My introduction to Mussorgsky was Fantasia’s Night on Bald Mountain as a child. I was unaware of him as composer mind you. Later it was Emerson Lake & Palmer’s take on Pictures as at Exhibition – rock bombast. Then Tomita’s electronic interpretations of Pictures came along. I love the stereo work on it – the birds chirping from speaker to speaker.

I also had an lp with orchestral suites from Boris Godunov on one side & Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances on the other. I can still hear the bell in Boris suite.From MHS I had an lp of his solo piano music. Emotive romantic nostalgic. One piece was called “Nurse Locks Me In A Closet.” Who could resist that title 🙂 

What I have on the shelf are cds of Songs; Pictures; Boris Godunov: 3 cds; Khovanshchina 3 cds; Piano Music/Pictures; Boris Suite, Pictures, Bald Mountain. I also have Live From the Met cassettes of Khovanshchina that I’ve kept sit is quite different from the cd version. As you see I have various versions of Pictures at an Exhibition: orchestral, solo piano, two pianos, organ & somewhere a jazz take. The Gates of Kiev shows up often for grand military moments in movies, TV.


His music is impressionistic, romantic, patriotic & lyric. He’s not as emotional as Tchaikovsky, not as austere as Shostakovich, or as calculated as Stravinsky. His operas have Wagnerian epic sweep. Like many Slovak composers he makes great use of folk melodies. If you are unfamiliar start with an orchestral Pictures at an Exhibition.


Real Trouble

‘What would make you do a thing like that?’ 

I knew from the tone of my Dad’s voice I was in real trouble.

‘Sometimes I don’t know what gets into your head. I really don’t. Your mom and I do our best to make a good home for you. We lead a good life. Give you a good example and then you go and do something like this.’

I knew there wasn’t much I could say. At least not until I knew just what the thing I had done that he was talking about.

‘Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? No, wait before you attempt to apologize or explain let, me explain one thing. Your mother is up in our room crying her eyes out. You understand. This is going too far. Much too far.’

My mom cried at the drop of a cake, so I wasn’t too distressed to hear that whatever it was I had done had started her off on another jag. It wasn’t my fault that she needed professional help. Help my Dad figured wasn’t really right, morally right, that is. What would the neighbours think if my mom went to a shrink. They’d think we were a family like all the others. 

‘Now, I’m listening.’

My Dad sat on the arm of the sofa. His perch from which he was ready to pounce.

‘Dad I’m … What exactly did I do?’

‘Oh! Now it’s the innocent act. What did I do? God, why was I cursed with such sons.’

‘Dad you are being melodramatic.’ I wanted to add ‘again’ but bit my tongue. No need to antagonize him any further. 

‘You mean you really don’t know what you’ve done.’


‘Then I really don’t know what to tell you.’

‘You could start by telling me what it is that set you off like this. It’s been a pretty ordinary week, so far. Haven’t missed any classes. Did okay on that last quiz. Haven’t stayed out late. Haven’t played my stereo too loud. Haven’t hogged the Internet for hours on end. I even took out the trash last night. Didn’t I?’

‘You better have. How old are you?’

Oh I knew what it was. My social life. My lack of ‘action.’

‘Old enough, Dad. Why does it always come down to this? Always. I will date when I’m ready to.’

‘That’s not it. I know what you did. You mother knows. We just don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with your age. Peer pressure. Someone that would entice you into that sort of behaviour.’

‘Dad what are you talking about? Does it start with a ‘b’?’

‘Don’t make fun, son. Please, that won’t make it any easier on us. Mocking us all the time. I know you kids enjoy that sort of thing but we parents just see it as …’

He was speechless. His eyes glazed as he gaped over my shoulder. I turned around.

‘Mom! How long have you been there?’

every Tuesday 2019


Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 


Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr



Let’s get this catalogue out of the way first – My Mozart collection, in various boxsets, mp3 compilations, includes Abduction From the Seraglio; Clarinet Quintet; Piano Trio; Concertone; Sinfonias; Serenades; Divermentios; Musical Joke; Flute Quartet; Flute Concerto; Flute Quartets; Horn Concertos; The Magic Flute; Masses 1; Mass 317/Exsultate; Regina; Ave Verum; Overtures; Cosi Fan Tutte; Mass 427; Church Sonatas; Le Nozzie Di Figerro; Piano Concertos: 9 cds; Piano Sonatas: 5 cds; Piano Trios; Violin Concertos 1 2; Violin Duos; Piano Quartets; Violin Sonatas; Requiem D Min;  Serenade #9; Quintets; Variations; Serenade#19; Nacht Musik; String Quartets 6 cds; Symphonies 11 cds; String Quintets; Oboe Quartet; Piano Clarinet Trio; Violin Sonatas; Piano Four Hands; Woodwind Concertos; As well as a set of Bryn Terfel arias from the operas.

