Thursday, January 9, 2003

Thursday January 9, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:48 PM

Balanchine's Birthday

Today seems an appropriate day to celebrate Apollo and the nine Muses.

From a website on Balanchine's and Stravinsky's ballet, "Apollon Musagete":

In his Poetics of Music (1942) Stravinsky says: "Summing up: What is important for the lucid ordering of the work– for its crystallization– is that all the Dionysian elements which set the imagination of the artist in motion and make the life-sap rise must be properly subjugated before they intoxicate us, and must finally be made to submit to the law: Apollo demands it."  Stravinsky conceived Apollo as a ballet blanc– a "white ballet" with classical choreography and monochromatic attire. Envisioning the work in his mind's eye, he found that "the absence of many-colored hues and of all superfluities produced a wonderful freshness." Upon first hearing Apollo, Diaghilev found it "music somehow not of this world, but from somewhere else above." The ballet closes with an Apotheosis in which Apollo leads the Muses towards Parnassus. Here, the gravely beautiful music with which the work began is truly recapitulated "on high"– ceaselessly recycled, frozen in time.

— Joseph Horowitz



Another website invoking Apollo:

The icon that I use… is the nine-fold square…. The nine-fold square has centre, periphery, axes and diagonals.  But all are present only in their bare essentials.  It is also a sequence of eight triads.  Four pass through the centre and four do not.  This is the garden of Apollo, the field of Reason…. 

In accordance with these remarks, here is the underlying structure for a ballet blanc:

A version of 'grid3x3.gif.'

This structure may seem too simple to support movements of interest, but consider the following (click to enlarge):

As Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, paraphrasing Horace, remarks in his Whitsun, 1939, preface to the new edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse, "tamen usque recurret Apollo."

The alert reader will note that in the above diagrams, only eight of the positions move.

Which muse remains at the center?

Consider the remark of T. S. Eliot, "At the still point, there the dance is," and the fact that on the day Eliot turned 60, Olivia Newton-John was born.  How, indeed, in the words of another "sixty-year-old smiling public man," can we know the dancer from the dance?

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Bach’s Minuet in G

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:29 PM
toys.jpg (17640 bytes)

The Toys

Left to right: June Montiero, Barbara Parritt, and Barbara Harris

From the website http://www.history-of-rock.com/toys.htm

In 1964 they were signed by the Publishing firm Genius, Inc., which teamed them with the songwriting duo Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell…. The writers took a classical finger exercise from Bach and put a Motown bassline to it and “A Lover’s Concerto” was born.

September 1965: “A Lover’s Concerto” on the Dynavoice label went #4 R&B, crossed over to pop charts #2, and also became a #5 hit in England. In 1965 the song sold over a million copies. The Toys began appearing on television shows such as “Shindig!,” “Hullabullo,” and “American Bandstand,”  toured with Gene Pitney, and appeared in the film It’s a Bikini World.

Other sites giving further details on Bach’s Minuet in G:

Search for the sheet music and a rendition of the work at codamusic.com’s Finale Showcase Search Page.

Seeing and hearing the music on this site requires that you download  Coda’s SmartMusic Viewer, and possibly requires that you adjust your browser settings, depending on the operating system you use.

For another look at Bach’s music, along with a midi rendition, you can download Music MasterWorks composing software from the Aspire Software site…


Then download the midi file of the Minuet in G itself,  “Minuet in G,  BWV841” (M.Lombardi), from the website


(To do this, right-click on the minuet link and use the “Save Target As” option, if you, like me, are using Internet Explorer with Windows.)

After you have downloaded the midi file of the minuet, use the “File” and “Open” options in Music MasterWorks to display and play the music.

A comparison of these two versions of Bach is instructive for anyone planning to purchase music composition software.   The MasterWorks creates sheet music from its midi file that is quite sophisticated and rather hard to follow, but this music accurately reflects the superior musical performance in the downloaded midi file versus the rendition in the online Finale Showcase file.   The Showcase file is much simpler and easier to read, as the rendition it describes is also quite simple.

The Gentle Rain

For an even simpler version, those of us who were in our salad days in 1965 can consult our memories of The Toys:

How gentle is the rain
That falls softly on the meadow.
Birds high up in the trees
Serenade the clouds with their melodies.

Oh, see there beyond the hill,
The bright colors of the rainbow.
Some magic from above
Made this day for us just to fall in love.

Those of the younger generation with neither the patience nor the taste to seek out the original by Bach may be content with the following site —

A Lover’s Concerto in Venice

To a more mature audience, the picture of a Venetian sunset at the above site (similar to the photo below, from Shunya’s Italy)

will, together with the lyrics of The Toys, suggest that

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven….

This line, addressed to Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice,” contradicts, to some extent, the statement by Igor Stravinsky in The Poetics of Music (1942, English version 1947) that music does not express anything at all. Stravinsky is buried in Venice.

From  Famous Graves:

Igor Stravinsky,


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