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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

Finally regular orchestras are absorbing music by Steve Reich into their repertoire. Here the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony and Choir perform The Desert Music.


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"Pieces of music composed at the piano, on the keyboard, those thought out with pen on paper and those just composed with imagined sounds in the head must all be quite different in character and make quite different kinds of impression.

I am sure Bruckner composed just by imagining the sound of the orchestra in his head, Brahms with pen on paper. Of course this is an over-simplification. But it does highlight one feature."

[from Culture and Value, by Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by Peter Winch, p. 12e]
What is that one feature?

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Concerts are being canceled left and right: Canada mostly closes down:
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) last night cancelled 11 concerts, running up to April 5, 2020.
There was coughing and sneezing at a Toronto Symphony rehearsal. Some players called the media. Hours later, the orchestra shut down.
Just in from Vancouver Symphony: BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has directed the cancellation of all gatherings larger than 250 people in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. As such, VSO concerts through to April 5th are immediately cancelled or postponed.

Also Carnegie Hall and the Met.
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And yesterday the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra gave a live streaming concert with no audience:


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The important American composer Charles Wuorinen has passed away. Here is his Fourth Piano Concerto from 2003:



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The Salzburg Easter Festival has been canceled. Fingers crossed for the big one in July/August. Plus a host of European nations have canceled concerts for the rest of March.

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I know of numerous composers who suffer from tinnitus — that ringing or other sound in the ears which never shuts off. And even violinists tend to end up with hearing damage in the left ear, since that is the one closest to the sound of the instrument. It is, of course, the sounds we don’t make ourselves that we are most disturbed by. Noise from neighbours can be fatal. It is not unknown for disputes to end in murder or suicide.    
When Franz Joseph Haydn visited London he found the noise so intrusive he was unable to work. He wrote to Maria Anna von Genzinger in January 1791 that in spite of being showered with honours, “I wished I could fly for a time to Vienna, to have more quiet in which to work, for the noise that the common people make as they sell their wares in the street is intolerable.” He solved the problem by moving.
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I have a confession to make. I recently invited a pair of friends who had never heard a live orchestra to a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performance. They left at intermission — at my suggestion. 
They weren’t clapping at the wrong time or dressed inappropriately. They had heard enough.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve advised newcomers to stay for half a concert, and it won’t be the last. Concerts traditionally last two or three hours, a big commitment for neophytes as well as passionate regulars. With all of today’s cultural and entertainment options, the competitive opportunity cost for attending concerts continues to climb. 
My solution: Classical music concerts should be shorter.
I'm not sure he's wrong. Sometimes I feel that programs are too short with too little substance prefaced by entirely too much talking, but there are certainly occasions when the program felt too long. And yes, I have left a number of concerts at intermission over the years.

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 Brahms is now early music? Here is the Symphony No. 3 conducted by Philippe Herreweghe:




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