I am a fan 🙂 One of the first pieces of his that I totally loved was the Concerto for Harp & Flute. It transported me & still does. I had many of these on lps. First as box sets of the piano music that I ordered from Vox, some singly from MHS, then the bulk from Time-Life who did a complete Mozart in 5 lp box sets. I loved getting things in the mail. Some of these are lp to cd transfers.


It is hard to pick out favourites as I love the string quartets, the piano sonatas delight, his flute music is charming, his operas are okay (I’m not really an opera fan). The Magic Flute is a good intro to opera. His masses are moving and soothing. His range is amazing with sparkling music for flute, oboe, bassoon, & glass harmonica (yes this was a thing.) Oddly cello was never singled out for a solo extravaganza. My most recent addition was his music for piano four hands.

I also have pieces by his father, even his rival Antonio Salieri. Mozart didn’t write in a vacuum & I like to have ‘context’ for my favourites. I have jazzed up Mozart. Plus The New Koto Ensemble Of Tokyo plucking away at his war horses 🙂 (They also do a great version the Four Seasons). 

Mozart’s operas are excellent starts for people who don’t know or think they like opera. More emotionally open than his chamber music they edge toward the more romantic period. An innovator, a genius from a time when classical music was pop music 🙂 Much of his output was chamber music – pieces written for families – this was entertainment at home before radio.


‘Let’s check it now.’

‘Look, it’s nearly 3 a.m. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll check the tape in the morning.’

Frank was already plugging the cable connector from the camera into the back of the TV. ‘Tom this is what we came here for. We’ve been doing that jungle walk for two weeks and now we finally have something.’

The screen came to life. Murky movements jumped back and forth.

‘Worse than the Blair Witch.’

‘You try sometime then.’ Tom snapped back.

‘Sorry I was just …’

The picture came into focus. The sound was muffled, distant.

‘Shit!’ Tom hit the top of the TV.

‘That’s not going to do much.’ Frank laughed. ‘Turn it up.’

‘Why bother with that.’ Tom pulled the cables from the TV. ‘Let’s use this.’ He opened his lap top. ‘I have a program in here that will refine things considerably.’

It took the tape several minutes to be downloaded into the computer.

‘Couldn’t you get anything faster.’

‘You making a crack about the size of my hard drive?’

‘You said it not me.’

The program flashed that it was ready. The sounds were still muddied but with some audio editing Tom played them back clearly:

‘We call the time to change

we call the time to change.’

‘That’s not what that kid said.’

‘No, that’s what we heard first though. Remember. I thought it might be the wind in the trees.’

‘We call the time to change?’ Frank repeated. ‘Wonder what that can mean. We call the time to change.’

The lights in the room dimmed and the computer screen blinked on and off and on again.

‘Whoa! Better not say that too many times.’ Tom pulled the curtains shut.

‘You don’t think …’

‘You know what I think. I told you we would be playing with …’

‘We are not playing here Tom. This is serious research.’

‘Right and these are serious results.’

‘Okay. Let’s see what else we have there then. ‘We call…’ Frank began.

Tom put his hand over Frank’s mouth. ‘Enough with that. We have to be careful when we don’t fully understand.’

‘But it’s just words Tom.’

‘You know that isn’t so.’

The teenage boy appeared on the screen. His lips moving.

‘What! I can’t hear him.’

‘There’s no audio here.’ Tom punched at the keyboard moving back and forth along the audio indicator.


‘When did the sound cut out?’

Tom did more inputting.

‘Seems to have cut out when he appeared and comes back when he disappears.’

‘He’s the one called Mambo? What did they say he was called? Cha Cha?’

every Tuesday 2019


Stratford Festival – Henry VIII


Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 


Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Mompou and Revueltas

I find music in unexpected places. A few years ago I watched the excellent Spanish movie Cría Cuervos (Ana Torrent and Geraldine Chaplin). In it Chaplin is a pianist & she plays an etude over and over. The credits listed Frederico Mompou as the composer. I did a search & easily found the etude in a collection of his complete piano works, played by the composer himself. I also found the pop song by Jeanette that is featured in the film.

