Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Sometimes, everything seems strangely connected
In my last post I spoke of the Swede Tomas Transtromer and his love of Schubert and his poetic idea that somewhere in the multitudes of New York on a given night, someone must be playing Schubert, and to that person everything else is insignificant.
Yesterday I was perusing a slim volume of his more recent poems, one of which--indeed the title poem--is entitled "The Sorrow Gondola"(Sorgengondolen).It's actual a poem about a piece of music,Franz Liszt's "La Lugubre Gondola II". This very bizarre piano piece uses angular melodies and weird harmonies to create a world of mystery and sorrow--its one of Liszt's very late pieces, composed in Venice (where else!). His friend (and son-in-law!) Wagner died shortly afterwards.also in Venice. I was playing the piece at the piano trying to fathom Liszt's odd chord changes, when I remembered that amongst the vast corpus of the music of John Adams, there is a transcription he made for orchestra of this music; I found the CD and listened. It made so mach more sense in the orchestration than as a piano piece, and this thrilled me to rediscover this strange Adamsian opus.
Now I am going to re read the poem as a musical entity, as if it were to travel in time, as if it was a kind of music.
And then I thought--what would Franz Schubert have thought about it as a lieder text?

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