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Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

FRIDAY MOZART BLOGGING.... Happy 250th Birthday, Mozart!

In celebration, we have douard Boubat's famous musical cat, Partition (1982), accompanied by the only slightly less famous Jasmine Sitting Over the Fireplace (2003).

Want to test your knowledge of Mozart? Put on your headphones and take the BBC's "Mozart or Not-Mozart?" audio quiz. It's my kind of quiz: so easy even I passed!

On a slightly more serious, um, note, Tyler Cowen dons his flak jacket and tells you which Mozart you need to know and which you don't. For what it's worth, I agree with him about the symphonies. He also recommends this Terry Teachout essay on Mozart's minor key masterpieces. My favorite Mozart is his Piano Concerto in D Minor K. 466 (Piano Concert #20 for the less refined, which includes me), so I recommend it too.

Better yet, go listen to some Mozart today. It might be too late for it to raise your IQ, but it can't hurt to try.

UPDATE: And I almost forgot: you might also want to go see Terrence Malick's The New World today. Not only is it a terrific film, but it features Mozart's Piano Concert #23 as a recurring theme. Lovely.

Kevin Drum 11:41 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (84)

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Comments

...too many notes.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 27, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like the cat's sitting over a Bach invention, though.

Posted by: Aaron Bergman on January 27, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron: I said it was a musical cat, not a Mozart-loving cat!

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 27, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

but what about the terrorists? Typical liberal, lost in la la land.

Hey, its Keith Olbermann's birthday too.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on January 27, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I said it was a musical cat, not a Mozart-loving cat!

My cats dig Benny Goodman.

Obviously, feline taste is relative. ;)

Posted by: tam1MI on January 27, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

To get it out early, Mozart did not compose Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, though he did write variations on that tune.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on January 27, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Mozart's merely the maestro of muzak...

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17948393%255E16947,00.html

Posted by: Yap on January 27, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Great thread and pictures - Listening to Mozart at the moment - Go to CBC Radio Two and click on live radio - Mozart today and all weekend - great site.

Also, at the moment, our new Burmese kitten is tearing up the place chasing a ball.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Mozart's merely the maestro of muzak..."


Yap seems like a good signature for a remark as rude as this one. The article is even worse.

Posted by: Ace Franze on January 27, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely agree with K. 563 (that's the most miraculous piece of chamber music Mozart ever wrote IMO, though the G-minor Quintet, the A-major Quartet, and the 12-winds-and-bass Gran Partita are all damn close), with the quintets, with the operas (though I don't exactly think someone's life will be incomplete without hearing Die Entfhrung).

I can't bring myself to think of the piano sonatas as "essential Mozart," especially from someone who thinks "most of the string quartets are boring." If you dip into the string quartets anyway, K. 464 and 499 are both underplayed and fantastic pieces.

If I had to name a chunk of Mozart seriously underperformed, it'd be the concert arias tons of late Mozart that you never hear. When I bought a set of these, maybe ten years ago, it was like discovering a couple new late Mozart operas for the first time. A lot of them, of course, are frickin' impossible to sing, having been written for Mozart's sister-in-law Aloysia Weber, she of the impossible range and flexibility.

Posted by: waterfowl on January 27, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

What a delight for a Friday -- cats and Mozart! I like the Piano Concerto 20 also. But, one piece that is guaranteed to make me smile is Mozart's Flute and Harp concerto (K number unknown at moment).

Posted by: Mazurka on January 27, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Keith Olbermann and Mozart" - Ah, the Age of Aquarius

Posted by: stupid git on January 27, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Erich Friedman of CBC Radio Two is presently playing a history of Mozart, a "working child" segment at the moment.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Starting last semester, my local state university's music dept has been holding student, faculty, and guest artist recitals celebrating Mo's 250th. I am looking forward to going to several more through May.

A couple of years ago the student chamber winds had a recital where they played Beethoven, Stravinsky and Zappa.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 27, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

XM Satellite's three classical channels are all Mozart this weekend, too. They're broadcasting two little-known operas, Idumeneo and Mitridate. I listened to both yesterday and loved 'em.

I agree about the flute and harp concerto. I had a recording of that and (I think, but I'm not sure) a clarinet piece that was wonderful. I always made good grades on tests when I used those.

Posted by: Karen on January 27, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

When angels play music for G-D, they play Bach.When they play for themselves,they play Mozart and G-D listens through the keyhole.

Posted by: R.L. on January 27, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

for live concerts in celebration:

one on NDR now from Hamburg:

http://www.ndrkultur.de/index/0,2514,SPM166,00.html

one on Bayern 4 at 2 PM EST from Augsburg

http://www.br-online.de/bayern4/frequenzen/

I can never get O1 to stream, but Salzburg must have one too.