Mompou’s piano music is charming, playful, at times a little sentimental. Some reminds me of Gershwin’s etudes, a touch of Satie. There is, as one would expect, a distinct Spanish flavour to much of it with pieces that are variations on folksongs, dances, Chopin. I was happy to discover classical world music.

To this mp3 collection I added some work by Mexican modern composer Silvestre Revueltas – Music de Feria: a set of his string quartets & Troka: various orchestra compositions. I came across ‘Feria’ as 2nd hand cd at a store that was once around the corner from me on the Danforth. I enjoy string quartets & this intrigued me. Troka is a download when I wanted more of his work.


Both collections reflect rather than replicate his Mexican heritage. Energetic in some pieces, mellow in others. Clearly modern but not atonal. Rich harmonies, sweet melodies, & appealing. It is refreshing to find, in both cases, Latino composers who aren’t mariachi homages. There is an amazing range of excellent classical music outside of standard repertoire – these are two great composers to widen your horizons.

Plotless Outline

When I was turning twenty-three life was a lost treasure that I no map for, futility seemed a nice, kind way of looking at it – why bother – but I was driven at the same time to bother. A Doors song was my theme ‘music is your only friend’ and I believed that – I was a little town queer who felt isolated and threatened.

Lucky I wrote a lot – driven to expresses something. Though I never knew exactly what is was I wanted to say – I kept trying to say it. I had some booze buddies, musicians and poets. Smoked a few joints with them and hung out in my family’s basement. I had a room there decorated with Beatles posters, my paintings – art getting the inner out some how.

Drunken, near blackout fits of sex. Oops, what did we do last night, sort of stuff. Seeking and not connecting with anything other than the shame of being what I was with no one to share that with.

I became more eccentric as years went on but the patterns were really set then. The things that I held closest to me: music, books, paintings all around me. My writing and some friends who were more extensions of my fears & wants than companions.

Got a job at Famous Players thanks to the mother of my best friend Howard. Flo was box-office there & that was to be my position, it quickly became assistant manager & candy boy. Made lots of pop corn.

Gave me a steady income and some sense of being functional. Added at the same time to my sense of not fitting in. I think that was a big thing for me then, wanting to be like the others yet not wanting to be like the others. Wanting acceptance without wanting to conform to some pattern.

The year before I got the job hadn’t been that bad or good, aimless and pretending I was looking for some job to steady my Dad’s need to see me working and out of the house.

The folks were never that approving of my writing or painting – like many, they figured that stuff was only good if it made one lots and lots of money. Sex wasn’t discussed at all and I didn’t know how to go about telling them I was queer. It wasn’t till I was ready to leave the Cape many years later that I told them. Not that it was such a shock mind you.

Looking back I really didn’t know how to establish myself as a man, as an adult. Booze was one of those adult things but I felt I had to hide how much I drank & how often. Sad, but true. All those secret nooks and crannies.

Most of which had no real outlet then and there. Little was I to know what the journey of my future was to hold. But I survived wanting to wake up dead, wanting to end the confusion and pain and made it past 23 and even past 24 and finally here I am.

every Tuesday 2019

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s – sweet, eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr



I have a 40 cd boxset of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Masterworks – I did replaced the one that had some of his organ works with a downloaded complete organ works. Even at 40 cds this is a sampling of his output. He died at 38! He either burned out like a lightbulb or exploded like a supernova.

I did have a some lps, then cd’s of his work before I  picked up this set. I knew the hits, as it were, but that was all. Like many composers he was reduced to a few concert warhorses & of course the Wedding March. The box set includes complete: symphonies, piano concertos, violin concertos, chamber music, choral works, lieder, some oratorios & more. 

I bought it at HMV for about $70. The sound quality is good, though the recoding levels change from cd to cd. some are louder than others. The musicianship is excellent including the likes of Kurt Masur, Dietrich Fischer-Dieshaku. So it was a solid investment in my classical collection.

Mendelssohn is a romantic composer in the Beethoven sense – rich, playful, emotive works for piano, orchestra that sweep me away, though he rarely becomes as over-the-top as, say, Liszt or Chopin. It is delightful music that doesn’t call attention to technique.


Much of it was new to me and his choral music lead to my greater enjoyment of that form. He also incorporates choir & solo voices into some of his symphonies. I added the organ music for the melodic work & also to have an organ version of the wedding march, which to me is rather funereal & spooky. ‘Here comes the deceased, all dressed in pine”


‘Did you know Greg well?’ Jane asked the sullen man beside her.

