Alberic Magnard has one of the all-time great deaths in music. After sending his wife and two daughters out of harm’s way, Magnard remained at his estate to guard it from the ever-advancing German army. When they broke into his home, Magnard blasted out of his study chair, rifle in hand, and went at it with the soldiers like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, killing at least two. Unlike John Wayne, he didn’t survive the part where they fired back and burned his house down with him and his music in it. The only real competition for the most interesting death in music is either Purcell (locked out of his own house after a night out, froze to death on his own doorstep), Webern (shot on his porch during a curfew by an American soldier while trying to smoke a cigar on the sly so as not to wake his grandkids) or Chausson (rode his bike into a brick wall). Two involve the military, but only Magnard’s invokes possible images of Samuel L Jackson, so it probably has to be at the top. Continue reading
At some point when I was growing up, there was a cultural shift in the way we educate and expose children to life. When I was in Little League, we kept score. There were winners and there were losers; this was not a reflection of us as human beings, simply an illustration in numerical form that one team was superior to another team in the singular sporting competition that all agreed to participate in. When I was in elementary school, if I spelled cat with a “k,” I got a red mark next to that answer signifying that it was wrong. Cat is spelled cat. It just is.
Nowadays we’ve empowered children in an effort to promote independence and free-thinking, occasionally in some pretty interesting ways. Little League teams that don’t keep score. Montessori schools that allow kids to direct the course of their own instruction. Whole language education that suggests that phonics aren’t necessarily something to be hooked on. The list goes on, but the list isn’t what’s important. The mindset of the adults behind them is. Continue reading
If the last 30 seconds of the symphony doesn’t make you leap into a karate stance and put your foot through a window, you need some kind of transplant. Four important things to dig:
- Seiji’s hair looks like a sheepdog fucked one of those plasma balls that you see at science museums.
- Of the two bass drummers in the coda, the one who looks most furious is the cute woman; she was clearly wronged her in some way, because she’s going at that thing like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. That drum head is having all the fun. HEY-O!
- Epic amounts of horsehair splayed everywhere on the bow in frame on the last chord. There’s nothing to indicate that it’s true, but something about that gives you the impression that they were playing with reckless abandon.
- The relationship between the tempo and the clarity of the repeated descending low brass line is not entirely human. Then again, these people have vending machines with used panties and live lobsters in them.
The rest of the performance, which you can find in the related videos one way or another, is every bit as good. A perfect demonstration of orchestra as godless killing machine from the future.
Aram Khachaturian has achieved a pretty widespread popularity in the last 50 years. The suites from his two most famous ballets are performed pretty regularly, and a movement from each of them often end up as encores or showpieces. His Violin Concerto is probably in the third tier of solo works for the instrument, alongside other regularly programmed solos like Elgar, Prokofiev, and Dvorak. His concerti for the cello and the piano pop up from time to time. He wrote the coolest waltz of all-time (ignore the first 35 seconds of this link, but enjoy the great Kiril Kondrashin rocking the shit). Continue reading