Ugliness in, Beauty Out

Toccata from Organ Symphony No. 5 Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)The way musical instruments work is really rather marvelous. (In particular I’m thinking of pitched musical instruments on which you can play melodies—like trumpets, as opposed to unpitched ones—like cymbals). Essentially the player puts noisy energy into the musical instrument. For pianos it is the ‘whack’ of…

Biblical Brass

Brass instruments go back to at least Biblical times—the ancient Hebrews had them. But being a nomadic shepherding society, making metal tubes would have been beyond them. In fact, making metal pipes received its big impetus in the late Middle Ages to make gun barrels that didn’t blow up, and plenty of them. It’s odd…

The Wandering Pianist

Prelude in F#m, Op.23 No.1 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) Andante H. Laverick (1690-1777) A theme of this Lenten season is ‘wandering’, and Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) definitely fits that bill. The Rachmaninoff family was a part of the “old aristocracy” in Russia where all of the attitude but none of the money remained. Sergei’s father’s financial incompetence…