July 19 edition
  
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Upcoming events:

Fri. Aug. 2   Musicians with a Mission: Heritage Place (piano)

Sun. Aug. 25   at Piano Days Pittsburgh, Heinz Hall, 6 p.m.

Sun. Sep. 15   3 p.m. Violin and organ concert
                        with Violinist Devin Arrington
                            at Heinz Chapel, Pittsburgh

St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh (July 14)

this week's featured recording (7.19.19)

Chaconne in G

by Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759)













 This week on the blog:    Friday, July 19, 2019
    

Pictures from St. Paul

 















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composer profile
picture of Moszkowski "I took my first step before the public in my earliest youth", writes Moszkowski, "following my birth, which occurred on  August 23, 1854. I selected this warm month for the event in hopes of a tornado, which also plays so prominent a part in the biography of great men. This desired tempest, in consequence of favorable weather, did not occur, while it accompanied the birth of hundreds of men of much less importance. Embittered by this injustice, I determined to avenge myself on the world by playing the piano...."

By the time Moszkowski penned these words in 1886, the myth of the mad genius was at its height. Beethoven had died during a thunderstorm, shaking his fist at the heavens, according to legend, anyway, Schumann had spent his last years in an asylum--it was even claimed that a violent rainstorm accompanied Mozart to his grave (probably not true). People seemed to need to associate violent upheaval with creative genius; flights of passion, after all, are what constitute greatness, right?

It's a very Romantic notion, and it did not serve Moszkowski all that well.



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Music of the Future

Did a robot write this post for me? hmmm





"Of the arts necessary to life which furnish a concrete result there is carpentry, which produces the chair; architecture, the house; shipbuilding, the ship; tailoring, the garment; forging, the blade.  Of useless arts there is harp playing, dancing, flute playing [also piano and organ playing?] of which, when the operation ceases, the result disappears with it.  And indeed, according to the word of the apostle, the result of these is destruction."

--St. Basil c.329-379

The quotation on the left is from one of the early fathers of the church. This is just the tip of a rather uncivil iceberg; a few other examples of persons of eminent standing thinking of musicians as generally low quality people can be found on these pages, culled from a vast mine of such writings. Not that musicians, despite a long history of being disparaged, are alone: probably someone can be found who thinks of your own profession (whatever it is) as completely useless, and possibly destructive. Of course, when you add a religious dimension to that, you get personal opinions to the 3rd power. One of the things I find funny is how Basil ends his diatribe. Not only is musical activity of no use, but it leads ‘to destruction.’ And it isn’t just his opinion. St. Paul said it. Case closed.

 

Actually, I haven’t combed the epistles lately looking for the source of this epithet, but my suspicion is that Basil is doing the usual religious-commentator/church father thing of taking what was in the text and adding some additional steps to it. In other words, Paul probably sums up one of his ‘sin lists’ by saying ‘the result of these is destruction.’ Maybe ‘sloth’ is part of the list. Basil figures playing music is a slothful activity, therefore music=sloth (according to him) and sloth=destruction (according to Paul), therefore music=destruction. Paul didn’t say it but that is surely what he meant, right?

 

I’ve including the quotation at the top of one of my pages on which there are several recordings. According to Basil, the reason music is a ‘useless’ activity is because as soon as you stop playing ‘the result disappears.’ I wonder what he would have thought if he had known that, some centuries hence, we would be able to capture the sound and therefore the result would not disappear. The sounds I made last June can still be heard for an indefinite period into the future. I think this is pretty cool.



read on, MacDuff!


Baltimore, Maryland seems like the hotdog capital of the world,  to judge by the number of commercials for the Oriole's most official product, many of which feature the Oriole's favorite son Cal Ripken Inc. as spokesperson, that radio listeners have to put up with in a typical inning of their favorite pastime. Part of me wants to pan their dogs without mercy to avenge my ears and my sanity. But the hotdogs are not that bad really. Not as good as the ones in Philly, and way better than the ones in Cleveland, which currently puts them in 2nd place in the rankings, for those of you scoring at home. If you are not scoring at home, quit goofing around on company time!

Those of you laboring under the delusion that Baltimore is not the center of the baseball universe had better get your doctrine straight before meeting my wife, Kristen.  The woman bleeds orange and black (I married her anyway). The Orioles, for their part, were so depressed when their number one fan left town some years ago that they haven't had a decent season since.

Although the quality on the field may be lacking, the quality of  the field, and of the ballpark experience in general, has always been high, thanks to the loveliness of Camden Yards, America's first atmospheric, throwback-to-the-day-when-everything-was-pure ballpark. Now, of course "everybody is doing it." But Camden Yards was the first to feature a smaller seating capacity than the thunderous megadomes of the Eighties, friendlier sightlines through lack of massive poles every six feet to hold up the third deck, and a portion of the stadium being cut away to feature part of the civic skyline. Now built to blend harmoniously with and celebrate the surrounding city instead of trying to swallow it whole, stadiums have become known as ballparks again, and, except for that thing with the steroids, a few season-threatening labor disputes, and crybaby owners making the front pages crank every now and then, baseball has regained its innocence. LA!LA!LA!LA! 

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