Friday, June 24, 2016

Urban Planning for Classical Musicians

There are few places in the world where one does get the sense that significant efforts have been made to accommodate classical musicians: Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London, parts of New York. But in most places, one has the feeling that little or no attempt has been made to create a wholesome environment for those of us who are music lovers and musicians. I mean, Mexico City? Have you been to Mexico City? Apart from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, it is a pretty harsh environment. In fact, a lot of places show distressing signs of being not very congenial environments for classical music and its lovers. Here are some of the major issues:

  • barking dogs
  • braying burros
  • macaws!
  • loud motorcycles
  • boom-box cars
  • fireworks
  • marching bands
  • brass bands
  • barking dogs
  • drum circles
  • Muzak
  • loud inappropriate music in restaurants chosen by the twenty-something staff but immensely irritating to the fifty-something diners
  • traffic
  • busses
  • barking dogs
  • EDM
  • sirens
and so on.

And, conversely, there is a shocking lack of these kinds of essential features that are so important to classical music and its lovers:
  • recording studios, an extremely important feature that should be available in all residences, schools, colleges, universities, office buildings and everywhere else people are apt to find themselves. You never know when you might need to record something.
  • sound-proofing in all the above locations so that you can do whatever it is you are doing, practicing Bach probably, without having to contend with the disruptive sound of someone next door chewing loudly or something
  • of course, there should be concert and recital spaces in various sizes available anywhere there are people. One small recital space for every area with 500 population, one medium concert hall for every area with 1000 population and one opera house for every area with 10,000 population should be sufficient.
  • instrument maintenance and repair people available on a 24 hour basis everywhere--for obvious reasons! Also, for guitarists, personnel specially trained in the emergency repair of broken nails.
  • special flights on specially-designed aircraft to all important destinations with accommodations specifically for musicians travelling with violins, cellos, guitars, tubas, double basses or any other musical instruments up to and including large gongs, timpani and gamelans. White-gloved baggage assistants will be available to help stow safely large and awkward instruments.
  • of course, there will need to be appropriate refreshments available anywhere musicians are working, such as concert halls, recording studios and street corners in the case of busking musicians. These should include a mixed selection of Norwegian smoked salmon, Dom Pérignon, brioche, Perrier, M&Ms with the brown ones taken out, etc.
Honestly, wouldn't all of society be so much better off, and with lower blood pressure according to recent research, if happy, contented classical musicians were encouraged to be happy and productive all over the place? I know I would feel better.

And now for an appropriate envoi, look what cool things could be happening all over the place:


I mean, talk about transforming society?

Friday Miscellanea

The Wall Street Journal has a review by Norman Lebrecht of a recent book on female composers by Anna Beer. Lebrecht, who runs the site Slipped Disc, typically manages to appear aggressive and angry at someone about something, though sometimes it is hard to tell whom or what:
When the Metropolitan Opera announced that is would be performing “L’amour de loin” by Finland’s Kaija Saariaho in its coming season, headlines blared that this work was the first by a woman composer to be performed at the Met in more than a century. The last, forgettably, was “ Der Wald” by Ethel Smyth in 1903.
I’m not sure which detail was the more regrettable—the inexcusable hiatus or the bad journalism that zoned in on a composer’s gender. A woman may, in 2016, direct the Large Hadron Collider or serve as chief operating officer at Facebook without undue comment, but if she composes an opera it’s front-page news in New York. A further sign, perhaps, that opera is out of tune with our times.
So if it is bad journalism to zone in on a composer's gender what is it to devote a whole book to it? But if it is an inexcusable hiatus to not have a premier of an opera by a woman composer for over a century, then surely it is not bad journalism to zone in on gender? It's all very confusing. Here is his take on the problem of women composers:
Lutyens, the first Englishwoman to adopt Schoenberg’s serialism, encapsulated their struggle in a memorable comparison. “If Britten wrote a bad score,” she told an interviewer, “they’d say, ‘he’s had a bad day.’ If I had written one, it was because I was a woman.” That inequality has not gone away. When Judith Weir, now Master (sic) of the Queen’s Musick, staged a dreadful opera, “Miss Fortune,” at Covent Garden in 2012, critics turned to sexual derogation. “We’re stuck in a situation where the barriers to women becoming composers have been removed,” wrote one right-wing polemicist, “but they’re still honoured for being women.”
Lebrecht is an odd sort of booster as he does not hesitate to describe an opera by a woman as being dreadful, but he does stick to the narrative pretty well by labeling another critic as a "right-wing polemicist" and therefore, wrong, of course.

