New November: a series

Last month marked three years that I’ve been writing in this space (the past year powered by WordPress, and previous years by other, inferior platforms), and that’s totaled more than 600 articles, more than half of which are ‘music posts’ or articles about individual pieces of music. Aside from those, there are concert reviews, reference articles, series introductions (like this one) and wrap-ups, etc.

And a podcast.

However, in all that time I’ve been writing and listening and researching, there’s still a whole wing of the cavernous never-ending library of classical music, entire floors and rows and rooms of books not touched. Every once in a while I’ll chat with people who I assume are far more well-read than I am about music, and discuss X or Y or Z piece with the assumption that it’s a standard in the repertoire, that every pianist or conductor or concertgoer knows it and I’m only now getting around to catching up, and said music person will say “Oh, I’ve never heard (of) that piece/composer before.”

That being said, it’s almost embarrassing what I have come nowhere close to touching on yet. Some of those iconic (scratch that; some of those cliche) pieces that even non-music people have heard of or recognize or assume are the pinnacles of human musical efforts… not only have I not touched on those pieces, I haven’t even mentioned the composers.

Also, I really like series. Just this year, we did the (enormous) Symphonic Poem series, the Early Darmstadt series, the recently-completed and really wonderful Swedish Symphony Series, and last month’s Russian Piano series. As much as I love doing those, it does take up a whole month (or more) of time, and it’s kind of a commitment. August’s violin series was a little more varied, and I liked that.

So… in trying to come up with a theme for the month of November, I scratched a Norwegian thing (beklager, Norway. I’ll get to you eventually), and decided it was time to do a series without a theme, kind of a house-cleaning exercise. I have stuff I’ve been sitting on for months that I’d love to write about, exciting finds, things that I’d love to share, but you don’t flick a diamond across the table at someone to show it to them. Something of value is packaged nicely, given at the right time, etc., and so some of that stuff I’m waiting to build series around or pair with other things. Other lists are of stuff I need to get around to and get familiar with.

So there ended up being a theme for November anyway, and it was stuff from composers who’ve never appeared on the blog. In last month’s series, I intentionally included a few never-before-seen composers (Medtner, Taneyev, Arensky) as sort of a segue into this month, and in total, the house-cleaning exercise of good music falls into a few categories:

  • Stuff I enjoy immensely and would really love to talk about but just haven’t managed to find the right time for
  • Stuff that intrigues or interests me that I think others might find interesting
  • Stuff that I feel obligated to include because it’s, y’know, famous and all…

That’s kind of from most positive to least, or most motivated to least. There are all three types in this month’s series, and you’ll probably know which is which. I feel good even about the more obligatory inclusions, because it’s nice to get to know those formerly-unfamiliar works and maybe start to appreciate them a little more.

So anyway, that’s that for the month. The only other criterium for the month was that the pieces wouldn’t have any other relation to one another than that they’re all new composers to the blog. I tried not to feature too many composers from the same background, but you’ll be seeing English folks more than once, for sure. Anyway, that’s what’s on tap for this month, a fun little grab bag of interesting things, so stay tuned.

(Also, it was a much easier month to write because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this month and have lots of other writing to do, so… management of resources…)


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