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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: January 10, 2007 Archive

E Is for Education

Posted at 8:40 AM on January 10, 2007 by Rex Levang

Primary education as it was practiced a few decades ago . . . challenging in its rigor, or completely divorced from life's realities?

Maybe some of each. In any case, I was recently going through an old box of household flotsam and jetsam and ran across part of a little eight-page newsletter that we used to receive as part of music class in grade school, in 1960s Duluth. This particular issue (of "Young Keyboard Jr") contains a synopsis of Wagner's "Lohengrin."

Here is how they thought they could address 10-year-olds at that time.

"Wicked woman," cried Frederick to his wife. "We accused an innocent girl! What will become of us?"

"Hush, you fool," replied Ortrud. "I have a plan. Brabant will be ours yet!"

Now Ortrud, who was really an enchantress, boasted, "I have not studied black magic in vain! I shall fill Elsa’s mind with doubts – she alone can make her Knight reveal his name and his mission. Then his magic powers will be broken!"

The author, Helen B. Kilduff, continues in the same vein, summarizing all of Act II of the opera, with musical examples. At the end of the piece, the reader is addressed directly, in boldface type:

Will the wedding continue? Will Ortrud’s evil spell force Elsa to question her Knight? What will happen if Lohengrin reveals all? In our final chapter next month, you will find out!