Penguin behind Slipster: Watch where you're going! (Idiot!)
Slipster: F--- off!
— William Shakespeare, from Henry VIII, III : 1 (Queen Katharine)
|Franz von Stuck, Orpheus (1891)|
“Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature,—if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you,—know that the morning and the spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.”
|late afternoon shadows|
I am trying to get my creative juices flowing for a concert theme for my chamber choir ― and bought a very interesting book last week. It is about royal scand[a]ls through history ― Henry II of England's famous temper, Roman Emperors and their “fondness” for their mothers ― you get the idea. It struck me, it might be interesting to have a concert of music by composers who were, um, “characters?” ― my favorite being Gesualdo, eventho a grad school music history prof claimed [that] all the kerfuffle was a legend. Despite [it’s] being a “legend”, I know we will do some of his madrigals. Brahms visited houses of ill repute (waiting for Clara?), so I may include him. Who should I include in my concert of composers of questionable morals? I don't care too much about pieces yet, I can hunt them down myself, I just want names and stories good enough for the [tabloids]. I want temper tantrums, back stabbing (literally and figur[a]tively) and cheating husbands (and wives ― Carlo G. and his wifey weren't exactly angels, were they?). Bawdy house visits ― gossipy stuff that would make the tabloids. Folks believe composers to be saints and I want to show they had foilbles [sic] ― even in Renaissance Italy― and were as interesting in their time as [contemporary celebrities]. Perhaps I'm reaching but I may discover something new. Who would you include in a program such as this and what would you call it ― crazies/devils/villians [sic] in music history? I hope this [query] generates some lively music history tidbits.Somehow this just struck me as mean-spirited. And that one phrase: “I don't care too much about pieces yet…I just want names and stories” made me wonder if this proposed program would be more about scandal and less about music. Here’s what I posted in reply, edited and expanded a bit for this essay:
—Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild (1996)
—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Journal, February 8, 1841.
As I stand by the hemlocks, I am greeted by the lively and unusually prolonged tche de de de de de of a little flock of chickadees. The snow has ceased falling, the sun comes out, and it is warm and still, and this flock of chickadees, little birds that perchance were born in their midst, feeling the influences of this genial season, have begun to flit amid the snow-covered fans of the hemlocks, jarring down the snow, - for there are hardly bare twigs enough for them to rest on, - or they plume themselves in some snug recess on the sunny side of the tree, only pausing to utter their tche de de de. (January 12, 1860)
…The little chickadees love to skulk amid [the seed-laden weeds] and peep out from behind them. I hear their faint, silvery, lisping notes, like tinkling glass, and occasionally a sprightly day-day-day, as they inquisitively hop nearer and nearer to me. They are our most honest and innocent little bird, drawing yet nearer to us as the winter advances, and deserve best of any of the walker. (December 1, 1853)
The coldest day that I remember recording, clear and bright, but very high wind, blowing the snow. Ink froze.We are in the midst of a similar deep freeze here in New England. It’s 8˚F this morning.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Journal, December 31, 1859.
|Crows over winter meadow at dusk, December 2012|
I’ve written about the noisy summer “flight school” for the Red-tailed Hawks that live in my neighborhood:The Red-tails’ courtship flight is a beautiful dance. The two birds climb independently, then soar together in ever-smaller circles, till they are almost wingtip-to-wingtip, hundreds of feet above the earth. Often they will dive steeply and swiftly, in much the same way as they do when they stoop at prey. It’s really a thrill to see this behavior.
And about why that flight school was silent in 2012: