1060 Slices
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One: Dance, Culture, and Identity

Matthew Krystal University Press of Colorado ePub

Dance, Culture, and Identity

Peeking above the trees of Grant Park, the tops of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings scrape a perfect clear blue July sky. The lakefront park is taken over by the Taste of Chicago, a mega-festival featuring cuisine from scores of the city’s numerous and diverse restaurants. In addition to food, “The Taste” offers entertainment. The city provides a number of performance venues, and reflecting a strategy that embraces (and channels) ethnic diversity, it has invited the Mexican Dance Ensemble of Chicago to perform on the “Fun Time Stage.” The stage anchors an open meadow lined by booths and tents oriented to children and parents and even a merry-go-round (but no beer vendors). The space and presentation construct not only ethnic diversity, but appropriate family fun as well.

As it is Sunday morning, the festival is lightly attended and the audience is small. The performance, however, is enthusiastic. Dress and props are carefully controlled, uniform. In one presentation, all the men wear identical pants, boots, and bandanas, although their belts vary slightly. The backs of their identical jackets are adorned with identical appliqués featuring the iconic Mexican image of eagle, snake in beak, perched on a cactus. In another performance, women’s costumes are identical in form down to matching earrings, although their flowing layered skirts vary in color. This visual, near-complete sublimation of individual to group (and culture) extends to movement and sound. The dancing is crisp; bodies are coordinated tightly to one another and to the music. The effect is particularly dramatic in pieces that feature stamping. The perfect simultaneity of several dancers stamping in unison with the beat of the music overtly communicates precision of performance. Beneath the surface are more subtle messages about unity in the expression of tradition.

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Medium 9780253352415

Twenty-Two: Franz Liszt

William Brown Indiana University Press ePub

I think Liszt was a grandiose man. He was what you call a showman in the best sense of the word. His emotions were varied and rich. His interests were so great about literature, the Sonetti del Petrarca and Après une lecture de Dante, looking at the beauty that he saw, Aux cypress de la Villa d’Este, Années de Pèlerinage. He became an abbé. Look at the pieces he started to compose, such as St. François d’Assise. He was a deeply religious man, although he sometimes lived a sinful life. But he was generous, and you have that in his music. And he elevated the piano to this tremendous height. But he was generous in spirit, receiving Grieg and reading his music and was kind to him; and he taught for free, always for nothing. And of course, because of my training and my upbringing, he played an enormous role in my life. For Busoni, Liszt was the greatest of the masters, and, therefore, Busoni patterned himself after Liszt. Because Liszt was interested in everything, so Busoni was. Kestenberg even wore his hair like Liszt.

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Medium 9780253007247

4 Juilliard, Studying with William J. Bell

Harvey Phillips Indiana University Press ePub

CHAPTER FOUR

Juilliard, Studying with William J. Bell

I ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY by train during Labor Day weekend 1950 and took a taxi to Mr. Bell’s uptown teaching studio. Tante Lena was still there, as was Eric Hauser, with whom I would share the back bedroom while attending Juilliard. It was a utilitarian apartment/studio. I took one good look at the back bedroom and immediately started considering plans for making it more comfortable.

The morning after I moved in, I spoke to Eric about doing some minor redecorating, at my expense, of course. Eric cordially allowed that I could do whatever I wanted to do, as the room had needed redecorating for too long. I went to Tante Lena about my proposal. As expected, she was delighted, especially when she heard I would paint the walls and install new linoleum and custom-made venetian blinds to replace the dirty old window shades. She was even more delighted when I paid two months’ rent in advance. I went right to work, scrubbing the walls and floor and measuring everything. Over the telephone I ordered the linoleum and the custom-made blinds, to be delivered in one week. I visited the local hardware store and bought paint, paintbrushes, spackle, putty, several grades of sandpaper, and the minimum tools I expected to need as a bona fide resident of Apartment 1-E. When visitors smelled fresh paint, they wanted to see the room. They were surprised to see burgundy walls and a white ceiling along with matching yellow-green venetian blinds and linoleum. OK, so it wasn’t stylish, but it had character to spare! I was finished with decorating our room.

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Medium 9781574413076

Chapter 10 Selected Performances

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER

10

Selected Performances

No other wind player of modern times has received the recognition and acknowledgement for his proficiency and musical prowess in the form of dedicated compositions as has Brain.

The earliest work composed for Brain (at his request) is Benjamin Britten’s Serenade. It is considered by many to be the greatest contribution to contemporary horn repertoire and continues to attract attention through performances by new generations of horn players.

The last work dedicated to Brain, immediately following his death, was Francis Poulenc’s Elégie for Horn and Piano, which premiered one year after his death. The work expressively relates to Brain’s life as described by

Wilfrid Mellers: “The enigmatic structure of this piece must surely have some allegorical, if not some explicitly programmatic, intention. The ferocious agitato snarls like Death himself, who destroyed Dennis Brain in a car accident. . . .”1

The following discussions are of a selection from among the many works written to recognize Brain. Commemoratory acknowledgments are either a dedication by the composer or a premiere performance by Brain. The Poulenc

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Part One Conclusion

David Dolata Indiana University Press ePub

CHOOSING A TUNING OR TEMPERAMENT has always been a matter of compromise. Even in the best of circumstances, tuning was fluid and often determined by the player’s knowledge, experience, and the situation at hand. In large part, it seems that the player’s ability level was the main determinant. Professional players who regularly performed in ensembles with keyboards and other instruments that were typically tuned in meantone temperaments almost certainly accommodated their frets to the keyboard, especially in the case of intimate settings where differences between temperaments would have been most audible.

Historical sources cast doubt on the widespread assumption that players of fretted instruments necessarily arranged their frets in equal temperament, although it seems likely that less refined players did resort to it. Players of fixed metal-fret wire-strung instruments, who participated in established ensembles with movable fret instruments, had their luthiers permanently set their frets either in meantone temperaments or utilitarian systems based on meantone temperaments that adjusted the size of particularly prominent thirds through the creation of customized fret arrangements, even though it meant that certain nominal intervals would field a variety of sizes and some pitches would be inconsistent with instruments tuned in regular systems. Although at an inchoate stage of its development, research into the iconographical representations of fretted instruments offers some promise of helping us discern which temperaments were in use during the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Untangling and classifying the thicket of fretboard patterns illustrated in period paintings will likely require skills in 3D imaging, the perspective of an artist, the experience of a player, the contextual awareness of a musicologist, the organizational ability of a field general, and the patience of Job. It will be a tall but rewarding task for someone.

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