WHEN LESS IS MORE (Guest Blog by Garreth Brooke)
I know the above saying but often don't heed it, since I'm a woman who loves words! But today in homage to the theme, I feature the pithy...
A Philosophy and Aspiration
I'd like to connect with people, experiences, things - and music - that make my body come alive, my bones shake with laughter, my mind understand, and my soul and creativity take flight. Why waste time on anything else?
I'm a dedicated, enthusiastic, amateur senior pianist, poet, feminist, and author of "Poetical Musings on Pianos, Music & Life--Volume I.." My anthology of musical and philosophical poetry is AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback; ebook to come.
My mission is to inspire anyone to take up the study of the piano,
listen to more music, & pursue your creative muse - at any age!
My heart is often aflame in the pure delight of playing on "Rhapsody-Arabesque, DMB (The Duchess of Music & Bliss)" (a rebuilt and refinished Golden Age 1928 Steinway Model M), or discovering new or remembered Romantic era compositions (both early and late periods in the impressionistic style) by composers whom I deeply respect and admire. On some special occasions I have the great good fortune to attend our local San Francisco Symphony, as I did June 2, 2023 to hear Beatrice Rana (pictured right on the marquee) play my favorite piece by my favorite composer Rachmaninoff, "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini." I was inspired! Even if you are not a pianist, I hope you will take any opportunity to hear music as is possible and joyful for you!
My hope resides in another day, a new song, and perhaps you ---- a new friend to join online or in San Francisco, the inspirational Music Tribe I have met during my recent journey back to music!
Please visit my section links (or scroll down) to wonderful resources, especially those inclusive of women in music (with featured stunning or unique compositions), and poems and blogs where I'll include thoughts about my pianistic, life, and poetic journeys. I welcome your response, and suggestions for musical additions.:
CURRENT GUEST BLOG: When Less is More (6.4.23)
FEATURED WOMAN COMPOSER: Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska.tHtE
Thanks to writer Frances Wilson for pointing to my blog and experience in leaving a piano teacher.
So, where am I now?
" Where am I now? Home I think,
And waiting there all these years,
The tears I never cried from missing...
What? I do not know. I only know,
I’ve found it now, lost no more
But wrapped in shimmering,
silver tissue wings,
Aloft, in flight, rising up, in love,
May I Smile?
Is music so serious
that I can’t be deliriously happy
when I play
or listen to the music that rings
from YouTube and like things?
Will someone insist I keep my face
in a serious place
and make it stay that way?
But how can I, when there exist
such lovely souls so bold,
like Danny Kaye
holding sway over
That sweet maniac leaves the stage
to allow his orchestra to meet the test
of playing best, or just as well
as anyone could tell with Kaye on stage!
What about Palmer,** a quite devilish tease
who makes poor Tchaikovsky
turn in his grave
with her cute antics playing
his concerto at hand?
She makes me laugh with intentional gaffs
and breaks us all up in smiles.
Then there’s Peter the Schickele***
of South North Dakota fame,
The “Professor of Musical Pathology,”
yet from Julliard he came!
So clever this devil
who beguiles as he conducts
an orchestra of instruments
including whistles, pans, and pots,
duck calls and all
loosed upon the land.
We smile as his special music rings
“P.D.Q. Bach,” the 21st son (he claims)
of 20 that there were
(of that we are aware),
or at least he said
with a perfectly straight face,
putting elitists squarely in their place!
*“An Evening with Danny Kaye” and the New York
Philharmonic; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIHS6S8NVRQ**Amanda Palmer is an
American singer, songwriter,musician, and performance
artist; see her hilarious“Cell Phone Interruption;” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBxF9UvDp/dU
***Peter Schickele is a composer-musician known for
his musical satire; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Food for Thought
I’d like to be arpeggiated,
perhaps even massiagiated,
definitely satiated and
maybe even marinated?
I’d like some rubato.
on my hamburger, a tomato,
possibly a baked potato,
and certainly a legato.
Study me an etude,
dance me a pavanne,
circle me a rondo,
then feed me a flan.
Nothing’s better than music
to feed the soul
or when eating whipped cream
as a concerto unfolds.
Like a free-range chicken
I will not be contained,
or cajoled or dissuaded or even rearranged,
I’m not an avian creature
just subject to your whims,
and not often inclined to easily give in.
I’m a person with opinions
no matter “wrong” or “right”
but they’re mine to hold, no need for a fight.
