Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where Madness Lies

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:24 AM

IMAGE- NYT obituaries-- psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and Broadway director Albert Marre-- with Stravinsky/Balanchine ad

    "Who knows where madness lies?" —Man of La Mancha

    "Hum a few bars and I'll fake it." —Stravinsky

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Sunday August 6, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM
Game Boy
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060806-Einsatz.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Click on picture for details.
"Nine is a very
powerful Nordic number
— Katherine Neville


to put one's back
into something
bei etwas
Einsatz zeigen
to up the ante
den Einsatz erhöhen
to debrief den Einsatz
nachher besprechen
to be on duty
im Einsatz sein
mil.to be in action im Einsatz sein
to play for
high stakes
mit hohem
Einsatz spielen



"His music had of course come from Russian folk sources and from Rimsky-Korsakov and from other predecessors, in the way that all radical art has roots. But to be a true modernist, a cosmopolitan in the twentieth century, it was necessary to seem to disdain nationalism, to be perpetually, heroically novel– the more aloof, the better. 'Cold and transparent, like an "extra dry" champagne, which gives no sensation of sweetness, and does not enervate, like other varieties of that drink, but burns,' Stravinsky said about his own Octet, Piano Concerto, and Piano Sonata. The description might be applied to works by Picasso or Duchamp."

— Michael Kimmelman in
  The New York Review of Books,
issue dated Aug. 10, 2006

But the description
certainly applies to
Bridget Moynahan:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060806-Recruit2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"… like an 'extra dry' champagne,
which gives no sensation of
sweetness, and does not enervate."

For more on the
"Ice 9" figure, see
Balanchine's Birthday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Wednesday January 21, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 8:28 AM


This is the first anniversary of the death of Irene Diamond, patron of the arts, for whom the New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project is named.  (See last year’s entries for January 20-23.)

Since tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Balanchine (according to the Gregorian, or “new style,” calendar), it seems appropriate to recall his ballet Diamonds, though it has no apparent connection with Irene.

Diamonds is the conclusion of a three-part work titled Jewels. (The first two parts are Emeralds, with music by Fauré, and Rubies, with music by Stravinsky.)

” ‘And then for the finale, Diamonds, I move to Tchaikovsky-always Tchaikovsky for dancing.’

Balanchine chose to use Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major, gracefully cutting the first movement of the piece (by some accounts because it was too long, and by others because he felt it just wasn’t suitable for dancing).”

Jeannine Potter, notes on Jewels 

In other words, Balanchine “cut” Diamonds. For another use of this metaphor, see The Diamond Project.  The following remark on the first movement seems appropriate on this, the anniversary of Irene Diamond’s death.

“The introduction to the first movement of the symphony is marked Moderato assai, Tempo di marcia funebre, the funeral march proceeding with increased pace….”

—  Symphony No. 3 in D Major

The following link to a part of Irene’s year-long funeral march seems appropriate:

Longtime Juilliard Benefactor Dies.

Whether her good deeds made her, like Christ and Gerard Manley Hopkins, an immortal Diamond, I do not know.  Let us hope so.

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?

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Thursday August 1, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:31 PM

Stephen King’s Seattle Rose

From http://www.janeellen.com/musings/quakerose.html:

On February 28, 2001 (Ash Wednesday)….

At a shop called Mind Over Matter in Port Townsend, Washington, people had been playing with a sand pendulum throughout the morning. At 10.55 am local time a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest in over 50 years, rocked Seattle and the surrounding area….  In the midst of chaos, something strange and wonderful happened. The seismic activity caused the sand pendulum to create rippling waves in the sand, which as the shaking ceased, resembled a solitary flower in the midst of devastation: a rose.

