Wednesday, 27 July 2016

UNRAVELING MUSICAL MYTHS CELEBRATES 100 POSTINGS WITH THE GIFT OF GOULD

What better way to celebrate Unraveling Musical Myths 100th blog posting than with an in-depth look back at the fascinating, romantic and tortured life and accomplishments of my hometown hero, Toronto-born pianist Glenn Gould?

Unraveling Musical Myths celebrates it's 100th Post with many thanks to the reader for your continued interest in this blog and extending a warm
welcome to all new visitors! Enjoy your stay - there is much to read and discover! -Rose.



Gould holds a very special place among my personal catalogue of most revered musicians – not just for the maestros innovative, mesmerizing and highly idyllic interpretations of Bach’s masterworks (in which the immensely skilled pianist indulged in the multi–textured polyphonic stylings of the king of the Baroque), but also for the fact that the Canadian pianist’s prolific output was constructed as he fought against the tyranny of OCD[1] – a highly inhibiting disorder with which I am intimately familiar - along with the pianists’ disconnect and discomfort felt alongside success and burgeoning fame, and in both Gould’s contempt for and desire to change an entire industry.

I consider the accomplishments and the steadfast command of self employed by Gould whilst battling this most grievous ailment to be nothing short of heroic. When Gould turned his back on celebratory social gatherings and on public performance and its resulting mob-like fanatics, hailing it (and fame in general) and audiences “en masse” to be “hideous” in the early 1960’s, it was not a decision made by the maestro to bow out from performing altogether (as Gould’s curious choice had initially been perceived by a demanding and perplexed audience) but rather to fine tune his compulsions by turning his attention to the burgeoning industry of recording/broadcasting, wherein the idyllic pianist could reach unforeseen heights of perfectionism in his craft.

Gould’s retreat toward the confines of a recording studio would be most fateful for the pianist and would unwittingly catapult the troubled genius into the realm of most influential musicians of all time.


Presented below is Unraveling Musical Myths' inaugural DOCUMENTARY OF THE MONTH: The Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould

This 1 hour, 49 minute retrospective showcases the tortuous dichotomy between one man's inherent “madness” and his undeniably explosive genius, and provides valuable insight for the viewer / budding psychology major what it is like for a sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and it’s various resulting anxiety-related disorders).

Discover in the fine documentary below a most beastly battle against an unseen assailant - which is ultimately triumphed by a dogged sense of self, stalwart perseverance and a universal understanding of the permeative powers of music to infiltrate ones mind and soothe the aching soul.



“I believe that the only excuse we have for being musicians and for making music in any fashion is to make it differently, to perform it differently, to establish the music’s difference vis-à-vis our own difference.
I couldn’t imagine a life in which I would not be surrounded by music. Which shelters you from the world. Which protects you and which keeps you at a certain distance from the world - because I think that the only advantage that any artist has and I think that any artist can really write about, and all artists do write about it whether they know it or not, is that distance from the world.

I do realize it and I know that I obtain it through media. And I know that I would have been very unhappy as a 19th century man."
- Glenn Gould.




DISCOVER MORE: (internal link):
  • Prolific musicians/composers/librettists who suffered from a wide range of mental illness, including varying degrees of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at unravelingmusicalmyths
Footnotes:
[1] SEE American Journal of Psychiatry to learn more about OCD.

-Rose.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

QUOTE OF THE DAY: JULY 6, 2016: MASSENET ON IDEALIZED STUCTURE IN MUSIC | BEN HEPPNER & OTHER FAMOUS CANADIANS


"If I were to agree to write the music for your beautiful poem,
it would tie your poem up for some years
as I have agreements and obligations which I must respect."

- Jules Massenet

Enjoy below a breathtaking rendition of Massenet's "Ô Souverain, ô Juge, ô Père" ("O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father") from the French maestro's 1885 opera in four acts and ten tableaux "Le Cid," as performed by the venerated tenor Ben Heppner. In celebration of Canada's first steps toward full autonomy which began on July 1 1867 (and which reached its Zenith in the early twentieth century following the passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931) as the formation of the four formerly British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec (the latter two formerly known as the “Province of Canada”) which were brought together under one Dominion some 149 years ago; and in recognition of my paternal ancestry (and my subsequent birth) divided across both Nova Scotia and Ontario - and in honor of my late father, unravelingmusicalmyths is proud to present to the reader for the entire month of July only prime Canadian talent (my previous posting on the spacecraft JUNO features French-Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux).

