Monday, February 24, 2020

Thank You, Marjorie Main!

Actress Marjorie Main, known for several roles including the "Ma and Pa Kettle" movies, was born on this day in 1890! My father served in the 96th Infantry Division, which chose Main as their pin-up girl because of her tough persona. Surprised at the honor--she wasn't a typical pin-up actress like Betty Grable--she supported the troops and greeted them when they returned home:


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Faure's "Pavane"

When I was in divinity school, resting in my dorm room in the afternoon, I was listening to a record that I'd just purchased: Faure's "Requiem," with the King's College Choir Of Cambridge conducted by David Willcocks (Seraphim S 60096). The Requiem's last movement, "In Paradisum," was followed by another piece, by Faure, "Pavane," that filled out Side 2.

I had never heard this music before, and purchased the LP on a friend's recommendation. Yet, I felt like I already knew the "Pavane" very well. But from where? It was a lovely moment of both discovery and familiarity.

A Facebook friend posted this lovely rendition:

"Desert Transport"

A few months ago I heard this wonderful piece on public radio. Composer Mason Bates explained that he wanted to depict musically the Arizona landscape but also to incorporate the helicopter in which they flew.  (See these program notes:

My Sunday afternoon music today.

Happy Birthday, Rashi

French rabbi Rashi (Shlomo Yitzchaki), noted for his influential commentaries on the Tanakh and Talmud that are still central for Jewish study, was born on this day (February 22) in 1040. Here is a good article about his work and legacy.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

"Where Might Trumpism Take Us?"

Here's an interesting NYT op-ed piece, in which author Jamelle Bouie asks us to look for analogies of authoritarianism within American history.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

"Slavery and the Natural World"

I get the newsletter of Rebecca Romney, who was the rare book expert on the show "Pawn Stars." She posted about this research project from several years ago, that makes connections among the natural history, products from nature, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This looks like a lot of interesting history.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Beethoven 250: Symphonies

As I explained in the January 24, 2020 post, I purchased the Naxos collection of Beethoven's complete works, which I plan to listen to this year, leading up to Beethoven's 250th birthday on December 16.

This past week, I listened to the rest of the symphonies.

Symphony No. 3, in E flat major, op. 55, the “Eroica” (1804)
Symphony No. 4, in B flat major, op. 60 (1806)
Symphony No. 5, in C minor, op. 67 (1807)
Symphony No. 6, in F major, op. 68, the "Pastoral" (1808)
Symphony No. 7, in A major, op. 92 (1811-1812)
Symphony No. 8, in F major, op. 93 (1812)
Symphony No. 9, in D minor, op. 125, the "Choral" (1822-1825)

Beethoven liked his #8, "my little symphony in F." The Pastoral is a larger symphony in F. But I need to go back and listen to 4 and 8 again, since they tend to be overshadowed by the others--in my own affections, too.

Here is a nice, short guide to the symphonies: