his inability to shed that label. See how that works?

An avowed anti-Fascist, he became the leading exponent of 12-tone techniques and serialism in Italy.

True, and true...but confusing. How does part one of that sentence lead to part 2? Is serialism inherently anti-Fascist? One could make that argument, of course, but it could as easily read:
"An avowed coffee lover, he became the leading Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas".

Meh. Moving on:

Yet following the example of Alban Berg, Dallapiccola combined serialism with elements of tonality to give his scores an elusive harmonic allure.

Elusive...or allusive?

And you cannot be an Italian composer, it would seem, without acquiring a feeling for Italianate lyricism, which Dallapiccola had in abundance.

Good thing he wasn't Swedish! It'd be all frosty this, fjord that. Or an effeminate Frenchman. No lyricism in France. Swarthy Spaniards, Bad-toothed Brits, even the Stoned Dutch are welcome to mold the 12-tone system to their National Stereotypes!

(Also: passive voice much, Paper of Record?)

Cutting to the end (the rest of the review available via the link above):

Given his avowed interest in 20th-century opera James Levine should bring this Dallapiccola double bill to the Metropolitan Opera. If that happens, Mr. Botstein will have pointed the way with this significant, if underattended, concert.

1) Why is everyone "avowed" all of a sudden?
2) Well-said, Mr Tommasini. Let's bring Luigi to the Met.

Finally, here is a picture of Dallapiccola that is fun to look at:

Fig 4: Lyrical Italian Modernist Smoker/Composer


Detritus Brothers Triumphant Return

My absence is due to laziness. Deal with it.

[Augustin] Hadelich and [Peter] Stumpf gave the most exciting performance of the evening in Kodaly’s 1914 Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7.

Well hello, Herman. Nice to see you.

This music studies the relationship between the...

Bwanh! For the sixty-millionth time, I strongly dislike the personification of music. A composer writes it. Okay? A performer plays it. Got it? And a listener listens to it. That’s it. Pieces. Don’t. Do. Anything.

Only Disney can make that kind of shit happen.

This music studies the relationship between the flowing lyricism and the rich, warm stridency of the strings.

Even if this were somehow possible, it would be an awfully generic thing to study: the relationship between characteristics and different characteristics.

Language just isn’t useful anymore.

There was no question artists were right on top of its passion and drama...

Again, what possesses the passion and drama? It? They? Him? Neuter? Kodaly? An inanimate series of symbols?

...deftly exchanging difficult pizzicato exchanges...

How fractal.

...and applying captivating phrasing to its many Hungarian folk tunes and rhythms.

There you have it.


Absence Excuse

Hello readers,

Sator Arepo has been and will be ill for a few weeks. Thanks to Big E. for keeping it fresh. I'll be back as soon as possible with lots to say.



Spare Some Change?

The Miami Herald gave up some space for recently-retired high school counselor Robin Sarantos, PhD, to make a plea for more music education in our schools. Sounds great. I’m all for it.

So let’s rip it up!


But first, let’s start with the ending, also known as the “thesis,” in some rhetorical circles.

Music Education is one business that must be on top of the investment podium.

Great! Now, sell it.

Music -- it lifts the soul.

By “soul,” I hope you mean, “It increases the levels of dopamine produced by the adrenal medula—first signaled by the pituitary—which rewards pleasurable activities.” Just saying.

It allows the mind and body to express their deepest yearnings.

...like acrylic bronzing on a bodybuilder.

Figure 1. Yearning expressed, rewarded

Even the youngest can feel this.

100% right! They do have brains...

...with basic skill sets and learning capabilities.

Contemporary, classical, rock music -- all types stimulate the mind.

Uh-oh. See, a perception is a reaction to some kind of stimulation, in this case aural stimulation, or air pressure. Thus, EVERY kind of music is a kind of stimulation. I just don’t think Robin is saying what she thinks she’s saying.

Music allows for imagination...

Stimulates the imagination.

...and helps children to focus.

Kind of. I would say, rather, “music is something on which to focus.”

