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Classical Notes

Note to Self:

Posted at 12:43 AM on April 19, 2006 by Valerie Kahler (1 Comments)
Filed under: Musical philosophy

"The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everyone sees." - Arthur Schopenhauer

As (almost) the baby of the MPR classical music family, even I have been doing the classical radio thing for nigh on 20 years. So, sometimes it's a challenge as an announcer to face that Haydn symphony or Beethoven quartet one more time. It helps that Rex & Melissa do such a loving job of crafting the playlists...and that I love the music. I wrote a fundraising spot about it a few years ago, as much to remind myself as to encourage more seasoned listeners to remember that someone's always hearing that "old chestnut" for the very first time.

My task, then? Not so much to hear what no one yet has heard, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everyone hears.

Comments (1)

I think I can tell that chesnut warhorse when I hear it. Or the bay or the grey.

But consider this; in spite of the number of times Vivaldi's Four Seasons has been played on the air, it wasn't from a radio host mention that I learned of the poetry he wrote to go along with the music, measure for measure. The poetry was in the notes that came along with a yard-sale CD. So to be sure there are plenty of stones unturned, things to mention about the music old or new.

Radio is a unique entertainment venue..the host cannot see or hear the audience. But is someone listening? Surely. I like to hear about what influenced the composer, what circumstances surrounded him or her at the time the music was written or first performed. For example, Midsummer Nights Dream was young Felix's favorite. Yet Ruy Blas was not a fav. I liked hearing that Gustav Holst rode a bicycle. And played a trombone. And sometimes rode his bike with his trombone, (but probably did not play while riding.)

When I first heard JSB wrote a coffee cantata I thought it was a jest…Perhaps it was by PDQ Bach. Then I heard of the similarly silly Peasant Cantata! And who knew that the Goldberg Variations include a folk tune about cabbages and turnips? Who was this Goldberg anyway?

Beethoven struggled and was depressed, but he goofed off with Kuhlau, he loved fiercely and faced down his angst seemingly by strength of will alone. But he was a messy housekeeper and counted out 60 coffee beans in the morning to make coffee. How does this info help enjoy the music? John Lennon said we're here on this earth surely not to live in pain and fear, but why are we here? Perhaps we are reminded of the answer by this art, (perhaps as Shaupenhauer thought)….we're here to dream and ride and play and sing about silly things and love and do kindnesses and struggle and have a messy house. And go to work. On days off some of us will actually clean the house… And enjoy coffee. Made just so.

I think we are all blessed to live in a time of access to such amazing music. Rex and Melissa (where ever you are)..thanks for all the great programming; proven pieces as well as the newer music like Manny's Gym, and Dorati's piece for oboe.

What do other listeners like to hear and hear about?

Posted by ted vasilow | April 21, 2006 12:23 PM