So, I think I’m going to quit using this blog and just combine it with my personal blog (which can be found here). If you want to follow me there, I’ll follow you back, but I think it’ll just be easier to maintain one blog rather than two. :)

All the Great Operas in 10 Minutes

Für Alina

on minimalism

I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Arvo Pärt’s music lately and trying to put into words why I like him and his brand of minimalism better than, say, that of Philip Glass. I’ve come to a very simple conclusion: Pärt’s music makes me feel something. Taking a small musical idea and replaying it over and over and expanding it is all well and good, but at the end of the piece, I’m no different than I was when it started. The example I’m thinking of is Philip Glass’s violin concerto. Technically difficult (or at least it sounds that way to me), but without feeling. It’s formulaic, and, to me, it’s boring. 

But then I listen to Arvo Pärt’s piano piece “Für Alina.” It’s painfully simple, something that I could easily play on piano (and I’m not pianist, not by a long shot), and when it’s over, I’m nearly in tears. [And I just looked up the article about the piece on Wiki and found that it’s in my favourite key…no wonder I love it.] 

I’m sure Philip Glass’s music is great, but it doesn’t speak to me. And if music doesn’t do that, then what’s it supposed to do?

Arvo Pärt’s “De Profunctis”

How I see classical music sometimes.

France: [Finishes an elegant piece]
Germany: [Polite applause] Oh well /done/, France! Definitely in the tradition of Beethoven! Yes indeed, very much in His footsteps.
France: I should think so! After all, you may all /make/ composers, but it is to France that they come to gestate!
Italy: Pish posh. Italy is still the center of civilization. I challenge you to find a truly great composer who has not studied under an Italian master.
England: ...You know, Frederick Delius is credited as an English composer. Yup. He was /born/ here. His skin sucked the genius right out of our soil.
Norway: You know, Delius spent some time here in Norway. Maybe that's-
Germany: Why all his music sounds like the gentle glimmer of snow that clings to edges of a brook in spring? Please. Your music has no /pain/!
Norway: ...We're okay with that.
France: Psh, pain! You want pain! Come to France!
Italy: Oh yes, do go to France. Their music is so profound that it shall forever be remembered as cartoon backdrops, and the sort of operas that establishments put on during slow seasons to fill up the gallery.
France: We have /Debussy/!
Norway: Ooo, Debussy! We love Debussy!
Germany: Pah! Need I say more?
England: Poland, I'm amazed you're not joining this pissing contest.
Poland: [Looks up from newspaper] Hm? Oh. We've got Chopin. Whatever. Carry on with your little squabble.
Germany: This reminds me- I met this fabulous fella named Russia. I invited him to join our little tea party. Russia!
Russia: [Pokes head around doorframe] ...
Germany: Do come sit with us!
France: Oh my, yes, please do. Don't be intimidated.
Italy: Perhaps you can learn a thing or two from us.
Poland: Wow, seriously, you invited Russia? Thanks. Thanks a lot. [Storms out]
France: ...[Whispers to England] What's his problem?
England: Awkward ex. Also, don't lean so close to me.
Germany: Russia, we were just discussing how /pain/ adds a certain non-replicable profundity to music. What do you think?
Russia: ...[Pulls out violin]
France: Oh my, a performance! Splendid! I warn you, good fella, you can hardly follow my act, but we'll give you some pointers. [Has a sit]
France: [Eyes bleed]
Germany: [Dead on the floor]
England: ... [Tea slowly spills in lap]
Italy: [Crawling toward exit, fingernails scraping at the floor]
Norway: ... [Hides behind Sweden]
Sweden: Sorry- What are we talking about?
(If I wasn't so lazy, I would draw all this.)
Poland also had Szymanowski! Smugness EARNED.

Arvo Pärt’s “Magnificat,” sung by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers

"Sibelius ends not with a bang or a whimper but with a leaden thud."  -Alex Ross of Silbelius’ 4th Symphony

[Video is only 4th movement. I highly encourage you, dear reader, to listen to the whole symphony.]