Wednesday May 02, 2007

Felix Mendelssohn

In my last music post, I wrote about Bad Religion. Today I'd like to shift gears just a little bit and discuss Felix Mendelssohn. One criterion that I use to judge a composer is what percentage of his music I enjoy listening to – sort of the "consistently good" criterion. And by that rubric, Mendelssohn is probably my favorite composer. I find that I like almost everything that he composed.

Although I grew up listening to classical music, I don't always know the names and composers of the pieces I like. So I was pleased recently to "re-discover" Mendelssohn. My interest started with his violin concerto in E minor. This piece of music has one of the most beautiful openings I've heard. Listen to the 1st movement: Allegro molto appassionato, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mendelssohn's fourth symphony (the "Italian") is also outstanding. You can listen to the beginnings of each movement, courtesy of amazon.com (if you only have time for one, I suggest the fourth movement).

Although I don't think they're played as much, I also enjoy his two piano concertos. Listen to the beginnings of each movement, again courtesy of amazon.com.

Friday Apr 27, 2007

This is Just a Punk Rock Post\*

I feel like an unlikely punk rock fan, since I listen mostly to classical and jazz music. But I really seem to like the band Bad Religion.

Listen to them sing American Jesus, an indictment of US nationalism and sanctimonious morality.

I think the main reasons I like the band are:

  1. The up-tempo beats and catchy melodies.

  2. The intelligent lyrics. Not surprising, since the lead singer, Greg Graffin has a doctorate in evolutionary paleontology from Cornell, and teaches at UCLA. Here's an example, from Struck a Nerve:

    Every day I wander
    In negative disposition
    As I'm bombarded by superlatives
    Realizing very well that I am not alone
    Introverted
    I look to tomorrow for salvation
    But I'm thinking altruistically
    ...
    I try to close my eyes
    But I cannot ignore the stimuli


  3. The band's unabashedly liberal views. For example, in 2004 (after the onset of the Iraq war) they released an album called, "The Empire Strikes First." One song, Let Them Eat War includes the following lyrics:

    From the force to the union shops
    The war economy is making new jobs
    But the people who benefit most
    Are breaking bread with their benevolent hosts

    Who never stole from the rich to give to the poor
    All they ever gave to them was a war
    And a foreign enemy to deplore




\* With all due respect to "Punk Rock Song" on the album, "The Gray Race."

About

Nick Solter is a software engineer and author living in Colorado.

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