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are three other novels of mine, One is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962, which is as yet unpublished.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, February 5, 2019

Literature and Music - session one - introduction; Renaissance and Baroque

The first session of this course for Siegel Senior Learning at CWRU establishes some backgrounds, including Renaissance links and texts, and offers the following excerpts:
Plato's view of music – from The Republic, Books 2 and 3 (circa 380 BC):
The introduction of a new kind of music must be shunned as imperiling the whole state, since styles of music are never disturbed without affecting the most important political institutions The new style, gradually gaining a lodgment, quietly insinuates itself into manners and customs; and from these it issues in greater force, making its way into mutual compacts; and from compacts it goes on to attack laws and constitutions, displaying the utmost impudence, until it ends by overturning everything, both in public and in private.       
[Later, from Book 3:] And therefore, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the sound, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful – or [making the soul] of him who is ill-educated ungraceful… 
Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor the guardians, whom we say that we have to [train in music], can ever become musical until we and they know the essential forms of temperance, courage, liberality, magnanimity, and their kindred, as well as the contrary forms, in all their combinations, and can recognize them and their images wherever they are found, not slighting them either in small things or great, but believing them all to be within the sphere of one art and study And when nobility of soul is observed in harmonious union with beauty of form, and both are cast from the same mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye to see it.

Gregorian Chant – Salve Regina (circa 1050)

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

 

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

 

 

Summer is a coming in – Reading rota, attributed to Wycombe (c 1260)

Sumer is icumen in, Spring has arrived, Lhude sing, cuccu; loudly sing, cuckoo! Groweth sed The seed is growing and bloweth med, And the meadow is blooming, And springth the wode nu; And the wood is coming into leaf now, Sing, cuccu! Sing, cuckoo! Awe bleteth after lomb, The ewe is bleating after her lamb, Lhouth after calue cu; The cow is lowing after her calf; Bulluc sterteth, The bullock is prancing, Bucke uerteth, The billy-goat farting, Murie sing, cuccu! Sing merrily, cuckoo! Cuccu, cuccu, Cuckoo, cuckoo, Wel singes thu, cuccu; You sing well, cuckoo, Ne swic thu naver nu. Never stop now. Sing, cuccu, nu; sing, cuccu; Sing, cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo; Sing, cuccu; sing, cuccu, nu! Sing, cuckoo; sing, cuckoo, now!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2Tk1JseYkU

 

 

 

Palestrina - Jesu, rex admirabilis – Gardiner (c 1580)

Latin text: Jesu, rex admirabilis et triumphator nobilis, dulcedo ineffabilis, totus desiderabilis, mane nobiscum, Domine, et nos illustra lumine, pulsa mentis caligine, mundum reple ducedine.

English translation: Jesus, wondrous king and noble conqueror, ineffable delight, wholly to be desired, remain with us, Lord, dispel the darkness of our minds and enlighten us with your light, fill the world with your sweetness.

 

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

 

 Petrarch (1304-1374), Sonnet - text of Madrigal by Monteverdi (1567-1655):

The zephr returns and the lovely weather stirs
the flowers and all the grassy family;
the swallows warble and the nightingale sings
and spring is clean and bright.
The fields smile and sky is serene.
Jove happily looks upon his child.
The air, water, and the land are full of love.
Every animal in love is reconfirmed.
But for weary me only the saddest sighs return
Which she -who took the keys to heaven with her-
Wrings from the deepest part or my heart
And the birds sing and the countryside flourishes
And when with a beautiful woman, such gentle honest acts 
Become a harsh, wild and uncultivated desert.
Italian text
Zephiro torna, e 'i bel tempo rimena,
e i fiori et I
'erbe, sua dolce famiglia,
et garrir Progne et pianger Philomena,
et primavera candida et vermig
lia.
Ridono i prati, e 'I ciel si rasserena;
Giove s'allegra di mirar sua figlia;
I'aria et I'acqua et la terra e d'amor piena;
ogni animal d'amar si riconsiglia.
Ma per me, lasso, tornano i pili gravi
sospir
i, che del cor profondo tragge
quella ch'al ciel se ne porte Ie chiavi;
et cantar augelletti, et fiorir piagge,
e 'n be
lle donne honeste atti soavi
sono un deserto, et fere aspre et selvagge.
Canzoniere 310c

Monteverdi - Zefiro torna, e 'l bel tempo rimena (VI libro dei Madrigali) - Les Arts Florissants (c 1614)





Shakespeare – Branagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing” - Act 2, Scene 3 (c 1612)

Twelfth Night (1602):
—opening of Act I, Scene i – the Duke speaks.
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again - it had a dying fall.
0, it came o'er my ear, like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour. Enough, no more,
T’is not so sweet now, as it was before.
o spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, naught enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
But falls into abatement, and low price,
Even in a minute; so full of shapes is fancy,
That it alone is high fantastical. 

Handel – Dryden’s Ode for St Cecilia's Day HWV 76 Les Arts Florissants (c 1739)


Bach – St Matthew’s Passion – Erbarme Dich – 39 Aria – BWV 244 (c 1727).  Delphine Galou, contralto; François-Marie Drieux, solo violin; Les Siècles, conducted by François-Xavier Roth; 2008.
Erbarme dich,
Have mercy,
Mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen!
My God, for the sake of my tears!
Schaue hier,
Look here,
Herz und Auge weint vor dir
My heart and eyes weep before you
Bitterlich
.
Bitterly.

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