musick & cosi varii

e-mail letter from Fred to Patrick on 27 Jan ‘1, which Patrick sent to me on 8 Sep ’15 as part of a large collection.

Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 14:52:22 -0500
Subject: musick & cosi varii
Greetings J & p,

Can not pull up the S. T. Coleridge nonet. Try it again please. Sounds interesting. Periodically the PBS stations play something by him — yes, very romantic — but I have to hear things over & over. I agree with you about Glass & Gorecki — both bore. Without trying for a definition, it seems to me that art must affect the head &heart (one without the other won’t do) permanently. I also think the word INTERESTING should be dropped from the critical vocabulary (just read an article by Prof. Nehamas advocating the the re-introduction of the word BEAUTY into the vocab. I approve.). How many cutting edge exhibits (with ‘installations’ & ‘arrangements’ — & criticisms with sentences like ‘this painting is about brush strokes’ — hell, I have no intrinsic interest in ‘brush strokes’ — that house is white. it got that way with brushstrokes. So??????) & fractal poems have I left having learned nothing, felt nothing, remembered nothing. We’re a cute culture which equates new with good. Also I note that the whole culture has developed an anal & excretory obsession (along with yr mention of terror). This phrase from a current New Yorker short story, ‘stuck to him like shit sticks to an ass’. Is that image effective? I don’t know. & right. Doris Day may be sipid after all.

Am now in Vikram Seth’s AN EQUAL MUSIC. The protagonist is violinist in a string quartet. You might like it — music sections are interesting to me the amateur — when the romance starts, it’s falls off. (this is a test (from Seth): what is the Beethoven op. 103. It is NOT enough to know it is a string quintet! what is its derivation? If Seth is telling the truth it’s very rare & only been recorded once.)

Another test (this time from me): what the hell is the Beethoven op. 134? Always wondered. Op. 127. 130, 131, 132 & 135 are the great quartets & op. 133 is the fugue. 111 is the last sonata. What the hell is the 134. Do you know? Or have a reliable reference? Just curious.

Don’t know Penderecki. What to start with? I’ll get some albums.

Ken Burns is a young documentary filmmaker. Made his notch several years ago with a magnificent 10-12 hr CIVIL WAR (on PBS). Effective use of photos, diaries, letters, documents, shots of battlefields, commentaries by historians (like Shelby Foote), period songs, etc. Was absolutely gripping. Was universally & justly praised. Then another long film called BASEBALL. good, but less successful. Praised but also criticized. Now JAZZ using the same devices but, of course, lots of live film & truly great sound, which is wonderful (some criticism for figures omitted or overemphized — instance: Bill Evans name merely mentioned). In each, Burns reflects with insight on the meaning, effect & causes intrinsic to American culture. Certainly CIVIL WAR &JAZZ should make it to Europe — both are extraordinary. See if you get the chance. They’re worth the time. Hereabouts there are complaints about an overload of racial apology in all 3 — to be expected.

Of smoking & the concession of pleasure. It also stand between me & part of my life. I love tennis. Haven’t touched my racquet in 3 yrs. Can’t cut it & I really miss it. Tough choice — like all of life.

& the disquieting suggestion by a Dr. that I may not recover all of my voice. Laranyx (sic) toasted like the rest of my chest.

Naught else now. Yrs with affection, f