I’m a pretty big fan of Malcolm Gladwell books. They get me to look at things with a different perspective and consider possibilities that I perhaps wouldn’t have considered on my own. His most recent work, David and Goliath, examines the idea of the underdog and how things we think are disadvantages aren’t always so. So far I would say it’s significantly less interesting than Outliers, but in fairness Outliers is probably one of the five best things I’ve ever read. The most recent chapter I finished dealt with the idea of being a little fish in a big pond versus being a big fish in a little pond, centrally focused on the difference between going to a prestigious university as opposed to a state school or small college. I won’t spoil the details (they’re well worth a look), but the chapter suggests that being at the top of a smaller pond is actually more advantageous than being buried somewhere in the middle of the larger pond, and it got me thinking about essentially the same questions as it relates to postsecondary music education. Continue reading
Symphony no. 3 ‘Liturgique’, mvt. 3 by Arthur Honegger
Setting aside the fact that I’m borderline obsessed with anything even remotely “dona nobis pacem” related at this time, the concluding movement to Honegger’s greatest symphony makes this list with ease. Composed in the wake of World War II, it’s a work of absolute savagery and cold brutality, which of course makes the tender episode that concludes the piece that much starker in its beauty. This symphony is woefully underrated, and in spite of its unrelenting intensity and brazen dissonances, I would think audiences today would eat this shit up as the visceral sonic journey that it is. Continue reading
Being single isn’t really all that cool. There’s freedom to be had and you can choose to get off with any number of people without being held responsible to society’s pressure to live monogamously and you can watch whatever you want on TV or whatever, but for the most part it isn’t nearly as appealing as those who are in long-term relationships want it to be. That isn’t to suggest that it’s a completely lost cause, though, because tied into the whole idea of freedom is the Southwest Airlines notion of feeling free to move about the country. Last month I visited a friend in Atlanta, enjoyed a weekend of good company, football, and the best burger in America. Next month I have a train trip into the heart of what is sure to be a blindingly cold Chicago to hear my first ever live Bruckner performance (how I’ve come this far without hearing any live Bruckner says something about both myself AND Bruckner, I think). This past weekend marked a return to the place that spawned my singlehood some 7 months ago: Dallas, Texas, home of USCIS Basic Training, a repulsive professional football team, and a top-15 American orchestra playing in one of the most notable halls in the country. Continue reading
Sorry for the delay in posting. Life is in the way…not necessarily in a bad way either. But I’ll be posting this week as God is my witness (SPOILER ALERT: He is not). Thanks for your patience.
Symphony no. 2, mvt. 4 by Johannes Brahms
It’s pretty obvious that Brahms was going to end up on here at some point. It’s also pretty obvious that choosing a single one of the sixteen symphonic movements that Brahms composed could essentially come down to a coin flip if you lived in a dimension with 16-sided coins. Brahms probably has the highest compositional “batting average” of anyone who ever lived and wrote music; pretty much every surviving work is a varying degree of great. The symphonies in particular are each among the very finest in the entire output, and not surprisingly they’re performed with Metamucil-like regularity. Continue reading
It’s a tried and true formula to stuff the music of our time down the throats of reluctant concertgoers by sticking it in the middle of musical Wonder bread. A tag line like “come for the security of dudes like Liszt and Tschaikovsky, please for the love of God stay for this thing that you’ve never heard before!” might be snarkier than what’s warranted, but it would at least be straightforward and honest. It’s a pity, frankly, because it’s a tremendous joy to hear music written by human beings who remain among the breathing. We’re all set in our ways and we all have favorites and comfort zones and all that, but hearing something genuinely “new” to your ears is loads of fun, even if the work fails to move you. We bear the same responsibility as those patrons in Vienna whose job it was to distinguish between Beethoven and, say, Louis Spohr, and that SHOULD be one of the best parts about hearing live music.
I’m fortunate enough to know a small handful of people who actually make good music for people like myself to listen to and write about. Most of the time these people are classical musicians like my friends Ken or Dave or Andy, but not this time. Pictured above is the cover to a mixtape that you can download completely free, no strings attached y’all by tremendously gifted rapper and hell of a nice guy Glacier Don. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. Continue reading