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Musical Miscellany



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1) Manuela Hoelterhoff reminded me recently of why she has long been one of my favorite writers (and people). This piece, at Bloomberg, is 100 percent Hoelterhoffian. It’s bitchy, bright, informed, and delicious. The subject is goings-on in the opera world. I want to give you two excerpts. First,

Who wants to hear an opera called “Albert Herring”? Indianapolis Opera found out and had to cancel its spring production. This piece has been boring since Benjamin Britten finished it in 1947.

And second,

An unusual example of a public-private partnership, the Kennedy Center receives federal funding. Paul Ryan, be my guest.

Both Manuela and another critic friend of mine, the great and fearsome Martin Bernheimer, have won the Pulitzer prize. Which bolsters my (sometimes shaky) faith in those committees.

2) At the end of our recent podcast, Mona Charen and I talked about pop songs that grew out of classical music. Later, Scott Immergut, Ricochet’s crack producer, sent us this link: to Billy Joel’s “This Night.” Which cribs from the slow movement of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Sonata (which was the theme music of Karl Haas’s long-running radio show, Adventures in Good Music).

3) My latest piece for the New Criterion blog concerns a performance of Arabella, the Strauss work, at the Metropolitan Opera. I have occasion to quote Solzhenitsyn, on “the revolting invasion of publicity.” It’s from his 1978 commencement address at Harvard: “A World Split Apart.” Have you read it lately? Or ever? Mainly, it’s fresh as a daisy (I’m afraid).

4) One more note, this one on the subject of language: I have used the word “miscellany” in the above title. Why people don’t use this noun, when a noun is called for, and use the adjective “miscellaneous” instead, I have no idea. Recently, I was looking at a list of options: “Britain, Budget, China, Congress . . . Media, Middle East, Military, Miscellaneous . . .”

Why? Kind of interesting.



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