Yo-Yo Ma Plays The Complete Cello Suites. Yes…all of them in one video.

This is a reblog of a wonderful 2+ hour performance at the Royal Albert Hall of these transcendant pieces. There’s about 5-10 minutes of interviews, but then it’s just Yo Yo and his axe. Sublime.

Source: Yo-Yo Ma Plays The Complete Cello Suites. Yes…all of them in one video.

A to Z: L is for Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0 This is day 12 of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) throughout the month of April. For this challenge, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).Today’s composer is Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665 – 1729).



Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre came from a family of musicians who happened to live in the very heart of Paris on the Ile St. Louis, which is right behind the Ile de la Cite, on which Notre Dame Cathedral sits. A prodigy on the harpsichord (taught by her father) she captured the attention of Louis XIV when she played before him. She was accepted into the French court and studied under the King’s mistress. She’s notable for composing in the then new forms cantata and sonata which came from Italy. Also, she was the first French woman to write an opera. La Guerre wrote in almost every form and became very well known. Today’s piece is a cantata about the parting and crossing of the Red Sea from book one of her Cantates françoises sur des sujets tirez de l’Ecriture, French Cantatas on subjects taken from Scripture (Paris, 1708).

Cantate le passage de la mer Rouge

The composer’s Wikipedia page Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in E Major, Op. 8, Number 1 (Spring)

Happy Spring! Spring is my favorite season. Here, in DC where I live, it’s a bit slow in coming.  The cherry blossoms around the tidal basin and along the Potomac River haven’t yet opened.  So for the next few posts, I’ll be writing about pieces with a Spring theme.  I’m going to start with the eponymous concerto from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.


So what can you say about one of the most overplayed pieces of classical music of all times? Sure, it’s uplifting; sure it has a catchy tune; sure it captures wonder and joy of natures reinvention of itself in March. Oddly enough, I didn’t buy a copy of it until my mid 30s, and that was a used vinyl LP at a church sale. You don’t really need your own. Just wait until the 20th of March and tune to your local classical radio station and you will hear it. It’s kind of like that copy of “Dark Side of The Moon” in your basement. Eventually the geriatric “Classic Rock station will give it a spin.

Written in 1725, when Vivaldi was 47, it represents the work of a “man in full.” Vivaldi wrote the music for a group of four sonnets. These concertos are interesting because they expand the role of the solo instrument, in this case the violin. The first movement of Spring starts out with a joyous burst of energy, which has passed into the collective conscious now, probably through its over use in TV commercials. The second movement is a Largo, which I find curiously sad for a work about Spring. Maybe he’s trying to convey the changeability of the weather. Maybe at 47, Vivaldi is ruing his own lost youth. Maybe he trying to capture the mystery of the flowers pushing up through the earth and the green that gradually starts to erase the grey. The last movement sounds very mature as the season stabilizes and takes us into Summer.

To every thing, there is a season, and to Spring belongs the blush of youth on a young girl’s cheek, the happy gamboling of the newborn lamb in verdant meadow, and the quivering voices of pseudo-intellectual, adolescent boys writing love poems to the prom queen. In high school, I felt torn apart. Under the tutelage of the M**** family–which had three pretty daughters, by the way–I strove to turn myself into an intellectual. I disdained rock music; I read Dostoyevsky; I studied books on Picasso, Chagall, and Miro; I fell in love with and botched my dates with a number of girls. At the same time, I felt like I was on the rack, plagued by physical desire. For example, I did not bemoan the wasted life of one of the schools prettier girls, when a swim team mate got her pregnant. Instead, I envied him and rued not having been the father.

Now that I have two daughters of my own, I lament that our society has strayed so far from any logical (and responsible) way of raising its young. “Primitive” cultures don’t waste their youth this way. Children grow up at their parents’ side and not only do they apprentice the life skills and trades they need, they also learn how to be adults. “Adolescence” I suspect, rose out the isolation of children from their parents when universal education was adopted. In high schools, youth have more interactions with their peers than with adults. At most they have 50 minutes a day with any one adult, and for the rest of their time they are working out their pecking order and values from interactions with their peers. It seems like we as a culture have thrown our hands up and said Malthus was right, we give up. I’m not advocating a return to family values, but I do think it’s important for children to have longer, more healthy interactions with adults (uncles, aunts, civic leaders), during adolescence. If not, they will continue to spin their wheels unproductively (and sometimes fatally) when “adult-hood” is thrust upon them upon graduation.

