Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The clearest description I have managed so far about my blog is that it is not about cats. In general, I find predators pretty predictable while prey on the other-hand, because they live in universes of anxiety, develop more textured personalities. I also have as a writer a deft hand when it comes to making matters worse, so of course , the already panicky are ready made for me. I will try to grow this blog into an assortment of laughs, because that is what my life has mostly taught me to do. I will use the famous people I have known to get your attention and then tell you small but many times wonderful things about them. I will never name the ones I say ugly things about but I hope you will guess who they are.

Month: April, 2019

The second most famous concert ever

On 22 December 1808, a benefit concert (then called an Akademie) was held for Ludwig van Beethoven at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. The concert, held in a very cold hall and was approximately four hours long, it featured the public premieres of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Choral Fantasy. The performers consisted of an orchestra, chorus, vocal soloists, and the composer as piano soloist. Beethoven biographer Barry Cooper refers to the concert, in terms of its content, as the “most remarkable” of Beethoven’s career”.

Conditions for the performance of symphonic music in the Vienna of 1808 were hardly optimal, as Kahn explains:

Even a grand public concert could draw only from the aristocracy and the city’s small middle class, [estimated at] no more than 2.5 percent of Vienna’s 200,000 to 250,000 residents. The standard price for a concert ticket was two gulden which was more than a week’s salary for a laborer. Musicians could not give academies in the summer when the nobility fled the dust and heat of Vienna to their country estates, and during the fall and winter, the theaters were given over to rehearsals and performances of operas, the high-status form of musical production. The only time available for academies was during Advent and Lent when operas were forbidden. During these six weeks, competition for halls was fierce, and theater managers could and did refuse nights to Beethoven in favor of mediocrities.

The Theater an der Wien 1812 still exists and thrives today as a significant venue for opera.
In Vienna Beethoven’s chosen venue, the Theater an der Wien, was a very substantial building, described as “the most lavishly equipped and one of the largest theatres of its age.” It had opened to rave reviews in 1801; for instance, the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung called it the “most comfortable and satisfactory in the whole of Germany” (which meant at the time, “all German-speaking lands”). Beethoven had already premiered several of his most famous works to date in this theater.

During 1807 and 1808, Beethoven had provided his works and services to a series of charity concerts at the Theater an der Wien. The Theater’s director, Joseph Hartl, ultimately permitted Beethoven to use the venue for the 22 December 1808 concert, which was for Beethoven’s private benefit. Beethoven had lobbied for a private benefit concert for many months—in return for his participation in the charity concerts—and expressed frustration at what he perceived to be Hartl’s procrastination on the matter.

The concert commenced at 6.30pm and lasted for approximately four hours, with an interval separating two sessions. The programme was as follows:

Part 1 Part 2
Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”, Op. 68 Symphony No. 5, Op. 67
Ah! perfido, concert aria for soprano solo and orchestra, Op.65 Sanctus, from the Mass in C major, Op. 86
Gloria, from the Mass in C major for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra, Op. 86 Extemporised fantasia for solo piano
Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58 Choral Fantasy for piano soloist, vocal soloists chorus, and orchestra, Op. 80
Of the non-premiered works, “Ah! perfido” had been composed in 1796. The C Major Mass had been premiered the previous year in Eisenstadt under the auspices of Prince Esterházy. According to Sutton, the improvised piano fantasia is the work that was later written out and published as the Fantasia in G minor, Beethoven’s Opus 77 (1809).[8]

The Choral Fantasy was the last of the works to be composed; it was barely finished in time for the concert, leaving insufficient opportunity for rehearsal. Its role in the performance was as the concluding work, bringing together pianist, choir and orchestra.

The two movements from the Mass in C were not advertised in the programme as such, due to restrictions on performing church music in theatres.

The program would strike many music listeners today as being extraordinarily long. yet in Beethoven’s time, this was perhaps not so; Lowe writes:

In the decades around 1800 the number and variety of pieces on this concert was not all that unusual. Each half of a public concert program typically opened with a symphony, followed by an aria or two, a concerto, perhaps some chamber music and keyboard improvisations. Another symphony, or at the very least the finale of one, usually closed the concert.

Thus is it possible that the difficulty of the concert for listeners may have arisen from the need to take in a whole series of complex and original works (see critical reactions below), as well as the cold.

Musical forces[edit]
Forced to squeeze in his benefit concert at a very busy time, Beethoven was handicapped in summoning adequate musical forces. In principle, he had access to the professional orchestra of the Theater an der Wien,[11] but many of its members had a conflicting engagement: the Tonkünstler-Societät, a benevolent society for the widows and orphans of musicians, was putting on one of its four annual oratorio performances at the Burgtheater. The Society generally required its members to participate in its benefit concerts or pay a fine; this reduced the number of skilled professionals available, and amateurs were required to fill the gaps. The orchestra thus available to Beethoven was a moderately sized ensemble that is likely to have had in the order of six to eight first violins for the evening.] Amateur and semi-professional concerts of the period saw larger orchestras.

