I’m afraid this blog won’t be as entertaining as the last one; I finished 1984, to my relief. (It was very foreboding, and while I enjoyed it, I welcomed the transition to a more stable book: The Death of Ivan Illyich. Joy.)
In any case, I still enjoyed the symphony on Friday night. The Variations on a Theme by Haydn, by one of my fast becoming favorite composers, Brahms, was excellent. It was a change to hear movements that were so short, but it lent emphasis, I felt. The finale was especially enticing, and while my words seem to be running a little dry today, I enjoyed the first piece immensely. Indeed, the symphony is fast becoming not only one of the highlights of my week, but really one of the events that keep my head afloat this semester. As a senior in high school it has been quite difficult to make the switch from the maddeningly busy first semester to this slow, plodding, monotonous tying up of loose ends. The weekly symphonies have been some of the events that have helped me wait out these last few months. So thank you, PSO!
Anyway, back to Friday night. Would it be too teenagerish to say how
much I liked Chee-Yun’s dress? Well, I don’t care; it was gorgeous.
was particularly striking to see her stride out, dress billowing about
her like she was a goddess from some ancient myth, take a stand facing
the audience with a look of calm, poised assurance, and then begin to
play. I think I forgot, for a moment, that she was a skilled musician,
so awed was I by her beauty. But as she struck the first few notes I
came back down with a crash and listened, open mouthed I am afraid, to
her masterful playing. Not only did she present a striking picture in
fuchsia against the background of white and black, her violin playing
was wonderful. The piece, by Saint-Saëns, also deserves some praise—it
was rich with emotion and contrasting themes.
To tell the truth I was much more interested in the first half of the
program (the dress really did it to me), but Brahms’s Symphony No. 2
was still enjoyable. I did find it funny that, as the program said,
critics in Brahms’s day said that it was not emotional enough; I found
it, as most people nowadays do, to be one of Brahms’s more emotional
I found myself a little distracted, actually, by a question that has
plagued me for some time. In the program there is always a little
section that says, ‘the symphony is scored for two each of flutes,
oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three
trombones, tuba, timpani, and strings.’ Each of the pieces has
something like that, telling how many instruments are to be in the
piece. But it always says, ‘strings.’ No number, just, ‘strings.’ So my
query is this: why do some of the strings leave? How do they know? Does
the conductor just feel that some of them need to leave? Does the
composer actually say, and the people who write the programs just don’t
feel like putting that in? Or is there some unspoken knowledge that I
Well, I may never know. Luckily, not knowing isn’t a very large detriment to my enjoyment of the symphonies.