2007.04.28: Saturday, and nothing else today.
So much “free” food and booze and conversation. Friends long lost, acquaintances revived, and old antagonisms forgotten.
Inside: GPotD, but none of the above.
“He, Zigeunger, greife in die Saiten ein!”
l He, Zigeunger, greife in die Saiten ein!
Spiel das Lied vom ungetreuen Mägdelein!
Laß die Saiten weinen, klagen, traurig bange,
Bis die heißen Tränen netzen diese Wange!
—Translated by Hugo Conrat
This (Saturday) afternoon after lunch was a Glee Club concert, and while I was never a Glee Club member, many of my friends were and I often attended their concerts when I was a student. Two former hallmates and the spouse of one of the joined me in Little Bridges, a chapel turned small concert hall, and we observed the old alumni and enjoyed the music. The concert consisted of some early 17th-century English vocal/choral music (by John Bennet, Thomas Weelkes, and Peter Philips), followed by some French (Pierre Passereau [1509–47] and Pierre Villette [1926–1998]), then 19th- (Joseph Rheinberger) and 18th- (Gottfried August Homilus) century German composers, and finally some more folk or traditional pieces (or at least works that mimic them, by Edward Bairstow, and arranged by Charles V. Stanford and J. Rutter, for example).
After this selection of works we got a longer cycle by Brahms, his Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103. The first one reminded me of Lenau's gypsy poem and I decided I'd post a few here.
A Viennese businessman, Hugo Conrat, translated a number of Hungarian folk songs into German, and these provide the texts for Brahms's Lieder, an 11-part cycle dealing mostly with romance and love. I'm using Conrat's German translations from the Hungarian as my GPotD; the English texts are accurate “enough,” but no translator was listed in the liner notes.
The one little difference between the German and the English that I found salient was the choice of prepositions in the first verse of each version, the “in” of the German and the “on” of the English. This doesn't really say much about either language. The German text uses a verb meaning “to grab” or “grasp,” whereas in English the word “strike” is employed, but both are idiomatic in their respective languages when it comes to music. Each verb (and or a version of each verb) can be transitive—you can just grab/grasp something or just strike something, but it's also obvious that when a preposition is called for, the choice is purely contextual and not fixed.
All of Conrat's texts—and, I suspect, his sources—are sappy beyond belief. The one I chose for today is actually rather mild and only participates in the typical association of “the Gypsy” with firey, emotional music. But as terrible as most of the song texts are, they are transformed into something beautiful (if never sublime) by Brahms's music and by the distortion and arrangement of words from kitschy verse to song text, through repetition and elongation of syllables and sounds, through dissolving the text as meaning-carrier.
Hey, gypsy, strike on your strings!
Play the song of the unfaithful maiden!
Let the strings weep, lament, and sadly tremble,
until hot tears moisten this cheek!
20007.04.29: Sunday, funday, but not yet Monday.
There's late and then there's never.
If you have a champagne brunch at 9a.m. you shouldn't drink from 4:30 the previous afternoon until 4:30 in the morning and hope to convince yourself to roll out of bed in time.
“Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn”
Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn, mein süß Lieb,
Was du einst mit heil'gem Eide mir gelobt?
Täsch mich nicht, verlaß mich nicht,
Du weiß nicht, wie lieb ich dich hab,
Lieb du mich, wie ich dich,
Dann strömt Gottes Huld auf dich herab.
—Translated (from the Hungarian) by Hugo Conrat
Two words, four syllables, whatever: “psycho stalker.” That's how I like to imagine today's GPotD: as a folk-song about a creepy, obsessed ex.
I'd almost rather hear the Hungarian texts set to Brahms's music, for then I could more easily enjoy the songs, for when such things are in a language you know (understand) well it is harder to ignore the text and its subtext.
It was earlier in the decade, when talking with a friend I saw again this weekend, that I realized that usually when I listened to pop & rock, or really to any contemporary music, I did not pay much attention to the lyrics, even if I sang along. They were merely words I heard or let flow through my mind to my mouth and out again. For a couple decades I had only listened to the music and treated the lyrics as an extension of that music. Only a few years ago did I begin to listen to the lyrics as texts, as meaningful collections of words and sentences and expressions.
That ruined some songs for me, and made others more interesting.
But after this slight perceptual and cognitive shift—the type of things most of you find either obvious or trivial, or perhaps so banal that it can't be imagined, for perhaps you've always cared about what a song was “about”—I couldn't really go back to treating such songs and texts as just part of the music.
It's a loss of innocence I regret more than other such losses, I think, because texts and their interpretations are my business, and another realm of experience is no longer safe from that business, from work. I can't escape analyzing texts anymore, unless I do not understand them, and so that is perhaps one of the best reasons to listen to so-called “foreign” music.
