Because what else is a person supposed to do after midnight on a Tuesday? Watch random YouTube videos, of course! Here’s one of my favorite recordings of “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, sung by Placido Domingo.
This song has been stuck in my head for almost twenty-four hours now. I suppose I shouldn’t complain: if I have to have a song stuck in my head, I’d much prefer a Russian one to some annoying (and bad) English-language stuff. (Not that all English-language music is annoying, but most modern music in this country is pretty bad. Just saying.)
The song is called “My Address is the Soviet Union” [Мой адрес Советский Союз] and it was very, very popular back in the day (circa 1972).
I feel such nostalgia with this song, which is ridiculous on so many levels. I don’t even like the Soviet Union. Trust me, I’ve studied Soviet history extensively and it was a horrible place to live (at least compared to the United States – it was much better than modern North Korea, but then again, pretty much any place is preferable to North Korea). I never lived in the Soviet Union. It fell shortly after I was born, so there was no time in my life when I consciously existed and was aware of the country known as the Soviet Union.
Well, it wasn’t for nothing that my second reader for my undergraduate thesis said that I was able to paint a remarkably accurate portrait of life in the Soviet Union, especially considering I never lived there.
A violin played on the Titanic, unfortunately water damanged.
This story is really fascinating and really sad. A man in England found the violin that belonged to Wallace Hartley, lead violinist on the Titanic. If you’ve seen the James Cameron film about the Titanic, you probably remember the musicians playing until the very end. It’s just really strange and sad to think that this was the exact violin played.
A few highlights from the article:
The wooden instrument used by Wallace Hartley as the band famously played on while the liner sank was thought to have been lost in the Atlantic in the 1912 disaster.
It wasn’t until 2006 when the son of an amateur musician who had been casually given the instrument by her violin teacher unearthed it in the attic of her home.
Titanic experts have described it as the most important artefact associated with the infamous liner to have come to light.
Within minutes of Titanic striking an iceberg on April 14, 1912, Hartley was instructed to assemble the band and play music in order to maintain calm.
The eight musicians gallantly performed on the chilly boat deck of the Titanic while the passengers lined up for the lifeboats.
The band carried on until the bitter end, famously playing a final hymm of ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee.’
Hartley, and the other seven band members, perished along with 1,500 passengers and crew when the luxurious vessel sank at 2.20am on April 15.
After his body was recovered by the ship the Mackay Bennett 10 days later, the violin wasn’t listed by officials among the inventory of items found in his possession.
A newspaper report later stated that Hartley was found fully dressed and with the instrument strapped to his body.
The conflicting accounts gave way to the theory that either the violin simply floated off in the Atlantic or was stolen by somebody involved with handling the bodies.
Happy March, everyone! I’m officially on spring break now, so I should be able to go on a little vacation, right? Wrong, I have quite a bit of schoolwork to do, as both of my professors have decided to give tests the week we get back from spring break. I’ve had a lot of material to study, so that’s been keeping me busy.
I have also:
been seeing movies (Dark Skies is amazing; The Master is not)
gone to the dentist (that was yesterday and it was surprisingly not terrible)
Okay people, I just have to share this with you: I just found a YouTube channel devoted entirely to Russian pop music. This is embarrassing, but I’ll say it anyway. I unabashedly love Russian pop. Actually, I love Eastern European music in general. I wish I could find a radio station in the United States that played nothing but Eastern European pop. (This may exist, but not in my town!)
Anyway, the channel is called ELLO and has an impressive number of views, according to YouTube. I’m listening to a Банд’Эрос [Band Eros] song right now.
Okay, so it’s actually Sunday where I am right now. But it’s still Saturday in other parts of the country, so the title of this post is completely valid.
I have a certain Russian song stuck in my head, and therefore I will do my best to get it stuck in yours as well. Plus I want to talk about this song because it was written one hundred years ago, way back in 1912. In the whole scheme of things, one hundred years is not so long ago, but sometimes it can be interesting to reflect on how much the world has changed since 1912. Just think, in 1912, the two world wars had not happened, the Russian Empire still existed and was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, the United States was not yet a superpower, and women in the United States were not yet allowed to vote.
But I digress – it’s the historian in me coming out! More about this Russian song below the jump. Continue reading →
One aspect of my life I have not talked about very much on this blog is my violin playing. I have been playing since middle school and played in a youth orchestra throughout middle school and high school (youth orchestra was amazing and the only thing that kept me sane – I despised middle school and high school).
I started taking lessons about two months after I started playing and continued doing so until two months ago, when I had my last lesson at my university’s music department a few weeks before graduation. Since starting university, I have played a lot of Mozart. During my final year, we (my teacher and I) worked on Mozart’s Adagio in E major, K. 261. For my jury after second year, I played the slow movement from Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, K. 218. Continue reading →
That's my violin. I was trying to do a depth of field shot, but I don't know if I succeeded.
One thing I don’t like about this whole graduation thing is I won’t have any more violin lessons. I started taking lessons in elementary school and continued through middle school and high school. After I went to university, I explored the possibility of taking lessons through the music department, and I stuck with it. But now, I’m not in school and I don’t have a teacher to go to every week. I don’t have assigned scales and etudes to struggle through. It’s just a very odd feeling, and I don’t like it one bit.
Are there any other amateur musicians out there (i.e. those who do not play for a living) in a similar situation? Do you plan to continue playing?
Yesterday I learned to play the national anthem of Ukraine (Государственный Гимн Украины if you speak Russian; Державний Гімн України if you speak Ukrainian) on my violin. I think it’s interesting to listen to different national anthems, and the Ukrainian one is one of my favorites.
There are many recordings out there, but the one I’ve chosen to embed is my absolute favorite.