Ever since I was a student. I've always assumed that one of these days I'll acquire a taste for Wagner. It hasn't happened yet. Perhaps the multimedia series on Tristan,hosted by public radio station WNYC, will help me see the light.
In 1991, when Communist hard-liners tried to topple the more open regime, Mr. Rostropovich went to Moscow to stand beside Boris N. Yeltsin. And two years later, during the siege of the Russian White House, Mr. Rostropovich, who was touring Russia again with the National Symphony, gave a free concert in Red Square, attended by 100,000 people.
An American Muslim with a taste for Nashville... I'm not familiar with his music, but this interview makes me want to find out more:
There's some kind of a soul in country music - I don't want to compare it to the Qur'an at all - but the melody... I sang a song a capella to somebody and then I recited the Qur'an to a non-Muslim and they said there's something similar there. They're different in that the Qur'an is not sung, but there's something that comes from deeper down...
It's a sign of our ahistorical times that we forget that teenagers were skulking around long before Elvis or The Beatles. Adding a little perspective, Jon Savage's new book traces the origins of modern youth culture back to Scott Fitzgerald and beyond. The Indy has just run an extract. Unfortunately, it seems to have dropped off-line all of a sudden, but here's one part that caught my eye - an account of that French phenomenon of WW2, the "zazous", rebellious, nattily dressed lovers of jazz and all things American:
Living under curfew and surveillance, they took their culture underground, reviving a 1920s tradition of "surprise-parties" - illegal, unlicensed gatherings. Behind thick shutters and under soft lights, they could listen to New Orleans jazz and swing without fear of interruption... After the Germans censored all English and American films made after 1937, the zazous felt bereft. "We deplored the disappearance of the old MGM lion like that of a friend," one remembered... Seemingly innocuous lines became commandments of faith, like Jimmy Stewart's speech in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington": "I am free, to think and speak."
As well as being targeted by fascist bully-boys, the zazous were picked up in regular police sweeps and sent off to work in the harvest. Reinforcing their status as public enemy number one, some zazous responded to the introduction of the yellow star that summer by creating their own star 'to show their sympathy for the Jews".
My favourite critic, Terry Teachout, has a grim time at the new Broadway musicalThe Pirate Queen: "It starts out dumb, then gets dumber." But then the show's from the same people responsible for that tedious mega-spectacle, Les Miz, so what else can you expect? Like Norm, though, Teachout's co-blogger, Our Girl In Chicago, was much more impressed with the much talked-about German film, The Lives of Others:
While it's fantastically illuminating of the endlessly variegated ways of being a loyal or a skeptical subject of the state, its main achievement is a personal portrait of a soul in flux. That portrait sits quietly alongside the sometimes noisy melodrama involving the other characters, a drama in which it's certainly implicated but from which it's essentially separate. I left the movie theatre with E. M. Forster echoing in my head: Only connect.
I haven't seen it yet. Can't wait.
CORRECTION: I originally credited the film review to TT as well. Sorry about that.
Elsewhere, in a typically Gallic touch, the leading candidates have been answering questions about classical music. I'd say Sarkozy did himself no harm with his comments on whether it's an elitist form:
Les musiques dites « classiques » sont par définition les plus populaires puisque ce sont celles qui ont transcendé le temps, les modes, les sociétés, pour parvenir jusqu’à nous. La musique de Mozart et de Beethoven était peut-être révolutionnaire, voire élitiste du temps de leurs contemporains, mais comment prétendre qu’elle n’est pas populaire?
"He said, 'Let's go for an automobile ride, and I'll show you Toronto,' " Leonard Bernstein recalls. "So, well, what is there to see? It was cold, and it was getting dark, and I had sort of seen it the day before. So we went out, Glenn in his usual three coats and two hats, and I don't know how many pairs of gloves. We got into his car, which was a black sedan. He turned the heat up to maximum, and the radio volume up to maximum, and he got a station that was playing pop tunes, and Petula Clark was singing, and I said, 'Do you really want to hear this?' It was so hot in that car, I can't tell you, and the music was so loud, and there was nothing to see - it was growing dark - but we drove around for maybe half an hour, having a conversation by shouting over this radio full blast, and that was our tour of Toronto."