The Music Salon discussed this book back in April.

* * *

A very interesting interview with a very capable music administrator: David Stull, the president of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Yes, there is a greater need now than ever for classical music in the culture. I found Mr. Stull's grasp of what is truly important and what is less important one of the best things in the interview. At the back of my mind I am wondering why is it that someone of this clarity of thought and eloquence in expressing it is not involved in high-level politics. He seems an order of magnitude wiser and smarter and better-informed than just about every presidential candidate. And he was speaking without a teleprompter!

* * *

This counts as one of the most nightmarish concert experiences ever. There you are, ripping through the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto when the conductor knocks the violin out of your hands and it crashes to the floor, cracking the soundboard.


I just have the feeling that violinist Rómulo Assis is going to be standing a good distance away from the conductor the next time he plays a concerto...

* * *

From the Annuls of the Obvious Department this earth-shaking news: Mozart is better for your blood-pressure than ABBA: "Mamma Mia! listening to Mozart lowers blood pressure…but ABBA has no impact."
“It has been known for centuries that music has an effect on human beings. In antiquity, music was used to improve performance in athletes during the Olympic Games,” said Lead author Hans-Joachim Trappe, of Ruhr University, Germany.
“In our study, listening to classical music resulted in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. These drops in blood pressure were clearly expressed for the music of Mozart and Strauss.
“The music of ABBA did not show any or only very small effects on blood pressure and heart rate. This may be due to emotional factors, but on the other hand the use of spoken words may have a negative role.”
* * *

Canadian Cultural News: "Rebranding of Alberta’s Banff Centre to include new look, strategic plan." There is always something dispiriting about Canadian cultural news. Perhaps it is because it is always about everything but actual culture. The Banff Centre, which I attended with great pleasure a few decades ago, has been a nexus of creative activity for quite some time. Violinist Tom Rolston had an important role in developing the music program which has provided advanced instruction for performers and a stimulating environment for composers. With all this creativity and talent, one would expect the centre to have generated some interesting cultural artifacts and perhaps it has. But in this story, as in discussion of culture generally in Canada, we discover nothing about the culture itself, but just the policies, programs, funding and marketing. It is as if the culture, the reason for all this activity, is almost non-existent:
Alberta’s Banff Centre has a new name. Effective Thursday, it is Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
The name change is part of a rebranding endeavour that includes a new look (a monochrome colour spectrum inspired by snow and accented by red; the capital “A” in Banff resembling a mountain peak) and strategic plan. Among other things, the plan will see a heightened emphasis on public access, indigenous programs and training for cultural leaders.
Cultural activity in Canada, instead of being driven by the creative choices of artists, seems to be always driven by the bureaucratic needs of government. Which perhaps explains why Canada has so little cultural influence outside its borders.

* * *

On that copyright case with Led Zeppelin and Spirit, the jury found Led Zeppelin not guilty of stealing the lick from the Spirit song.

* * *

Promoting an upcoming concert by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the Guardian devotes an article so surveying different kinds of minimalism in music. Here is a sample:
Less can be more. Arguments do not get more convincing by using more words or by shouting, and a woman does not get more beautiful by hanging lots of jewellery around her. Art forms that make their statements with a minimum of means carry a strong attraction, especially in music. And minimalism is far from a 20th-century invention.
This is what I call the principle of aesthetic parsimony: don't overdo just because you can.

* * *

Taking a cue from that concert for our envoi today, here is the Sonata for Violin and Piano by Galina Ustvolskaya:


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Art of Listening: Overview of Music History

One thing that helps get perspective on music is to have an overall sense of its history. For a really thorough, detailed account you can't do better than Richard Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music which runs about 4000 pages. But I think that we can do an overview in a little less space!

