“Give us a Boating Tune, Fred!”

July 17, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, HISTORY, MUSIC |

17 July, 1717: Handel’s “Water Music” is played on the Thames for King George I.  He went for Baroque on the river. As Michael Steen* points out, the story that Handel “tried to regain the King’s favour by serenading him, uninvited, is untrue: the music was written later.”  Handel had to work at self-selling of course, who does not? But his success was surely due to his prolific output of dramatic effects and ingenious musical structures. For a man born (23 February 1685) in Halle, Handel became the quintessential composer for the English.  His Zadok the Priest became the coronation…

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Listen to This

July 10, 2018 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Classical Music, MUSIC |

We’ve recently ploughed (and sloshed) through a very sub-par biography of the great Ludwig van Beethoven – rather than trouble with that, listen to this instead:

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Meeting the Mastersingers

July 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

8 July, 2018 A very pleasant Sunday salon at the Hackett-Jones residence for the SA Wagner Society’s afternoon with some of the featured players from the forthcoming State Opera’s dramatic concert production of Act III of Meistersinger.  ASO french horn players Emma Gregan and Alex Miller gave us some nice pieces written for horn (by Brahms, of all people!)  These pieces were very easy on the ear, whilst apparently rather difficult to play.  Hearing them, one started to daydream of a tense afternoon tea with Wagner, Brahms, Cosima and Clara Schumann debating the role of music, perhaps with Eduard Hanslick…

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In Search of Wagner

The sentimental Marat

(By Theodor Adorno) (written 1937-38) (Rodney Livingstone translation) (2005) Whilst Adorno (1903 – 1969) was a thinker of wide learning and deep perception, here he is defeated by Wagner, as well as by his own Frankfurter-Marxist dogma and drab obsession with the dialectical. He’d love to dismiss RW as repulsive, dangerous, tin-eared, a Jew-baiter and Jew-hater, formless and, worst of all, bourgeois; yet a kind of intellectual honesty keeps creeping-back in to Adorno’s highly profound skull that undermines all of his grumbling. Wagner is not only sui generis; he is unimpeachable; Adorno’s brilliant attacks, often highly personal, fail utterly, proving…

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Remembering Toscanini

March 25, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Toscanini by Giacomo Grosso

Arthur Toscanini (March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957) Naturally, they hissed at him at La Scala.  But Arturo had the last laugh, recognised in his lifetime as the greatest conductor in the world, selector’s choice for launching the best operas on offer. After spurning Mussolini and Hitler, he concentrated on playing for people who were primarily interested in art rather than power: “Liberty, in my opinion, is the only orthodoxy within the limits of which art may express itself and flourish freely-liberty that is the best of all things in the life of man, if it is all one…

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