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Volume 17 Issue 10 - July/August 2012

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WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S

WE ARE ALL MUSIC’S CHILDRENJuly/August’s Child Peter AppleyardMJ BUELLWho isSeptember’s Child?Which intelligent,playful, migratorybird, whose distinctivevoice is heard all overthe continent, sports ahandsome black suit,and is fascinating toobserve alone, in smallgroups (often fours),and in large groups?Sightingscountrywide includeToronto SymphonyOrchestra (ongoing),Victoria Summer MusicFestival, MountainView Summer Festival,Prince EdwardCounty Music Festival,Toronto SummerMusic Festival andMooredale Concerts’season opener(September 30).Know our MysteryChild’s name? Sendyour best guess tomusicschildren@thewholenote.com byAugust 20. Win concerttickets and recordings!April 1984,Prince George, BC.Vibraphonist, percussionist,composer Peter Appleyardwas born in Cleethorpes,Lincolnshire, England, in 1928.At 84, a consummate performerfor most of his life, Appleyardcontinues to tour this summer— indefatigably entertaining,with no signs of slowing down.Before discovering the vibraphone,he started out as a drummerplaying in vaudeville anddance bands, was conscriptedinto the RAF where he spent 18months playing with RAF bands,and took an 18-month contract in1949 to play in Bermuda.In 1951 he came to Toronto, forwhat was going to be a vacationin Canada, and he has remainedto become one of our most celebratedjazz musicians and an Officerof the Order of Canada. Alist of people with whom he hasplayed or is playing or has influencedwould simply be endless.Appleyard has released 22albums, including two in 2012,and collaborated on dozens more.He has hosted CBC Radio showsand had his own television program,Peter Appleyard Presents, syndicated throughoutNorth America.When you look at your childhood photo today, whatdo you think about? Those were happy innocent times,prior to WWII, when the whole world, it seems,changed forever.Your absolute earliest memories of hearing music?I was taken to see at a circus called Bertram andMills. One of the acts was a guy with about 20 cigarettesin his mouth: the music they were playingwas Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.I was a choirboy at Old Clee Church, Grimsby.There was radio, and records, I remember hearingPaul Robeson’s Old Man River, Crosby, laterSinatra — the first record I ever bought myself wasPeter Appleyard lives in Rockwood, nearMilton, Ontario, with his wife, Elfriede, andan extended collection of dogs, cats andhorses. His other passions and pastimesinclude collecting telescopes, percussioninstruments and old cars — includinga ’60 Rolls Cloud, an ’87 Rolls Spiritand an ’85 380SEL Mercedes.Nat Cole singing Sweet Lorraine.What about making music?I remember messing about withthe piano and drums at CleePier whilst father decorated thestage — the drummer was notaround. And I played bugle andsnare drum in the Boys Brigade.Do you remember a time whenyou thought you would do somethingelse? In those days to havea secondary education in highschool, you had to pay for it,which my parents who were victimsof the recession could notafford. So they obtained an apprenticeshipfor me, as a nauticalinstrument maker. The mainwork I did was as a compassadjuster — this had to be doneroutinely as they were not electroniccompasses. But one dayI was sent on an errand pickingup some naval charts and Istopped off at a record store. Inthose days you could listen torecords you were thinking ofbuying . So I was listening to arecord and tapping away alongwith the drums and this fellowstuck his head around a cornerand said “Hey … are you a drummer?” And I said“well … yes, I am!” And he said he was the bandleader ofFelix Mendelssohn’s Hawaiian Serenaders and he offeredme a job. Seems their drummer had been caughtwith another woman by his wife, who took a hatchetto his drums … I’d been earning 7/6 a week as a compassadjuster and they were offering me 17 pounds aweek to play the drums. We worked the vaudeville/varietycircuit — these shows would have a comedian, andmaybe some jugglers, but the main attraction was aband. Ours was a kind of Hawaiian-flavoured. We hada couple of dancers: hula girls. We were the first bandever to appear on British television, in 1946 …A longer version of Peter Appleyard’sinterview continues at thewholenote.com.DON DOXINCONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! HERE’S WHAT THEY WONPeter Appleyard & the Sophisticated Ladies! Jill Barber, Jackie Richardson, Heather Bambrick, Emilie-Claire Barlow, CarolMcCartney, Diana Panton, Elizabeth Shepherd, Lily Frost and Ranee Lee took the stage at Koerner Hall on Tuesday,June 26, with John Sherwood, Reg Schwager, Neil Swainson, Terry Clarke and Peter Appleyard, presented by the TDToronto Jazz Festival. Joan Rosenfield, Frances Giles and Robert Lescoe each won a pair of tickets! PeterAppleyard and Friends returns to the Elora Festival for an 8pm concert in the Gambrel Barn on July 27. CatherineMcWhinnie and Paul Sayer will be there too, with their friends! Bilgi Chapman has won Appleyard’s brand newCD Sophisticated Ladies featuring classics like Georgia on My Mind and Love For Sale sung by ten great jazz vocalistswith Appleyard and the same matchless band who gave the June 26 concert. (Linus 270151) Caroline Bonner has wonThe Lost 1974 Sessions featuring Peter Appleyard and the Jazz Giants. Also just released, this record is literally a recentlyrecovered live recording session with one of Benny Goodman’s best bands, made late one night at RCA “… a fleeting moment intime when a group of musicians gathered together to celebrate each other as well as their music …” (Linus 270135)Music’s Children gratefully acknowledges Lesley and Terry, Susan, Aileen, Linda, John and Barbara, and Elfrieda.60 thewholenote.com July 1 – September 7, 2012

Freedom and the Arts: Essays on Musicand Literatureby Charles RosenHarvard University Press448 pages, musical examples; .00 US!!Once again,Charles Rosen hasdrawn on his talentsas a pianist, scholarand essayist to producea singularlythought-provokingcollection of articlesand reviews. Mostwere first publishedin the NewYork Review ofBooks — the titlepaper, Freedom and Art, appeared just thispast May. At 85 Rosen is as brilliant as ever, ifa touch more curmudgeonly than in previouscollections. He has also become noticeablymore nostalgic for the days when directorswere not expected to “spruce up” operas to attractaudiences, young composers did not feelcompelled to write easily accessible music,and audiences read essays for pleasure.Rosen’s ongoing tiffs with fellow journalistmusicologistRichard Taruskin run throughthese pages. In Western Music: The View fromCalifornia, a detailed review of Taruskin’ssix-volume Oxford History of Western Music,Rosen challenges Taruskin’s more sociologically-basedapproach to music history. He evengoes so far as to accuse Taruskin of gearinghis writing to appeal to the lucrative textbookmarket. In a postscript, Modernism and theCold War, Rosen attacks Taruskin’s responseto this review, in which Taruskin had writtenthat he “regards Rosen’s literary output — allof it — as Cold War propaganda.” And so itgoes. While this is all very entertaining — andedifying — the irony is that as outspoken asthese two are, they are often not that farapart, especially on controversial issues likeearly music.In a heartfelt tribute to Elliott Carter onhis 100th birthday, Rosen writes eloquentlyin defence of Carter’s complex music, “SinceBeethoven, it is the difficult music that hassurvived most easily; the originally unintelligibleWagner, Strauss, Debussy, Stravinskyand all the others that were so shocking arenow an essential part of the concert scene.”Recalling a critical comment about a lack ofemotion in Carter’s Night Fantasies after heperformed this gorgeous work in Toronto 30years ago, he adds, “Only when one understandshow the music works (that is, consciouslyor unconsciously, feels at ease withthe music) can one perceive the emotion.”He offers plenty to argue with, such aswhen he dismisses composers who rejectPAMELA MARGLESwhat he calls the “triumphs of modernism”and produce tonally based works withregular pulses and measurable rhythmicpatterns. “All the modern tonal music I haveheard,” he writes, “is loosely and simply organized,incapable of the subtle articulationsand complex significance we find in Haydnor Beethoven.”Rosen is especially attuned to nuancesand outright contradictions in matters of interpretation,above all when it comes to thesignificance of style in understanding music.