Western Music, at least that part of it that we know much about, has a history about a thousand years long. The practice of music is age-old, of course, but up until people figured out how to write it down, all that is lost. We have no idea what the music of the Ancient Greeks, used to accompany their tragedies and comedies, sounded like, nor any of the other multitudinous kinds of music practiced before about the year 1000 AD. It was around then that a brilliant music teacher and monk named Guido of Arezzo discovered the one thing that made Western classical or concert music possible: how to write it down accurately. Before then, all we really had were a few ambiguous scribbles. But Guido came up with the idea of a simple horizontal line. Using that to orient the squiggles around, the exact pitch of the notes could be determined. One line wasn't enough, though, so in time a set of five lines came into use and with that, the possibility of music composition and performance moved to an entirely new level, one that made the large and complex structures of Western music possible.

(There are lots of non-Western musics that use large and complex structures, but they do so in ways that are fundamentally different and rely not on precise notations, but on rote memorization of traditional formulas. I talk about this in various other posts and don't want to digress into that here.)

Once the way of writing down pitches was discovered, the next step was to be able to write down the rhythms exactly. This proved to be very difficult and it took up until around 1500 AD to fully work out. Between 1000 AD and 1500 AD we do have written down pieces of music that are, more or less, clearly notated, though the earlier ones need some interpretation as regards the rhythm.

This whole period comprises one large phase in music history with a number of interesting characteristics. For one thing, all the composers tended to be singers. They thought in terms of long melodic lines and composed in the same way. Today, most composers are pianists and they compose in score, thinking of the whole piece at once. Back then, it seems that composers would compose whole lines and then go back and add other ones. Two of the earliest composers we know of, at least by name, are Léonin and Pérotin who both worked at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris around 1200 AD. Between them they pretty much invented the idea of counterpoint, or combining two or more melodic lines. Here is a piece in two parts by Léonin. This kind of simple, early counterpoint is called organum and consists in adding a decorative line in shorter notes to another voice in long ones.

For a few hundred years music for the voice was the most important of all and instrumental music was far less significant. Here is a piece for voices by the very famous composer Josquin des Prez, who flourished around 1500 AD. Notice that the voices now play an equal role and that they imitate one another:


In the next big phase in music history, we start to find more and more instrumental music. One thing it was particularly good at was providing music for dancing, but it also started by imitating the texture of vocal music. Here are two lute pieces, the first a dance:


This is a fantasia by Francesco da Milano that successfully copies the imitative counterpoint of the voice:


This second phase, where we find instrumental music finding its place and even dominating some genres, takes us up to around 1750. I haven't been using the traditional names, but the first phase is usually called Medieval and Renaissance music and the second, Baroque music. These terms can be a bit deceptive though. The thing to note is that the development of instrumental music came to the fore in this second phase and we find uniquely instrumental forms like the concerto developing. Composers now were often keyboard players or perhaps violinists like the great composer of concertos, Antonio Vivaldi. This is the Concerto in D major, RV 208:


This kind of rhythmic, accented music with lots of quick scales would be quite unsuitable for the voice, but perfect for the violin. Some of the greatest pieces of this phase combine voices and instruments to really spectacular effect. J. S. Bach was pretty much the master here. This is the opening chorus of the St. Matthew Passion, one of his greatest works:


The next phase is rather brief in comparison, stretching from around 1760 to around 1820, but pretty important nonetheless. I haven't mentioned opera, which deserves its own overview, but Italian opera buffa, with its clear and charming melodies and its bustling and energetic accompaniments was a major inspiration for the new instrumental (and vocal) style we call the "Classical Style" (after a book by Charles Rosen). This is the kind of music that is what most people think of when they think of Classical music. The trio of composers central to the style are Haydn, who largely invented it, Mozart, who wrote some of the most beautiful examples and Beethoven who moved it to an entirely new level. Let's have three samples. First, a symphony by Haydn, the Symphony No. 44 in E minor:


I think you can hear a new flexibility and fluidity in both the harmony and the rhythms that expressively support the clean-cut melodies. Mozart added his own unique charm to the style and brought the keyboard concerto to its first flourishing. Here is the Concerto No. 18 in B flat major:


While Beethoven wrote some great concertos and even greater symphonies, his sonatas for piano are even more numerous and just as remarkable. This is the Sonata in E major, op. 109:


As I said, that takes us up into the 1820s so this post has an overview of the first 800 years of music history. I will save the next 200 years for the next post!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Art of Listening: Classical Music

I got some nice encouragement for this project from a music teacher who wrote: "Whatever you call it, it will be required reading for my music history students!"

I will start with a general look at what we usually call "classical music" but is sometimes called "concert music" or "art music" or, in a slightly insulting phrase, "serious music". Hey, "Hellhound on My Trail" by Robert Johnson is about as serious as you can get, and it is the blues!

