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I Cried for Madder Music...

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Title : I Cried for Madder Music...
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I Cried for Madder Music...

The title is a quote from a poem by Ernest Dowson--the next phrase is "and stronger wine" but that doesn't fit my theme as well.

What I'm concerned about is the dull seriousness music seems to be slumping into. I look to music for delight, transcendence, euphoria, even perhaps a mad delirium sometimes. But lately music has become dutiful and dull. Whimsy and humor, which open the door to delight and joy, seem suspect. I am reminded of an old French joke about living in difficult times. One says, "situation desperate, but not serious" meaning it is always appropriate to make a joke.

When Stravinsky was composing the Rite of Spring he played parts of it for various listeners. One of these was conductor Pierre Monteux who conducted the premiere. Describing the experience of hearing a performance for himself and Diaghilev in April 1912 he later wrote:

The room was small and the music was large, the sound of it completely dwarfing the poor piano on which the composer was pounding, completely dwarfing Diaghilev and his poor conductor, listening in utter amazement... The old upright piano quivered and shook as Stravinsky tried to give us an idea of his new work... I remember vividly his dynamism and his sort of ruthless impetuosity as he attacked the score. By the time he had reached the second tableau, his face was so completely covered with sweat that I thought, "He will surely burst, or have a syncope." My own head ached badly, and I must admit I did not understand one note of Le Sacre du Printemps. My one desire was to flee that room... [from It's All in the Music: The Life and Works of Pierre Monteux by Doris Monteux, p. 91]

 Here is the first recording of the Rite, in 1929, conducted by Pierre Monteux:


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