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Classical Musicís New Golden Age
City Journal ^ | Summer 2010 | Heather Mac Donald

Posted on 07/28/2010 5:24:08 AM PDT by sitetest

Thanks to period-music evangelists, breathtaking virtuosity, and millions of listeners, the art form remains vibrant.

Anyone inclined to lament the state of classical music today should read Hector Berlioz’s Memoires. As the maverick French composer tours mid-nineteenth-century Europe conducting his revolutionary works, he encounters orchestras unable to play in tune and conductors who can’t read scores. A Paris premiere of a Berlioz cantata fizzles when a missed cue sets off a chain reaction of paralyzed silence throughout the entire sorry band. Most infuriating to this champion of artistic integrity, publishers and conductors routinely bastardize the scores of Mozart, Beethoven, and other titans, conforming them to their own allegedly superior musical understanding or to the narrow taste of the public.

Berlioz’s exuberant tales of musical triumph and defeat constitute the most captivating chronicle of artistic passion ever written. They also lead to the conclusion that, in many respects, we live in a golden age of classical music. Such an observation defies received wisdom, which seizes on every symphony budget deficit to herald classical music’s imminent demise. But this declinist perspective ignores the more significant reality of our time: never before has so much great music been available to so many people, performed at levels of artistry that would have astounded Berlioz and his peers. Students flock to conservatories and graduate with skills once possessed only by a few virtuosi. More people listen to classical music today, and more money gets spent on producing and disseminating it, than ever before. Respect for a composer’s intentions, for which Berlioz fought so heroically, is now an article of faith among musicians and publishers alike.

(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: classicalmusic; earlymusic
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Another poster asked me to post this. I hope folks enjoy it. I checked to see if it was already posted. I didn't find it, but if I've accidentally duplicated the article, my apologies.
1 posted on 07/28/2010 5:24:10 AM PDT by sitetest
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To: Gapplega

FYI


2 posted on 07/28/2010 5:25:16 AM PDT by ExTexasRedhead (Take back our country on November 2, 2010.)
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To: sitetest; .30Carbine; 1rudeboy; 2nd Bn, 11th Mar; 31R1O; ADemocratNoMore; afraidfortherepublic; ...

Classical Music Ping List ping! If you want on or off this list, let me know via FR e-mail. Thanks.


3 posted on 07/28/2010 5:25:31 AM PDT by sitetest ( If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest
More people listen to classical music today, and more money gets spent on producing and disseminating it, than ever before.

I find this hard to believe, especially the part about more people listening to classical music than ever before. Most people know rarely, if ever, listen to it.

4 posted on 07/28/2010 5:29:45 AM PDT by luvbach1 (Stop Barry now. He can't help himself.)
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To: sitetest
I confess that classical music has never grabbed me in quite the way that I might have liked. I grew up with popular rock and roll and I generally enjoy that. However, I think the current state of such popular music is really pitiful. I would like to see society move toward a better type of music. I wouldn't know how to do it, but if orchestral music could be "sold" to the public, so that many millions of people could grow to appreciate this golden age, then that would be a good thing.

But classical music is branded as "high brow" and our society wants to avoid "high brow" and embrace things that "keep it real" and have "street cred".

5 posted on 07/28/2010 5:31:17 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: sitetest
Classical music rocks!

Lamh Foistenach Abu!
6 posted on 07/28/2010 5:32:44 AM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines, RVN '69 - St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!)
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To: luvbach1

Both facts could be true. The population of the world is way higher than it was in 1800, for instance.

Classical music doesn’t have the supremacy it had in e.g. the 18th and 19th centuries. But there could still be more people listening to it.


7 posted on 07/28/2010 5:35:53 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: luvbach1

I don’t seek it out, but listen when it’s presented to me. I enjoy it, as long as it’s not opera, which I can’t, and won’t, tolerate. Highly-trained, unnatural voices bellowing to be heard above an orchestra raises my hackles!


8 posted on 07/28/2010 5:38:49 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: sitetest

The last classical music station in my area closed up shop over 20 years ago. The only place you’ll find it on the radio is on a single PBS station, and that’s only part-time.

Classical will always have its admirers, but in a popular sense, it’s long been dead.


9 posted on 07/28/2010 5:46:19 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Never trust anyone who points their rear end at God while praying.)
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To: agere_contra

The article mentions that - at any one moment in our modern world - 10,000 people are listening to some version of the Eroica Symphony.

The ‘classical centuries’ didn’t have listening figures anything like that. Maybe 500 people a day tops. Today we have instant replay, recordings, the internet - and loads more listeners. It’s a mere added extra that the quality these days is also vastly improved.


10 posted on 07/28/2010 5:53:49 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: sitetest

Thank you for posting this! I have always loved Berlioz, especially his orchestrations!

Although I agree with the article (mostly in areas of virtuosity and sight-reading), I have found that in most cases, Classical Training is still sadly lacking in the Exploration of Music THEORY.

I find myself being hired to do remedial tutoring of Classically trained musicians in Chord Theory, Composition, Voice leading, and Counterpoint, using the Jazz Model that I picked up just hanging Out With Berklee Students in the Jazz Dives in Cambridge and Boston.

Some of these Folks hold degrees in music, and don’t even understand the Circle of Fifths.

But hey, I make a living.


11 posted on 07/28/2010 5:54:18 AM PDT by left that other site (Your Mi'KMaq Paddy Whacky Bass Playing Biker Buddy)
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To: ConorMacNessa; sitetest
Berlioz ROCKS!

Requiem Berlioz, Santus,Peter Schreier.Charles Munch

12 posted on 07/28/2010 5:56:02 AM PDT by Dan B Cooper
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To: sitetest

My wife is first violin with the local symphony orchestra, and I sing baritone with the associated symphony chorus and several other groups. We have seen increasingly large crowds at our concerts over the last 5 to 10 years, and we have a backlog of people waiting to audition both instrumentally and vocally.


13 posted on 07/28/2010 6:03:29 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.....Eagle Scout since Sep 9, 1970)
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To: P8riot

That’s wonderful!


14 posted on 07/28/2010 6:07:20 AM PDT by sitetest ( If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Highly trained yes, unnatural no. At my first voice lesson, I was 18, my instructor asked me to show her what I knew, and I blew her out of the water with “Nessun Dorma” after only listening to a recording of it a dozen times or so and never looking at the score. I’m not a tenor anymore (that was 45 yrs ago) but it is the upper extent of my range.


15 posted on 07/28/2010 6:09:04 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.....Eagle Scout since Sep 9, 1970)
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To: sitetest
If you enjoy Berlioz's Mémoires, you should also read Les soirées de l’orchestre (Evenings with the Orchestra) (1852). It's a fictionalized work as opposed to his Mémoires, but a fun read.

After describing what goes on at this particular orchestra's performances and how the musicians distract themselves when the music is second-rate:

One man only in this orchestra does not allow himself any such diversion. Wholly intent upon his task, all energy, indefatigable, his eye glued to his notes and his arm in perpetual motion, he would feel dishonored if he were to miss an eighth note or incur censure for his tone quality. By the end of each act he is flushed, perspiring, exhausted; he can hardly breathe, yet he does not dare take advantage of the respite offered by the cessation of musical hostilities to go for a glass of beer at the nearest bar. The fear of missing the first measures of the next act keeps him rooted at his post. Touched by so much zeal, the manager of the opera house once sent him six bottles of wine, "by way of encouragement." But the artist, "conscious of his responsibilities," was so far from grateful for the gift that he returned it with the proud words: 'I have no need of encouragement.' The reader will have guessed that I am speaking of the man who plays the bass drum.

16 posted on 07/28/2010 6:09:07 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
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To: Dan B Cooper
I used to sing with the Oratorio Society of Washington - we performed the Berlioz Requiem at the Kennedy Center - It is a magnificent work. The more Berlioz I hear, the more I like him.

