My newly completed novel is The Fall of the Berlin Wall, about what happened to characters from my Hungry Generations fifteen years later; it's about musicians and particularly the intense, irrepressible daughter of the legendary pianist at the center of the previous novel. My 2015 novel, The Ash Tree, was published by West of West Books in conjunction with the April 24, 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide; it's about an Armenian-American family and the sweep of their history in the twentieth century - particularly from the points of view of two women in the family.
There are three other novels of mine, One is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962, which is as yet unpublished. Another is Hungry Generations, about a young composer's friendship in L.A. with the family of a virtuoso pianist, published on demand by iUniverse. A Burnt Offering - a fable (a rewriting and expansion of my earlier Acts of Terror and Contrition - a nuclear fable) is my political novella about Israel and its reactions to the possibility of a war with Iran (with the fear that it will be a nuclear war).
[These blog posts are, of course, copyrighted.]

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Literature and Music - session 6 - Modernism


Marcel Proust (1871-1922), In Search of Lost Time, from “Swann’s Way” (1913) excerpt.
Gustav Mahler:

Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde (1909) – Weng Wei – Der Abschied:
English Translation: …I stand here and wait for my friend; I wait to bid him a last farewell. I yearn, my friend, at your side to enjoy the beauty of this evening. Where are you? You leave me long alone! I walk up and down with my lute on paths swelling with soft grass. O beauty! O eternal loving-and-life-bedrunken world! He dismounted and handed him the drink of Farewells. He asked him where he would go and why must it be. He spoke, his voice was quiet. Ah my friend, Fortune was not kind to me in this world! Where do I go? I go, I wander in the mountains. I seek peace for my lonely heart. I wander homeward, to my abode! I'll never wander far. Still is my heart, awaiting its hour. The dear earth everywhere blossoms in spring and grows green anew! Everywhere and forever blue is the horizon! Forever ... Forever ...
Walter and Ferrier (51 and 56): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PogZpvxq6Cg

Ranier Maria Rilke (1875-1926): texts of poems "Music" and Sonnet to Orpheus I, 3
  

Arnold Schoenberg, texts for quartet (George's Transcendence) and for the ending of Moses & Aaron.

String Quartet No. 2, opus 10, 4th move. (1908), Kolisch, Gilbert
Moses and Aaron - 1938, Freiberg Orch. and Grundheber (2:10)

Thomas Mann (1875-1955), Doctor Faustus (1947), near the end, chapter 47, on Lamentations of Dr. Faustus; then, earlier texts of Kretchman on op. 111, and Adrian’s thoughts after Kretschmar, culture, and barbarism.
 

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

“Beim Schlafengehen” (1948) – Hermann Hesse:
GOING TO SLEEP Now that day has tired me, my spirits long for starry night kindly to enfold them, like a tired child. Hands, leave all your doing; brow, forget all your thoughts. Now all my senses want to sink themselves in slumber. And the soul unwatched, would soar in free flight, till in the magic circle of night it lives deeply and a thousand-fold.     (2:25):
Kiri Te Kahana, Davis, LSO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbU66ttUcqo


Brecht and Weill

The Three-penny Opera (1928) Text of Mack song and ending...
Excerpts from Pabst film – (2:02, 15:30, 18:58, 22:40-26:40):

Concluding remarks
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) on Pater's aesthetic:
“It taught us to walk upon a rope, tightly stretched through serene air, and we were left to keep our feet upon a swaying rope in a storm.”

--from “Sailing to Byzantium”

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.

To illustrate what Mann's Kretchmar was referring to:
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32 in c minor, opus 111, second movement variations:
Claudio Arrau (9, 13:43, 15:29, 17:37, 18:14, 20:47)


 

Literature and Music talks - session 5 - Late Romanticism and Early Modern


Baudelaire:   and Flaubert: images

Flaubert (1821-1880), Madame Bovary (1857) – from Part Two, Chapter 8: text...
 
What Emma hears in Pt. Two, Ch. 15: Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermore” Act 1 Finale Ah! Verrano a te sull'aure”:
LUCIA On the breeze
will come to you my ardent sighs…
When you think of me
living on tears and grief,
then shed a bitter tear
on this ring, ah, on this ring, etc.
ah, on this ring, etc.
EDGARDO and LUCIA On the breeze will come to you, etc. EDGARDO Remember, Heaven has joined us!
EDGARDO and LUCIA Farewell!     
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xToxhv_Y9nc  Sutherland, Pavarotti.
Verlaine, Mallarmé (by Manet), Debussy: images and texts...
    
