Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some of My Favorties

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM
 

 

Romantics 

By  Lisel Mueller    

Johannes Brahms and                                

        Clara Schumann 

 

 

The modern biographers worry

 

“how far it went,” their tender friendship.

 

They wonder just what it means

 

when he writes he thinks of her constantly,

 

his guardian angel, beloved friend.

 

The modern biographers ask

 

the rude, irrelevant question

 

of our age, as if the event

 

of two bodies meshing together

 

establishes the degree of love,

 

forgetting how softly Eros walked

 

in the nineteenth-century, how a hand

 

held overlong or a gaze anchored

 

in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart,

 

and nuances of address not known

 

in our egalitarian language

 

could make the redolent air

 

tremble and shimmer with the heat

 

of possibility. Each time I hear

 

the Intermezzi, sad

 

and lavish in their tenderness,

 

I imagine the two of them

 

sitting in a garden

 

among late-blooming roses

 

and dark cascades of leaves,

 

letting the landscape speak for them,

 

leaving us nothing to overhear.



REFLECTVE MUSIC:  Piano Concerto No 1(Adagio) by Johannes Brahms



 

 

 

Sunday Calls 

By  Chard DeNiord  

 

 

The nurse calls to tell me on Sunday evenings

 

how he’s doing.

 

                               How he’s holding his own in front

 

of the window with a thousand channels behind

 

the one that saves his screen with snow, fish houses,

 

and eagles.

 

                        How the days hang above the ice as vast

 

recycled pages on which he writes in invisible ink.

 

How the sun arcs across the sky, then breaks like a plate

 

above the horizon.

 

                                    How the temperature drops

 

below zero at dusk, then continues to fall till morning.

 

In this way she teaches me how to speak to him in his sleep

 

at his home in Minnesota, which is the same, she says,

 

as talking to a friend you’ve never met, but grown close to

 

nonetheless from hearing his voice.

 

                                                                   I hear the snow

 

falling as she holds the phone outside the window.

 

Silence is the sound of snow falling on snow, I think

 

as I listen to the flakes inside the air before she closes

 

the window.

 

                        “I’m thinking of walleye in their sleep,”

 

I tell my father.

 

                              “Of catching them as they dream,

 

then throwing them back in the hole I drilled by hand

 

with the auger you gave me as a child, whose handle is stained

 

with blood from my turning it so many times into the ice

 

of Bad Medicine.”

 

                                    I wait for her voice to return, then say,

 

“Just this for now since any more would disappear the lake

 

inside his head on which he builds a house for us to fish

 

throughout the winter.”
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Quintet in C, (Adagio) by Franz Schubert
 
 
 

 

 

“I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long”

 

 

 

 

By  William Cullen Bryant 

 

 

I broke the spell that held me long,

 

The dear, dear witchery of song.

 

I said, the poet’s idle lore

 

Shall waste my prime of years no more,

 

For Poetry, though heavenly born,

 

Consorts with poverty and scorn.

 

 

I broke the spell–nor deemed its power

 

Could fetter me another hour.

 

Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget

 

Its causes were around me yet?

 

For wheresoe’er I looked, the while,

 

Was Nature’s everlasting smile.

 

 

Still came and lingered on my sight

 

Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,

 

And glory of the stars and sun; –

 

And these and poetry are one.

 

They, ere the world had held me long,

 

Recalled me to the love of song.
 
REFECTIVE MUSIC: Liebst du um Schonheit by Clara Schumann 
 

 

 

Money

By  Reginald Gibbons  

 

The children are eating lunch at home on a summer weekday when a man comes to the door and asks their mother if she has anything that needs fixing or carrying or any yardwork he can do. They chew their food a little dreamily as, with her back straight and her voice carefully polite, she says No, thank you, I’m sorry, and the man goes away. Who was that, Mama? they say. Oh, no one, she says.