Lamh Foistenach Abu!
17 posted on 07/28/2010 6:11:31 AM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines, RVN '69 - St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!)
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To: Dan B Cooper

I love his Requiem. Hearing the “Dies irae” (Judgement Day), with four antiphonal brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage, will make the little hairs on the back of your head stand up!


18 posted on 07/28/2010 6:15:05 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
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To: reagan_fanatic
The last classical music station in my area closed up shop over 20 years ago. The only place you’ll find it on the radio is on a single PBS station, and that’s only part-time.

The delivery system for music has changed, and for the better. The fidelity from radio was always sub-par and you were at the mercy of what the DJ wanted to play. Now you can download and archive tons of music and reproduce it digitally at will. There are many good sites on the web for streaming music.

19 posted on 07/28/2010 6:23:45 AM PDT by Poison Pill
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To: Poison Pill

interestingly, youtube also has a decent collection....


20 posted on 07/28/2010 6:30:06 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Doctor, I must concur. Opera is unlistenable.


21 posted on 07/28/2010 6:31:25 AM PDT by loungitude ( The truth hurts.)
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To: ConorMacNessa

>I used to sing with the Oratorio Society of Washington - we performed the Berlioz Requiem

Back in the day, me and the boys used to sing on a street corner in the Bronx. I had a great falsetto. We sang stuff by Dion and the Belmonts only because we hadn’t heard of Berlioz. So much for a public school education:)


22 posted on 07/28/2010 6:33:11 AM PDT by Dan B Cooper
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
I enjoy it, as long as it’s not opera, which I can’t, and won’t, tolerate.

“Opera: a bad melodrama in which a man upon being run through with a sword, instead of bleeding, sings”.
Mark Twain

23 posted on 07/28/2010 6:38:55 AM PDT by CrazyIvan (What's "My Struggle" in Kenyan?)
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To: CrazyIvan

“Opera: a bad melodrama in which a man upon being run through with a sword, instead of bleeding, sings”. at the top of his lungs!
Mark Twain, and Doc Bogus


24 posted on 07/28/2010 6:43:26 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: CrazyIvan
Luciano Pavarotti & Frank Sinatra - My way
25 posted on 07/28/2010 6:50:01 AM PDT by Dan B Cooper
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To: loungitude

One word rebuttal: “FIDELIO”

Mike


26 posted on 07/28/2010 6:50:22 AM PDT by Vineyard
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To: agere_contra
Classical music doesn’t have the supremacy it had in e.g. the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the 20th century classical music had a significant influence on pop music. One of the top hits of 1923, for example, was "Yes, we Have No Bananas," a song influenced by Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" and Michael Balfe's 1843 aria "I Dreamed I Dwelt in Marble Halls."

During the 1940's, band leader Freddy Martin had a string of hits with pop versions of classical pieces, including the first movement of Tchaikovskii's "Piano Concerto #1," Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A Minor," and Rakhmaninov's "Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor." In 1946, Frank Sinatra had a hit with the latter piece under the name "Full Moon and Empty Arms." Jo Stafford's "No Other Love," which is essentially Chopin's "Étude No. 3 in E," reached #10 on the pop charts in 1950.

Classical music continued to influence popular music into the rock and roll era. In 1959, Della Reese took “Quando M’en Vo” from Puccini's "La Bohème" on a ride up the charts under the name "Don't You Know," and the next hear, Jackie Wilson did the same with "“Mon Cour s'ouvre à ta Voix” from Saint-Saëns’ opera "Samson and Delilah," which he recorded as "Night." B. Bumble & the Stingers jazzed up Tchaikovskii with "The Nut Rocker" (1961), and the Toys charted with "A Lover's Concerto" (1965), based on Bach's "Minuet in G Major."

In the 1970's, Apollo 100 scored with "Joy," a rock version of Bach and Johann Schop's "Je­sus Bleib­et Meine Freude, Mein­es Herz­ens Trost und Saft" (1972), and Eric Carmen charted with "All By Myself" (1975), another song taken from Rakhmaninov's "Piano Concerto # 2." Even in the 1990's, Blues Traveler had a hit with "Hook" (1995), which is based on Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D."

