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Diversity if you talk radio presents music and other four letter words. Here is your host. Associate Professor of Music at the University of Utah Paul Batum. It all seems a little like a parody of itself. This quest after Lost innocence. The kind of self-conscious search for the past self. It's a little like the teenager undergoing whatever they call it these days the identity crisis is the sort of thrashing about in the neighborhood. In the whole of the great town where he or she has grown up and finally outta there on the open road alongside Walt Whitman in search of himself or herself. And yet it was a it was a self-conscious Quest early in the century and it still is not so much perhaps after the self but as some would have put it what used to be the self. We've explored a few ways that people have tried to do this. One of them is to try to
lose the complicated historic cultural self or selves which have been determined somehow by environment and circumstance by all the people we know and the demands they make on us. Another way is a kind of frank retreat into the childlike that is somehow to recreate the world of the child by another kind of neg a shen of temporality. Sometimes it's the simple way out which some people seem to accomplish by means of drugs or other opiates and which some candy persons in this generation have even suppose that that Art stood for Korsakoff's some time ago had noted that art was after all a lie and Gustav Mahler had decided that it wasn't. For him anyway. By the time he had given himself up to it any kind of solution time is no healer said Mr Elliot and so that being true we have to find some root outside it. In
1924 which was the famous year it was the year of the pints of Rome for one thing. Well I have no idea what that means. It's also the year of L'Enfant Malay sucked. That beautiful opera by Rev L. which we have also referred to as another. And this is sort of a necessary spiritual quest in this generation. The year produced in a German speaking country that is out of Berlin and a production of what has since come to be a very famous contribution to 20th Century Opera. This is a three act opera by album bag called the sick. It has a curious history which is not more interesting I suppose than the impact which it seems to have exerted on operatic stages around the world over the last quarter of a century and more.
Curiously enough the scenario for votes had been put together 100 years before. In an age of revolution and out of the same world of upheaval I suppose which was sensitive to and which Wagner had participated actively in. Georg Buechner who has since become a famous name to literati especially people who read in German had been born in the famous year 1813 which was the year when both Bugner and Verdi were born as you remember and cure Gore and Havel. And in his 24 years seems to have accomplished a phenomenal amount of work. He seems to have had all of the characteristics of the indefatigable romantic seems to have burned himself out in a way although his death was attributable to typhus epidemic because I remember him. He was a political activist Needless to say.
He wrote a few tracks sort of pre Marxist tracks on economics some of which seem to have been revived in later generations of the 19th century to some merit. He wrote plays he found himself in all of his much traveling since he was constantly being expelled from place to place. Having to do something as he went he took notes on his natural surroundings. Clinically scientifically observed things in nature and people or he wrote plays. When he finally arrived in Switzerland where he could take up residence with some degree of security and safety he had finished a play which is regarded nowadays as as better than good Denton's death which had to do of course with the French Revolution and its aftermath. He also was accepted. At Basel as I remember on the faculty of the
biological sciences and as a lecturer and that to me he did some research into diseases of the brain brain surgery and in all of this managed to be rather ecumenical spirit with ubiquitous interests buried among manuscripts was we are told an almost undecipherable set of notes which had a caption Voigt say. It was called and it had to do apparently with an actual circumstance. That is the trial and the large European city of a person who was connected with a military installation. And a charge laid against him concerning the murder of his mistress. And I suppose one reads this series of fragments which
were never quite put together into a coherent play. And feels that it's it's like the end of a Perry Mason serial where someone rises up and says. Well we are all to blame. You can't put the finger of guilt. Especially on this man. We have all contributed to whatever is the terrible crisis which confronts us. But since that's all too elusive and we can't just gather up everybody and imprison them we have to have some symbol I suppose. And sometimes very often it is thought that innocence is incarcerated or innocence is done and for the sake of continuity for stability for establishment. For final peace for ultimate good for whatever it is that the trap of circumstances demands and the billy Budd's have to be strung up
and blessing us as they go. Or the Jesus Christs have to be crucified simply because we cannot. Abide looking into the mirror of their eyes and beholding our own misshapen selves. And the easiest thing of course is not to reshape ourselves but to destroy them ever. But himself as the type of the simple primitive the bear who is outside morality and that in the first instance is a very difficult thing for us to identify with unless of course we we. In some big way take all of those words which sound a little complex to mean that halfwitted looking sounding. Who won't say who is in other ways physically at least hale and strong and a striking and not unattractive. Is the type of innocent man who cannot be allowed to survive in the world. Whose basic intuitions feelings and sentiments lie outside whatever it
is that determines the way the rest of us feel. And for that reason Suzanne like he looks half crazy. And yet for some reason we are compelled to follow him and his adventures and somehow find a way to sympathize with them as though they were our own. In which case if Barrack Buechner are trying to set up a kind of tragic context they give themselves and us a difficult subject but not an impossible one. Some people find him impossible. Joseph Kerman I think in his. Testy book opera as drama. Says that horror can never be tragedy and that's what the bot say it is he is paranoiac and. That this is not a subject for a sort of hero of the tragedy. I don't really think that's true because I don't know that we that that I ever have reacted to thought sick
as just a paranoiac who is caught up in some kind of. Horrific situation. I suppose one is a little more generous with whatever it is that Barack has in mind. We have to sort of embrace and dispense with it at the same time. She is a poor unfortunate she is one of the poor. Who is always with us she's the camp follower from time immemorial. The person who does what she thinks she has to do and what indeed she may have to do for all we know in order to survive. She's capable of love she is capable of fidelity. She is also capable of humanity. And sometimes her humanity leads to just the physical weakness that we all seem to feel. Upon a rising early every morning. And in this opera she has been faithful for almost three years which is a long time for Marie and one suspects that it may be in fact too long.
