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Prelude on "Rhosymedre"

by Ralph Vaughan Williams

There are times that one author, quoting another, and finding an error or omission in the source material, makes his audience aware of this fact by use of the bracketed term [sic]; thus it was, as if to say "that's the way I found it, folks, don't blame me." One curious effect of the strange collision of tones in the fourth measure (11 seconds into the present recording [in this  blog post]) is that I want to bracket it and write [sic] above it, saying "Look, I know it sounds like a wrong note, but the composer wants it that way; it's not my fault." It's a curious dynamic, because many times a composer writes a dissonance that, even if it sounds a little odd going by, turns into something wonderful by the end. But this may well be an example of a dissonance that doesn't really work. And so I'm issuing this curious little piece by [a] typically operatic composer with a little distancing. I don't really like this chord. And I'm not so sure about the one near the end, either. (it's at 1:45, and I'll give it this: it is a very interesting chord)

On the other hand, maybe I am being picky.

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They Laughed when I started to Play

A couple of months ago, during a performance, I had one of those moments onstage where everybody was laughing at me. You've probably experienced something similar in your nightmares, only this was actually happening. And I loved it.

....It seems that artists have spent so much time trying to get the audience to behave decently (often by bullying them) that what results is a culture of fear, rather than respect. Keeping quiet because you want to understand and communicate with the music is not the same thing as being quiet out of the fear that if you dare to make a sound, people will look at you like a leper with hemorrhoids.

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You've no doubt seen that "official" portrait of Beethoven--quite serious, defiant, his eyes blazing thunderbolts to the heavens, his unruly shock of hair unkempt and wild, refusing to bow to mere conventions us poor mortals use, or a comb.

Is that the real  Beethoven? After all, he lived in the days before flash photography, and portrait painters could stretch the truth a little, and they often did, if their subject was rich, and ugly.

The truth is a bit complicated, as usual,...

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before you can't get that song out of your head you have to put it in there

When I was just starting music school I remember asking myself, "how does a concert pianist practice?" I figured I couldn't very well sneak into somebody's house and find out. But right away, my response to my own question was, "become one and find out!"
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Piano vs. Organ (part 3)


We get tourists, sometimes. Or visitors. In any case, a young woman walked into our sanctuary one afternoon while I was practicing the organ and decided to ask the question that was pressing on her mind: which is harder to play, the piano or the organ?

She did not, it seems, want a complicated answer.

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