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 learn more about his book in this video:

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Notes on Music
1:58 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Harry S. Truman: "Music" Is His Middle Name?

President Harry S. Truman plays the piano in this photo from 1952.

A few composers are usually referred to by one or more of their initials, such as J.S. Bach or his son, C.P.E. Bach.  In these cases, the initials stand for actual names.

 It’s interesting that in the case of President Harry S. Truman, the “S” actually stood only for itself as an initial with no name represented.  His musical connection?  He enjoyed playing the piano.

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Notes on Music
1:52 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Pete Seeger: A Life in Music

Pete Seeger, icon of folk music, plays the banjo in this 1950s photo.

Pete Seeger was an American folk singer with a string of hit records in the 1950s singing with The Weavers.

As a songwriter, he penned such songs as Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and If I Had a Hammer.

It’s interesting that his father established the first musicology curriculum in the U.S., at the University of California, and his mother was a concert violinist who taught at Juilliard.

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Notes on Music
1:47 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Words of Criticism

"Rite of Spring?" More like "Riot of Spring," as seen in this caricature of Igor Stravinsky from 1913.

Composers are notorious critics of others’ music.

Saint-Saëns said of Ravel’s music:  “If he had been making shell casings during the war, it might have made for better music.” Rossini complained, “Wagner has beautiful moments but awful quarters of an hour.” And Benjamin Britten said of Stravinsky:  “I liked the opera very much.  Everything but the music.”

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Notes on Music
1:37 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Every Good Boy Does Fine: Music and Mnemonics

If you can remember this useful acronym, then "Every Good Boy Does Fine."

Mnemonics are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information through special associations.

 Virtually all television commercials are set to music, which acts as a mnemonic device, and which helps the listener remember that particular product. And I think we’ve all used mnemonics to help remember the pitches of the lines and spaces on the staff..” Every good boy does fine”...

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Notes on Music
1:29 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Maximilian Schell: Actor and Pianist

Maximilian Schell poses under a bust of Beethoven.

            Maximilian Schell was a Swiss film and stage actor who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1961 film, Judgment at Nuremberg, which incidentally, was only his second acting role in Hollywood. 

Not many know, however, that he was also a gifted pianist, and teamed with Leonard Bernstein as narrator in many performances of Beethoven symphonies.

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Notes on Music
4:41 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Dame Eva Turner and "The Trampoline Incident"

Dame Eva Turner, the bouncing Tosca.

At the end of Puccini’s opera, Tosca, the heroine jumps to her death from a tower.

On stage, the singer usually jumps out of a low window onto concealed mattresses.

However, in a production by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, when Eva Turner jumped she landed on a trampoline, and was seen appearing in the window a few times before finally  “dying.”

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Notes on Music
4:27 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Asperger's Syndrome and Creativity

The pianist Glenn Gould, known for his various eccentricities, may have been afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome.

Asperger’s syndrome is a high-performing form of autism, wherein the person is rather socially inept but quite advanced in certain areas.

Creative people who have been linked to Asperger’s include Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, and musicians Glenn Gould, Mozart, and Beethoven.

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Notes on Music
4:19 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Antonin Dvorak: Breaking the Mold

Composer Antonin Dvorak, in a caricature by Ralph Steadman.

Antonin Dvorak’s father owned a small inn and butcher shop in Austria.  Antonin, the eldest of nine children, was expected to follow the vocation of his father, and grandfather, and become a butcher.

When he turned sixteen he begged his father to let him study music, and the rest is history.

However, it is unfortunately true that some musicians can still “butcher” a performance!

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Notes on Music
4:09 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Albert Einstein: Physicist and Violinist

Physicist Albert Einstein, seen here playing the violin.

While we think of Albert Einstein primarily as a great physicist, he had a deep love of music, and often played violin in string quartets with his friends.

He wrote, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician...I live my daydreams in music...I get most joy in my life out of my violin.”

Well, if music affected Einstein so profoundly, it must certainly be good for the rest of us!

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Notes on Music
4:04 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

When Niccoló Paganini Broke His Strings

In this caricature, Paganini plays on, in spite of losing all but one string on his violin.

Niccoló Paganini is well known for his great skill as a violinist, not the least was helped by the fact that he had unusually long and flexible fingers in addition to great musicality.

On one occasion, as he was playing a serenade, one after the other, three of the four strings on the violin broke.

He simply finished the serenade playing all notes on the one remaining string!

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