World Cup Fever: Um a Zero

In honor of today’s big tilt between Germany and Argentina, a video of the classic tune “Um a Zero” (“One to Nothing”) by the fascinating one-named Brazilian composer Pixinginuha, forever memorializing in music the 1919 futbol Finale between Brazil and Uruguay….and the first international title ever for the Brazilians. Check out this amazing trio led by clarinetist extrordinaire Paquito D’Rivera..

I first learned about Pixinguinha doing an NPR taping session with Yo-Yo Ma & Co around the “Obrigado Brazil” release.  (Talk about a “supergroup:”  Yo-Yo, Paquito, the Assad Brothers, bassist Nilson Matta, percussionist Cyro Battista, pianist Kathryn Stott, singer Rosa Passos….it was a pretty memorable session!).   There’s more about the pioneering Brazilian “instrumentalist, composer, orchestrator, and maestro” on the website choromusic.com, dedicated to the uniquely Brazilian style of music:

“If you have 15 volumes available to speak about all types of Brazilian music, you can be sure it won’t be enough. But if have room for only one word, then it’s not all doom and gloom; write quickly: Pixinguinha.”

 

Below is the link to the entire piece on NPR’s Morning Edition – and if you can still get your RealPlayer to work, you can hear the special version of “Um a Zero” we recorded as well, with Paquito again out front…

Yo-Yo Ma’s ‘Obrigado Brazil’

 

Composers On Vacation II: At The Beach

Claude Debussy's idea of beachwear

Claude Debussy’s idea of beachwear

Writing the last post suddenly reminded me of the old summertime staple that used to get a lot of spins on my classical-radio stops along the way:  American composer Virgil Thomson‘s charming little ditty “At The Beach,” recorded on a classical Nonesuch LP of “Cornet Favorites” by Gerard Schwarz in his trumpet-playing days, with William Bolcom at the piano….

 

 

Composers On Vacation

Check out the nice post on the WUOL website about Composers on Vacation, starting with a wonderful description by Edward Elgar about the Italian sojourn that inspired his symphonic poem In The South:

“Then in a flash, it all came to me – streams, flowers, hills; the distant snow mountains in one direction and the blue Mediterranean in the other; the conflict of the armies on that very spot long ago, where I now stood – the contrast of the ruin and the shepherd – and then, all of a sudden, I came back to reality. In that time I had composed the overture – the rest was merely writing it down.”

Many years ago on NPR’s Performance Today we developed an entire [summertime, natch] series around the topic, called Postcards from Composers.  Amazingly, a few are still available online, included Dvorak’s reminiscences about his summer in Spillville, Iowa

The three months spent here in Spillville will be a happy memory for the rest of our lives.  We enjoyed being here and were very happy….though we found the three months of heat rather trying!  But it was made up for us by being among our own people…our Czech countrymen.  And that caused us great joy.  If it had not been for that, we would not have come at all.

Postcard from Composers: Antonin Dvorak

…and Gustav Mahler’s yearning to get away from the bustle of Paris, in the grip of the 1900 World’s Fair, and head to the Austrian woods:

“The summer for me has been so glorious, I feel I am really and truly braced for the coming winter.  If I can keep this up in the future, managing to get mental and physical rest in summer, then I shall always be able to lead…a human sort of life.”

 

Postcards from Composers: Gustav Mahler

And, closer to home, New Hampshire native Amy Beach‘s inspirations from the bird songs she heard during her summers at the MacDowell Colony, the artists’ retreat in Peterborough, NH:

“In projecting our very selves onto paper, or canvas, or clay, we literally have to lose our life….in order to save it in the shape of any tangible result of our labors.  And to accomplish this at its highest and noblest, one thing above all is needed:  Silence….and solitude.”

 

Postcard from Composers: Amy Beach

This is one of the pieces Beach wrote at the Colony: “The Hermit Thrush at Morn:”

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2013: Waitin’ For The Dawn of Peace

Revisiting a gripping performance by the Cornell University Men’s Glee Club, led by Scott Tucker, who’s since moved on to take the reins at the Choral Arts Society in Washington. In this performance in our Fraser studio Tucker leads the Cornell men in the Ron Jeffers Civil War song “Waitin’ for the Dawn of Peace.” Cathy Fuller is the host, and some beautiful camera work by our own Greg Shea.