“Musical style,” he writes, “is not a passivematerial that can be molded at will, but asystem that both resists and inspires change.”So I find it surprising that throughout thiscollection Rosen fails to recognize that aninterpretation of musical style is fundamentalto period instrument performances, and isresponsible for their refined techniques, everexpandingrepertoires, and ever-increasinginfluence on mainstream performers andconductors. Yet Rosen writes, in Culture onthe Market, “Concerts of music by Locatelli,Albinoni or Graun are bearable only for thosemusic lovers for whom period style is moreimportant than quality.”The point of these essays is not to convinceus, but to enhance our experiences ofthe music. More than anything, it’s the surprisingand delightful connections, not justin music but also in related philosophy, artand literature, that make them so delightfulto read. Rosen’s scope is so broad that it’s achallenge to keep up to him, especially whenhe writes that “the history of art can only beunderstood if the most extreme and eccentricphenomena can be integrated into our viewof the whole picture.” What we can do is keepreading and listening — and enjoying.The Mastersinger from Minskby Morley TorgovDundurn Press264 pages; $17.99!!The plot of MorleyTorgov’s latest mysterynovel, like hisprevious Murder inA-Major, revolvesaround real figuresfrom the world ofclassical music — inthis case RichardWagner and hisyoung wife-to-be,Cosima von Bülow,daughter of hisfriend Franz Liszt. Cosima’s current husbandHans van Bülow is on hand as well, since heis conducting the premiere of Wagner’s newopera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.Rehearsal is underway in Munich whenChief Inspector Hermann Preiss, who narrates,is called in to investigate a disturbingmessage Wagner has received. It says, “June 21will be the day of your ruination.” Dead bodieskeep appearing, including that of the starheldentenor Wolfgang Grilling, who hadbeen the main suspect in the threat againstWagner. Grilling was furious because Wagnerhad given the lead tenor role in his new operato an unknown singer who had shown up atauditions, and saddled Grilling with the apparentlydemeaning buffo role of Beckmesser.But what Torgov doesn’t seem to realize isthat Grilling would undoubtedly have beenespecially vexed because he, a heldentenor,had been given a role written for a light baritone— a different range, colour and weight ofvoice altogether.This setting allows Torgov to paint a vividpicture of Wagner rehearsing his opera. WhenFather Owen Lee gave one of his insightfulbooks on Wagner the title The Terrible Manand His Truthful Art, he summed up whatTorgov manages to capture in his plot, whichrevolves around the horridness of the manand the glory of his music. To add authenticity,Torgov wisely consulted the journals thatWagner’s ballet-master Richard Fricke keptwhile working with the composer on the premiereof the Ring Cycle.Because this story is set in 1868 Torgovgets away with referring to Preiss as “the onlypoliceman in Europe who takes an interest inopera.” Books featuring opera-loving detectiveslike Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morseand Kurt Wallander may have been writtenearlier, but they all take place later.With his imaginative plotting, Torgov hasfound an effective way to present the complicatedquestions surrounding Wagner’s — andCosima’s — deep-seated anti-Semitism.Whether Wagner intended Beckmesser tobe the anti-Semitic figure of fun that Torgovpaints him is open to debate. In any case,Torgov deftly conveys the transcendent powerof Wagner’s music through his novel, if farfetched,twist to the convoluted plot. It’sworthy of Hitchcock in the way it uses the interpretationof a song as a plot device — ratherlike Die Meistersinger itself, for that matter.But it’s the characters, fictional like Preiss,real like Wagner, that kept me reading soeagerly. Torgov is at his best creating characters,and Preiss is at his most sardonic andcolourful describing them. Preiss seems tobe aware of this, since part way through thecase he comments, “I was a curator, not of acollection of tangible evidence, but of a collectionof people — living curiosities, flesh andblood to the eye yet unfathomable, untrustworthy,conniving, everyone seemingly filingonto my stage carrying his or her own bundleof plots and lies, and at the centre of the stage,Richard Wagner himself, principal plotter andliar.”Pamela Margles is a Toronto-basedjournalist and frequent contributor tothe WholeNote. She can be contactedat bookshelf@thewholenote.com.July 1 – September 7, 2012thewholenote.com 61

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