Thursday, October 27, 2011

Musical Memories

My Nissan Leaf came with 4 months of satellite radio for free, and I began listening to the classical music stations every day on my way to work and back.  I got to hear a number of pieces of music that I once loved but had forgotten about.  Because I was getting so much enjoyment out of it, I decided to purchase a subscription after the trial period expired.  I'm still enjoying the classical stations and what they have to play.  Here is a partial list of the music that I re-experienced:

  • On the Beautiful Blue Danube (thus the recent post)
  • Symphony #2 "Romantic" by Howard Hanson
  • Symphony #1 by Gustav Mahler
  • L'Arlesienne Suite by Georges Bizet
  • Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar
  • Overture to Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner
  • Symphony #5 by Dmitry Shostakovich
  • Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky
  • Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Patriotism and Criticism

When I was in the eighth grade, my family lived in England for a year.  It was an experience that was very influential in my life.

It was good to be exposed to another culture and another way of doing things, to learn that there is more than one way to be.  Yes, you can drive on the left side of the road and still have a functioning society.  You can go to an all-girls school and survive the experience, even if you have to wear a gray uniform every day.  And there are places where history goes much deeper than it does in this young country.  I learned quite a bit of tolerance from the experience.

But most importantly, it informed my understanding of what it is to be an American.  I returned to the United States with a deeper love and appreciation for my country.  But it was not a blind, unquestioning patriotism -- it was a love very much like the love I feel for my family and close friends.  I see this country's good points and I see its flaws, but most importantly, I can see its potential -- everything that these United States could be.  It would be unfair to turn a blind eye to these flaws, and approve unquestioningly of everything done in the name of the United States.  My loved ones deserve better!  It is my duty to use my perspective to indentify the problems, and help my country overcome its shortcomings.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Music I Enjoy: Traumerei

I played at some friends' wedding the weekend before last (these friends) -- and was asked to play Träumerei by Robert Schumann, a lyrical, reflective piece of music.

I had a recording of Joshua Bell (the violinist in the video above) playing the piece, and I listened and listened to him playing it, and even played along as practice.

But, Joshua Bell I am not!  I don't have nearly the skills that he does, mostly because I don't practice nearly as often as he does, and my fingers don't move the way I want them to all the time, because of my ulnar nerve damage.  Luckily, my friends were pleased with my performance (they got what they paid for and then some!).

I really like what Joshua Bell does with the piece though.  I think the flow of his interpretation is perfect.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Music I Enjoy: On the Beautiful Blue Danube

I hate to admit it, but all weekend, this has been going through my head:

That's bad enough, but what is even more shameful is that I've been enjoying it! Yes, it is overplayed. Yes, it is an earworm. But it is kind of fun. It makes me laugh. I love the beginning, preparing you for the imminent arrival of the waltz. It's like a sunrise, with the rays of sun just peeking above the horizon. You watch them get brighter and brighter, until the sun is up and the waltz begins in all earnestness. The ten minutes of music varies enough that it keeps you from getting too bored. There's even a brief minor section. It is definitely a waltz, and makes me want to dance around the house (ONE-two-three ONE-two-three) -- albeit without even a hundredth of the skill of the dancers in this video. Luckily since I am the only one at home I don't embarrass myself.