Classical and classical-crossover Halloween music

Daniella Bova at the CLFA posted a compilation of scary classic rock songs suitable for Halloween.

At her suggestion, here are some of my classical and classical-crossover picks.

Hector Berlioz, “March to the Scaffold” from his Fantastic Symphony. It describes the nightmare of a man who dreams of his own execution.

Franz Liszt, “Les Funérailles” (the funeral). It was written on the occasion of Chopin’s death, hence the nod to the middle section of Chopin’s “Heroic Polonaise” about 2/3 of the way through.

Sergey Prokofiev, “Diabolic suggestion”, one of his youth works and the first to become well known.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer recorded, under the title “The Barbarian”, a rock arrangement of Bela Bartok’s “Allegro Barbaro”. The middle piano section follows the original quite closely: the Hammond and distorted bass guitar theme bookending is was derived from the thematic material. As I wrote and explained earlier, this is to me a rare example of a rock arrangement being more powerful than the classical original.

“Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath is of course not a classical piece, but (by Geezer Butler’s own admission in an interview) the first riff was inspired by the melody of “Mars” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”. The song (and band) are named after a horror movie starring Boris Karloff that was playing in the movie theater across the street. The gang (then an indifferent blues band) decided that if people pay good money for scary movies, then they’ll pay for scary music. The next gig they played this at, the audience went bonkers and asked for two repeats: then they know they were  onto something.

And here is a piece that isn’t just creepy but truly scary: Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, written at the height of the Great Purge, the composer never knowing when the knock on the door would come.

BONUS: probably my favorite horror/thriller soundtrack: “Sorcerer” by electronica pioneers Tangerine Dream. This was the soundtrack for William Friedkin’s remake of “Wages of Fear”. Unusually, the movie was shot and edited to the soundtrack rather than the other way around.

Blood Pressure Medicine: J. S. Bach, Chaconne in D minor played on guitar

Laura Snowden was a finalist at the 2013 London International Guitar Competition. She did not win, but one of her pieces was the highlight of the whole 2.5 hour finale concert for me and my musician wife.

Below (I hope this works!) is a “tubechop” of that segment of the concert. She plays at a brisk tempo that might seem rushed on a violin (or another sustained instrument), but works wonderfully for an acoustic guitar.

Enjoy! Okay, TubeChop embed doesn’t work on, here is a time-stamped YouTube link to where she begins.

TubeChop link to Laura Snowden playing Bach Chaconne in D minor

And here’s an embed of the full youtube:

Theater of the absurd: silent intifada edition

There is currently a bloody wave of stabbings and other impromptu terror attacks going on in Israel. The perpetrators appear to be principally East Jerusalem Arabs with Israeli (“blue”) ID cards, who therefore have freedom of movement in Israel. As usual, the Islamofascists’ useful idiots in the West and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) ignore the suffering or blame the victim.

The Border Police (technically a branch of the IDF) is doing the L-rd’s work protecting us, and courageous bystanders to attacks have responded with whatever improvised means at hand (in one case in Ra`anana, an office worker attacked the stabber with his umbrella!).

Which makes some Americans, used to the 2nd Amendment, wonder: why no more Israelis with firearms on the street? Believe it or not, gun ownership in Israel is actually severely restricted. A detailed summary in English of Israel’s firearms legislation can be found here at the Law Library of Congress. In short, Israel is a ‘discretionary issue’ country, where one must demonstrate a need for the possession of a firearm by one’s place of residence (e.g., in the disputed territories or otherwise in the proximity of ‘Palestinians’), by one’s profession (e.g., a driver who routinely transports parties of five or more people can get a handgun license fairly easily). Other eligibility requirements include passing periodic psychological evaluations and firearm proficiency tests. Licenses are easier to obtain if one has served honorably in an IDF combat unit or in the police, especially at officer rank. As of 2012, only about 175,000 valid firearm licenses (which typically cover one firearm and a supply of 50 bullets) are in circulation in Israel (with a population of about 8 million). Twice as many licenses used to be in circulation when the population was much smaller.

IDF soldiers on active duty in combat units are allowed to bring home their service weapon (typically an assault rifle or submachine gun), since they should be available for action at a moment’s notice. IDF noncombat personnel in ‘day service’ positions (i.e., many female recruits) often travel to and from the base in uniform with no other protection than pepper spray and whatever unarmed combat skills they may have acquired on their own. This effectively makes them sitting ducks to such stabbers.

Behold the theater of the absurd: an army called the Israel Defense Forces that is effectively depriving a substantial portion of its manpower of the means to defend themselves. Had the recent stabbing attacks been attempted in my other home in the Dallas suburbs, chances are the terrorist svolochy would have been turned into sieves in short order at the hands of whatever civilians who were carrying.

The ‘logic’ behind hamstringing the IDF noncombat manpower is probably a combination of risk-averseness (in a country with mandatory service), political correctness, inventory issues, and fear firearms may fall into the wrong hands (terrorists or underworld). I dearly hope somebody has the wisdom to rethink this. A defense force that is disallowed to defend itself sounds like an… 0bamination.

The women of Renoir: models, muses, and partners

[Updated November 1, 2015 with information from Dictionary of Artists’ Models by Jill Berk Jiminez]
After all the “spin” and “strangeness” of the last days, time for a bit of charm.
While I’m primarily a words-numbers-and-music kind of guy, I do have visual arts preferences. One painter that has always had a very special place in my heart happens to be Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Renoir is usually pigeonholed as an impressionist, but in truth his work ranges from the impressionistic to the classically figurative.
This post is inspired by Sarah Hoyt’s post on PJMedia about appreciating the female form — something Renoir was one of the greatest masters in history of.  Aside from the many commissioned portraits of women and young girls he painted, below are the brief stories of his principal models, muses, and “women in his life”.
Click “more” for the whole article. “Trigger warning”: some tasteful, exquisitely artistic, female nude paintings.

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