Happy birthday, Edvard Munch

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 12, 2012 05:43pm | Post a Comment
Today is the 149th birthday of Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch

Munch was born 12 December in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, in 1863. His father was a doctor named Christian Munch and his mother was Laura Catherine Bjølstad. He was often ill as a child and reportedly drew to occupy his considerable time spent in bed.

In 1881, Munch enrolled at Den kongelige tegneskole. Along with fellow students, he had his first public exhibition in 1883. Some of his early work was in the Naturalism and Impressionism traditions. After falling in with nihilist/philosopher/writer/anarchist Hans Jæger, and his circle, Kristianiabohêmen, Munch began attempting to paint from his soul.

Munch's first "soul painting," Det Syke Barn (The Sick Child) depicted his sister Johanne Sophie on her deathbed -- she died from TB when just fifteen.

(l-r) Munch's original Munch's last ...and parodies

Munch's piece(s) titled Der Schrei der Natur (usually known as The Scream in English) is his most recognized work and has been referenced, parodied and copied countless times. The first version, done with pastels, was completed in 1893. He created three more versions, one more pastel and two paintings. 

Munch passed away on 23 January, 1944 at the age of eighty years. He is quoted as having said, "Fra min råtnende kropp skal blomster vokse, og jeg er i dem, og dét er evighet" which Google translates as "From my rotting body flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity."

In college I had the opportunity to see Peter Watkins's 210 minute long biographical film, Evard Munch. In addition to my date and I, there was only one other film attendee in the audience. I was utterly enthralled but by the time the film ended, my girlfriend had fallen asleep and the other film-goer had long since taken off. If you'd like to purchase a copy, it is available on DVD


Classical schmassical.

Posted by Job O Brother, November 16, 2009 04:38pm | Post a Comment

Not all classical music is classical music. Classical music, in its true sense, conforms to a particular style and time period – not an exact time, but roughly from 1750 to 1825. Even so, much of what we casually call “classical music” was written before and after that chunk o’ time. So what gives?

Think of it this way: We call a lot of music “rock music” even when it doesn’t conform to the chord progressions and beats of rock & roll. There’s a huge difference between Ike Turner’s "Rocket 88" and The Cardigans’ "Lovefool," yet they both get played on so-called rock music stations.

So, classical music can either refer to the above mentioned period of Western music, or it can be a generic, blanket term for all that stuff you hear on the classical music station, or find when shopping the Classical Music Section at Amoeba Music.

The reason it’s good to know a little about the periods and sub-genres of classical music is it will help you find what you like. For instance, I’m a huge fan of what’s known as the Impressionist style of classical music, so if I find an album of some composer I’ve never heard of – like say, Sir Pooppants McNaughtybits – and he’s described as an Impressionist, there’s a very good chance that I will enjoy his music. In addition, if I see that the compositions on the album are concertos for clarinet (an instrument I love), I know it’s highly likely I’ll love it. (You know what a concerto is because you read my last blog entry.)

Hunting for classical music kinda becomes an exercise in chemistry. You say, “I know I love Baroque music, and I know I love violins, and I know I want something intimate sounding – something that won’t overwhelm me but help me study for my taxidermy exam.”

So, you go to your favorite Amoeba Music employee and offer these guidelines:

Violin prominent
Intimate and easy to study to

And they can offer some suggestions, like the Mystery Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Biber

“But wait,” you coo softly into my ear as you cuddle my tender flesh and lift a chocolate bon-bon to my lips, “I still don’t know the different time periods. Like, what is Baroque?”

I take my time eating the confection before I answer you.

The most important periods of classical music to know are probably:

Early music
Medieval… 500 – 1400
Renaissance… 1400 – 1600

Common practice
Baroque… 1600 – 1760
Classical… 1730 – 1820
Romantic… 1815 – 1910

Modern… 1900 – today

Within these guidelines (and they are just guidelines, always and often up for debate) there are many sub-genres, like Impressionism, Serialism, Musique mesurée, and McNaughtybitism – none of which I’m going to try to cover here, but all of which fall into one of the major time periods listed above. In beginning your orientation of classical music, don’t worry too much about the sub-genres, okay? That’s for later days.

But as for the major time periods, let’s pay some attention… in my next blog. For now, I am distracted by your endless supply of candies.