The Widdershins

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Happy Friday Widdershins!

If you are reading this then good news: a nuclear was hasn’t started yet! But it is early, so we’ll see how things play out.

This morning I won’t bore you with my thoughts on Dump and whatever the latest shitnado he has unleashed on the world. There is so much happening and it’s happening so quickly that sometimes the brain feels like it will short circuit. So we will stay current on the news in the comments section, as always. If Dump launches a nuke at North Korea or California, please post here ASAP!

Instead I will tell you about a nearly forgotten artist. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and I have not heard of Maryla Jonas until just a week ago when Sony released a remastered box set of Jonas’ complete recordings made for Columbia in the 1940s and 50s. Granted, her recorded legacy was not big, only a bit over 3 hours of music. But it’s amazing how an such an important artist of her day could be so nearly forgotten, even though at the time famed critics like Virgil Thompson and Edward Downes counted her among the greats.

Maryla Jonas was born on May 31, 1911 in Warsaw, Poland. She became something of a child prodigy at the piano and though her father had serious misgivings about his daughter having a successful career as a musician, she did make her concert debut at the age of 9. At the age of 11 she was accepted to study at the Warsaw Conservatory. Over the years she studied with the famous pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

‘When I was no more than seventeen. I played a Ballade of Chopin for [Paderewski], and he said, very calmly and quietly, more pedal here—less pedal there—there, more tone—there, more speed. Such things. Also, he took my music and marked everything down in red pencil. Good! I went home and studied hard everything he had said. Like a parrot.

‘Then I went for a concert to Denmark. I played this Ballade, exactly as Paderewski had said. Well, a friend of his who was there, said it was no good! He told Paderewski I had played it no good. So the next time I came to Paderewski, he asked me what I did to play so badly, and told me to sit down and play the Ballade for him. I did, exactly as he had said. And this time he too said it was no good! I said he himself had told me all this, and he said, ‘No, that was impossible!’ I showed him his own red writing on the music, and again he said, ‘No!’ At that time, I was heartbroken. But today, I see exactly what Paderewski meant! He meant that the first time, he was in a mood to want the Ballade one way, and the next time, not. That is all. But it showed me that teaching can never be a matter of do-this or do-that’. (“The Etude”, February 1947, interviewed by Rose Heylbut).

When she was eighteen , Miss Jonas says an incident happened in her life which, more than anything else, influenced her subsequent career. ‘I had finished playing a whole program for Paderewski and he took me to the window and pointing, he said: “You see that street over there? You see how it winds down into that alley? It looks sordid, doesn’t it. Well, there is life. Go out and find out for yourself. Live an experience and come back to me in a year. You’ll be a better pianist”.

Throughout the 20s and 30s she toured across Europe, including recitals at the Salzburg Festival and Bayreuth. She married a famous Polish criminologist. And then Germany invaded Poland. Her husband and three brothers joined the underground resistance. Her sister, who had married a Viennese Jew, fled to Brazil. Jonas and her parents’ home was requisitioned by the Germans, so they spent months moving from shelter to shelter. They were eventually arrested and after an interrogation by the Gestapo Jonas was offered to be sent to Berlin if she would join the Nazi party and become an official Nazi artist. Jonas refused. She and her parents were sent to a concentration camp.

After several months in camps, a German officer recognized Jonas as a pianist he had heard perform before the war. He arranged to have her released from the camp and advised that she go to Berlin and appeal to the Brazilian embassy for safety. Jonas walked from Warsaw to Berlin: about 321 miles. She slept in barnes and under the moon, eating only scraps that she could find. Finally in Berlin the Brazilian embassy arranged to smuggle her out of the country on false papers, pretending to be the wife the ambassador’s son.

Jonas joined her sister in Rio, but her health had very seriously deteriorated from the long and arduous journey from Warsaw to Berlin. She then received news that her parents, her husband and one of her brothers had been killed in Poland and she suffered a nervous breakdown. She spent several months in various sanatoriums in Brazil. She decided that she would never play the piano again, but at the encouragement of her sister and a chance visit to Rio in 1940 by one of the most famous pianists in the world, Artur Rubinstein, changed her mind.

He had known Maryla in Warsaw, and called on her. He urged her eloquently to resume playing. He told her she was now a representative of Poland. It was her duty, he said, to keep reminding the world that her country had stood for something, and to work and earn money to help rescue other Poles from their Nazi-dominated homeland. She agreed with every word. But she could not play.