Posted by: bucky20816 on January 27, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite Mozart pieces are the sacred concertos.

Posted by: Hostile on January 27, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for not providing the link to the Canadian Broadcasting site.

cbc.ca/audio.html

scroll down to CBC Radio Two

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Boo-ya! Perfect 10 on the BBC quiz! Eat it, Salieri!

Posted by: Matt on January 27, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I am a huge fan of Benny Goodman's recordings of the Clarinet Quartet and Quintet, which do not appear to be available (yet?) on CD. Makes me glad I still have the obsolete capital equipment.

Posted by: Donald A. Coffin on January 27, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Manuscripts recently discovered in Salzburg prove that Mozart wrote The Sound of Music at the age of 2.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on January 27, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK


Don't give up on the Haffner and Linz symphonies (Nos. 35 and 36, respectively).

Try the DVD of Carlos Kleiber leading the Vienna Philharmonic in the Linz symphony. Comes with an equally stunning Brahms Sym. 2. Iona
Brown and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields play a superb Haffner symphony (on the Hanssler label).

Rene Jacobs is better in Cosi fan tutte than in
Figaro. For the latter, get Bohm's on the DG Originals series (this was the recording used in The Shawshank Redemption).


Posted by: pk on January 27, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

For people who love Mozart's sacred music, I recommend (in addition to the Great mass in C Minor) the Litaniae Lauretanae K. 195, the Litaniae de Venerabili A;taris Sacramento K. 243, the Missa in C K. 257, the Coronation Mass K. 317 and Missa Brevis K. 275.

And the Clarinet Quintet (agree the Clarinet Concerto is overplayed) and Sinfonia Concertante K. 364.

I've never felt the same about Don Giovanni since I saw it during the Clarence Thomas hearings. I'll take Marriage of Figaro instead.

Posted by: Mimikatz on January 27, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wagner is the offical music of the U.S. right now!

Posted by: R.L. on January 27, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

My cats run and hide no matter what music I play.

My dog howls whenever I play the guitar or keyboards.


Everybody's a goddamn critic.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 27, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

R.L.,
Well, Wagner worked really well for Apocalypse Now.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 27, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Every day is a good day to listen to Mozart.

And to hang out with a cat.

Posted by: four legs good on January 27, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

10/10. I guess it's time to open my oft dreamed of Institute of Musicologistics!

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on January 27, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

what about O du eselhafter Martin (KV 560b)?

O du eselhafter Martin,
o du martinischer Esel
du bist so faul als wie ein Gaul,
der weder Kopf noch Haxen hat.
Mit dir ist gar nichts anzufangen,
Ich seh dich noch am Galgen hangen.
Du dummer Paul, halt du das Maul,
ich scheiss dir auf's Maul,
so hoff ich, wirst du erwachen.
O lieber Martin, ich bitte dir recht sehr,
O leck mich doch geschwind,
geschwind im Arsch.
O lieber freund, verzeihe mir,
den Arsch, den Arsch petschier ich dir,
Martin, Martin, verzeihe mir!


Translation here.

Posted by: Wolfie on January 27, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

That picture of Jasmine is just wonderful! Catblogging and Mozart recommendations, just can't top that.

Oh, to be in Salzburg ... or Vienna ...

Posted by: Mangy Polecat on January 27, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Try Piano Concerto No.5 K.175.
His first original piano concerto.
Murray Perahia does it the best.

Posted by: boander on January 27, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl should not be allowed to leave until she posts more information like what she posted above...

Excellent stuff.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 27, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Now that's some classic Friday Cat Blogging!

And to spoil the mood, Did you know the Bush Family killed 6 million Jews? Details at my page. I am not a deranged troll, it's an analogy, trust me.

Posted by: catalexis on January 27, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Every day is a good day to listen to Mozart.
And to hang out with a cat.
Posted by: four legs good"

I'll second the motion.

Posted by: Sandy-LA 90034 on January 27, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Mozart saved me from a life of atheism. Where can his music have come from? He might have been a god or perhaps the vessel of a god. Makes me an agnostic.

Our local NPR - San Luis Obispo - plays a lot of wonderful classical music. Recently, I tuned in in the middle of a concerto, I didn't know (I don't know most of them), and the depth and intensity of the music was gripping. Felt like one should laugh and cry at once. My God, I thought, sounds like Mozart but too deep and contorted almost- not light and playful enough. Some strange dissonance. Maybe a slightly more modern composer? You're way ahead of me. It was Wolfie all right. Communicating from another dimension.