From http://archives.skemers.com/2200/nl2130.txt:

Subj:    Re: SKEMERs Letter #2124 (Rose Red, HIA DVD, Insomnia Editions)
Date:    2/1/02 3:18:24 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:    ChopperKozmo@aol.com

Hi, something has been bothering me a bit, what is that song they played in [the Stephen King TV miniseries] Rose Red?  I need the tune, it’s been bothering me since the end of the movie.
Thanks -Kozmo/Curt (Chopperkozmo@aol.com)

The one they played most (even at the end) was Theme From a Summer Place. It’s from a movie called (tada) A Summer Place, released in the late 50s. I’ve never seen it, but the song is familiar.


Theme from “A Summer Place” :

  • Performed by: Percy Faith
  • Words by Mack Discant, music by Max Steiner
  • From the 1959 film, A Summer Place, starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue
  • #1 hit instrumental for Percy Faith in 1960
  • Lyrics as recorded by The Lettermen in 1965 —

There’s a summer place
Where it may rain or storm
Yet I’m safe and warm
For within that summer place
Your arms reach out to me
And my heart is free from all care

For it knows
There are no gloomy skies
When seen through the eyes
Of those who are blessed with love.

See also http://autumn.www1.50megs.com/sunset.html:

This site offers a sunset reflected in gently rippling water, with “Theme from a Summer Place” playing in the background.

Complete lyrics to “Summer Place” and “A Lover’s Concerto” (discussed below) are collected along with other “Songs of Innocence” at


The reader may supply his own Songs of Experience…

My own personal favorite is the fictional rendition, in the recent novel The Last Samurai, of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in the style of Percy Faith.

This note was suggested by a search for quotations from the composer Igor Stravinsky that ended at Jane Ellen’s collection of quotes on music and the arts at http://www.janeellen.com/quotations.html.

Roll over, Stravinsky.

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,


Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tuesday July 30, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 AM

Aesthetics of Madness

Admirers of the film "A Beautiful Mind" may be interested in the thoughts of psychotherapist Eric Olson on what he calls the "collage method" of therapy.  The fictional protagonist of "A Beautiful Mind," very loosely based on the real-life mathematician John Nash, displays his madness in a visually striking manner (as required by cinematic art).  He makes enormous collages of published matter in which he believes he has found hidden patterns. 

This fictional character is in some ways more like the real-life therapist Olson than like the real-life schizophrenic Nash.  For an excellent introduction to Olson's world, see the New York Times Magazine article of April 1, 2001, on Olson and on the mysterious death of Olson's father Frank, who worked for the CIA.  Here the plot thickens… the title of the article is "What Did the C.I.A. Do to Eric Olson's Father?

For Olson's own website, see The Frank Olson Legacy Project, which has links to Olson's work on collage therapy.   Viewed in the context of this website, the resemblance of Olson's collages to the collages of "A Beautiful Mind" is, to borrow Freud's expression, uncanny.  Olson's own introduction to his collage method is found on the web page "Theory and therapy."

All of the above resulted from a Google search to see if Arlene Croce's 1993 New Yorker article on Balanchine and Stravinsky, "The Spelling of Agon," could be found online.   I did not find Arlene, but I did find the following, from a collage of quotations assembled by Eric Olson —

"There might be a game in which paper figures were put together to form a story, or at any rate were somehow assembled. The materials might be collected and stored in a scrap-book, full of pictures and anecdotes. The child might then take various bits from the scrap-book to put into the construction; and he might take a considerable picture because it had something in it which he wanted and he might just include the rest because it was there.”

— Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, 1943/1978

“Not games. Puzzles. Big difference. That’s a whole other matter. All art — symphonies, architecture, novels — it’s all puzzles. The fitting together of notes, the fitting together of words have by their very nature a puzzle aspect. It’s the creation of form out of chaos. And I believe in form.”

Stephen Sondheim
in Stephen Schiff, “Deconstructing Sondheim,”
The New Yorker, March 8, 1993, p. 76.

“God creates, I assemble.”

— George Balenchine [sic]
in Arlene Croce, “The Spelling of Agon,”
The New Yorker, July 12, 1993, p. 91

The aesthetics of collage is, of course, not without its relevance to the creation (or assembly) of weblogs.

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