There are other figures in the drum major and the symbol of animalism. Who craves his own body and anybody else's at any hour of the day. Who preens who plumps who. Meanders who parades who talks dirty words who drops innuendos whenever he can. Who doesn't voiced of a boast of exploits that. That he hasn't had but has had plenty and cons Rives to make every next one somehow foller than the last. There are less interesting people there or moralizers who like Polonius probably say good things probably say true things but we turn off whenever they begin to speak because they thought so unpleasant. Then there was the figure of science wandering through the opera in the name of healing and helping humanity searching dispassionately after truth but inflicting a good deal of pain in the present. For whatever the glory of the future may be. I think maybe we should listen to
the opera. You know near the end of the third act is the best musical stretch I suppose in the whole work. And it's also the most telling to modern audiences. Having been on a diet of green peas for two months the noticeably weakened in body and spirit has discovered that his wife has been seduced by the drum major and that she in fact you'll do just to the moment this is created in him a great imbalance of spirit. He doesn't connect it I'm sure with right or wrong or good or bad because those are not the terms in which he thinks any more than they were the terms in which Billy Budd thought anymore than they were the terms in which Jesus thoughts don't call me good said Jesus there is no man who is good only your Father in heaven. But sick in some kind of. Despair.
Has gone home has gone walking with his wife in the woods has seen the moon rise red has discovered his hand resting on the hilt of his knife and has killed his wife the mistress the mother of his child and he didn't do it. He didn't do it. It was all compulsive. It was all necessary. It all happened all of the symbols converged at the right time and he was the instrument in the hands of something much larger than himself in an act of great Atonement which he could never explain. And we find difficult to understand but somehow teleologically I am told respond to and accept. He runs to a tavern where we pick him up and dances with anybody who will dance with him. Sticks to the girl because blood has poured down the front of him runs back to the pond to find his knife and somehow discovers that he is drowning. Once again he is not drowning. He is not contriving it. He is not setting out to do a thing
but whatever it is out there which takes care of these things. Is that work. We are left to brood on this in a very impressive stretch of music and to see how much it means to us and whether or not to be there. But for the grace of God go we. And finally and I mean last seen in the sort of bright light of the early morning the child of Marian bots playing on the pavement hears about the death. Of this mother and his father but death with a mysterious word like Samarkand which the boy does not know he hasn't been there either. And so in some curiosity he goes out to look at the bodies like a little necrophiliac child. And the curtain goes down. The future of the world which grows up I'm accustomed to such things not understanding anything. And dying no better than it began. Will.
That. Night at. The knees. Now. Yes. Yes. Wow. Oh.
Now. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Lol. Ha ha ha. Your night. Was. Shot. Three. Years. Was my.
Life. Home will. Be done this. Week Tonight. Oh. And how. I. See. It. Right.
It'll. Be a
clueless. O'HOY each. Claiming the air. Flow. Oh I'm.
Close. To you. I have. To live going to any place. Live. OK I. Hope. I. Loosely. Atlee. You Louis hotly.
LUI. I have. Lived. At least. Was at least. At least. Let. Live. Oh at least. I guess. Let.
Me. Let me. Yeah. This has been music and other four letter words
featuring Paul Bana associate professor of music at the University of Utah for. Music and other four letter words is a production of University of Utah radio executive director Rex Campbell. Series director Gene PAC. This series is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Music and other four letter words
Episode Number
All That Fall
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 4939 (University of Maryland)
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Chicago: “Music and other four letter words; 20; All That Fall,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
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APA: Music and other four letter words; 20; All That Fall. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from