Sunday, October 25, 2015

Timonium MD train show adds exhibits, even invokes "Wicked" show as a tunnel takes the rider into another dimension


I put train shows on this blog, which may seem a bit extraneous.

Today I revisited the Timonium, MD show, this time in the Cow Palace (not San Francisco), spread out over three huge rooms, about ten exhibits.

To me, the most interesting included a European model, with two vertical levels of trains (similar to my screenplay), a coal exhibit (with mountaintop removal), and perhaps the largest (Reading Railroad), and a Z-scale.

But the most interesting of all, from a Baltimore group, showed a tunnel, where inside the train passes through a “Wicked” exhibit, as if going into another dimension before going back out into the world.  This is not a "road to nowhere".  Another exhibit (Meade) kept a section for Hogwarts.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The symphonies of "communist" German composer Hans Werner Henze; his controversial "The Raft of the Medusa"


Back in my college days of the 1960s, I did take an interest in other modern composers who might somehow follow on to post-romantic traditions.

Sometime, after starting working, I bought the DG set of the six symphonies by Hans Werner Henze, and eventually “replaced” them with the CD set.

I played symphonies 1, 5 and 6 today (dated 1947, 1962 and 1969) today, and I have to wonder what I was thinking.  The Berlin Philharmonic (#1 and 5) and London Symphony (#6) are conducted by the composer.

Symphony #1 is rather accessible, and reminds me of Hindemith.  There is a measure of real lyricism in the second movement, a Nocturne.

Symphony #5 offers a theme (as a second subject in the first movement) from Henze’s opera “Elegy for Young Lovers”.  There is some controversy as to what city stimulated Henze’s creativity here:  New York, or Rome?

But the most unusual symphony in the set is the last, #6, running about 40 minutes, for two large chamber orchestras (one of which has the preponderance of percussion), in three continuous “sections” which in turn break into 21 separate little “songs”.  The work comes across as a sequence or narrative  of experiences, morphing from one into the next, rather than the usual “symphonic” argument (something I have experimented with as a kind of “development” in my own writing). 
The work is politically significant because Henze composed it while living in Cuba it was first performed before members of the Revolutionary Army. Henze was also gay, and his actions perhaps demonstrated a naïve faith in connecting leftist politics with gay rights which we know the history of Communism did not support. Henze dedicated some works to Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara.
 
Henze actually finished ten symphonies, the last in 2000, before his passing in 2012. 

I have, packed up somewhere, an LP set of the controversial 1968 oratorio “The Raft of the Medusa” (“Das Floss der Medusa”), as a requiem for Che.   The story concerns a shipwreck of a French frigate on the West Coast of Africa in 1816 (was it in the slave trade?)   Some characters wind up on a raft, and lives have to be sacrificed.  When the work is performed on stage, the “living” gradually move across the stage to join “the dead”. There is also a rock musical based on this opera (see YouTube) that was recently performed in Quebec City.