Bah bum ba BUM! So everyone knows the first few notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. But did you all know that ol’ Ludwig considered the notes symbolic of Fate knocking on his door and demanding him to open it. Of course, Beethoven would have no such thing, because he determined his own fate!
Ludwig van Beethoven was the complete arbiter of his own fate, and I don’t think he would have had an archaic, superstitious notion ruling him and demanding that he answer to it. Beethoven was WAY more interesting than that. He was bombastic and knew that his talents were unique, hard-won, and revolutionary.
Check out this amazing choreography by Pina Bausch for the Sacrificial Dance in Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps.
I think if a young woman had to dance herself to death in order to appease the gods – this is what it would look like! *NSFW*
Okay – I’m gonna start off with saying I am a HUGE Mozart enthusiast (if you can’t already tell from my biased posts on this blog!), but I think Verdi’s Tuba Mirum is much more awesome and fitting than Mozart’s! I mean, Verdi’s Tuba Mirum is exactly what the Apocalypse is going to sound like. The trumpeters are announcing the death and ascension of all humankind while angels pour out bowls of pestilence upon the Earth. Verdi was simply right on with his version – at least in terms of Biblical accuracy. Verdi’s Tuba Mirum is far more bombastic – and we should bow our heads in honor of the great Maestro Verdi!
First of all – Happy 66th Birthday to composer John Adams! John Adams is a 20th Century minimalist composer who has composed fabulous pieces like Nixon in China (his first opera) and Doctor Atomic. Nixon in China remains one of my favorite operas in the repertoire! My husband has always lamented that not too many operas are written in English, and when I pointed out that John Adams writes operas in English – he was willing to give it a chance!
Have a listen to Mr. Adams talking a little about Nixon in China and a moving clip of the opera starring Kathleen Kim as Madame Mao (Jiang Qing).
February is Black History Month, and I thought it was perfectly fitting to talk a little about Scott Joplin’s under appreciated and rather obscure opera, Treemonisha. According to Vera Brodsky Lawrence, “to early 20th Century America it was unthinkable, inadmisable and intolerable that a black composer – worse yet a black composer to vulgar ragtime – should attempt to invade the inviolable white precincts of grand opera.” During Joplin’s time, no publisher was willing to take the risk and stage Treemonisha. Joplin himself became absolutely obsessed with it, attempting to prove to himself and others that his grand opera was a worthy endeavor and people should appreciate the message behind it.
The heroine of the opera, Treemonisha, symbolizes resourcefulness and education, that education – not superstition – were the salvation for the black race. Jopin strongly felt that his people were encumbered by superstitious beliefs that oppressed them, and that white people further used to subjugate them. He truly believed that education and enlightenment were the answer to freedom. According to Susan Curtis, author of Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune, other members of the black community and colleagues of Joplin did not feel this way. They did not support the opera fully due to its philosophical implications.
Treemonisha is considered by scholars to be the “Sleeping Beauty of American music” that has gone underground since Joplin’s death and remains esoteric to this day. Lets do some justice to Joplin and his vision for his grand opera and promote it during the 21st century.
Here’s a fantastic clip of the Théâtre du Châtelet performing Treemonisha.
I’m on a Franz Schubert kick now – as I love little Schoobie! Schubert was a bohemian artsy-type who didn’t even own a piano! He would simply crash at his friends’ houses, compose at coffee shops, and spent his money quickly and frivolously. The “Schubertiadens” in Vienna, Austria were home parties that featured Schubert’s music (since no publisher wanted to actually publish his music), and his friends would get together and do other artistic stuff while Franzie was on the piano – like act out theater pieces, write poems, paint portraits, and just straight up act like a bunch of boho-bourgeois artists. But you know what – these sounded fun! People nowadays don’t do stuff like this anymore. Where can I find me some boho-hippie friends to have our own Schubertiads? What would a modern-day Schubertiad look like?
Okay, so how cute is Schubert?! I’ve always thought he was the most adorable little thing. Famous for his beautiful lieder (song cycles – not lederhosen) and symphonic pieces, he has made an indelible mark as a Romantic composer on the modern world. The real question though is, was he hot? You decide!