I'm not very familiar with the popular music of today, but it is probably a safe bet that it is not influenced all that much by classical music.

27 posted on 07/28/2010 6:50:57 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: sitetest; MustKnowHistory; MozartLover

Thanks! City Journal is excellent on so many fronts...


28 posted on 07/28/2010 7:00:35 AM PDT by Molly Pitcher (We are Americans...the sons and daughters of liberty...(*.from FReeper the Real fifi*))
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To: Fiji Hill
Even in the 1990's, Blues Traveler had a hit with "Hook" (1995), which is based on Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D."

Canon in D is the Kevin Bacon of classical music. Many modern songs using the same chord progression are referred to in Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant

29 posted on 07/28/2010 7:03:04 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Gun control was originally to protect Klansmen from their victims. The basic reason hasn't changed.)
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To: P8riot
Very good. I do know in our area with at least one concert-sponsoring group, a significant # of comp tiks are given out to each concert...students grab 'em up.

And the effort is underwritten by some business sponsors. (E-VIL Corporations. HA)

30 posted on 07/28/2010 7:05:45 AM PDT by Molly Pitcher (We are Americans...the sons and daughters of liberty...(*.from FReeper the Real fifi*))
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To: sitetest
Please check out Secret Garden

They write all of their material and it has been used by many artists.

'Songs from a Secret Garden' is a good place to start

Check them out, I am sure you will love them.
31 posted on 07/28/2010 7:05:45 AM PDT by BornToBeAmerican (Give me a hand up, not a hand out)
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To: sitetest

I recall when classical music was occasionally used for the theme songs of radio and television shows. “The Lone Ranger,” for example, used the “Galop” from Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” and the television show “Lassie” used “Avant De Quitter Ces Lieux” from Gounod’s “Faust.”


32 posted on 07/28/2010 7:14:29 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Fiji Hill
The radio show Sgt. Preston of the Yukon used Reznicek's Donna Diana
33 posted on 07/28/2010 7:42:01 AM PDT by Roccus (......and then there were none.)
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To: luvbach1

That’s more a function of population growth.


34 posted on 07/28/2010 7:42:58 AM PDT by Borges
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To: loungitude; Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

It’s perfectly listenable. And not all opera sounds the same. Something like Carmen is very close to the Musical Comedy. Various French operas have voices that are virtually whispering. Mozart’s operas certainly don’t have any ‘bellowing’. Not to mention the fact that the invention of opera is the single most important event in the history of Western music.

Tell me this is unlistenable...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB8IWGJl7Nw


35 posted on 07/28/2010 7:52:44 AM PDT by Borges
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To: loungitude

Only if you do not inform yourself concerning the story. Many people do not take the time to do so, otherwise they might enjoy it more. Granted the language barrier is insurmountable for most, but the notes and diction must be pure in order to be performed properly. Typically though most productions I have been involved in have provided transcripts for the audience.


36 posted on 07/28/2010 7:58:42 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.....Eagle Scout since Sep 9, 1970)
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To: Borges

It was great,,,,,, until she started singing! I just do not like operatic voices. Love the music though. I’d much rather listen to a Mongolian throat singer! In fact, I like Mongolian throat singing, and Peking Opera. As a musician, who started out with French Horn, I like almost all music. Just can’t stand operatic voices, and errr,, Rap.


37 posted on 07/28/2010 8:01:43 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Borges

Beautiful example. I could not have chosen better. Thank you.


38 posted on 07/28/2010 8:02:53 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.....Eagle Scout since Sep 9, 1970)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Some folks are hopeless :~). Opera isn’t for everyone though.


39 posted on 07/28/2010 8:04:47 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.....Eagle Scout since Sep 9, 1970)
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To: Fiji Hill
I recall when classical music was occasionally used for the theme songs of radio and television shows. “The Lone Ranger,” for example, used the “Galop” from Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” and the television show “Lassie” used “Avant De Quitter Ces Lieux” from Gounod’s “Faust.”