Rubinstein was rehearsing for several recitals he was to give in Rio and asked Jonas to come to the theater to offer him advise. At the theater he said he wasn’t sure what the img041_a_200dpi.jpgacoustics of the hall were like, so he asked Jonas to play while he walked to the back of the auditorium to sound-check. Jonas obliged… and found herself musically reborn. She decided to start playing again and within few months was giving recitals across South America. In 1946 she came to the United States and on February 25 gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. That seems to have been a very lightly attended show (someone joked the ushers outnumbered the audience), but a glowing review from the highly regarded Jerome D. Bohm of Herald Tribune: “the finest woman pianist since Teresa Carreno” he wrote. He continued that on her next appearance Jonas “will be greeted not by a handful of listeners . . . but by the sold-out house which such artistry as hers deserves.” Five weeks later her second Carnegie Hall recital was sold out. Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote that “The shimmer of the harmonies, the haunting song that they half revealed and half concealed, was something to remember.” Soon Jonas was engaged to play a Beethoven concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Sold out concerts and glowing reviews, and a record deal with Columbia followed. Jonas also married a surgeon.

During a Carnegie Hall recital on January 27, 1951 she got sick.

Persons familiar with the Schumann work [Carnaval] sensed that something was wrong when some passages were skipped. They were puzzled when the pianist got up after a gentle number about two thirds of the way through. She walked unsteadily to the left side of the stage and just beyond the edge of the dusty-rose curtain she fell.

… Miss Jonas had not been feeling well all week, according to her representative, so her physician, Dr. Franz Groezel, and her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, both were in the auditorium. They went back-stage to attend her and ten minutes later John Totten, manager of the hall, emerged from the stage door to say she would continue the program.

The pianist returned to the stage looking white and shaky, but once she was seated she seemed all right. She played the Nocturne, the Waltz, the Berceuse and two of the four Mazurkas she had scheduled. She also managed two encores, though the last one was given with the house lights on as a hint to the audience not to expect a third.

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In 1952 Jonas was stricken with a rare blood disease and put her concert career on hold. She was bedridden for two years. She returned to Carnegie Hall on December 1, 1956. It seems that physically she was no longer able to play well. Edward Downes of the New York Times wrote:

The Andante cantabile of the middle movement was an achievement of rare artistry. But toward the end of the sonata Miss Jonas began to sound nervous. As the Mozart group progressed there were moments of exquisite lyricism, but they became rarer as one sensed that Miss Jonas’ strength was ebbing under physical and nervous strain.

[…]

Friends who inquired backstage after the program were told that a physician was attending Miss Jonas. Later it was announced that she was not ill but suffered only severe nervous tension.

This was Maryla Jones’ last concert. She died on July 3, 1959. (Her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, was an amateur cellist and encouraged his wife’s career. He died a few weeks after her.)

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*All* kinds of goodbyes

No no, not gonna dwell on my sad news.  Although, I appreciate everyone’s kind thoughts.

No, today I thought we might look at some musical goodbyes.  Goodbyes can cover many things in life from a person passing away, to a change in your location, to a change in jobs or even a change in martial status.  So there are lots and lots of types of goodbyes and even, maybe soon a political goodbye to certain people. (wink-wink)

Here are some songs that I found that I’ll share here.  And of course your choices are welcomed in the comments below.

(1)  Hello, Goodbye~The Beatles

(2) Friends Never Say Goodbye~Elton John

(3) Good Riddance (Time of your Life)~Green Day

(4) Farewell~Rihanna

(5) You’re Gonna Miss This~Trace Adkins

(6) Don’t Forget To Remember Me~Carrie Underwood

(7) Na Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye~Steam (The Band)

(8) When I Get Where I’m Going~Brad Paisley

(9) See You Later Alligator~Bill Haley & the Comets

So there you go Widdershins.  A nice selection for y’all to build on.  Open thread of course.

 

 

 

 

 

GOOD SUNDAY WIDDERSHINS!

Obviously this was a week where we could barely catch our breath before the next revelation regarding the T.C.O. (tRump Crime Organization) slapped us in the face.  There were no twenty-four hour news cycles this week.  It was one, unending, continuing news cycle.  Vladimir Putin and his cohorts played a big part in it.  When a former counterintelligence officer shows up for a meeting at Trump Tower we’re talking serious spy shit stuff.  Also, it seems our “friends” on the other side of the aisle are not overly concerned about Russia’s helping hands in our elections.

And that continues to amaze me because who were the ones that constantly railed against the former Soviet Union and its leaders?  (Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall).  Our Republican friends don’t seem to understand there is very little or no difference between the new “Russia” and the old U.S.S.R.

So with that thought or theme I found us a nice selection of “spy songs”.  These would be obvious “spy” songs but also some with just inferences of spying or watching. I will leave out some of the most obvious ones from my selections so y’all can add some of those on your own.  My selections are below.

(1) Every Breath You Take~The Police

(2) Somebody’s Watching Me~Rockwell

(3) Secret Agent Man~Johnny Rivers

(4) Spy of Love~inxs

(5) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service~John Barry

(6) Spy In The House Of Love~Steve Winwood

(7) The Spy~The Doors

So there you are Widdershins, a half dozen plus one of songs about spies or watching or being sneaky.  Add some of your choices in the comments below.  Of course, open thread.