And from what little I know, I agree that the minor key works are extraordinary. So far, I have to go with both string quintets as the very deepest and most sublime music I've ever heard. The extra viola adds so much over the quartet form--exponentially.
The C major is amazing, but I think the G Minor edges it out.

Posted by: geo on January 27, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

According to a conversation I had with a MacArthur Genius/Columbia University professor of music,
the Mozart Effect on IQ is a total myth, spread by music companies like Yamaha

Posted by: gurgler on January 27, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

My music major friends always said that it was easier to write lyrics for Mozart's than for anyone else's -- a useful mnemonic device for memorizing which piece was which. My favorites were for the 40th symphony: First movement: "It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a Mozart, / shoot it down, shoot it down, shoot it down." Fourth movement: "The Ladies' Home Companion / Is the only magazine I ever read."

The older I get, the more I appreciate melody in the music I listen to, and there's never been a better melodist than the 'gangster.

Posted by: McVouty on January 27, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

When I was at Peabody, a friend and I listened to all of the Mozart symphonies in succession in one sitting, following them with the scores, starting at 6am and finishing at midnight. He had a complete recording, and we checked the scores out of the library.

We both thought that there was a big jump in quality at #25. IIRC, the menuet had several "opposite" qualities, trio with winds only instead of strings only, modulation to IV instead of V, and so on.

The next theory assignment I turned in sounded alot like Mozart.

We tried the same thing later with things like the Beethoven string quartets and such, but it didn't have the same effect. And there's no way that we were going to try that with the Hayden symphonies.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on January 27, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

'Partition' is 25 years old??? Mighty old widdle puddy tat.

Posted by: JimBobRay on January 27, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I teach music theory at a small state-supported college in the Berkshires, and today I brought cupcakes into my classes. We also listened to the first movement of the 40th symphony.

For my money, Mozart can be summed up entirely in one piece - the Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618. A supremely simple yet infectious tune, impeccable harmonization, a small burst of imitative counterpoint ("Esto nobis..."), pitch-perfect text setting, and a touch of theology (after the cadence to IV6 toward the end, Mozart extends the phrase by repeating the text and making the listener/performer pass through one last bit of harmonic contortion before the final satisfaction in D major - a professor of mine once stated that this was Mozart giving us Christianity in a nutshell, since you gotta pass through to the other side before you get your reward; I tend to agree with his analysis).

And for you Masons out there, "O Isis und Osiris" from Die Zauberflote does pretty much the same thing for Freemasonry.

He was good, that Mozart.

WF

Posted by: Wes F. in North Adams on January 27, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why is a Bach 2-part invention appearing on screen?? This is it, Kevin.. the last straw!!

Posted by: marky on January 27, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Further investigation of the interpretation of Ave Verum reveals that it is shared by people connected with Lyndon LaRouche. I do not believe this lessens the interpretation, but it does maybe make LaRouche slightly less of a batpoop crazy nutcase.

Or maybe hey, stopped clock is right twice a day.

I'm pretty sure my prof isn't a LaRouchite.

WF

Posted by: Wes F. in North Adams on January 27, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

This item made me remember Tom Lehrer's old line on one of his albums of the early '60s.
"It's discouraging to realize that when Mozart was my age, he'd been dead for five years."

Posted by: JMG on January 27, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

my god.

somebody actually said in print that the mozart requiem is overated. indeed.

as for the symphonies,

i have come to the point where i have trouble listening to any large modern orechestra saw their way through any symphony - beethoven excepted.

as for underated

what about mozart's "vespers".

Posted by: orionATL on January 27, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Remember folks, you have until the 18th of August to plan MY festival - Oh sure, that old "I'll be on vacation" nonsense which comes up every year - Please, anyone out there, I really did not kill Wolfie.

Posted by: Antonio Salieri on January 27, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

JMG,

Tom Lehrer also wrote the second verse of "My Darling Clementine" as Mozart.

The first part of that is:

"Era legera e come un fairy,
E suo shoes numero nine,
Herring bo-ho-ho-hoxes sans-a to-ho-ho-hopses,
Sadalae per Clementina si, per Clematina si,
Per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina sandalae, per Clementina."

Lehrer wrote the first verse as Cole Porter, the second as Mozart, the third as "Beatnik Cool", and the 4th as Gilbert and Sullivan.

Posted by: stupid git on January 27, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Concerning the film "The New World", it probably is an excellent movie but I get an uneasy feeling from the synopsis on The New World website. There are two historical bloopers in these two short paragraphs.

1) Jamestown was not "the first encounter of Native American and European cultures". Does anyone remember 1492 and the intervening 115 years of Spanish/Indian encounters, not to mention the two earlier, failed, English attempts to colonize the Atlantic coast?

