(In which Job educates you and also lies here and there.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 17, 2007 12:06pm | Post a Comment
I’m looking around my apartment (it’s a bachelor, so this doesn’t take much time) at my collections of who’s-its and what’s-its (you want thing-a-ma-bobs? I got plenty) to find something I want to tell you about, in hopes that it will inspire or delight you, as it has me.

Which is awfully presumptuous. I mean, there’s a small chance that you and I don’t have the exact same tastes in everything, right? Maybe you don’t think that “Love & Rockets” is one of the finest works of literature in the history of mankind; perhaps you’d disagree that beholding a Rothko in person can be an emotional experience; mayhap, though this seems ridiculously far-fetched, you might even balk at my pronouncement that both Isaac Albéniz’s operas and “SCTV” are under-appreciated.

My idea of a chick-flick. No. 14, 1960, by Mark Rothko

But I digress. Life is confusing and challenging enough without entertaining the idea that you and I might be different. The best course of action is to assume we’re on the same page, and that the only real difference between us is that you don’t know about some of the stuff I do, and my job is to tell you about these things, so you can rush out and discover them. D’accord?

I’ve been employed by Amoeba Music Hollywood for nigh three years. For the first year, I worked full time in the classical music section. This was a valuable opportunity to further develop both my collection and knowledge of the genre. (For instance, I learned that the piano is actually played with hands, and that Mozart wrote most of his music during his lifetime!)

My tastes in classical music are broad. I’m particularly fond of British music of the Victorian era, modern Scandinavian composers, German lieder, and most Baroque music, especially if it involves woodwinds. I’m not a fan of Mozart, except for his operas which are some of my favorites; I detest Chopin and die a little inside when a customer asks me for advice on which recordings of his music to buy; Russian romantics leave me wanting and Anne Sofie Von Otter’s 1993 recording of songs by Edvard Grieg makes me rock out with my cock out.

Frédéric Chopin. "You can just tell from my music that I was lousy in bed. I'll bet I slept with my mouth open, too, and made smacking noises with my mouth when I ate crackers!"

One composer that has brought me much happiness is one that many haven’t listened to. His name: Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges - a Renaissance man who was thankfully born before they invented “Hello, My Name Is” stickers.

Total stud and all-around dignified chewer, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, whom we’ll refer to as "Joe" for the sake of time, was born in 1739 and was a Capricorn.

Capricorns, as those of you who study astrology know, are famous for being ambitious, focused, and more likely to disown bastard children than any other sign in the Zodiac. They were, for a brief period during the reign of King Louis VIII, forced to wear their clothes on the inside of their skin, which is where we get the saying “I’ve got you under my skin,” a term later popularized when Ella Fitzgerald ate a sleeping Cole Porter for lunch.

Joe’s pa was a white, French, plantation owner and aristocrat; his ma was an African slave. As a child he excelled in fencing, violin playing, and music composition. Of these skills, fencing came in the handiest when he fought against the monarchy in the French Revolution, and he eventually became the first black colonel in the French army. He was also the first black, French mason. And, though this is under dispute by some historians, the first black Frenchman to call Marie Antoinette a cow-faced hooker.

"That's nothing compared to what Perez Hilton said about me last March!"

His music is of the “Mannheim school” style, like Mozart and another favorite of mine, Franz Joseph Haydn (affectionately called “Papa Haydn” because he made so many of his Audiences finish their homework before letting them listen to his music).

Sadly, Joe’s life, while often illustrious, ended in abject poverty and isolation. He died in 1799 when his body stopped living.

I love his music. It is sparkling, intelligent; seductive and impassioned without being emotive or gushing. It’s especially nice in the daytime when you want everything to feel clean and alive (a perfect soundtrack for dusting furniture or reading that copy of Penthouse Forum you’ve been putting off).

Like the best of classical-period music, it is trim and precise, yet effervescent, evoking a sense of purity-of-will perhaps only attainable in music before Kurt Cobain shot himself.

I highly recommend it to people interested in starting somewhere with classical music, but unsure where or with whom. That is, if you’re looking for music that evokes a joie de vivre. Those dudes who are looking for something to round-out their collection of Neurosis albums and black metal CD’s would do better to seek out Kronos Quartet’s album “Black Angels” or a symphony by Shostakovich.

I hope this information is of some interest. If you have any questions about where to start with classical music, feel free to write me, or sneak into my house while I’m sleeping and tie me up until I make a few suggestions. I’m happy to help!

Relevant Tags

Joseph Boulogne Chevalier De Saint-georges (2), Classical Music (31), Mozart (7), Haydn (3), Anne Sofie Von Otter (1), Marie Antoinette (1), Amoeba Music Hollywood (104), Love And Rockets (5), Sctv (3), Isaac Albeniz (1), French Music (11), Chopin (2)