Category Archives: Listening

On not Reading Music

“I’ll teach you!” Pantelis volunteered as soon as we started calling each other “my other self” in late 2009. For a person who has been thinking with music all his life, to be unable to read music represents a gap … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Friends, Listening

Listening to music as a skill

What if listening to music is a skill, like playing it?  For example, listening to these pieces for ruined pianos arguably requires a skill. In her book Intelligent Virtue (2012), philosopher Julia Annas, an authority in Greek ethics, draws on “the … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Listening, Piano

The total moment of the perfect melody

When all else fails, there’s still a Schubert melody. Melodies sound like total moments which float freely, unchained, outside the regular course of time.  Adorno explains:  “The concept of melody first gained ascendancy in the nineteenth century in connection with … Continue reading

Posted in Friends, Listening, Melancholy, Music | Tagged

Listening to a mazurka by Chopin

Here is a tremendous instance of the birth of the lyrical subject in the 19th century. Listening to this early mazurka, you feel you are listening to something coming forth tentatively from your deepest self, not from an outside source.  … Continue reading

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The 1819 Dresden Conspiracy (Travels in revolutionary Mitteleuropa, from the Rhine to the Danube/2)

I went for the first time to Germany last month with a specific purpose: To walk in the footsteps of revolutionary friends in Dresden, such as the comrades in this painting. “Two Men Contemplating the Moon” by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), … Continue reading

Posted in Attunement, Collaboration, Friends, Listening, Revolution | Tagged

The listening self

Musicians do not play an instrument.  They are using instruments to play their body.  They resonate instruments in the echo chamber of their reverberating body. In attending or watching live performances, I have learned to listen not to the interpretation, … Continue reading

Posted in Attunement, Classical Music, Collaboration, Friends, Listening

Goethe’s Mignon sings to Wilhelm Meister

From Beethoven to Berg and beyond, a great number of major composers has set to music the poem Kennst du das land (Do you know the land) from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Book III, Chapter 1, 1795) where the enigmatic adolescent Mignon tells … Continue reading

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