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In Brief: Caveat Lector Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
  • A major exhibit on a favorite painter, Caravaggio, opened recently at the Scuderie del Quirinale, in Rome. Yes, it's another anniversary to celebrate -- Caravaggio died on July 18, 1610, 400 years ago this year. The exhibit is not large -- 24 of the 64 large canvases generally attributed to him -- but it is an impressive collection of masterpieces, including one that has never been allowed to travel -- the Entombment of Christ, sent across the city by the Vatican. [Le Figaro]

  • Every few years scientists make grand pronouncements about music or art, unfortunately sometimes in ways that show an embarrassing lack of knowledge of those things. A few years ago, some were on the bandwagon that tonality appeals to human ears because it is based on natural laws of sound, a pseudo-scientific dodge of countless historical problems (an issue one thinks would have been solved after Kenneth Levy shattered the theory). Now there is a book by Philip Ball supposedly using neurological findings to show that the human brain instinctively likes tonal music because it is based on "structure and patterns." This must explain, goes this half-baked theory, why audiences do not like Schoenberg. Of course, as anyone knows who has actually studied the music itself, Schoenberg's 12-tone music is obsessively based on patterns and rigorous structure. According to this reasoning, Schoenberg should be the sort of music our brains like the most. [The Telegraph]

  • Turkish pianist Fazil Say refused to be part of the programming of the offical Year of Turkey in France, which concludes next month. In a letter he blamed the Turkish government, in particular the AKP or Justice and Development Party, for having "censored his work." This goes back to 2007 and Say's Requiem Mass for Metin Altiok (1941-1993), which the Turkish culture minister did not allow to be performed with the projection of images relating to the poet's assassination. Since Say's critical response to the incident was published, he has received death threats and one of his concerts in Munich was reportedly canceled because of the danger of some kind of retaliation. [Le Monde]

  • On a not unrelated note, Algeria is not really celebrating the anniversary this year of the death of Albert Camus. A text given the title "Alert to Anticolonial Consciences" was sent to editors, university professors, and journalists to denounce the Camus anniversary, seen as an attempt "to rehabilitate the discussion of French Algeria." Seven Algerian cities were to have hosted Camus celebrations, but requests for funding made to the Algerian cultural ministry have not received any response. French cultural institutions in Algeria, one diplomat admits, are keeping a low profile and "staying underground." [Le Monde]

  • A new Giant Pacific octopus has arrived at the National Zoo: an "octopus cam" has been promised. [DCist]

  • To Alex Ross's Top 10 List of Glissandos, in honor of Xenakis Week, I would add the detumescent trombone slide at the end of the rape of Aksinya in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. No luck finding a clip of that scene. [Unquiet Thoughts]


Michael said...

Pianist Stephen Hough's blog has taken up the fact that Alex Ross list of the best glissandos seemed to gliss over the obvious piano glisses:

jfl said...

Let's expand the glissando-list, then.

1.) I really hope Gloria Coates doesn't come across Ross' list. To spend your whole life composing nothing but glissandi--and then to be beaten out by an out-of-tune timpani... that has got to hurt.

2.) Grażyna Bacewicz also takes kindly to the glissando, especially in her 7th Violin Concerto.

3.) ...