Something for the weekend. Sogno di Volare, The Dream of Flight, the theme song of the game Civilization VI that was released yesterday. (Be still my geek heart!) I know what will be occupying my weekend! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. A nice mild October Saturday after a not uneventful week in the law mines Time to celebrate with Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Perhaps the greatest of the middle Baroque composers, Johann Pachelbel enjoyed enormous popularity in his lifetime. After his death in 1706, with changing fashions in music, he was largely forgotten. This changed dramatically in 1968 with a recording of Canon D by Jean-Francois Paillard. Great Art never really ceases to be great Art, it merely slumbers until new audiences appear to appreciate it.
Something for the weekend. Missouri Waltz. Published in 1914, the melody was by John Valentine Eppel, arrangement by Frederic Knight Logan, with James Royce Shannon supplying the lyrics. Initially the song sold poorly, but its popularity increased over the years. After Harry Truman became President it became associated with him, and was played constantly when he appeared during his long uphill campaign throughout the nation in 1948. In 1949 Missouri adopted it as its state song. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Tippecanoe and Tyler Too! The 1840 campaign for President was considered to be an insult to intelligence by more than a few observers. The Whigs put up a military hero of the War of 1812 William Henry Harrison. Prior to the War of 1812 in 1811 he had gained the victory against massed Indian tribes under Tenskawtawa (the Prophet) the brother of Tecumseh. The two Shawnee brothers had been meeting with some success in setting up a nascent Indian confederation to resist American expansion. The battle was fought at Prophetstown, modern day Lafayette, Indiana, near to the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, hence the name of the battle was Tippecanoe and became a nickname for Harrison. Harrison went on after the War to be a Senator from Ohio and an ambassador to Colombia, but had met with little political success in the 1830s. At the time he received the Whig nomination he was Clerk of Courts for Hamilton Country Ohio. His running mate was John Tyler, a Virginia aristocrat and former Democrat, who had turned against Jackson. Tyler had served in the state legislature in Virginia, in Congress both in the House and in the Senate, and as Governor of Virginia. He was put on the ticket to ensure Southern votes.
The incumbent Martin Van Buren had reaped the whirlwind sown by Jackson’s economic policies and the country was ready for change. However, serious discussion of the issues of the day was largely absent from the campaign. The Democrats then, as now, posed as the champion of the common man.. Van Buren came across as something of a stuffed shirt. When a Democrat paper made the mistake of sneering, completely inaccurately, as a backwoodsman, who would be content to live in his log cabin if awarded a pension of 2000 a year and a barrel of hard cider, the Whigs seized upon it gleefully. Usually accused as being the party of the rich, the Whigs ran a “hard cider and log cabin” campaign decrying Martin Van Buren as a New York aristocrat who wore frilly shirts, used perfume and ate off of gold plate. The tenor of the campaign is illustrated by this little ditty that Whig partisans would chant:
Old Tip he wore a homespun coat, he had no ruffled shirt: wirt-wirt,
But Matt he has the golden plate, and he’s a little squirt: wirt-wirt! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fucik. Written in 1897, Czech composer Julius Fucik wanted the march to evoke Roman gladiators entering the arena. Ironically it has become the entrance song for clowns in circuses around the globe.
Something for the weekend. The Radetzky March. Written in 1848 by Johann Strauss Senior, the march celebrated Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, the bright light of the Austrian Army in the first half of the nineteenth century. Radetzky served seventy years in the Austrian Army and was winning battles into his eighties. A perhaps apocryphal story tells that the Austrian Emperor would frequently settle Radetzky’s debts. When some courtiers asked the Emperor why he did this, the Emperor shrugged and said it was cheaper than losing a war! The sprightly march has been a favorite in America and around the globe since its debut.
Something for the weekend. Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. The poem on which the march is based was written in the wake of the French devastating battlefield defeats in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 by Paul Cezano. Music for the poem was composed by Robert Planquette in 1871. In 1879 the familiar military march arrangement was written by Joseph François Rauski. The march proved very popular in the United States as any fans of Ohio State football can attest.
Something for the weekend. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Written in 1801 it has always been among the more popular of Beethoven’s works.
Squadron Leader Adams: Well, at least the rockets won’t happen.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: Of course they’ll happen. But they won’t start tomorrow, or this month or on D-Day, and that’s important.
Squadron Leader Adams: Then what’s it all add up to? All their sacrifice?
Air Vice Marshal Davis: A successful operation.
Squadron Leader Adams: But they’re probably all dead. All 633 Squadron.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: You can’t kill a squadron.
Ending, 633 Squadron (1964)
Something for the weekend. The theme song from 633 Squadron. In my misspent youth I spent endless hours watching old war movies on TV. One of my favorites was the British flick 633 Squadron (1964) which recounted the fictional tale of a British Mosquito bomber squadron and their self sacrificial attempt to take out a well-defended Nazi V2 rocket fuel plant in occupied Norway. The film won praise for its aerial sequences, cutting edge in 1964, and George Lucas has cited the squadron’s attack on the plant as influencing the trench run sequence attack on the Death Star in Star Wars. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. To Canaan. One of the more bloodthirsty songs of our Civil War, it is based on this poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, published in 1862: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Gael (the theme from the movie Last of the Mohicans) performed by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Excellent music when traveling.
Something for the weekend. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong team up to give an unforgettable rendition of Summertime. Composed as an aria in 1934 by George Gershwin for the play Porgy and Bess, it always conveys to me memories of the various hot summers of my boyhood when home air conditioning was rare and a luxury.
Something for the weekend. You’re A Grand Old Flag sung by James Cagney in the film biopic of George M. Cohan Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Cohan wrote the song in 1906 after an encounter with a Union veteran of Gettysburg who was carrying a torn American battle flag. The old soldier smiled at Cohan and said the flag was “A grand old rag!”
I cannot have a post that mentions the film Yankee Doodle Dandy without showing the scene of Cagney as Cohan tap dancing down the White House steps. Cagney did the scene completely impromptu. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’. A historical curiosity of 1943. The only gospel song that I am aware of that praises Joseph Stalin, it was inspired by this remark in a speech by FDR:
The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin. The song was performed a cappella by the gospel group Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. The song was a moderate success in 1943 and has mercifully been largely forgotten since that. A tribute to war time tunnel vision and the delusional view of Stalin firmly embraced by President Roosevelt and many other liberal Americans, inside and outside of his administration, at the time.
Something for the weekend. Simple Gifts from Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
Something for the weekend. Spring from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Until Thursday of this week I had been complaining to my wife and secretary that this was the most November looking April I could recall. Then glorious Spring burst out in Central Illinois and all was well.
Something for the weekend. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Written in 1880 to commemorate the victory of Russia over Napoleon, its composition was due to the fact that the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in thanksgiving for the victory, was nearing completion. As it happens, Tchaikovsky did not think much of what would become his most famous piece, writing that it was noisy and lacked all artistic merit and was written by him without love. Oddly enough, it has become associated in this country with the Fourth of July, as I have heard it performed on several Independence Day celebrations.
Although it has been endlessly parodied, “the cereal that’s shot from guns”, I have always liked it. Listening to a great piece of music like this, I wonder if the below humor piece does not possess a rare insight: Continue reading