Musings from the Bunker 4/11/20
After yesterday’s rant on the lack of a national plan, governors run amok, and our government getting federalism backward, I’m now calm and refocused on entertainment, pastimes, books, musings, etc. Thanks for indulging me yesterday…
In keeping with the Saturday theme of music and poetry, here are:
Two iconic pieces:
This is a special and moving performance of Ravel’s Bolero, by l’Orchestre National de France. The first 45 seconds are the various musicians introducing themselves from their homes. The balance is sheer magic…a four minute truncated version of Bolero, which doesn’t sacrifice the majesty of the piece. Note, in particular, the timpanist utilizing a spoon and ladle. I include the article summarizing the performance for the background story:
And who doesn’t love Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” famously serving as the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey? When their concert was canceled, 40 musicians from Opera North (of the UK) joined from their homes—in white tie!—to share this piece, conducted from Sweden. I particularly enjoyed the percussionist with cymbals and three children at home. While the piece is a little over five minutes, the famous introduction is but 1:45 in length. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt8FhIVmR8M
This poem is one of my favorites, by Billy Collins, renowned past U.S. Poet Laureate. It speaks of a child’s first attempt to give a personal gift to a parent (in this case, his mother), as thanks for all she gave him. For all the parents, I think you’ll agree that the Lanyard is indeed priceless (both the poem and the gift):
The Lanyard – Billy Collins
The other day I was ricocheting slowly off the blue walls of this room, moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano, from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send one into the past more suddenly- a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake learning how to braid long thin plastic strips into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard or wear one, if that’s what you did with them, but that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand again and again until I had made a boxy red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts, and I gave her a lanyard. She nursed me in many a sick room, lifted spoons of medicine to my lips, laid cold face-clothes on my forehead, and then led me out into the air light
and taught me to walk and swim, and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard. Here are thousands of meals, she said, and here is clothing and a good education. And here is your lanyard, I replied, which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth, and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered, and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp. And here, I wish to say to her now, is a smaller gift – not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hand, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
I love Stravinsky. “Firebird” is my favorite. But “Rite of Spring” was the epic, controversial piece that prompted boos and hisses when first performed. It is now deemed a classic. Here it is in its entirety (few will want to listen to the full 30 minutes). It’s interesting because it includes a reading of the full score, which I found a nice touch.
Have a wonderful weekend,