2) John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas, was not an Aristocrat. He was a Gentleman. Big difference.

Now back to Mozart!

Posted by: dave on January 27, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the horn concerti! Impossible to overrate.

Posted by: aggro on January 27, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Powerpuff:

Which Stravinsky, and (as importantly) which ZAPPA?

Have you head The Ensemble Modern do Zappa live in Europe? Check out The Yellow Shark.

As for the WolfMeister ... I dunno. He defines his era, but his era was horrible. All those court composers in all those little fiefdoms of Napoleonic Europe. Nobody in the Classical era touches him; you can hear all the innovations of modulation and form he's in the process of signalling ... And yeah, he's a killer melodist.

But I'll take Beethoven over Mozart, especially the symphonic works. Then it's a big gap past all the Late Romantics and right into the early 20th century Russians ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 27, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

orionATL

I dunno if it's so much overrated as merely overplayed. And that's not really Mozart's fault.

Kinda like blaming Christmas for ruining The Nutcracker Suite.

Heh, I used to despise Tchiakovsky for pretty much the same reasons. But then you really listen -- even to stuff we've been conditioned to hear as trite like Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies -- and the orchestration is freakin' *amazing.*

I'm sure someday I'll experience Mozart that way. Lords know, my amateur musician friends can't shut up about the guy.

You have to admit, though, the miniatures he wrote when he was 8 sound exactly like something a precoccious 8 year old would write :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 27, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

My cat, long dead, used to have a thing for John Cage. He would actually sit next to the speaker and listen attentively.

On the other hand, whenever he saw Buddy Hackett on the TV he would leap at the screen clawing and yowling.

Posted by: cld on January 27, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1

point well taken.

it's just that of all the mozart I've listened to, the big requiem just does not sound like mozart. to my ear, his spriit/soul/ghost/genuis just ain't in that piece of music. there's something light, bright, singing in mozart's music that i can't hear in the requiem. it's like somebody put it thru a modern recording studio audio editing and took out some of it's "tracks".

anyway, i don't know music beyond "twinkle, twinkle, little star" and i'm talking nursery rhyme, not baudy song.

and the older i get the more i love the nutcracker.

Posted by: orionAtl on January 27, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

OrionAtl:

Well yeah, he wrote the Requiuem famously at death's door ... isn't that the one he didn't finish beyond some preliminary sketchs and a student of his put it into a performable work -- or am I thinking of another piece? Pretty sure it's the Requiuem, though ...

Mozart was the blithest of blithe spirits, and lived an extremely decadent, dissipated life. When Real Life hit and he was sick and close to penniless (and in his, what -- mid-30s?), there's no doubt that would take a toll on the frolicksome I-can-do-anything spirit that imbues his earlier offerings ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 27, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Requieum = Requiem

Posted by: rmck1 on January 27, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, and also the piano works, as the foretpiano, while still not modern, progressed quite a deal from Mozart's day to Beethoven's.

Beethoven was the first guy to write truly idiomatic piano music.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 27, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, a thread in which no one wrote "snicker" or "I love it!" -- unless they said those things without fake irony, for once.

Posted by: Kenji on January 27, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kitty, Kitty, love the kitty.

Actually, love the picture. My cat likes to sit on the fireplace mantle too.

Posted by: JWC on January 27, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

My cat sits on the top-loading CD player and radio on my desk, and changes the station when I'm not looking. I detect a subtle smirk when that happens, but that's probably the default expression of most cats.

Posted by: Kenji on January 27, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Good occasion as any to spill some more ink praising this fellow.

Agree that the symphonies take a leap upward at #25. Haffner: Yes. The G-Minor is all that people say, but am I the only one who prefers the Jupiter?

I am glad to see so many plugs for K 563 on the 'Net today. One of the drawbacks of his catalogue of achievements is the number of astonishing things overlooked due to other astonishing works, and K 563 is the best example of the gem buried under too many other gems: dense with ideas, carefully crafted, and merely a string trio.

Other examples include the concerti K 450 (#15) and K 491 (C-minor, #24), the Gigue K. 574 and the concert aria K 505. Cosi Fan Tutte is the only element of the genre called "Electrifying Farce."

K 450 has a particular cadence in the first movement that confuses my understanding of the terms "slick" and "suave": is it good or bad to have these qualities?

If truth is the first casualty of war, then rationality is the first casualty of Mozart. G.B. Shaw admitted that Mozart had overwhelmed his critical faculties, biasing him in Mozart's favor.

The first movement of the Concerto K 503 is so good that I can't discuss it.

