October 6, 2011

Last evening, I went to the Apple Store for a minor iPhone issue, only to be stunned by the sight of these words:


Few people affect details and some attitudes of my daily life more, and I find that I can’t yet read the accounts of and tributes to his life that now justly abound. But I can join in spirit with Alex Ross’s simple statement here.

There is also appropriate comfort and a kind of joy in a quotation from Steve Jobs that Thomas Hampson has sent around today:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Ne Demandez Pas, Ne Dites Pas

September 27, 2011

Much of listening, watching, thrilling New York was turned on its ear last week by the latest iteration of Jean-Baptiste Lully‘s Atys as performed by Les Arts Florissants. For the most part it’s just as well to concentrate on Lully’s art rather than his biography, which had a particularly gruesome ending and was all but ignored (aside from a few grudging sentences in music-history books) until the American William Christie persuaded the French that some of their own music was far better than they knew.

An interesting part of Lully’s biography is the part where, to retain his position as virtual dictator of music in France, the rumors about the Italian-born composer’s liaisons avec les hommes had to be kept under wraps. But the always-invaluable Alex Ross has pointed, via Twitter, to some scurrilous poetry that outed the guy without mercy.

Sensation in Musicology

September 24, 2011

Alex Ross retails the “top ten titles” for papers at this fall’s Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society:

Francesco Dalla Vecchia, “Sopranos Gone Wild: Flashing in Seventeenth-Century Venetian Opera”

Craig Monson, “‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’ — ‘They Would Claw Each Other’s Flesh If They Could’: Conflicting Conformities in Convent Music”

David Kasunic, “Beethoven in the Background: Music and Fine Dining in Nineteenth-Century France”

Amanda Eubanks Winkler, “High School Musicals: Understanding Seventeenth-Century English Pedagogical Masques”

Rachel Cowgill, “Filling the Void: Theosophy, Modernity, and the Rituals of Armistice Day in the Reception of John Foulds’s A World Requiem”

Jessica Wood, “An Old World Instrument for Cold War Diplomacy: The Touring Harpsichord in 1950s Asia”

Elaine Kelly, “Late Beethoven and Late Socialism in the German Democratic Republic”

John Howland, “Nobrow Pop in the New Millennium?: Nico Muhly and Post-2000 Chamber Pop”

Paula Higgins, “Josquin and the Dormouse: Aesthetic Excess, Masculinity, and Homoeroticism in the Reception of Planxit autem David”

Joseph Auner, “Weighing, Measuring, Embalming Tonality”

It happens that this year is the first time I’ve ever had a paper proposal turned down for the Annual Meeting. Clearly I have not kept up with the times in terms of sexy, provocative titles! (Compare the list above with the title in the illustrated 1986 Journal.)

UPDATE: My notifying the AMS List of Alex Ross’s Top Ten List brought on correspondence that caused him to make an addendum to the Ten.

Whole Music

October 9, 2010

An enlightening e-mail interview with Alex Ross about his new book.

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