Classical music was my first love. It’s given me such extraordinary joy and has been a huge influence on my work, particularly in the classics, where you have to know where the coda comes and where the climax. You make your own symphony out of the words. I do regret that I didn’t continue studying classical piano, which I started to do as a kid.

—Christopher Plummer

I read it here.

What’s your attraction to classical music?

There’s a lot of freedom in classical music. If you brought five versions of the same piece, they would sound totally different depending on the region, the conductor, the orchestra, all these different things. Because there’s a lot of wiggle room, even in composed music. It’s just great to play in a system that has rules, because it helps you refine freedom.

But coming as a jazz player, you don’t feel restricted by playing a pre-written piece?

I never really have a want for freedom. Classical music makes me a much better saxophonist than jazz does. Because for saxophone technique, guys end up playing fast stuff. In classical music, you just have to develop a technique to execute melodies and ideas that are beyond the linear ways that we tend to think about music. And that’s the challenge of it for me. I’m not really a linear thinker, although my dad [pianist Ellis Marsalis] is. A lot of classical composers are melodic thinkers, not linear thinkers. Some of these melodies can be quite difficult, and you’ve got to learn to play them under duress, which is different from playing them in a practice room.

You can read it all here. I didn’t put everything up, as I’m a bit more careful about “language”.

To master an acoustic instrument requires good teaching and a lot of practise, and it is possible to make pleasant sounds quicker on an electric keyboard then on a real piano. But it seems to me that most young people relish a challenge (this is the hardest mountain to climb, book to read, puzzle to solve, club to join etc.) so why do we think that pretending classical music is ‘easy’ will gain us more youthful listeners or performers? You want to learn an instrument? Well, you could go for the simpler options but have you got the concentration to learn the cello? It will take years of utter dedication and total commitment. Maybe you just want to go with the crowd? Maybe it’s too difficult for you?

Yes, classical music is … difficult. It’s difficult to listen to, difficult to understand fully, difficult to play, as a Shakespeare drama is harder to understand than a dramatic episode of (albeit fabulous) Coronation Street. Everyone should have access to classical music, but not everyone will like it. Nothing wrong in that, nothing snobbish or superior or elite in that, but are you up to it? Can you sit still for 40 minutes and let yourself be captivated, intoxicated, moved, changed, perplexed by this complex, extraordinary world?

Classical music is dangerous, disturbing, radical, countercultural. Sadly when many of us reach middle age we not only lose the inner passion to aim high in life but, ironically, we are at that very moment given the responsibility to decide what younger generations should be doing. If we can only tap into the exhilarating fire kindled by listening to and playing great music then sofas will be empty when The X Factor is being screened and we’ll hardly be able to cope with the sheer number of kids practising their hearts out.

-Stephen Hough


18. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

“I asked myself if my talent, which I had always thought so sacred, was so special after all,” she recalled in 1964. “I decided it wasn’t. I realized that this was just my way of making a living. I began to see that I couldn’t deliver my best all the time, nobody can, and that I shouldn’t punish myself for my mistakes.

“I have now approached the time of life where I want to enjoy what I’m doing. Does it seem silly? It seems to me a great discovery.”

I loved reading this just now. Found here.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

The only thing about the oboe is that no one plays the oboe, so I automatically got in the orchestra. There were only two of us. I was terrible. But I am familiar with it [the orchestral world].

— Bret McKenzie (you might know him from Flight of the Conchords)

I read it here.

06. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

I like singing classical music because the audiences are more sophisticated and you get to wear a big ball gown. It’s all very elegant.

03. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

Kim Kardashian Goes Without Underwear, Takes Bathroom Selfie
Dec 1, 2013
View Full SizeKim Kardashian Goes Without Underwear, Takes Bathroom Selfie
The following comment can also be read in the preferred language of the reader. The translation is made by computer. Please forgive errors.
Living in the backwaters of the Arts, I have to rely on services that inform the public about things that matter, like Yahoo’s “Trending Now”.
I thus can keep abreast of significant events such as Kim K. not wearing underwear.
We classical musicians wrestle year after year with the intricacies of orchestration, the philosophical implications of a phrase, the challenge of matching sonorities of orchestral groupings, the agogic of an interpretation, the goal of identifying a basic tempo for each composition performed, plotting rehearsal strategy so that maximum results can be achieved within the confines of a pre-determined time frame and adapting to acoustical properties of each venue for maximum effect. How comforting to know that there are millions out there who tremble at the very thought of KK’s skin, her every word, her boy friend.
How foolish I feel never having heard of the lady until a few weeks ago.
More power to her.
May she enjoy the clout given her by worshiping fans.
Tempted as I am to chuck it all in favor of hoping to share a KK Selfie,
I seem to be unable to distance myself from the Titans of Classical Music.
This week I’m having a bout with Richard Strauss.
I’ll sum up my impressions in a separate posting but I’d like it to be known
that as admirable as underwear-less Kim’s moving through the ether of the real world may sound,
there are still a few of us who march to different tunes.
– Lorin Maazel

I read it here.

28. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States
A Proclamation

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

We too look upon music as effeminate, and think only girls should study it. This is not true. To be a good musician requires brains of the highest order. Boys, be not afraid to study music, there is nothing more worthy of the masculine mind.

— Edbridge W. Newton (1921-1922), Ginn and Company music publishers.

28. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

Before kick-off, I’ll have my earphones on and be tuning in to some classical music. You don’t believe me? I often listen to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major before matches. If not that, then I also like anything by pianist Ludovico Einaudi.

— Jon Walters, football (as in soccer) player

I can’t imagine the Pachelbel getting anyone up for winning a game, but what do I know?