10-11: Complete Atomic Basie 1957 - Aborto Elétrico : Ao vivo na Funarte 1981 - Edith Piaf Olympia 1955 - Bruckner 3 & 8 / Szell - Satie : Parade | Relâche etc.

1837 – Samuel Wesley (English organist, composer & violinist)
1896 – Anton Bruckner (Austrian composer & organist)
1897 – Léon Boëllmann (Alsatian organist, composer & pianist)
1942 – Leonid Nikolayev (Russian pianist, teacher & composer, piano teacher of Shostakovich)
1961 – Chico Marx (American comedian, actor & pianist)
1963 – Édith Piaf (French popular singer, songwriter & actress)
1963 – Jean Cocteau (French poet, playwright, artist, novelist, set designer & filmmaker)
1970 – Anis Fuleihan (Cypriot-born American composer, conductor & pianist of Lebanese heritage, composed Theremin Concerto for Clara Rockmore)

1985 – Tex Williams (American western swing singer, songwriter, guitarist & harmonica player, "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette")
1996 – Johnny Costa (American jazz pianist & celesta player, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood)

1993 – Jess Thomas (American Wagnerian tenor)
1996 – Renato Russo (Brazilian rock singer, songwriter, bass guitarist, guitarist & keyboardist, Aborto Elétrico, Legião Urbana)

2007 – Werner von Trapp (Austrian singer & farmer, Von Trapp Family Singers)
2008 – Neal Hefti (American jazz trumpeter & arranger & jazz, film & TV composer)

Well, despite the presence of only 14 poopers on the list, this edition will once again require TWO posts to complete, because A. it's full of notable folks you just have to hear and B. I couldn't possibly let it go without one of them being Jess Thomas, and you should be able to figure out what that means! Yes, it's another opera, and not just any opera, but one that's so long you're sure to doze off at some point during it. So, look for that second post a little bit later...

And you may have a similarly sleepy reaction during one of Anton Bruckner's massive symphonies, but this is a composer you must learn to love. It is verboten for you not to! For they are magnificent works, full of a primordial energy - from the roar of the sea, to the eruption of volcanoes, to the painfully slow drift of enormous glaciers. And they all, in a way, take Beethoven's Ninth as their starting place. No, none of them has a choral finale (although Bruckner did compose a good deal of choral music - his superb masses, motets and Te Deum are another part of his output which call out for exploration), but from his 3rd symphony onward, you have very long four-movement works (save for the incomplete three-movement 9th) which contain seemingly endless adagios, often have a Scherzo placed as the second movement, and, perhaps most notably, begin the first movement with that same sort of hushed, mysterious quality you find at the start of Beethoven's, and end it with that same thundering timpani you find at its climax. Of course, all the Austro-Germanic symphonists who followed the Bee (that's what Charles Bukowski calls Beethoven sometimes - I like that) felt like they were living in his shadow, but no others were so explicit and single-minded in paying homage to that greatest symphony of them all.

The problem with Bruckner, though, is the problem with Bruckner, and if you're a Brucknerite, you know exactly the problem I mean. And that is, which edition or revision of a particular symphony is "the best," or even whether there can be such a thing. You see, if you take Bruckner's nine symphonies, and count all the different versions of them, there are actually around 60 different symphonies! Why? Well, some versions were heavily abridged, sometimes by Bruckner himself, at the urging of well-meaning friends who thought his original creations were too long, sometimes by other well-meaning people. Let's not forget that everyone meant well in this matter!

And so there are some self-styled Bruckner "purists" who will claim that Bruckner's symphonies in their very longest form (which is generally their earliest edition) are the true and correct Bruckner symphonies. But think about this, now. For any other composer, we take that composer's final thoughts on a work, his last revision of it, as the gospel truth. But for Bruckner, we do just the opposite, and say his first thoughts were the "correct" ones? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Me, I'm a pluralist in the matter; I think all those versions can have a certain validity, although some perhaps more than others. I don't want to get in a fight about it! Listen to them all, if you have the time! And then figure out which recording, by which conductor, you like the best! I'm not going to shit you, folks. Being a Brucknerite is pretty much a full-time job in itself. It's kind of like running this blog, but with louder timpani!

