On why I wish I lived in San Francisco

Jake Heggie’s new opera – Moby Dick – premiered in San Francisco.

Here is the review of the opera from Ionarts (by Robert R. Reilly):

To say that mounting Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick as an opera is a daunting task is an understatement of considerable proportions. One has to admire Heggie’s nerve in undertaking it. He, his librettist, the director, and the designer have not completely succeeded for the simple fact that no one could. How do you distill a 600-page novel that poses the question as to whether the order of creation is rational or willfully malign, and that deals with the relationships between freedom and necessity, and between providence and the existence of evil, into a three-hour opera?

I came across this short program in which Heggie talks about the process of writing an opera based on Moby Dick:

Minor Composers: Arthur Lourié

Minor, of course, not in stature but in fame. I have to admit that I do not know much about Arthur Lourié’s music which is why it is rather pleasant to come across it once in a while and attempt to “get into it” so as to cover the bases of a pretend intellectual man of letters…

Lourié was born in Russia and later immigrated to Europe and then USA. He died in of all places New Jersery. Lourié served as a head of the music division under Lunacharskii (in the Commissariat of People’s Enlightenment).

Here are some nice pieces I found on YouTube (needless to say, I like the later stuff more than the earlier stuff – and Lourié seemed to have returned to classicism in 1930s – but it is all very nice nonetheless):  Continue reading

I was just listening to this on the way to work – makes for a brilliant calm drive! My other favorite record is this and also this

Articulate Silences

Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing figures of 20th century music. Having suffered a breakdown following the Second World War, Scelsi began to explore the meditative qualities of sound almost as a form of therapy, sitting for hours at a time at his piano playing no more than a single note. This process of discovery constituted something of an epiphanic juncture in his musical development: Scelsi thereafter abandoned the serialism of his earlier compositions, taking this new appreciation of the intricate subtleties of sound as the starting point for all of his subsequent music. Rather than treating individual sounds as isolated, singular points, Scelsi’s music reimagines each tone as a pulsating, multidimensional entity, vibrating with mystical energy and sonorous depth.

Composed in 1965, Anahit is perhaps the fullest realisation of Scelsi’s ethereal vision: oblique in its esoteric sonic explorations yet generous in its harmonic…

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Stefano Scodanibbio: Da una certa nebbia (2002)

Scodanibbio passed away earlier this year, one of the last in the line of wonderful Italian composers of the twentieth century. There is a fellow outside my window now loudly cutting grass while I am listening to this really quiet and thoughtful exploration of sound (below). It works on some strange level. I know that most people would consider folks like Nono, Scelti, Scodanibbio or Sciarrino to be pretentious academic composers, but they really did contribute (and are still contributing in Sciarrion’s case) an incredible amount of knowledge regarding the nature of sound and therefore the essence of what is and is not music.

Articulate Silences Blog

Ever wanted to get into contemporary classical music but did not know who to ask for help? Here is the answer for you – awesome blog called Articulate Silences:

Articulate Silences is a blog which focuses on the introduction of 20th and 21st century classical music to listeners wanting to investigate beyond popular music. Through a series of posts focussing on major pieces, as well as the occasional more obscure work, this blog attempts to act as a gentle entry point for further exploration and discovery of similar sounds.

The guiding philosophy behind Articulate Silences is that no piece of music is inherently superior to any other and with this blog we hope to contribute to the dissolution of perceived barriers surrounding so called “intellectual” music. In providing a listening guide and strictly non-academic, qualitative discussion of the piece in question, we hope to take some of the trepidation out of approaching a piece of classical music for the first time as well as affording some insight into the techniques employed by the composer.