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Index: Music

The funeral of Isaac Albéniz.

James Gallant: ‘Along the way Catalan flags flew at half-mast. Albéniz noted with pleasure black crepe decorating the façade of a Catholic newspaper that had once condemned flamenco influences in his music. From balconies in the narrow winding streets of the old city people rained roses and carnations on the hearse. The procession paused in front of the municipal music school for students to pile flowers atop the hearse, and a little further on a line of riflemen at a military installation raised their weapons and fired a salute.’

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‘Tallys’ and the postmodern sublime.

Nigel Wheale: ‘How much did any of the rapt audience [at the Cloisters] know of the debates over the origin of ‘Spem in alium’, or its place in the development of European polyphony, of the vexed complexities of liturgical revision, or the turbulent politics of the royal court? Some of the audience were certainly choristers themselves, may even have performed the motet, in which case they would be well versed in its structure, perhaps also some of the history. I knew very little indeed, even though I have loved and taught the literary renaissance for decades, have heard Tallis’s motet many times, in live and, more often, recorded performances, generally appreciating the music as a sustaining forest of song, sometimes transfixing, sometimes no more than a matte of voices that pleasingly resolves. And I’m no wiser now as to the precise date, circumstances and allegiance of ‘Spem in alium’, and its enigmatic origins.

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Who is Bruce Springsteen?

Peter Knobler: ‘Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry says, “There’s an authenticity about Bruce that’s just incontrovertible…I think it’s because he’s so true to who he is, and people know it.” But who is he? Is he the egalitarian liberal who sang the radical anti-private-property verse of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural, or is he the guy who allowed his band to be low-balled when offered contracts for a highly anticipated and financially rewarding “reunion tour”?’

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Watching ‘Einstein on the Beach’ through a periscope.

Anthony Howell: Backwards clocks and crazed compasses dangle before our eyes, and I notice that everyone in the cast is wearing a watch. Time is Wilson’s essential subject. Things happen at different speeds yet ruthlessly conform to the order of brittleness. The stage is steeped in cloud, and a text on a drop curtain depicting a hydrogen bomb explosion reminds us of molecules of dust generating further terrible heat. We are judged by an elderly black man and a white child; by age and by race. As they consult with each other, a black circle covers a white disk. The cast open their paper bags. It’s okay, we’re not doomed. We’re only on our lunch break.

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Story of a song.

Anthony Howell: I hugely appreciate the way Marianne Faithfull has re-invented herself, a process that began with ‘Broken English’. This album is a milestone in UK music history. Every track is a revelation; she really comes into her own as a songwriter, and even to the cover versions of songs such as Working Class Hero she imparts a sort of heroism. The voice is no longer the wistful voice of the sixties singer; instead it has a smoky depth, a husky edge that conveys raw emotion.

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• Thus Rihanna does not sing in your valley nor for your village.

Popular culture was always local, and changed imperceptibly from one village or valley to the next. High culture, on the other hand, always had a certain universality to it, and thus the dissemination of high cultural products via electronic media is not a threat to the very nature of that culture. But such electronic dissemination has all but destroyed popular culture…

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• Event: ‘3 Carsons out of Texas’ at the Gershwin Hotel, New York, 20 October – 20 November 2011

[Announcement from The Gershwin Hotel and Suzanne Tremblay] – “3 Carsons out of Texas” – L.M.Kit Carson, film pioneer; Rev Goat Carson, Grammy-winning lyricist; and Neke Carson, a multimedia artist – are the subjects of a special month-long event at the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan, 20 October to 20 November 2011. The event is ‘A […]

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• Hildegard of Bingen: nobody’s singing nun.

The real Hildegard, however, was of course a hardcore medieval Catholic: among many other things, a defender of hierarchy in Church and society and a hammerer of heretics whose visions were in essence doctrinal expositions of Scripture according with the beliefs of the times.

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• Low-fi Lomax: the other America’s music man.

During the 1930s and ’40s, Alan Lomax and his father John Lomax traveled throughout the American South searching for the work songs, spirituals and folk tales that gave the region it’s unique identity.

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· Being authentically in the world of Baroque opera.

BEMF seeks to recreate how operas would have been staged at the time of their original performances, not just how they would have been sung and played.

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· Event: WILCO’s Solid Sound in the Berkshires, 24-26 June 2011.

At the heart of Solid Sound is a sense of collaboration, where a band can join forces with a museum, a comedian can perform against a backdrop of boundary-pushing works of art, and festival attendees of all ages can be entertained and inspired by three days of exciting, eclectic artistic expression.

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· The perfect Father’s Day gift? A flowchart! With Phish!

Do dads really have an influence on the musical tastes of their offspring? This amusing flowchart, created for Father’s Day in honor of dads who rock, predicts the kind of music you prefer by the tunes your father listened to when you were growing up.

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· Cello, bow, Bach, Bailey, brief.

The cellist’s not playing the repeats tonight, and who could blame him? He dances us through each suite’s sturdy allemande, each suite’s svelte and arrogant courante, each suite’s sultry forbidden sarabande.

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· Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Camp.

Michelene Wandor: The end of the first half culminates in Shorty pulling himself on his stomach, across the front of the stage, to end with his head in Gangly’s lap. Perhaps this is true happiness. Perhaps not.

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Wagner’s other ‘ring cycle’ and its problems.

William Ashton Ellis: ‘Less than four months after the words last cited, Richard Wagner sees that even the transcendent ideal which has sustained him in his troubles hitherto must be renounced. Of his own free will he writes Mathilde in December, resigning his last claim to soul-communion, whilst he seeks to turn the mournful stream of his reflections by taking up a “comic opera,” Die Meistersinger.’

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