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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

A profound observation about the contribution of subjectivity to aesthetics:

"the real and express content that the poet puts in his work  remains as always finite; the possible content that he allows us to contribute is an infinite quality."

                                                                        --Friedrich Schiller 

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Some statistics about music education: The surprising musical instrument many parents want their kids to learn

More than half — 1,200 — of the parents surveyed said they have played at least one instrument in their lifetime.

The survey revealed one of every four Americans can play an instrument — with 17% picking up old musical habits during the coronavirus pandemic and 37% saying they’d learned an instrument in the past but don’t currently play anything.

A quarter of respondents said they have never learned an instrument and only 9% of parents said their children hadn’t yet expressed any interest in learning an instrument.

In addition, 26% believe that music education should be encouraged in schools, and 29% think it should be required or prioritized at school.

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The headline at Slipped Disc is rather misleading, but the story is that McGill University School of Music has decided that they have to shut down the affiliated Conservatory, largely as a result of the Covid hiatus.

The Conservatory of Music at Montreal’s McGill University is to cease operations next summer, after 118 years of teaching.

The Conservatory, which was run by the university’s Schulich School of Music, was open to the greater Montreal community, giving courses to students of all ages and offering teaching space to instructors, free of charge.

According to the school, the pandemic showed that “the Conservatory is no longer financially viable nor sustainable.” While there were over 550 students before COVID-19 hit, predictions showed that fewer than 100 students would sign up in the coming year.

The Covid crisis is having many long-term unfortunate consequences for classical music.

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Also from Slipped Disc is some important news for John Adams fans:

Around the middle of the last century, the elegant head of Columbia Records Goddard Lieberson told his friend, the composer Igor Stravinsky, that the label would record every work he wrote, juvenile to old-age, under his own supervision.

Lieberson was as good as his word and the result is an incomparable monument of 20th century culture.

No label has sought to emulate it with a living composer.

Until now.

Nonesuch is about to release the complete works of John Adams, the most successful American composer of our time.

It includes, in addition to the familiar operas and Harmonielehre, such esoteric adventures as ‘Guide to Strange Places’, ‘American Berserk’ and ‘Christian Zeal and Activity.’

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 Here is an article and clip about the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic: What's the secret behind the Vienna Philharmonic's unique sound?

Explaining the dark quality of the Viennese sound, Ottensamer adds, “What always strikes me is the subtlety in the sound. You try not to play too directly in certain passages. Notes gradually rise and don’t always have a clear beginning." Some of the orchestra’s instruments are quite different from those played elsewhere in the world.

“The [Viennese] clarinet is built with a little bit more wood. It’s a little thicker, more voluminous, and therefore creates a darker sound. This brings us to the Viennese sound itself. This sound blends particularly well with the other instruments in the orchestra,” says Ottensamer.

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Method Singing is an article about the influence of "method acting" on opera:

While stage and screen acting was revolutionized during the 20th century by the thinking of Russian actor-director Constantin Stanislavski and his “System”—later a foundation of Method acting—it sometimes appears as though his innovations passed opera by entirely. But Method acting has a history in opera, and it begins earlier than you might think. Even before his Moscow Art Theatre toured the United States and galvanized famous disciples like Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, Stanislavski was trying out his acting techniques with opera singers.

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Slim pickings this week, so let's get right to some envois. First up, Friedrich Gulda playing the third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 4 by Beethoven with the Vienna Philharmonic.


And here is Franz Liszt's remarkable rethinking of themes from Don Giovanni, layered and with thematic transformation:


Finally, the first song from Dichterliebe, Schumann's cycle on poems by Heinrich Heine sung by Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake, piano



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