I wonder how many people were first introduced to classical music through Looney Tunes.

40 posted on 07/28/2010 8:05:09 AM PDT by zeugma (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam)
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To: P8riot

“Opera isn’t for everyone though.”

Correct! I love the music, but loathe the singing. But then I like Classical Electronic Music, which is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve actually had girlfriends that became frightened listening to the Columbia Princeton LP.


41 posted on 07/28/2010 8:12:27 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: zeugma
I wonder how many people were first introduced to classical music through Looney Tunes.

Bugs Bunny introduced me to Wagner.

42 posted on 07/28/2010 8:13:36 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra; loungitude
I feel sorry for anyone who isn't moved by Wagner's Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, not to mention the overture. Both are incredibly beautiful.

Tristan is so historically significant and momentous that it isn't even epic; another word should be invented to describe it.

43 posted on 07/28/2010 8:17:21 AM PDT by Chunga (I Have Supported J.D. Since The Day He Announced)
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To: sitetest
Symphony No. 1 - Best Ever.


44 posted on 07/28/2010 8:18:01 AM PDT by paulycy (Demand Constitutionality: Marxism is Evil.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
I love the music, but loathe the singing.

I love Track And Field, but loathe the running.

45 posted on 07/28/2010 8:21:38 AM PDT by Chunga (I Have Supported J.D. Since The Day He Announced)
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To: sitetest
The Information Revolution figures hugely in this equation. Edison gave music to the masses, and suddenly a rather obscure piece can be picked up by popular culture and ride the wave of the Internet to millions of homes and offices with dizzying speed. How many people who would recognize the opening bars to Also Sprach Zarathustra did so before 2001: A Space Odyssey came along? That's a bad thing if you're a bit of an elitist, and there's nothing wrong with that - lots of us still cringe when the William Tell Overture has people riding imaginary horses in the audience. You know who you are.

But before Edison, if you didn't play it yourself and couldn't afford to listen to the pros, you didn't have it. Frederick the Great is widely mocked for his criticism of Mozart - "too many notes!" - but I know perfectly well where he was coming from. You're an amateur flautist - he was a good one, by all reports - and you sit down and there before you is a page that is mostly black. Dang it, there are too many notes!

And so if you're Freddy the Great you call in the court musicians, but if you're his bootmaker you're lucky to hear the strains drifting through the open windows of the concert hall. These days the latter cues it up on his iPod. And that's the difference.

Now, that's probably hurt the sheet music market a little, I'd guess, although I really don't know it for a fact. If you depend on that sort of thing for a living you're going to end up as broke as Mozart did. If you're as popular as he was these days, though, it's limos, groupies, and dying in a drug- and alcohol-induced haze. Good times.

So how does Mozart's Requiem stack up against, say, Led Zeppelin's third album? 100 years from now it might be a serious question. ;-)

46 posted on 07/28/2010 8:27:51 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Chunga

As I said, “ I love the music, but loathe the singing.” If the vocal lines were replaced by instruments, I would be enthralled. Bu,, then it wouldn’t be opera, would it? I have a vast collection of recordings of all sorts of varied genres of music. Classical guitar, Country Blues, Boogie Woogie piano, Jazz, electronic music, Very little rock, except for Zappa, Django to Hooker to Gatton and Vai.,, lots of Asian music. But after all that, I still don’t like operatic voices! Cauliflower and Sea Cucumber are also on my list of things to avoid!


47 posted on 07/28/2010 8:34:43 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Bu??? But,,,


48 posted on 07/28/2010 8:38:10 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Billthedrill
So how does Mozart's Requiem stack up against, say, Led Zeppelin's third album?

Quite well, but expect an unfavorable comparison to their second on the basis of "The Lemon Song" alone.

49 posted on 07/28/2010 8:39:41 AM PDT by Chunga (I Have Supported J.D. Since The Day He Announced)
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To: sitetest

Nice post!

I agree with the author.


50 posted on 07/28/2010 8:42:05 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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