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Posts from the ‘Songs’ Category

KEITH JARRETT: A MUSICAL GENIUS IN DESPERATE NEED OF A SNICKERS BAR

He walked onto stage and the applause swelled. I had never seen the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein so jam-packed full of people. Every single one of the 1744 seats and 300 standing places was filled with the face of an adoring fan anxiously awaiting the warm greetings of a Musical Meister.

What we got was the ranting, reprimanding threat of a diva: “I will not play a single note until the two people who just took a photo leave this concert hall. If you’re sitting beside them, urge them to leave or I won’t play.” Like a toddler mid-tantrum, he stomped off the stage and the lights went back up.

A disturbed chatter arose from the crowd. The Viennese consensus? He’s nuts. And they weren’t referring to the photo-taker caper(s). Just enough time ticked by for us to begin to wonder what the Musikverein’s refund policy is on our not-too-cheap tickets when the artist throws a fit and refuses to perform. In the nick of time, a gentleman (hero?) in a dark t-shirt rose from the center of the audience, about 25 rows deep, from a section where tickets no doubt cost upwards of 120 € each, stood up, bumped his way past the stunned fellow concert-goers in his row and exited the auditorium with a shake of his head. Many of us harbored serious doubts whether the departed was the culprit but the ritual sacrifice being made, the self-chosen martyr offered up, the show could go on.

A man in a suit who we recognized from before Cellphone Gate as the gentleman who informed us that there’d be a live recording and we must refrain from extraneous noises reappeared on stage. In a more apologetic than admonishing tone, he reminded us of the “Künstler’s” need to concentrate. Finally Mr. Jarrett re-entered and I no longer know if anyone clapped at this point. Here and there I believe but the unbridled enthusiasm of his initial entrance was history. Why? Three reasons. First, stunned people can’t clap, they’re too shocked to move their hands (see photo of my stunned face included herein). Second, who could tell what might set him off again – perhaps clapping out of rhythm, for example. Third, we all just wanted to put the embarrassing moment behind us as quickly as possible and move on with things.

Mr. Jarrett sat before his grand piano and pounded the keys as if they too were personally involved in the photo-taking infraction. Disjointed chords of choppy scales torpedoed into the loges left and right. Irritated notes wrestled in an angry sea of quick, successive sounds.

Keith Jarrett Tickets to Vienna Musikverein, July 2016

Keith Jarrett Tickets to Vienna Musikverein, July 2016

He was angry. The music was angry. And I was angry.

But by the third piece, then there was light. Staccatos grew more and more interspersed with light, playful notes. By the fourth piece, I could bring myself to join the others and clap, now convinced that it would have been a grave mistake to march out of the hall with Mr. T-Shirt Man in a show of solidarity and a refusal to accept such treatment of us non-genius, musical-lover mortals (as a firm believer in the age-old advice: you are responsible for how you let others treat you). But the lesson was obvious: Keith Jarrett could clearly get away with mistreating his audience members because he truly is a musical genius. The epiphany made me sad for artists specifically and humankind in general.

For years Keith Jarrett’s Cologne Concert, Paris Concert and Vienna Concert from his 1991 appearance in the Vienna Opera House have been some of my most beloved, trusted accompaniments while writing. Sit down, crank it up and within 5 minutes you are in the “mood” and the words stream across the page like currents in a waterfall.

He isn’t hitting pre-prescribed notes. This is improvisation. He is sitting at his bench and coaxing the keys to come together in just the right manner to take his listeners on a magical journey of his making. His music elevates all present to a higher, better, otherworldly place.

By the end of his concert I enthusiastically joined the standing ovation. Not just one but three – or was it four? — encores. His final piece, a playful, soulful version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” seemed like the artist’s version of an apology of sorts. It was that moving. Then he said, “Thank you,” but couldn’t leave us for the night with happy, fuzzy feelings to accompany us home. No. He just had to add, “Now aren’t you glad you were strong? Aren’t you glad you were smart?”

To quote Homer Simpson: “D’Oh!” [slaps hand to forehead].

The concert was recorded live. Mr. Jarrett’s hyper-sensitive (compulsive?) tendencies made me wonder why he does live recordings. Wouldn’t a studio recording be easier to control all variables possible when you pack 2000 people in a room? It’s a contradiction, I suppose. The man who demands such utmost control and obedience of an audience of thousands chooses live recordings and improvisation.

