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University of Utah radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah Paul Bantam. All coherence gone. Things fall apart or if they don't fall apart they're held my breath as long as the breath will last or nerves until they break. And there are some people in the world of the arts nowadays who like to call that kind of sensibility man eristic Take for example Frederic Chopin and the last movement of his sentence.
I suppose if we were talking about the holes in the law that it is perverse work indeed in terms of so not much had I suppose even in children's lifetime been. The notorious vehicle for heroism or at least some kind of epic statement. And earlier on in the Sonata there have been tombs and there have been heroic moments and there have been passionate attempts that burst and all of this is disintegrated I suppose that's the best way to describe it. After the slow funeral march which does sound the mail for a great deal musically. In the 19th century and is the movement which immediately precedes this one that you just listen to comes once someone long ago called it the wind over the grave is however appropriate that may or may not be. What is true about the music is of course that you can't sing any tune because there is no tune to be sung. But all of the materials of music have been in effect dissolved. But there is a line left only and lined up a completely
unpredictable nature. But Chopin is really even I think I would have to say for me. Post man a wrist because it's very important to me and talking about men or is that it won't always be. Aware of their preoccupation with form. I suppose looking at the whole of this some other Chopin is still preoccupied generally with the motion of the sun not as an overall form but in this movement even form has disintegrated. Conveniently separated into a couple of the halves but that would be pedantic. And the harmony doesn't help chordal progression can be found in book Life. Find it if it if it doesn't matter or if it's not our role anymore. I'm only in that line is nerves. And the nerves break. This is this is true as perhaps you know in a very literal way with many persons in the 19th century and in preceding
times. Or in the great ages of stability and security and authoritarianism and sort of lapsed. When there are. Real cocoa refinements or hyper refinements of forms so that form and formality become. Wild What's a good word formalistic. Composers. And in the Senate area or take their own lives. Poets do much the same sort of thing and painters. Madness. Of one kind or another. The sort of end Susan in the sinew of the person who makes the poetry and makes music or who is responding somehow. To the absence of something in his time. And also the absence of some sustaining staying power in himself. It was sharp and I suppose the most memorable example. In 1973 music is
Robert Schumann. Whose last years were spent in the sanitarium and whose. Attempts at suicide. Never. Really quite made it. Poor Robert. As I remember it he tried jumping off a bridge into the Rhine and that didn't help much. I think he tried jumping out of a third story window and that bruised him and then sort of incapacitated him for a while. And yet he never could quite make it. And the awfulness of situations like that in the case of maybe the kind of attempted suicide that Shimon seems to have been is that. I'm not quite so friendly but a little like him barely oser earlier in the century. One says he wants to die and he really believes it. He says he knows it and then steps out into seven and a half inches of water in order to drown himself. So that the look of things is fine but. But he will probably live. This is a kind of
duplicity and ensure the duplicity took sort of severe turn. There are people nowadays who like to describe him as a manic depressive and a person who has enthusiasm borders on hysteria and whose hysteria borders on a complete nervous breakdown. And if it isn't working in that direction then it is melancholy which borders on depression and the depression which becomes a nervous breakdown. So that he faces the same kind of breakage of himself in both directions and is not fortunate enough to be able to find any kind of mean any kind of reconciling principle. He has to retreat therefore into the only world which he can understand which is the word. The world of himself and to create a special private mythology which pianists and musicologists nowadays are still somewhat interested in trying to decipher. Look I'm sure Mambo is a kind of 19th century ro cocoa for me.
The difference I suppose in the piece that we'll listen to now is from that which you just listen to is that. Ironically Schumann is still very much interested in how to organize the music that is the form of things which makes him a more genuine Mentalist for me. In fact he's so preoccupied with form as a kind of as a kind of structuring element as a kind of saving principle if you will. And that usually listening to movements like this in human form is a rather dull experience because he uses so very obvious about it. This is a scared so that has a couple of trios. One sits and says I'm scared so scared so scared so Koda. And all of these sections which occur in most of the music of Chopin except perhaps some of the more rhapsodic or the shorter pieces. Yeah all of these things don't really cohere all that well because.
Somehow. In the front of his mind is the notion of form as saving grace. Still the irony is that inside the forum which is a lot of bull to us there is the kind of music which does not only border on hysteria but a little way and. Actually begin to excite the listener along his mother. So I think you would say. It doesn't have to. And one isn't really all that conscious of harmonic processes again but begins to be carried away along ravines all along the peripheral nerve endings and beginning to feel those strange sort of normal excitements. The skirt so from the Second Symphony. Robert Schumann.
With. The. Growth of up up up up up and it's bound to be there it's subsided for a minute but it has to it has to go its full course when you say that's such a man's problem. Yes so he has a problem with his own nervous sensibility and musical form and somehow his music is not detachable from himself. That's not especially surprising. Maybe even especially interesting. Is interesting I think to juxtapose this particular moment some music from the late 17th century. In France which seems to me not strikingly different. This is with a keyboard piece by Francois Cooper.
Called lag amount where the irony. It seems a little more pronounced in the case of Schumann The music is private is personal in that he happens to sell and make money from it so much the better he can make a living as a composer of Cooper. However the music is meant for social usage and as a society oriented music it is highly formalistic it is structured the way things are expected to be structured and inside the convention. Yet with a fixed. Authoritarian court of Louis 14 comes a kind of music which is almost unbearably neurotic. This is the result of figuration of drills and terms and graces as they were called. But it appears that the grey suits are not more graceful when they are. In the mirror of us. But a little way and some people find that it's impossible
to sort of pursue this music for very long because it just is too unsettling. Yes.
Well yes there are considerations of style and skill of execution but I suppose if you were to choreograph music like that actually to choreograph the sounds as they come not just the general direction of the music that one ends up looking a little spastic. There are lots of the verse and the shadows and the silvery sounds and well and granted it's not profound music and it is meant to be responded to in the superficial way and what better place to respond to music like that. Than along and this again. Right of course there will be some commentators who want to speculate on whatever is implicit in this kind of music coming from that kind of court at just that time in the 17th century and what are its implications for French author a Tarion ism etc. etc. but I don't want to do that and as long as this is being a kind of strange day when we play. On likely music. Next to unlikely music. I can think of no
better way to sort of terminate this aspect of murder. Oriented men eristic experience then the most ironic piece of all for me by Arnold Schoenberg written in 97 98 the second string quartet. Which most people have said shows being prophetic entering into the musical territory of the future. Well finally in the quartet in its last movement the sense of tonality dissipates and we have our first through out experience of Decca phonic music which is going to govern the processes of the future and somehow even sure and strangely enough using a poem by Stefan Georg calls the movement. After the poem transcendence. You. Are right rimming happens for me means that the music has a sense of all faculties giving a
numbing eye darkening killing of the extremities and Turnberry calling it salvation does it. And the fact of the composer's later life makes one review the second quartet. With completely other feelings I suppose and he would have had hearing it in 1799 it is true that the music is in a way a prognostication of things to come. But it is more symptomatic to the late 19th early 20th century man of just for whom things have been given out. Then we are left now. Maybe so much along the nerves A. Breath. That we spoke of earlier. Which is giving our day.
Why why why. Oh. Oh. Why.
While. You.
One. On. One. A.
Little. You.
Little. Room. You. On. One. We were.
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Music and other four letter words
Episode Number
A Failure of Nerve
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4929 (University of Maryland)
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Chicago: “Music and other four letter words; 8; A Failure of Nerve,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
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APA: Music and other four letter words; 8; A Failure of Nerve. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from