Blog

Asger Hamerik

How is it that such a great composer as Asger Hamerik can be so forgotten? Can the mediocrity of our age actually be so overwhelming as to ignore even that rare genius who survived the smothering of the ‘modern’ to produce seven wonderful symphonies and an inspirational requiem, several operas and suites, and most of it while teaching right here in America? Perhaps I should be grateful that Rachmaninov and Mahler are still with us. Certainly he is not alone in being ignored while so much mediocrity was raised to set examples for the Broadway/Hollywood nexus of manufactured schmaltz and Götterdämmerung during the last century. Symphony orchestras play with their warhorses again and over again, as if to benumb audiences rather that present another recent example of why the Twentieth Century was such a hell-hole for human creativity as much as it was for the human beings themselves. In the same way that Shakespeare survives endless mutilation on the stage, Beethoven, and too few others can survive such rote, while Joachim Raff, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Johan Svendsen and others of such great imagination have seemingly been buried. Hamerik is my favorite of those I have found on my own. The murder of what has been labeled ‘classical’ music in the twentieth century has now been long successful. The audience has dwindled to so few that without state sponsorship, there would apparently be no full orchestras left, and this excuse is often given for the constant beating of the kettle drums, but that is only after the fact. The aesthetic suicide that was so facilely called ‘the modern’ was first imposed by the academy of the damned that is our educational elite. Yet another accomplishment they can be proud of.

Other than that, I don’t have an opinion on the matter.

http://cphpost.dk/history/the-greatest-danish-composer-america-ever-had.html

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=309766

Small Men

September 12th, 1868

Dear Philip,

As you might imagine, I was quite surprised to see a notice in the Herald that you had returned to New York and opened your own practice. Congratulations! I do hope you are well otherwise. Indeed, the notice refers to a Mr. and Mrs., so double congratulations are in order. I am, myself, robust and quite sanguine over recent developments in my own practice, while having every expectation of further success here in Brooklyn. Regrettably, as of yet, I have not been so fortunate as to find my true helpmate.

I was disappointed at first that you had not been able to contact me straightaway, if only for advice, but now it has occurred to me that, sadly, you must have missed my previous letters and therein lies a better answer for your long silence and not some now forgotten slight. read more…

An Unusual Happenstance

You get to a point in life where you ought to make out a will. I’m passed that.

You get to a point in life where you wonder if any of it—all the things you did or did not do—will be remembered, and for how long. Not whether or not any of it should be remembered. That’s not for you to judge, after all. But it was important to you. That’s all.

Nevertheless, in the scheme of things, I think some of what I did is worth something, and worth remembering—especially by the grandchildren. My kids have heard it all, pretty much. Their mother has seen to that. And too, she was never good at most secrets anyway. It was always best, if there was something you wanted everyone to know about, to tell her first. But then again, you didn’t have to tell her all that much. She always knew, anyway.

So listen to this if you haven’t heard it before and listen anyway if you have. I might be able to add a thing or two.

This is the way it worked—still works, I think.

I was a freak of nature. Not like your grandmother true, but different, in my own way. Claire’s talents are just better known.

Now, if you speak too readily or too often about a circumstance like this you’ll be thought of as nuts, as in crazy, or mad, and thereafter ignored. It’s our way as a society, I think. What we don’t understand we dismiss as impossible or accidental or incidental. And what we do understand, or think we do, we quickly tire of. We give little value to the familiar.

So, there’s the trick, isn’t it? Ambiguity. Our attention is maintained then by the fact that we recognize some part of the matter but not another and it piques our curiosity. And curiosity is the best thing to pique. And in my time, I have always piqued a lot of curiosity.

Yet, outside of the immediate family, not many know. And funny thing, you can give credit to your grandmother for that as well. When Claire does not want something known, you might as well talk to a wall about it.

And it is for that reason that you might be surprised about a certain facility I have. Not an ability, mind you. I’d say, more of a predilection.

