Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pressure on the Pier

Would you jump off a bridge just because your friends did?

Yeah, well maybe, if they were attractive friends. And sufficient alcohol were involved.

I’ve been to two parties this season where classical music became a topic of conversation. Beethoven vs Brahms, Debussy vs Ravel, blah, blah, blah. The only thing everyone agreed on was Mozart . Overrated, they said; a necessary step in the evolution of music of course, but too light to travel well. So I, too, gave his corpse a kick.

And have no idea why. I like the guy. I could have said something like, “Please don’t criticize my friends to my face.” But no, I’m a little insecure when it comes to my knowledge and appreciation of the great and notsogreat composers. In this arena I’m the product of self-education and a bad teacher.

When I tell people I grew up in a household that listened only to classical music, that isn’t strictly true. I grew up in a household that barely listened to music at all, but when they accidentally did, the music was classical. By default. The only records the parents had were in these 40 pound albums that must have belonged to grandparents in the old country who didn’t want them either.

So that's the music I played on my Sears stereo. If a dollar or two came my way, likely I’d take it to the drug store and buy a bargain classical album, the cheaper the better. The cheapest usually had a gypsy girl dancing on the cover, don’t ask me why. But the tunes made me happy, sad, sometimes frantic with excitement and energy, other times they kept me safe from night terrors.

All the above still holds true. Beethoven, Debussy, Grieg, Bach, they never get old. Nor does Mozart.

Argerich plays Mozart

Mozart guitar

And again

(photo from Shorpy's)


  1. I was born before rock and roll and I've grown tired of listening to it. I played the drums for years and there is only so much you can do with 4/4. I switched to classical a while back and I like all them fellers you listed. Thanks for the tunes.

    Hey, If two people blew there noses together, would that be a snota?

  2. And my dear friend Sergei Rachmaninoff has played his little fingers to the bone pour moi most of the day! Now on my stekro that sat on a brass stand with rollers, i had some fine Ray Conniff Singers and 101 Strings! Well that was sortof classical right?

    WV: PROODI! No, I"m not!

  3. I have such eclectic taste - in everything - that to say I like one genre of music over another would be pointless. Right now the CD player in my van has The Dixie Chicks, Cuban music, the theme music to Monsoon Wedding, Anita Baker, and who knows what else. I know what I like, I just don't necessarily know why. I can't imagine attempting a discussion of classical music, or masters, so you're way ahead of me, KB. Besides, it's one thing to like classical music, it's another to be able to comment on who's interpreting it. I can't do either.

    I can say that I love, love, love the photo of the woman - for all the obvious reasons.

  4. I'll bet my self-education teacher were worser.


  5. Don't you just wonder what I was thinking when I wrote STEKRO? Sounds like a WV!! Where is that darn secretary??? Actually I'm just commenting again because i'm taking a little break from cleaning and i don't want to make those messy cheese grits for Christmas brunch!! Where is that darn cook???

  6. And KB, you're hanging with the wrong crowd girl. My friends ask things like, "Want another glass of wine??" and "Pass that 7 layer Mexican dip would ya???" It's a no brainer. I'm going to two parties tonight so I"m hoping I won't feel that urge to comment when I get home!
    Toodles, back to the grits,

    PJ I like the Dixie Chicks song "Poor Earl"!! Ooops , sorry Mr. E. That was a faux pas for sure. :)

    My WV: dhasr

    Would somebody help me SHUT UP??? FOR the LOVE!
    On Dhasr, on Dancer. on Comet..........

  7. So you're not a corpse kicker after all?

    We've talked Bach before. Is it a sacrilege to say I feel the same way about Mozart--pleasant for a while but never stirring?

    I'm trying to get over my embarrassment for laughing (hard) at Pierre's nose joke.

  8. I buy a four-concert (i.e. small) subscription to the LA Phil every year, but I don't know shit about classical music, nor do I care to. I like what I hear at the Disney, but I rarely play classical on the radio or CD. I went to see Roy Zimmerman at the Coffee Gallery the other night, a funny folky songwriter, and on Sunday, saw the musical Baby It's You, about the Shirelles, at the Pasadena Playhouse. That's my world.

    No problem, Virg, I heard "Speedo" on Sirius 50s on 5 today. That's the song about Mister Earl.

    WV: stecom. "If I use the word 'shit' in a post, just stecom."

  9. Ha ha, Pierre! That makes me and J a musical couple. You should hear our fugues.

    K, you seem knowledgeable about classical music. J knows a lot about classical composers both ancient and modern. I know what I enjoy but I usually couldn't tell you who wrote it--even recognizable stuff.

    I think there are fashions in these things and Mozart's out of style. He'll be back.

    Mmm...cheese grits.

  10. I recognize the pieces I like, but know not the names of the pieces or the composers for the most part. I think I'm too lazy, but I know I'm missing out on some great tunes because of it. One day..

  11. Lovely to hear classical music labelled "tunes".

    So, if Mozart and Bach are lightweights,who would they be bracketed with in the more popular genres? Composers here not groups or singers.

    Would Mozart be bracketed with Paul McCartney?

    Would Bach be bracketed with, say, Burt Backarach?

    I stopped listening to popular radio in the early 80s, so those two modern composers come to mind readily. But younger, hipper folk can bring me into this century, if they wish.

    I would never label either Mozart or Bach s lightweight. I may not know much, but I sometimes know when to shut-up.

  12. Coupla things, on second read:

    I love your title.

    So, besides the double-entendre, did you drive that far for this bash?

    Another thought: others at these parties probably came as far as you did to get there (figuratively) and would find this refreshing to read.

    "But the tunes made me happy, sad, sometimes frantic with excitement and energy, other times they kept me safe from night terrors." The image that delivers of little Karin is precious.