       They are sitting down to dinner but they have to wait because the doorbell rings and a thin young boy begins to tell their father about a Sales Program he’s completing for a scholarship to be Supervisor, and he holds up a filthy tattered little booklet and lifts also his desperate guile and heavily guarded hope, and the children’s father says, No thank you, sorry but I can’t help you out this time, and the boy goes away. The children start to eat and don’t ask anything, because the boy was just a boy, but their father acts irritated and hasty when he sits back down.

      Once a glassy-eyed heavy girl who almost seems asleep as she stands outside their door offers for sale some little handtowels stitched by the blind people at the Lighthouse for the Blind and the children are in the folds of their mother’s full skirt listening to the girl’s small voice and their mother says, Well, I bought some the last time.

      She buys the children school supplies and food, she pays the two boys for mowing the yard together and weeding her flower bed. She gets a new sewing machine for her birthday from the children’s father, and she buys fabric and thread and patterns and makes dresses for the girls, to save money. She tells the children each to put a dime or quarter into the collection plate at Church, and once a month she puts in a little sealed white envelope, and the ushers move slowly along the ends of the pews weaving the baskets through the congregation, and the organist plays a long piece of music.

      Whisk brooms, magazine subscriptions, anything you need hauled away, little league raffle tickets, cookies, chocolate candy, can I do any yard work again and again, hairbrushes, Christmas cards, do you need help with your ironing one time, and more, came calling at the front door while the children were sometimes eating, sometimes playing. Their faces would soften with a kind of comfort in the authority of mother or father, with a kind of wonder at the needy callers.

      Their father left for work every day early, and came home for dinner, and almost always went again on Saturday; in his car. Their mother opened a savings account for each child and into each put the first five dollars. The children felt proud to see their names in the passbooks, and wanted to know when they could take the money out. But they were told they had to save their money not spend it. They felt a kind of pleasure in these mysteries, to know that there were things you would understand later when you grew up and had your own house and while your children were eating their dinner and making too much noise the way you did, you knew it was true, the doorbell would ring, the familiar surprise of it, who would it be, and someone would be holding a little worn book or a bundle of dishtowels or once an old man, but perhaps he only looked old, with his beard, came with bunches of carnations, white, red, and pink, and he too was turned away.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Hard Times Come Again No More by Stephen Foster
 

 

A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687

 

By  John Dryden 

 

Stanza 2

 

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

 

                When Jubal struck the corded shell,

 

         His list'ning brethren stood around

 

         And wond'ring, on their faces fell

 

         To worship that celestial sound:

 

Less than a god they thought there could not dwell

 

                Within the hollow of that shell

 

                That spoke so sweetly and so well.

 

What passion cannot music raise and quell!
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: What passion cannot music raise and quell, by G.F. Handel
 
 

Stanza 2

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

                When Jubal struck the corded shell,

         His list'ning brethren stood around

         And wond'ring, on their faces fell

         To worship that celestial sound:

Less than a god they thought there could not dwell

                Within the hollow of that shell

                That spoke so sweetly and so well.

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

 

 

Stanza 2

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

                When Jubal struck the corded shell,

         His list'ning brethren stood around

         And wond'ring, on their faces fell

         To worship that celestial sound:

Less than a god they thought there could not dwell

                Within the hollow of that shell

                That spoke so sweetly and so well.

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

Stanza 2

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

                When Jubal struck the corded shell,

         His list'ning brethren stood around

         And wond'ring, on their faces fell

         To worship that celestial sound:

Less than a god they thought there could not dwell

                Within the hollow of that shell

                That spoke so sweetly and so well.

What passion cannot music raise and quell!

 

Two Arias, Elegy, Fantasy & Fugue: Playlist for June 19, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM


 

Aria

 

By  David Barber  

 

 

What if   it were possible to vanquish

 

All this shame with a wash of   varnish

 

Instead of wishing the stain would vanish?

 

 

What if   you gave it a glossy finish?

 

What if   there were a way to burnish

 

All this foolishness, all the anguish?

 

 

What if   you gave yourself   leave to ravish

 

All these ravages with famished relish?