Text for Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (0-3:00) – and recreation of Diagalev/Nijinsky ballet:
Debussy – from his libretto based on Maeterlinck’s play Pélleas et Mélisande:
Mélisande: [I love you.] Forever. Ever since I first saw you.
Pelléas: It is as if your voice had come over the sea in the spring! I have never heard it until today. It’s as though it had rained on my heart. You say those words so openly, like an angel answering questions. I can scarcely believe it, Mélisande. Why should you love me? Why do you love me? Is it true what you say? Were you making it up? Were you lying to me just to make me feel happy?
Mélisande: No, I never tell lies. I only lie to your brother.
Pelléas: Oh, the way you say that! Your voice, your voice! It is as fresh and as clear as water! It is like pure spring water on my lips. It is like pure spring water on my hands. Give me your hands, let me take your hands. Oh, your hands are so tiny! I never knew you were so beautiful. I had never set eyes on anything as beautiful before. I could not rest, I kept searching everywhere in the house, I kept searching everywhere in the country, but never found the beauty I sought. And now at last I have found you. I have found you. I don’t believe there is anywhere on earth a woman more beautiful. Where are you? I don’t hear your breathing any more.
Debussy, Pelleas and Mellisande – 1902 (7:30 to 9)
Mallarmé – from “Literature and Music” – Oxford speech, 1894: > text...
Pater (1839-1894) – from “Giorgione” (1877) in Studies in the Renaissance,  Conclusion to Studies in the Renaissance (cancelled in 2nd ed., then restored in 3rd): texts...
Debussy, La Mer – 1905 (Boston, Munch) 16:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOCucJw7iT8
Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring – 1913 – Beginning (Orch. de Paris, Boulez) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrOUYtDpKCc
Ending (L.A.Phil, Salonen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSyOfJRmbLY  -From“Poetics of Music” ’38: text...
Image of Debussy and Stravinsky.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Literature and Music - session 4 - Goethe, Liszt, Wagner, Nietzsche, Mahler


Goethe (1749-1832) Faust, Part One (1808) ‘in Faust’s Study i’ (Oskar Werner) [4:00]
excerpts from Faust, including Walpurgisnacht:
 Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Walpurgisnacht, continued: Mephisto Waltz No. 1 – 1859  [Van Cliburn, pianist):

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Wagner, Tristan and Isolde, Prelude – the Tristan chord (Solti and Vienna):
Liebestode, end of Act 3, Nina Stemme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8enypX74hU

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
In the 1880s, Nietzsche produced a devastating critique of Richard Wagner, announced his rupture with the German artist, who had influenced him, and accused him of embracing the repellant German Volkish (folk nationalist) movement and Antisemitism. The operas are criticized as manipulative, seducing the audience and making them passive.  Wagner is seen as less than Bizet and, now, philosophically insignificant, and he has become a symptom of the broader "disease" affecting Europe: nihilism.
excerpt from The Twilight of the Idols:
excerpt from The Birth of Tragedy (1872):
also, Zarathustra's Midnight Song

Gustave Mahler (1860-1911) Symphony no. 3, 4th move, Zarathustra’s midnight song (Meier):

Symphony No. 1, 3rd movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5A5tFyXQio


Literature and Music - session three - Schubert and Romantic poems

See the previous post on Literature, Music, and Romanticism.
Coleridge (1772-1834): text of "Kubla Khan" and "The Eolian Harp"
Keats (1795-1821): text of "Ode to a Nightingale"
 

 Schubert (1797-1828)

Schubert – Goethe’s Der Erlkönig D328 (The Erlking, 1815) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano) 


Goethe’s Gretchen am Spinnrade D. 118 (Grechen at the spinning-wheel, 1814) - Rika Shiratsuchi, Mezzo-soprano; Malcolm Martineau, Piano

ller’s Der Lindenbaum D. 911 (from Winterreise – The Linden-tree, 1827) –  Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel (Piano)

ller’s Die Leiermann D. 911 (from Winterreise – The Organ-grinder/The Hurdy-Gurdy Man, 1827) – Fischer-Dieskau and Brendel
 

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

 

Dichterliebe op 48 no 10 (1840)Hör' ich das Liedchen klingen (1823) - Fritz Wunderlich (tenor), Hubert Geisen (pianist)

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856):
Hör ich das Liedchen klingen,
Das einst die Liebste sang,
So will mir die Brust zerspringen
Vor wildem Schmerzensdrang.
Es treibt mich ein dunkles Sehnen
Hinauf zur Waldeshöh,
Dort löst sich auf in Tränen
Mein übergroßes Weh.
I hear the little song sounding
that my beloved once sang,
and my heart wants to shatter
from the savage pain's pressure.
I am driven by a dark longing
up to the wooded heights;
there is dissolved in tears
my supremely great pain.

