Monday, July 24, 2017

Teenage Brilliance

Can you remember when you were a teenager?  I think I would be safe to say not many of you were composing chamber music at that age. 

Well, the 16 year old Felix Mendelssohn was not only composing music at that age but he composed one of the greatest and most beloved chamber music pieces ever composed - His Octet in E flat Major [composed basically for two string quartets]. 

Felix Mendelssohn [1809-1847]
The German born virtuoso pianist was one of the great composers of the early Romantic Era of music. If you had to limit yourself to one word to describe Mendelssohn's compositions, I believe that word would be melodic.  His compositions contained some of the most beautiful melodies ever composed. Despite his short lifetime of only 38 years, the world has been blessed by this musical genius prolific number of compositions in almost all genres of classical music.

Mendelssohn's Octet was scored in E Flat Major for 4 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos, and it has four movements: 1. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco; 2. Andante; 3. Scherzo; and 4. Presto.

The first movement, with its mesmerizing theme, is one of my most favorite movements of any chamber music  piece. 

Please turn up the volume and enjoy this great classical music teenage brilliance. 

Felix Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings in E Flat Major:




Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Dual Personalities of a Sonata

Literally, the word sonata means a piece played as opposed to a cantata-a piece sung.  In classical music sonatas [other than piano sonatas] are pieces written for an instrument that will usually involve piano accompaniment.  For example, a violin sonata involves one violin and one piano.  A violin sonata could also be described as a "sonata for violin and piano".  

There is another meaning of the word sonata which was developed in the classical era by Franz "Papa" Joseph Haydn.  It is the form or structure that many pieces in the classical era use in their composition.  This form of composition will involve parts: exposition, development, and recapitulation.  I will discuss more fully that meaning of sonata in a future Tales post.  

Update:  The meaning of a sonata as a form of composition in classical music is described in this Tales post, "The Sonata Form In Classical Music".

Today I will talk about the use of the word sonata to denote a piece of music for an instrument[s].  There have been sonatas written for almost all of the instruments that you will hear in a symphony orchestra.  Like a violin sonata as I described above, they will usually have piano accompaniment.  Also, they will be described as either [whatever instrument] Sonata, or "Sonata for [whatever instrument] and piano. So, a sonata composed for a flute will be called a Flute Sonata or a Sonata for Flute and Piano. 

Violin Sonata aka Sonata for Violin and Piano
Why does a piano usually accompany the other instrument in a sonata. It is to add depth to what the other instrument is playing.  For example, a string instrument can play melodic lines and also can play chords for depth, but they can't play them at the same time.  The piano can also add contrast to the other instrument being played. It can do this by introducing [be the lead of] a melodic line with the answer from the other instrument, and vice versa. The piano is the perfect instrument for accompaniment in a sonata with its extensive range [low notes to high notes] and extensive dynamics [can be played very soft to very loud]. 

So, what about a piano sonata. Will that include two pianos?  No.  A piano sonata is the only instrument that will play solo in a sonata.  You may ask, "why is that?"  

That is because the piano is the only instrument where the soloist can play chords and play melodic lines, and do them both at the same time.  Also, each hand can play different melodic lines at the same time. Also, one hand can play a melody, while the other hand expands on that melody.  So, while the right hand in a piano sonata may be playing a melodic line, the left hand can become the accompaniment. The hands could switch off where the left hand is playing the melody and the right hand is supporting.  No other instrument has all of these playing capabilities.

To put it another way, the piano is the only instrument where the soloist can accompany himself.  That is why, when you hear a piano sonata, it will be a piece for solo piano, with no other instrument involved.

I must add a slight correction as there are organ sonatas where the organ, like the piano, is an instrument that can accompany itself, and therefore needs no other instrument to support it in a sonata. 

A sonata will usually contain 3 or 4 movements.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these sonatas involving different instruments from some of the great masters of classical music.

L.V. Beethoven: Violin Sonata #9 in A Major "Kreutzer", movement 3, presto:


L.V. Beethoven: Horn Sonata in F Major:


Johannes Brahms: Cello Sonata #1 in E Minor, movement 1, Allegro non troppo:


W.A. Mozart: Piano Sonata #11 in A Major, Movement 3, Alla Turca:


L.V. Beethoven: Piano Sonata #14 in C-Sharp minor, "Moonlight":




Thursday, July 20, 2017

Two Bad Chess Players Of The Supreme Court

As the Republicans are struggling to repeal and or replace Obamacare, even Democrats admit there are many problems with Obamacare, especially the failure to bring down costs of health care and the increasing high costs of insurance and increasing lack of insurance providers to choose from in many states.  

Let us not forget one of the men who made this [Obamacare] all possible - Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court with his curious self re-writing the law [calling this a tax], the only way to make an un-constitutional law, constitutional. While he received criticism from most conservative Republicans, others opined he was really playing chess while others were playing checkers as it would force the issue to be decided by the people in future elections in who they put in congress. Brilliant! 

