Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Sunday morning music

Here’s a blast from my family’s musical past. Conductor, arranger and orchestra leader Annunzio Mantovani was born in Italy in 1905, but spent most of his life in Britain.  During World War II his light orchestra was a favorite in that country, and both of my parents (who were born and raised there) enjoyed his music.  (His Italian origin doesn’t seem to have affected his popularity, even though his adopted country was then at war with the land of his birth.)  He didn’t rest on his laurels, but released many post-war albums, in the USA as well as England (in 1959 he

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Sunday morning music

In memory of the victims of yesterday’s hate crime at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, here’s the traditional Jewish prayer, Kaddish, recited for the dead. May the souls of the victims rest in peace: and may anti-Semitism, which is just another form of the even more ancient evils of racism and sectarianism, be cursed along with them in the sight of God and humankind. May those who espouse such views come to their senses before another such evil is perpetrated. That’s a pipe dream, I know . . . but it’s still worth praying for. Peter

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Sunday morning music

Here’s something different for your listening pleasure.  Faun is a German group, self-described as “pagan folk”.  They’re in the tradition of many other modern groups who interpret old folk music styles (and occasionally original songs and tunes, as well as their own compositions) in modern rhythms and settings.  The group’s name is derived from the German Faunus, the name of the mythical ancient Roman horned god of the forest, plains and fields, analogous to the ancient Greek god Pan. Here are three songs from Faun to whet your appetite.  The first is “Hörst du die Trommeln” (“Do you hear the drums?”), the band’s entry

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Sunday morning music

I’ve had a few appreciative comments about the German “pagan folk” group Faun that I mentioned in last week’s music post.  I thought a few more posts focusing on folk traditions that are less well known in the USA might be appropriate.  I’ll space them out over time, so as not to bore those who don’t like them. This week, I’ve picked four Breton tunes from the rich musical heritage of Brittany, a region of France.  It’s strongly influenced by Celtic music, but has a lilt and lyricism all its own, and some unique historical instruments.  The Breton language, too, branched off in

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Sunday morning music

Let’s try something both classical and modern this morning. Alexander Glazunov was a very influential Russian composer, bridging the period between classical and modern music.  His Saxophone Concerto in E flat major was first performed in 1934, a fine example of combining the two eras.  This is a live performance from 2012, at the 7th annual Aeolus International Competition for Wind Instruments.  Soloist Bartek Duś and conductor Martin Fratz perform with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra. Peter

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Sunday morning music

American singer Joan Baez has had a long and prolific career, spanning over 60 years of composing, performing and recording songs and poetry.  She defined herself early on as a folk and protest singer, and was part of the turbulent 1960’s counter-culture.  Some love her, some hate her, but no-one can deny she was, and remains, a powerful voice of that era and a major influence on the popular and folk music scenes. I’ve chosen five songs from her vast output, most of them from the first decade of her recording career.  Let’s start with one from her self-titled debut album. Next, one

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Sounds like a Wacken good time was had by all concerned

The Wacken Open Air heavy metal music festival is held every year in Germany.  Some 75,000 metalheads came to the party this year – and the organizers made sure they had the right stuff to promote a party spirit. Wacken Open Air Festival [constructed] a 7-kilometer [more than four mile] network of pipes to quench its thirsty fans. Attendees will drink an average of 5.1 liters of beer each over the festival. The new pipeline will carry about 400,000 liters (105,000 gallons) of beer through the grounds of Wacken Open Air Festival in northern Germany. The 75,000 metal fans who attend the event each year consume an

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Sunday morning music

Let’s try something different this morning.  Moroccan music is a unique blend of Andalusian (i.e. southern Spanish), Berber, Arab and African influences.  It’s developed a strong following in Europe and North Africa, although it’s less well known in the USA.  Unusually for me, because I tend to listen to music rather than play it as background noise, I find it excellent as music to write by.  I don’t listen to the words (or even understand them):  it’s just a comforting, relaxing underlay to the words I’m writing. Here are two compilations of Moroccan music for you to try.  If you enjoy

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Sunday morning music

Some of you are going to hate me for this . . . but do you remember bubblegum popmusic?  I do, with a cringe or two as I think of some groups who were very popular in the late 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s.  One of them was a British outfit calling themselves “Middle Of The Road“.  I went to one of their live performances in South Africa in the early 1970’s, for reasons that escape my adult self (put it down to what was, at the time, a less than mature musical taste, if you like!). At any rate,

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