The living legend Thomas Bernard (Ben) Heppner, CC, better known as Ben Heppner,  who performs Massenet's tender aria below is a staple member of Canada’s vast operatic entourage.

Canadian tenor Ben Heppner
The 60 year old Chanteur d'opéra hails from Murrayville, British Columbia, located on Canada’s gorgeously lush west coast and had first attracted the attention of Classical Music’s elite players following a victorious performance at a local talent festival organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1979.

Heppner’s repertoire came to him (and luckily to us) in a manner most fast and furious, and included the much esteemed and highly revered Wagnerian roles, thrusting Canada’s golden boy into the highly privileged heldontenor status.

Although Heppner announced his retirement in April of 2014, he continues to contribute heavily to the opera industry, performing duties such as vocal coaching, setting up master classes for future singers, and also enjoys a career in broadcasting.

Ben Heppner sings "Ô Souverain, ô Juge, ô Père" from Massenet's Le Cid,  accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra under the
baton of Korean maestro
Myung-whun Chung.


Joyeux Anniversaire, O Beloved Canada!


-Rose.

C'EST L'HEURE EXQUISE!

Artist rendering of spacecraft Juno descending into deep orbit of the planet Jupiter
| NASA/Lockheed Martin |
On July 4, 2016, we, the collective civilians on earth listened to, or watched reports of the historic celestial "meetup" of spacecraft Juno, which launched half a decade ago from earth, on a drawn-out journey to make a highly anticipated date to tango with the planet Jupiter - that gas giant that, shockingly, allowed the craft to gain unprecedented access within it's radiation belt by allowing Juno to delve even deeper into the planet's orbit than had previously been thought possible.  The sweat-inducing final moments of Juno's behemoth journey was captured live on video and has been made available to the public by NASA. This coverage can be viewed below. 

Just as I had required whilst 'watching' the live feed of NASA's SUV sized Rover Curiosity landing on the surface of Mars four years ago, tissues were very much needed and were fortunately at the ready.  I highly recommend to you, the reader, to do likewise and have either tissues or handkerchief at hand whilst watching the below videos. The most moving and poignant moment, for me, was not so much the colossal achievement by man, but rather an awakening - an all encompassing awareness as I marveled at the infinite capabilities of mankind. That sentiment however, does not diminish in any way the scale of the spacecraft Juno successfully completing the first part of its megalithic mission..for it was at that precise moment of Orbit Insertion that such humble beings bore witness to a monumental moment of celebration: of a collective effort made toward a heroic enterprise - of reveling in the triumph of what was once little more than a grand idea set up against a vast tedium of unknowns, uncertainties. Of one thing mankind can be certain: that Juno's well-drawn out journey, which defied astronomical odds (quite literally) and yet somehow managed to complete the mission, is far from NASA's final hurrah: folks, we live in truly momentous times - in an age of epic discovery, advanced technology and a level of human perseverance that belies definition. Juno's entry into deep orbit on July 4, 2016 truly marks a moment of collective human genius, of passion, and is  testament that bespeaks of just what we are capable of as a people.


NASA'S "Live" feed of Juno entering into deep orbit of the planet Jupiter.

Now, all that remains in terms of JUNO is for space enthusiasts to continue to wait with bated breath to discover all of the data that the spacecraft is just waiting to unleash upon those inquiring minds across the globe. If you are a fan of the cosmos and of space endeavor like I am, dear reader, you too probably would have felt the wide range of emotions that surged without cessation for those many hard working engineers at NASA who made this epic ‘contact’ possible.

Reynaldo Hahn
I have selected to celebrate the occasion the French mélodie (no. V) “L’Heure Exquise” of 19th century French Romantic composer Reynaldo Hahn to mark this momentous occasion. 

Venezuelan (later turned French) composer, chanteur et polymath Reynaldo Hahn, the composer to this most excellent piece, may never have sat to pen his now infamous seven-piece mélodie (equivalent to Germany’s “Lieder” genre), known as Les Chansons Grise (Songs in Grey) had he too, not been open to explore the great beyond from his homestead at Caracas. [see footnotes]

Shortly after Hahn's arrival on Paris in 1877, the young singer/composer sat to compose a series of art songs, under the mélodie genre for his Chansons Grise. The song-cycle’s antepenultimate mélodie. "L’heure Exquise" (The Exquisite Hour) is highly emotive on a colossal scale, whilst simultaneously playing coy - it’s protagonist reflects on a most humbling scene - it’s mélodie, and the vocal timbre of it's chanteuse – remain tranquil, fully understated throughout, yet delivering to the masses an other-worldy aura of man and nature, of the present and the infinite.