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Friday, March 25, 2005
  Phantasiestücke Op. 12, Nos.4: Grillen
Robert Shumann (1810-1856)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 9 Tracks 12-14

Mit Humor

Yesterday, I started by reading a post on the Fredösphere regarding the loves of Olivier Messiaen. I agree entirely with the value Mr. Himebaugh gives to biographical information and his post lingered in my mind as I went to The Rest is Noise. There, Alex Ross' comments on the downtowner's 12-tone disquisition offered a refreshing understanding of Schoenberg's historical context. Reading Professor Gann's weighty post I was reminded of my teenage adoration of the Second Viennese School. Though they are ghosts, they were rock stars to me. And even now I love to cruse around Over The Rhine in my Mazda Protégé listening to the complete works of Webern in such a way that all the pedestrians with their hip-hop wonder, "Was ist das?" (The drive takes about three hours and forty-five minutes.)

Important to my understanding of Schoenberg is that he was Jewish and he could and did say of his musical development that it was a vital step in the direction of German music. To one, such as myself, a few generations and a continent apart, Schoenberg was a guide in learning his culture's mad history and, with horror, he held my attention, he discouraged the temptation to reject Wagner and others, and showed me that, in spite of everything, one might live a good number of years and love it.

My sense is that when Schoenberg emigrated to the states it was no longer possible to talk about the supremacy of this or that music. There were simply, suddenly, too many musics to consider. Though the Davidsbündler would be excited to see how much internet ink is being spilled on the topic of good music, the breadth of this discussion, the number of different kinds of music would make their argument with Liszt seem merely one opinion in many. Inside the whims of this thick, low register waltz is a deep, religious love of the music of J.S. Bach as a foundation of the construction of music. And all of us now yearn to replace that love that was traded for a diversity of styles. 
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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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