At the same time, after intermission, it wasn’t an apology, don’t get me wrong, but perhaps a justification. Kind of. Mr. Jarrett said that all the picture-taking makes him feel like a caged animal. He also added: “People who think they can interfere with processes is what’s f—ed up the world today.” I get that. But what’s really f—ed up the world is a general lack of empathy. And when thousands of people from all over the world, all walks of life who could be mid-living all the tragedies and challenges life can throw at you, re-arrange their day-to-day existence, coordinate and pretty themselves up to join together at a certain time and place to spend precious, never-to-be-re-gained hours of their life, just to hear you play your music, to join you on a journey to a higher place blindly following nothing more than the next musical note – that is something rather extraordinary and the opposite of f—ed up. And if you give that a bitter after-taste (or before- and after-taste), then shame on you.

There is a synergy between an audience and artist that no studio can give. A synergy in a Golden Hall that has been home to such beauty and artistry of some of history’s and the world’s best talents for over 140 years. A synergy that lingers beyond the 2 seconds the notes are held suspended, a synergy that transcends space and time and I think you must know that, Mr. Jarrett, which is why you record live. So chill. You’re playing jazz, the chillest tunes of them all. Appreciate the joining together to experience a precious parenthesis in time.

I’d like to end with a bit of advice for future concerts:

* to potential Keith Jarrett concert-goers: go, the music will be amazing, but for God’s (Keith Jarrett’s and the concert’s) sakes, keep that trigger finger off the camera icon.

* to Mr. Jarrett: get a grip, chill and have some empathy. If the audience peeves you off, do like Bob Dylan did when he gave a concert in Burg Clam – don’t acknowledge the audience at all. Not one word. Not “Hello” “How are you” or “Thanks.” If they’re like me, sure, they’ll feel snubbed but better snubbed than down-right insulted.

* to concert organizers, you saints, you:

  1.  if tales from a Berlin concert are to be believed, be sure to have the piano tuned before the concert;
  2.  hang up plenty of signs politely advising that the diva “artist” requires utmost concentration and concert-goers who cannot refrain from taking photos kindly will be asked to leave
  3.  give that musical genius a Snickers bar. Or two. Or three. (supposedly they’re good at humanizing divas). And who knows? Maybe there’s a commercial spot in his future and you can turn lemons into lemonade.

Anger advice: It’s better to distract than vent because getting it out can intensify the emotion. Go figure.

I love the podcast the Hidden Brain and this is a fascinating take on what makes Keith Jarrett’s Cologne Concert so phenomenal (though I doubt Keith would agree):
NPR Podcast, Hidden Brain: In Praise of Mess: Why Disorder May Be Good For Us

 

 

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Bumpa Bumpa – Franz is the Man

“It’s not the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” -Charles Darwin

I swear, I was all set to write an enthralling post about New Year’s in Vienna. And I will. But this is an emergency – YOU’VE-GOT-TO-SEE-THIS – post. Because I was just getting my fix of a US TV series via Youtube with my trigger finger on “Skip this ad” when I was confronted with the following ad for a rather otherwise nondescript Austrian grocery store called ADEG.

You’ve got to check this out. Einfach Wunderbar! Think of it as your little dose of Austria. What Austrian or non-Austrian cannot be thoroughly enthralled by the artistic talents of Franz? Or the marketing genius of Franz’s creator. I hope it’s not just me suffering from some midnight madness and you can also appreciate this odd but ingenious marketing ploy. Oh, and by the way, they obviously recognized the potential for this to go viral and Franz to get a fan club, so you can even download Franz misc from the website here: ADEG.

Think of it as the Austrian version of Find Waldo – how many Austrianisms can you find in this video? They’re endless. Here are a few to get you started:
Brettljausen, Kaiser Franz Josef,  Bier, farm animals, skis, Hüte, the brass band, Mozart, the waltz, Leberkäs, Topfen, Schnitzel, Sachertorte, Mozartkugel, Maibaumtanz, Dirndl, Lederhosen, accordian, Holzknecht, Jugitzer, Ball, Strauss
And then you got all the sites: the Parliament, Stephansdom, Almwiese, Alpen, Skipiste, Stadtpark, Prater, Riesenrad,
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The Top 10 of the Top 5 Expat Bloggers in Austria – Week 4: Austrian Adaptation

As mentioned, back in April of this year,the English language online news blog, The Local, featured “The Five Best Expat Blogs in Austria.” The five of us thought it might be fun to do something together so the other four ex-pat bloggers agreed to appear on my blog with their top 10 favorite things Austrian.

During the first week, expat blogger, Kristina Cosumano from the blog, The Practice Room wrote about her love of unusual, forgotten places and shared some very interesting ones.

Week 2 was A Mommy Abroad, Emily, who confessed a new found love of Krapfen.

