Monday, September 3, 2012

Beginning again . . .

The new edition of Prufrock's Dilemma is up and running and can be found by clicking here. I do hope you'll come visit.

Should you have any "technical difficulties," as they say, please don't hesitate to write me here or send me an e-mail, and I'll try to address them. My skills on Wordpress are as yet rudimentary, but where there's a will, no doubt there's a way.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Will the “Real” Vinteuil Sonata Please Stand Up?

The year before, at an evening party, he had heard a piece of music played on the piano and violin. At first he had appreciated only the material quality of the sounds which those instruments secreted. . . . But then at a certain moment, without being able to distinguish any clear outline, or to give a name to what was pleasing him, suddenly enraptured, he had tried to grasp the phrase or harmony—he did not know which—that had just been played and that had opened and expanded his soul, as the fragrance of certain roses, wafted upon the moist air of evening, has the power of dilating one’s nostrils. . . . This time he had distinguished quite clearly a phrase which emerged for a few moments above the waves of sound.
 —Marcel Proust, from À la recherche du temps perdu, vol.1: Du côté de chez Swann

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Let's say we had wings . . ."

Let's say we had wings, and a different breathing system, enabling us to travel through space. These would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus with the same senses we now have, we would see everything as we see things on Earth. The only true voyage, the only way to immerse ourselves in a "Fountain of Youth," would be not just to visit strange lands, but to have other eyes, to see everything through the eyes of others, of a hundred others, so as to see the hundreds of universes each of them sees, that each of them is. This we can do through art, through a painter, like Elstir, through a composer, like Vinteuil. With creators like these, we really do fly from star to star.
—Marcel Proust, from À la recherche du temps perdu, vol. 5: La prisonnière.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Birds in England

(If you are unable to see the slideshow, click on this post's title to bring up the post directly, or, alternatively, click here to view the photographs. Thanks to Shy Songbird for identifying that issue, and thanks to both Shy Songbird and John at Hedgeland Tales for correcting my identification of some of the birds!)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wildflowers in England

If you are unable to see the slideshow, click on this post's title to bring up the post directly, or, alternatively, click here to view the photographs.

While I remain "on hiatus," I am given to understand that there are those who would like more photographs of the trip to England.  It seems I took over a thousand photographs (OK, I often bracket exposures, but just the same . . .). I will not burden anyone with even a fraction of that, but will post some as I manage to cull them.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friko's Castle and Garden

Many thanks to Friko and Beloved for their hospitality and for permission to share these photographs and video with you.  For those who may have missed the video in the last post, here it is:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Benno's World

We had no phone reception where we were staying, as it turned out.  The day after we arrived, we drove until we found a place where the phone would work. We pulled into a parking lot, and I called Friko from there.  It transpired that we had parked right below her house.  "I'll be down in five minutes," she said.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bang on a Can Exuberance

While I am working my way toward a blogging hiatus, I could not resist sharing this with you. Thanks to Thomas Deneuville at I Care If You Listen, all of us who didn't get to the 25th Bang on a Can Marathon can get a glimpse of it: exuberant, joyful, zany, miraculous, wacky, over-the-top, everything.  Who says classical music can't be fun?

Video + Editing: Thomas Deneuville

Opening animation: Daniel Thompson at DTWebart (


Monday, July 23, 2012

In Friko's World

Sometimes a picture must tell the tale, so here is one:  Friko's castle, from her garden.  Our visit with Friko, Beloved, and Benno was a golden time, and Shropshire is beautiful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Taking A Break . . .

Great Blue Heron at Innisfree Garden

Starting tomorrow, I'll be offline for a couple weeks or so.  I've enabled comment moderation, but I'll make sure any comments Prufrock's might be lucky enough to receive are posted once I'm back online.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Post: In C, The Gospel According to Dylan Mattingly

You simply have to relax and trust in that flow, let the music fill you and believe that it will take you places.  Because it will.

Post by Dylan Mattingly
The thing about In C that is so incredible to me is that it is completely radically different every time it's played.  In C is a byproduct of its performers and location to the extreme.  The performers have control over how many repetitions they give each cell (little chunk of repeated music), they have control over how loud, how soft, what octave, how slow/fast, and yes, how harshly/smoothly they play.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Variations on a Blue Guitar

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In C

A music broke out
and walked in the swirling snow
with long steps.
Everything on the way towards the note C.
A trembling compass directed at C.
One hour higher than the torments.
It was easy!
Behind turned-up collars everyone was smiling.

