Ed's talk

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wagner's Parsifal and our electoral aftermath

I think my last post turned out to be rather prophetic and possibly shows that I saw it coming!

And it's not only Trump but an almost worldwide turn to the right. For instance Marine Le Pen, the extreme right wing candidate in France now thinks it quite possible that she and her party will take over the French government.

Lest you think I'm not taking this fiasco seriously, I can only say I feel like Amfortas in Wagner's "Parsifal" who has a wound which won't heal.

But I don't think it can be healed by an impure fool, if you know who I mean!










Friday, September 16, 2016







Now Hillary is tied with Trump!!! How did that happen?

I've always thought that she has an absolute talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

I will not ever vote for Trump and Hillary has been an energetic and fine public servant over the years. But she has apparently been a lousy candidate!!!!

I recall years ago that I left our YMCA one rather drizzly evening and walked north. I approached Bed, Bath and Beyond (?) and, as I did, I saw a blonde lady running out of it followed by a man with an umbrella who was unable to keep up with her and she ran into a waiting limousine and drove away quickly.

I am quite certain this was Hillary and I believe she and Bill lived to the west of Broadway.

If she can not beat Donald in the debates, there is no hope.

How do you lose to an absolute phony like The Donald?

Perhaps she has found a way!

Thursday, July 28, 2016






Having watched a good part of the speeches last night at the Democratic National Convention after the formal nomination of Hillary Clinton, allow me to share my thoughts on them.

What they all had in common, of course, were attacks on Donald Trump, the Republican nominee and, perhaps most interestingly considering his position as an independent and a billionaire, those by Michael Bloomberg.

Mr. Bloomberg has hardly been a favorite of mine over the years especially because of his self-serving opportunism in allowing himself a third term as Mayor of New York City after which he restored the status quo of the two-term limitation.

But I can almost forgive him when he endorsed Hillary at the DNC and exposed the Donald as the total fraud and sociopath that he is! (And anyone, like Donald who suggests that Russia hack Hillary's emails is engaged in an act of near-treason!)

From other viewpoints, the speeches by the others were equally effective especially those by Vice President Joe Biden, Tim Kaine the VP nominee, and President Obama's final speech as President before the DNC.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

The making of the modern Jewish identity




from Wikipedia:
Buchenwald concentration camp, photo taken April 16, 1945, five days after liberation of the camp. Wiesel is in the second row from the bottom, seventh from the left, next to the bunk post.[10]


This may seem a rather radical viewpoint but hear me out:

What brought these thoughts on was the death at 87 yesterday of Elie Weisel, the Nobel prize winner, Holocaust survivor and, in some respects. most important chronicler of the Holocaust.

I often get questions about whether being Jewish refers to religious beliefs, being a Zionist or just some other, vaguely cultural, factors.

And though I consider myself Jewish, I have not, for all my life, believed at all in any god and this was true of both my parents even if both my maternal grandparents were devout. And I've never been a Zionist nor have I ever been to Israel. Although it is true that much of my family was wiped out in the Holocaust some did find a refuge in Palestine-Israel.

But I did go to Hebrew School and had a Bar-Mitzvah. When asked by the Hebrew School principal if I wanted  to become a rabbi, my mother firmly answered no!

No, I think modern Jewish identity was largely shaped by the Holocaust!!

When the Nazis came to power they found a handy scapegoat, mostly but not entirely, in the Jews and, besides murdering countless numbers of Jewish men, women and children, banned the outputs of Jewish writers, composers, and other artists. Even composers, for example, who converted in order to have careers such as Mahler or whose families earlier converted like Felix Mendelssohn's, were banned. (Carl Orff famously refused to replace Felix Mendelssohn's music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream".) And if you doubt Felix himself resented this forced conversion, you don't know enough about him including his correspondence with his sister Fanny as well as his setting of Goethe's  "Die erste Walpurgisnacht"

In short, for better or for worst, the definition  of modern Jewish identity would agree with Uncle Adolph's as anyone who was born Jewish or who had any Jewish ancestors!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

absurdities and fools rushing in, updated



No, this is not about opera plots or overly seductive piano players!

This is about the most idiotic statements from the right-wing area of politics.

Rush Limbaugh is wondering why "Harambe was still an ape" Harambe being the gorilla who had to be shot because of parenting failures by those of the 4 year old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure.

Now it seems that we cannot expect Rush to have any concept of how evolution works but couldn't we at least expect him to keep his yap shut rather than expose his vast store of ignorance?

Down the line, we keep getting equally-"brilliant" statements from those other folks who have been long discredited such as Michele Bachmann whose husband Marcus "cures" gay people ("Physician, heal thyself"). And also the GOP front-runner who is not so much a religious nut as an advanced lifelong con-man who takes advantage of this political environment.

If Donald destroys the GOP, he will do a great service to the country.

If he were to become its President, he can only be expected to be a complete disaster!

Monday, May 30, 2016




After much confusion, I was able to watch this opera yesterday (5/29/16) only on the TV with rather inferior picture and sound. (If NET had provided the opportunity to watch it on the computer, both would have been infinitely better but I suppose they'd prefer to do their fund raising.)

 However, the production suffered from the usual problems of the Gelb Met opera. After proudly displaying and later explaining how they did the opening "underwater" intro, they seem to have largely run out of steam.

 Unless they are using an older production such as Zefferelli's, it is impossible to tell the time frame of any production even if this opera was originally set in a mythical Ceylon.

 The tenor Matthew Polenzani especially had his modern tattoos, cigarette and modern beer bottles on display and if he does actually smoke, this is a poor habit for anyone, let alone a singer to get into. The baritone Mariusz KwiecieĊ„, who carries the most dramatic role in the opera, has one of his most important scenes apparently set in a backstage area, complete with filling cabinets etc., and in a modern costume of t-shirt and trousers. Why? 

If I were he, I'd sue!!!

 The singing seemed very satisfactory and Diana Damrau was an excellent Leila even though in appearance she looked more like Diana Dammerung. (But that is ungracious of me to even mention so I won't. ;-) Anyway, she sang well, whether veiled or not.

 I won't go into the absurdities of the plot which is largely based on amazing coincidence all around (including Zurga's necklace and pearl!) and which no production can cure.

 The photo at the top shows the most famous tenor to ever sing the part of Nadir.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fools rush in (where angels fear to tread)!



I'm afraid that this is really my indictment of, in this case, the classical pianist industry.  After a discussion concerning, who I would consider "the Britney Spears" of classical pianists,  Yuja Wang, I turned on radio station WQXR to hear her live recital at Carnegie Hall. When I realized I could also see it on Medici TV, I unwisely left the self-serving comments that two men gave on the recital in time to see her play the "Hammerklavier" Sonata which is usually considered to be the "Mt. Everest" of the classical piano repertory and was "treated" to see Ms. Wang in her "stripper's outfit" handily dispatching this work at a speed and efficiency which others could only dream of!

At the age of 29, it hardly seems seemly to play this work in public and, at that age, could hardly be able to probe its depths. And she didn't!

Yes, she waited a long time before coming out to play a mess of encores when, after that, she shouldn't have played any.

I think it all boiled down to a lack of respect! But maybe she thinks her undoubted talent is not enough to get ahead in an overcrowded field of classical pianists. And maybe she's right!

.http://www.medici.tv/#!/yuja-wang-brahms-schumann-beethoven-carnegie-hall