Chopin (1810-1843)
Fantasy on Polish Airs [Folk dance forms], op. 13 (1829) – performed by Kun Woo Paik, pianist:
Mazurka, Op. 17: No. 4 in A Minor (1831) [Horowitz, pianist]


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Literature and Music - session two - Mozart and Beethoven

Rise of the Enlightenment after the Baroque: shared rule of the Bourgeoisie and the Aristocracy. For example, in England, Parliament (including the class of industrialists, business owners, professionals) and Monarchy.

What language can help to unify and streamline communication among these contending parties? The Classical era, partly homophonic music: melodies now within simpler harmonic structures.

Invention of Sonata form: themes in tonic & dominant, midpoint development, recapitulation. Invention of the new Opera as drama opening up conflict between individuals and society.

The new Classical Forms emphasize cohesion and integration of the whole as a communality: coherent, harmoniously ordered, testing and connecting the individual’s relationship to society.

Music – though supported by both the aristocratic court and the owning class – is by its wordless nature freed from the prosaic & didactic, from explicit aristocratic or bourgeois social representation.

Mozart (1756-1791)– Don Giovanni (c 1789)


Act 1/15 ‘Fin ch'han dal vino’ (Hvorostovski)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTT2RkrBsAs

 

 

Mozart’s gift is to cast a light of harmonious and beneficent acceptance on all he composes, no matter how dark or disordered.

 

Don Juan as a product of the Renaissance:

Tirso da Molina, El Burlador de Sevilla -the trickster of Seville and the stone statue

-a 1630 quasi-tragedy about the exploits & punishment of a Renaissance libertine.

Moliere’s play of Don Juan (1665) exposed the hypocrisy of the aristocracy.

Don Juan became the subject of a 1680 novel about a picaresque rogue.

Mozart’s librettist Da Ponte drew on many sources for his tragi-comic drama: collision between the vulnerable but finally triumphant “normal” world of couples, family, both aristocratic and middle-class mores about women and money

versus the figure of the unique individual sensibility, which can model and define the emotions and spirits of the community, investing them with new power and energy, inviting others to enter a new life, and yet which like Don Quixote can seem foolish and grotesque: this is the figure of the Romantic Genius, an intense force of energy and imagination, beyond good and evil, yet capable of inspiring.

 

Act 1, #10 Renee Fleming as Donna Anna, prelude to “Or sai chi l’onore”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp8UTemmlq8

At 2:10 – “Silently he approached me and tried to embrace me. I tried to free myself but he seized me all the harder. I screamed, but no one came! With one hand he tried to quiet me, and with the other he seized me so hard that I already thought myself lost….Finally my despair, my horror of the deed so strengthened me that by dint of twisting, turning and bending I freed myself of him.”

 

 

Act 2/2 ‘Ah taci, ingiusto core’ – Donna Elvira (Carlos Alvarez, Anna Antonacci)

Act 2/14Finale: Commendatore (Samuel Ramey, Kurt Moll)

Ending of complete opera (Furtwanger, Salzburg, 1953) at 2:50:00

Requiem – (Peter Schreier - Staatskapelle Dresden)
           “Dies Irae” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARO7ZjsXSkE
           “Lacrimosa” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE2muDZksP4


Beethoven  (1770-1827) –

Music focused on developing the basic elements of the classical vocabulary - and also focused on projecting the power of the individual - in large upwelling passages displaying emotional force and zeroing in on play with elemental motifs.

Appassionata sonata – Barenboim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ak_7tTxZrk

Last sonata op. 111 – Trifonov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcFFxvG8pWg&t=6s

Symphony No. 9, finale (1824) – [text 1785: Ode to Joy, by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)]
Anja Harteros, Waltraud Meier, Peter Seiffert, René Pape, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (Royal Albert Hall, July 2012) [7:30-12:00]