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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

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hellllllloooooooo ouuuuuuuttttttttt theeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeee Apr. 12th, 2006 @ 12:16 pm
Since the summer is coming up, I'd thought I'd propose starting this up again. Anyone interested?

I know i missed this short-lived place. (i can't be the only one, right?)

Aug. 31st, 2005 @ 02:27 pm
I want to apologize for my last post. It was incredibly insensitive and highly inappropriate. It won't happen again.


chopin - nocturnes Aug. 26th, 2004 @ 08:59 am
tomorrow i'm going to head into chopin's nocturnes (scheduled for 27 aug) if no one minds the jump-ahead particularly. i'm starting to see how havingone of those ipod-type dealies would be perfect for this, especially now with this wonderful break from already milder than usual summer (we seem to have mild summers every few years, it's really sweet) weather we've been having here.

hello world? Jul. 18th, 2004 @ 11:04 pm
I'm just curious as to how everything/everyone is doing with the Bramhs. I mean cause according to the schedual, we should be on the Bach now. I don't want to sound bitchy, I just want to know what people think. I'm a geek and I'm excited about this. (Just bought the books today... yeah I'm a dork)

I just wanted to know why everyone was so quiet. I could host mp3s of songs for people if need be. Or start discussions. Or anything. I just want to think now that I'm not in school.

I apologize in advance if I offended anyone. That wasn't my intent.

My thoughts and words on Brahms Jul. 10th, 2004 @ 02:10 pm
To begin with, let me state that I I have heard the German Requiem before; however, I was not aware that I had heard it. Being in choir and music theory with a very awesome high school choral director made me realize that I do know more classical music that I realized I did.

I know my thoughts seem a bit haphazard, so forgive me. And if anything needs clarification, please ask. I want to be as clear as possible, but I understand that I have a tendency to write/speak like everyone knows what is going through my head.

And now the Brahms!

I first listened to Blomstedt version. Honestly, I can't understand what the people are saying. The diction isn't the clearest. (That could just be because I don't know German and I am listening with my very American ears) I like the orchestra in this one. It sounds fuller. The emotion is there in both the singers and the musicians (don't yell at me for saying that singers aren't musicians... I just wanted to show a difference. Should have used instrumentalists) Everyone involved seems to embody what Brahms wanted to convey. It *sounds* like a requiem. The singers seem to understand the German, (perhaps they are?) and the instrumentalists seem to channel Brahms with the swells and the chords blending so well with the voices. There is no one person or instrument overpowering the others. There is a balance here that I did not find with the other two versions.

Abbado's version: Gah!. Is it just the quality of the recording, or what? This version made me dislike the music. The orchestra over powers the singers and I couldn't even tell that there were words being sung. The orchestra itself seems muddled too. The diction sucked. But all of my qualms could be all issues of the recording. Honestly, I would cry if I heard this in person. It seems so dull, like the performers were only involved because they were getting paid, and not because of their passion for/of the piece. After listening to this version about three times, I wanted to never listen to the requiem again.

Then came the NYC version. *sigh of relief* So I can enjoy the full Requiem and not want to scream at the quality. I could understand the words, but it sounded like Americans singing German. There wasn't the accent(?), feel of the words in the mouth(?) that the Blomstedt version had. But the clarity of the words helped me understand the phrasing more. I heard the relationship between the words and the musical phrasing more in this version, because I could follow along to the words. The singers seem to over power the orchestra here. I want a balance when there is a choir along with an orchestra. I listen to these choirs/orchestras because I like to hear how things blend. (Maybe this is just my choir background, but I can't stand it when people and instruments don't blend with each other. It gets under my skin) Another thing that I dislike about this version is that it sounds very American. The other versions sounded European to me, and made listening to them a bit more enjoyable. I'm not saying that I disliked this version. I like it a lot, and wish to buy it for myself one day, but i wish it didn't sound so American.

I really enjoy the Blomstedt version a lot. I have been listening to that version on repeat since I started typing this entry. I wish there was more of it.

