[lit-ideas] Authors' Voices We love
- From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 21:55:02 +0900
Have you ever had the experience of picking up a book, reading a bit,
and falling in love with the author's voice? So that even if the
author is long since dead, you instantly have the feeling, "This is
someone I'd like to talk with"―the desire for conversation being
almost overwhelming?I have this experience fairly often and just
today had it again.
The author in question is someone I would likely have never heard of were it not for a friend, Andrew Monahan, who was recently selling off his household goods before moving from Japan back to the States to enter a graduate program in International Relations at Columbia. As we were having dinner last week, he suddenly asked me if I would be interested in buying his electronic piano. Envisioning a keyboard on collapsible legs, the sort of instrument, you can fold up and put away in a closet, I said yes. I wasn't expecting that when he turned up with his van and a couple of friends last Saturday what they would haul into our Japanese-size apartment was a full-bore Yamaha Clavino, a substantial piece of machinery about the size and weight of a conventional upright piano that can, depending on the buttons you push sound like a piano, harpsichord, organ, guitar, marimba.....
Now that I had it, I had to play it. Discovering that I could still, decades after the fact, make a passable stab at the baby Bach I had first encountered taking the piano lessons that consumed a fair fraction of my childhood, from age seven to fifteen or so, set me to thinking about music. I went off in search of a book on modern harmony that a friend, a concert pianist who teaches at the Yale Music School, had given me, Lord, it must be nearly twenty years ago. The inscription he had written in the front of the book mentioned another, on counterpoint, that would have given me had I been interested. That sent me to Amazon.com and to a one-click purchase of _The Study of Counterpoint, from Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus and Parnassum, translated and edited by Alfred Mann_, Norton 1971. That was in the book order delivered today, and there, in "The Author's Foreward to the Reader," I found,
Some people will perhaps wonder why I have undertaken to write about music, there being so many works by outstanding men who have treated the subject most thoroughly and learnedly; and more especially, why I should be doing so at this time when music has become almost arbitrary and composers refuse to be bound by any rules and principles, detesting the very name of school and law like death itself. To such I want to make my purpose clear. There have certainly been many authors famous for their teaching and competence, who have left an abundance of works on the theory of music; but on the practice of writing music they have said very little, and this little is not easily understood. Generally, they have been content to give a few examples, and never have they felt the need of inventing a simple method by which the novice can progress gradually, ascending step by step to attain mastery in this art. I shall not be deterred by the most ardent haters of school, nor by the corruptness of the times.
Coming to the end of this paragraph, I felt an overwhelming wish that I had had a chance to meet Fux, court composer and music teacher to Austro-Hungarian emperors, whose little book, published in 1725 at imperial expense, became part of the musical education of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert, as well as any number of lesser composers. Here is a man so much of my own mind and heart that I can only weep to think I never met him before today's chance encounter.
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- [lit-ideas] Re: Authors' Voices We love
- From: Eric Yost
- [lit-ideas] Re: Authors' Voices We love
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