A Return to Writing?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Hey, remember this?

(2023 Editor’s note: I wrote this nearly two years ago, and changed none of it, so here’s this as an attempt to tell myself I’ll start writing here again. Please leave a comment or something if you see this and enjoyed anything you’ve read here. I love seeing this feedback, but have been terrible about replying to comments over the past few years and it would be wonderful to know people are getting these updates.)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A few years at this point. What’s changed? I’ve moved a couple times (on the same street), almost everything at work has changed, I’ve bought a few hundred books, and read a goodly number of them. Oh, also, not sure if you’ve heard, there’s a pandemic.

Anyway, I’d entertained no more than momentarily, a few times over the past few months, the idea of returning to this blog/project/site/rabbit hole, but then I blinked or breathed and considered it no longer. Well, spoiler alert, here we are. 

Over the past couple quiet years, I haven’t listened to much new. Enough other stuff was new, to be honest. When I was writing here prolifically, I did almost zero reading, and then among other things, I started reading again, and that’s been sort of an obsession over the past couple of years. I read 75-ish books in 2020, and at the time of this writing about 25 so far for this year.

A person only has so many mental calories, and after having taken a needed hiatus from writing here as much as I was, I found other endeavors for that mental energy, and there was a point recently where they overlapped, and it was apparently the cue I needed to feel good about dipping my toes and my quill back into this music thing.

I got an email from a concerned (potential?) reader who found the site (or Facebook page), and wrote me an email to reach out and say, ‘Hey, I see you’ve stopped writing and I hope you haven’t gotten the COVID.’ Honestly, it seemed like a lot longer ago than spring 2019 that I stopped writing here. I had to work that timeline out a bit, and at the time of this writing (who knows how many weeks ahead of the actual posting?), I haven’t even responded to her to say, ‘Hey, thank you so much for your email and actually I am probably going to get writing again.’

I think that came before the other thing, the confluence of my reading and music, but let’s talk about that now.

Before the most recent reading epoch in which I’ve found myself, I’d read only a few novels, one of which was prompted by a connection to a piece I’d been planning to write about, Janáček’s Sinfonietta. There was another reason or two I decided to pick up the massive tome, but it ended up being my first experience reading anything from this author, and I don’t recommend it as a good first book of his: Murakami’s 1Q84. 

It features, very memorably, at least in the beginning, the Sinfonietta, itself a memorable, powerful work, but in that case, it was the music that made me pick up the book. In this more recent case, it was the reverse. 

Last month I re-read Crime and Punishment (the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation) as part of a move to finally get around to reading some of the Russian classics. There are five major ones I wanted to get around to reading, C+P coming first chronologically, followed by another Thing + P book, Tolstoy’s War and Peace (also Pevear/Volokhonsky). European history, Russians, the French, being in Austria, Napoleon, early 19th century… Anyway, whose name pops up in the book but Razumovsky? Of course. 

I’ll be honest and say I couldn’t even remember where I’d stopped with Beethoven’s op. 59 quartets. I’ve done them all, and spent the a few days after that listening to them on repeat. Goodness gracious are they wonderful pieces.

I’m eager to pick back up here, but I have no idea how long it’ll be before I start posting again. I’ll probably take some time to do a lot of writing to get ahead and have some things to post every few weeks or something, so by the time either of my readers see this, I suspect I’ll have a queue of posts prepared for the next little while.

Back to Basics

It’s time to focus on the basic stuff, I think, for now. A sort of goal became to dig up and try to draw attention to some of these more (or very) obscure composers, like my Editor’s Choice series, which I do intend to keep doing, but at this point, I feel like what I want from my focused listening endeavors is to know the classics. I still don’t know all the Beethoven sonatas, the Mozart piano concertos, or string quartets, etc., and I want to. That was, nearly a decade ago (what?!), the original purpose of this blog, to be able to know and identify the standards.

(I will say that I was at a museum a few months ago (pandemic only very recently actually hit where I live) and walked by an exhibit that was playing something I knew I knew, and I was able to pick it out as one of Mozart’s sort of middle-period piano sonatas. I was happy about that.)

So that’s where we’ll be, I think. Where will we pick up? Beethoven’s tenth string quartet, Mozart’s 15th string quartet, 12th piano concerto, Beethoven’s eighth symphony, tenth piano sonata (I think), Shostakovich’s sixth symphony and fourth string quartet, and probably trying to get through all of the really early Schubert and into his mature string quartets and piano sonatas. That’s all that comes to mind for now. We gotta keep it sort of small and manageable at this point.


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