 

 

 

 

Good Sunday and weekend Widdershins!

There you have it, right there in the photo.  The word we need to keep shouting to the vulgar yam, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican oligarchy.  Just one…big…NO!

NO, you won’t take away our healthcare.  NO, you won’t take away our voting rights.  NO, you won’t take away our equality.  NO you won’t steal our elections. Just one big freaking NO! 

And what is one of the best ways to signal our protest, outrage and solidarity to those who would take these things away from us?  Through music of course!

Below are some of my choices for songs dealing with protest and solidarity.  Please add some of your own choices in the comments.

(1) Factory 1978~ Bruce Springsteen

(2) Solidarity Forever~Pete Seeger

(3) Tiny Hands~Fiona Apple (DJ Matt Bailer Remix)

(4) I Give You Power~Mavis Staple & Arcade Fire

(5) Revolution~Nina Simone

(6) Guns of Brixton~The Clash

(7) Alright~Kendrick Lamar

(8) Ohio~Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

 

So there you go Widdershins, eight…count’em eight songs of protest, outrage and solidarity.  Please add your choices in the comments below.

Open thread of course.

Good Sunday and weekend Widdershins!

With all of the drama that seems to be the new norm in Washington and politics in general, we forgot that we had the summer solstice this week.

The summer solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs when a planet’s rotational axis, or geographic pole on either its northern or its southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star that it orbits. On the summer solstice, Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. (Likewise, the Sun’s declination from the celestial equator is +23.44° in the Northern Sky and −23.44° in the Southern Sky.) This happens twice each year (once in each hemisphere), when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or south pole.

Being that we were experiencing the outer bands of Tropical Storm Cindy, we didn’t have a lot of sun to experience the solstice.  And while we’ve had lots and lots of humidity, the temps haven’t been that bad.

However, that’s not the case everywhere.  Earlier this week it got really hot in Phoenix AZ.  How hot did it get you ask?  Well it got so hot that planes couldn’t fly there.  Or actually just some types of planes.

Regional flights on American Eagle were the most affected, because they use Bombardier CRJ planes that can only operate at temperatures of 118 degrees or below, Feinstein said. Flights on larger Airbus and Boeing planes were not canceled because they are able to operate at higher maximum temperatures: 127 degrees for Airbus and 126 degrees for Boeing.

I’m so glad I never had to experience, uh endure, flying on one of those regional planes.  I have flown on DC-9/MD80/90 planes with Delta and those were bad enough.  I called them buses with wings.

So with the summer solstice and heat in mind, let’s take a look at some songs that deal with those things.  My choices are below and your selections and contributions are welcomed in the comments.

 

(1) The Roots~The Fire (w/John Legend)

(2) Don Henley~The Boys of Summer (Acoustic)

(3) Eddie Cochran~Summertime Blues

(4) Martha Reeves & The Vandellas~Heat Wave

(5) Bryan Adams~Summer of 69

(6) Ella Fitzgerald~Summertime

 

So there you go Widdershins.  Please share your contributions below.  Open thread, of course.

 

 

 

Happy Sunday Widdershins!

Another week, more madness from around the world. The terrible attacks in London are just beyond words. I won’t even try…

So, while it may seem counter-intuitive – let us try to take a few moments to forget our troubles. And try to laugh. What makes you laugh? Is there a joke? A song? A scene from a movie? Sometimes laughter isn’t even about “I’m rolling on the floor, my belly aches from laughing.” It could just be something so bananas – that it makes you laugh. That’s what my first selection is. It’s the Act 1 finale from Rossini’s opera “L’Italiana in Algeri.” It’s 10 minutes of frolicking bananas composing, wordplay and singing. This concert performance is from the Metropolitan Opera’s Centennial Anniversary Gala. How can one not stare in awe and laugh… (Also, some of the other selections are a bit risqué…proceed with caution.)

This is an open thread!

Yes dear Widdershins it seems we will once again visit the land of fibs, untruths and general mendacity.  I fear it will be a recurring theme for the foreseeable future as long as the man-child is in our midst.

So y’all know the drill.  I’ll put up a few musical clips following the theme and y’all can please add some of your own contributions in the comments.

(1) Flashpoint~Fear Factory  (“One last spark of dishonesty And that will be the death of me”)

(2) Napalm Factory~Mass Appeal Madness

(3) Rotten Sound~ Traitor
Stealing from your family/Destroying your security
Safety of our well-being/Torn by your dishonesty

(4) A Matter of Trust~Billy Joel

(5) Would I lie to you~Eurythmics

So there you go widdershins, volume what-number-is-this? of the Donald Trump lying songs tribute. Keep those lists handy as I feel we will be returning to this theme again.

Please share your contributions below.


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