Maybe there is a lesson in Vivaldi’s life. He was trained for the priesthood, but instead took a job as violin master at the Pio Ospedale della Pieta in Venice. This was a home for sick and orphaned children. Imagine what a role model he was. He organized a lot of concerts of his own music which brought in money for the work of the hospital. He was staggeringly prolific: wrote hundreds of concertos for the violin alone, 49 operas, and countless other works. Oddly though, after his death he faded into obscurity but was rediscovered in the early 1900s. I think I heard recently that the corpus of his work hasn’t been completely catalogued.

Here is the poem to Spring for which he wrote this piece:

Spring
Spring has arrived, and joyously the birds
now welcome her return with festive song,
and streamlets, by soft airs caressed, are heard
to murmur sweetly as they course along.
Casting their inky mantle over heaven,
thunderstorms, her chosen heralds, roar;
when they have died away to silence, then
the birds take up their charming songs once more.
And now, upon the flower-strewn grass subsiding,
with leafy branches rustling overhead,
the goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.
By festive sound of rustic bagpipes led,
nymphs and shepherds dance beneath the shining
canopy of spring with sprightly tread

Download MP3 or Buy CD of Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Marin Marais. Sonnerie De St. Genevieve Du Mont De Paris

I chose today’s piece to celebrate a neighborhood in Paris, called the Marais, where I spent a lot of time during a semester of my senior year abroad in Paris in 1977.   The piece was written by the 18th Century French composer, Marin Marais.  Le Marais is a section of Paris on the Right Bank that starting in the 13th century was the fashionable place to live for the upper crusties.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a large number of Ashkenazy Jews settled there and it became a kind of garment district.  My friend, a budding Canadian painter named David Maes, house sat there for a while.  In all honesty, I hadn’t heard this piece when I lived in Paris. It came to me via a friend, who’d heard it in a film called “Tous Les Matins Du Monde,” which was about the life of the composer.

I chose it for three reasons. First, because of the composer’s last name, which makes me wonder whether it was an alias he adopted because of living in that neighborhood. According to one guide book I have, the Marais was the cultural heart of Paris during the reign of Louis XVI. My second reason for choosing it has to do with the work’s name. The “sonnerie” is a rythmic and melodic peal of bells. Thus the composer was trying to imitate the sound of the bells from a particular church in Paris. That church was St. Genevieve Du Mont which lay behind Shakespeare and Company on an eponymous street that ran down from the Sorbonne to the Rue des Ecoles. One of the Vietnamese restaurants where David and I used to eat sat on that street. Finally, I chose the piece because it is, simply, quite beautiful. It is a kind of canon built on a four beat melody that has a kind of self-propelled dynamism that carries you along. The lead instrument is the viola da gamba, a smaller cousin (and precursor) of the cello on which Marais was a virtuoso.

Marin Marais Biography

Cleanliness and Godliness in the Marais

Like most Americans, I am obsessed by cleanliness and daily feel compelled to have a morning ablution in the shower before braving the world. A French friend of mine recently told me that like her compatriots, she did not share that same obsession and showered only once a week.  I wonder, therefore, if things have really changed that much since 1977 when I was living in Paris. Back then, out of necessity, people conserved water and electricity, and the bookstore where I stayed, Shakespeare and Company, only had a shower in a small cupboard under the stairs that also served as a Turkish (i.e., squatting) toilet. The alternative were dank and smelly public showers where for a fee you could go and worry for about a half hour about being robbed or picking up some horrible foot disease.

Thus, when I returned to Paris from my two-week hitchhiking trek to Barcelona the day before Easter, I made a beeline to the apartment where my friend, the painter, David Maes lived, in the Marais. David hailed from Montreal, and his father had given him a letter of introduction to two famous Canadian painters before he arrived. One of them painted trompe l’oeuil murals on the sides of buildings. The other was a successful portrait painter and had been commissioned to paint Pierre Trudeau’s portrait. While the painter was in Canada, he asked David to live in his flat. This was not just to take care of it, it was also to keep an eye on his lover, the other artist, who was dying of cancer and lived upstairs. The latter was a grumpy old man with a large beard and an even larger, overweight cat that lurked about the place. David had told me before I left for Barcelona that the flat had a nice bathroom with a real tub and I was welcome to use it when I returned.