Do you sometimes remember, my sweet love,
what you once vowed to me with a sacred oath?
Deceive me not, leave me not;
you know not how dearly I love you.
Love me as I love you;
then God' grace will pour down on you.
—Translator unknown / standard translation
2007.04.30: It's Walpurgis time!
That's like “Miller Time”™ but not so shitty.
Again, the dates are off. I didn't want it this way, but I blame the airports and the airlines and air travel in general, but not myself for scheduling my life this way. Screw “personal responsibility.”
Inside: GPotD and it's a small world.
Nach einem Gemälde.
Senke, strahlender Gott—die Fluren dürsten
Nach erquickendem Thau, der Mensch verschmachtet,
Matter ziehen die Rosse—
Senke den Wagen hinab!
Siehe, wer aus des Meers krystallner Woge
Lieblich lächelnd dir winkt! Erkennt dein Herz sie?
Rascher fliegen die Rosse,
Tethys, die göttliche, winkt.
Schnell vom Wagen herab in ihre Arme
Springt der Führer, den Zaum ergreift Cupido,
Stille halten die Rosse,
Trinken die kühlende Fluth.
An dem Himmel herauf mit leisen Schritten
Kommt die duftende Nacht; ihr folgt die süße
Liebe. Ruhet und liebet!
Phöbus, der liebende, ruht.
—By Friedrich Schiller
P, P's wife and daughter, N and I left campus early afternoon and drove toward Baldy, stopping most of the way of the mountain (road) for a tiny picnic, and up there it was still hot but the air was a magnificent turn of events compare with the valley. Looking out of our hotel window on the 7th floor was an exercise in haze.
In the afternoon I got dropped off at the Ontario airport, but check-in-counter-Tammy put me on stand-by and I soon found myself taking the 5-something rather than nearly-9 shuttle to LAX. Once I got to LAX I visited a Starbucks so as to acquire quarters for the phone, and then I called N, who was, at that moment, returning P's rental car and was about to go to the terminal; we met up at gate 76 a bit later, got some food, chatted, and once he left I was alone again.
T-Mobile refused to sell me wireless access, so instead of husiarizing I read. Then the red-eye loaded and I didn't stand again until Chicago. Once I got there (5-something in the morning, 3-something Pacific) I found my way from the C gates to F ... a nice morning walk, and after I consumed some fast-food breakfast I sat and waited for my flight back home to Madison. I got back to town and we rushed from the plane, and soon I was out the main doors, turning right, and looking for a taxi.
My students gave presentations today, and one was great, another was quite good, and two needed work. But that's still better than the group projects. Another student, who will be presenting on Wednesday and who was all smiles during class provided a bitch-and-moan email over the weekend for my reading pleasure:
I would just to express my frustration at the paper we have to. Now not only do we have a project to present, a 7-page paper to research and write, and a final to study for but we have an additional 4-page satire to create in the next two weeks. This is quite an obscene workload to be crammed into a two week time span, especially since the instructions for the most recent are not clear, at all [...] To me it seems as though we have been given a rediculous amount of work with not much preparation time. We all have other classes that we have work to do and study for outside of German. I know that I was not the only one upset today when we were given the assignment and I wanted you to know how frustrated we were.
You mean the 4-page project assigned, oh, one and a half months ago but which you all just started doing now? That project and the final writing project, both of which were listed on the syllabus at the beginning of the semester? One that is “not clear at all” even though in response to your previous whininess you received a hand-holding email that told you what to do step-by-step? You mean the things you're too busy to work on even though you haven't been assigned any other recent homework?
Oh. My. God. It's nearly the end of the semester and you have a 7 page paper to write. 7 whole pages. What I can type out in one of several languages in a couple hours. When tired. More quickly when on caffeine. A 7 page paper you were told about months ago. A 7 page paper that is shorter than what you'll write in other courses. If you can't read instructions, budget your time, and treat this course as seriously as you supposedly treat your others—get the f**k out.
And I am exhausted, and I have rehearsal in an hour.
Pity me ... the world is so cruel.
Oh! thou bright-beaming god, the plains are thirsting,
Thirsting for freshening dew, and man is pining;
Wearily move on thy horses—
Let, then, thy chariot descend!
Seest thou her who, from ocean's crystal billows,
Lovingly nods and smiles?—Thy heart must know her!
Joyously speed on thy horses,—
Tethys, the goddess, 'tis nods!
Swiftly from out his flaming chariot leaping,
Into her arms he springs,—the reins takes Cupid,—
Quietly stand the horses,
Drinking the cooling flood.
Now from the heavens with gentle step descending,
Balmy night appears, by sweet love followed;
Mortals, rest ye, and love ye,—
Phoebus, the loving one, rests!
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