Monday, June 24, 2013

A musical time capsule

The miracle of Google Books! I have found the Book of the Programmes of the Buffalo Philharmonic Society for the Year of 1885.

Felix Mendelssohn was Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Johannes Brahms was "one of the greatest of living composers and quite prominent in the departments of choral and chamber music."

There is music by Joseph Joachim Raff and Heinrich von Herzogenberg. I heard some Raff recently and it was very good.

Of Herzogenberg the program says: "As a composer he has been more or less known for some years, but it is only of late that the full power of his genius has asserted itself." That is our friend Heinrich pictured above. He was amazing looking.

There is also Norbert Bergmueller: "One at whose birth the gods smiled, but before his 26th year, he was already 'going the road which no one e'er retraces.'" I guess that means that he, ahem, died. Back then they liked to be more proper about things like that.

It is fascinating to look at old programs like this and think of how musicians wax and wane, you know?

At least we may begin to refer to Mendelssohn again as Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Keep the past alive!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bizet meets Buffalo

On The Buffalo News' Gusto Blog today I wrote about the "Carmen" coming up in the Metropolitan Opera's High-Definition Summer Encore series.

Thinking about "Carmen" makes me think of my friend Gary.

Last summer, or maybe it was the summer before that, Gary joined a construction crew working on Grant Street on Buffalo's Lower West Side.

He saw the advantages to working on the crew. He said, "Now I can ogle girls freely."

Not only that but he was working near this business where every day the girls came out on break and sat around smoking, just as they did in "Carmen."

It was "Carmen" come to life! I braced myself for the worst. But luckily everyone came through that summer OK. They only narrowly did! There were some close calls as I remember.

I read somewhere that one of the biggest fans of "Carmen," when it first came out, was Johannes Brahms. He went to see it multiple times. I love that, the idea of Brahms going to "Carmen."

I can see what he liked about it! It is a first-rate drama.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Opera insights on the roller coaster

My little nephew George Henry talks incessantly even on cliffhanger roller coasters and today he was talking nonstop as we ascended the first hill on the Silver Comet.

Part of me wanted to shush him up because how can you enjoy this sheer vertical drop if you are chattering all the while? On the other hand he tells me interesting things.

One thing he told me was that the German word for "parrot" was "Papagei."

Wow, that explains were "Papageno" comes from! Papageno, the birdcatcher in Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

I had never known that.

Who knows where you will find new insights into music history?

Or from whom?