Notes on Music

Notes on Music is heard throughout the week on KLRE, Classical 90.5, and is written and voiced by Ray Moore.

Ray Moore is Professor Emeritus of Music and former Director of Choral Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

Dr. Moore received his Bachelor's degree in music from Texas Tech University, and both his Master's and Doctorate from Columbia University.

Moore has published a book, High Notes and Low, based on his Notes on Music spots. You can purchase the book at amadeuspress.com. And you can learn more about his book in this video:

The Proms

Mar 28, 2013
flickr.com / Keith Laverack

 The Proms, short for Promenade Concerts, takes over London’s musical scene each summer with eight weeks glutted with music performances. 

Even though competing with the Summer Olympics in 2012, the Proms held its own, and had a huge spike in demand for tickets following the opening ceremony.  I guess those Brits know a good thing when they hear it!

Nietchze The Composer

Mar 28, 2013
The Commons / The Library of Congress

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. 

However, he loved music and declared that “life without music is an error.“ Not many know that he also composed a number of songs and piano pieces.  These are not often performed, but do tell us a lot about his artistic interests.

Origin of a Sea Shanty

Mar 28, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

"Blow the Man Down" is a popular song of the sea, or a sea shanty.  But what does it mean? 

When a sailor said that a man was blown down, it meant that he was knocked to the ground. 

The song is about the unfair beating of sailors aboard sailing ships during the 19th century, especially those on the American Black Ball Line that sailed between New York and Liverpool, England.  Ouch!

Matchmakers

Mar 28, 2013
flickr.com / The Commons

You know the song, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match, from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  This concept is not new to opera either. 

In Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, Lieutenant Pinkerton has leased a house from a matchmaker; and in Smetana’s opera, The Bartered Bride, parents scheme to have a matchmaker find a husband for their daughter.  Ah, some things never change!

Two Kinds Of Splash

Mar 28, 2013
flickr.com / denvie balidoy

 Do you know what kind of cymbals share their name with a movie that starred Daryl Hanna?

The cymbals can be as small as four inches, and as large as thirteen, and are used with drum sets.  They’re called “splash” cymbals with variations called rock splash, China splash, and salsa splash. 

Oh, yes, the movie?  About a mermaid, it was also called Splash.

The Chromatic Harp

Mar 28, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

  In 1904, the Parisian firm of instrument makers, Pleyel, commissioned Debussy to write a piece for their new chromatic harp.  Debussy responded with Sacred and Profane Dances, which instantly became an important part of the repertory. 

However, the complicated chromatic harp eventually failed in favor of the more common diatonic harp, which is the one in use today.

It's Not About The Goat

Mar 27, 2013
flickr.com

Female goats are referred to as “nannies”, male goats are called “billies”, with their offspring being called “kids.” Eventually the term “kids” grew to mean children up to the age of puberty.

In 1938 Aaron Copland composed a ballet called Billy the Kid which has become a staple of ballet repertory. The outlaw was called “kid” due to his young age... not because he resembled a goat!

 

 

Van Cliburn

Mar 27, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

 American pianist, Van Cliburn, achieved worldwide fame in 1958 when he won the first International Piano Competition in Moscow.

At the height of the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev had to give his permission for an American to receive the award.

Van Cliburn was given a New York City ticker-tape parade, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician.

Thanksgiving Music

Mar 27, 2013
flickr.com / Leah Grunzke

What classical-music composers would you invite to your Thanksgiving meal?

Perhaps Vaughan Williams, with his Song of Thanksgiving playing in the background. Or perhaps Handel, with strains of Alexander’s Feast swirling around.

Or just forget the composers all together and play Turkey in the Straw. By the way, turkey was the first meal consumed on the moon. Hope you enjoyed yours.

Music of the Fen

Mar 26, 2013
flickr.com / Tom Ellis

A fen is a low and marshy area of land.

 In 1907, Ralph Vaughan Williams composed a so-called “symphonic impression”, titled In the Fen Country, in which he pictures an area of East Anglia, a region of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

It’s interesting the term connects to Boston’s Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.  The stadium was built over what was once a fen.

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