Click to Listen:
New Chopin Bio;
Sydney Opera House Goes to The Dogs
It’s “This Week in Classical Music; an update on what’s happening in the classical music world; I’m Randy Kinkel.”
Out of all the well-known composers of the 19th century, Fryderyk Chopin might be the only one whose complete works continue to be played regularly.
Most of the pianists who had major international careers in the 20th century performed and recorded works like his A-flat Polonaise (“Heroic”) the minute waltz, and the revolutionary etude.
Alan Walker’s recent book, “Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times”, which came out in the U.S. last Fall, is the first full-scale English-language primary-source biography of Chopin.
Walker is well known for his definitive three-volume bio of Franz Liszt, and he’s done an equally thorough and thoughtful job of recounting the life of Chopin, of whose music he is an eager admirer.
Chopin’s life would seem to have been uneventful by comparison with Liszt, a gargantuan personality who appeared both before sold-out crowds in every corner of Europe; Chopin, by contrast, was a publicity-shunning introvert who played only his own music and performed mainly in the salons of Paris and England.
Walker cracks open Chopin’s hard shell of reserve and gives you a clear sense of his private personality, which was fascinating but unattractive. vain, sarcastic, and nastily anti-Semitic, he had no use for the music of most of his fellow romantics, and said so.
He did reserve admiration for Bach, Mozart, and Bellini, dismissing Beethoven as “vulgar”
Chopin’s reluctance to play for large audiences, Walker tells us, had as much to do with his stage fright as it did with his physical incapacities. He told Liszt that “the public frightens me; I feel suffocated by its panting breath, paralyzed by its curious glance.” Yet he believed wholeheartedly in his own genius, declaring his “noble wish and intention to create for myself a new world.”
Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker is published by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux;
Classical concert patrons have long had to deal with such indignities as coughers and candy-wrapper-krinklers for years now. But concertgoers who go for a bite at one of the nearby restaurants before or after their concert at the Sydney Opera house face much more threatening conditions from birds. Specifically, it’s aggressive seagulls that have made outdoor meals near the concert venue a nightmare. So they decided to send in the Dogs.
Dog training and walking service The company founder James Webb says the dogs keep the area seagull-free simply by being their joyful selves.have been enlisted to protect dining venues around the Sydney Opera House from the pesky gulls by patrolling the waters edge with their trusty pooches.
“Humans will be shooing the birds away with their hands and [the seagulls] will land ten feet away at the next table and then just carry on doing what they were doing. But if I walk up to that same seagull with a dog, the seagull will fly away and go sit in the water.”
They initially started with two dogs on duty for double seagull scares which has effectively trained the birds to keep clear, and now one enthusiastic guard pup is sufficient.
The trial has been running throughout January with impressive results. Opera Bar has seen an 80 per cent reduction in the rate of replacing customer’s meals due to seagull intervention, and the formerly bird-wary staff at Opera Kitchen are walking without fear of being swooped and dropping plates.
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