‘Met him a few times in the neighbourhood. You know at the annual street sale. Sometimes I’d stop to chat while he was working on the front bed of his?’

‘Front bed?’

They had both stepped out of the funeral home chapel to smoke.

‘Garden. A little patch of tulips & crocus. He kept pretty much to himself. Did you know him?’

‘Same as you. I have the house cross the back laneway from his. We’d wave sometimes when he was mowing the back lawn but that was it.’

‘So you live in this neighbourhood, too?’

‘Yes. I have seen you at the corner store a few times.’


‘Well, sad though isn’t it?’

‘It happens.’

‘Makes you wonder though, just how well you know people. Like he’s lived here nearly 15 years and I didn’t even know his name.’


‘Yours is?’

‘Jane Brown. That’s my husband over there.’

‘Right. Good looking man.’

‘Thanks. And yours?’

‘My husband isn’t quite that real. Single life.’

‘I mean your name?’

‘Ah, right. David Peters. I’m at 46 Amber and you?’

‘52 Green.’

‘Amber is that one street away. We’re nearly neighbours too.’


‘Small world, yet it seems too far at the same time. A few hundred yards. Sorry I never got to know Greg better. Not many other gays in this area, you know.’

‘Haven’t given it much thought.’

‘I suppose not.’

‘You knew Greg was … gay?’

‘Not that we ever talked about it but that rainbow flag, single white male living alone except for the occasional male visitor. It adds up.’

‘Rainbow flag?’

‘Yeah, in the back yard. I think he had one in the front too. That one would go up around gay pride.’

‘Oh, that’s what that was all about. The changing banners, I just thought there were decorations not signals.’

‘See, you’re learning more about him already.’

‘So you are … gay too?’

‘Yep. Not much point is pretending otherwise.’

‘Strange that you’d live so far from the heart of town … you know … where I understand most of that goes on.’

‘I like it out here. Quieter, feels safer even if it isn’t.’

‘Isn’t safer?’

‘Oh yeah. Didn’t you hear about the swarming at the school a block over. Pretty nasty stuff. Glad I’m not closer to the school than I am. But yeah, this is pretty much like the neighbourhood I grew up in. Nice houses with families.’

‘Doesn’t keep death away from the door though does it.’

‘Not many places do Jane. Not many places do.’

every Tuesday 2019

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Locatelli Lully Plus

On my classical shelf  are three cds of lps to cd transfers all from MHS recordings. The first of which is Jan of Lublin: Tablature and Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. For decades I thought Lublin was the composer’s last name, but it where he is from. These are transcriptions from organ music to guitar. I don’t have my original lp so have no idea who did these transcriptions or who is playing the guitar. I didn’t realize these were originally organ music until I tried to get more & all I could find where organ pieces – even then they were scattered. There was no one lp of the organ music.

Jan is a renaissance composer & I first heard a piece  of his on the MHS compilation Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. I love these Introduction lps for the range and quality of the music. All selected from MHS releases – so it was easy to track down the Lublin. Good luck on finding these transcription but they are well worth having.

Another composer I first heard on an MHS compilation was Pietro Locatelli. here I have his music for  Flute and Guitar; Two Violins; Oboe and Guitar; Two Flutes; along with Johan Stamitz’s Flute Concerto. I love Renaissance flute music and these two composers wrote delightful, playful and sometime relaxing chamber music. The Locatelli was intended for living room entrainment in which the children would play his music. Life before radio.


The last is a pair of Baroque composers together on a cd of MHS lps: Jean-Baptiste Lully: Suites; Georg Philipp Telemann: Flute Trios. Lully was a French court composer & his music is sweet, a bit busy but charming. He also wrote a few operas that are still performed today. Telemann was a German court composer. Here I have a sonata of his flute trios which are soothing & also charming. I have more  Telemann but that can wait until I get to ’t.’

Just Start

‘I’ll start by explaining ….’

‘Why don’t you just say what you are going to say. Don’t explain it to me. just start.’

‘Yes, but …’

‘Just start and once you’ve done you can explain, if I don’t get it. Okay.’

Dave had an address to give the local PTA. Not often were gay fathers asked to address anyone expect lawyers and case workers, so he was rather nervous.

‘Ahem,’ he gave a little cough. ‘ Do you think this is what I should wear?’

‘Bad start, Dave. Don’t ask these parents what you should wear.’

‘Steve, that is not the start of my talk. I was asking you, if you thought this is what I should wear.’

White shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, black dress pants, black loafers. Neat and tidy.

‘I don’t know.’

‘What do you mean?’ He looked himself up and down.

‘Let’s see your undies. You can’t do this in those …’

‘You want to heard how I sound or what.’

‘Of course. I think you are worrying way too much. Those that get it will, and those that don’t, will never get it. It won’t matter how conservative you dress, how polished or even-handed you sound they’ll stop hearing you after you say homosexual or gay. So let’s hear it …’

‘Ahem,’ another throat cleaning. ‘I’m David Bradly and both my son and daughter are in classes at this school. Jan is in third grade and Cliff in sixth grade. They’ve both been here at Cedar Grove Public school for the past two years. …. Good so far?’

‘Yes. Go on.’

‘Do you think I need to tell them more, like how we came to move here, as opposed to staying in LA or …’

‘Yes, and while you are it, you might bring an overhead projection of our financial portfolio and notarized copies of our bank statements, as well.’

‘No, I just mean, I don’t want them to think we dropped in here out of the blue to invade their community.’

‘Dave, you know very well we aren’t the only gay couple in Cedar Grove.’

‘We aren’t?’

‘If you’d stop trying to fit us in like a normal hetero couple, you may have noticed. There’s the two women over on Green Crescent.’

‘Yes, but they don’t have any kids in this school. Do they?’

‘No. But one of them is on the town council.’
November 1 -30

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto

every Tuesday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr



I fell in love with Liszt, before even knowing who he was, thanks to a cartoon – Woody Woodpecker (I think) in which they were moving a piano down a mountain while Woody played it – the truck went out of control while he was playing & with each turn the keyboard would get more splayed out & the music wold get more frantic. The piece was the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

Over the years I have built up a fair collection: Rhapsodies for Orchestra; Orchestral Works: 7 cds; Hungarian Rhapsodies complete; Spanish/Rumanian Rhapsodies; Opera Transcriptions; Thiollier: Sonata/Mephisto; Beethoven Transcriptions; an Mp3 collection: Peter Katin/ Yudina/Johannsen/ Vazaonyi/ with Beethoven’s Music for Two Piano.

At first I has assumed Liszt only wrote piano music & only those Rhapsodies & of course the Mephisto Waltz. So finding his orchestral works was most welcome though it doesn’t have the over-the-top energy of his piano music. Then I came across his transcriptions of operas & of Beethoven’s symphonies. What better combination is there than Beethoven & Liszt: both over-the-top romantics & in Liszt case, pyrotechnic show-offs.

I had some of these as lps to cds transfers: Peter Katin & Balint Vazsonyl – were favourites of mine that I decided to see if I could replace my originals & found them both on iTunes. The Vazonyl take on the Hungarian Rhapsodies was the first I’d heard & remains my favourite for its attack. In searching these out I came across a set of his work for organ! Sweet, sonorous & more meditative than I had expected Liszt to be.

I never heard his name pronounced when I first discovered him so I would say it as Lizzt – a friend of mine who studied music didn’t know who I was talking about then pointed out that the z is silent. Same with Chop-in 🙂


‘I’m looking for a CD by Los Grasios.’

The clerk typed the name into the computer. ‘Is that l-o-s ?’

‘I think so.’ I had seen their video on TV a few nights before. Grazing from channel to channel, hoping to find something to hold my interest. It was the Latino network. The group was four dark swarthy adult males – a rarity in pop anywhere it seemed to me – and the song full of energy in a language I didn’t understand. I’d scribbled the name down when it flashed on the screen at the end of the video.

‘Nope. Not here. Let’s try l-a-s. Nope. Anything else to go on?’

‘The song was called Fortunata or Fortunatosa. Something like that.’

The clerk tapped that in. ‘Hmmm. Looks like we have lots to choose from now. Was it Fortunate Adam?’


  “Fortunate Encountre?”


  “Fortunate For Me?”


“Fortunate Son? Fortunate Sunrise? Fortunate In Love? Fortunate Sea? Fortunate Moon? I See a Fortune in Your Eyes?’

‘No to all of those.’

‘There are nearly 200 numbers with Fortune something in the title. Should I go through them all?’

‘Would you?’

‘No. I was just joking. Now, you are sure of the name?’

I took out the paper I had dashed the name on and passed to the clerk.

‘Hmm. Let’s try Los Girios. You a fan of Latino music?’

‘Just starting.’

