A Single Bold, Courageous Word

“The Revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington.”

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, August 24, 1815

An interesting combination of articles in online news this morning…  Snatching headlines in DC is the announcement by The Library of Congress that their researchers have used hyperspectral imaging to discover that Thomas Jefferson originally wrote, ” ’our fellow subjects’ in his first draft of The Declaration of Independence.

But he apparently changed his mind. In that first draft, heavily scrawled over the word “subjects” is the word ‘citizens.’”

Library specialists point out this fundamental shift in Jefferson’s thinking occurred after he authored a similar document for the State of Virginia.  In that, “subjects” is used.

Where would our country be today without such deep, concentrated thought about a single word?


Politics & Poetry

A new Poet Laureate has been announced today in the U.S. by The Library of Congress, and the article from The Washington Post is included below, along with a brief quote, which prompted today’s subject/title.  As the date of the press release is today, it classifies as breaking news.  Here’s the LOC info, directly.

And here’s the Post’s quote:

“The power of poetry, and art in general, to connect us more deeply with ourselves, rather than the empty rodomontade and blather of public life, is fundamental to Merwin’s mix of ecological and personal vision. A sonnet by Shakespeare, or a painting by Picasso, says Merwin, “belongs to each of us in a completely distinct and original way.”

“And that is deeply political.”  Here’s the complete article.


Granados Plays Granados

Photo credit: Detail of (The White) Duchess of Alba, Goya, 1795

In a continuing quest for more information about Granados, yours truly found a more complete biographical article.  In addition to a lot more information in general, there are several photographs, and a more complete listing of his compositions.

The Wikipedia reference for Granados lists a number of references at the end, which yours truly looked through.  But having read so much about his pianistic abilities, and habit of composing during actual performances,  it seemed more prudent to try to locate recordings of Granados playing his own music.  Double-checking Amazon, this seemed a possibility.

There are echoes and themes from Granados’ Goyescas in his vocal compositions, or is it vice versa? And referring back to his opinion of the world’s concept of Spanish music, Granados wrote his music without a hint of tambourines or castanets.

To hear Granados, please scroll down this page to the second mp3 example, two photos down.  Their mp3 is embedded on their page, and to copy the file would probably be a copyright infringement.

After listening, dear Possums, you understand why Granados was considered such a virtuoso, composer, and musician, and why yours truly has taken such pains to find the real performer.

Can you hear the very subtle variances in tone, tempo, etc.? Then perhaps you understand why it’s so crucial to get the correct pianola version.

And why it’s taken 30-odd years, the latest technologies, and multiple experts around the globe to pull it all together for you, Dear Readers.

Viva Granados! (y viva el Internet, también)


Keith Peterson Interview: “The Body in the Bookstore Sink”

Photo credit: used by permission, K. Peterson

Yours truly had the fun of talking with author and bookstore owner Keith Peterson recently. Here’s a link to his place, the best used books and sheet music shop in Chicago, Selected Works – Used Books and Music.

Keith has completed his first novel, The Body in the Bookstore Sink,  which started out to be a collection of stories told by his now-deceased friend, Steve.  But gradually a novel took shape, and Keith talks about how it all happened.

The entire book is available in PDF format online, free.   See his web site, and click on Keith’s Novel.

Also discussed is a sequel, with the working title Lucky Buck.  It’s available from the same page.

Photo credit: Keith Peterson

Both mysteries are set in Chicago, and many of the names and places are based on actual places and events in Chicago and elsewhere.  The first novel does contain some rough characters and crude language; however, they are all influenced for the good by Father Stephan, and there’s a happy ending.

Currently, the second novel has the beginnings of a love story for Seth, the bookstore owner, while Father Stephan’s stories aren’t always finished.

Even Hodge, The Bookstore Cat, manages to add his individual contribution to the interview.

Photo credit: Keith Peterson

Granados and The Pianola

Photo credit: Detail of (The White) Duchess of Alba, Goya, 1795

The Pianola Institute’s site has extensive information about the pianola’s various forms, and those differences are crucial to musicians when listening to pianola recordings.

Depending on the type used, you might be listening to a modern technician-pianola expert interpreting what a composer recorded during the original recording session.

Yours truly wanted to get as close to the genius of Granados as possible.

Remember, Granados was originally known as a piano virtuoso, like Liszt.  When dealing with that stature, it would seem unfair to expect a pianola expert to also be a virtuoso.

Here is a wonderful example of one type of pianola, sent by cara amiga and colleague, soprano Rut Jiménez Guerrero, of Málaga, Spain.

Yours truly immediately noticed all the moving around the technician does, and the closeup of his hands manipulating something below the keys.  What was he doing? When listening, yours truly’s musical sensibilities were screaming, Would Granados have done that?  Or that?  Or that??

Going back to The Pianola Institute’s site, the Duo-Art version seemed closer to what yours truly wanted to hear, but they didn’t mention Granados as having recorded for it.  Then, this excellent example of how a pianola works came to light.

Hopefully it explains why the hunt continued.

The Reproducing Piano and Welte-Mignon

First, here’s this page for reference, to explain what seems to be the action used in the previous example.  Scroll down to the very bottom if you don’t have time/interest in reading everything – to “Stencil Recording Piano, Aeloian Company,” etc.

Here’s a very lengthy and sometimes quite technical history and explanation of the Welte-Mignon version of a reproducing piano, which seemed to be the best version of Granados.

Now, onward to find a recorded example of Maestro Granados . . .


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