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Edward Gold
New York City


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Posted By Edward Gold

I did see a good deal of the inauguration on a large screen TV and have had many thoughts on it. Due to certain obligations, I have delayed writing about it. So, I am making up for it now:


I have to agree that too much is expected of Obama. I don't understand why people expect perfection from him or why they expected the whole ceremony to run without a hitch.


Why, for instance, was so much typing expended on the flubbing of the oath? Though clearly messed up by Chief Justice Roberts, it only proves that both he and Obama are human and ascribing it to Roberts' pique at Obama for not supporting him for his candidacy for the Court is foolish. In any case, the oath was later repeated just in case and, as far as I know, no harm was done.


Aretha Franklin's hat was another case in point. It didn't bother me at all but maybe her singing did. I'm told by those who love her, that she is now a shadow of herself vocally but I didn't think her incessant shouting was appropriate to "My Country 'Tis of Thee". Maybe something else would have been more acceptable to my taste but I'm not a fan and am not likely to become one in the future. Sue me!


Yo Yo, Itzhak and company did their best in the extreme cold and it is understandable that they were dubbed. John Williams' composition, partly based on "Simple Gifts", was okay but probably forgettable in the long run. Aaron Copland used the same tune in his famous ballet "Appalachian Spring" and maybe Mr. Williams was unwisely inviting comparisons with the older and better work.


Bush '41 looked quite feeble but the other presidents and vice-presidents merely looked old except, perhaps, for Bill Clinton. Richard "the Dick" Cheney appeared in a wheelchair and, if this was indeed a ploy to get sympathy as others have suggested, he didn't get mine.


I could do without the dwelling on how Barack and Michelle are such a "loving couple" and how cute the daughters were. I thought Rick Warren neither disgraced nor distinguished himself with his invocation but I can easily live without this "holy" phony.


Since the inauguration, we have been inundated with opinions on Barack's actions pro and con. I still say wait and see; yesterday was, after all, only his 5th day (or 4th complete day.) as president. For the moment, I can only say that, predictably, I agree with some of the things he's done and disagree with others.


Par for the course.





Posted By Edward Gold

Today, we will hopefully see the last of the "Decider's" vacuous face. We will miss his malapropisms and other struggles with the English language as well as his maladroit encounters with ordinary objects like airplane entrances and trying to get out doors that won't open.


But we will not miss his lies and inept decisions and his attempts to rescue his so-called "legacy".


I can only hope that the incoming administration can do something about the economic and other chaos that was created by the Bushies.


But like George Bush, Barack Obama has also had serious problems due to his "faith". Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church is slated to give the invocation at the inauguration and it seems incredible that he so stupidly told his followers, in 2005, to follow Jesus the way the Nazis followed Adolf Hitler.


I don't understand why any president should be beholden to any religious groups who have done little good for anyone except themselves, and I would wish that we could grow up and discard this childish dependency on those old and long outdated "fairy tales".


Despite all this, I can only wish the best to the new administration in trying to undo the mess the Bush administration has left both the United States and the world. (This is their real "legacy"!)


They have got their work cut out for them!





Posted By Edward Gold

I was in the same place yesterday as on that hot September day in 2001 though this time turned out to be a much happier occasion.


The NYU Dental building clinic is now richly (too richly in my opinion!) supplied with TV screens and so, right after the plane went down in the Hudson, live footage was on the screen. As it turned out, no one of the 155 people on board died though the gaggle of geese that apparently caused the accident, were no doubt decimated.


The pilot of the U.S. Airlines plane, Chesley Sullenberg is credited for his nearly unbelievable navigation skills in landing the plane under the most difficult conditions but the quick response of the NYC Fire Department and rescue boats in the harbor are another important factor in avoiding any casualties apart from hypothermia etc..


In paraphrasing a Paul Simon song, "Still Delusional After All These Years" Arianna points out that Dubya didn't even mention this incident in his farewell speech even if he might have scored points by doing so. In the Bushies' single-minded attempt to rescue his legacy with more of his usual big-lie technique, he has once again undermined his own credibility and demonstrated his own selfishness.


