Monthly Archives: July 2009

Books, Dr. Atomic Symphony, Berio, Grizzly Bear.

I haven’t had much time to blog lately- I’ve been working and studying a lot. Plus hanging out with friends and all that. Summer is not a good time to expect me to be on the computer for extended periods of time.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. I’m reading Brahms’ biography still, as well as a few books about medieval music, and Einstein’s book about the Romantic era. Michael is leaving in a week and gave me a pretty nice stack of books to add to my library. I’m starting to have a pretty respectable shelf of music books and scores. But I remember something Dr. Carter told me a while back- we were talking about musicology and he turned around and waved his hand at his enormous book collection and said something to the effect of “Do you see all these books? I’ve read all of these. And if you want to do musicology, you’re going to have to read more than that.” Suffice it to say, I have a lot of work to do.

I just picked up the official St. Louis Symphony Orchestra recording of John Adams’ Dr. Atomic Symphony. It sounds pretty great, I’m looking forward to spending some time with it. This is very exciting for me, because not only is John Adams one of my favorite working composers, but I was actually AT the premiere of this symphony, the same weekend that they recorded it. Very cool.

I recently heard Berio’s ‘Sinfonia’ for the first time. I think it’s a very cool piece, I’m going to try to do my 20th Century paper on it next semester. The third movement is based on the scherzo from Mahler’s Resurrection, which I wrote a paper on last semester. Apparently there is a score at Wash U with many of the musical quotations already marked, so I’m going to go check that out. It’s not cheating if it’s available to the public!

I’ve been listening to Grizzly Bear a lot. When their new album, ‘Veckatimest’, came out in May, I gave it a few listens and then shelved it. I just didn’t see what was so good about it. I liked their previous album a lot, but I just didn’t get the new one at all. Over the next few months, I came across a few die-hard fans, and each time I was convinced to give it another listen. Last week, I was talking to my friend Lou and he suggested that I give the album final shot, so I spent a lot of time with it over the next few days. Finally, late the other night, I had a breakthrough. I was listening to the album with headphones in my room, and when the harmonies in the chorus of “While You Wait For The Others” hit me, I finally knew what I had been missing. At least, ‘Veckatimest’ was more than the original “pensive Beach Boys in space” diagnosis that I had given it in May.¬†Through repeated listenings over the past few days, I’ve come to realize that this album is actually pretty amazing. And even though it requires an incredible amount of patience to get the full effect, the full effect is completely worth the time that I put into it. Here’s a link to a live version of the previously mentioned song.

This post is already really long, so I’ll write another one about Pitchfork Music Festival soon.

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A Post from the MetroLink

Thanks to the iPhone, I’m making this post while riding the St. Louis MetroLink. I’ve been reading Jan Swafford’s Brahms biography, it’s fantastic. Also read a great article in the New Yorker about the Marlboro festival. Man, it would be really awesome to get to visit it one day. I didn’t know that two of my favorite pianists were the current directors- Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida. I listened to her recording of Mozart Piano Sonata No. 2 in F Major today. Awesome piece of music. I played through the adagio of it today and it’s as satisfying to play as it is to listen to… Maybe even moreso.

Listened to Brahms’ C Major Piano Sonata yesterday, it was great. What a strong choice for Op. 1. When asked why he chose it instead of the Eb Scherzo, Brahms said that he wanted to appeal to peoples’ heads and not their heels. l listened to the Eb Scherzo, which was good but not as texturally satisfying as his later piano work.

I’m gonna get into Liszt soon.

Well, that’s about all I can write while on a train.