Music Notes

I recently ran across 25 bizarre facts about classical music.  I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the “facts,” but they’re interesting.

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A Metropolitan Opera matinee performance of Rossini’s opera William Tell was interrupted on Saturday, October 29, 2016 when a male audience member approached the orchestra pit during the second intermission and dumped a white powder into the pit.  Since no one knew what the substance was, the performance was canceled (much to the displeasure of the audience), and the musicians were forced to leave without their instruments since they were “contaminated.”  The Saturday night performance of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri was also canceled.

It was later learned that some audience members were aware of what the man intended to do: He wanted to spread the ashes of a recently deceased friend, who was his “opera mentor,” in the great theater.  Someone identified him and he was apprehended after he had left the theater.  However, as of this writing, no charges have been filed against the troublemaker because there doesn’t seem to be a law against what he did.  His thoughtless act has cost the Met thousands of dollars since it was necessary to refunds the price of every ticket sold for the two canceled performances.  I suspect that he will no longer be welcome at the Met.

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shazam_logo-svg

Shazam is a popular app for smartphones, tablets, Mac and Microsoft computers that can be used to recognize millions of recorded songs.  You simply install the app on a device such as a smartphone, open the app, click on a button, and place the microphone of the phone near the device that is playing the music.  The app will sample the music that it “hears,” match it with data in a vast database, and display information about what is playing.  In most cases it can provide the name of the song, the performer, and the album from which it is taken.  If the song is a vocal, Shazam can also display the song’s lyrics.  Shazam is a free app, but the company makes money when its users purchase the music that Shazam identifies.

It works with classical music as well as popular music.  I tested it on a classical piece I was listening to and in about 10 seconds it successfully identified the piece as Haydn’s Symphony No. 64 and it identified the orchestra that was playing it – the Philharmonia Hungarica.  Amazing!

There are other music identification apps, but it seems that Shazam is probably the most popular app at this time.  It has been downloaded more than one billion times.

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KUSC, the largest non-profit classical music radio station in the United States is celebrating its seventieth birthday this year.  You can read about the history of this national treasure here.

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Do you think you know a lot about classical music and its composers ?  If your answer is “yes,” then take the BBC’s “exquisitely difficult classical music quiz.”  But before you take the 15 question quiz, prepare to be humbled.

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In an interview with Edna Gunderson of The Telegraph, musician Bob Dylan acknowledged that he is aware that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He also told Gunderson that he will be in Stockholm on December 10th to personally accept the prize . . . “If it’s at all possible.”

Many years ago in a music appreciation class the professor told us that geniuses, musical and otherwise, are different, and that we must learn to put up with their peculiarities.  Perhaps we should, but I have trouble accepting the idea that they should be exempt from displaying common decency toward their fellow humans.

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In 2013 NBC began what has now become a tradition: airing a live musical each holiday season.  The first to be aired was The Sound of Music.  Next came Peter Pan in 2014 and then The Wiz in 2015.  On December 7, 2016 NBC will air Hairspray live with a cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth, and Martin Short.  The musical for 2017 will be Bye, Bye, Birdie starring Jennifer Lopez.  Variety has the story here.

 

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