I spent time with Mendelssohn on the piano yesterday. For some reason I was drawn into his compositions. I have found that many academics look down their nose at Mendelssohn. I find him fun to play and fun to listen to.
This may be the primitive in me (admittedly a large part of my personality). But I’m more inclined to think of Mendelssohn, the classicist renaissance man.
He was multilingual, painted and had a classical mind. This clarity is obvious to me in his music. As with so many composers, he is a bit long winded, writing long pieces. But since I like them this is actually a bonus when I am playing them for my own pleasure.
Of course, programming them for others to hear can be tricky since the contemporary listener’s attention span continues to decrease.
I was reading Philip Glass’s memoir, Words Without Music, this morning. He mentions learning a great deal from Schoenberg’s Structural Functions of Harmony.
I had to smile when I read that. I can remember my music theory teacher, Dr. Parks, commenting that if I could make any sense of this book, to let him know. Apparently he could not and he had as fine an analytical mind as I ever ran across.
I’ll have to pull it out and look at it again since I do enjoy traditional music theory.
I ordered a used copy of Peter Williams’ recent bio of Bach. I realized this morning that it was something I had not read. I have read Williams over the years and have found him informative if eccentric in places.
Recently I heard the local organ prof, Huw Lewis, talking about Williams’ ideas of slower baroque tempos. I haven’t run across this in the books by him I have read and consulted in. Maybe it’s in this bio.
If I get motivated I might look through recent online journals to see if Williams has written an article on tempo.
So yesterday at church we had drumming. The Hope College music prof came late. I was hoping we could team teach a bit, but this was probably too much to ask for. My drummers were all good humored about sitting out amidst the congregation for the African song. I have always wanted to use a bunch of drums on the African hymns we sing. Next goal would be to do them entirely a cappella with drums. Hey I can dream, can’t I?