    My WV is "pokem" and if there were a way to share that with Pierre I'd do it.

  13. Mister E, the Shirelles??? Oh now that's some fine, fine memories. Thank you very much.

  14. I'm glad Petrea pounced on this. Most times I'm too in awe to comment, KB, so I just prattle.

    Petrea, think Gouda grits. Oh hell, just think grits. In our house they're sacred and holy no matter how you fix them.

    wv dasin
    Dasin thru the snow...

  15. gouda grits??? Oh hell, now I"m googling gouda grits!! DAMN

  16. Mr. E,
    Speedo?. Really? Well at our age....just go for it if you feel you're up for it. :)

  17. We had a music store when I was growing up and a record bar for quite a lot of that time. All kinds of things found their way home ~ including a lot of stuff that didn't sell. So I laughed aloud here: The only records the parents had were in these 40 pound albums that must have belonged to grandparents in the old country who didn’t want them either. Thanks, KB!!

    On the subject of composers ~ I find something to like in all those guys ~ including Mozart.

  18. Merry Christmas, y'all. If anyone else is up at this ungodly hour, the classical station is broadcasting the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from Cambridge. It's lovely.

  19. I'm up and moving slowly with a cup of coffee and an oatmeal choc/chip cookie or two. It's Christmas! I'll be going to Lessons and Carols at my church late this afternoon. It ends with everyone lighting candles and the lights turned out. Very special.

  20. It can sometimes be an effort of will to maintain my position, even in the face of ridicule and rejection. However, I'm big on maintaining my own opinion and allowing the other guy to have his as well. I may have weird and eccentric tastes, but they're mine and I'll defend them. Until I change my mind. Which I'm also entitled to do. *wink*

  21. Mozart is considered uncool now? Good lord I can't keep up with intellectual hipsters. I've always loved Mozart -- and remember back in the 80s when Amadeus came out and all the tut-tutters who then bashed Chopin and the Romantics as "simplistic" were raving about the layers of the Viennese Classic period and Mozart in particular. I remember a few dinner parties where hosts trotted out Salieri to discuss his "obvious inferiority" to Mozart.

    People make me tired. Mozart has always been a favorite. I think I like him even more now but I'm contrary that way.

  22. Virg, your parties sound fun! I want some of that dip right now.

  23. Was there a time when Chopin was uncool? Too bad. I think he's always going to be my favorite. Sentimental me.

  24. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Karin, from the old world.

  25. NOOOOOO - when did Martha get grey!?! Rats, rats & double rats. Holiday parties?? Cool.

    Now that I've got that off my chest - Mozart's music can be just fun and it can be sublime...SUBLIME! Who can listen to the Symphony in Gmin without tears in their eyes? Who, I ask, who??? - get ready for the next set of classical snooty friends!!

    The photo is great - the story is great - I got a real-to-real hand-me-down tape recorder when I was 13 and would tape anything and everything on it from the console stereo/records. 1st classical album was of Chopin & Brahms on a 45 that my mom had...Still my favorite pieces.

    But ... it's time to eat, drink & be merry... XOX Tash

  26. You probably didn't notice but it was me who backed away from the conversation. True, I had nothing to add but I was hoping I'd be missed just a little bit. If anyone cared they could have found me. I was the one tipping back the nog and whisky over the dessert table. You know, singing My Sharona to the cat (as if anyone cared).

    Happy Christmas Eve

  27. My Christmas Eve Day didn't go as planned. I can't complain, there are so many people that have no home and nowhere to go this day. I'm feeling very grateful for all of my family and friends and all of you that I know and love through our blogs. Merry Christmas everyone. And I think TIny Tim said it best, " God bless us every one."

  28. Today's post has been laugh out loud funny!!! I have to say...I'm a fan of both Mozart and Bach...maybe I'm a lightweight, but then Rachmaninoff would definitely be the ultimate heavyweight!!! I grew up listening to my dad's recordings of Glenn Miller, Benny mother's love of Gershwin (in the movies), Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennet....then it was my sisters Elvis....and then break out the 60's and 70's with the Beatles, the Doors, Santana, Chicago..............

    But I digress...I grew up going to the Dorothy Chandler...I was a Prelude which meant I got to dress up in formals and usher people at the symphony...and of course, take any young man willing to sit through all this and hang out with me...thanks Mike P...I think you were the only one!!!
    (phew!!! I just checked with my hubby to see if he ever went with me to the Dorothy Chandler....I'm safe...he didn't!!!)

    Love to you all on this very Merry Christmas day...and may you hear Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and the Rat Pack sing your favorite Christmas Carols!!! (sorry Mr. Earl, I don't know if any of them ever recorded any dreidel

  29. Some great stories. Yes PA, I saw you sneak away. And I want some music instruction from Tash and Chieftess. Chieftess, you must have seen some fabulous musicians.

    Oh, and here's another vote for Chopin.

  30. Now I'm really envious - TheChieftess went to DorothyChandPav in a formal & I had to wear a horrible red dress to usher perfect strangers WITH no ecsort. Rats, again!
    PA - singing My Sharona to the cats - you are my kind of party girl

  31. I've heard Mozart called many things, but never overrated.

  32. I will publically call Mozart "overrated"—& mean it.

    BTW, thank you for loving M. Argerich. Her 1995-era version of Chopin's Piano Sonata #2 is unbelievable. Lustral, like the dark lacquer on her piano.

  33. I guess B squared will believe me now.

    Yeah, Argerich is another piano genius who suffers paralyzing stage fright. I have a youtube somewhere of her, waiting to come in on a piece, and she is just a series of agonizing fidgits. But then she starts playing.