‘A Sort of Cat-Music’

I just cracked up when I read these newspaper reviews of Schoenberg‘s works between 1913 and 1914 (as quoted in “Early Music Defended against its Devotees: A Theory of Historical Performance in the Twentieth Century” found on pages 297-322 of the Summer 1983 issue of the Musical Quarterly, article by Laurence Dreyfus):

Warning: some very dramatic language and heated emotion displayed below! The expressed feelings of the authors are not shared with, well, me. 🙂

Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony – self-torture of a flagellant who whips himself with a cat-o’-nine-tails while cursing himself! When a conglomeration of horns pushes upwards through the strings, it sounds like the words, “You, monster!” A hideous modern sound of the scourge! Schoenberg’s unappeasable nature is made clear: reckless self-mutilation and a reckless admission: “I am like that!” A sort of cat-music, whining, wailing, desperate…Schoenberg is uncontrolled…He bares his breast in a fury of penitence and shows his scars–and the spectacle is shocking. And yet, if people mention Brahms’s chastity, one ought to speak of Schoenberg’s shamelessness. [Ernst Decsey, (Berlin) Signale, Feb. 4, 1914]

Bad News-Good News in Flight

I received this fascinating (and distressing) note from Kay Pech a little while ago:

9/3/06 – According to the Sunday Times – Scotland, Nicola Benedetti may be forced to scrap her tour of China because she has been banned from carrying her £500,000 violin as hand luggage under airline security measures. “The former BBC Young Musician of the Year is due to fly to China next week to play three concerts with the City of London Sinfonia in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. However, severe restrictions on hand luggage introduced following the recent terror scare mean that Benedetti would be forced to put her Guarneri violin in the hold. The violinist fears that the irreplaceable 18th-century instrument, which was given to her by her father, could be damaged during the journey….Steve Abbott, Benedetti’s manager, and Elaine Baines Robins, the general manager of the City of London Sinfonia, are now in urgent talks with officials at the German airline Lufthansa to save the tour.”

Practice, Practice!

Today, I came across a wonderful article by Laurie Niles (but, then, she always writes beautiful articles!), about her “revelation” at the Colorado Suzuki Institute.

“We were watching the recital hour…when about 35 students came to the stage to receive an award.” These students had made a pledge to practice every day for a year!! Afterwards, all in the audience were asked if they would like to make a stand and proclaim the same pledge for themselves.

How many of us can say we’ve done that? And, for those who can and continue to hold to a daily practice regimen, I’ve a feeling you would say there’s no better way to go about it, that you’ve really “found the true way of practicing.”