Day 69: Moons

HaydnCD69It’s been a crazy holiday season. Already. Still. I don’t know which.

My wife and I haven’t recovered from Thanksgiving yet, and here we are frantically working on Christmas cards, considering tree shopping tonight, and catching up on work (strategic plans, grading final exams, preparing two new classes to teach, this blog, screenplays, etc.).

So we try to steal a few minutes together here and there.

Like this morning, for instance.

Instead of me jumping out of bed before the suns rises, and heading to some restaurant or office to work on this blog before my real work day starts, I suggested we both jump out of bed under cover of moonlight and head to Denny’s where we can drink their excellent coffee all morning long, split a Moons Over My Hammy plate, and work on Christmas cards. Together.

Surprisingly, she went for it, which – if you knew my wife – is quite something. She’d rather keep her head on a soft pillow, with covers pulled to her chin, than do just about anything.

CardsBe that as it may, here we are. This is the view I see of her. But, still, she’s here. With me.

And I’m listening to Welsh Songs for George Thomson II.

Which is quite similar to Welsh Songs for George Thomson I.

Only less so.

I’m still having a hard time getting into the voices of soprano Lorna Anderson and tenor Jamie MacDougall. If you’ve read any of my blog posts prior to this, you know why: their vocal range is not in my sweet spot. Anderson doesn’t sound like Pilar Lorengar and MacDougall doesn’t sound like Nicolai Gedda. The former’s range – to my ears, anyway – sounds lower than soprano and tenor. The latter is right in the sweet spot for me. Continue reading

Day 68: Say Hello to Welsh Songs

HaydnCD68I was curious about something this morning: How big is the United Kingdom, especially Scotland (since I’ve been listening to Scottish songs for the past week), compared to the state (Michigan) in which I live?

The answer surprised me.

The United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) is 94,058 square miles. Michigan is 96,716 square miles. So my state (ranked 11th in size out of 50 in the United States) is bigger than all of the United Kingdom combined.

Lest you think I have a debilitating case of State Envy, if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you should know by now that I like to see things in context. If I can compare something unfamiliar (the century in which Haydn composed, for example) with something familiar (what was happening in America at the same time, for example), I can better understand whatever it is I didn’t understand before.

800px-Flag_of_Scotland.svgIn this case, I’m comparing the United Kingdom’s square miles to that of the United States so that I can better understand something (albeit a small thing) about the country or region from which these songs come.

The square miles of Scotland is 30,265, which is roughly comparable to the state of South Carolina (the 40th largest state) at 32,020 square miles.

800px-Flag_of_Wales_2.svgThe square miles of Wales is 8,016, which is roughly comparable to the state of New Jersey (the 47th largest state) at 8,721. Very cool flag, by the way.

While I’m at it, the square miles of Austria (Haydn’s birthplace) is 32,377, which is roughly comparable to the state of South Carolina.

I’ve always wondered why that region of the world (Austria, Germany) produced so many renowned composers, one after another, down through the centuries. Why did one of the (comparatively) smallest regions of the world provide the world with untold wealth from all of these brilliant Classical composers?

Doubt me? Take a look: Continue reading