I’ve lived a long life
and applied careful thought
to things that I’ll do
and things that I’ll not,
such as accept any label
to ease your confusion
or help you along to an immutable conclusion
about who I am and who I am not,
or what music’s “best”
or how I lived or thought.
I hope you agree to live free of constraints
of spirit-killing “shoulds”
or even church saints.
I hope you will dance to the song in your dreams
and seize all the joy
that this lifetime may bring,
and continue to feel deeply
and think broadly as well,
create, and love widely,
and of me not think ill.
I wonder if I shall petrify
before I get this right,
hand raised high in eternal hope
it’ll come down on the note?
I wonder if I’ll live to see
the very next Ice Age
before I mistress the right technique
to perform upon a stage?
I wonder if the cows will come home,
to happily chew their cud
before I put this Brahms to bed
without more piano blood?
*Humor is a way I often get through practice,
well understood by an accomplished cellist,
Janet Horvath; https://interlude.hk/hilarity-
Andante or Lento?
I like andante.
Life at my stage
moves with all deliberate speed
as appropriate to my age.
All so good! I would continue,
noting how fast the days of allegro go
(not to mention vivacissimo),
My first movement, now past.
Nothing lasts. The lesson of tempo
just about learned, more than an inkling
staring me in the face
(for any pace from grave to presto),
what matters now
is what I always said
when embarking on dreams that I had:
If lento...at least, I’m “Go!”
Should a rubato be robotic
or a leader be despotic,
a scientist quixotic
or an aria non-melodic?
Should a tempo be untimely
or a joke be told sublimely?
Should a concerto have no apogee
or a rock band no devotee?
Should a rainbow have no color
or a unicorn no horn?
Should a crown never be worn
or a sheep never be shorn?
Should a lion have no roar
or a campfire no s’more,
a composer, no lined score
or a room without a door?
Should the morning have no dew,
or a cow enjoy no moo?
Should a carwash have no drive-through—
or I ever be without you?
The poor piano will give up,
lay down its arms, after a pianist
wreaks harm on its keys.
The Bataan Death March has nothing on this piece!
Obviously overwrought, Liszt sought
to overwhelm us with variations
on “Dies Irae,” so they say.
Call her “Liszt-ica”
one person says of Lisitsa,
Russian virtuosa of pianistic fame
who engenders “Brava!”
as her hands flow like lava over keys
in “Totentanz,” a dance of death.
But I prefer Pace, whose hands disappear
below the keys in roaring opening chords
of this insane piece.
His ability need I defend?
Can you resist his call to attend?
Emilio compels on his journey through hell
as the music ebbs and swells.
So listen at leisure, but plan not to sleep;
there’s no rest in store when his company you keep!
Donne Italian for "women." Project of opera singer Gabriella di Laccio whose mission is to make more visible the prodigious contribution of women to music. She reports the astounding and devastating fact that, in October, 2022, almost nine out of ten pieces played by orchestras around the world were composed by Caucasian men. She provides a list of more than 5,000 women composers, and offers program consultation services to music directors who are committed to the inclusion of women, including minority and LGBQT women, to achieve a more just musical world.
Feminine Endings: music, gender, & sexuality by Dr. Susan McClary (Case Western Reserve University) The seminal 1995 book that brought feminist analysis of musicology throughout history to the present day, into the academy; a must read!
The Future is Female - is a performance available by prolific, talented pianist, writer, and producer Sarah Cahill featuring more than 70 compositions by women around the globe, from the Baroque to the present day, including new commissioned works. Cahill performs regularly in the Bay Area and leans toward modern and experimental music, has a fabulous website and leads a musical radio program on Sunday evenings at 8 - 10 pm live streamed on YouTube.
National Music by Women Festival at the Mississippi University for Women, Founder & Executive Director, 2016–Present. The annual conference brings together a diverse, inclusive group of women composers and performers. Dr. Julia Mortyakova has a prodigious background in music and leadership in both academia and the community. She currently serves as the Department of Music Chair at MUW and has fostered inclusivity in all aspects of music studies and performance.
I’m so glad you share my love of music and the piano! I want to celebrate that love and my recent journey back to music via former career paths through law and fashion corsetry. Shortly after a happy retirement in 2020, a creative muse took my hand after 63 years and chose to bring to life the musical sounds within my heart via poetry and returning to play my piano -- and she brought me fully to life again!
"Touch me with care, and the gentlest of sounds!
The piano's the thing that lifts with no bounds."