Well... can't say something about everybody else, but there are a couple others I wouldn't want to pass over. Legião Urbana, with singer Renato Russo, were (and still are, even though they called it quits after Russo's death 15 years ago) one of the most famous and best-selling rock bands from Brazil. Russo's first band, the punk rock group (well, really post-punk: more Joy Division than Sex Pistols) Aborto Elétrico, is also still a cult favorite in Brazil. Maybe they can be a cult favorite in your mp3 player as well!

And hey, it's another small landmark here at YiDM: I've succeeded in finding, for the first time, an image which contains two people on our list who actually died on the very same day (of completely unrelated causes), and which I was able to therefore use, because doing so would not harm the strict chronological order I follow in putting together the collage. And that, of course, is the photo, just above the painting of Jean Cocteau, of Cocteau and Édith Piaf together. The two were friends (both of them had a lot of friends in the various arts), and Cocteau wrote his theater piece Le Bel Indifférent (1940) for her. So, you see, you actually have an image of both Piaf and Cocteau separately up there, plus one of them together! That wasn't an opportunity I could pass up. But that photo of them together is awfully small, isn't it? One of the unfortunate effects of having to be strictly chronological is that images often end up being much too large or small than they really should be, as to not disturb the overall form of the collage. I do my best, but sometimes my best isn't good enough. Well, here is a bigger version of that photo for you:

Much better, non? And now, what to say about the two of them? Well, Édith Piaf is universally considered France's greatest singer of popular song. She's adored, revered, practically considered to be a saint in France. There's not much one can add to that, is there? Oh, there is one other thing. If you slow down Édith Piaf, you get Jim Nabors. Or was it, if you speed up Jim Nabors you get Édith Piaf? Seems to me it should work either way! Anyway, it was my friend Clay Allison who demonstrated that to me on his turntable many years ago. Very humorous man, that Clay Allison. And as he would probably say to that, "Yes, I'm full of blood, and bile, and I've got some melon in my Collie, too! Oh, and I almost forgot all about my phlegm! You didn't know I was Phlegmish, did you?"

And Jean Cocteau. No, he wasn't a musician himself, but he isn't here because the Cocteau Twins used his name. Cocteau worked with many different artists in different disciplines, and musicians were no exception. He, along with Erik Satie, inspired the group of Parisian-based composers known as Les Six. He also wrote some ballet scenarios, most notably for Satie's Parade (1917), which also had choreography and dancing by Léonide Massine, set design by Pablo Picasso, and a program note written by Guillaume Apollinaire, wherein he in fact coined the term "surrealism." Yes, just a bunch of two-bit hacks involved in that production! The audience was not quite so pleased with it, however. Cocteau later wrote, "If it had not been for Apollinaire in uniform, with his skull shaved, the scar on his temple and the bandage around his head, women would have gouged our eyes out with hairpins." Well, now isn't that totally not-a-coincidence? For Cocteau also contributed the libretto (which he wrote first in French, then translated into Latin) to Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex (1927). That's exactly what poor Oedipus does to himself with Jocasta's hairpins near the end of that feel-good Sophocles drama, isn't it?
Cocteau drawings: L - Satie (1910); R - Stravinsky performing his Concerto for Piano & Winds (1924)
Well, that's more than enough from me. Big-ass Wagner opera coming up in just a little while...



  1. Cocteau's interior life must have been something. Like a walking myth. My interior is kind of dim because of my illness; but I have a tattoo of Jean's signature on my right arm. Your post on Bruckner reminds me of a story in the New Yorker that I have just read today. There's a new translation of the Iliad. Apparantly there are multiple sources at work attributed to Homer. The magic is in the collection. I have gotten through maybe 60 pages of Chapman's Homer. It exhasts me! But the thing is that this new translation leaves out some of the gory entries because of new evidence saying that those entries are impure in a historical way. I have too feeble a mind to read all the translations; the same goes with Bruckner.

  2. Interesting, waex. I was not aware of all the different source materials for Homer. It kind of reminds me, though, of a different collection, which people take much more seriously, and even base their entire lives around, that similarly is found in a plethora of different sources... not to mention a plethora of different translations of whatever sources are used. Those discrepancies don't seem to trouble very many of the believers, though.