A Day Without Immigrants

Tonight’s ArtsJournal newsletter contained an interesting message.

A Day Without Immigrants (And ArtsJournal)

The stories you see in this newsletter were collected Sunday, April 30. May 1 is the “Day Without Immigrants” protest against recent attempts in Congress to change immigration laws. ArtsJournal.com is powered by an immigrant so ArtsJournal will not be adding stories on Monday and there will be no newsletter Monday night. Regular service will resume Tuesday.

The gist of the protest is that tomorrow (Monday, May 1st), all immigrants will stay home from work, stay home from school, and not buy a single thing…thus demonstrating their impact on the American economy.

There’s a counter-protest being planned as well. Read all about both at the invaluable Snopes.com

I’m not cheerleading for either protest, by the way. The whole thing kinda leaves me scratching my head. What about you?

Zechmeisters in music

Confession time: My family name Zech could come from the mining industry, but it’s maybe even more likely to have something to do with drinking. There are a number of German operas/operettas where they sing about zechen, which is German verb meaning “to drink.” A Zeche is a bill you would get at a bar. A Zechpreller is someone who skips out without paying the bill and a Zechmeister is, as a German friend once reminded me, a “master carouser.” Needless to say, a number of my friends have called me “The Zechmeister” without knowing how close they were to the truth–ahem.

In the music world there have been quite a few Zechmeisters. Bach liked his beer and wine, Brahms had a wine cellar, and there’s a famous story by the prominent New York critic James Huneker about a pub crawl he took with Dvorak when the composer was teaching in New York City in the 1890s. Dvorak had whisky cocktails while Huneker drank beer. Nineteen drinks later the critic was ready to call it quits when Dvorak started looking for Slivovitch because it “warms you after so much beer.”

Huneker said, “Such a man is as dangerous to a moderate drinker as a false beacon is to a ship-wrecked sailor. And he could drink as much spirits as I could the amber brew.”

Graeme Garden has piece in the UK Telegraph about some of the great drinkers and trenchermen of music. Can you tell it in there music? Read more here.

SPCO shows the way

Way out ahead of their colleagues in other American orchestras, the musicians of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have made a savvy step into the 21st century. Yesterday the orchestra announced a new media rights agreement.

It paves the way for every recorded SPCO concert, dating back to 1971, to appear on the Web. Future concerts will be streamed live. Past and future concerts will be available for on-demand listening and downloading on the orchestra

Honda Choir Spoof

You’ve probably already seen the fantastic UK Honda Civic commercial with the choir that was making the rounds a few months ago. If not, view here, and be amazed! (note also the Garrison Keillor voice-over)

Now comes a spoof of same, done for “118 118”, which Wiki tells me is the UK phone equivalent of our “411.”

Jolly good fun!

Who's That Guy Up There With Anne-Sophie?

MPR’s library has a lovely box set of Beethoven Sonatas recorded by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis – a souvenir of their amazing 1998 world tour. At each venue, they played all ten Beethoven sonatas over the course of 3 nights.

It’s clear that Lambert Orkis is a phenomenal pianist and a gifted interpreter (of everything from Bach to Crumb, according to his website!) and yet, he is relegated to “accompanist” in almost every single web mention of the Beethoven sonatas. In defense of all those websites, it’s probably because the CD cover has a huge picture of Anne-Sophie plastered next to the words “Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas.”

“So what?” you may be asking. Well, let’s have a look at Beethoven’s manuscripts, shall we? Ten Sonatas “For Piano with Violin.” It’s extremely rare, however, to see that phrase on a published score these days. You can find a few versions “For Piano and Violin” and plenty “For Violin and Piano.” And yet, when it’s time for the recital or the recording, it’s billed as a Violin Sonata.

I suppose I played too much chamber music in college to ever take a pianist for granted. (I was a little afraid of them in general. I think they like this.) I saw firsthand that the piano parts in a Schubert quintet or a Shostakovich trio were not “accompaniment.” Why should the piano part in a Beethoven (or any other) sonata be classified as such?

Susan Tomes, writing for The Guardian, riffs on this very subject here.

Her hope is that we can begin to reclaim that lost territory for the pianists of the world simply by watching our phraseology.

Tune in Tuesday night at around 11:30 to hear Beethoven’s Sonata No. 2 for Piano and Violin. Pianist Lambert Orkis with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter!

Beethoven, Puccini AND Rodney Dangerfield

I just saw “Fidelio” for the first time, in an impressive performance from Covent Garden, stretched over a couple days, inbetween walking the dog and cooking up a mean Kung Pao Pork. If you haven’t yet made the jump to an online movie rental service yet, let me give you one more good reason: operas (and operettas). Who said you have to be limited to Caddyshack and The Crimson Pirate…I’ve recently gone through almost all the Gilbert and Sullivan available (don’t miss the Canadian performance of Mikado) and I”ve got “Idomeneo” and “Tosca” in my queue (also Caddyshack and The Crimson Pirate, but we’ll talk about those another time). Bernstein’s “Candide” and “Trouble in Tahiti” are coming up as well. I mention this because opera is so much a visual medium, and I’m delighted with all that’s available with the click of a mouse. I may not be ready to iPod, but I can Netflix with the best of them!

Nature, Mozart and starlings

Earth Day is Saturday and commentator Philip Blackburn and Web designer Ben Tesch are the driving forces behind a fascinating Web site that makes a lot of connections between music and nature. From Mozart’s starling to a "Name that Tune" game using the sounds of nature to a composition for orchestra, children and audio tape that reflects the ecosystem of the California deserts—there’s a lot of fun, interesting, thought-provoking stuff at musicandnature.org.