Opera at the Movies

Following up on Bob’s post: In the opera “Rusalka” the Song to the Moon is sung by a non-human creature (in this case, a sort of mermaid) who has fallen in love with a human being.

I haven’t seen “Bicentennial Man,” so maybe someone call fill me in. Are there any parallels between the opera and the movie?

Piano e-Competition

And we�re off! Welcome to Minnesota Public Radio�s coverage of the 2006 Minnesota International Piano e-Competition. Melissa Ousley will be your eyes and ears inside Sundin Hall for the next two weeks as 24 contestants from 13 different countries vie for the grand prize � 25,000 simoleans, a Yamaha Disklavier grand piano, concert appearances with 4 US orchestras, solo recitals in New York and Paris and a CD issue. But wait � there�s more! The winner will also be featured in a live broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater on Friday, July 14th at noon. Mark your calendars and plan on being in the audience!

Also – starting Tuesday July 4th you can tune in weekdays at 8:15am and 5:15pm as Melissa stops in to chat with John and Steve – and of course, play some musical highlights. Watch this space for updates, tidbits, links to photos and extended information.

Piano-e-Competition Web site

Watch live video of the competition.

Music Hath Charms

I was watching Robin Williams’ movie “Bicentennial Man” the other night, enjoying, among other things the spectacle of a robot telling jokes in a rapid-fire, robotic manner.

There was one scene early on where the robot (Williams) is sitting down in the basement, listening to an old Victrola playing “O Silver Moon” from Dvorak’s “Rusalka.” I always knew that aria could make metal cry!

Pope vs. pop

Again today I’m indebted to John Birge for pointing out an interesting news item: Pope Benedict XVI, a classical music lover, has spoken out against contemporary, popularized liturgical music. Quoted in London’s Telegraph, the pope says he prefers church music that follows “the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music.”

I’m a big fan of pop and rock, electric guitars and amplified sound. I understand why it’s been brought into church: newer-sounding music can make the worship experience more vital and appealing to some churchgoers

More on Richard Rodgers

Couple other Richard Rodgers waltzes, continuing John’s thread of a few days back: “Lover” and “Falling in Love with Love.” (At least I think that last one is in waltz time.)

People have pointed out — and rightly — the differences between Rodgers and Hart, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. But there’s also a continuity there. Some of the thumbprints remain the same. A liking for waltzes is one.

Another example: take the first phrase of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” slow it down, and smoosh the repeated notes into one long note — and you’ll get something quite close to the first phrase of “The Blue Room.” And yet they have two different lyricists.

Any other composer thumbprints that people have noticed?

Chopin meets Xbox

Chopin no Yume (Chopin’s Dream) is a brand new role playing game developed for the Xbox 360. The game takes place in a dream world where where those with incurable illnesses possess magical powers. Chopin explores this world with a young girl named Polka and a boy named Allegretto. Considering the identity of the key character, it comes as no surprise that music has a special emphasis. Russian pianist Stanislav Bunin performs the Chopin. Description and links to screenshots here.

A member of Parliament says pipe down

Thanks to John Birge for pointing out an important development in the British Parliament:

A Bill to Provide for the Secretary of State to draw up a plan to prohibit piped music and the showing of television programmes in the public areas of hospitals and on public transport.

The bill, now before the House of Lords, was introduced by Green Party member Lord Beaumont of Whitley. Arguing for the bill earlier this month, he stated, “I dislike most forms of noise pollution, including wallpaper music.” He continued, “When we listen to a sound, whatever that sound is, including music, if the listener does not want it, it is noise. Noise is defined as unwanted sound.”

Fear not, adherents of the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. In the words of the bill,

Rodgers in Three-Quarter Time

If Johann Strauss Jr. is “The Waltz King,” I might nominate Richard Rodgers for the number 2 spot (“The Waltz Prince?”) in the triple-time pantheon (pace Franz Lehar). In any case, Rodgers excelled at waltz tunes. After playing Stephen Hough’s beautifully intimate arrangement of “Hello Young Lovers” this morning on the radio, I started this list of great Rodgers waltzes:


Hello Young Lovers

My Favorite Things

Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’

Out of My Dreams