What a flat it was! The Marais at the time one of the most historically intact neighborhoods in Paris. It dates from the middle ages when the Knights of the Templar drained a swamp (Marais=”Swamp” in French) and built an outpost for themselves on the present Square Du Temple starting in the 12th Century. It is a maze of winding narrow streets lined by half-timbered medieval buildings. When David lived there in 1977, it was a working-class neighborhood with a large Jewish population and significant number of Algerians and Vietnamese.

David’s friend’s apartment building, which dated from the 13th Century, sat on the corner of a tiny street called Rue Pecquay in the heart of the Marais.  I was back there a few years ago and made a little pilgrimage.
_IGP0058_2 _IGP0061_2 _IGP0063_2

It had a very organic-looking twisting stairwell that wound up to the two flats. David’s was on the first floor and the dying painter lived on the third. The two artists had completely furnished the apartments with antiques and architectural details that they had bought at the Marche aux Puces (the flea market.) David’s flat was one huge room with a 12 foot-high ceiling supported by massive chestnut beams about 3 feet wide. The walls were covered with a green fabric, the fireplace had an ornately carved mantle on which sat a life-sized terra cotta bust looking like something by the 18th century sculptor Houdon. A huge mirror with flaking silver reflected light from the one floor-to-ceiling window that was draped with dark red and gold velvet drapes. An old pianoforte separated the back wall of the apartment with its wall of cabinets and kitchen area from the main part of the room that served as parlor, bedroom and studio. David’s easel was perched by the window and looked over the narrow Rue des Blancs Manteaux.

David greeted me at the door, a bit surprised to see me and then laughing when he caught sight of the towel I carried under my arm. “So how was Barcelona and Inge?” he asked. “No wait,” he said. “First take your bath and then we’ll talk.” He led me to the bathroom which was on the second floor and shared by the two apartments. When I entered the room, I gawked. The two painters had painstakingly covered the wall with a dark, reddish-brown false marble pattern. They had found gold plated spigots for the sink and bath. They had built a recession into the ceiling and then painted a wonderful, mock-baroque trompe l’oeuil scene looking up into heaven, complete with angels and cherubim. This was pretty astounding but even more wonderful in my present condition was the tub. It was a full six-feet long and about three feet deep. It sat on wonderful lion-claw legs. David left and I filled the tub and climbed in. As I floated in the luxuriously deep and warm water, I gazed up at the ceiling and savored the spirituality of the moment. “This,” I thought, “is as good as it gets.”

Scrubbed and dried, I joined David in his studio and we cooked dinner and I told him about my trip to Barcelona. He commiserated with me on the Sphinx-like Inge. He confessed he had had a crush on her, too, and like me couldn’t understand how she wouldn’t go for sensitive “artistic” types like us. I believe I had brought a bottle of white Burgundy and we sat up talking about art and literature and politics, eventually getting drunk and laughing about Inge’s intensity. I told him how she had once gone into an existential fit of despair at the sight of a dead pigeon that had been run over by a car.

David and I clowning around in Paris and Montreal in 1977

David and me clowning around in Paris and Montreal in 1977

david1

From that point on, my friendship with David was cemented. He often dropped by Shakespeare and Company after a day of painting and we would go out and eat couscous in cheap Algerian or Vietnamese restaurants nearby. Sometimes he would invite a group of us “tumbleweeds” back to his flat for an artistic soiree. Yes, that was the life—to be young in Paris and feel that you were capable of being great.

As it turns out, David work was being exhibited in a small gallery the last time I was there (summer 2012) in the Marais.  I got there too late to go in, but peered at the pictures through the window.

David's work on the wall next to the bust in a gallery in the Marais, July 2012

David’s work on the wall next to the bust in a gallery in the Marais, July 2012

David in his studio

David in his studio

One of David's recent works.

One of David’s recent works.

Georg Friederich Handel: Israel in Egypt

In my last post, I wrote about Mark Z*, a guy down the hall in the French House at Indiana University where I lived in 1975. Mark was majoring in Art History, and had a particular fascination for the Byzantine empire. You will remember that the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the 4th century and then moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople–the present-day Istanbul.

