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Feb 24 2012

This Week In The Dream Antilles: Borodin Edition

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

   

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Alexander Borodin (1833-1857)

Last week, there was no This Week In The Dream Antilles. And no explanation for that. Your Bloguero spent the week in hospital with his Dad, and then on Friday, February 17, his Dad passed away. He would have been 93 on March 10. He did not suffer, and he was not in pain. He had a remarkable, productive life. And your Bloguero, who is filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful father and teacher and friend, deeply grieves his departure.

So there was no This Week last week. And there’s not going to be much of a This Week this week either. Your Bloguero finds himself feeling untethered, inarticulate. Unable to write an honest sentence. Much less a paragraph. And he’s not sure what might be next.

There are just two things quickly to tell.  First, your Bloguero’s dad was a life long pianist and music lover. He’d forgotten more classical music than your Bloguero ever learned.  Just before his passing, your Bloguero asked his current top 10 in classical music. His answer: Borodin, firmly in first place for the string quartets; Sibelius in second for his symphonies; and all of Rachmaninoff in third. After that, your Bloguero learned, it gets complicated. Very complicated. Supposedly great composers get dissed for all kinds of failings. Never mind what.

Your Bloguero suggests that you listen to Borodin, and see whether you can discern how Borodin, rather than the many others whose names start with the same letter, got into first place. Here you go, just a taste of the Second String Quartet:

Failing to find words to describe precisely what about the Borodin String Quartets makes them so extremely great, for which your Bloguero craves your forgiveness, your Bloguero can offer you only this remarkable poem by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), “the life of Borodin”:

the next time you listen to Borodin

remember he was just a chemist

who wrote music to relax;

his house was jammed with people:

students, artists, drunkards, bums,

and he never knew how to say: no.

the next time you listen to Borodin

remember his wife used his compositions

to line the cat boxes with

or to cover jars of sour milk;

she had asthma and insomnia

and fed him soft-boiled eggs

and when he wanted to cover his head

to shut out the sounds of the house

she only allowed him to use the sheet;

besides there was usually somebody

in his bed

(they slept separately when they slept

at all)

and since all the chairs

were usually taken

he often slept on the stairway

wrapped in an old shawl;

she told him when to cut his nails,

not to sing or whistle

or put too much lemon in his tea

or press it with a spoon;

Symphony #2, in B Minor

Prince Igor

On the Steppes of Central Asia

he could sleep only by putting a piece

of dark cloth over his eyes

in 1887 he attended a dance

at the Medical Academy

dressed in a merrymaking national costume;

at last he seemed exceptionally gay

and when he fell to the floor,

they thought he was clowning.

the next time you listen to Borodin,

remember…

This seems oddly fitting for This Week this week.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in The Dream Antilles in the past two week you have visit The Dream Antilles.

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