Struggling with Fleeting Music, Words and Pictures

Dolomite rock with lichen. © Charles Thibo

Warm or cold? Hard or soft? Dolomite rock from the sedimentary basin I am living in. Basically it is a white-grey stone, but it often has light brown, orange or even red patches and strata. It quickly heats up in the sun and stores the energy. If you touch it, it feels hard, but you can chip of pieces easily with a shovel. Over time this specific rock has been covered by lichen and moss. There’s life on its surface and there’s life beneath it – insects and lizards.

Continue reading!

Morning fantasies of a would-be conductor

A motivating moment. © Charles Thibo

Nothing compares to the sound of cello. From the mouth of an apprentice pianist, this is a compliment, make no mistake. Such a variety of distinctive timbres: warm, welcoming, excitable, gaudy, at the same time rough, sad, melancholic, tragic. Here is a piece that illustrates this rich sound palette very nicely: Cello Concerto No. 2 in G minor, written in 1909 by the Dutch-German composer Julius Röntgen, whom we have already met already in a post on his Cello Concerto No. 3 in F sharp minor. Both have been recorded by the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and the German cellist Gregor Horsch.

Continue reading!

Lyrical Spring Melodies in Schumann’s Tradition

Life is blossoming. © Charles Thibo

Spring is in the air. I can see it. I can hear it. I can smell it. I can feel it. Every day. Licht – German for “light”. Leichtigkeit – German for “lightness”. Julius Röntgen knew about Licht and Leichtigkeit. The composer, born in 1855 in Germany, spent most of his life in the Netherlands. He was a prolific composer of symphonies, piano and cello concertos, pieces for winds, songs and most of them are known only to a small circle of Röntgen enthusiast. As I had announced earlier, this year I will put this composer a little into the limelight. He has composed so much wonderful music and today’s post will be about his Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Major, op. 18.

Continue reading!

Of Gallows, Mice and Chinese Princesses

Three princesses. © Charles Thibo

Galgenlieder – gallows songs. A German invention. The legacy of German romanticism. The poet, journalist and critic Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914) wrote dozens of such witty, polemic, sarcastic poems, first published in 1905. The language sounds childish, but wordplays, ambiguities, religious or philosophical allusions are hidden in these seemingly inoccuous words. Their generic title “Galgenlieder” stems from the name of a circle of friends, the “Galgenbrüder” (brethren of the gallows), who regularly met at a pub on the “Galgenberg” (hill of the gallows) close to Potsdam. Morgenstern and his friends would drink, sing and recite Morgenstern’s poems.

Continue reading!