‘Well! Looks like we have a hit. Hijo Afortunado’

I followed her to the far end of store to the South American aisle.

‘Here it is.’ she pulled out a couple of CD’s by the band and looked at them. ‘Looks interesting. Not the usual stuff people want here. If you like these guys you may enjoy Mercedes Sosa.’ She handed me the cds.

‘Yes, this is them. How do you know Sosa is similar?’

‘Just a stab. She sings on one of the cuts with them, and she is huge. Out sells Eglasias.’

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Lalo and Litolff

Édouard Lalo, the French composer, is best known for his Symphonie Espagnole which I have as a stand-alone cd along with his Violoncello Concerto. Like Dukas, Lalo is one of those artists reduced to one or two ‘big hits’ that remain in the contemporary concert repertory. Was he even Spanish? (He wasn’t.) So is his  Symphonie Espagnole considered cultural appropriation? Regardless it is a compelling, stirring work that is both playful & emotional at the same time. Almost melodramatic is easy to let it take one to Spain. The accompanying Concerto is similar in its emotive orchestration & sweet cello writing. Well worth listening to too.

Did he write anything else? Yes! Mainly for violin or cello. But these are the only pieces of his I have in my collection. Maybe it’s time to add more 🙂 This cd I picked up at Sam The Record Man (remember Sam’s) way back in 1995 to replace my lp version of it. 

Worse than being a one or two hit wonder is to be a no hit wonder such as the Scottish composer Henry Litolff (1818 1891) I have an lp to CD transfer of his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102 with piano obbligato. If he is known at all, it is for one movement of this work. A romantic composer he was over-shadowed by the likes of Liszt & Chopin. Maybe it is sauce he was Scottish too. The classical scene was dominated by European composers. British composers were not considered as good.

Would you rather: Liszt or Litolff? Liszt even dedicated one his piano concertos to Litolff. I’ve kept this recording more as a curiosity than as something I love to hear. The piano is good but feels uninspired, & it is matched by the orchestra. None of his vast writing is in the contemporary concert repertory. Listen to it on YouTube before you rush out to pick it up. 


‘Fighting in the Middle East escalated today with the announcement by President Elect Bratlat that he would not back down on the demands of his predecessor. Spokesman for the Grey Dawn Forces say this stance is unacceptable.

Two separate forays where made into the disputed territories resulting in extensive damage and at least ten deaths. A shrapnel bomb hidden in a baby carriage …

‘Please turn that off. We are trying to have nice meal here.’

‘Can’t hide from the world Mom.’ 

‘I know that but we don’t have to invite it in to supper.’ She reached for the remote.

‘Oh no.’ Dave grabbed it and switched to the music video station.

‘You got look

where ya gonna cook

hook you jus a ho

no more no less 

so don’t mess

with with dis itch

or you’ll find yourself

on the end of a fish bitch hook

fish bitch hook.’

‘And enough do that too.’ She took the remote from him and turned the TV off.

‘Aw mom.’ The other two children moaned.

‘Look we are going to have a quiet meal for a change. Okay.’

Their sullen faces were acceptance enough. All that was heard was the click of forks on plates and the tick of a clock.

‘How was school Dave.’

‘Nothing happened. Just school. You know mom.’

‘When will Dad get home,’ Trish, the youngest asked.

‘Soon. He’s gonna take us down the to rink.’

‘Don’t get your hopes up too high kids. You know this is the busiest time of the year for him.’ She reminded them.

Just then the door opened. Trish dashed from the table.

‘Daddy Daddy.’ she jumped up into his arms. He held her and put her down in her chair.

‘Thanks for waiting supper for me.’ He slumped at the table without taking his coat off.

‘Thanks for telling me you’d be late and then not being late.’

‘Yeah well things change. So where’s my dinner.’

She got up from the table and went to the kitchen. As she passed him he grabbed her by the wrist. ‘Don’t take that attitude, you hear. I’m not one of your brats.’

‘Let go of me.’

‘Sure enough.’ He slapped her playfully on the butt as she passed. ‘So why so glum everyone. It’s Xmas eve after all. Let’s have some TV. Better than this silence. Eh?’

The TV blared on. She leaned against the stove and scooped mashed potatoes onto a plate for him.

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

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Kuhlau to Takemitsu

This mp3 collection is filed under ‘K’ for Danish composer Friedrich Kuhlau. I have here his Elverhoj Overture/Concerti, Grand Duo Concertante for flutes. I had a MHS lp to cd transfer of his Grand Duo & figured it was time to upgrade to a clearer version & searched for more by him & found the Elverhoj. The flute music is charming chamber music in Mozart style. The Elverhoj is stirring, verging on Rossini – the concerti are romantic & sweeping.