—from Tomas Tranströmer’s C Major

A salutary thing it is, to throw out the rule book and start anew.  Terry Riley did it with the piece In C.  In going back to C, Terry Riley delivered classical music from the clutches of the unlistenable.  Had it not been for him, we might still be offered up, more often than not, music that isn't music, but math equations, unadorned.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wales Diary, From Celtic Village to Castle Gardens

St Fagans Castle Grounds
The sun continued to shine for the remainder of my stay.  Nothing short of miraculous, and it created a conundrum for my last day in Wales.  I pored over the train and bus routes, but to no avail:  a stretch of wild Welsh coastal path where I might ramble as I quoted from Dylan Thomas (or something of the sort) was simply out of reach.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wales Diary, Art and the Aquabus

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

And lo, the sun shone on Cardiff once again.  Not just a dry day, but another blue-sky sunny day.  Nonetheless, I had one important indoor activity to which I needed to attend.  The one-day stoppage was over, and the National Museum Cardiff demanded to be seen:  in particular, the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection bequeathed to the Museum by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wales Diary, the Covered Streets of Cardiff

Morgan Arcade
My third day in Cardiff was again glowering and rainy, but I had the absolute best of indoor plans.  I was going to spend the day at the National Museum Cardiff.  Just for starters, thanks to the Davies sisters, the National Museum has one of the largest collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art outside of Paris.  Some say the largest, but I’m from Chicago, so you won’t hear that from me (read:  Art Institute).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wales Diary, Cardiff Castle

—for Hilary and her mother

My first attempt to breach the walls of Cardiff Castle didn’t work out quite as planned.  When I returned from walking the barrage, it wasn’t yet 6 o’clock, and the sun was still out, so I thought, why not hop over to the castle and take a look?  The hotel’s front desk staff recommended a taxi over the bus, and I thought, OK, just this once.  I’ll figure out public transportation after I’ve had a proper night’s sleep.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wales Diary, Cardiff Bay Barrage

Cardiff Bay Barrage
I’d not been in this position before when traveling:  my evenings while in Wales were, by and large, spoken for with Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music concerts, but I’d nothing planned for the days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Worlds Entwined

Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff Bay, May 11, 2012

The closing concert of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music was held in Cardiff Bay, at the Wales Millenium Centre’s BBC Hoddinott Hall, home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.  This time, as I was staying in Cardiff Bay, my own two feet were my transportation.  The day was fine, and the early evening light set the Centre’s bronzed edifice aglow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ancient Instruments, Timeless Sounds

St. Donats Arts Centre, Llantwit Major, Wales, May 9, 2012
Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music

I’ve not learned to drive on the “wrong” side of the road.  That meant cadging a lift to Llantwit Major for my first Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music concert.  Thank goodness for Festival staff member Cathy Morris, who did the driving, for the evening was rainy, and Llantwit Major is about an hour’s drive from Cardiff on small and yet smaller roads.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crossing a Bridge of Dreams

All Saints Church, Penarth, Wales, May 10, 2012
Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music

The taxi driver knew exactly where to find All Saints Church in Penarth.  “I was married there,” he said.  When we told him we were going to a concert of choral music, he seemed almost as excited as I was.  It transpired he’d sung in a choir as a boy, at least until his voice changed.  “It went all flat,” he said. His dejection at not being able to continue was palpable, even now.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gertrude’s Gloire

I’d been warned that the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, The Steins Collect, was vast and, not only that, but also full of explanatory text.  “You can spend all your time,” said my artist-friend Barbara, “just reading the text.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gathering Blossoms While I May

Central Park Conservatory Garden
(if you can't see the photo slideshow above, try clicking here.)

Traveling Music

(No, not a misprint:  the musical form is a palindrome, and the title is a palindrome, as well.)

So, off I go to the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music.  I'll look forward to catching up with you on my return from Wales.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Welcoming Spirit of Composer John Metcalf

John Metcalf
Composer and Artistic Director of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music

On May 7, I'm heading to Wales to attend the last three concerts of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music.  The Festival, which this year runs from May 1 through May 11, is dedicated to celebrating the work of living composers from all over the world.  This year, for example, two of the featured composers are Danish composer Per Nørgård (on the occasion of his 80th birthday) and Chinese composer Qigang Chen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And On To a Dazzling CD

cover art by George Mattingly Design
the full CD jacket booklet can be found here

Today, April 24, is the official release date for the first CD from Contemporaneous:  Stream of Stars, Music of Dylan Mattingly. To mark the day, a big day for my personal musical history book, I am taking the unusual step of re-posting what I wrote earlier this month about Stream of Stars.  For more information about the CD, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gather Ye Blossoms While Ye May (Part Two)