My overall reaction to the Brahms isn't the greatest, however. I have high standards when it comes to choral music. If the choir/orchestra can give me shivers up and down my spine, then I know it somehow resonated within the very being of my soul. This happens when I listen to a good version of Beethoven's 9th. It didn't happen here. But I enjoy it and I can appreciate it as a work of art. Maybe when I loose a loved one, then I can come back to this and feel the shivers up and down my spine. But until then, I'll listen with a lot of appreciation and heart.
Other entries
» Denn Alles Fleisch
I remember when this piece first began to own me. A wretched day at the office, cold November was right around the corner, and I had not yet put the lining of my heavy coat in. I surfaced from the Metro at Ballston, ready to walk the last mile back to my little apartment in Cherrydale. I had been main-lining the Requiem for about two weeks at this point, as Choralis was performing the Requiem in December. I had put my iPod on random tracks so that I could separate the movements for focus purposes, but all I could come back to was that second movement.

Walking up Randolph Street, trudging in the cold rain, knowing that I had a good 15 minutes of soaking rain ahead of me, I focused in on the music, hearing Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen. over and over again in my head. The depths of sorrow and the crushing blow of death. The imagery in my head wasn't quite the right one, but the imagery of the fallen hero in a golden-wood coffin, hoisted on the shoulders of the town's strongest, the winter day causing their breath to be seen in the mists from their mouths, the townspeople gathered behind the coffin in a parade lead by the reverend in his collar, open and reading the bible responsively to the crowd.

It begins with a murmur of drums, the steps of the pallbearers as they fall uneven on the black, wet cobblestones. The men are shifting underneath the weight of the coffin, heavy on their shoulders and heavier still on their hearts. As the crowd files out from the Church to follow the body to the burial ground, the last verse of the service is still on their tongues. Shrouded in heavy black coats and scarves, they are braving the beginnings of winter.

As they arrive at the burial site, they are singing something softer and more comforting to his family, and to themselves.

So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder, bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn. Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet auf die köstliche Frucht der Erde und ist geduldig darüber, bis er empfahe den Morgenregen und Abendregen

It reminds them that whatever they pray for in Faith, they shall receive, and that God's promise unto their hero is being fulfilled.

Back they walk toward the town, arms around shoulders, comforting, comforted.

The moment that strikes me is the triumphant song that follows. Aber des Herrn Wort! BUT! The Word of the Lord! die Erlöseten des Herrn werden wieder kommen, und gen Zion kommen mit Jauchzen; ewige Freude wird über ihrem Haupte sein; Freude und Wonne werden sie ergreifen und Schmerz und Seufzen wird weg müssen.

I do not understand why so many choirs do the Requiem in English. The German seems so fitting, so perfect to this moment. Ewige Freude!...

And that was where I lost it, crying, weeping as I walked up the street, belting out the bass line as best I could through the tears. I had lost my grandfather in 2000 to lung cancer. Truly he had been the town hero in lowly Beaver Bay, Minnesota. Served on the town council, built and lost a lumber yard, raised a family of five children despite the cold winters and not enough money to go around. All I could do was say goodbye and hope that the Lord's promises had been honored. And that's when the Requiem started to own me.
» Another version - Masur & The New York Philharmonic
Recorded in German at Avery Fisher Hall, New York City 4/1995</b>
Here is a review from Amazon.com:
I originally purchased this recording simply because Hakan Hagegard is one of my favorite voices to hear. After listening to Masur's astonishing tempi (especially the downright hasty second movement) I was uncertain whether I could really enjoy this performance, Hagegard or no. I subjected this recording to the ear of a trained musician and orchestral director, and began to learn:
Masur's stint with the New York Philharmonic began after the conductor left the more artistically-confining atmosphere of Leipzig, Germany. Directors had little artistic freedom or license to interpret the music for themselves - if the tempo was adagio it was adagio, with no chance of being either adagio con brio or andante. Masur's tempi with the New York Philharmonic was, in effect, a rebellion against the rigidity of Leipzig.

Even within his rebellion, Masur does not simply create new tempi randomly - he interprets the indicated tempi in a different manner. As for the seemingly prestissimo second movement, the original tempo is preserved, but the beat counted in one, instead of in three. When examined at a deeper level than face value, this recording presents an intriguing historical picture and encourages both study and introspection. I believe I can now forgive Masur his rebelliousness, and begin to understand his choices a bit more.