The basic fact about classical music (I will continue to call it that, simply because it is a familiar name) is that it is music written down by a composer and, usually, intended to be performed in concert. It is designed, first and foremost, to be listened to rather than danced to or to be in the background at banquets or parties. Mind you, there are cassations and divertimenti that were intended to be mostly in the background, but they are the exception.

Given this context, it is reasonable to expect that classical music will provide us with the most intense, fulfilling and moving listening experience. Of course, this is often not the case. Classical composers are likely to write a few (or many) duds that are boring, pretentious messes. But that counts as a failure! A successful classical piece is well worth listening to, usually many, many times.

Classical pieces can be of any length from a minute (or less) to three or more hours. Here is a very brief piece by one of our stars, the Saxon organist Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) that is no more than two minutes long (though it is paired with a following fugue), but is an absolute masterpiece of harmony:


The pianist is the Canadian Glenn Gould, particularly known for his crisp playing of Bach.

Classical music has a long history, mostly developing in Western Europe from the Dark Ages to now. Its origins are in the plainchant dating from the 6th century, which is unaccompanied singing of liturgical texts. Here is an Improperia, a kind of chant used at Easter and possibly originating in the 9th century:

From these simple origins, the tradition developed and developed, constantly discovering new resources in harmony, the combining of single notes into chords with several notes. The Bach prelude is a good example. Bach is also famous for his mastery of the technique of combining melodies, called counterpoint. Here is an example, the Fugue in B flat minor from Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach:


That is an extremely complicated and busy piece, isn't it? It would help to notice that, at least in the first part, each one of those four "voices" that come in (two in each hand) is exactly (or nearly) the same melody. This tune is called the "subject" of the fugue. You may have to listen a few times to pick out each entrance. It's worth it, though, as it rather expands your consciousness when you realize that you are listening to four different "voices" simultaneously--without going mad!

I don't want to overload any particular post, so this will do for today.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Educational Outreach

I have always tried to have a strong educational component in this blog and this has been for two reasons. It suits my abilities and inclinations as I spent a couple of decades teaching music at conservatory and university. Also, there is a pressing need for it as a lot of school programs have disappeared and classical music's place in the public sphere has also diminished. Classical music, unlike a lot of popular genres, really benefits from some understanding of the history and techniques.

So, since I am often critical of the efforts made in this area, I want to launch a new series of posts devoted to getting ordinary listeners a bit better acquainted with classical music. My inspiration for this came to me last night.

I was browsing around on Amazon and, since at some point I purchased one of those little sharpening tools for the kitchen, up popped an ad for a Japanese sharpening stone. Curious, I had a look at it. You may not know this, I certainly didn't, but the Japanese mastered the art of making knives way back in the 16th century and to this day they make the sharpest knives available. They also have developed a method of sharpening them that seems to be outstanding. They use gritty, porous stone that they first soak in water. I didn't know how this was supposed to work so I made use of the resources of the Internet to research it. After half an hour, reading a few articles on the subject and watching two videos, I now know how it works and I ordered a set of sharpening stones from Amazon. Clever how they do that...

I think we forget how much we learn from the Internet these days!

So, obviously, a very good thing to do would be to do some posts on music, akin to those little articles on sharpening knives the Japanese way. Little introductions to pass on some information and demystify some aspects of classical music. Now, since I have such an erudite readership, why don't you folks weigh in on the best way to do this. First of all, what would be a good title? "What to Listen for in Music" was the title of a successful book half a century ago by Aaron Copland, but probably less good now. "How to Listen to Music"? "How to Listen to Bach"? Or just "Listening to Music"? How about "The Art of Listening to Music"? or just "The Art of Listening"? That might be best. It was also the name of a course I taught at McGill.

In any case, I await your thoughts on the matter! Here is something to listen to for inspiration. This is the Divertimento in F, K 138 by Mozart played by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble:


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let a Hunded Flowers Bloom

Usually I avoid quoting Chairman Mao, but he did have a gift for a telling phrase. The "Hundred Flowers Campaign" may have been a mere trick to lure out critics of the regime so they could be conveniently sent to labor camps, but that aside, the idea of letting different ideas blossom freely is a good one. We should try it sometime!

