a new author and schumann’s view of mendelssohn



I was able to talk to the Jenkins/Daum Beijing crew this morning via Skype. I was foolishly surprised how much this raised my spirits. I do like my kids and their spice very  much. Fun to chat. Fun to see Alex. The above pic is one they sent via text. After our conversation I figured out to do a screenshot with my tablet. Next time I’ll take some of the conversation.

I have a new writer to read: George Saunders.

Nathan Lane: By the Book – The New York Times

Nathan Lane mentions him in the above article. I have begun to see these “by the book” interviews as a bit bogus. They seem pretty canned. Sometimes I suspect they have been written via email. But I am a fan of Nathan Lane.

Image result for nathan lane

I just belatedly read “Tenth of December,” by George Saunders, and was totally blown away. If Raymond Carver, Rod Serling and O. Henry raised a child and damaged him slightly but somehow touched him with a little of their genius, you might get George Saunders. Of course, you could also wind up with Donald Trump. You never know what will happen with those three-way author child-rearing experiences.

I was picking up a book for my Mom yesterday. I inter-library loan books for her now routinely since she has read most of the books that interest her at the local library. I remembered that I had bookmarked several authors that I want to read. Saunders was the one whose books I found on the shelf.

I began with this short story from In Persuasion Nation.

I Can Speak ™ by George Saunders — HCC Learning Web PDF link

This is a hilarious story to read with Shirley Turkle’s research into robots in mind. In the story a salesman is writing a letter to a dissatisfied customer of the I Can Speak ™. At first we aren’t sure what the product is. But we quickly learn that it’s a sort of robotic mask that covers the face of babies and simulates them making conversation way before they can do anything but make inarticulate noises.

So glad to have found this writer.

I continue to play through and rehearse Robert Schumann’s piano music. I find him very satisfying artistically. This is a bit of a change fore me. I have scheduled one of his pedal piano pieces to play on the organ this Sunday as the postlude. I can remember making fun of these pieces or strictly listening to a student of mine make fun of these pieces years ago.

Now I’m learning one.

I was playing some lovely pieces of his yesterday: “In der Nacht” and “Warum?” from his Phantasiestück, opus 12, when I began to wonder what he thought of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without words.” These pieces resemble Schumann’s own lovely lieder (which I have been listening to a lot lately).

I googled their dates this morning and I did not realize how contemporaneous these two composers were, having been born within a year of each other.

I pulled down my collection of Schumann’s essays and lo and behold Schumann reviewed Mendelssohn’s many collections of this genre.


I have listened to colleagues disparage Mendelssohn in general and the “Song without words” in specific.

I quietly enjoy playing Mendelssohn as well as listening to his symphonic work.

Schumann seems to have loved his work. But of course Schumann goes raving made before he dies.

I still feel like I’m in pretty good company.


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