Also, here are the lyrics for the German Requiem, with interlinear translation:Collapse )
» The First Installation- A German Requiem - Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
The music we will be working with is available on CD from Amazon, and for those unable to purchase, I am making each work available via mp3 (It may still be uploading for a while) for the duration of time that we will be working with it.
Please review the initial excercises I suggested, or please suggest your own.  Feel free to begin the discussion as soon as you begin to listen to the tracks, and begin to form your own understanding of the music.

Information regarding our two versions:
Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op.45

Abbado CD Cover

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms</a>

  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado</a>

  • Performer: Andreas Schmidt</a>

  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Of the "big-band" versions available, Claudio Abbado's newest with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Chorus and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir (Deutsche Grammophon 437 517-2) is a winner.  Taken from live concerts,  there are the expected minor glitches:  audience coughs, occasional end-of-word consonants that are not perfectly lined up, etc.  But the overall impact and beauty of the playing and singing is top-drawer. 

Cheryl Studer is a radiant soprano soloist, and Andreas Schmidt's baritone contribution is admirable for its warmth and depth--though the real star of the recording is still the choir. Through the years, the DG engineers seem increasingly better able to cope with the odd flatness of Berlin's Philharmonie as a recording venue, and the recorded sound for this release is full and rich with no lack of detail.

Blomstedt CD Cover
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms

  • Conductor: Herbert Blomstedt, Vance George, et al.

  • Performer:Wolfgang Holzmair, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz

  • Label: Decca

Blomstedt's recording with the forces of the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus emphasizes the consolatory side of Brahms' Requiem, keeping things moving effectively in music that can easily seem heavy and lugubrious. The second movement, a sort of funeral march in triple time, and the fourth, choral movement especially gain from this treatment.

The two soloists in this recording, while not exactly liabilities, do not break from the rest of a pack that includes luminaries like Kiri te Kanawa and Sherrill Milnes among singers who have recorded these brief but important parts. Norberg-Schultz is a bit edgy in her high-lying solo and Wolfgang Holzmair sounds lightweight and occasionally is swamped by the massed choral and orchestral forces. Still, overall, this is a very good choice for a CD of this great choral work.

Here are a few urls discussing the history and context of this piece:
Brahms German Requiem - Programme Notes, by John Bawden MMus, LTCL, Musical Director Fareham Philharmonic Choir
Brahms' German Requiem: History and Criticism, by Nancy Thuleen, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
» query about the book
I just purchased How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci. My question is for those of you that own it: (1) Do you own the workbook? (2) If so, do you find the workbook to be helpful? (ok, so there are two questions - sue me)
» Schedule announcement
About time to get started

I think that after the feedback I got regarding duration, and scheduling, I have a preliminary schedule and order:
  1. Brahms: German Requiem  (July 2)
  2. Bach: Mass in B Minor  (July 16)
  3. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9  (July 30)
  4. Mozart: Requiem (August 13)
  5. Chopin: Nocturnes (August 27)
  6. Mahler: Symphony No. 6  (September 10)
  7. R. Strauss: Four Last Songs (September 24)
  8. Debussy: Preludes  (October 8)
  9. Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (October 15)
  10. Puccini: La Bohème  (October 29)

If we want- we can move the schedule around a bit- but I think a lot of people wanted structure, adn 2 weeks seemed like enough time.

For Brahm's German Requiem, I have the following versions available:
h. blomstedt, sfs, holzmair, norberg-schulz
Claudio Abbado - Berliner Philharmoniker

Does anyone have any other versions they'd like me to host and make available to everyone else?  And does anyone need me to burn and mail CDs of the music we'll be listening to?  Please let me know.  I'll have the music up over the next few days, as well as the preliminary excercises I'd like to do with this.  Thank you so much for your patience! 

Also, if you have versions of Bach or Beethoven that you'd like to use, please let me know as soon as possible, so that I can arrange to get them. 

I can't wait to get started!
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