Here to Andrei Krylov’s Bard Music Fantasy – a wonderful set of gothic & renaissance lute pieces ranging from Celtic sadness to French court music. Beautifully engineered this music is transporting without falling into the rut of new age banality.

More renaissance music comes from Jan of Lublin. I have a lp to cd transfer of a MHS lp of guitar music from The Tablature which I love & so I wanted more. I discovered that the Tablature was/is of organ music so I ended up with An Organ Evening in the Lublin Palace: funeral at time but charming & oddly relaxing. I never did find any of the organ to lute transcriptions though 😦


Finally to take a real leap are some pieces by Toru Takemitsu. A Japanese composer (influenced by John Cage) whom I discovered when I watched the film Face Of Another – I loved his percussive soundtrack & did an unsuccessful search for that soundtrack  but found some of his ‘serious’ works: Tree Line, Nostalghia, Tangled Flow some which was included in a recording of Dun’s Concerto For Pipa. This is all mid-20th century classical music. Worth seeking out if you want to broaden your music world view.  


Elisabeth Mae Johnston (1885-1968)… born in Surrey Count, Great Britain to Samuel Vernon Johnston MD and Marie LaFleur. Immigrated to Canada with her family in 1895. She studied first at Glendale Girls Academy where she excelled in arts and elocution. Elocution lead her to pursue a degree in law which proved to be her calling and despite the hopes of her family she pursued the legal and her artistic expression through out her life.

        One of the first female lawyers in Canada she devoted her legal time and attention the immigrant Chinese community in British Columbia. 

        She became known as Saint Amah of the Yellow. She was scorned and shunned by the white community for her work with non-whites but she remained stalwart in her dedicated to the causes of the new citizen.

        Her many painting and sculptures show a side of immigrant life few were privileged to see. The series of paintings of Chinese weddings and funerals reveal a rare glimpse into the lives of these people attempting to make a home for themselves in a strange country.

        Her legal offices were attacked and burned  more than once. On one occasion Asian Slut and Chinese Whore was painted across the building where her offices where. Elisabeth took that as inspiration for her most famed painting ‘Office of the Chinese Whore.’

        When she wasn’t dealing  with the immigration system she taught English and in return was taught techniques of Chinese calligraphy and painting. This made her one of the most informed Western practitioners of these arts and she also brought this to the white public.

        She never did marry. She claimed there was no time for romance with so much to be done for these poor unfortunates. 

        Her work has been exhibited around the world. In 1959 she became the first female appointed to the Canadian Supreme Court. In 1964 she was awarded the Governor General’s award for the Arts.

        For more information see Gwendolyn McVeedy’s biography: “The White Whore – the life of Elisabeth Mae Johnston”

(a reminder – this bio is fiction – there is, as far as I know, no Elisabeth Mae Johnston)

every Tuesday

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up 

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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Glagolitic Planets

Next up on the classical shelf is a pair of cds of Gustav Holst. His big hit: The Planets is an lp to cd transfer. To be honest I have this because it is so well regarded. It’s not one of those classical pieces that keeps me coming back. Stately & slightly pompous but not unpleasant either. It is one of those classical pieces that gets referenced in the British prog rock of the Moody Blues, ELP. I also have the Tomita electronic rendering which is fun.

I also have a collection of Holst’s orchestral & choral work. Some are impressionistic like St Paul’s Suite. The Six Choruses for male voices is pleasant as well. Sweetly melodic he never reaches the sweep of Vaughn Williams but comes close with A Fugal Concerto. Easy listening classical music.

Following him on the shelf is Leoš Janáček: Glagolitic Mass. How I got this cd is perhaps more interesting than the music itself. One afternoon in May 1998 (I know the date because it is written inside the cd cover) I was sitting at the coffee shop on Carlton Street at the front of the Holiday Inn with a friend. A guy is running along the street going through a gym bag of stuff. He pulls out a CD zip case.  Glances at them & tosses the case away. Then disappears up the street.

My buddy goes out & rescues the case. There is a mix of pop & classical in it. Most of the cd cases are empty but the Mass is there. My buddy the carry case & I keep the Mass. Partly because I’d never heard of Janáček, & Glagolitic has such a resonant strangeness as a word. It turns out that Glagolitic is the oldest known Slavic script. The mass is somber, elegant and soothing.


