The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘music

Shchedryk

Posted on: June 17, 2022

Hello Widdershins,

The 1/6 Commission continues to hold hearings, revealing more and more details about how much planning Trump and Friends were doing to overthrow the US Government. 99.999999% of Republican went along with Trump’s plan. And they are all continuing to support him now. The notable exceptions you can count on maybe two hands. The coup is ongoing.

Also ongoing is the war in Ukraine. Putin continues offensives in parts of the country, even as other regions – including the capitol Kyiv – have seemingly resumed their normal lives. How odd to live a normal life in Kyiv while war rages not far away. Germany, France, and Italy continue to enable Putin by calling for Europe and US to not humiliate Putin. They continue to veto providing certain weapons to Ukraine. They continue to cast doubt on Ukraine being able to join the EU. This week the three leaders of these nations finally came to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy. But someone called this image of Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy “Judas’ Kiss.” That may be what Zelenskyy is thinking.

French President Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Mykola Leontovych

The ancient Ukrainian folk chant Shchedryk (based on a simple 4 note pattern, which people used to believe had magical properties) about a swallow that flew into a house on New Year (before Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year was in April), sang about all the good things the family had achieved, and promised to return the following New Year/Spring. The word “shchedry” actually means “generous.” After Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year moved to January and the chant became associated with the Feast of Epiphany, which took place on January 18th – what is called “The Old New Year” – which was New Year on the Julian calendar. Ukrainians called this the “Shchedry vechir,” or “Generous Evening.” (All other things aside: that’s how old Ukraine is, in spite of what Putin likes to believe when he discusses Russian history.) Back to Shchedryk: in 1904 the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) composed a song based on this ancient 4-note motif, for a cappella choir, though the song was not premiered until 1916. On January 21-22, 1921, Leontovych was visiting his parents for the Eastern Orthodox Feast of Nativity in the town of Tulchyn. A man asked the family to stay with them for the night because he had nowhere else to go. They agreed and he shared the room with Leontovych. In the morning the man – who turned out to be a Chekist (Soviet secret service agent) Afanasy Grishchenko – shot Leontovych, who bled to death from the wounds. Later that year, in October 1921, the Ukrainian National Chorus performed Leontovych’s Shchedryk in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Among those present was the American composer Peter Wilhousky – who was so struck by the work that he replaced the ancient Ukrainian text with completely unrelated English words, eventually copyrighted them, and today the composition is known in the West as the Christmas carol “Carol of the Bells.” While Leontovych is revered in Ukraine (in his own time, the French called him the Ukrainian Bach), in the West he is forgotten and and no one even knows he composed one of our most frequently performed songs. Here it is then: as composed by Leontovych in 1904, using the ancient 4-note motif, with its original ancient Ukrainian text.

Howdy Widdershins,

We have survived Thanksgiving. Hopefully everyone got stuffed! Now the season of Christmas music begins. Honestly, if anyone is fighting a War On Christmas, it should be over Christmas music. It’s everywhere. Every TV commercials. Every TV show will have a Christmas special. Every store and gas station is playing the same dozen Christmas songs, although it’ll be one of a billion different versions. Speaking of which: anybody that records a Christmas album at this point is just an ass. Like seriously, a royal ass. There is nothing left to say about “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” New Christmas albums should be made illegal. Anybody that attempts to record one should be sent into space, one way.

This is an open thread, as always.

Happy Weekend Widdershins,

Crispy weather is in the air and leaves have turned various autumnal colors. What will winter bring us? Is there a special winter skunk to forecast the weather??

Meanwhile in DC another skunk, named Kyrsten Sinema, left DC negotiations on the infrastructure bill and went to AZ to attend a fundraiser. She then released a statement yelling at the House for delaying the vote on it. That her own behavior is a big reason it is delayed is lost on her. She is an odd sort of person…a troll more than a legislator. Manchin, being from a deep red state, makes sense. He’s wrong, but he makes sense. Sinema is completely unpredictable, which is what makes her dangerous. She doesn’t have to act this way; her fellow AZ Democrat Mark Kelly doesn’t act like this. But she is just….ugh.

This is an open thread!

Happy Weekend Widdershins!

How’s the heat where you are? NYC has been sizzling for a few weeks. Just brutal out there. But we also had torrential rains that flooded the subways. Meanwhile Canadian villages are literally burning to the ground these days from the heat. What I find interesting about these weather phenomenons is that they are becoming more extreme at an extremely fast pace. Just within a span of a couple of years unthinkable things have been happening (Texas freezes!) It’s not as if scientists didn’t warn us about climate change… And they even warned us about how rapidly these things would start happening. And we are watching it in real time…

This is an open thread!

Happy 4th of July Weekend, Widdershins! Or did we replace 4th of July with Juneteenth, as the Republicans claim? I don’t know, I kind of like having two holidays.

What’s everybody’s plans for the 4th? Friends and BBQ? Or just staying in? I’m staying in pretty much. Will meet one friend for lunch tomorrow and then just Netflix and chill with my dog.

This is an open thread!


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