Monday, January 3, 2011

Samuel Barber


  1. Thank you, Peter, for such a moving and glorious moment.

    Is there a reason today for this expression of melancholic hope and victorious defeat?

    The last time I heard this was about 9/15/01 in a concert by the London Philharmonic given to honor our dead and the broken hearts of the living.

  2. No special reason, Maggie. Some months ago it dawned on me that I could post music on my modest blog; that people would welcome a slight distraction now and then. At that time, I had no idea that so many people were actually tuning in.

    It developed into an unearthing of the music that had at one time or another touched a responsive chord within me. I realized that in music, the written word, food and film I hold no particular bias. I can enjoy them all as I happen to run across them. Barber‘s “Adagio for Strings” has been a long neglected personal favorite. I forget where I first heard it. I just remember being suitably impressed. It took a little digging to find it again.

    Oddly enough, I can’t listen to much of the old stuff anymore. Much of what’s obvious has turned stale for me. Within the odd cracks, however, there remain a few nuggets I don’t mind reviving. Glad to have brought you some rapture. (You might want to go over to my other website (SIDE STREETS) and check out the video I posted there in remembrance of Pete Postlethwaite. It’s a magnificent musical clip from a lovely little movie.)

  3. Thank you, Peter. Here is a bit of how music has worked in my life. I mentioned visiting my son in Russia, 10 days in all, incl. a few in St. Petersburg.

    Several months later--maybe even a year later, I sat down on a Sunday afternoon and put Tchaikovski's 5th or 6th Symphony (I can never keep them sorted out) on the CD player. Suddenly, I was transported in my mind, right back to St. Petersburg. I could see the old B/W films of the tsar and family in the horse-drawn carriage coming through the gates of the palace grounds. I could see all the decayed elegance of the city. I hadn't known previously how evocative of his time and place and culture Tschikovski was.

    Recently, I read on a blog about the "revolutionary" Russian composers, Rachmaninov among them. I hadn't thought of him and his times being later than Tchaikovski, right into revolutionary times. So, I played the Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto. My goodness! What a shock. Wrapped up in the familiar glorious, rich harmonies and melodies that I loved, suddenly, every note carried within it the chaos of societal upheaval, pain, destruction, anguish, loss, violence. It was bone chilling. I will never hear it again as I did before, just a very beautiful concerto that I loved so much.

    A person has got to be careful of music. It's a dangerous medium. It is said that German occupiers would not allow "Finlandia" to be played in public concert. Now I know exactly why.

    Thank you so much for the link. BTW, it was the BBC orchestra, not the London Philharmonic. YouTube has the video of that 9/11 memorial concert. So, so sad.

    I will check out the P.Postlethwaite link. The name is familiar, and I have an image in my mind, but I'm not sure it is correct.

  4. I remember that movie and those performances. I have to confess, though, that it was the conductor's image that was in my mind, but as soon as I saw the older man emerge from the back, I said, "No! that's him." Just then, my husband came in the room and saw the video and said, "I had forgotten all about that movie. I was a great film." Then seeing the name, he asked "which one is Pete P?" but as soon as he saw the real one, he said, "That's him!" He was a 12 years younger than we are, so that makes him a very young man to have died. (We were both born in '33.)

    Thank you again for another wonderful video clip/memory. The internet is really a very remarkable invention!

  5. Maggie - I’ve never had much interest in seeing Russia, even though many who have been there have raved about l’Hermitage and such. Even while in Europe, my heart always veered west. I don’t know why.

    In India too, the people generally lean westward, either Europe or America. There’s a Russian cultural center in Chennai that goes to great lengths to entice young Indians to study at Russian universities. They don’t have many takers. The ones who do go, generally come back early having hated it. Racism.

    Russian composers, though, are an entirely different kettle of fish. Some years ago I was on a serious Shostakovich kick. That’s why I wrote what I wrote this morning: freedom always finds a way to express itself.

    P.S. Russian films are pretty good as well. There's one in particular I can't seem to forget ('The Island'). It's about a fictional Russian saint who is everything but. Then there is "Burnt By The Sun", an utterly beautiful film. I'm sure you've seen it.

  6. Well, Peter, I have no interest in going back. I was yelled at too many times in public to want to experience that again. I saw cruelty to animals in the often-admired Russian circus; the only place I saw a genuine smile was on the faces of a few people and the priest in the Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria in St. Petersburg (one of the places I was screamed at was in the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ Our Savior in Moscow), and there was corruption right down to the poor lady collecting fares on the bus (another screaming incident). I think that most of this can be explained by 75 years of Soviet oppression where encouraging suspicion was the means of population control, so I don't really want to blame the victims here who are the people.
    A real ray of hope exists in, of all places, Magadan, Siberia, where the Diocese of Anchorage established a mission 20 years ago to minister to the "Repressed", the survivors of the slave labor camps, many of whom were Ukrainian Catholics. Miracles have taken place in that dreadful city, not the least of which is the rainbow that hung over the church on the day that the church was consecrated.. The amazing photograph can be seen on their website, Magadancatholic (org or com, I'm not sure). I don't know if it is still up, but the Meditations on the Stations of the Cross written as if by the captives is heartbreaking. Well worth reading, if you have the courage.
    I haven't seen many Russian films, and the one about Russia that I remember is Dersu Usala, but I don't know if it is Russian made. That was a great film.
    One thing I do know is that my granddaughter is not playing rock and roll in the music program at school. When her step sister came here, she was two years ahead of local school children, and when she returned to Moscow a couple years later, she was two years behind her classmates there. Life for the young is still serious business there, not just entertainment as it is here. (When my granddaughter was 5, she would say something to her father in Russian and then repeat it in English to be sure he understood it.)
    I've taken up too much of your blog time, but I have enjoyed it, so I hope you will forgive me. Thank you for your patience.