For some reason today I am reflecting on his personal strengths, which I never made much of before. To casually brush aside the usually crushing burden of being a child prodigy, exceeding even the expectations generated during such a childhood, and also shrug off chaotic finances to live the life he did -- anybody else willing to measure their first 35 years against his?

How about K 515 and 516? K 453? K 459?

I now suspect Mozart is such a massive figure that our civilization is still assessing his magnitude. So many historical figures since then are fixed beyond revisionism -- Napoleon, Picasso, Dickens. Mozart seems subject to a predictable, almost rhythmic recharacterization.

Can your self-esteem weather the humiliation of reading the Kochel catalog? Anybody willing to measure your first 35 years against his?

Posted by: Don Alfonso on January 27, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Good occasion as any to spill some more ink praising this fellow.

Agree that the symphonies take a leap upward at #25. Haffner: Yes. The G-Minor is all that people say, but am I the only one who prefers the Jupiter?

I am glad to see so many plugs for K 563 on the 'Net today. One of the drawbacks of his catalogue of achievements is the number of astonishing things overlooked due to other astonishing works, and K 563 is the best example of the gem buried under too many other gems: dense with ideas, carefully crafted, and merely a string trio.

Other examples include the concerti K 450 (#15) and K 491 (C-minor, #24), the Gigue K. 574 and the concert aria K 505. Cosi Fan Tutte is the only element of the genre called "Electrifying Farce."

K 450 has a particular cadence in the first movement that confuses my understanding of the terms "slick" and "suave": is it good or bad to have these qualities?

If truth is the first casualty of war, then rationality is the first casualty of Mozart. G.B. Shaw admitted that Mozart had overwhelmed his critical faculties, biasing him in Mozart's favor.

The first movement of the Concerto K 503 is so good that I can't discuss it.

For some reason today I am reflecting on his personal strengths, which I never made much of before. To casually brush aside the usually crushing burden of being a child prodigy, exceeding even the expectations generated during such a childhood, and also shrug off chaotic finances to live the life he did -- anybody else willing to measure their first 35 years against his?

How about K 515 and 516? K 453? K 459?

I now suspect Mozart is such a massive figure that our civilization is still assessing his magnitude. So many historical figures since then are fixed beyond revisionism -- Napoleon, Picasso, Dickens. Mozart seems subject to a predictable, almost rhythmic recharacterization.

Can your self-esteem weather the humiliation of reading the Kochel catalog? Anybody willing to measure your first 35 years against his?

Posted by: Don Alfonso on January 27, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK


Don Giovanni is perhaps the greatest opera anyone ever wrote, and Mozart was perhaps the greatest opera composer who ever composed. As for the Bach invention in the picture, I think it is much as Colette thought of his compositions: "Divinely inspired sewing machine music."

Posted by: horatio on January 27, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I like the fantasia and fugue and the adagio and fugue. One's in C minor and one's in F minor, but I forget which is which, and I don't feel like checking.

OK, I'll check...fantasia C, other one F. I like the F one.

Posted by: godoggo on January 27, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Nope, adagio C, apparently, fantasia also C, and there's a prelude too, in F. Well, I like one of them, Well, I like one of them, anyways, but I don't have it here.

Posted by: godoggo on January 27, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Am I just imagining things, or did Pale Rider really say something nice about me?

Don Alfonso,

K. 505 is incomparable. (For those who don't keep K.'s in their heads, that's "Ch'io mi scordi di te," the wonderful concert aria Mozart wrote for himself at the piano with soprano Nancy Storace.)

K. 515 and K. 516 are the first two mature string quintets. I love them both to death, especially 516 (mentioned as "the G-minor Quintet" upthread).

453 and 488 (=17 and 23) are the two Mozart piano concertos I couldn't do without. I wouldn't lose any, obviously, but those are the indispensible ones.

As for K. 563, well, I've played it, and I've written a lot about it, and there aren't many pieces like that; in fact, there aren't any at all. No one wrote that well for string trio. If you feel like it, track down Beethoven's six-movement Op. 3 String Trio, and listen to it right after the also six-movement K. 563, in the same key. Someone seriously had some learnin' to do.

Posted by: waterfowl on January 27, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl,

Yes, PR succumbed to your classical side - Even conversed with me that he wished you had posted more - I told him of your post about the Amherst summer music camps.

A truly great day of Mozart from CBC Radio Two - however, I must say that Brubeck's "Take Five", playing at the moment, caps it for me.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul,

I like Brubeck's "Take Five" very much. At the moment my husband is "taking" 5:6 and 7:8 and God knows what else, which is to say that he's rehearsing the Carter Piano Concerto, which has about fifteen "metric modulations" in it. I'm only hoping I get him back in one piece after the concert . . .