Whatever. All I’m saying is that to convince your local superintendent to give your music program more money probably requires a little less romanticizing and a little more concrete evidence.

Music then is an important part of education.

And, like I said before: I agree. But...

Indeed, sharing music can become one of those delightful parent or grandparent experiences.


And it doesn't cost a thing.

You’re not helping your cause. Remember: You’re trying to get more money.

Remember: Kids love an audience.

And? That’s why we need more money for more music in our schools?

Frequently, a teacher will have classical music playing as a class enters. It relaxes.

That is, if you believe your local classical radio station. Instead, how about smaller class sizes? Better teachers? Fewer standardized tests? Anything but teaching your kids that classical music is boring!

It calms and can increase academic performance.

Arg! But you haven’t mentioned that it might be related to problem solving instead of sedation. Causality is important here.

And children learn ''concert etiquette'' by going to musical programs.


Learning appropriate manners at concerts transfers to other educational settings and environments as well as classroom behavior.

Weird association. So, “concert etiquette” teaches children to behave; and that’s why we should want more money for our school music programs?

Music doesn’t teach them how to successfully write grants, but at least there’ll be less need, thus cost, to have armed police officers on campus.

Music programs in schools invite the public to attend their concerts. There will be many spring concerts. Some are free. Other facilities charge a couple of dollars.

Totally irrelevant.

Concert bands, orchestras and jazz are so important in school.

I way hear you.

Financial times are hard. Budgets are stretched to the limit. But we must not allow schools to cancel their performing arts programs.

I still way hear you.

Cut back -- perhaps. Cancel, no.

I’m so with you.

Parents need to rally and insist that part of a well-rounded education includes being exposed to music.

Like, I’m totally, so way with you.

The fine arts programs pay dividends throughout the child's life and into adulthood. Youngsters are our future and we need to invest heavily in them.

Dude. Right on!

Music Education is one business that must be on top of the investment podium.

Why was that, again?


Craigslist: Gusman Hall Area, FL

For sale: A nicely performed Schubert. Only 201 years-old! Sorry, no longer under factory warranty.

Written in the last year of Schubert's short life -- the composer died at 31 -- the [Piano Sonata in B flat, D. 960] carries a firm sense of autobiography...

Autobiography actually lost in house fire, around 1885 (?). All other documentation lost as well. But take it from an experienced musician who has owned this magnificent piece for over 30 years!

May contain structural redundancy:

[Pianist Radu] Lupu's explosive minor-key outbursts showed that there is no victory to be found beneath the work's surface superficialities.

Otherwise in near mint condition. Has been played on a Steinway from the best years (mid-1920s).

A one of a kind piece, adorned with many colorful adjectives!

...its main theme's progress continually undermined by malign bass trills and harmonic displacement.


...the works' improvisatory qualities with their dynamic jolts and hectic humor.

Recently inspected by the Miami Herald. Selling for $12,500 (appraised at $15,000) OBO. You won’t be disappointed! Take it for a test drive, here, here, here, here, and here.

Scammers not welcome.


Composer of the Day!

Today’s Composer of the Day is Lukas Foss.


Like many European composers, Lukas Foss moved to the United States in the 1930s. He even changed his name—it was originally Lukas Fuchs. He studied with a number of music biggies, including: Louis Moyse (flute), Fritz Reiner and Serge Koussevitsky (conducting), and Paul Hindemith (composition).

Later, he replaced Arnold Schoenberg at UCLA. He was also found hanging around Boston University for some time.

His music is all over the place, stylistically, and it’s darn good.

I couldn’t find a good-sounding YouTube video of his music, but I did find a fun two-part lecture, where he talks about Igor Stravinsky:

Part I
Part II

Also, here’s a link to Art of the States, who is streaming Foss’ Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (1974).

On a sad note, Lukas Foss died yesterday, February 1st, 2009. You should’ve listened to his music. But now you should listen to his music.


Also, Detritus favorite Matthew Guerrieri of Soho the Dog studied with Lukas Foss.