Well, not really hate. Just screamingly jealous of him. The interesting thing is that such an innate ability (and it's absolutely innate; it's genetic and cannot be learned beyond assigning names to the learned notes/tones) has little if anything to do with any musical gift the kid may or may not possess. It's strictly a memory function, in such a case called "pitch memory".
Pliable (the blogosphere nom de guerre of Bob Shingleton), publisher of the blog On an Overgrown Path, has announced the closing down of his long-running and informative blog for all too familiar reasons today. We expressed our feelings about this in a comment to that announcement which read:
Saddened to read this, Pliable, but not at all surprised. I've commented several time on S&F about the slow death of the blogosphere due principally to the rise of the likes of Facebook (which I refuse to join) and Twitter (which I did join mostly to link to new entries on S&F) and have toyed with the idea of closing down S&F as well. Instead, I simply post far less there than previously as the blog serves primarily as my personal vehicle for letting off steam as explained in its About entry. Your informed writings on Overgrown Path will be missed by me as well as, I'm certain, by many others.
Atque in perpetuum, "On an Overgrown Path", ave atque vale.
This imaginative and mostly delicious hors d'oeuvre for the forthcoming Series IV of the popular and critically acclaimed Brit TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (expected airdate, early 2017) was written by series co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and aired last night on PBS. It finds our heroes spending most of their time in the late 19th century rather than the 21st. We'll not reveal any more about it except to say it was a most unexpected, unusual and welcome treat and, for the most part, a genuinely delightful way to spend an hour-and-a-half glued to the TV screen. A trailer for the episode (one of several) can be viewed here. If you missed the premiere showing, PBS will re-air the full episode 10 January at 10:00 PM Eastern and make it available for streaming for a limited time thereafter.
[NOTE: This entry has been updated (1) as of 6:33 PM Eastern on 19 Dec. See below.]
One cold winter's evening sometime in the early '70s a bunch of us (can't remember how many but more than 8) — all classical musicians and classical music snobs all, ranging in age from 19 to 50 — were sitting or lying around a large, blazing and welcoming fireplace engaging in good-natured argumentative banter about various pieces of music and various composers. About the only thing we all managed to agree on so far was that Bach was the greatest composer who ever lived and his music the greatest ever written. Then one member suggested we play a game which he called "Scenarios". Each member would, in turn, set up an imaginary scenario and then ask what should be playing on the turntable in the background in that scenario. We would then all engage in a discussion on what each of us thought the best selection would be.
Sounded like a clever idea and great fun and we all accepted the challenge.
As expected, we seemed to agree on nothing and the detailed arguments for each selection, many of them put forward at length, were as good-naturedly argumentative as they had been all evening pre-"Scenarios".
Then came this scenario: it's a cold and blustery winter's night much like this one and you're lounging in front of a crackling, blazing fireplace with your truelove. What's playing on the turntable in the background?
Without an instant's hesitation came the unanimous answer from all members almost in unison as if we were all reading from the same script: Sinatra!
And that pretty much says it all.
Happy 100th!, Frank.
Update (6:33 PM Eastern on 19 Dec): Although at the time no one felt the need to offer an explanation for his or her declaration of "Sinatra!" in our little game as the explanation was tacitly understood by all, on this centenary of Sinatra's birth I feel the need to articulate the explanation for my declaration. And that is to my ear Sinatra was absolutely unique musically among male pop singers. It was not only the unique timbre of his voice but the way he shaped and articulated any song he performed. Disregarding his performances during the so-called "Rat Pack" years (i.e., during the first half or so of the 1960s which years and which performances are best forgotten), Sinatra's inimitable style was pure magic from song to song which songs he invariably transformed into taut, 3-4-minute mini-dramas with a skill almost preternatural but which mini-dramas came across as thoroughly natural and effortlessly realized in performance. Pop-musically, Sinatra was a singer of singular musical excellence and intelligence who simply has no equal, before or since.
We've just put up on our sidebar the link to a new Featured Past Post titled "Appalling Reality: A Summing Up". Do have a look.
Beginning some 43 years ago something went horribly wrong at Bayreuth, the one place in the world where Werktreue Wagner ought to be heard and seen as a matter of course and of principle. A malignancy began growing there which in the past ten or so years has developed into a Stage IV terminal case.... And that malignancy has a name. It's called Regietheater.
[NOTE: This entry has been updated (1) as of 1:21 AM Eastern on 8 Nov. See below.]
If this production doesn't drive us back to live opera nothing will.
Now, where to get the $$$...
Update (1:21 AM Eastern on 8 Nov): On reading several eMails referring to our above entry, we now see we've managed to be unintentionally ambiguous concerning our two one-line comments, so let us now correct the problem.
When we wrote, "If this production doesn't drive us back to live opera nothing will," we meant to say, "If this production doesn't drive us back to live opera TO SEE THIS PRODUCTION, nothing will," meaning that the intriguing staging was so complex we knew that no filmed reproduction of that staging (as in a DVD or via the Met's HD Live) could capture it fully or even accurately and therefore it had to be experienced live in the theater to properly assess its appropriateness as a staging for this opera about which appropriateness we have some fundamental doubts; doubts that would NOT have arisen had Lulu been a stage play rather than an opera.
As to our closing line, we were NOT coyly soliciting donations. Merely jestingly stating an actual impediment as living like a virtual hermit for the past 30 years or so, we're sorely ill-equipped materials-wise to venture out into the high-class, high-cost world of NYC opera-going without expending substantial amounts of money to properly equip ourself.
We trust this update will serve to remove all ambiguity from our above entry.
We just got around to viewing this lovely movie (thank you, Amazon Instant Video) and it's a thorough delight. Set in a fictional English retirement home for musicians called Beecham House (modeled on the famous Casa di Riposo per Musicisti in Milan founded by Verdi) it stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly (an actor with whose name and work we're totally unfamiliar but who is so much the spitting image of John Cleese in face, figure, and voice that it was not until the movie's closing credits we learned it was not John Cleese playing the role) all of whom turned in touching performances in this touching little tale which film critic Stanley Kauffmann described in his review for The New Republic as being "a bit thin" (which it is) but then went on to astutely observe that it really "doesn't matter. The important thing was to spend a hundred minutes or so [i.e., the length of the movie] with these people in that place," which people also included a singing cameo role for the great dramatic soprano Dame Gwyneth Jones who played Anne Langley, one of the resident guests of Beecham House. Lots of fine music-making to be heard throughout the movie all of the instrumentalists involved being real-life retired instrumentalists playing resident guests of Beecham House who actually performed the instrumental music seen in the movie themselves.
If you haven't seen this movie it's well worth at least renting from Amazon Instant Video for three bucks (we bought the film from AIV for eight bucks) and some 100 minutes of your time.
Alex Ross, classical music critic for The New Yorker, notes on his blog The Rest Is Noise:
Russell Thomas, speaking to Anne Midgette [here]: "The conversation about blackface is a distraction. It’s not about whether or not Mr. Antonenko was painted dark. It’s also not about whether whites should be allowed to sing Porgy and Bess. It’s about this: Why aren’t the stages representative of the communities in which they are located?"
Answer: Because it's unimportant, no pressing matter, and "a distraction". What matters on theater stages, the ONLY thing that matters — whether what's being presented is straight drama, musical comedy, opera, or what have you — is the excellence of the presentation and performance of the artwork being staged. Period. Full stop. Everything else — everything — is but of ancillary importance and only a hypersensitive, corrupted postmodern sensibility would argue otherwise.