Here is the beginning of Claude Debussy’s profile at Encyclopedia Britannica:
Claude Debussy, in full Achille-Claude Debussy (born August 22, 1862, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France—died March 25, 1918, Paris), French composer whose works were a seminal force in the music of the 20th century. He developed a highly original system of harmony and musical structure that expressed in many respects the ideals to which the Impressionist and Symbolist painters and writers of his time aspired. His major works include Clair de lune(“Moonlight,” in Suite bergamasque, 1890–1905), Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894; Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), the opera Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), and La Mer (1905; “The Sea”). (Continue Reading…)
Above is a beautiful 1962 performance of Debussy’s Clair de Lune by violinist David Oistrakh and pianist Frida Bauer. Late last year, New York Times critic Michael Tommasini devoted one of his “musical moment” video blogs to a single note late in the piece.
Below, the Ensemble de l’Orquestra de Cadaqués performs Prélude à l’Apres-midi d’un Faune (Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun) under the direction of Vasily Petrenko. The back story:
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) was one of the greatest innovators in the history of French poetry. His works, which abound in complex symbols and images, seek to represent states of mind rather than ideas, express moods rather than tell stories. Mallarmé tried to capture that elusive line between dream and awakening that most of us who are not poets are well aware of but are unable to put into words.
Mallarmé’s eclogue L’Après-midi d’un Faune (“The Afternoon of a Faun”) was published in 1876.Debussy first set a poem by Mallarmé to music in 1884, at the age of 22. Three years later, the young composer joined the circle of poets and artists who met at Mallarmé’s house every Tuesday night for discussions and companionship.Thus he was thoroughly familiar with the poet’s style before he began work on his prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun” in 1892. (Continue Reading…)
Talking Heads was an American New Wave and avant-garde band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne (vocals and guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass) and Jerry Harrison(keyboards and guitar). Auxiliary musicians also regularly made appearances in concert and on the group’s albums. The New Wave style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk, art rock, avant-garde, pop, funk, world music, andAmericana. Frontman and songwriter David Byrne contributed whimsical, esoteric lyrics to the band’s songs, and emphasized their showmanship through various multimedia projects and performances.
Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes Talking Heads as being “one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the ’80s, while managing to earn several pop hits.” In 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Four of the band’s albums appeared on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the Channel 4 100 Greatest Albums poll listed one album (Fear of Music) at number 76. On a 2011 update of Rolling Stone‘s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, the band was ranked at No. 100.
Yesterday was the first full day of autumn. Great photos behind Billie Holiday.
At Huffington Post, Alan Elsner gives positive reviews to two books. The Secret Piano, a memoir from pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, describes her suffering under Mao. Laurie Rubin’s Do You Dream in Color: Insights form a Girl Without Sight also is a memoir. Rubin didn’t let anything as trivial as being born blind stop her from becoming a recognized singer.
Many folks reading this post know more about Miles Davis than I do. So it makes little sense for me to write anything about the second most important trumpet player who ever lived.
One quote seems appropriate. It is from Jon Pareles and ran in The New York Times obit that was published on August 29, 1991, the day after Davis died:
His solos, whether ruminating on a whispered ballad melody or jabbing against a beat, have been models for generations of jazz musicians. Other trumpeters play faster and higher, but more than in any technical feats Mr. Davis’s influence lay in his phrasing and sense of space. “I always listen to what I can leave out,” he would say.
Equally important, Mr. Davis never settled into one style; every few years he created a new lineup and format for his groups. Each phase brought denunciations from critics; each, except for the most recent one, has set off repercussions throughout modern jazz. “I have to change,” he once said. “It’s like a curse.”
Here are All Blues, Agitation, a very late version of Summertime and Freddie Freeloader. Information on Davis can be found at dozens of sites, including NPR and Miles Ahead. Don’t laugh–a good condensed bio for those unfamiliar with the outlines of the Davis story is at PBS Kids.
Illegally downloading music is a crime that should be punished. However, it seems a bit harsh to ruin somebody for doing so.
Reuters reports that the 8th Circuit Court of Apples in St. Paul, MN has reinstated a verdict demanding a woman by the name of Jamie Thomas-Rasset pay $220,000 for illegally downloading and sharing 22 songs.
I am not aware of the back story. Did the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) try to work something out with her? Was she was caught several times? Are there other extenuating factors? Those caveats notwithstanding, it seems vindictive to ruin somebody financially for such a misstep, especially something so common.
Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on television. The director uses a lot of montages, many of which show the characters cooking meth. Last week, the great song Crystal Blue Persuasion ran over the video.
These comments by Tommy James about the song are interesting:
Country singer, songwriter and guitarist Joe South passed away yesterday in Buford, GA, a community near Atlanta. South, whose original named was Joe Souter, had hits with Games People Play and Walk a Mile in My Shoes.
He played on Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. South was induced into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979.