Beethoven was the pianist for the concerto, the improvised fantasia and the Choral Fantasy. Never again would Beethoven appear as a soloist in a piano concerto: his declining hearing would render it impossible. Contemporary accounts describe Beethoven as the conductor of the orchestra; however, it is possible that Beethoven only had limited direction over the orchestra, and the orchestra had refused to rehearse under his baton.

Performance

The hand-copied parts used for the premiere of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They include corrections hand-entered by the composer and are on display in the Lobkowitz family museum in Prague.
By all accounts the execution of the music was inferior. One review targeted the orchestra, saying that it “could be considered lacking in all respects”. The soloist for the Ah! perfido scene and aria was an inexperienced soprano co-opted into the concert after Beethoven had offended Anna Milder, his first choice for the role. The substitute’s performance was hampered by stage fright.

An aggravating factor for the audience was the extremely cold weather.

Probably the low point in the performance occurred during the Choral Fantasy, which had been insufficiently rehearsed; adherence to the score fell apart at one point, leading Beethoven to stop and restart the piece.

When the master brought out his orchestral Fantasia with choruses, he arranged with me at the somewhat hurried rehearsal, with wet[21] voice-parts as usual, that the second variation should be played without repeat. In the evening, however, absorbed in his creation, he forgot all about the instructions which he had given, repeated the first part while the orchestra accompanied the second, which sounded not altogether edifying. A trifle too late, the Concertmaster, Unrath, noticed the mistake, looked in surprise at his lost companions, stopped playing and called out dryly: ‘Again!’ A little displeased, the violinist Anton Wranitzky asked ‘With repeats?’ ‘Yes,’ came the answer, and now the thing went straight as a string.

This part of Seyfried’s account emphasizes the humor of the situation, but there were also some negative consequences for Beethoven. Seyfried goes on:[20]

At first [Beethoven] could not understand that he had in a manner humiliated the musicians. He thought it was a duty to correct an error that had been made and that the audience was entitled to hear everything properly played, for its money. But he readily and heartily begged the pardon of the orchestra for the humiliation to which he had subjected it, and was honest enough to spread the story himself and assume all responsibility for his own absence of mind.

Prince von Lobkowitz was a patron and supporter of Beethoven.[14] Reichardt goes on to say:

There we sat, in the most bitter cold, from half past six until half past ten, and confirmed for ourselves the maxim that one may easily have too much of a good thing, still more of a powerful one.

Reichardt’s opinion echoed that of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung: “To judge all these pieces after one and only hearing, especially considering the language of Beethoven’s works, in that so many were performed one after the other, and that most of them are so grand and long, is downright impossible.

The Beethoven memorial now displayed on the exterior wall of the Theater an der Wien. The text reads, “Ludwig van Beethoven lived in the Theater an der Wien in 1803 and 1804. Parts of his opera, the Third Symphony, and the Kreutzer Sonata were written here. Fidelio and other works received their first performance in this house.”

The Anatomy of Fighting with Pete Townshend

We were not friends but there was a curiosity between us. Sometime later I heard Keith Moon say to him, “You know he is never going to forgive you”. Townshend made me doubt myself. He did make me cry, as he said he would the first day I met him.
Their manager confronted me in the lobby of a hotel, in front of everyone, the morning after a difficult incident between Pete and me and urged me to forgive him. In Bill’s words,” He told you he was sorry. He did that for you, you have to allow it to be enough.”.
In real life, it is never a good idea to imagine you know someone. It is barely passably accurate to say you recognize yourself let alone another.
No one was a fool inside the touring party of The Who. These people were smart. Nothing was new to them. We had all passed the humiliation test. Band included. Rock bands live in vacuums. They move from city to city and encounter people who are affected by them while they are not at all.
The Who never treated the people around them badly. But if you were with them, closely, day to day you had better watch out. You had to remember who you were. And that’s what made it so much fun.
It was the first time in my life I forgave someone who had seriously hurt me. I have a lifetime of frozen people. Revenge never even comes into it. I stopped worrying about retaliation early. I knew that there are ways of ignoring people that hurt them more.
The Who placed you deep in an exposure you had to live with. You needed to understand that you were less than you thought. This was in exchange for living so grandly entitled, it took your breath away.

Burning Ants

I would spend hours on hot summer days chasing ants, on my hands and knees, trying to burn them with a large magnifying glass angled perfectly to the sun’s rays. I had built fires this way in Boy Scouts. I used twigs, not ants, for that.
The ants often adopted a “clump together” stratagem in their insect terror, and this was a bad move.
In retrospect, there is a cruelty in children that blends agreeably with innocence.