Posted by: waterfowl on January 27, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Down With Tyranny is normally a political blog dedicated to fighting against the tragic resurrgence of mindless fascism in the U.S. but today we're celebrating Mozart too!

Posted by: Down With Tyranny on January 28, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

It just occurred to me that Charlie Parker also died at 35. He means more to me, sorry.

Posted by: godoggo on January 28, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

thirdpaul,
Are you sure it was "Take Five"? "Blue Rondo a la Turk" would be much more fitting with a Mozart day. But I don't actually know because I switched my allegiance to French CBC (Radio-Canada) after they came back from that insufferable strike.

Posted by: Kenji on January 28, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

Mozart died at 37, Schubert at 31, Beethoven at 58. Health care then wasn't particularly capable. John Adams and Tom Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, aged respectively 91 and 83. It appears that it may have been healthier to be well-to-do in the United States then than to have been scrambling for a living in Vienna.

Posted by: bad Jim on January 28, 2006 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

Metric modulations? Be thankful he's not performing a transcription of Conlon Nancarrow's player piano music -- the stuff that he cut on a custom-built lathe away from the piano.

How about several tempi simultaneously -- and in non-integer ratios :) The Ensemble Modern actually performed chamber-group arrangements of that stuff. A buddy of Henry Cowell's, an American who lived in leftist obscurity in Mexico City.

I'm an odd time signature freak, but aside from Joe Morello (and the elegant, vibrato-free Paul Desmond) I've always found Brubeck to be a bit slap happy. Good that he at least attempted to put that stuff on the map, though -- if in an incredibly white-guy collegiate way.

I mean ... isn't it kind of, well, cornball out the wazoo, when Blue Rondo breaks into that mid-tempo blues?

Anyway, I had written a long online rant about how JS Bach was the greatest musical mind who ever walked the face of the earth and it got eaten by my dialup connection. So the Gods are watching over Amadeus on his birthday :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Anyway, I had written a long online rant about how JS Bach was the greatest musical mind who ever walked the face of the earth and it got eaten by my dialup connection. So the Gods are watching over Amadeus on his birthday"

Bach is overrated.

(watches the sky warily for divine wrath)

I'm a reasonably competent amateur pianist, so I'm most familiar with Mozart's piano sonatas. The early ones (up until the Alla Turca sonata, K. 311) are pedestrian, but the late ones are marvelous. My favorite is the Fantasia and Sonata in C minor (Fantasia, K 457, Sonata, K 475, if I recall correctly). The Fantasia is about as far removed from the pretty little melody over an Alberti bass as you can get--it starts out with a solemn octave passage in diminished 7ths, and the Sonata, which opens with an upward-leaping theme similar to the Little G Minor (#25) symphony, is turbulent and dramatic, with a lovely E-flat major Adagio.

And to support my earlier blasphemous contention of Bach, as far as Bach keyboard music goes, Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues leave the Well-Tempered Clavier in the dust.

Posted by: Norsecats on January 28, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Norsecats:

> Bach is overrated.

Oooh, dems is fightin' wurds.

> (watches the sky warily for divine wrath)

Well I dunno about *divine* wrath, but it isn't Mozart's birthday
anymore and I'm writing this response offline. I beg to differ ...

Bach is doubtless honored more in the breach than the observance,
but that's only a testament to the ubiquity of his impact. No
other composer combined so much workaday prolificness with so
many moments of inspired genius. No other composer had his unique
approach to counterpoint reverse-engineered many years after the
fact to serve as a model still taught in composition classes today.

And no other composer matches the architectonic purity of his ideas,
ideas which do not depend on the virtuosity or interpretive insight
of performers in order to come across. Take a mid-90s MIDI sequencing
program. Sequence Bach. Sequence Mozart. Sequence Beethoven. Which
realization sounds most like music? Bach, of course. You could play
Bach on a *kazoo* and his genius would still come gloriously across.

Or can you name another composer who expressed so many fully
integrated and deeply expressive ideas in a 4-minute sheet of
seamless 16th notes as Bach did in the Partita in E? Or expressed
so much bathos with a single line as the Chaconne in D minor?

> it starts out with a solemn octave passage in diminished 7ths,

This doesn't parse, at least not as an interval. Did you
mean three minor thirds in a chord (e. g. C, Eb, Gb, A),
or were you speaking of a linear figure -- maybe in dorian
mode with a diminished 5th? (locrian with a major 6th?)

Or did you mean a half-diminished chord (m3, dim5, m7)?

> And to support my earlier blasphemous contention of Bach,
> as far as Bach keyboard music goes, Shostakovich's Preludes
> and Fugues leave the Well-Tempered Clavier in the dust.