I fly. read more…

Bronze Age Collapse in the Time of Brady

The spawn of a recent article by Richard Fernandez (https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/surprise-collapse/) is a rather gloomy extended thought on my part. It is my tendency to be gloomy, true, but that aside, I have the habit of seeing analogy in most of what I hear and read. This is like a constant echo going on in my head, a second voice not unlike my own, and often results in a stupid slack jawed look on my face when I am engaged in listening to others (either that or I’m just tired). I have even been known to drool on the page of a book in my hands—something akin for me to farting in church. But back to my thesis: The Bronze Age Collapse in our time. read more…

About American Philosophy

The occasion of this post is my recent discovery of a wonderful book by John Kaag entitled American Philosophy, a Love Story. Before I get to any criticism of the work, I should commit myself beyond the adjective ‘wonderful,’ and say that I think it is indeed truly excellent and worthwhile, but worth a great deal more to those who are interested in the genealogy of the ideas that drive our modern world. The rest of you may just get a kick out of the love story. read more…

On opening a bookshop

Opening a bookshop is akin, in some minds (my own, for instance), to opening a show—a sheerly theatrical event. There is no chance in hell that you will make much in the way of profit. There is a very slim chance of it succeeding longer than the requisite three year term limit for most new businesses. It is done out of hubris. Because you can. And you must. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

Asger Hamerik

How is it that such a great composer as Asger Hamerik can be so forgotten? Can the mediocrity of our age actually be so overwhelming as to ignore even that rare genius who survived the smothering of the ‘modern’ to produce seven wonderful symphonies and an...

Small Men

September 12th, 1868 Dear Philip, As you might imagine, I was quite surprised to see a notice in the Herald that you had returned to New York and opened your own practice. Congratulations! I do hope you are well otherwise. Indeed, the notice refers to a Mr. and Mrs.,...

An Unusual Happenstance

You get to a point in life where you ought to make out a will. I’m passed that. You get to a point in life where you wonder if any of it—all the things you did or did not do—will be remembered, and for how long. Not whether or not any of it should be remembered....

Bronze Age Collapse in the Time of Brady

The spawn of a recent article by Richard Fernandez (https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/surprise-collapse/) is a rather gloomy extended thought on my part. It is my tendency to be gloomy, true, but that aside, I have the habit of seeing analogy in most of what I hear...

About American Philosophy

The occasion of this post is my recent discovery of a wonderful book by John Kaag entitled American Philosophy, a Love Story. Before I get to any criticism of the work, I should commit myself beyond the adjective ‘wonderful,’ and say that I think it is indeed truly...

On opening a bookshop

Opening a bookshop is akin, in some minds (my own, for instance), to opening a show—a sheerly theatrical event. There is no chance in hell that you will make much in the way of profit. There is a very slim chance of it succeeding longer than the requisite three year...

Observations

Children crave order in their lives. Given the seeming chaos aswirl about them, fixing on the specific edges of a particular blanket or a sequence of events that repeats regularly, like a nap time or snack time, offers them a sense of what and when. There is comfort...

It’s a calendared thing

It is a calendared thing To mark the beginning, And once again to start As if there’s an end to it, And the year is complete And something new commenced; As if you might do over, Or bid farewell and goodbye To what you have done— Little or all that it is; For what you...

The Bookseller’s Dilemma

Booksellers are a lot like actors. It is a cliche that actors will too often assume they are capable of the accomplishments of the characters they portray and come to believe that they know what a character actually felt. Booksellers often see themselves as possessing...

The Arrogance

I suppose it is the arrogance that offends me most. Not the stupidity. An individual can be correct and be arrogant and thus offensive. I am usually willing to forgive stupidity because such foolishness comes to me so easily. But stupidity, at least on a case by case...

Neither frangible nor fungible

That some would have you believe your liberties are fragile and must be protected by government, or that you must trade your liberty in one thing to have it in another, is in the very nature of tyrants, despots, and town clerks. Your freedom is your domain, alone....

The Keeper Jones: Weeds in the tall grass

[If you liked the previous posting, here's another from that novel, now renamed The Keeper Jones ]   The fact of the matter was, he did not like people. Simple as that. They were generally mean, smelly, short sighted, lazy, dull, boring and boorish creatures who were...

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?

 

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.
Hound

Hound

Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.

 

About

I have been informed by trusted authority that the short quip which I have placed here for the last year or so, by way of biography, lacks gravitas. “Over-paid by others for hyphenated jobs such as lawn-work, snow-shoveling, house-painting, office-boy, dish-washer, warehouse-grunt, table-waiter and hotel night-clerk–I’ve since chosen to be a writer, editor, publisher, and for most of my life, a bookseller, and even managed to occasionally pay myself. Houndis my first published novel.” And so it does. It is hard to be serious about so unserious a subject as oneself. But herewith, and keeping the ‘nasty bits’ (Brit expressions are so brilliant) to myself, I offer then, this ongoing post begun as posts at Small Beer Press. If anyone is interested, from time to time I will add something at the end to bring the epic closer to the present moment.

read more…