Because of these current events, Tales wishes to repeat this satire post [a juxtaposition between a ruling made by Chief Justice Harry Blackmun with this ruling made by Chief Justice John Roberts], first published 5 years ago on July 11, 2012.
 
In this post, some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent...I mean the identities.  While the names have been changed, the facts have not.

Don't Forget This Chess Player Of The Supreme Court [July 11, 2012]:

Harry Blackmun was a lifelong Republican and supposedly a conservative when president Richard Nixon appointed him to the Supreme Court.  So, when Justice Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in the Roe vs Wade decision, many if not most conservatives were deeply disappointed. This Nixon appointee was thought to be a strict constructionist to the constitution.  But in the Roe vs Wade decision, Blackmun came up with the "right to privacy" to deem unconstitutional the Texas statute against abortion.

The left was very pleased with Blackmun and heaped him with praise.  You had Fox Blitzer on CNN say that Blackmun was a profile in courage.  Charles Street on Foxy News was not alone when he said that Blackmun was playing chess while the others were playing checkers.

While the left was praising Justice Blackmun, even some conservatives like William Clear and Dr. Charles Krautnail, were defending him.  They said while his coming up with the right to privacy defense for abortions was a stretch, they could see how the case could be made. The bow tied George Wont said conservative Republicans should stop complaining as Harry Blackmun made a well thought out ruling.  Others said Blackmun was crazy like a fox. He would throw the abortion issue back to the public for pro lifers to have to make choices at the ballot box if they wanted to see abortions outlawed.  Brilliant cried some. Those conservatives defending him said this man was a true conservative at heart, and those complaining of this decision would see in future decisions of his real conservatism.  Besides they said, we would see the wisdom of his decision as those opposed to abortion would rise up and throw out the pro abortion politicians.  Chief Justice Blackmun was indeed playing chess, while the others were playing checkers.  His "right to privacy" sacrifice would ultimately lead to victory.

Some critics of Blackmun, though, say that abortion is still alive and well, and that nothing has changed since Blackmun's Roe vs Wade decision.  What happened to his great chess gambit?

Ah, but those uninformed extremists don't realize this decision was made by Justice Blackmun only 39 years ago.   Give it time.

And then came another chess player of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and his famous "call it a tax" chess gambit move.  



Both Justices Blackmun and Roberts have been checkmated - These two bad chess players of the United States Supreme Court

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Does Timeline Infer That President Trump Knew Of The Trump Jr. Meeting?

Certainly not proof that president Trump knew from the beginning about the Russian meeting between his son and the Russian lawyer where Trump Jr. was expecting damaging evidence about Hillary Clinton, but look at the timeline and see what you think.
Junior
Timeline:

June 3, 2016:  British publicist, Rob Goldstone, sent the first of his emails to Donald Trump Jr. regarding a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.:  

"Good morning
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Best
Rob Goldstone"

June 7, 2016:  Rob Goldstone, shown in the following emails, arranges a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer to take place on Thursday June 9, 2016 at 4 pm at Trump Jr.'s office on 725 5th Ave. 

"Don
Hope all is well
Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday [June 9, 2016]
I believe you are aware of the meeting - and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
I assume it would be at your office.
Best
Rob Goldstone"
Donald Trump Jr. responded: 
"On Jun 7, 2016, at 18:14, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me, 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor."

June 7, 2016:  President Donald Trump says this at a campaign rally: Hat/Tip of video from Chuck Todd - NBC Meet the Press, and Jonathan Karl - ABC, This Week.


June 8, 2016:  Donald Trump Jr. sent this email:
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 12:03 PM
To: Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort
Subject: FW: Russia - Clinton - private and confidential
"Meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow [June 9, 2016] at my offices.
Best,
Don"
June 9, 2016:  the meeting took place between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and the Russian lawyer [and now we know others] at 4 pm.  From those talking about what happened in that meeting we are learning that no damaging information was given to Donald Trump Jr. by the Russian lawyer. 

June 13, 2016:  This is the Monday when president Trump said in the video above that he would reveal "very interesting" information [supposedly damaging] about Hillary Clinton.  The speech never happened...not this Monday, not the following Monday...it never happened.

Summary: On June 3, 2016, Donald Trump Jr. was notified of a connection from Russia where he could obtain damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign for president.  Donald Jr. was very interested and agreed to a meeting to be arranged very soon. He was informed on June 7, 2016 that a meeting was arranged for June 9, that Thursday. If we are to believe Donald Trump Jr., he never informed his father of any of this information [emails]; yet on June the 7th, president Trump [I guess just by coincidence] announced that he would shortly, maybe on Monday June 13th have a speech where he would reveal [damaging] information about the Hillary Clinton campaign.  But, alas, no damaging information [from the witnesses at the meeting] about Hillary Clinton was revealed in the meeting and I guess by another wild coincidence, president Donald Trump never did give that speech where he supposedly would reveal "very interesting" information on Hillary Clinton.

Hmm, seems like a lot of coincidences to me for president Trump not to have known about the meeting that was going to take place at around that time.