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From the Etude

My grandmother (and maybe someone you know) used to subscribe to this mainly piano focused magazine, that was published from the late 1890’s until I believe the 1960’s by the Presser Company. I have bought them used at auctions, found some in old book stores, etc. and have consulted them (especially the early twentieth century decades) for inspiration. They always featured a center section of actual sheet music along with the various in depth philosophic articles about music itself. 

It would take years to delve into all the insights the writers offered and now I wish I had scanned the articles over the years along with sight-reading, but I have recycled most of my collection to an annual local book sale. At any rate, I have some remaining copies and sometimes my eyes pass over the articles (about historic composer insights, playing techniques, etc.) Here is a quote from a 1910 article that is still worth reading today:

“Personality generates the mystery of interpretation, but there is no more mystery about personality than there is about why two persons are never the same in anything. Personality in the musical artist is the same as personality in the statesman, the writer, or any human worker, and finally resolves itself along a particular line. Much of music’s mystery lies in its unseen qualities, and the mystery of personality lies in the manner in which the artist uses these elements in his interpretation.”

“The artist’s handling of a subject is a question of intelligent manipulation to procure results. Thus the mystery of musical interpretation becomes the mystery of intelligence. Music partakes of the character of the illimitable. Intelligence is not the product of a human brainbut is infinite in character, and the individual who gives the fullest expression of this infinite power will give the most masterful interpretation in art.”

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Something I read

This is a quote from the book “Listening to your Life” p.52 (excerpts from Frederick Buechner):

“Unlike painters, who work with space, musicians work with time, with note following note as second follows second. Listen! says Vivaldi, Brahms, Stravinsky. Listen to this time that I have framed between the first note and the last and to these sounds in time. Listen to how the silence is broken into uneven lengths between the sounds, and to the silences themselves. The sounds of the earth are like music, and the sound of music are also like the sounds of the earth, which is of course where music comes from. Listen to the voices outside the window, the rumble of the furnace, the creak of your chair, the water running in the kitchen sink. Learn to listen to the music of your own lengths of time, your own silences.

Literature, painting, music – the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect…In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.”

Nature Poem

I’m not so sure I understand the being food part of this poem (I suppose it means in the sense of feeding other people’s artistic needs as well as splitting a sandwich) but since I’ve heard it in a class and discovered it has appeared on blogs such as this one – I thought I’d share it with you:

To be of the Earth is to know:

the restlessness of being a seed,

the darkness of being planted,

the struggle toward the light,

the pain of growth into the light,

the joy of bursting and bearing fruit,

the love of being food for someone,

the scattering of your seeds,

the decay of the seasons,

the mystery of death,

and the miracle of birth.

  from Earth Prayers, by John Soos