I've, many times. had my say on Dubya and Dick so maybe it's best, in closing, to quote an old song we used to sing to the tune of "Farmer in the Dell":


We hate to see you go,

We hate to see you go,

We hope the heck you never come back,

We hate to see you go!

Posted By Edward Gold

"The Kingdom" was the last (completed 1906) of Elgar's large religious works though it is said the composer tinkered with the projected "The Last Judgement" which was to be the third part of the trilogy with "The Apostles" and "The Kingdom".


Elgar never did break completely with the Church but after that period, he turned to the great secular instrumental works mentioned in Part 1 and is generally considered to have lost his religious faith by this time.


He composed large scale instrumental works up to the time of his wife's death in 1920, but wrote comparatively little after that.


Of the smaller-scaled works, there are the 5 Pomp and Circumstance Marches Op. 39 which go from 1901-1930 (the last, a rare completed late work.) There are sketches for a 6th which were worked up by Anthony Payne who famously did the same for the "Third Symphony" but the best known by far is the First March with the famous "Land of Hope and Glory" Trio tune. (The words, by A.C. Benson, were first used in the Coronation Ode of 1902 with an adaptation of the tune, and, later, with major modifications, Elgar worked up as the solo song we all know and love.)


The two most familiar of the overtures (to nothing in particular; they are both free-standing.) are "Cockaigne" ("In London Town") and "In the South" ("Alassio", I once briefly stalled my rented Italian Ford on Alassio's parking lot.). I have done MIDI sequences of both and, yes, I included the organ part in "Cockaigne".


I also created MIDI sequences of both Symphonies including the outgoing 1st and the more introverted 2nd.


Elgar completed the Violin Concerto in 1910 and it is, like the First Symphony, quite extroverted. Elgar's own second recording of the piece was with the teen-aged Yehudi Menuhin and it proved to be one of the greatest of all sound recordings of any kind. My complete MIDI sequence is somewhat based on this recording.


The Cello Concerto, Op. 85 (1919) was nowhere near as successful but thanks to the film "Hilary and Jackie" and many devoted performers, it is probably played more often these days even than the Violin Concerto. It has, in fact, become part of the standard cello concerto repertory alongside the concertos by Dvorak, Haydn and Schumann.


After his wife's death in 1920, Elgar busied himself recording much of his output up to the time of his own death. The "Third Symphony", whose completion was prevented by the composer's own illness and death, was successfully worked up by Anthony Payne after Elgar's late sketches and has already been recorded several times.


Other works, such as a piano concerto have been less successful in their completed forms.

















Posted By Edward Gold

As a sort of companion to my recent Brahms article, I thought I'd write about Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934);  I created many MIDI sequences of his music, including the complete "Enigma" Variations, and left mp3 versions of all of them on my website.


Considering the difficulties of creating these sequences, I think it is safe to say that no one will duplicate these efforts very soon.


Contrary to the opinion of Norman Lebrecht the British critic and gadfly, I'd say he was indeed "Elgar the Great"! His music has tremendous range, expression and he was also quite prolific. Of course he never finished an opera even if he did start one ("The Spanish Lady") in his old age.


But he wrote in almost every other musical genre: his vocal music consists of a great many partsongs, cantatas both secular ("King Olaf", "The Black Knight", Caractacus") and sacred ("The Light of Life") and oratorios: "The Dream of Gerontius", "The Apostles" and "The Kingdom". Among these oratorios, the first is among his best known efforts.


The work that is usually considered to have to have started the modern English music revival, of course, is the secular "Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra", Op. 36 usually known as the "Enigma" Variations. (see link for my explanation of the work and its title.)


The, soon to follow, "Dream of Gerontius" has an equally important status as the first really important native English religious work since Purcell despite the efforts of John Stainer, Arthur Sullivan and many others who were themselves too much under the influence of Felix Mendelssohn. That it's poem by Cardinal Newman on which it is based is rather poor and didactic scarcely matters; it is the music which carries all.



The period of Gerontius to "The Kingdom" was when Elgar gradually lost his faith and subsequently proceeded to write the great instrumental music: the Overtures, Symphonies and Concertos.


To be continued...