Shit that makes me cry, Volume 1: Nielsen: Symphony no. 1

As a grown man with a job who occasionally pays bills, society tells me that generally speaking I ought not cry. Normally, I take society up on that, encasing my emotions in enough metaphorical lucite to protect that Honus Wagner baseball card. Every so often, though, something comes along and moves me to tears, bringing me untold joy and disappointing 65% of fathers in America. This is one of those somethings…

Years ago, my dear friend Dave McIntire and I listened to all the Nielsen symphonies in one night and wrote retro diaries about them. At that time I was fairly unfamiliar with Nielsen’s symphonies. I knew the famous 4th OK, and I was familiar with the nutso 5th, but the rest were varying degrees of murky. Fast forward four years and I’m a little less murky on some, a little more murky on the 4th and 5th, and desperately in love with the 1st.

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Yet another “stay tuned” message that is sure to ring hollow in the months to come!

As I noted in a comment, posting has been sparse due to a) the summertime being a God damned cultural wasteland, even in New York City, and b) my current job is like if a prosecuting attorney was also responsible for being the court reporter, which is to say I type all day every day. However, that’s going to change beginning in October, and I hope to resume posting with greater frequency. As fate would have it, that’s about when cultural activities pick up again, and lo, there are many things on the horizon that have piqued my interest.

The focus of this blog will also be shifting slightly, only in the sense that I have a couple new ideas that I’d like to try out, the ultimate goal of which is to start coalescing things into a possible book that I’m threatening to put together. Obviously no one is going to publish a book written by me, but if nothing else, it will be a jumbled mess of papers that they can burn at the same time as my body upon my death. Or they can scotch tape a flash drive containing the manuscript to the urn where my ashes will be displayed by the person denoted in my will, which is actually a reader of this blog chosen by a computer simulation model based on which of you would be most like the child that I could have had but didn’t.

See you in the coming days, weeks, months, etc., friends.

I was at a concert: FINALLY!

A week ago Saturday brought to a close the New York Philharmonic season as far as my attendance is concerned. It’s been a pretty disappointing first year for symphony concerts here in the Northeast in my opinion. Good-and-occasionally-very-good-but-not-great performances of Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner, and Beethoven (James Ehnes excepted!)  from the NYPO, the bullet-riddled corpse of Schumann 4 in Philly, and a respectable but ultimately unspectacular Rachmaninov 2 from the band on the Jersey side left me wondering just when the Phil was going to bring the pain and fucking represent as their reputation suggested they should have been doing all along. I got my wish thanks to John Storgards and the genius that is Sibelius.

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I was at a concert: Mahler 9

For  many years I had threatened to see Bernard Haitink in live action, and Saturday night that threat made the transition to promise thanks to the Philharmonic. Haitink is 87 years old now, and I think I had projected some ill health on to him that he does not at all appear to be suffering from. Mahler 9 is obviously right in his wheelhouse, and even at his advancing age his conducting was as clear and impactful as I always figured it was. He received warm ovations both before and after the music, the applause feeling to me like it carried the subtext of a final goodbye for certain audience members, myself included. I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to see and hear the man in his element again, but I can tell you unequivocally that dude’s still got it.

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I was at a concert: Mahler 6

Last Saturday was cold as balls. Nevertheless, we spent the entire day in the city, seeing “Fun Home” in the afternoon on a whim (it was superb…one of the best things I’ve seen since moving here) and ending the night at Lincoln Center listening to Semyon Bychkov leading the Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony no. 6. Continue reading