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High Culture Weekend

What a busy weekend! I completed the high culture triathalon: a Beethoven symphony and piano recital, a documentary film, and bowling.

The weekend started with the bowling at Garage on Friday with my co-workers. Despite my 11-pin Midwestern bowling heritage, I managed to bowl just an 86, with only 1 strike and maybe 2 spares. The best bowler I work with knocked down a 163. Mind you, prodigious amounts of alcohol were involved. Grappa and bowling don't really mix, but it was fun to try.

The documentary film was this month's installment of the Seattle SNEAK Cinema, an HBO film called "Flesh & Blood." It was a crushingly complete portrayal of a single mother who I can only describe as a real-life Old Mother Hubbard. She has adopted 11 children, all with physical or mental disabilites ranging from cystic fibrosis to retardation to having been born without legs. The family seems like it would be a complete freak show, but the film was so well done, and the children obviously are so well raised that the film rises above simple exploitation to something heartrendingly beyond the ordinary.

The mother, Susan Tom, visited with SNEAK after the screening to answer questions about her life and family. If you feel like contributing to the children's education, or just sending a note of support, you can reach her at the Susan Tom Family site. The film will be screened on HBO on Mother's Day. If you ever felt that maybe you had a tough childhood, watch this movie and get over it.

The Beethoven tickets were a birthday present from my sister, with a program conducted by George Shangrow and with Povilas Stravinsky as the featured pianist (no relation). The selections included Die Weihe des Hauses (Op. 124, the "Consecration of the House"), Piano Concerto No 3 in C Minor (Op. 37), and finally the Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major ("Sinfonia Eroica"). My favorite was the opener, Die Wiehe des Hauses, though all the Beethoven was fierce and wonderful. It's hard to believe the pieces are 200 years old.

I felt like I could hear the approaching march of Napoleon's troops during the "Eroica". The "Consecration" put me in mind of a stately galley approaching a harbor, and the Piano Concerto sounded like fireworks to me. Not sure why music is so visual for me. Maybe it's synaesthesia. Maybe classical music really is one of the peak experiences of human life, and a way that the best human potential converges into a musical moment. Maybe classical music tunes up my brain because I heard it every day of my childhood.

I don't need to know why it works, but I had a great time.

There's a great "Behind The Music" story in the program that I'm just going to repeat behind the cut:

"The fame of the 32-year-old composer derw a sold-out house, even though the usual prices had been doubled—and for the box seats, tripled—for the occasion.

Von Seyfried was recruited to turn pages for Beethoven while the composer played the solo part at the premiere of his new piano concerto…

… but heaven help! — that was easier said than done. I saw almost nothing but empty leaves; at the most on one page or the other a few Egyptian heiroglyphics wholly unintelligible to me scribbled down to serve as clues for him; for he played nearly all of the solo part from memory, since, as was so often the case, he had not had time to put it all down on paper. he gave me a secret glance whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages and my scarcely concealable anxiety not to miss the decisive moment amused him greatly and he laughed heartily at the jovial supper which we ate afterward.


That Beethoven, what a kidder. Or rather what a freaking genius. The solo parts are half an hour long, and involve frequent hand-offs between orchestra and pianist.

Comments

( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 15th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)
So glad you liked it!
It fit? Right color? Good, good. Also, doesn't collect dust. Ah, the perfect present. I'm so glad! -- bb
( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )

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