Friday, November 18, 2011


(With apologies to Handel enthusiasts.)

No disrespect, of course. But please remind me not to attend another all-Handel concert ever again. When we went to Disney Hall last night, I was quite excited about the prospect--in all my musical ignorance and forgetfulness. I imagined we were going to hear something elegant and inspiring. We got the elegance alright--too much of it for my taste. The inspiration, though...

Let me be sure to say that I blame myself, not the composer or the orchestra. As I suggested, I am ill-informed about music, and my ear is to say the least of it unschooled. I will say, though, that the music seemed to me formulaic, mind-numbingly perky--and unfailingly polite. I ended up longing for a big, rude musical fart, anything to intrude on the cucumber sandwich and Earl Grey tea party, the sheer 18th century Englishness of it all (and yes, I do know Handel's German; he must have spent too much time in Queen Anne and King George England). Court music. It summoned up images of unearned privilege, a decadent and perfumed aristocracy with wigs and garters. (Was this why the conductor, an energetic French woman of obvious talent and unwavering enthusiasm, wore that strange skirt with a bustle at the bum? Again, please, no disrespect!) So... Much too much teacake, not enough bangers and mash.

Already long before the intermission, I caught myself trying to establish a reliable count of the number of musicians who wore eyeglasses, just to keep my own eyes open. I was aiming for a more or less accurate percentage, in the interests of scientific research. But then I realized that some of them must be wearing contact lenses, so it wouldn't be a fair count anyway. So I turned my attention back to the bustle. That kept me occupied.


eva said...

Peter, your last blog entry was a great surprise for me! I admire your capability working with words and totally enjoy reading your writings.
Now, I just wonder why would you attend an all Handel music concert? It reminds me when my husband and I took our ten year old daughter for her first time to the R. Strauss opera: Salome. After that experience of course she never wanted to hear any other opera again. My parents did the right thing with me, starting with Puccini and Verdi's operas and I became a lifelong opera lover.
It seems to me that you're not a concert goer and feel sorry that this was such a boring experience for you, that you may never want to hear another one again. Baroque music in general is not the right way starting understanding and enjoying music. It would be good to know how you would have reacted listening to any of Beethoven symphonies (he by the way very much admired Handel) or listen to a Schubert string quartett?
When I start to work in my studio the first thing I do is to put on a CD, and it is often Handel's Water or Royal Fireworks music. Of course it sinks into my subconscious, but I do concentrate better on my work.
Peter, - please dont give up the pleasure listening to classical music because of one mistake.Just listen to a bit lighter variety of it and I'm sure that soon you'll find new pleasures in your life.

PeterAtLarge said...

I fear you took me too seriously, Eva! I do go to concerts quite a lot, and am not quite so ignorant as my post suggested. There's a great deal of classical music that I love listening to. Handel, this time, caught me by surprise. It was just an incredibly boring concert--that can happen--so I decided to have a little fun with it. Thanks for writing, anyway!