Countless composers have been inspired to write music based on poems and literature, but last week Bill turned the tables and explored authors that were driven to set pen to paper by beautiful music. Here’s the list of books that Bill read from, all worthy of further investigation.
Louis de Berniers: The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts (1990)
Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (1991)
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (1992)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994), originally published as Corelli’s Mandolin in the US
Aldous Huxley: Point Counter Point (1928)
T. S. Eliot: Four Quartets (1945)
Leo Tolstoy: Kreutzer Sonata 1889
Rita Dove: Sonata Mulattica, 2009
Aleo Carpentier: Baroque Concert 1974
Rita Dove: Sonata Mulattica, 2009
Vikram Seth: An Equal Music, 1999
Paul Adam: The Rainaldi Quartet: 2004
Paganini’s Ghost: A Mystery (2010)
Gerald Elias: Death and the Maiden
The Devil’s Trill 2009
Josef Skvorecky: Scherzo capriccioso (Dvorak In Love): 1984
Milan Kundera: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting: 1979
In many parts of the country, Exploring Music airs right around mealtime, and many listeners have written in to let us know that we join them at the dinner table. (They also write in to let us know we join them in the shower, but that’s another story…)
Always the gastronome, Bill McGlaughlin offhandedly solicited some culinary suggestions in our recent “Arias and Barcarolles” week, and we’re happy to share this submission from Loann Scarpato. She tunes in via WRTI in Philadelphia, and shared the recipe for what sounds like a very delicious soup.
Acorn Squash Vegetable Soup
2 large leeks
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
2 acorn squash, approx. 18 oz each, cooked, seeds and skin discarded, flesh pureed
5-1/3 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz sliced mushrooms
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
4 oz fresh spinach, cut into thin strips
Trim roots and most of green leaves from leeks. Chop finely, wash well and drain, and cook in butter in large pot until soft, about 3 min. Add pureed squash to pot with stock and seasonings; cook 10 min. Stir mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach into soup; remove from heat. Let stand 2-3 min. before serving.
Yields 2 quarts. Source: “The Cuisinart Cook,” Oct. 1987
As a main course, Producer Cydne Gillard tracked down this intriguing ravioli recipe from Nicolo Paganini, courtesy of the Library of Congress and NPR.
2 lb. lean beef
1 1/2 lb. flour
1/2 lb. lean veal A calf’s brain
pinch of borage
For a pound and a half of flour, two pounds of good lean beef to make the sauce, place in the frying pan some butter, then a small amount of finely chopped onions, and brown slightly.
Put in the beef, and cook till it begins to take on a bit of color. For a thick sauce, take a few pinches of flour and gradually sprinkle them into the meat juices to brown, then take some tomatoes, break them up in water, pour some of the water into the flour in the frying pan and mix well to dissolve. Finally add some finely chopped and pounded dried mushrooms, and that’s the meat sauce.
Now for the pasta. To lift the eggless dough: a little bit of salt in the pasta will help with its consistency.
Now for the filling. Using the same pan as for the meat, in the sauce, cook half a pound of lean veal, then remove, chop it and pound it. Take a calf’s brain, cook it in the water, then remove the skin covering the brain, chop and pound well, separately take a little lugano sausage, remove the skin, chop and pound separately. Take a good pinch of borage, boil, squeeze out thoroughly and pound as above.
Take three eggs, sufficient for a pound and a half of flour. Beat them thoroughly and add the various ingredients listed above, which should be pounded again, adding a little Parmesan cheese to the eggs. And that’s the filling.
For a ravioli, cut the pasta slightly wet, and leave for an hour covered to give thin sheets.
If there’s still room for dessert, there’s always Justi Mahler’s Marillenknoedel, which her brother, Gustav, immortalized in his song cycle “Des Knaben Wunderknödel”.
Justi Mahler’s Marillenknoedel
2.2 lbs. potatoes
8.75 oz. flour
Pinch of salt
3.15 oz. butter
3.5 oz. bread crumbs
13 oz. apricots
Preparation: Place the potatoes, cut and peeled, through a mill once, then work them into the flour, egg and salt on a cutting board while they are still warm to make a smooth paste.
With a rolling pin, or by hand, knead the paste, flatten it and cut into fine slices, carefully enclosing an apricot in each slice. Then let the knoedel cook for five to 10 minutes in a sauce pan of boiling salt water. Drain. During this time, melt the butter in a frying pan and brown the bread crumbs over a low flame. Then roll the knodel in bread crumbs and sprinkle with sugar before serving.
