Music

Downtown

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Something for the weekend. The endlessly talented Petula Clark singing Downtown.  This song got a huge amount of play in the mid-Sixties, and I enjoyed it immensely as a child.  Not great music, but certainly fun music.

Now compare and contrast with this recent version by Emma Bunton:

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Myself, I prefer the older, less Spicey version, but perhaps I am mistaken?

Easy on the Ears, Easy on the Eyes

While we’re discussing classical music and objective beauty, it is perhaps time to address the phenomenon of the “babe violinist”. No, I’m not talking about some kind of Vanessa Mae type with an electric violin and a wet t-shirt. I’m talking about women with real God-given gifts, musical and otherwise.

My own personal favorite is Hilary Hahn, here playing Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkonig:

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This is a perfect show-off piece, which allows you to hear just how good Ms. Hahn is. Her albums with Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending and her various Bach performances are all worth hearing.

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Jupiter and Jollity

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Something for the weekend.  Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, the bringer of jollity, my favorite part of The Planets.  Some things become so popular that we tend to take them for granted.  I am afraid that is what has happened to some degree with The Planets.  It is a magnificent piece of music and places Holst in the top ten list of composers of all time in my estimation.

Serious Musicians

Since the blog has, of late, become the site of intense discussions on the quality of rock versus classical music, I think it’s important that I as a classical music partisan take a music appreciation moment and recognize that while rock may in some ways be a limited genre compared to classical music, it is none the less capable of evoking deep and powerful human emotions, and many rock musicians are in fact very talented and deeply influenced by the classical masters:

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Mad Men

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Mad Men is an American Movie Classics (AMC) television drama series is set in the early 1960s at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York City’s Madison Avenue.  The show centers on Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), a high-level advertising executive, and the people in his life in and out of the office. It also depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America.  Mad Men has received wide critical acclaim, particularly for its historical authenticity and visual style.  Mad Men is the advertising term for people in the industry that work on Madison Avenue, ie, Madison Avenue Men shortened to Mad Men.

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The Hot Asphalt

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Something for the weekend.  For a wonder I am posting an Irish song about something other than rebellion against the British!  The incomparable Wolfe Tones singing The Hot Asphalt.  I trust this song will be appreciated by all who have ever worked on a road crew or who have ever had a family member who worked on a road crew.  It is tough work, necessary work, and, until this song, unsung work.  Here is another set of lyrics for the song.

Battle Cries of Freedom

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Something for the weekend.  The Battle Cry of Freedom was a popular song North and South during the Civil War.  Of course, they sang different lyrics to the song.  The Union version was such a favorite among the Union troops, that President Lincoln, in a letter to George F. Root, the composer, wrote:  “You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand  orators. If you could not shoulder a musket in defense of your country, you certainly have served her through your songs.”

Return of Gregorian Chant

This past Summer a conference took place on the shores of Lake Michigan on reinvigorating the use of Gregorian Chant in our liturgies.  The Reform of the Reform continues.

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Deo gratias!

(Biretta Tip: New Liturgical Movement)

What Makes Music American?

Tito and Donald have instituted a worthy tradition of posting music on the weekends here at American Catholic, and so as the weekend winds to a close I thought I would attempt by own contribution to the genre, though with a characteristically analytical slant.

I’m not sure how it is that one can say that a piece of music “sounds like” a particular country. And yet some pieces of music very clearly have a regional tone. For instance, Vaughan Williams orchestral music simply sounds like English countryside.

While I don’t think I could describe what it is that makes something sound American, the following are some of the most American-sounding pieces of music that I know of.

Jerome Moross received an Oscar nomination for the score he wrote for Big Country, the outstanding 1958 western staring Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston and Burl Ives.

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The movie itself is very much worth watching, and the score is one of my favorite movie scores. This video illustrates the main theme with scenes from the movie.

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Mozart Te Deum

Something for the weekend.  Great music appeals to our souls as well as our ears and Mozart understood that perhaps to a greater extent than all but a few composers.  Eric M. Johnson explores the role of the Arts in his conversion here.

Moonlight Sonata

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With the recent full moon I thought this hauntingly beautiful piece by Ludwig von Beethoven as being appropriate to listen to.

Schubert's Ave Maria Sung By Luciano Pavarotti

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In my opinion Luciano Pavarotti’s Ave Maria is one of the most well sung I’ve ever heard.  Andrea Bocelli just can’t compare when singing Ave Maria.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Bocelli fan, but Pavarotti is just much more masculine, vibrant, and lively when singing this particular rendition of Ave Maria.

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