Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Weekly What-What?! Week of December 22nd

I haven't done much else this week.  I did publish a new article on Yahoo! Voices -- 3 Ways Businesses Can Use Behavioral Economics to Increase Sales and Profit.  So there's that.  I looked at graduate schools some; not sure about that yet.  We're not doing a Christmas tree this year, but we now have the stockings up.  You can see our (somewhat sad) setup here:

Music:  South Valley Symphony's Winter Romance

Last Saturday, the husband and I went to see the South Valley Symphony (SVS) perform, which we've done a few times in the past.  Since taking music history in school, I've developed a love of classical music, which my husband happily shares.  On Saturday, the SVS did its Winter Romance set, which was largely exciting and unusual (you can check out the full program here).  The more conventional pieces that they played, which were the Overture to A Merry Christmas by Wendel, and the Christmas Overture "Vom Himmel Hoch" by Klein, were well-orchestrated and beautiful, but it was truly the other pieces that made the evening.  My favorite piece was the Emperor Waltzes, op. 437 by Johann Strauss II; this piece begins with a lively march, and then moves into a fun, bouncy waltz.

The Suite from The Fantastic Toyshop, by Rossini and orchestrated by Respighi, was interesting partially for its history, but also partially for its form: unlike many other suites from ballets, this one had very abrupt, definite breaks between scenes.  The history of this piece is pretty hilarious: Rossini became tired of writing operas, so he wound up writing a series of piano pieces instead.  He titled the collected work "Sins of My Old Age", and the titles of the pieces themselves ranged from "The Harmless Prelude" to the most hysterical, "Gherkins".  A beautiful piano piece about gherkins.

Respighi took a selection of these pieces, orchestrated them, and arranged them into the story, The Fantastic Toyshop.  Which is also pretty ridiculous:  The story goes that the pride and joy of a toyshop is this pair of clockwork can-can dancers; one is bought by one family, while the other is bought by a different family.  The families pay the toymaker and leave, planning to return the next day to pick up the dolls.  That night, all the toys come alive, and decide that the dancers must stay together, so they hide them away in the shop.  The families come the next day to pick up the dolls, and when the toymaker cannot find them, the parents start beating the poor toymaker.  The toys come alive again, and kick the families out of the shop, firmly closing the door (with the wonderful BOOM! of a drum) behind them.  The toymaker and toys then celebrate.  The end.  That's it.  My husband dubbed it "every retailer worker's dream" -- being able to throw out unruly customers.  If you'd like to watch a ballet version, there's one in four parts on Youtube.

Sorry for the short post this week; I did do some reading, but haven't seen anything interesting enough to post here.

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