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Liszt’s Nuages gris: a Tristan parody?

Post–tonal theory class, opening class agenda, two musical excerpts: the iconic opening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde Act I Prelude and Franz Liszt’s remarkable little piano piece, Nuages gris. The former, completed in 1859, is iconic for signaling the limits … Continue reading

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Aleatory Quiz

It’s Aleatory Week in my Music Theory IV class, and I always give a fun aleatory quiz for the occasion. Aleatory (derived from the Latin alea, meaning “dice”) is “a term applied to music whose composition and/or performance is, to … Continue reading

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Glenn Gould’s Singing Transcribed – Bach Sinfonia 4

So, what to make of Glenn Gould’s incessant singing and muttering while performing? Some find it intolerable. Others find it charming. Some of us may even have favorite Gould vocalized passages. (One of mine is the 17th measure of the … Continue reading

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Review – Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

“Bach, the epitome of a musician who strove all life long and finally acquired the ‘Habit of Perfection,’ was a thoroughly imperfect human being – something we don’t usually tolerate in one of our heroes.” (p. 525) These words open … Continue reading

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Gerard Manley Hopkins and Molto Adagio Thoughts on Music

Literary critic F.R. Leavis, who is significantly responsible for the posthumous acclaim Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins has enjoyed, once said of his poetry, “Hopkins is really difficult, and the difficulty is essential. If we could deceive ourselves into … Continue reading

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Goldberg Tempo Variations

I like charts. And I like Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Here is a chart of tempos taken from six prominent recordings of the Goldberg: Glenn Gould’s landmark 1955 recording, Gould’s 1959 live recording, Gould’s 1982 recording, Murray Perahia’s 2000 recording, András Schiff’s … Continue reading

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Goldberg Variation 5, Measure 17 and Dead Kittens

I absolutely love the Goldberg Variations. I even took the time (a lot of time!) to arrange a version of them myself. But something has always bothered me about measure 17 in the fifth variation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Below … Continue reading

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