There are a thousand ways of creating musical magic. Unfortunately there are at least a million ways of doing the opposite, of creating musical sludge, dreariness, leaden tedium, boring dullness, awkward quirkiness and just simple nastiness. I suppose the meaning of the phrase "ars longa, vita brevis" is that creation is long and arduous, but our time here on earth is brief. The alternate explanation is that while artists may die, their creations are eternal--but that seems a mere happythought to me. What I didn't know until I looked at the Wikipedia article is that the saying comes from the Greeks, Hippocrates, in fact:

Greek:

Ὁ βίος βραχύς,
ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή,
ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὀξύς,
ἡ δὲ πεῖρα σφαλερή,
ἡ δὲ κρίσις χαλεπή.

In Roman letters

Ho bios brakhys,
hê de tekhnê makrê,
ho de kairos oxys,
hê de peira sphalerê,
hê de krisis khalepê.

Latin:

Vita brevis,
ars longa,
occasio praeceps,
experimentum periculosum,
iudicium difficile.

English

Life is short,
and art long,
opportunity fleeting,
experimentations perilous,
and judgement difficult.

As Wikipedia points out, "techne" in Greek refers to any kind of technique or craft. So the more obvious interpretation is the correct one.

It is sometimes said, though I forget by whom originally, that genius is nothing but the ability to take infinite pains over every detail. Perhaps this is the explanation for the creation of masterworks. But I know that sometimes when I have done that I have ended up by squeezing every bit of life out of what was originally a decent idea. So perhaps we have to qualify by saying that aesthetic creation often involves not only some original idea, but a great deal of painstaking work in developing and polishing that idea so that it achieves its best presentation.

Sometimes I think that a remarkable amount of the repertoire of high modernism in music, the creations of Boulez, Stockhausen, Cage, et al, illustrates the lengths to which they were prepared to go to avoid the whole aesthetic problem of creation. If you have some sort of mathematical system, as  Stockhausen seems to have used sometimes, or really mysterious variation on serialism, as Boulez seems to have been using, or random tosses of coins, as Cage made use of, then you are really substituting an abstract intellectual process for one informed by aesthetic results.

"Techne" for those of us on a different path means what kinds of acoustic effects are we seeking, what do we want the audience to hear and what means do we have available? Unfortunately, the reality is that there are no tried and true ways of creating musical magic as every composer seems to have found different ways of doing so (and different ways in every piece, to boot). Experimentations may indeed be perilous, but there ain't no other way, I suspect. This is one reason why Steve Reich's music seems to ring true for me: it bears every sign of being the result of considerable experimentation on the instruments. He has worked everything out and gotten the results he was looking for in sound. Whether you like it or not, is up to you, of course, but you can't say it wasn't an honest effort aesthetically.

But back to how we create musical magic. I suppose it really comes down to trying different things and listening to the result. It is partly in the imagination and partly in the hands (or voice, or breath). Music has effects on different levels: intellectual, emotional and physical. We might even try and locate these levels in the structure: a lot of the emotion (by which I don't mean ordinary emotions like love and hate, but more musical moods) is transmitted with the melody (and some harmony). A lot of the intellectual level is found in the harmony, but also in the counterpoint. And it is usually the rhythm and meter that reaches us on the physical level. Steve Reich, for example, achieves some of his most interesting effects by changing the meter, but not the rhythm, of a melody or by relocating where the downbeat is.

It is often through restraint that powerful effects are created. Beethoven's incredibly tight focus on three tiny aspects of the theme of the Diabelli Variations over all thirty-three sections is the source of much of the power of that music. But other powerful effects are achieved through simply piling on more and more and more, as in the first movement of the Symphony No. 7 by Shostakovich where an eleven minute crescendo starts with a very quiet tattoo on a snare drum and ends with the whole orchestra making as much noise as they can. And no, you have to hear in in concert because these dynamic extremes are beyond the capacity of most recording processes, not to mention your home stereo.

It turns out that musical magic is largely about creativity, which, it seems, involves being creative. Heh!

Let's listen to the Diabelli Variations by Beethoven. I discussed this piece in some detail in this post. The pianist is Grigory Sokolov:


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Alex Ross has a lovely, celebratory essay about the history and current incarnation of Marlboro Music "an outwardly low-key summer gathering that functions variously as a chamber-music festival, a sort of finishing school for gifted young performers, and a clandestine summit for the musical intelligentsia."