The third week included my favorites and an Oachkatzlschwoaf challenge: KC Blau’s Top 10 Favorite Austrian Things.

This week, week four, ex-pat blogger Carly Hulls, of the blog, Austrian Adaptation, an “Aussie girl’s perspective on living in Austria,” shares her top 10.

Expat Blogger, Carly Hull’s Top 10 Favorite Austrian Things

1) Food

Kaiserschmarren

Kaiserschmarren

It would be boring to say Schnitzel, so I’m going to go with Kaiserschmarrn. But its only best when you’re at the top of a Mountain after a morning of skiing in perfect bluebird conditions – then it’s absolutely heavenly.

2) Drink

I’ve actually developed a deep love for the Apfelsaft gespritz since moving here, it weaned me off my Diet Coke addiction which can only be a good thing. Second vote would be a weiss wine gespritz or a Hugo on a summer’s day.

3) Film or TV Show

We don’t have a TV so I’m rubbish for that question and unfortunately my Deutsch is not quite up to watching Austrian films yet. On the advice of some of my blog readers I’ve just recently started watching Tatort to improve my German which is strangely intriguing.

Tatort Crime Series

Tatort Crime Series

4) Book

I’ve been making my way through some Stefan Zweig novels but my absolute favorite book to paint a picture of Austria/Vienna during WWII is Night Falls on the City by Sarah Gaiman. An incredibly vivid and moving read.

5) Month

October is beautiful. Fresh weather, Autumn leaves and the winter coats come out. I’m a summertime beach baby at heart but in Vienna, October is definitely the prettiest month – plus pumpkins are finally in season!

6) Place

Tirol. I’ll always have a soft spot for the mountains, the ski fields, the food and the gorgeous little villages. I’m always telling my mister that he grew up in a fairytale village.

Egon Schiele Self Portrait

Egon Schiele Self Portrait

7) Historical Figure

Tough call – you have to respect Maria Theresia for all that she did for Austria. But I think if I had to invite a party guest it would be Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt to get their impressions of early 20th Century Europe and art.

8) Tradition / Past time

The Perchten festival in Tirol is a special one for me – my very first week in Austria was the week of Perchten and I had no  idea what was going on but I loved it!Now I know what Krampus and the devils are all about and can dodge the ‘Teufels’ that roam the streets armed with coal.

9) Song

Any après-ski singalong that has dance moves to go along with it! They are so adorable and get the whole bar involved in ridiculous moves. The Fliegerlied is a fave because we taught my whole Aussie family all the moves last Christmas.

10) Word

Brustwarze. Come on…a wart on your breast is a nipple? That’s comedy gold, every time!

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The Top 10 of the Top 5 Expat Bloggers – Week 3: KC Blau’s Favorite Austrian Things

“…Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, Doorbells and sleigh bells and Schnitzel with noodles, …” – Sound of Music, My Favorite Things

Print This Post  “The Five Best Expat Blogs in Austria” bloggers’ favorite things feature continues. During the first week feature, we focused on expat blogger, Kristina Cosumano from the blog, The Practice Room. The  second week, we featured of the blog of expat Emily, author and blogger of, A Mommy Abroad

This week it’s me.  Expat Blogger, KC’s Top 10 Favorite Austrian Things

1)      Food
Putenschnitzel
hammered, breaded with a slice of lemon on the side and served with parsley potatoes (Petersilerdäpfel), a mixed salad gemischtes Salat) and a Seidel of Ottakringer. Then a Marillenpalatschinken (apricot crepes) with a Melange for desert.

2) Drink
Grüner Veltliner
at the Heuriger Weinhof Zimmermann on a summer evening with a bunch of beloved friends.

3) Film or TV Show
“Liebesg’schichten und Heiratssachen”
(Love and Marriage) Cause I’m a sucker for affairs of the heart and can’t resist rooting for the lonely tuba player from Burgenland who has never had a girlfriend but has an amazing collection of hoola dancing dolls and is looking for love on Austrian national television.

The show is produced by the very talented Austrian documentary maker – Elisabeth Spira (who also did the great “Alltagsgeschichten”) and the production crew is extremely talented at capturing people in their native environments, and finding just the right theme song for the lone wolf as he struts his stuff, nordic walking in the local park or playing catch with his guinea pig. Don’t miss this show – it’s a definite must-see. In fact, the US should consider a spin-off with all the US Eleanor Rigbys out there looking for love.

