Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Nothing to See Here | Britney Spears' Drapes Go the ... »

Friday, February 16, 2007

… And You Think You Had a Rough Show Last Night

posted by on February 16 at 17:49 PM

This story in the Guardian, about British ballet dancers during World War II, is impressive:

In 1944, when Grey was dancing Swan Lake, a V2 exploded overhead, the noise of the bomb mingling with the crescendo of the violins. “I carried on dancing,” says Grey. The only time she can remember a performance being cancelled was in Bath, when the theatre actually caught fire.

It puts me in mind of the story of Vedran Smajlovic, the cellist in Sarajevo who sat on a corner for days, in the middle of a heavy sniper zone, playing requiems for the dead. Twenty-two people had been killed on that corner, when a mortar hit a bread line, so Smajlovic played for twenty-two days. Then he would sit in the Lion’s Cemetery—infamous for the snipers who would pick off relatives coming to bury and to mourn—and play his cello for the dead, the nearby morgue overflowing with bodies.


RSS icon Comments


The story about the cellist, in turn, put me in mind of Gavrillo the Great from The Saddest Music in the World.

Posted by Andrew B | February 16, 2007 6:20 PM

Fun how if you make it a bassoon, it suddenly becomes a Woody Allen story.
Screw the cello. Anyone can play the cello. You might has well be using a football field as a fingerboard. You can actually watch your bowing, and because the notes are low enough, almost now one can hear when you are slightly off pitch. Screw the cello.
Note that when Bach wanted to honor his recently deceased wife, he wrote her a Chaconne on the violin, not some bleeding psuedo-emotional bit of cello cruft.
Screw the cello.

Posted by Mischa Elman | February 16, 2007 7:40 PM

Wow. I had no idea there was such cello hatred in the world, but I'm totally on board. Screw the fucking cello. Piece of shit. I'm playing the cello right now, with my ass.

Posted by Tone | February 16, 2007 8:24 PM

I guess no one's heard my cello playing. Trust me. Not anyone can play it and it's painful to listen to those who can't.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 16, 2007 9:03 PM

So what if the cello's easy? Does that make you love Yanni any less? I didn't think so...

Posted by caitlin! | February 17, 2007 1:55 AM

These two stories remind me of a conversation, in a class that I took, where the Prof asked us to decide how to end the conflict in Northern Ireland (it was still raging at that time). We decided ala a Star Trek episode that the only way a war ends is when the mothers are tired of burying their children and want them, instead, to have a future.

I think I'd add to our class's answer that a tough/peaceful stand in the middle of the conflict could remind us of that humanity. Was that in a Star Trek episode, too? I am completely ripping Gene Roddenberry off?!

Posted by Arlene Spencer | February 17, 2007 10:29 AM


Um, you do know that the two things Bach is remembered most for are the goldberg variations and the cello suites. not even the brandenburgs are as well known.

and, if an instrument is easy to play, composers always find a way to get it to do more. that's why piano literature is so complex. now you could compare the paganini caprices to the koday cello suite - you'd find that the koday actually has quite a bit more notes...

the cello is a sublime instrument - it covers the entire range of the human voice, and can be colored with as much variety.

and no, not anyone can play the cello... go and see joshua roman (he's the seattle symphony's principal cellist) play at town hall on March 16. tell me after you see that whether you think anyone could do it...

Posted by josef | February 17, 2007 11:36 AM

I love bitch talk in rarified airs!

I'm actually going to the symphony tonight (no shit, Valentines). I'll be watching for the chump that doesn't stand and applaud at the end, and I'll give him a unknowing nod.

Posted by hnaaaah?! | February 17, 2007 12:03 PM

I never knew about that cellist. Sorta reminiscent of that lone Chinese protestor who stopped the line of tanks in Tianenmen in 1989. One person saying, "Enough!" to the violence.

Posted by him | February 17, 2007 1:18 PM


i'll be at the symphony too. if nothing else, you'll probably love "tabula rasa" by arvo part - it's fairly new, and sort of new age-y; the second movement has a prepared piano that keeps playing the same mystic chord roll. very beatufiul and magical...

there's another masterwork on the program - sibelius' 7th symphony... all in one movement. starts icy cold. never warms, but gets white hot...

there's some happy filler too, but those two - the sibelius and the part - are the pieces to watch.

there's nothing rarified about classical music. it's just music. admittedly, it requires tremendous virtuosity to perform, and great composers generally throw around more complex ideas than rock bands - i mean, sibelius has 20 minutes to develop his symphony, of course he gets more done that you can in a 3 minute song - but you'll be able to understand and relate to everything you'll hear tonight.

Posted by josef | February 17, 2007 2:39 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).