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Learning about music from Einstein

Suddenly our hostess confronted us. “I’m so sorry, Dr. Einstein,” she said with an icy glare at me, “that you missed so much of the performance.”

Einstein and I came hastily to our feet. “I am sorry, too,” he said. “My young friend here and I, however, were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.”

She looked puzzled. “Really?” she said. “And what is that?”

Einstein smiled and put his arm across my shoulders. And he uttered ten words that - for at least one person who is in his endless debt - are his epitaph:

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.”

A great story from Jerome Weidman about how Albert Einstein taught him to hear Bach.

What's wrong with classical music, part 8 billion and oh hell I lost count....

The perenniel topic of "what's WRONG with classical music??" surfaces again in a thoughtful blog post over at 3QuarksDaily.  I agree and disagree with much of what Colin Eatock mentions in that piece (and am frustrated by some of the common misperceptions perpetuated in it), but it's excellent discussion fodder and it generated a  fairly interesting conversation in this thread over on Metafilter.  Food for thought.

If you haven't heard, Alex Ross has another fabulous new book out

Alex Ross hits another one out of the park (at least that's my opinion about 1/3 of the way through, and I don't see things falling off) with his new book Listen To This.  What's really fantastic about the book, aside from all of the great specifics, is the general philosophical approach to musical art that Ross takes in his commentary, explanation, discovery, etc.--he simply loves music, all of it, and makes no a priori distinctions about what can or can't be good.

Excellent overview from the New Yorker here.

There is even a FREE online audio guide on his website.

Read this, soon.

John Cage Quote of the Day 5

Percussion music is revolution.  Sound and rhythm have too long been submissive to the restrictions of nineteenth-century music.  Today we are fighting for their emancipation.  Tomorrow, with electronic music in our ears, we will hear freedom.


More from Big Think

I've linked to a great John Waters interview Big Think previously, and as I perused the site after that post I discovered that it is an absolute El Dorado of interesting people and ideas.  Here are some that I found especially engrossing.

  • Penn Jilette - "I want to live in a world of a market place of ideas where everyone is busted on their bullshit all the time, because I think that is the way we get to truth."
  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard - "Every experiment becomes a part of your life."
  • Chuck Close - "There is no better time to make painting than when everyone thinks it's dead."
  • Steven Pinker - "There are certain realms in which a measure of irrationality and lack of control can actually work to your advantage."

You can scroll through the list of contributors here.

John Cage Quote of the Day 4

I have come to the conclusion that much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom.  For this purpose I have recently moved to the country.  Much of my time is spent poring over "field companions" on fungi.  These I obtain at half price in second-hand bookshops, which latter are in some rare cases next door to shops selling dog-eared sheets of music, such an occurrence being greeted by me as irrefutable evidence that I am on the right track.