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(News and views from around the internet.)

Audio: Stravinsky: Andante

Stravinsky’s music is often thought of as a relentlessly bold, spiky and angular, but he also wrote in gentle pastels. Here’s one such piece, his Andante for piano four hands (which I’m learning at the moment).

And now listen to his enchanting orchestration of same.

Thoughts While Attending the First Symphony in the Series My Wife Wanted to Buy

This is both funny and, if you’re a classical music lover, kind of sad. Well, at least this fictional fellow (who is all too real) gave it a try. From The New Yorker. Essay by Kirk J. Rudell, read by comedian Jim Gaffigan.

Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’: Opening chords

This video presents a chronological survey of the first two chords (E-flat major) of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, as heard in recordings from the 1920s to the present day. You will notice not only different tempos, but also different tunings (the three orchestras using original instruments are the lowest), acoustics (Toscanini’s are especially dull) and instrumental balances. The people who put this compilation together may in fact have too much time on their hands, but it was well used here, and we thank them.

Not just a walk in the park: The multi-layered life of Pacific Symphony cellist Bob Vos


Like many of Pacific Symphony’s musicians, cellist Bob Vos is married (to Vivian, a pianist) and has a child (a 3-year-old boy, Wesley). And while many musicians in the orchestra have additional music gigs, Bob is a bit unique; so far as he knows, he is the only one who also has a non-music job. And he’s not just flinging newspapers in the morning—Bob is an assistant professor of Spatial Sciences at USC. And, yes, there is only one of him handling all of this (although he does have a twin brother).

“I work mostly on issues of environmental sustainability,” he explains. “So, I have to balance that with my music. Fortunately, the schedule at USC is pretty flexible and I just work a lot of late nights at my home office—after Wesley has gone to bed. I’m gone many weeknights and weekends, so I try to make up for it by sneaking away to the park in the afternoon with him!”

The music part is easy to figure. Both of Bob’s parents were musicologists (PhDs in music history and theory). His father played piano, organ and harpsichord, and was the associate dean at DePaul University’s School of Music. His mother sang and played flute, and founded a youth orchestra and community music school. With music running rampant in his DNA, it’s no wonder Bob became a musician. At age 4, he started cello. He says: “One might think this means I didn’t choose the cello, but I remember making a conscious choice. My twin brother was already playing violin, but I didn’t take to it when my parents tried to start me on it when I was 2!”

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Poll: Listening devices

Listening habits have changed drastically in the last decade or so. I grew up collecting records that I bought at record stores and playing them on a record player while sitting down in front of it. Now we’re more portable, but that means we listen in a different way. Anyway, I’m curious as to how readers of this blog usually listen to classical music. Pick one answer. (I know it’s hard — I listen to classical music on several of these devices. Just choose the one you think you use the most.) UPDATE: Poll has been changed as of 3 p.m.

Audio: Martinu: ‘Thunderbolt P-47’

What a fun piece this is — Bohuslav Martinu’s “Thunderbolt P-47.” It was written in tribute to the great fighter planes that helped to win WWII by the Czech emigre composer in 1945. It might make a nice addition to a patriotic concert, something beyond the usual suspects. I can just picture propellors spinning and a fleet flying through the clouds.