Music and other four letter words; 18; The Return to Childhood
University of Utah radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah. All bad. Maybe we have referred to this poem by William Butler Yeats and maybe we have not. Turning and turning in the widening gyre the Falcon cannot hear the falconer things fall apart the center cannot hold a mirror and Archy is loosed upon the world. The blood to tide is loosed and every where the ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity. That poem the second coming goes on to proclaim the dark advent of some modern beast. And I suppose we could
linger over many a line in the first stanza of Benjamin Britten chose to linger over one particular line and really to lift it out of the poem and turn it into a part of his libretto for the turn of the screw. Because I suppose even in that context or maybe especially in that context it seemed to him to be topical and in some ways for our generation typical everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned those of you who know Britain's turn of the screw will probably remember his obsession almost with that line. The ceremony of innocence is drowned. The ritual of innocence has been celebrated in many ways and I suppose the preoccupation with something like the loss of it has been in the front of many a mind. This century. The fact that it is frontal in the mind is that it is symptomatic of something we've referred to in time past on this series to a number of
people who seem to approach the sentiment of the loss of innocence rather more than less unconsciously. Mozart among them then Mozart was trapped it would seem in the tradition of the perennial knew of the always naïve of the 18th century had to play or die. And often sets it was a matter of fact the ones the ones who said it. And the Madame Dubarry is and I suppose the matter until nets and even occasionally the bold tears were of course the canny people who left some decisive mark on political and historical events the ones who probably sensed it but to embody did more than knew it. The Mozart's were the ones who probably could care less about about the tendencies. Signs of the
Times about any of those other things but who really had to survive. The best way they could as it turns out one thinks nowadays that he senses in the music of Mozart a great melancholy a great knowingness a man not unfamiliar with suffering but that it is all neatly sort of tied up inside his pretty boxes called symphonies and Sun autism concertos which would be palatable new to 18th century listeners. Schubert is a little more on the line about it and he talks directly about those happy early days closer to his infancy. He talks a little more directly about those happier early times closer to the infancy of Mozart. He speaks a little more bluntly about there not being around anymore. He seems to be caught up in political activism in his own generation that is
he he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants somehow to go out and restore something he knows not want. Maybe maybe it's fairness maybe it's justice. Maybe it's truth he doesn't ever seem to find a word for it in his political activism seems to have been frustrated at every turn as was his musical hope. As it grows less sort of further and further front in the mind of the artist. The music grows more and more disturbed than the sensibility seems more neurotic and I suppose I said that point that the 20th century defines it's sort of spiritual counterparts in earlier times. It does surprise me however that the music of late Schubert is not the sort of performed generally speaking as much as it might be in this generation. Gustav Mahler has found his way into the hearts of many people but then but then Mahler is
noisier I guess than Schubert and. And we find it a little more difficult to listen or to hear things nowadays so maybe maybe we just have to have our. Pain on a loudspeaker. Well however that may be everywhere said Yates in 1005 the ceremony of innocence is drowned and that's what he sort of believed. And that's what the First World War seems to have been all about to a lot of poets and to a lot of a lot of musicians and painters in Paris during the war and after the war there was such a Return to Innocence such a desperate need to recreate the world of the child that I suppose immediately many of you are calling to mind paintings of circuses carousels the circus performers Even Picasso those acrobats and circus
performers destitute of are enough. Have something impressive and memorable to say. And the carousel and circus music of composers in Paris during and just after the war and contemporary with the rise of Islam seem suddenly to have something to do with what William Butler Yeats was fidgeting about and 19:5. It's also in a vulgar way it seems to me that this lady is fidgeting about in this dreadful song and that I now call your attention to. Being.
Weak. Waiting. For. The end. To. The end. We need to be.