* * *

City Journal has a brief essay explaining how the students at Yale in their demand to rid the curriculum of white, male authors have really not gone far enough:
The trouble with the demand is not its petulance but its timidity. If the canonical English bards, novelists, and playwrights are to be minimized—or banished entirely—why stop there? If the protestors want to “decolonize the course, and focus the curriculum” to “deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism and ethnicity,” why not decolonize the entire university catalogue?
Manifestly, this purification of Western culture would have to include music. Out goes J.S. Bach, who was not only Caucasian but German, deeply religious, and straight (two wives, 20 children). The Teutonic Franz Josef Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johannes Brahms would join him on the proscribed list, along with the Austrian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and such Italians as Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, and, it goes without saying, Antonio Vivaldi, the redheaded priest.
Amen.

* * *

Another infuriating tale of musicians mistreated by airlines: "Musician ‘kicked off’ United Airlines flight for attempting to stow her violin safely." This is the main reason why I would never fly with my guitar, the other being the danger of customs agents deciding that my ebony fingerboard was "illegal". As a musician, you come to have quite a negative impression of air travel. After a number of years of touring I came to deeply detest the staff that treat musicians so badly.
Lee was flying first class from Washington Dulles Airport to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on 12 June with her violin, which met FAA regulations, according to the musician. However, when she was unable to fit her instrument in the overhead locker, she asked a flight attendant for assistance:
‘She said she didn’t have time to help me,’ writes Lee. ‘I saw that the under-the-seat space for the first row of economy was plentiful, although there were some small backpacks of customers sitting there. It looked like my violin case would fit. I very politely asked the customers sitting there if they’d be willing to move their bags – I would buy them drinks (and move their bags) – and since my violin is a very rare (antique) precious instrument that cannot be checked, if I could possibly put it there. They complied. While I was doing that (and my violin case fit perfectly there, see picture), the aforementioned flight attendant came to me and said, “You are being a disturbance, I don’t want you on my flight anymore” and kicked me off the flight.’
* * *

And if you thought that was just some random event, here is another one, with an equally autocratic person, this time the pilot: "American Airlines pilot denies Rachel Barton Pine access to cabin with her violin."
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine was denied boarding an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Albuquerque with her instrument yesterday evening, according to her PR company. The captain refused to allow the musician to take the 1742 Guarneri ‘del Gesú’ ‘Soldat’ violin – on lifetime loan to Pine and pictured below – into the cabin because ‘its dimensions were not correct for a carry-on’.
Pine was travelling to perform with the New Mexico Philharmonic and to take part in the orchestra’s outreach programme. The violinist flies over 100,000 miles a year with American Airlines and has flown on the same type of plane on numerous occasions, placing the violin case in the overhead compartment.
* * *

The "Stairway to Heaven" copyright case has finally come to trial and the New York Times has the story.
Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, testifying in a closely watched copyright trial on Wednesday, said that until recently he had never heard the song he has been accused of plagiarizing in the band’s 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven.”
A couple of years ago, Mr. Page said, his son-in-law told him that people online were comparing “Stairway” to “Taurus,” a 1968 song by the lesser-known group Spirit. But when Mr. Page finally heard the other song, it sounded “totally alien” to him.
“I know that I had never heard it before,” he said.
The case was previously discussed in a post back in April.

* * *

I don't want to tramp on anyone's toes, but is it really the case that the only male composer that could possibly be performed at this year's Ojai festival was the long-deceased Claude Vivier? Or are the organizers simply following the suggestion a while back that publishers should publish nothing but women writers for a year? Or was it for a decade? Millennium? The Wall Street Journal has a report on the festival. Doesn't this comment sound oddly perfunctory and out-of-tune:
Vivier, who was murdered in 1983, a few weeks before his 35th birthday, was the only nonliving composer on the roster this year, an unprecedented occurrence at this festival. More significant was his status as the only male composer featured. To the festival’s credit, this laudable initiative in favor of women wasn’t flaunted, allowing the music to speak for itself.
"Laudable initiatives" at least when they follow lock-step the demands of cultural Marxism, are anything but laudable in my book. Perhaps if they had followed a different selection process the festival might have been more successful?

* * *

And that provides us with our envoi. This is Zipangu for string orchestra by Claude Vivier played by I Musici de Montréal: