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  • 2014 August 31: Labor Day

    August 31, 2014 10:30

    Composed in 1917, Satie's "Bureaucratic Sonatina" is a parody not just of civil servants (dreaming of vacations, promotions, etc.) but also of Clementi's Sonatina in C. Clementi was a contemporary of Mozart, and his sonatinas are standard staple for intermediate piano students (including your intrepid organist as a youngster) who have been laboring at them for a couple centuries now. Satie wrote a number of pieces which include narrations, and he said that the narrations are not supposed to be read out loud during performances. So, then, what? — everyone in the congregation gets a score? And we’re doing the narration in English instead of French! Sacré Bleu! (more )

  • 2014 August 3: Busted!

    August 03, 2014 10:30

    The concert pianist Charles Hallé visited Paris to give a recital, and afterwards went to a reception where he met Gounod. Gounod seized him by both hands and thanked him profusely for the pleasure his recital had given him, humming a passage from a Beethoven Sonata saying "No one — no one, my dear friend, except you, could have interpreted that passage in so masterly a way. Even with my eyes shut, I should have known that Hallé was playing." Immediately after came Madame Gounod, who began by apologizing for her and her husband's absence from the concert owing to a previous engagement. (more )

  • 2014 July 27: The Perils of Art

    July 27, 2014 17:22

    The Spanish composer Granados was ever the prankster, and after he became established in Spain the 'brilliant' idea occurred to him that he and his colleagues should form an orchestra in which everyone played an instrument about which they knew nothing at all. So the opera singer scratched away on a fiddle, the composer Albeniz struggled with some dolorous wind instrument, and Granados played on a comb and paper. Rehearsals took place on an open patio, and though discretion was attempted, the fame (or infamy) of this strange orchestra spread quickly, even reaching the King's ear in his palace, so that Royal inquiry was made to their progress. (more )

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