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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

Let's start with a very Jewish Christmas: ‘Christmas With Your Jewish Boyfriend’: A Jewish jazz guitarist recorded a dozen famous Christmas songs written by Jews.
“If you imagine a Norman Rockwell Christmas image, you can imagine that the music that would be playing in the background would be something like ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Winter Wonderland,’ which was written either by an Eastern European Jewish immigrant from the Lower East Side or a descendant of one of those people,” Curtis said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
To Curtis, the fact that Jews wrote so many Christmas classics isn’t a coincidence. From the 1880s to the 1920s, the United States experienced a huge influx of European Jewish immigrants. They weren’t readily welcomed into American society. Many universities had strict Jewish student quotas, and many industries weren’t keen on hiring Jews.
The music industry, however, was wide open, and Jews excelled in it. From about the dawn of the 20th century until the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s, pop music was dominated by Jewish songwriters. Most of it was done behind the scenes, with many songwriters changing their names to sound less Jewish.
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Yes, it is possible to make a good income with classical music. Case in point, André Rieu: André Rieu: ‘I see a lot of jealousy around me’
We shouldn’t be surprised that Rieu is a box office sensation. In an era when, we are told, nobody sells DVDs and CDs anymore, Rieu has sold more than 40 million of them. Last year, the Dutch violinist and conductor sold more than 700,000 tickets to his concerts, bringing in $55.9 million (€50.6m) from 71 shows. It’s an impressive haul for someone who has seldom been the beneficiary of media hype.
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It simply wouldn't be Christmas without the traditional bemoaning of the loss of prestige of classical music. Nationalist Anthems: Remembering a time when composers mattered more
To be sure, the dwindling interest in classical music in the latter part of the twentieth century flowed from a number of sources, not least the ubiquitous appeal of more vernacular genres such as rock and other forms of pop music; a decline in music education curriculums, which no longer offered a broad musical education in elementary through high school; and the pervasive attraction (and distraction) of television and digital culture. At the same time, the end of the convergence between the world of classical music in the United States and international political developments meant the music no longer exercised the powerful hold on the American people that it had from the Great War through the Cold War.
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If you met a genie who offered to grant you one musical skill for the rest of your life, a skill that would flow effortlessly and masterfully from you whenever you needed it, what would you choose? Stage charisma? The ability to move your audience? Technical prowess? If you are wise, you might choose the skill of practice. Because mastering the skill of musical practice could mean mastering all musical skills.
We all know that quantity of practice is important. The popular claim that 10,000 hours of practice is the key to becoming an expert in any task holds some truth – you don’t get to Carnegie hall without spending a sizeable chunk of your waking hours cranking out scales and etudes.
However, music psychology studies have shown that quantity of practice alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Expert players vary a lot in the number of practice hours they put in, and on average amount of practice can only account for about 30% of variation in performance quality, meaning that 70% of the story about musical expertise remains untold. Here we turn to the real topic of interest: quality of practice.
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Imagine you have a million dollars, and someone offers you a wager. ”Invest it all with me,” she says. “We’ll wait 10 years, at which point you’ll have nothing 99 times out of a hundred.”
“Hmm,” you think, “that 1% must be one hell of a payoff with those odds.
“Oh,” she says, “you’ll get nothing that time, too. Actually, not quite.” She pulls out a calculator, punches in a few numbers, and smirks. “That 1% of the time, you’ll owe me…$600,000.”
Would you take that bet?
If you’re a full-time performing artist, you already have.
Read the whole thing for the details. But the sad truth is:
For full-time performers, the game is rigged. There is simply no chance of making it given the start-up costs of building an arts business and maintaining it over time in a high cost of living city. The best-case scenario is you walk away early and have time to rebuild. The worst-case scenario is you have a middling career, strung along with a few opportunities every year, just enough to keep you going, and you are staring down the barrel of 40 at a mountain of debt with no other skills.
Except for the 1/10th of 1% who do manage to achieve an international virtuoso career, of course.

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Our envoi really needs to be André Rieu doing "White Christmas" does it not?

Ok, I have tortured you enough! Here is the Quatuor Ebène doing the String Quartet No. 4 by Bartók:

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