I was chatting the other day with a Catholic friend about the new(ish) Pope, the Jesuit, Pope Francis. Having been trained by the Jesuits myself,I confessed myself a tad skeptical about Francis. In the back of my mind somewhere was the recollection of “Persistent Perversity Provokes the Patient Pedagogue to Produce Particularly Painful Punishment,” which [...]
The word of the week seems to be “Schadenfreude.” We have Obamacare, or, rather, what appears to be the unravelling of Obamacare to thank for that. “Schadenfreude”: “hurt,” “damage,” “detriment” plus “joy.” Is there any more perfect German word? Taking malicious glee in the misfortunes of others. It is not an attractive emotion, though it [...]
This week: The 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, Dutch masters at the Frick, and Geoffrey Hill's Oxford lectures.
In recent weeks, New York has had the chance to hear two Shostakovich symphonies that are seldom performed: his Symphony No. 9 and his Symphony No. 11. The first of these was played by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; the second of them was played by the New York Philharmonic. Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 is sometimes known as his “Mozart symphony”—his Classical symphony. In scale and form, it is a throwback to that era. It is also generally lighthearted. It is not a “traditional” Ninth.
Now, what do I mean by “‘traditional’ Ninth”? I mean a big, massive symphony—an Important Statement—à la Beethoven. The authorities in Moscow were looking forward to “the Soviet Ninth.” And that’s what Shostakovich planned, originally. World War II had just ended. Shostakovich had an opportunity and a duty – to glorify the nation in his Ninth. In the end, though, he served up a Mozart symphony.
James Levine on the night of his return to the Metropolitan Opera; photo: Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera
The James Levine welcome-back tour continues apace. His return to the pit has been the major story of the Metropolitan Opera's season thus far, and on Monday afternoon we were given another look as the company had a chance to celebrate its tenacious maestro in style.
Mr. Levine has had his share of pre-downbeat ovations recently, beginning with his Carnegie Hall “comeback” in May, and Monday's luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria was no exception. The Metropolitan Opera Guild luncheon is held annually to benefit the Met, and this year’s installment, entitled “Welcome Home, Jimmy!”, featured a host of artists to offer the Maestro thanks, good wishes, and congratulations upon his return.
Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) shouldered his way onto the Paris art scene with a pair of blockbusters: The Stonebreakers and A Burial at Ornans (both 1849–1850). Of the latter, he would famously say that it represented the “burial of romanticism,” a repudiation of art for art’s sake. Naturally, realism shares much with romanticism, but Courbet had always been uneasy with labels. “Courbet: Mapping Realism—Paintings From the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and American Collections,” at Boston College’s McMullen Museum through December 8, quotes his 1855 Manifeste du réalisme in which the artist clarifies his position: “I simply sought to mine [puiser] from a thorough knowledge of traditions a rational and independent feeling of my own individuality.”
This week: Flannery O'Connor's God, Shakespeare's collaborative plays, and Robert Motherwell's collages.
Neeme Järvi; photo by Simon van Boxtel
The Estonians are a musical people, and in particular a singing people. In fact, they refer to their political stirrings from 1989 to 1991 as “the Singing Revolution.” (For a piece I did on this subject two years ago, go here.)
Estonians came to Avery Fisher Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center on Sunday afternoon: the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. They were conducted by the veteran Estonian maestro Neeme Järvi.
“Access to power,” Plato said in The Republic, “must be confined to men who are not in love with it.” I think that’s pretty good advice, and I wish our masters in Washington were a bit better at following than they are. It is a curious irony that the burning desire for high office [...]
CNBC's Steve Liesman
Much of the world tires of hearing conservative complaints about double standards in the media, academia, and elsewhere. “If George W. Bush had said that . . .,” we say. “If Fox News had done that . . .,” we say. Well, say on, I say.
On CNBC, they showed a picture of Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas conservative. And a host, Steve Liesman, said, “There he is! Can we get some music to go along with that, some Mexican music maybe?”
( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)
In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
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December 19, 2013
FRIENDS, YOUNG FRIENDS, AND AUTHORS EVENT: Holiday Party 2013
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