books and music


I have been looking at Nico Muhly’s O Antipons for a few years. I think this may be the year to schedule a couple. I have been downplaying my organ practice in order to have more time for other stuff. But at the same time, I like to learn and perform new music. I am planning on improvising the prelude and postlude next Sunday. I have been rehearsing a few of these O Antiphons. I will probably schedule them for Advent III and possible on Advent IV. I am planning on doing a lot of easy Christmas organ music. I love the French Noels. This is the time of year to do them.

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I continue to be intrigued by Robert Alter’s translations of the Hebrew scriptures. I listened to a lecture of his on YouTube. I am finding that the appeal of his work to me is related to my interest in Homer. It is fun to learn more about the stories and poems of the bible that have been my life long companions. I like Alter’s approach. I have always wondered about how the Hebrew works in the Bible and that is one of the main thrusts of his work.

I continue slugging away on my first reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy. I’m also reading in The Poet’s Dante, taking it an essay at a time. Today I read T. S. Eliot’s “What Dante Means to Me.” I have already run down another essay that he did on Dante, going so far as to order a collection of his essays in order to read and savor it.

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Today’s essay got me thinking about the poet Shelly. Eliot points to Shelly’s unfinished poem, “The Triumph of Life,” as an example of an English poet upon whom Dante’s influence was “remarkable.” “The Triumph of Life” is written in the terza rima the rhyme scheme that Dante uses throughout. I pulled out my Oxford edition of Shelly to look at it and discovered that it is peppered throughout with notes by Mary Shelly. Whoohoo!

This essay of Eliot’s contains some passages I had to note.

“One test of the great masters, of whom Shakespeare is one, is that the appreciation of their poetry is a lifetime’s task, because at every stage of maturing—and that should be one’s whole life—you are able to understand them better. Among these are Shakespeare, Dante, Homer, and Virgil.”

All of those men are on my mind these days. I know that I am understanding them better but I’m unsure if that might be because I understood them so poorly before.

Another passage that struck me:

“The whole study and practice of Dante seems to me to teach that the poet should be the servant of his language, rather than the master of it.”

I am trying to finish off some of the books I have been reading for some time. I am almost done with Lyndall Gordon’s excellent biography of Eliot. T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life. In my reading today, she quoted from the Dante essay. I love it when that happens.

As soon as I finish the Eliot bio, I plan to resume reading Ellmann’s bio of James Joyce. I also plan to read all of Eliot’s plays.

Since giving out copies of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to my grand daughters, Catherine and Alex, I have returned to reading it.

I read the Humpty Dumpty section of Through the Looking Glass to Alex when I was in China.

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I have Martin Gardiner’s wonderful Annotated Alice.

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I was gratified that he mentioned James Joyce in a footnote on Humpty Dumpty’s explanation of Twas Brillig. I continuing banging away at a thorough reread of Finnegans Wake. Very satisfying.

I was also very satisfied to receive a copy of the first volume of The Golden Bough in the mail yesterday. It is a beautiful edition and completes my set. Whoohoo!

Finally, here’s a video I watched early Sunday morning while exercising. I do like Snarky Puppy. I like that Micheal League got the crowd of NPR people to do 4s against 3s as part of one of the numbers.

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Warning! Epoch Times is bogus right wing propaganda.


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