Central Park Conservatory Garden

The sun returned, and we went in search of blossoms once again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gather Ye Blossoms While Ye May (Part One)

Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The calendar turned to April, and we went in search of blossoms.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The News from Minnesota

On March 30 and 31, 2012, the Minnesota Orchestra performed the world premiere of a brand new orchestral composition.  The composition came about as the result of the Orchestra’s first MicroCommission.  Approximately 400 people contributed with donations ranging from 1 to 1,500 dollars.  I'm proud to have been one of them:  the composer chosen for the MicroCommission was Judd Greenstein, whose work I much admire.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Into the Dazzling Air

Herringbone is the one who set the light bulb off for me, when he wrote about Maxwell McKee’s Double Quintet:  “Double Quintet seemed to have a noticeable beat that you could groove too.  I could see Roger Daltrey grabbing the mike and belting something out.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Days, Everything Is A Picture

Photography is always a subjective way to see the world, it is an art—you think about your composition, you omit, you choose a special detail, a segment or angle—in short:  you create.

Ah, fine photographers.  They understand their equipment; they have patience and skill; they have the eye to spot the perfect shot.  My appreciation for them grows every time I venture forth with my camera.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just for All of Us

Young composer Maxwell McKee had a confession to make.  While he was writing a composition commissioned by Contemporaneous, he was suffering from an acute case of Ligeti’s Syndrome.  (György Ligeti, after whom this syndrome is named, is best known to many as the composer whose music appears in soundtracks of Stanley Kubrick films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In the Way One Poem Leads to Another

“As it happens,” poet Roger Mitchell wrote to a group of friends and colleagues, “I lived for a year almost 50 years ago in Szymborska's home town. Never met her, but that didn't keep me from writing the attached.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wisława Szymborska and Horst Beckmann’s Hat

—for Friko 

In yet another alarming gap in my cultural education, I’d not heard of Wisława Szymborska until Friko’s Poetry and Pictures introduced a poem of hers to me. The poem was The Joy of Writing, and its first line, as translated from the Polish by Czesław Miłosz, is this:  “Where is a written deer running through a written forest?”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Subway to Estonia

And then Estonia was conquered . . . .
It seemed that all the dreams were broken.
—Taimi Lepasaar

In her poem Public Transportation, Elaine Sexton reminds us that what we see on the surface may not be what is:
. . . The driver does not have
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his metal
lunchbox.  He has caviar left over from New Year's
and a love note from his mistress, whom he just left
on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street.
On public transportation, anything is possible—the whole gamut from disturbance to delight.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cello on a Wire

Really, I’m creating a world, and it’s really hard to say what it is, but it is a world of feeling and emotion and color and light.
—Zoë Keating 

When I was looking for music to accompany my Halo of Sound post, I realized with horror that I knew of no 21st century compositions for the cello.  I went on a frantic search and, with a lot of help, both cyber- and human, came up with some possibilities, including a cellist by the name of Zoë Keating.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where the Wild Things Really Are

Exhibition Poster, from Illustrated Legends of Kitano Tenjin Shrine

And when he came to the place where the wild things are/
They roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
—Maurice Sendak

An eight-headed, nine-tailed monster greeted us at the door of the exhibition. Fortunately for us, the monster was preoccupied with other business, for he guards the gate to hell.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Soonest Mended

—for Mark Kerstetter, who introduced me to this poem

Ashbery, in his poem Soonest Mended, seems to have had in mind the old proverb “least said, soonest mended,” when he wrote of Ingres’ damsel in distress:
And Angelica, in the Ingres painting, was considering
The colorful but small monster near her toe, as though
       wondering whether forgetting
The whole thing might not, in the end, be the only solution.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My City

Balmy, it was.  Last winter, New York City was snowbound.  We had to pick our way across the slushy streets.  This holiday season, though, we could step out when and where we liked.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Triumph of Style

Even if we returned skillfully and victoriously to those wondrous paintings of Tamerlane's time . . . in the final analysis, all of it'll be forgotten, I said mercilessly, because everybody will want to paint like the Europeans."

My Enishte believed the same, Black confessed meekly, yet it filled him with hope.

—Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red 

We had two hours to cover the ground.  Even before we stepped into the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit Wonder of the Age:  Master Painters of India 1100-1900, we knew all was lost.  In the fond hope I’d mistaken the closing date, I braved the gift shop attendant’s dour demeanor and inquired.
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