Day 35: In the Dark

HaydnCD35I began this blog entry in the dark of morning. I’m finishing it in the dark of night.

Frankly, I prefer the morning.

By nightfall, I’m tired and I just wanna put on my jammies and watch an episode of Doctor Who.

Thankfully, the music is terrific.

L’Arte dell’Arco, according to the CD sleeve for the Brilliant Classics Haydn Edition, is playing period instruments. In the past, that has meant a headache for me.

Which is so ironic. You see, I’m a purist. I want to hear Classical music the way people in the 17th century heard it.

Problem is they heard, among other things, French horns without valves, which means the players had to swap the crooks to attain a greater range of notes (or they had to develop superhuman lips to reach the notes modern players achieve with valves), and they heard harpsichords instead of pianos. The former isn’t hard on the ears. The latter wears thin quickly. A harpsichord is fine for setting a mood, transporting the listener back to the 17th century quicker than the TARDIS. But, after awhile, that Continue reading

Day 30: Overheard Conversations

HaydnCD30This morning at Panera, as I refilled my mug of Light Roast coffee, I overhead a group of old guys chatting in a little nook area near the front of the restaurant. One man, who looked to be in his mid to late 60s, had his laptop open and he was talking to guys who looked to be 10+ years older than that.

“Are you referring to Internet Explorer?” the man with the laptop asked. “Because I have Google Chrome and Firefox, too.”

I glanced over and looked at the gaggle of retirees and thought, “Really? Twenty years ago, guys of this age would be jawing about being retired – not about web browsers.”

Life is funny, innit?

Symphony No. 96 in D , “The Miracle Symphony,” was composed in 1791 and is part of the London Symphonies. It is called “The Miracle Symphony” because, according to its entry on Wikipedia,

It is so called due to the story that, during its premiere, a chandelier fell from the ceiling of the concert hall in which it was performed. The audience managed to dodge the chandelier successfully as they had all crowded to the front for the post-performance applause, and the symphony got its nickname. More careful and recent research suggests that this event did indeed take place but during the premiere of his Symphony No. 102.

Haydn was 59, when this symphony was composed and first performed.

Symphony No. 97 in C was composed and first performed in Continue reading

Day 5: On Set

Haydn5You know the kind of music Hollywood uses as the soundtrack in a period piece, a movie set in a bygone era?

It’s stuff like what’s on CD 5, starting with Symphony No. 17 in F.

The only thing missing is Cate Blanchett.

Or Geoffrey Rush.

And a whole lot of powdered wigs and brightly colored clothes.

Think Jane Austin. Or George Washington. Or Mutiny on the Bounty, in which case an appearance by Clark Gable would be in order. (Forget Charles Laughton, though. I don’t want Captain Bligh to invade my reverie this morning.)

Clark_Gable_in_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_trailerHere’s the point. When people think of the era of powdered wigs and formal, if not visually stunning, minuet or contredanse allemande dancing, they likely think of spirit that imbues Haydn’s Symphony No. 17 in F, although – to be sure – they’d more likely be hearing a quartet, not a full symphony, at these social gatherings. Still, there’s something about Symphony No. 17 in F that smacks of a gathering of that sort. It has a Late Baroque feel to it. All that’s missing is a harpsichord, for which I am immeasurably grateful. That instrument grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The three-movement Symphony No. 17 in F “may have been written between Continue reading