Christmas Music

Christmas is nearly upon us, heralded by the first round of parties this weekend. It seems friends are scheduling gatherings ever earlier in the month to avoid conflicts with holiday travel and others’ parties. That’s put me in a holiday mood so I though I’d share my YouTube Christmas playlist, along with some comments about each song. The playlist spans about five centuries and several musical genres, roughly in chronological order.

Gaudete is a medieval carol from the 16th century expressing joy at the birth of Christ. It’s a simple tune that evokes a very different world.... [Read More]

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Carmina Burana: Orff the Wall Libretto

In 1935–1936 Carl Orff composed Carmina Burana, a cantata based on 24 medieval poems in vulgar Latin, Old French, and Middle High German.  The work was first performed in Frankfurt in 1937.  It opens and closes with the Latin “O Fortuna”, a poem dating from the 13th century, which is the best known part of the composition.  Since few modern audiences are likely to understand medieval Latin, they’re likely to hear other things, for example:

... [Read More]

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Celebrating Matrimony

In Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Pamina and Papageno sing a duet in praise of marriage between a man and woman: the only kind there was up till the day before yesterday. Pamina’s boyfriend is Tamino, while Papageno is still looking for a wife, whom he eventually finds in Papagena. Thus, the duet is not two lovers singing to each other; it’s a tribute to marriage in the abstract.

Toward the end, Papageno sings,... [Read More]

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Mind Grenade

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Remembering SCTV

Born in 1975, I grew up during the 1980s, and to this day there are certain shows from that decade that never fail to bring a smile to my face as I reminisce. Among them is SCTV, which began as a Toronto-based sketch comedy program in 1976 and was later picked up by NBC in 1981.

SCTV’s ensemble cast included Joe Flaherty, who portrayed such characters as Count Floyd, Guy Caballero, William F. Buckley (!), and Sammy Maudlin. Old-time Ricochetti will recall the time when @pseudodionysius discovered that Mr. Flaherty was a member of the legacy site. What a moment that was.... [Read More]

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Madison Rising

While listening to The David Webb Show on SiriusXM yesterday morning, a clip from this version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played, performed by a band named Madison Rising:

... [Read More]

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Rape & Abortion & Folk Music

The Scots folk ballad Davy Faa tells the tale of tinker who is offered lodging by a farmer and who forces himself on the farmer’s daughter. More benign versions of the song (The Jolly Beggar Child 279) have the two falling in love.

Folk songs are interesting because they are a window into the attitudes and mores of ordinary people in the past. None of the characters in the song floats the idea of inducing an abortion. Instead, the lassie carries the pregnancy to term, she names the baby after the lad, and it’s implied that they live happily ever after. This is not to minimize the severity of rape as a crime nor does this kind of story always end so well. Compare, for example, The Ballad of Omie Wise, in which the pregnant girl is murdered. Nevertheless, it points to somewhat different attitude toward the issues raised than exists today. Modernity may be making people less accepting and more miserable.... [Read More]

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Werewolves of Laredo

Before her retirement many years ago, my mother was a professor at an institution of higher learning in Laredo, Texas, teaching Spanish Literature and English as a Second Language. I ended up following her career path, though in a different discipline (History).... [Read More]

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