MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Fur Traders

From the Met’s YouTube archive: A closer look at George Caleb Bingham’s Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845).

Filed under: American artists, art history, Metropolitan Museum

A Fourth with Ives

Celebrate American music! And you can’t do much better than Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for this rep.

As Charles Ives impishly recalled about this third movement from his Holidays Symphony :

I did what I wanted to, quite sure that the thing would never be played, although the uneven measures that look so complicated in the score are mostly caused by missing a beat, which was often done in parades. In the parts taking off explosions, I worked out combinations of tones and rhythms very carefully by kind of prescriptions, in the way a chemical compound which makes explosions would be made.

And for good measure:

Filed under: American music, Charles Ives, John Adams, Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony

Da Vinci’s Viola Organista

MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Sketch from Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus Sketches from Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus
Just ran across This Is Colossal‘s report on the Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki’s realization of one of tne wildly imaginative hybrids Leonardo da Vinci dreamed up in his notebooks. Sketches for this “viola organista” – a mating of the principles of stringed and keyboard instruments – are found in da Vinci’s massive collection of sketches known as the Codex Atlanticus.

Zubrzycki demonstrated his new version of this invention at the recent International Royal Cracow Piano Festival. The Colossal‘s story links to this more-detailed account at The History Blog of the background of the viola organista and attempts to realize it, including this early one:

Almost a hundred years [after the da Vinci sketches] in 1575, church organist Hans Hyden of Nuremberg created the first functional bowed keyboard instrument operated by a foot-treadle. He used gut strings (later switched to metal…

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Metamorphosen

metamorph

Filed under: photography

Half Through the Year

half-veil

Today’s position in the annual calendar makes me think of Friedrich Hölderlin’s most-famous poem, Hälfte des Lebens. Here’s the original, followed by my inelegantly functional translation (in which I deliberately stick close to Hölderlin’s word order/syntax):

Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm’ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Halfway Through Life

With its yellow pears
And laden with roses,
The shore hangs right into the lake,
O lovely swans,
And drunk with kisses
You dip your heads
Into the holy sobering water.

Alas, where shall I, come
Winter, [find] flowers, and where
The sunshine,
And shade of the earth?
The walls are standing
Speechless and cold, in the wind
The weathervanes rattle.

And Benjamin Britten’s setting:

Filed under: Hölderlin, poetry

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