Sunday morning music

With Christmas drawing nearer, I’d like to cut through the horrible holiday muzak that’s inflicted upon us at every turn, and bring you a few selections that are far more musical, meditative and in the true spirit of the season. To begin with, here’s one of my favorite carols, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel“, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time.  Elements date back to the first millennium and the great so-called “O Antiphons“. Our first sample is an instrumental recording by The Piano Guys from their 2013 album, “A Family Christmas“. Here’s a magnificent solo performance by

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Sunday morning music

I woke up this morning to find an e-mail informing me of the death of a long-time acquaintance in South Africa.  We were never close friends, but Tony did a lot of good work in that country at a very difficult time, and he and I shared a couple of pretty hair-raising experiences.  He was a good man.  May he find his reward in eternity. In memory of him, here are a couple of the songs he really liked, and would play over and over – sometimes to the point of being threatened with violence by the rest of us

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Sunday morning music

I’m sure many of my readers have heard of clogging, a type of tap-dancing that began early in the Industrial Revolution and has spread to many countries.  An American variation on clogging is buck dancing.  Wikipedia describes it thus: The term “buck,” as in buck dancing, is traceable to the West Indies and is derived from a Tupi Indian word denoting a frame for drying and smoking meat; the original ‘po bockarau’ or buccaneers were sailors who smoked meat and fish after the manner of the Indians. Another source states that the word “bockorau” can be traced to the “Angolan” word “buckra’, and

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Sunday morning music

Doctor, chemist and notable composer Alexander Borodin was a pretty amazing person.  He made major contributions in the field of organic chemistry, as well as some outstanding classical music that’s an integral part of the modern repertoire.  Among the latter is his opera Prince Igor, which wasn’t finished when he died, and was completed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and others.  It’s frequently performed in Russia and less frequently in the West. The Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor have become a standard part of the classical concert repertoire.  However, their full flavor can’t be captured in a mere orchestral performance.  They’re wild, Slavic, barbarian, filled with color

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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, 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

Continue reading

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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