The Byzantine empire lasted over 1000 years and once stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Constantinople, sitting on a peninsula overlooking the Bosporous toward Anatolia, was a cosmopolitan gateway for Europe to Asia and vice versa. Unfortunately, that made it a prime target and, though the seat of a Christian Theocracy, Constantinople was conquered by the Crusaders and eventually fell to the Turks. During Byzantine era, art, architecture, and philosophy all flourished. The Christian liturgy was formalized in court and religious rituals. In Byzantium, modern harmony actually started to develop.

A few years ago, I attended a conference on Byzantine Eschatology (death rituals and views of the afterlife) at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. One of the presenters, Diane Touliatos from St. Louis University, delivered a paper in which she described how the three types of events around death–expressions of grief, consolation and joy in the defeat of enemies–turned into musical traditions. When someone died, back then, it was quite common for members of the families, especially women, to pull their hair, claw their cheeks and keen, that is wail and scream. This practiced became formalized and one could even rent groups of women to perform this function. Eventually their vocal expressions became chanted or sung.

Another tradition was the dirge or lamentation. These types of music grew out of the mass in which the priest would sing a phrase and the men would respond. That type of singing became the traditional Gregorian chants, which were not harmonic, because the different voices simply sang the same notes but at intervals of a full octave. Chants started to become harmonic, with the addition of a drone. Some men sang a single base note while the rest of the choir sung the lamentation. This type of singing was also employed for singing the Psalms, kind of like shown in this video:

At some point, someone started letting the professional wailers into the church to participate in the ritual mass for the dead. One can imagine the cacophony when that happened. Originally the church fathers tried to prevent the participation of the “keeners,” but eventually someone, the first choir master, no doubt got them all working together. Still, if you listen to this early harmony, it sounds very odd to our ears. Recently there have been some recordings of this type of music, and you can get an idea of the old harmonies in listening to that Bulgarian shout-singing, which became popular about 30 years ago.

Mark Z* loved Byzantine art and the ritualized melding of religion and authority implicit in a theocracy. He came from a devout polish family that lived near Chicago, and eventually left school and now paints icons and crucifixes as a sideline. Mark once told with great relish the story of one of his more outrageous local priests, who, during an Easter pageant, went overboard and actually brought sheep into church.

In my previous post, I said that Mark refused to listen to anything later than Renaissance music, but I was wrong. He stopped at Baroque. One of his favorite works was a piece by Handel, that I have never heard in its entirety, Israel in Egypt. This oratorio covers the story of Moses and his attempts to free the Jews from Pharaoh’s slavery. One would think it pretty serious, having been brought up watching Cecil B. DeMille’sTen Commandments with a stone faced Charleton Heston (Mister NRA spokesman for a while) as a grizzled Moses. The oratorio, however, contains what I consider to be one of the funniest pieces of music ever written, and so I put it on the list of my favorites.

The aria is called “The land brought forth frogs.” It comes from the scene in the Bible where Moses calls on God to visit a number of plagues on Egypt to get Pharaoh to release the Jews. The music, is one of those thrilling baroque choruses that Handel was so good at, full of pomp and righteousness. The words, however, put us all in stitches, when Mark played it for us in his dorm room:

“The land brought forth frogs.
He gave their cattle over to the pestilence blotches and blains…”

To make it even more ridiculous, Handel gave this aria to the counter tenor, which is a man’s bass voice sung in falsetto. To hear a man singing the words, “blotches and blains” in a woman’s soprano range, was too camp for words.

Another screamingly funny aria was, “He spake the word.”  Used when Moses called up another plague which brought down “all manner of flies and lice.”

And these phrases became sort of a password for our group for a while. What can I say? You had to be there.

Haendel’s Biography

Download MP3 or buy CD of Israel In Egypt from Amazon

Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in E Major, Op. 8, Number 1 (Spring)

Happy Spring! Spring is my favorite season. Here, in DC where I live, it’s a bit slow in coming.  The cherry blossoms around the tidal basin and along the Potomac River haven’t yet opened.  So for the next few posts, I’ll be writing about pieces with a Spring theme.  I’m going to start with the eponymous concerto from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.


So what can you say about one of the most overplayed pieces of classical music of all times? Sure, it’s uplifting; sure it has a catchy tune; sure it captures wonder and joy of natures reinvention of itself in March. Oddly enough, I didn’t buy a copy of it until my mid 30s, and that was a used vinyl LP at a church sale. You don’t really need your own. Just wait until the 20th of March and tune to your local classical radio station and you will hear it. It’s kind of like that copy of “Dark Side of The Moon” in your basement. Eventually the geriatric “Classic Rock station will give it a spin.