—use cream cheese in place of the potatoes, so as to augment the amount of flour
—replace the apricots with prunes or cherries
—add yeast to the paste
—place a cube of sugar inside each apricot slice
—serve the knoedel with ground poppy seeds in place of bread crumbs, moistening them afterwards with butter and sugar
Here are some of the books used in researching Exploring Music’s week on The Proud Tower…
Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture by Carl E. Schorske
The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France by Roger Shattuck
The Good Years: From 1900 To The First World War by Walter Lord
The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grun
One of the toughest jobs Bill has when we do a large subject like this is to whittle down a vast amount of repertoire into a set that fits into one (or in this case, two) weeks. Here are some of the pieces he considered:
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) 1891
Clarinet Quintet, Op. 111,
Clarinet Trio, Op. 114 1893
Piano Pieces (6), Op. 118
Piano Pieces (4), Op. 119 1894
Two Clarinet Sonatas, Op. 120 1896
Four Serious Songs, Op. 121
As producers of Exploring Music, we’re perpetually running into the unfortunate situation of having to cut material to make it fit in the time allotted for the program (58 minutes and 30 seconds, to be exact). There’s just no way to fit it all in, as much as we’d like to. Here are a few of the bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, along with some supplemental material for this week.
Any discussion of Bruckner symphonies can quickly be derailed by attempts to make sense of the composer’s many revisions (and subsequent alternate versions put out by well-intentioned publishers). Luckily for us, the two movements of Bruckner’s 9th that we programmed took up almost the whole show, so we were able to just revel in the music and sidestep the discussion. For a glimpse into the rabbit hole, check out this run-down by Bruckner fan José Oscar Marques of all the various iterations and discography by David Griegel.
We used Kurt Eichhorn’s marvelous recording with the Bruckner Orchester Linz, recommended by John Proffitt at KUHA (formerly KUHF) in Houston.
Quite often in the pages of his 10th symphony, a dying Gustav Mahler wrote very personal notes to his wife and muse, Alma. Reading them, one can understand why she was so reticent to share it with the world. Here, at the end of the Scherzo, for example, he inscribed:
Du allein weisst was es bedeutet, Ach! Ach! Got! Leb’wohl mein Saitenspiel! Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl.
You alone know what it means. Ah! Ah! God! Farewell my lyre. Farewell. Farewell. Farewell.
I was thrilled to find this newly released album of Mahler’s music on Testment Records, which features Deryck Cooke’s original BBC lectures on the 10th and recordings of the symphony’s two premiere performances. Gramophone posted a summary here that gives an overview of the set.
This page from the Elgar Society contains a wealth of information on the composer’s Symphony No. 3, including Anthony Payne’s own account of working on the symphony, links to buy the CD and the score, and much more.
It’s interesting to note that Elgar himself wanted the unfinished score of the 3rd destroyed, creating a conundrum for the musicologists and Elgarphiles that followed. Should they honor the wishes of the composer and deprive the world of his fantastic music? Or reconstruct the music to the best of their ability, knowing that it inherently wouldn’t be the same as if Elgar had finished it himself?
when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)
when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we’re alive,dear:it’s(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
(now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)
when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it’s spring(all our night becomes day)o,it’s spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
(all the mountains are dancing; are dancing)
Yale has launched an ambitious series of netcasts to share its wealth of historical recordings with the public. The school is among a handful of pioneers in the field of university podcasting, offering not only lectures, but also live music performances of historical and contemporary significance.
Vivian Perlis and Libby van Cleve of the Oral History of American Music (OHAM) Project at Yale have compiled a 20-minute program of musical excerpts from OHAM’s archives and interviews. Particularly interesting is the podcast of Virgil Thomson, featured on Friday’s Exploring Music program.
Cydne Gillard found some fantastic quotes about this week’s composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff:
I am a Russian composer, and the land of my birth has inevitably influenced my temperament and outlook. My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian Music. I never consciously attempt to write Russian music; or any other kind of music, for that matter. I have been strongly influenced by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, but I have never consciously imitated anybody. I try to make my music speak simply and directly that which is in my heart at the time I am composing. If there is love there, or bitterness, or sadness, or religion, these moods become part of my music, and it becomes either beautiful or bitter or sad or religious. For music is as much a part of my living as breathing and eating. I compose music because I must give expression to my feeling, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”
The New Book of Modern Composers, David Ewen. Knopf. 1961
“Some people achieve a kind of immortality just by the totality with which they do or do not possess some quality or characteristic. Rachmaninov’s immortalizing totality was his scowl. He was a six-and–a-half-foot-tall scowl.”
“Although certain of his works have enjoyed a phenomenal vogue with the public, Rachmaninov has no proper place in a book on contemporary music.”
Introduction to Twentieth Century Music, Joseph Machlis. W.W. Norton. 1961
And be sure to look through all three pages of some very interesting pictures posted to Rachmaninoff.org: http://is.gd/4XmMz