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Classical Notes: September 12, 2006 Archive

Mencken on music

Posted at 8:08 AM on September 12, 2006 by John Zech (1 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

The "Sage of Baltimore," H. L. Mencken was born on this date (in Baltimore...duh!!) in 1880.

It would be interesting to have the old cynic writing in the blogosphere today (he said "the cynics are right nine times out of ten"). One of the many subjects he touched on was music.

"The opera is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral."

"Opera in English is, in the main, about as sensible as baseball in Italian"

"There are, indeed, only two kinds of music: German music and bad music."

He also said, "It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf."

Hmmm. Well, Mozart liked billiards, anyway, even if he wasn't necessarily good at the game.

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Finishing near the top

Posted at 5:50 PM on September 12, 2006 by Don Lee (1 Comments)

Viktoria Mullova comes to Minneapolis this week to perform Sibelius's Violin Concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra (as Brian Newhouse mentioned here a few days ago). It might surprise you to know that the Sibelius is one of the most-often-performed pieces in U.S. concert halls.

The American Symphony Orchestra League, which keeps track of such things, placed it at no. 13 (with 56 performances) for the 2005-6 season. In 2002-3, it was ranked no. 4. I believe, but can't verify, that the concerto reached no. 1 at least once during the 1990s.

My question is, why? Is it because there are not enough good concertos to go around for all of those violin soloist appearances? Or is the inherent appeal of the Sibelius that great?

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