Apr. 12, 2020

These days Of ‘Confinement’

Well, if you love reading and music besides devouring the latest information and opinion on the virus then this time can be rewarding. 

Daniel J. Boorstin was (1914–2014) an historian and social commentator par excellence. He received two law degrees from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, taught history at the University of Chicago and was appointed Librarian of Congress, the largest library in the world. 

And he wrote – and some of his commentary is the most perceptive I have read. His little (in size) book ‘Cleopatra’s Nose’ is a series of essays that explore the unusual but true facets of society. Another small book is entitled Hidden History.  

Well known for his trilogy on American history, The Americans, he also wrote another trilogy that became famous, The Discoverers. The Creators, and The Seekers. I return to them often. And during this time I revisited the lives in his creators book of three of my favourite composers. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – three quite different people but all of whom produced some incredible music. And. of course, there is nothing better than reading about them and listening to their music at the same time. Haydn was a teacher to both Mozart and Beethoven, although Beethoven said he learned nothing from him. Ego can get in the way sometimes, even with the greatest. 

Sadly, libraries are closed now so you cannot get access to Boorstin’s works, if you do not have them already. Remember to seek them out when this period is over. 

As for my composers, I like many works by many of them but the three I mentioned I keep going back to time and again. 

Haydn – Concertos In F major, G major, and C major. Of course, there is the Trumpet Concerto in E-flat and the Creation. 

Mozart – Flute Concertos Nos 1 and 2 in Flute and Harp  

Beethoven – Both his Choral and Pastoral are my favourite symphonies.