17 June 2006

16 June 1904

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
-- Introibo ad altare Dei.
. . . .
Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance.
. . . .
and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

12 June 2006

Ligeti split

Gyorgy Sandor Ligeti, twentieth century man, May 28 1923 to June 12, 2006.
I'm listening to his vocal works now. I've only heard his music live a couple of times -- two performances of the American premiere of Le Grand Macabre and the complete piano etudes at Cal last fall -- and both times left me with an elation I rarely feel.
I can't even remember how or where I first heard of, or read about Ligeti, but I started collecting all the CDs in the series put out by Sony (then picked up by Teldec). The first one I bought had the Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes, which was too zany an idea to be resisted. I expected it to sound sharp and angular but instead it was like a buzzing, humming cloud that gently died away. Can you ask more from a composer than sounds you didn't expect and had never heard before?
I hestitated about the title for this entry, fearing it would seem flip or disrespectful. But the program book for Le Grand Macabre (which I can't find at the moment) quoted him saying that after the Holocaust, it was only possible to write comically for the stage. This is as good an answer as any to the question about how one can write poetry after Auschwitz. One thing I really loved about Le Grand Macabre is that he avoids the separation into life = good; death = bad that a lesser artist would have chosen. The life we're shown is often filled with squabbles, vulgarity, and cruelty. Death is a strange visitor who may or may not be who we think he is. So I meant to salute his antic spirit.
I read that Ligeti had hoped to compose an opera based on the Alice books but poor health prevented him. What a loss. Somewhere in the spirit world there should be a ghostly opera house performing such great lost works as Ligeti's Alice or Gershwin's Dybbuk. Perhaps we'll all end up in the audience.

04 June 2006

Plus ca change. . .

(Sorry, I don't know how to put the cedilla under the "c" in "ca".)

Before I went to Houston I read The Letters of Claudio Monteverdi (Denis Stevens, ed., Clarendon Press Oxford), seeking all kinds of historical insight and musical and theatrical instruction. Most of the letters, however, are attempts to pry some promised money out of his his patrons, to get a better and more secure position, to protect his children from the authorities (the Inquisition) and start them on their careers, or complaints about his poor health and the quality of the works his patrons want him to set.

. . . c'est plus la meme chose. . . .

01 June 2006

It worked for Jim Caviezel

from Mick LaSalle's review of The Da Vinci Code in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"After seeing [Paul Bettany] half nude and flagellating himself, it'll take a while for audiences to buy him as a romantic lead."

Oh, Mick, Mick, Mick.

Besides, any actor who played Geoffrey Chaucer is a permanent romantic idol, right?