Excusable Poetry

Women never base long or short term affection on their sexual hysteria. For this reason this makes them more reliable than men.
Even in the urgency of the bar’s “last call,” they will calmly counterfeit for themselves a romantic landscape that will help forgive the alleyway or the cheap hotel where they wind up on any given night.
They invent excusable poetry to surround their poor decisions.

How I dressed with The Who

Keith Moon confided in me he thought the bracelets were “too much.”

Phil Collins

I have had many “best friends” in my life and they never shared one another. This is a rider on my contract with the rest of the world I guess.
Phil was my best friend for years.
He is an ordinary guy save for the talent part. He was not crafty enough then to be otherwise now. I loved the other members of the band but he was the one I got stoned with. We would hunt for hippies in the early seventies to cop grass or psychedelic mushrooms from. We did this all through Canada, the US, and Europe. Some asshole once sold us mushrooms soaking in a plastic bag. We were happy until It turned out they were from a can made by Green Giant. More fool us.
We were arrested coming out of Canada at customs. He had some grass and I had a tiny Meerschaum pipe with marijuana residue in it. We were frightened. We sat in jail. As we were released the agent held the pipe in front of my face and snapped it in half. The Canadian Government had to release us to allow the tour to continue. It was not a good time to be busted. I still miss that pipe and have bad thoughts about that cop.
We would sneak out to find hamburgers after the show ended. No small task in the places we played. The others were all vegetarians so there wasn’t anything to eat backstage. Vegetables were different back then. All their food was brown like mud. The cooks expected no digestion would be necessary. They never wavered from this diet. Nor did we.
We made the promoters provide us with “Blue Nun”, a shitty german white wine which even today releases Nazi based scorn from me when I see the label.
I listened to Phil bitch forever about not being in “Earth, Wind, and Fire”. Genesis was never his kind of music. They didn’t let him sing and perform. He stowed away his rhythms for later. He did have a great song he performed while holding a now-famous mechanical monkey. It was darling. That same monkey was in “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. It had a tidy little career. I think Spielberg stole the idea from him.
My guess is he turned Genesis into Earth, Wind, and Fire” after Peter left. But I am more vindictive than him. So this might not be the case.
I was the highest paid employee of Genesis at that time. I handed them a per diem each week. All their money from the shows was plowed back into the elaborate production. Most shows, in the beginning, came nowhere near selling out. Profit meant we could get to the next show. He came to me nearly in tears one morning in Europe because he had fallen asleep while on phone with his wife in Canada ( or maybe girlfriend, I can’t remember). He couldn’t pay the bill.
Mostly we traveled by rented car, never by bus like most bands seem to. Sometimes in Europe even by trains. Their young children came too. I always drove as did Phil and Mike. Peter Gabriel was not a good driver. He wasn’t a linear thinker enough to manage the A to B nature of a car. That said, Peter did save our lives one day when I fell asleep and he grabbed the wheel from me. I always denied this happened. American men can’t admit to that kind of shit. It was true though.
Jill Gabriel had a big accident while driving on ice in one of the Dakota”s. She was skidding out of control and I yelled, ” don’t step on the brakes” of course causing her to use both feet to hit them. The car spun and slammed into a snow wall. We all forgot the baby in the back. All except Phil who saved her.
I hit a taxicab circling in a crowded roundabout in Madrid. Just Phil and I. We were in a brand new Range Rover rented for the entire tour. The little cab was crumpled rather decently. No one was hurt but every Spaniard in the vicinity converged fiercely on us hesitating only because most had not brought their knives and I am big. Suddenly someone yelled ” Genesis ” with their wonderful pronunciation. They became fans before our eyes. The band was big in Madrid. We gave them all tickets.
There are no better fans than Genesis fans. We needed help filling up a venue somewhere in America and hired Lou Reed, a real badass to open. His fans beat up our entire audience. Our fans were smart and gentle.
We saw The Alamo for the first time together. It had a profound effect on him. We always booked shows close to it. I hear that through the years he has bought most of it.
He fired me from the stage while on mike after I caused the ruin of an entire show, ( See “Rock’s Most Embarrassing Moment”.) I survived but the event shook me and I nevermore involved myself in production. I stuck to the money. It changed my trajectory.
I didn’t see him again after Peter left until one Madison Square Garden show years and years later. I never return willingly to the past, as mentioned, it is part of some subconscious understanding. I did it for my kid’s sake. He treated my children like his own. He was still my friend and I his.

Hockey

The Boston College goalie has been knocked unconscious and they have just laid him across the goal and played on. This is kind of great. If you get a concussion they put you in the penalty box.


A Feeling is not a Thought
by Regis Boff

FaceBook is bringing us closer to the slaughter house. We are mistaking feelings for thinking. Cattle do this too until they feel the blade.

Sexy Legs

The only personal hero I have is the guy who figured out how to make the black seam in woman’s nylons run all the way up the back of her legs.

Enlightenment

The very first sign of Enlightenment is that your enemies disappear.
The last is that your friends do too.

PUBLISHED: April 10, 2018
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

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