Right. Her. Are you. Doing what you did. Oh barf. I pick up throwing this. Sound of Music. Whenever things get terribly
bad I just think of my favorite things and they're usually connected somehow with a memory and the memory is of course from childhood because those are the unsullied ones. When the strawberry jam had no scum on the top. It was all. It was all too much. Go ahead is it is all too much. Unfortunately there are some who unwisely take some other persons who at first in this generation seem to sound like the CLO Deems. A little too much for granted. Not everybody who speaks in the manner of the child or who recollects in that direction is quite so discomforting as this lady just seems to have been at least to me. There are some people who genuinely want to recreate it who need to recreate more than they want to I suppose. The
world of the ideal child William Blake was one of those people. You have to find a new language a new way of speaking a new way of thinking who have to sort of erase memory. For one thing and experience everything new. They sell like baby talkers sometimes I guess. Many persons looking at the poetry of e e cummings for example the first time see that it's just stupid that the guy hasn't learned how to spell yet and that he doesn't know anything about punctuation or when a sentence ought to end but there are lots of OTs and punctuations and spellings and things which seem in the end not to make any difference to the direction of some person's soul. Simon is very full of sunshine says Gertrude Stein which is very pleasant just at nine when the wash is hanging out on the line. Turkeys are wild and turkeys are tame which is a shame. Peacocks too and they are blue And if all this is true who are you.
This is what the son said when after having been up since 9 he thought of setting time after time. But they said no. So what is there to show that the sun has sunshine if he's setting all the time so the sun said he would shine even if it was 9 and he did just as if he was a lid which he was because there was a cover which did cover all around the sun cover the sun all up and after that there was no bother. Nobody had to get up even at night. Anyway there was no sunshine not yesterday. It is different today. Thank you very much for such. And on another page. Well a lesson in a word like experiencing for the first time and all over again. A word not for what it has come to mean. Because we've heard it before but for what it sounds like the first time around.
So that really this this is an experience meant for children or for the truly child like. Once upon a time there was a farm on the hill and there was a tower there and there was a large farmer's wife. And as she stood there she saw a soldier passing. He looked at her and she said to him young soldier What are you doing. Just passing said the soldier and she said to him Why are you all alone. I'm all alone. So the young soldier because I am lonesome. Are you alone. So the farmer's wife. Well because said the soldier I come from a place where they have been bombarding and all your people dead she adds. Oh said the soldier they're alive but they have no homes. All their homes have been
guarded to nothing. And the church where I went to see a friend Mary just before I left home that too was all bombarded to nothing. Just then the farmer came along and he said to the soldier come in and they sat him down at the table and they talked together until evening. And the young soldier went back to his garrison. He was still alone. But was he less lonesome. No he was still lonesome. That's not the greatest Gertrude Stein I suppose. But it's a way that strikes powerfully and directly to some of us. That hasn't been tried may be in just that way before now. I get awfully tired of the way academic people talk. I get awfully
tired of all of the jargon which is peculiar to places and people in the medical fraternities and radio television people and the music people and. And the cliches which abound and all of the kind of offenses outside of which it seems to be difficult. To move or thinkable or more importantly I think to feel. And however impossible it may seem and that one should tear down those fences or knock down those walls because because in a way they are more formidable and terrifying. And then that one wall which separates a piece of Berlin from another piece of Berlin because this one is this oneness. For most people a kind of invisible one that they they can't see to sort of lock away.
I. It would be nice if somebody could believe again that it was possible. And that the ceremony of innocence is not to round up. Dead or bombarded to nothing nowadays but that naivete is possible yet. Not today. The sun could go down for the first time and everyone's experience. There are people who say that that's possible. There is really. Who wanders around his room as we all wander around our rooms looking at every familiar thing he knows how many holes there are in the ceiling and he knows where everything is placed. He knows how many specks of dust at this moment lie just below his lamp on the table. But if he can ever let go with his eyes of all of those familiar things. If he can somehow shift the focus and this happens in a physical
way with people. He of course means that in a more metaphysical way but still if he can just let go and make something else happen if he can raise he says in that lovely poem I am God and. He can raise a tree against the sky he can make it happen. Then that's the great and only achievement which this world is meant for. And in a way it's like it's Wagner saying sometimes we can't help that it happens and sometimes we can. Sometimes we put up a lot of artificial obstructions and barriers in the way of it's happening but Tristan does for a split second. See he's old and doesn't look at her face but he sees her. Now granted somebody will say it's in the he's not well.
