Danzi, Franz

Danzi: Franz,1763–1826, German composer.

I listened very carefully as she exclaimed, “A German composer I do not know!”

I was a little bit surprised, since the woman speaking has a Master’s in Music and also plays a darned mean oboe. She’s been in orchestras for years and even taught Music Appreciation.

It made me interested in who Danzi was. (That’s when I’m suddenly grateful for the Internet, instead of needing to pull out my encyclopedia.)

In no time at all, there he was—with an artist’s drawing of a very small man wearing glasses—the personification of studious.

He composed a lot of music—a list of at least two hundred pieces.

So I asked myself, why don’t we know more about him?

Why do some people get recognition in their time and great placement in the history books, and others, second or third position in notoriety for their lifespan, and total rejection from history?

Then I looked at the dates of his birth and death: 1763—1826.

I immediately understood.

If you don’t know a lot about music, you might still be unaware of why there was a lapse in popularity for Mr. Danzi. (Or shall we be overly familiar and call him Franz?)

Franz had one big problem.

His lifespan nearly paralleled that of Ludwig von Beethoven.

So when Franz was writing one of his favorite pieces—like Symphonie Concertante in Eb Major for Wind Quartet and Orchestra, Beethoven was stumbling around the Germanic kingdom stunning audiences with his symphonies and antics.

Overshadowed.

You can be set aside because you do good work and somebody does it louder, or you can even be considered less malicious because a more malevolent fellow is in your era. For instance, there may be other infamous assassins, but John Wilkes Booth takes the balcony.

It was a good thing for me to read.

Talent isn’t always brought to the forefront.

It isn’t always appreciated.

Talent is often suffocated by other effort that sets off more fireworks or, as in the case of Herr Beethoven, pulls it off “deaf-ly.”

Conductor

Conductor: (n) a person who directs the performance of an orchestra or choir.

I have a friend who has played oboe for many years.

I got a hankering to write some pop-classical music, and thought it would be wonderful if we could start a symphony orchestra in a medium-sized Southern town. (On another occasion I will go into the details of what it was like to promote such a high-brow idea in a town where thefunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Cracker Barrel is always packed to the gills.)

But the thing we immediately discovered was that female conductors and symphony orchestras do not necessarily coincide–and also that symphony orchestras and innovation have been separated for quite some time.

So rather than easing our way into the marketplace, we took a radical approach. Perhaps the most outlandish idea was placing the conductor in the middle, at the rear of the orchestra, facing the audience, so those who came to the hear the symphony could experience seeing the symphony conducted, right in front of them.

It was ground-breaking, and my friend was a natural.

We did this for about eight or nine years, and then grew weary of the tedium.

One wonderful thing about life–if you get tired of what you’re doing, you can go “conductor” yourself in another activity.

 

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Classical

Classical: (adj) standard, classic.

I have worked for 22 years with an oboist.

She’s a little bit Mozart; I’m a little bit rock and roll.

When we teamed up, I think she was concerned that our musical tastes might be ill-suited for one another. She had played in symphony
orchestras, and I had bopped around with gospel, blues and pop.

What she did not know was that as a boy of eleven years of age, I got hooked on a record series called “The 25 Greatest Melodies of All Time” and “The 50 Most Influential Classical Music Pieces.” So along with listening to rock and roll and some gospel music, I played my recordings of Strauss, Wagner, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff.

It was perfectly produced–the records didn’t have so much of each composition to bore me, just the highlights. What you might call the Cliff notes of the masters.

I loved the music. To this day, I think my partner is a little surprised when I insert a bit of understanding (or sometimes misunderstanding) of the music of that era. Matter of fact, she and I joined together to write some symphonies–our tribute to the styling, with the addition of our original juice.

It’s too bad we have to call something “classical.” It scares off the best market–young humans. After all, why would they want to listen to any music their parents might enjoy?

But what they don’t understand is that these composers who wrote this dynamic material were just a bunch of radical, rebellious, rag-tag and reckless adolescents.

 

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Bassoon

Bassoon: (n) a bass instrument of the oboe family with a double reed.Dictionary B

If the goal of every endeavor is to gain fame or money, then we will end up doing very little in our lives–for fear of ending up with something that fails to deliver the goods.

I learned this early.

I made a decision to pursue things that made me happy, giggle or feel inspired. Whether other people found them to be equally as inspirational or entertaining was only secondary to my deep-rooted concern for entertaining myself.

In the process of chasing that philosophy, I found myself in Tennessee working with a partner to begin a symphony in a town that probably was completely uninterested in even learning how to spell the word.

Intelligently, we held our first concert very near Christmas and because of that and the basic human nature to be curious, we had a huge attendance, which seemed to bode well for the project.

I was so excited about the event that I wrote a special composition called Christmas. This particular piece of music began with a sprightly bassoon solo, establishing a bouncy, joyous melody which to me personified the uncontrollable anticipation of a child at Christmas.

We hired a bassoon player who just happened to really love playing the instrument. He didn’t get to perform very often in Tennessee, since there isn’t a high calling for bassoonists among the populace. So when he discovered he was going to get to play this delightful ditty, he practiced and practiced–and by the time of the concert, he literally exploded the musical magic off of his double reed.

When the audience heard the tune being played, they giggled like school children because it was such a pleasant representation of childhood memories.

I love the bassoon because it cannot hide its true personality. It is a growly, jubilant tone foretelling of grandfatherly wisdom … with just enough mischief.

 

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