Written in 1725, when Vivaldi was 47, it represents the work of a “man in full.” Vivaldi wrote the music for a group of four sonnets. These concertos are interesting because they expand the role of the solo instrument, in this case the violin. The first movement of Spring starts out with a joyous burst of energy, which has passed into the collective conscious now, probably through its over use in TV commercials. The second movement is a Largo, which I find curiously sad for a work about Spring. Maybe he’s trying to convey the changeability of the weather. Maybe at 47, Vivaldi is ruing his own lost youth. Maybe he trying to capture the mystery of the flowers pushing up through the earth and the green that gradually starts to erase the grey. The last movement sounds very mature as the season stabilizes and takes us into Summer.

To every thing, there is a season, and to Spring belongs the blush of youth on a young girl’s cheek, the happy gamboling of the newborn lamb in verdant meadow, and the quivering voices of pseudo-intellectual, adolescent boys writing love poems to the prom queen. In high school, I felt torn apart. Under the tutelage of the M**** family–which had three pretty daughters, by the way–I strove to turn myself into an intellectual. I disdained rock music; I read Dostoyevsky; I studied books on Picasso, Chagall, and Miro; I fell in love with and botched my dates with a number of girls. At the same time, I felt like I was on the rack, plagued by physical desire. For example, I did not bemoan the wasted life of one of the schools prettier girls, when a swim team mate got her pregnant. Instead, I envied him and rued not having been the father.

Now that I have two daughters of my own, I lament that our society has strayed so far from any logical (and responsible) way of raising its young. “Primitive” cultures don’t waste their youth this way. Children grow up at their parents’ side and not only do they apprentice the life skills and trades they need, they also learn how to be adults. “Adolescence” I suspect, rose out the isolation of children from their parents when universal education was adopted. In high schools, youth have more interactions with their peers than with adults. At most they have 50 minutes a day with any one adult, and for the rest of their time they are working out their pecking order and values from interactions with their peers. It seems like we as a culture have thrown our hands up and said Malthus was right, we give up. I’m not advocating a return to family values, but I do think it’s important for children to have longer, more healthy interactions with adults (uncles, aunts, civic leaders), during adolescence. If not, they will continue to spin their wheels unproductively (and sometimes fatally) when “adult-hood” is thrust upon them upon graduation.

Maybe there is a lesson in Vivaldi’s life. He was trained for the priesthood, but instead took a job as violin master at the Pio Ospedale della Pieta in Venice. This was a home for sick and orphaned children. Imagine what a role model he was. He organized a lot of concerts of his own music which brought in money for the work of the hospital. He was staggeringly prolific: wrote hundreds of concertos for the violin alone, 49 operas, and countless other works. Oddly though, after his death he faded into obscurity but was rediscovered in the early 1900s. I think I heard recently that the corpus of his work hasn’t been completely catalogued.

Here is the poem to Spring for which he wrote this piece:

Spring
Spring has arrived, and joyously the birds
now welcome her return with festive song,
and streamlets, by soft airs caressed, are heard
to murmur sweetly as they course along.
Casting their inky mantle over heaven,
thunderstorms, her chosen heralds, roar;
when they have died away to silence, then
the birds take up their charming songs once more.
And now, upon the flower-strewn grass subsiding,
with leafy branches rustling overhead,
the goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.
By festive sound of rustic bagpipes led,
nymphs and shepherds dance beneath the shining
canopy of spring with sprightly tread

Download MP3 or Buy CD of Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Henry Purcell: Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary

In 1972, Stanley Kubrick released his film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ book, A Clockwork Orange. It was hyped as a stylized, post-apocalyptic tour de force, and I believe Life magazine did a spread on it. It was immediately given an X-rating for its violence and sex, and that meant as a 17 year-old, I could not go to see it. This was frustrating, because many of my swim teammates were old enough to go and came back to tell us it was great. They even started using the slang used in the film and acting like the toughs and thugs, who were the protagonists of the movie. So since I could not see the film, I got a copy of the book and bought the sound track. The composer, Robert Carlos, had done the music for the film.

Carlos had achieved success for performing Bach’s music on Moog synthesizers on his album Switched-on Bach. Since the book was about a young thug with no redeeming social value except that he listened to Beethoven, every other track on the album was classical interspersed with Carlos’ own compositions. I thought it was absoultely fantastic, despite Carlos having altered a number of the classical pieces by pumping them through synthesizers.

