Peter Reavy

Sorting potatoes means a better crop next year

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on November 23, 2012

Came across this quote from Charles Ives in a book last night. Full text can be found here.

Again, if a man finds that the cadences of an Apache war-dance come nearest to his soul, provided he has taken pains to know enough other cadences—for eclecticism is part of his duty—sorting potatoes means a better crop next year—let him assimilate whatever he finds highest of the Indian ideal, so that he can use it with the cadences, fervently, transcendentally, inevitably, furiously, in his symphonies, in his operas, in his whistlings on the way to work, so that he can paint his house with them—make them a part of his prayer-book—this is all possible and necessary, if he is confident that they have a part in his spiritual consciousness. With this assurance his music will have everything it should of sincerity, nobility, strength, and beauty, no matter how it sounds; and if, with this, he is true to none but the highest of American ideals (that is, the ideals only that coincide with his spiritual consciousness) his music will be true to itself and incidentally American, and it will be so even after it is proved that all our Indians came from Asia.


How to play a random album in iTunes

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on May 31, 2012

iTunes has a reputation for being bloated, but often turns out to have useful features that other music players don’t have. I was reconverted to iTunes after trying a few of the Linux music players, none of which suited me, since they were pretty hopeless at handling music sorted by composer.

It recently occurred to me that rather than agonise over which album to play, it would be good to select an album at random. I thought I might have to write a little script to pick an album name from the iTunes database or something, but it turns out that iTunes can play a random album already.

First make sure shuffle is switched on. Also make sure it is set to shuffle by album (Controls > Shuffle > Option > Albums). I must admit I had no idea that shuffle by album was there.

Click Play.

To jump to the next random album (PC):
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+RIGHT skips to next album
CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+LEFT to go to previous album.

To jump to the next random album (Mac):
Option+Shift+RIGHT skips to next album
Option+Shift+LEFT to go to previous album.

Good old iTunes.

Information taken from:

Update: if you skip to the next album with a composer selected in the Column Browser then you will get a random album with that composer.

The Luthéal

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on November 17, 2011

Finding Bruno S.

Posted in films, music by Peter Reavy on January 18, 2011

Finding Bruno S., star of Kaspar Hauser and Stroszek.

Emanuel Schikaneder

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on October 6, 2010

Last Friday’s playlist

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on June 7, 2010

Wagner, Rheingold Act 4; Schoenberg, Cham Sym 1; Berg, Violin concerto; Adams, Harmonielehre; Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time

When the cabbage is served

Posted in music, radio by Peter Reavy on July 17, 2009

I heard part of Desert Island Discs with Professor Hugh Pennington. He seems to have great taste in music. I really liked an old Hungarian tune he picked, called When the cabbage is served.

Kirsty Young may have made fun of it, but Ivor Cutler said that this sort of music made him drunk with happiness. It makes me feel the same way.

The CD is available. The name to remember is Zoltán Kallós:

Since the 1960s Zoltan Kallos has been researching and recording the traditional music and folklore of the multi-ethnic villages in Transylvania – a region where Romanian and Hungarian culture is mixed. His work has helped to preserve the musical heritage of these people and with these CD releases we can now have a taste of the best of these musical traditions.

Born in Válaszút (Kolozs country, in Transylvania) in 1926, Zoltán Kallós follows in the tradition of Bartok and Kodaly researching and collecting folk music from within the region known as the Carpathian Basin.

Haydn Symphony No. 13

Posted in internet, music, radio by Peter Reavy on February 13, 2009

Radio 3 have been playing their way through all of Haydn’s symphonies, 2 a week, since the start of the year. Thanks to the iPlayer I have been able to listen to them as long as I remember to do it in less than 7 days.

Today they had his 13th symphony played by the Bolzano Haydn Orchestra. The presenter said it was the conductor’s only Haydn recording, an LP that had never been reissued. He was a pupil of Respighi named Antonio Pedrotti. Not very surprising that I had not heard of it.

This morning I got an email from the Gramophone magazine promoting their new website, which claims to be a complete archive that goes back to 1923. It looks great. Anyway, this afternoon I searched for “Pedrotti Haydn” and immediately found my way to this review of the exact LP from when it was released in 1967. Hard not to be impressed.

Schoenbergian role models

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on June 26, 2008

I was just rereading an old Norman Lebrecht post entitled Why We’re Still Afraid of Schoenberg. It contains much useful info, but also the following statement:

His role models were Moses and Napoleon; he wrote an opera on one, an ode to the other.

Leaving Moses aside, Lebrecht must never have heard Schoenberg’s Ode To Napoleon. It is a setting of a poem by Byron which satirically attacks the Corsican.

Karlheinz Stockhausen: “an electronic wail descends into the depths and turns magically into a series of pulses”

Posted in music by Peter Reavy on December 11, 2007

On Friday evening, I was sad to hear of the death of Karlheinz Stockhausen.

I was led to Stockhausen’s music by following back through the influence of bands I was listening to at the time. The Fall led me back to Can, a couple of members of which had studied with the great man.

Stockhausen not only fundamentally challenged my idea of music, but in seeking to understand him I was led back in turn to Webern, Schoenberg and their classical predecessors.

I consider myself very fortunate to have attended a weekend of concerts in Belfast, back in April 2004. Stockhausen visited the city to oversee and introduce these. (He was also honoured by Queen’s University.)

I was able to sit quite near the mixing desk where Stockhausen operated the controls each evening. I don’t expect ever to be in such close proximity to a major composer again.

I acknowledge that there was something of the showman about Stockhausen and that he was eccentric to say the least. But for me his work Kontakte has a quality of total reinvention which music hasn’t had since JS Bach.

Ivan Hewett catches this in his obituary when he writes:

What he has in abundance is the ability to focus a long and apparently rambling argument in a sudden, blazingly dramatic gesture. Stockhausen’s music contains some of the great, defining aural images of 20th-century music, on a par with the flute that opens Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un Faune or the upward swoop that ends Schoenberg’s Erwartung. Take for example the closing pages of Gruppen, where apocalyptic brass chords are teased from one orchestra to another over the listener’s head; or the moment in Kontakte where an electronic wail descends into the depths and turns magically into a series of pulses.

Stockhausen explained such effects. He said he had discovered that according to the laws of physics, pitch and rhythm were not separate aspects of music as we had once thought, but part of the same phenomenon. Slow a pitch down and it becomes a rhythm. Grappling with the laws of sound in such a fundamental way to create a new form of beauty: this can only remind us of Bach’s mastery of equal temperament.

I would like to repost links to notes on these concerts I attended in 2004, which I made on a blog I had at the time: