Posts Tagged 'culture'

The Cult of the Maestro

After Wagner took conducting to new heights, baton waving was accompanied by tantrums, assaults and bitter rivalry. Michael Tanner discovers why some time keepers turned into dictators.

Conducting, now the most glamorous of all musical occupations, only got going in the form we now know it comparatively recently. All that most people have heard about its early history is that the French composer of opera ballets Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-87) died from gangrene after accidentally stabbing his foot with the cane that he was using to keep time with. More recent stars of the podium, such as Klemperer and Solti, have sustained injuries from emphatic gesturing within a confined space, but no more mortalities have been recorded; in some cases I wish they had.

In fact, until the middle of the nineteenth century the function of the conductor was to keep the players in the orchestra together, and if he could, he would conduct from the keyboard, or the first violin would give the lead. The whole notion of the conductor as a person collaborating with the composer to recreate a work originated with Wagner. While he was in charge of musical life in Dresden, during the 1840s, he raised the standards of orchestral playing to previously undreamt of heights. More importantly, he began to develop the concept of the inspired interpretation of a work, which, as a great composer himself, he was in a unique position to do. With Beethoven as his idol, he set to work on performing the nine symphonies in such a way that they could be felt to embody a whole view of life. The climax of this activity was a performance of the Ninth Symphony on Palm Sunday 1846. previously judged as unplayable and lunatic, it became a symbol of creative endeavour mixed with hope and joy. As an artistic struggle to achieve a masterpiece it reflected and served as an incentive for suffering humanity to achieve its potential.

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Storytime: Duncan’s Tree House

Year: 1992
Author: Amanda Vesey
Illustrator: Amanda Vesey

On his birthday, Duncan’s parents gave him a tree house.

Duncan’s father was a builder. He had made the tree house in his workshop and he had fixed it to the tree the night before Duncan’s birthday, when Duncan was asleep.

It was a complete surprise to Duncan.

Inside the tree house was a camp bed and a rug and a table and a chair and a shelf with cups and plates on it. There was a bookcase and a tin box for keeping things in. The window had real glass in it, and opened and shut.

Duncan leaned out of the window and waved to his parents in the garden below.

‘Thank you!’ yelled Duncan.

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Music Monday: Breathe Carolina

The Kaleidoscope of Life

different-togetherWe tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance, but even in our closest circle of friends and family, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life. We can choose to resist , but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life.

As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are, at this time, thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them, confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off and carry on. This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite, and can’t discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of non-being or the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty.

No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges. We will always run into people that are different that we are, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight or flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.

DailyOM

Storytime: Big City Kitty

Year: 2016
Author: Susie Linn
Illustrator: Lindsay Dale

Kitty the cat was all alone in the city. It was big and noisy – and she was small and quiet.

Kitty hadn’t always been alone. Once, she had lived happily, with a family. But then came the day of the ENORMOUS fright!

Kitty became so scared that she ran and ran and ran… far away, into the big city.

So here she was… alone, quiet, afraid… and lost!

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Month at a Glance

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