4) Book
“Das weite Land”
German:
Das weite Land: Tragikomödie in fünf Akten (German Edition)
English:

Master of the Deep POV, Arthur Schnitzler :
Es gibt Herzen, in denen nichts verjährt.” (There are hearts immune from time’s lapses)

Bottle of Grüner Veltliner from Bründlmayer

Bottle of Grüner Veltliner from Bründlmayer

***
Sie fragen mich? Sollt es ihnen noch nicht aufgefallen sein, was für komplizierte Subjekte wir Menschen im Grunde sind. So vieles hat zugleich Raum in uns-! Liebe und Trug …Treue und Treulosigkeit… Anbetung für die eine und Verlangen nach einer anderen oder nach mehreren. Wir versuchen wohl Ordnung in uns zu schaffen, so gut es geht, aber diese Ordnung ist doch nur etwas Künstliches…Das Natürliche…ist das Chaos. Die Seele…ist ein weites Land..”
(You ask me? Have you not noticed, how complicated we humans at heart are. So much has room in us all at once! Love and deception… Loyalty and disloyalty … Worship for one and longing for another or more. We try to create order, insofar as possible, but this order is only generic… The Natural … is chaos. The soul … is a vast land...)

5) Month
May
(with December as a very close second)
I love the month when the city reawakens from its grey winter slumber and every cobblestone, street artist, daffodil and magpie comes to life.

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, 2nd District, Beach Bar, Vienna

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, 2nd District, Beach Bar, Vienna – May in Vienna

6) Place
On the terrace in summer at exactly 7 pm when the bells of surrounding churches begin to chime and the sun slowly descends

7) Historical Figure
Karl Kraus
sassy and klug, with his clever observations and controversial viewpoints, he certainly knew how to stir things up in the city steadfastly resistant to change .

“War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering;
in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.”
***
“Everything that’s created remains as it was before it was created. The artist fetches it down from the heavens as a finished thing.”

***
“Language is the mother of thought, not its handmaiden.”
***
“Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess.”
***
“In Berlin, things are serious but not hopeless. In Vienna, they are hopeless but not serious.”

Krampus misunderstanding - he thinks KC's been naughty

Krampus misunderstanding – he thinks KC’s been naughty

8) Tradition / Past time
Krampuslauf
Oh the thrill that someone or something knows that impish side of you and if you don’t behave, will snatch you up and carry you off so you best be careful. Stay away from creatures with Ruten and baskets on or around December 5.  And be good.

9) Song
Classical: Mozarts Clarinet concerto in A major, K. 622 (25 Mozart Favorites) was written in 1791, shortly before Mozart’s death  – maybe I like it so much because for many years I tried my hand at playing clarinet and still have a soft spot for my old instrument despite my own obvious lack of talent.

mozart

mozart or “Wolfi” as the Austrians like to call him

http://imslp.org/images/f/f6/PMLP03144-2Adagio.mp3

Austropop:
“Shakin My Brain” – Attwenger (see video below) – how can this song not make you laugh?
These guys ingeniously combine drums and an accordion with Upper Austrian dialect to come up with songs with the most inappropriate texts that capture the feeling of life in an Austrian small town. Artsy folky Volksmusik. These guys don’t take themselves too seriously and — I think — are musical geniuses.

10) Word

Oachkatzlschwoaf [‘ɔaxkatzlʃwɔaf] Eichkätzchenschweif – Small oak cat’s tail which is a small squirrel’s tail) – a so-called “Schibboleth” or language test that Austrians love to give to non-Austrians – Germans especially http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Oachkatzlschwoaf  – if you hang out in Austria long enough, you will eventually be challenged to Oachkatzlschwoaf. You will fail miserably and the Austrians will find this rather hilarious. Be good-humored, laugh along with them, then have a sip of Ottakringer while they recover from their laugh-induced hiccups and challenge them to a “squirrel’s tail” or “Valentine’s day” or “how much wood, would a wood-chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood.” Who needs to ice-bucket when you can Oachkatzlschwoaf? Below is a little something to help you practice a bit and up your game.

ATTWENGER – SHAKIN MY BRAIN

Fascinating Dissertation by David Kleinberg with more info about Austrian dialect

Shibboleth: According to Judges 12:5-6, the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim and only the survivors from Ephraim who could properly pronounce “Shibboleth” were spared death. 42,000 didn’t manage. So any word a group uses to distinguish members of that group through the ability to pronounce the word properly (Pittsburghers would fit this as well) is referred to as a “Shibboleth”

ORF – Liebesg’schichten und Heirratssachen (Act now! They are looking for singles as candidates for their 2016 show. Go for it! Show your princess-in-hiding your superior tuba skills)

BBC special about Mozart and the clarinet with music: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bldlh


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