One of the “altered” classical works (well, baroque, really) on the album was by Henry Purcell: Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, which is used to set the dark, brooding tone at the outset of the film. The Purcell piece was used in March of 1695 for the funeral of Queen Mary II, and it was played again for Purcell’s own funeral in November of the same year. It has five short movement and repeats the march at the beginning and the end. There are two anthems—choral pieces—which sing about man’s short time on earth, and asking god to be merciful. In the middle is a thoughtful baroque trumpet canzona. The piece that Carlos used A Clockwork Orange is the march.

Here is the altered version and clip from the film:

Carlos also used it twice in the soundtrack. The first time, the synthesized version at the beginning, and then to close the album in an arrangement for electronic harpsichord, which sounds almost like a music box. The original march is scored for trumpets and timpani, and you can imagine a catafalque bringing the bier of the Queen into Westminster Abbey. Quite affecting.

Now Burgess’ book and the film of A Clockwork Orange, on the other hand, disturbed me when I actually got to see it. This despite the fact that, in 1972 when it was released, I and all my friends on the swim team loved it. We identified closely with the gang of thugs on the screen, because we were the outcasts and underdogs among the athletes at our high school. On weekends we’d drink beer and smash people’s mail boxes, and drive across the yards of people with didn’t like. We never approached the level of violence depicted on the film—gang fights, rapes, murder and robbery—but we did think of ourselves as a kind of brotherhood of vandals. It was teenage angst channeled into aggressive behavior, and A Clockwork Orange fed this fire.

To show what getting old does, this morning I was trying to think of a redeeming value to A Clockwork Orange, both book and movie. It’s supposed to be about the oppression of the individual in a fascist society, I think. But does anyone care for this particular individual, Alex? Alex and his gang get tanked up on hallucinogens, rape a woman to the music of Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra,” rapes and kills another woman in front of her husband, who is a writer. Later Alex is caught and the authorities deprogram or brain-wash him by giving him a drug that makes him violently nauseous while showing him images of Nazi death camps and playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. After Alex is rehabilitated, his old friend beat him up and leave him for dead in front of the writer’s house. When the writer discovers who he is he tries to kill Alex by locking him in a room and playing Beethoven’s music to him. In the end, Alex is made a hero by the state because the writer was a member of the opposition party, I think.

I don’t think it makes a very good case for the evil of fascism. The state is not put on the stage that much. What A Clockwork Orange does emphasize is the glory of youthful violence as a reaction against an oppressive society. And though it showed how evil it was to use music to brainwash Alex, the filmmakers used music as a background to mindless violence as well. The difference is lost on me–now a middle aged man.

If the film had a message, it also was obviously lost on me and my friends, who weren’t stupid—one went on to study the classics at the University of Chicago and became a jesuit. We just loved the violence. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?

About 10 years ago, I lead a high school youth group. When they said horrible, disrespectful or cheeky things, I had to remember that I was once like that. I also had to listen to see if there is any pain behind their acting out. One day, one of the most obstreperous ones in the class shared that his father had tried to teach him to swim by taking him out in the middle of a lake and dropping him overboard. It doesn’t take a fascist state to remove the dignity of a person. About 20 years after A Clockwork Orange came out, I stumbled across a recording of Purcell’sMusic for the Funeral of Queen Mary. It is a short, sweet, sad and spare work. Fitting for a funeral and for a look back on one’s impetuous youth.

Coda

I just read something about Anthony Burgess, author of the novel, “A Clockwork Orange.”  He wrote the novel in 3 weeks and it considered a response to a horrible event that happened in his own life.  This from Wikipedia:  “Burgess claimed that the novel’s inspiration was his wife Lynne’s beating by a gang of drunk American servicemen stationed in England during World War II. She subsequently miscarried.” More interesting, though, was that in the original novel written after Burgess returned to England from a stint in the Far East as a language teacher, there was a 21st chapter in which the main character, sees the error of his ways and repents.  This chapter was dropped at the insistence of Burgess’ US publisher, who thought the darker ending which leaves the protagonist vindicated, was more acceptable to American audiences.  Kubrick filmed it that way and Burgess thought the film was flawed for that reason.

Purchase MP3 or Buy CD on Amazon
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