Well, you're free of course to prefer anything to anything else
you wish, and doubtless were he alive ol' Dimitri would feel most
flattered -- but this is truly an apples-and-oranges comparison.
The aesthetic universes are entirely different, and what strikes
our ears today as commonplace can't be blamed on Bach -- who simply
wasn't allowed the palette of dissonances Shostakovich takes for
granted. Don't get me wrong; I banged my way through Bartok's
Mikrokosmos books and am vastly stimulated that kind of harmonic
and rhythmic language; Bartok's debt to Bach, though, is profound.

In fact, you'd be hard pressed I think to find many composers who
wouldn't give a nod to the salutory effects of studying The 48.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

stimulated that = stimulated by that

Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kenji,

No, it was Take Five - they did play Rondo later - funny thing, when Erich Friedman had a contest for young musicians playing Mozart variations, one group did a "Rap" version.

However, the picture showing Bach was probably shot when Kevin was trying to get the lead role played by Harvey Keitel for "Fingers" - He also lost the lead in the excellent French remake "Beat that my heart skipped".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 28, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

all my life i disliked bach. his music seemed all the same.

i had a high school buddy who loved the bandenburg concerti. i never could hear what he heard in them that was fun to listen too. an aural jungle for me.

once i read that berlioz, whose music i have a strong liking for, also felt that bach was "overated". that settled it. i was right for sure.

then one day a few years ago i heard robert shaw conduct the bach b- mass (on radio).

my god! what an ecstaticly beautiful piece of religious music - religious in the best sense. i have listened to it dozens of times since. i will listen to it with joy for the rest of my life.

the next revelation of my self-satisfied ignorance was a drive in the car around my town when what do i hear on the radio but some guy named tan koopman(sp?) conducting some orchestra called the amsterdam baroque orchestra in one of the brandenburg concerti.

again, beautiful music and so clear to hear. my conclusion? never listen to bach played by a large orchestra.

for you musicians and music teachers, this is the long, tortuopus road hoi polloi must tread.

but it's a good excuse to put in a plea for another 60- 80 years. "it's this way lord... it takes me a lot longer than other folk to figure things out."

and thanks to the third paul for the cbc radio two info. a great station. got it marked.

Posted by: orionATL on January 28, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Re Nancarrow, yes, some people have been transcribing some of the player-piano works and doing them live. I haven't heard the Ensemble Modern 's versions (except on record), but I did hear (and review) the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo in a bunch of them last year. They played the heck out of them, 5:6:7:8 canons and everything. So did the Arditti Qt. in the Second Quartet many years back Nancarrow did occasionally write pieces for live musicians.

I believe the Bugallo-Williams Duo has made a whole disc of Nancarrow, but I haven't heard that, just the concert. Worth checking out. Of course, the originals are indispensable, because some of the pieces are just not gonna get arranged for human fingers. "Canon X" springs to mind . . .

That said, take a look at the score of the Carter Concerto sometime. That's quite enough rhythmic complexity to be getting on with. When you have to change your old quintuplet-sixteenth into your new triplet-eighth over a barline . . .

Oh, and then there's the old convention of dividing up dotted notes into smaller dotted notes if it's a duple division. That seemed really logical to me when I first saw it explained, but I was seven years old at the time, and hadn't been made actually to read such stuff. If there are any composers lurking here: Please don't do that. If you have a dotted eighth note you want divided in four equal parts, write four 32nds and put a [4] bracket over them, rather than four dotted 32nds. You've no conception how much extra parsing time is involved, and in a piece where this issue is likely to come up, we generally have no extra parsing time. Thank you.

Posted by: waterfowl on January 28, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul,

You want serious streaming classical radio, go to

http://www.nrk.no/alltidklassisk/

That's one fantastic station. OK, there's a certain understandable Norwegian emphasis, but still . . . comparing it to, say, our own local KDFC feels like smashing a gnat with a very large hammer.

Posted by: waterfowl on January 28, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

My introduction to a Mozart piano concerto (#21) was via the Danish film Elvira Madigan, a film that is almost forty years old. I thought Pia Degermark was the most actress I had ever seen on screen and this concerto the most beautiful soundtrack. It led me to seek out the rest of Mozart's compositions.

Posted by: Vadranor on January 28, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl,

Thank you for the link.

Ironically, I live in Portland which has one of the, if not the only, 24 hour non-commercial classical stations left. Even King Classic in Seattle, which is commerical, is available online. However, the reason I tend to listen to the Canadian network is that several of their programs provide history and discussion regarding the composers. So, it becomes more of a learning experience as well as being thoroughly enjoyable.

