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
Something for the weekend. Louis Armstrong gives an unforgettable rendition of Go Down Moses. A Negro spiritual dating from Virginia in 1853, the song is a tribute to the imperishable desire for freedom planted by the hand of God in each human soul.
We bide our chance,
Unhappy, and make terms with Fate
A little more to let us wait;
He leads for aye the advance,
Hope’s forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good
For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;
James Russell Lowell, Memoriae Positum
Selections from the score of the movie Glory (1989), the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first Union black regiments, up to their valiant assault on Fort Wagner in 1863. A prime example of historical movies should be made, Glory performs the epic feat of bringing to life again the days of the Civil War when the fate of the nation was decided.
Something for the weekend. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne. The first year I spent on this globe was in 1957. The above is the New Year’s Eve broadcast on CBS by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on December 31, 1957. Born in Canada, Lombardo became a naturalized American citizen in 1938. For 48 years, until his death in 1977, Guy Lombardo and his band ushered in the New Year with broadcasts, first on CBS radio and then on CBS television. The first televised broadcast was in 1956. Guy Lombardo and his band managed the feat of remaining popular, and highly profitable, for half a century, a difficult feat in as fickle an enterprise as the entertainment industry. Lombardo was the heart and soul of the operation, his band surviving his death only by two years.
The culmination of the Advent portions of Handel’s Advent Messiah. Go here to listen to the earlier portions.
Handel heralds the coming of Christ with the immortal words of Isaiah Chapter 9, verse 6:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.
Something for the weekend. Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming. Written by the ever prolific composer Anonymous in 16th century Germany, it quickly became a favorite hymn of both Catholics and Protestants in that time and land of religious strife, and that is a good message for Christmas. Continue reading
Something for the weekend before Christmas. Veni, Veni Emmanuel. The words of this magnificent hymn are from the 9th century and the melody is from 15th century France. It is more familiar these days in its English translation. Below is a powerful version that has great meaning for me. After the death of my son Larry on Pentecost Sunday 2013 I found it of immense comfort. Christ is Our Way, Our Truth and Our Everlasting Life.
Something for the weekend. Turkey in the Straw seems appropriate for the weekend before Thanksgiving. The spirited rendition above is by the Skillet Lickers, a Georgia band of the twenties and thirties of the last century. Part time musicians, they made up in enthusiasm and faithfulness to the traditional music they played, what they may have lacked in technical skill.