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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.

Lake Lucerne, 1847, painted by Mendelssohn

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?


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