I will add your link.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 28, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

> Re Nancarrow, yes, some people have been transcribing some
> of the player-piano works and doing them live. I haven't
> heard the Ensemble Modern 's versions (except on record),
> but I did hear (and review) the Bugallo-Williams Piano
> Duo in a bunch of them last year. They played the heck
> out of them, 5:6:7:8 canons and everything. So did the
> Arditti Qt. in the Second Quartet many years back Nancarrow
> did occasionally write pieces for live musicians.

Flippin' *awesome* :) I adore the Ensemble Modern recording,
tough as it was to get into. Nancarrow's a huge inspiration
to my own composing (one of my pieces is called Nancarrow's
Metronome) as well as for my idol, Frank Zappa. Have your heard
The Yellow Shark, their recording of Zappa's music? State-of-the-
art digital "octaphonic" multitracking for the audience PA system.

I'm waiting for the day when the ever-sprighly G-SPOT TORNADO
becomes a college football marching band standard :)

Can you just imagine it? The bells! The demented
quartal melody! The slammin' low-brass mid-section!

It's like 2/4 Irish reel on crystal meth :)

> I believe the Bugallo-Williams Duo has made a whole disc of
> Nancarrow, but I haven't heard that, just the concert. Worth
> checking out. Of course, the originals are indispensable,
> because some of the pieces are just not gonna get arranged
> for human fingers. "Canon X" springs to mind . . .

Canon X, OMFG ... No no no, not unless you have five arms with
twelve fingers each, not to mention several discrete parts of
your brain that process tempo. Speaking of an excess of keyboard
parts, have heard The Amsterdam Piano Quartet's proprietary
(Stravinsky-approved) arrangement of Le Sacre? One piano is
given over entirely to the percussion parts. While this certainly
underlines Iggy's kaliedoscopic approach to parallel polytonality,
and it's great to play *really loudly* on New Years Eve (or whenever
the neighborhood's in the mood for sacrificing the odd virgin
or two) -- I still prefer the composer's two-piano reduction
to rehearse the ballet, even over the orchestral versions. The
structure becomes so clear. Michael Tilson Thomas's and Ralph
Grierson's recording on Angel was a touchstone of my adolescence.

> That said, take a look at the score of the Carter Concerto
> sometime. That's quite enough rhythmic complexity to be
> getting on with. When you have to change your old quintuplet-
> sixteenth into your new triplet-eighth over a barline . . .

Egads ... can you explain the Eliot Carter rhythmic concept? When you
were speaking of 5:7 and the like, to what exactly are you referring?

> Oh, and then there's the old convention of dividing up dotted
> notes into smaller dotted notes if it's a duple division.
> That seemed really logical to me when I first saw it explained,
> but I was seven years old at the time, and hadn't been made
> actually to read such stuff. If there are any composers
> lurking here: Please don't do that. If you have a dotted
> eighth note you want divided in four equal parts, write four
> 32nds and put a [4] bracket over them, rather than four dotted
> 32nds. You've no conception how much extra parsing time is
> involved, and in a piece where this issue is likely to
> come up, we generally have no extra parsing time. Thank you.

Heh, my score program is all messed up. It doesn't print out
regular dotted notes and there are several other visual glitches.
I'd probably write scores manually if I ever ran into a crew of
muscianns demented enough to even consider playing my stuff. For
odd groupings, I'd de-quantize the beat and divide the clicks on
paper, usually adding the remainder to the middle note of the
grouping. You'd best believe I'd use brackets, as this program
doesn't show triplet brackets, let alone for septuplets, etc.

Though I've written a lot of my music on instruments when I
used to play, there are several computer techniques I've grown
fond of to "xenochronically" (Zappa's term) superimpose different
rhythmic strata, like taking phrases of melodic counterpoint
composed in 4/4 and a different bass and carefully inserting
them over a techno vamp in 29/16 at a higher tempo as bursts
of solos, and then filing off the edges of the accomp to
get an entirely new and ever-changing harmonic scheme.

I'm strictly an autodidactic hobbyist amateur, but my dearly-
held fantasy is to someday play the concert master of the
Ensemble Modern a couple of my pieces and have him flip out --
oh my gods, we've got ourselves an American original here --
and beg me to give him the performance rights to cut a disc ...

Only the Ensemble Modern could hack my stuff. You're
just *not supposed* to stick eighth note triplets over
a galloping dotted eighth / sixteeth rhythmic figure ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 29, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul,

Another 24-hour non-commercial classical station is WHMT-FM, in Schenectady, NY. You can listen online at whmt.org.

Posted by: ChristianPinko on January 29, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and ---

Just as many as are necessary, tbrosz.

(I can't believe no one before me took that.)

Posted by: ChristianPinko on January 29, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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