music clip of the day


Wednesday, January 28th

string quartet festival (day three)

Bela Bartok (1881-1945), String Quartet No. 6, 1939; Alban Berg Quartet, live

1st movt.


2nd movt.


3rd movt./part 1


3rd movt./part 2


4th movt.



reading table

Everything always reminds one of its opposite.

—Robert Walser (1878-1956), “Snowdrops” (translated from German by Tom Whalen and Trudi Anderegg)

Tuesday, January 27th

string quartet festival (day two)

Back to the beginning—the “father” of the string quartet.

Josef Haydn (1732-1808), String Quartet in C-major, Op. 76, No. 3 (“Emperor”), c. 1796; St. Lawrence String Quartet, live, Houston, 2014

Monday, January 26th

string quartet festival (day one)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), String Quartet No. 14 (Op. 131, C-sharp minor), 1826

Alban Berg Quartet, live, Vienna, 1989


Végh Quartet, recording, 1952


Budapest String Quartet, recording, 1951



musical thoughts

Opus 131 . . . is routinely described as Beethoven’s greatest achievement, even as the greatest work ever written. Stravinsky called it ‘perfect, inevitable, inalterable.’ It is a cosmic stream of consciousness in seven sharply contrasted movements, its free-associating structure giving the impression, in the best performances, of a collective improvisation. At the same time, it is underpinned by a developmental logic that surpasses in obsessiveness anything that came before. The first four notes of the otherworldly fugue with which the piece begins undergo continual permutations, some obvious and some subtle to the point of being conspiratorial. Whereas the Fifth Symphony hammers at its four-note motto in ways that any child can perceive, Opus 131 requires a lifetime of contemplation. (Schubert asked to hear it a few days before he died.)

—Alex Ross, “Deus Ex Musica,” New Yorker, 10/20/14

Sunday, January 25th

old school

The Consolers (Iola & Sullivan Pugh), live (TV show), early 1960s



art beat

Bruce Davidson (1933-), New York (Subway), 1980s





Saturday, January 24th

what’s new

Shabazz Palaces, “Forerunner Foray” (video by Chad VanGaalen), 1/9/15




Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs infielder (SS, 1B), January 31, 1931-January 23, 2015






Friday, January 23rd

More reasons to wonder: Where would we be without the saxophone?

Collective Identity Saxophone Quartet (Alex Harding, baritone; Jorge Sylvester & Bruce Williams, alto; Sam Newsome, soprano), live, New York, 10/11/14


Thursday, January 22nd

my back pages

On this date in 1977, at a church thirty miles north of Chicago, amidst the cold and the snow and the dark, tenor saxophonist Von Freeman (1923-2012), a MCOTD Hall-of-Famer, played for a wedding. He was accompanied by pianist John Young (1922-2008). Here is how they sounded that night, as people were entering the church (0:15-, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “It Never Entered My Mind,” “More”), as the bride walked down the aisle (8:00-, “In a Sentimental Mood”), and as folks were leaving (10:20-, “My Favorite Things,” “Song for My Father”).


Von Freeman


Wednesday, January 21st

Open Minds: Chris Potter Underground (with CP, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Craig Taborn, keyboards; Adam Rogers, guitar; Nate Smith, drums), 2012

Music documentaries can go wrong in so many ways. Too much talk. Talk that reminds you, repeatedly, why musicians aren’t paid to speak. Mediocre sound. This one, which I bumped into yesterday, seems to avoid them all.

Tuesday, January 20th

Need a jolt?

Brandon Lopez (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums), Chris Pitsiokos (alto saxophone), live, New York, 11/10/14

Talk about range. The piece we heard Saturday—the one with flute, violin, bass clarinet, and piano? It was composed by the drummer.

Monday, January 19th

He didn’t just speak—he sang.

Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” (excerpt)
Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963


Interview with MLK adviser and speechwriter Clarence B. Jones, 2013


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