 

What if   this were your way to flourish?

 

 

What if   the self   you love to punish —

 

Knavish, peevish, wolfish, sheepish —

 

Were all slicked up in something lavish?

 

 

Why so squeamish? Why make a fetish

 

Out of everything you must relinquish?

 

Why not embellish what you can’t abolish?

 

 

What would be left if   you couldn’t brandish

 

All the slavishness you’ve failed to banish?

 

What would you be without this gibberish?

 

 

What if   the true worth of the varnish

 

Were to replenish your resolve to vanquish

 

Every vain wish before you vanish?



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Juliet's Waltz (from "Romeo et Juliette") by Charles Gounod


 

 

 

 

Elegy

By  Anne Stevenson  

 

 

Whenever my father was left with nothing to do —

 

      waiting for someone to 'get ready',

 

or facing the gap between graduate seminars

 

      and dull after-suppers in his study

 

grading papers or writing a review —

 

      he played the piano.

 

 

I think of him packing his lifespan

 

      carefully, like a good leather briefcase,

 

each irritating chore wrapped in floating passages

 

      for the left hand and right hand

 

by Chopin or difficult Schumann;

 

      nothing inside it ever rattled loose.

 

 

Not rationalism, though you could cut your tongue

 

      on the blade of his reasonable logic.

 

Only at the piano did he become

 

      the bowed, reverent, wholly absorbed Romantic.

 

The theme of his heroic, unfinished piano sonata

 

      could have been Brahms.

 

 

Boredom, or what he disapproved of as

 

      'sitting around with your mouth open'

 

oddly pursued him. He had small stamina.

 

      Whenever he succumbed to bouts of winter bronchitis,

 

the house sank a little into its snowed-up garden,

 

      missing its musical swim-bladder.

 

 

None of this suggests how natural he was.

 

      For years I thought fathers played the piano

 

just as dogs barked and babies grew.

 

      We children ran in and out of the house,

 

taking for granted that the 'Trout' or E flat Major Impromptu

 

      would be rippling around us.

 

 

For him, I think, playing was solo flying, a bliss

 

      of removal, of being alone.

 

Not happily always; never an escape,

 

      for he was affectionate, and the household hum

 

he pretended to find trivial or ridiculous

 

      daily sustained him.

 

 

When he talked about music, it was never

 

      of the lachrimae rerum

 

that trembled from his drawn-out phrasing

 

      as raindrops phrase themselves along a wire;

 

no, he defended movable doh or explained the amazing

 

      physics of the octave.

 

 

We'd come in from school and find him

 

      cross-legged on the jungle of the floor,

 

guts from one of his Steinways strewn about him.

 

      He always got the pieces back in place.

 

I remember the yellow covers of Schirmer's Editions

 

      and the bound Peters Editions in the bookcase.

 

 

When he defected to the cello in later years

 

      Grandmother, in excrucio, mildly exclaimed,

 

'Wasn't it lovely when Steve liked to play the piano.'

 

      Now I'm the grandmother listening to Steve at the piano.

 

Lightly, in strains from Brahms-Haydn variations,

 

      his audible image returns to my humming ears.



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Intermezzo in C , by Johannes Brahms


 

 
 

                                                The Matrix

                                                By Amy Lowell

 

Goaded and harassed in the factory

That tears our life up into bits of days

Ticked off upon a clock which never stays,

Shredding our portion of Eternity,

We break away at last, and steal the key

Which hides a world empty of hours; ways

Of space unroll, and Heaven overlays

The leafy, sun-lit earth of Fantasy.


Beyond the ilex shadow glares the sun,

Scorching against the blue flame of the sky.


Brown lily-pads lie heavy and supine

Within a granite basin, under one

The bronze-gold glimmer of a carp; and I

Reach out my hand and pluck a nectarine.



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nocturne for Harp, by Alan Hovhaness



 

 

 
 



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor by J.S. Bach

 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Ubi caritas, by Maurice Durufle