And I would be the last to argue against the change in the physical condition maybe maybe the body chemistry does have to be different. Maybe after all de Quincey does have to take opium and they both Blair has to find his own way of doing it and maybe the Saint does have to fast over long periods of time before he sees anything and maybe all that is really essential to some people and maybe it isn't essential to all people. But at any rate it seems that many of these people are trying to say the same thing and what and what this seeing is is a seeing for the first time through and out of all of the bombardment of history. And it is a Return to Innocence if you will a return to that aspect of childhood which sees it for the first time and which experiences the delight of naming. So as though you felt you could re name the world and. That
in fact you must and that although you have to articulate inside what it says is familiar and not confusing to persons around you that you have your own private words your own private syllables and sounds and colors and reactions for everything. And at some times these are even shareable. Gertrude Stein sets out on that path James Joyce. Sets out on that path the economy's sets out and that Pathan town will go which says Cummings and I become who. For deeds cannot dream what dreams can do. And. Then maybe then Mayor Daley isn't so stupid as he is innocent. It's unlikely but still may be may be not so strong as innocent. If he really did say something like. It is amazing
what they will be able to do once they get the atom hair rust. I have an assortment of other things. There was a man in the musical world not with us any longer. A dapper man I'm told. The elegant sophisticated to a high degree. Who seems to have wanted to overcompensate in some way for all that to be a tend to hate it and somehow be in a place which was the real him. To make some kind of musical statement which would outlast all of his poems and his well spoken this we know people like bad. We are people like that. His name was Mark to use Rob L.. His opera of 1924 which comes at the same time as another opera that we will speak of next time. Votes by Al Bunbury has called long for a song
to lead as the child in his wonders or his bewitchment story his enchantments or whatever it is that that makes the child's world to us at some distance from that seem magical. And at some point even so impressive us as to make one poet remind us that the child is father to the man. There it is a sort of parable the libretto to the rebels opera in which the child's Cesa discovers his humanity outgrows his selfishness pairs away all other about human childhood which is crass and discovers something which is in the nature of the ideal child about which William Blake constantly reminds us. In this opera houses Wilford Miller's again birds and beasts and insects even inanimate objects teach humanity to the child who is
man regenerates. Hopefully in the last act there is a parable of redemption through the renewal of innocence. Throughout the vocal writing has been richly supple whether in the fire's color tour or the mode of the fairy tale princess or the love song of the cat. It's. Not mother's thinks that there is a new dimension that comes into the music at the very end when after the birds and the beasts have had their own moment of hysteria and cruelty we would say which is not cruelty but it is. It is whatever happens when. And animal passions get excited and out of hand. And one of the small beasts that's had its paw hurt of a child runs over bandages. The wounded animal is a little surprised probably had his own sense of compassion and tenderness
and all of the animal kingdom. Apparently he is more surprised than he so much so that he becomes kind of a modern hero they lift him up carry him back to his mother for a wreck and silly a nation at the human level and everyone joins in the quiet of the sustain to the moving to compassion which seems to be a big word for us now. And which seems to be if there is anything the one merits of growing older. He sings with the animals this little boy until at the very end his song is stifled with a sob so as Mellers as he awakes on the threshold of the house of man. But did not Barry Barry.
- Episode Number
- The Return to Childhood
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4937 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Music and other four letter words; 18; The Return to Childhood,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 27, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-br8mht1z.
- MLA: “Music and other four letter words; 18; The Return to Childhood.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 27, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-br8mht1z>.
- APA: Music and other four letter words; 18; The Return to Childhood. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-br8mht1z