Must the Winter Come So Soon?

>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As I type this entry, I'm looking out my bedroom window at the Storm of 2011, that has swept across most of the middle of the country. My yard is covered in snow and there's a squirrel sitting in the bare branches of the closest tree, snow covering his back, shaking his tail. It's white-out conditions with much more to come. I couldn't help but be reminded of the plaintive aria from Samuel Barber's short opera, Vanessa.

This particular performance is the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus singing a choral arrangement of Must the Winter Come So Soon?


Alles gute zum Geburtstag, Wolfgang!

>> Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today, in honor of Mozart's 255th birthday, I'm posting one of my favorite Mozart piano concertos in its entirety. Happy Birthday, Wolfgang. Thank you for beautiful music that has blessed and inspired so many generations!

Concerto no. 20 in d minor, K. 466


Music of the Night: Ruhe sanft mein holdes leben

>> Monday, January 24, 2011

Zaide (originally, Das Serail) is an unfinished opera, K. 344, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1780. Emperor Joseph II, in 1778, was in the process of setting up an opera company for the purpose of performing German opera. One condition required of the composer to join this company was that he should write a comic opera. At Salzburg in 1779 he began work on a new "rescue" opera, Zaide. It contains spoken dialogue, which also classifies it as a Singspiel (literally, "singing play"). Only the arias and ensembles from the first two acts were composed. Missing are an overture and third act. --Wikipedia

Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben,
schlafe, bis dein Glück erwacht!
da, mein Bild will ich dir geben,
schau, wie freundlich es dir lacht:
Ihr süßen Träume, wiegt ihn ein,
und lasset seinem Wunsch am Ende
die wollustreichen Gegenstände
zu reifer Wirklichkeit gedeihn.

Rest peacefully, sweet love of my life,
Sleep 'till you re-awake in happiness!
Here, I give you a picture of me,
See how lovingly it smiles at you;
Oh, let those sweet dreams cradle him,
And finally let
All sensual things he desires
Come to rich fruition.


Mozart for the musical snob

>> Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's sad to say, but when one runs in a circle of musicians, there are members of that circle who honestly believe that Western music didn't exist prior to Beethoven, and if it did, it was only composed by Bach. Those I deem as snobs. And Mozart...forget Mozart. He was a "hack". So, in honor of my musical snob musician friends who believe that Mozart was a hack and only composed pretty "fluff", I present this. You can all bite me.


The Music of the Night

>> Sunday, January 16, 2011

While listening to Bill McLaughlin on his daily Exploring Music radio program, I was inspired by a week-long series he did that featured music that's subject was "the night". It was an interesting and beautiful series, so I thought I would create my own series here using some of the same music he featured as well as some of my own choosing. Thanks for the inspiration, Bill!

Today I feature the Barcarolle from Les contes d'Hoffmann.

Time flies by, and carries away
our tender caresses for ever!
Time flies far from this happy oasis
and does not return.
Burning zephyrs,
embrace us with your caresses!
Burning zephyrs,
give us your kisses!
Your kisses! Your kisses! Ah!

Lovely night, oh night of love,
smile upon our joys!
Night much sweeter than the day,
oh beautiful night of love!
Ah! Smile upon our joys!
Night of love, oh night of love!


The Feast of St. Stephen or Boxing Day

>> Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or 27 December, and is observed in Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and in some Commonwealth nations that have a mainly Christian population. In South Africa, the public holiday 26 December is called Day of Goodwill, in Ireland St Stephen's Day or Lá an Dreoilín, and in continental European countries the "Second Christmas Day."

Though not an official holiday in the United States, some Americans use the term "Boxing Day," particularly those who live near the Canada – United States border. In Canada, Boxing Day is listed in the Canada Labour Code as an optional holiday. Only the province of Ontario has made it a statutory holiday where all workers receive time off with pay.

The exact etymology of the term "boxing" is unclear and there are several competing theories, none definitive. The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to the needy and those in service positions. The European tradition dates to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. Some claim it dates to the late Roman/early Christian era when metal boxes placed outside churches collected special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.

A clue to Boxing Day's origins appears in the Christmas Carol, "Good King Wenceslas." Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door. The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season, but King Wenceslas' good deed came the day after Christmas, when the English poor received most of their charity.

In the United Kingdom, it is a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19th December 1663; and widely in Victorian literature. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor. --Wikipedia


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