A Public Service

September 22, 2011

Your humble servant, author of Music & Power, is hardly inclined to dispute the mixing of music and politics. Quite aside from the exact details of the London disruptions of the Israel Philharmonic concerts, and the firings from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the principles that Tom Service lays out here are of great importance.

Traduttore = Traditore

September 21, 2011

First a few quotes, the first concerning how much trust we should put in certain kinds of news reports:

A report of the latest speech by the Iranian president … could … be attributed to a named journalist’s adaptation of a Reuter’s English-language wire originating in Kuwait based on a report in Arabic from Al Jazeera which had provided the information from listening to a radio broadcast in Farsi from Teheran.

The second pertains to a past disaster:

Bellos attributes the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to the false cousinage of the German word Adjutant, which referred to a high official, and the French adjudant, which meant only ‘sergeant-major’. When Bismarck announced that the French ambassador had been dismissed by a message from the Kaiser delivered by his Adjutant vom Dienst, Napoleon III took great (and calamitous) offence at his representative being seen off by what he assumed to be an NCO.

And here’s one last passage, dealing with one of translation’s greatest landmarks:

Not until the Pentateuch was translated into Greek, in the third century BC, by seventy-two bilingual Jews, did it reach a wide audience. Bellos says that they did their miraculously harmonious work in Paphos on Cyprus. Unless Bellos has new information, tradition has it that the scholars were sequestered on the lighthouse island of Pharos, a suitable spot for those whose work was destined to be a light to the Gentiles.

If those subjects appeal to you, you’ll eat up this review, and very possibly the book it treats.

What is Music Notation For?

September 20, 2011

Dennis DeSantis is intransigent. He has had it with elaborate scores that add nothing to the aural result but complicate the musician’s task. In a clear and easy-to read article, he declares:

Notation should be considered a set of instructions for performers. And nothing else.

Oh, wait. According to Random House, they were orginal when he said them. But you knew that.

Judge Not

September 14, 2011

The music that people prefer may tell you something about them, but it’s never safe to judge music by who listens to it. Hear the delightful stand-up comic, Retta, using a passage of the Vivaldi Gloria to put some haters in their place.

(Alerted to this by Alex Ross via Twitter)

Christopher Small 1927–2011

September 9, 2011

Alex Ross tweets the sad news of the death of Christopher Small, who revolutionized the thinking about music of many thinkers about music. He and Neville were neighbors of mine in the late ’80s, and he read and commented helpfully on Music & Power, since our preoccupations then were congruent. His highly developed thinking influenced mine, even in areas of music that didn’t much interest him.

Much of his writing was of a sort that won’t age.

(Hat-tip to John Musto)

If you’ve seen Carter Brey only in white tie and tails, it’s a bit of a revelation to see him here. Commanding the cello section of the New York Philharmonic or the sails and rudder of the Dolphine, he seems utterly at ease.