thinking more about performance practices


On Sunday the organ committee decided which builder to recommend to the vestry. Monday evening Jen took the recommendation to the vestry and it passed. Yesterday as I was practicing organ she dropped by and told me I could let the builder know. I emailed him and as I was making my evening martini, he called me. He seemed very pleased to land our contract even though in the world of pipe organs it has to be a relatively small one (around 600 K).

For the last two days I have spent at least two hours rehearsing the seven minute postlude for this Sunday.

Bach’s St. Anne Fugue ends his masterwork the Clavier-Übung III. This collection of chorales is sometimes called the German Organ Mass. In it Bach set the Lutheran chorale adaptation of many Mass parts, including the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Creed, the Our Father.

He sandwiches them between a huge prelude and fugue. The St. Anne Fugue is the fugue from this collection.

My recent reading is reinforcing my distaste for the performance of a work like this in one concert. It is almost certain that Bach and other composers up through Beethoven never envisioned public performances of their works in their entirety such as ALL of the Clavier-Übung III in one setting or ALL of Beethoven’s sonatas.

I am learning a lot from Kenneth Hamilton (After the Golden Age) about how music was performed before the 20th century. Once again the influence of recordings is pervasive and not necessarily on people’s radar.

Hamilton points out that complete CD sets (not to say record collections) of lengthy works influenced the choice of performers to perform ALL of a set of pieces or at least many of them.

Original composers would have thought about the public performance of their work very differently, expecting movements to be performed separately from a larger work. In the case of piano and other keyboard music, the composer would be surprised if the performer did not extemporize “preludes” before and between excerpts of their work.

Interestingly, the function of the prelude was often to get the attention of a group of people in a room, sort of announcing that music was coming.

I lose patience as a listener when the wonderful variety available to any present day concert is reduced to a sort of lengthy pedagogical exercise. My old teacher Craig Cramer used to say if you can’t say what you need to say in forty five minutes or so, something is out of whack.

Or something like that.




Yesterday I took my Mom to Miracle Ear and she decided to purchase a new remote for her hearing aids. We put it on her Discover. Later I got an email from Discover.



Cursing I logged on to my Mom’s account. For the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to change the limit. I used the link in the email but that took me to a place to change my notifications. I searched the fucking site with the word “limits.” But no hits.

Finally I just assumed that it’s still going to pay this amount, it’s just set-up probably by default to notify the card owner if a transaction is over a certain amount.

I was laying in bed this morning pleasantly tired but enjoying laying there. I wanted to keep my body in bed a bit longer, so I attempted to load Michigan Radio’s web site to stream NPR.

No internet.

This is the first time this has happened since installing my new modem. Sigh.

After a short while I was so annoyed I had to get up and problem solve the dam thing.

I looked in the material that came with it. It said to turn the new unit off and restart. Of course there was no on/off button. The instructions appeared to be a generic set for several different kinds of modems. Undeterred I unplugged it.


That didn’t work so I called Comcast to find out from their annoying robot that cable and internet is down and my area shortly to be restored.

Earlier this week I was ordering pizza online. The operator’s computer was slow and then he gasped. Oh no! He said, my computer’s just gone down.

I mention all this to illustrate something that has occurred to me which is that tech is no more efficient at providing us services than anything else I have experienced in my life. Plus we all just take it for granted that to use tech is to be inconvenienced.

I used to assume that the reason I had just trouble with tech was that I couldn’t afford the state of the art best stuff which i assume the dam geeks who make this shit use to test it.

But even with state of the art if you called to order a pizza (or talk to ANY service provider on line in person) one routinely runs into the sigh and then both the caller and service provider understand that one is once again using up minutes of ones life waiting for a fucking computer.

Steven Pinker’s ‘The Sense of Style’ –

This book looks like fun. Link is to book review of it.

Zephyr Teachout’s ‘Corruption in America’ –

Another book that looks good to me.

Some quotes from the review:

Citizens United, “took that which had been named corrupt for over 200 years” — which is to say, gifts to politicians — “and renamed it legitimate.”

  • what used to be called “corruption becomes democratic responsiveness.”

Historic Loss May Follow Rise of Rents in Barcelona –

Barcelona a city I have visited has a wonderful historic charm. This will fix that.

Pumpkin Festival Takes a Menacing Turn –

My brother lives in Keene.

Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola –

Did you know that Cuba routinely sends medical help to hurting countries?

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K. –

Paul Krugman puts the Amazon stuff in perspective.