Bringer of Jollity

I expect everyone got the Simpsons joke below, but at the risk of squelching the humor (and for any non-Holst fans) the reference is to Gustav Holst’s suite, “The Planets,” where most of the movements have a title in the form of “X, the Bringer of Y.” To wit:

Mars, the Bringer of War

Venus, the Bringer of Peace

Mercury, the Winged Messenger

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

Uranus, the Magician

Neptune, the Mystic

A few years ago, the British composer Colin Matthews “completed” the suite with a movement called “Pluto, the Renewer.” But I also liked the suggestion that my colleague Steve Seel made: “Pluto, the Bringer of Fleas.”

That was the Springfield Elementary School Orchestra, Mr. Largo conducting

I may not line up for the very first screening tomorrow, but I fully expect to go see The Simpsons Movie before the weekend is out.

Is it safe to make that confession among classical music lovers?

I should hope so. I have evidence that there are classical fans on The Simpsons writing staff. Consider these lines from the episode that originally aired Feb. 8, 1998:

Homer: Just think. I turned to a cult for mindless happiness when I had beer all along.

Marge: Hmmm!

Homer: And you, Marge! The bringer of beer!

New Book from Alex Ross

A lot of people have been on vacation–at least around here, they have–so maybe you missed this sample of the upcoming book from New Yorker critic Alex Ross. Good reading in any case; the book’s due out in the fall.

7/26: I hope those links work better now. Thanks for the nudge, A. S.! Related question: At the very end of Ross’s article (first link above), the composer Morton Feldman hums a bit of “conservative music.” Why does he choose the Sibelius Fifth? (I have a theory, but haven’t gone back to check it out….)

Happy Birthday, Bud Herseth!

If you see Bud Herseth today, wish him a happy 86th birthday.

And you just might see him playing golf this time of year around Detroit Lakes. That part of Minnnesota has been a regular vacation destination for one of the world’s greatest trumpet players, who was born in Bertha, Minnesota, but spent over fifty years as principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony.

Listen to his incredible life story here.

Why buy the cow if the milk is free?

Of course I’m biased, but the news that radio negatively affects record sales just doesn’t make sense.

Yes, it’s true that if you’ve got a radio you don’t need to buy records in order to hear music. But I’d argue that unless you have a radio you’re much less likely to want to buy records.

I have a feeling that radio creates the biggest share of the market for recordings. When I buy a CD it’s most often because I’ve already heard the music or the particular performance, usually on the radio, and I like it so well that I want to listen to it whenever I choose.

While we wait for experts to weigh in on the validity of this research, how about some anecdotal evidence: Does radio encourage or discourage your record buying?

Fancy Footwork by an Organist

If you check out this video of a July 5 recital by pipe organ phenom Cameron Carpenter, you’ll see:

1) more of the soloist than you often get to see at an organ recital

2) some amazing footwork in the first piece (a transcription of Chopin’s “Revolutionary” Etude)

3) a refreshing alternative to the usual classical-music-soloist garb.

Jerry Hadley: Sad News

In the opera world, it’s been a month with more than its share of sad news.

Earlier in the month, tenor Jerry Hadley shot himself in an apparent suicide attempt, and was hospitalized; finally it was decided to remove life support, and he died yesterday.

Obituaries like this one from the Washington Post will give a good idea of his career, and Dick Strawser’s blog has an abundance of anecdotes and reflections from readers.

And to hear Jerry Hadley in Kern, Lehar, Verdi, Bernstein, along with personal reminiscences from Thomas Hampson and John Harbison, go to the tribute to him created by Performance Today (available for one week).

The closing movement

On our baseball blog, Bleacher Bums, Steve Rudolph comments on the music stadium sound operators choose to introduce certain relief pitchers. It’s often heavy metal. Steve links to a writer on espn.com who poses an alternative: why not Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”?

Amen to that, I say.

The discussion also makes me think of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt.

Why? Well, at the old Met Stadium they used it in the mid-60s to introduce Twins center fielder Jimmie Hall. While we’re at it, let’s bring back those clever stadium organists.