‘Is there anything else?’

‘No. Your references are all in order. Some of the best we’ve seen here is some time, I might add.’

‘Thank you. It would be a great opportunity for me to work here at Pumpkin Corners Retirement Home.’


‘Working with children all my life I sometimes miss the opportunity to be with adults. You know what I mean?’

‘Yes. I think I understand.’ Mr. Simpson patted the employment forms on his desk. ‘I do have several other applicants and  a few more to interview. So Miss ….’


‘Oh? You are married. I didn’t see that on your application.’

‘So many years ago I often forget till I’m called Miss. Makes me sound so much younger than I am doesn’t it.’


‘He left me. Quite suddenly. Went to work one morning and never came back. Never made it to the office either. Just gone like that. Makes a person wonder doesn’t it? ’

‘How long ago was that?’ Mr. Simpson couldn’t take his eyes off her fingers as they toyed with her wedding band.

‘I’ve never been able to get it off. I stopped trying and only remember it now when someone … when the question of marriage comes up.’

‘Yes. Life is full of these odd events.’

‘Not mine Mr. Simpson. I’ve seen to it that my life remains orderly and calm. No more of that for me. Police and the not knowing. But I hope that won’t effect your consideration of me for this position.’

‘I’m sure it won’t.’ He stood and reached across the desk to shake her hand. She remained seated. He walked over to the door. ‘So if you don’t mind I do have another applicant waiting outside now.’

She stood. ‘Thank you once again for this opportunity. I know you’ll find me the perfect choice.’

The outer office was empty. His secretary was not at her desk.

‘Your other applicant seems to have disappeared.’

‘Not to worry.’ The woman’s smile gave Mr Simpson a small shudder. ‘My secretary will locate her once she gets back from lunch.’

‘I’ll await your call.’

Mr Simpson went back to his office and began to go through the other applications. They were now all blanks.


March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Workshop: 4 pm at Glad Day with D’Scribe.

March 8, Thursday – Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam Slam: 8 pm Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Feature D’Scribe

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

April 03 – every Tuesday

June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked) 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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Good Grofé Grieg

Next on the classical shelf are a couple of composers that I have strong childhood memories of: Grieg and Grofé. In grade school there was a music teacher who travelled from school to school to open our minds to music notation, singing & classical music. One day she brought a Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite & perhaps played all of it but I know in particular In The Hall of The Mountain King with its loping, running down the mountain rhythm.

The Grofé memory is a TV commercial for Moosehead’s Ten Penny Beer – a cartoon of a moose walking in the desert to a section of On The Trail There’s a saloon, a gun fight & beer. A sly of introducing children to classical music & the joys of beer. Grofé is best known for the Grand Canyon Suite. On a stand-alone of his orchestra suites I have it along with his Mississippi & Niagara Falls Suites. Also I have Tomita’s electronic take on the suite – fun with sound effects.
By Edvard Grieg I have an mp3 collection of his Complete Orchestral Works (over 8 hours). I bought this from iTunes a few years ago when I saw the price 🙂 He has an amazing sense of melody. This is lush, romantic music that includes his many Symphonic Dances, Lyric Pieces, concertos & the complete Perl Gynt. At one time I had a 3 lp box set that included some of these pieces so this was an upgrade from my lps to cd transfer of that. I love all of it & am slowly becoming familiar with it.

I also have a 2cd stand-alone set of his Works for Orchestra. Just the Peer Gynt Suites (as opposed to the whole thing) plus this Piano Concerto which is astonishing. Soaring, uplifting & romanic – if you’ve never heard it you must go to YouTube & hear it. 


There was danger everywhere. John knew that. Even the people who saved your life might want to take it the next day. He held his arms tighter around himself. The ground was hard beneath him. A rock pressed into the small of his back but he was afraid to move to ease that pang.

The pang tied him to reality. He didn’t want to fall asleep, to  drift off into a dream of home and warm soft beds. He had to stay alert so he could escape.

Escape! Where would he go? Into the night? Into the woods around him? No. He had to stay where he was but he had to remain alert. If these guys saw any more weakness in him he dreaded what would happen.

Already they mocked his learning, his Bible, his manhood. What was the point if this was all he had to look forward to in the morning? He’d have to find away to prove to him he wasn’t going to be an object of scorn.

A boot toe nudged his foot.

‘Rise and and rise.’ It was Grint. ‘Gonna make an early start today. Should get to Fort Harwood by night fall.’

John shook his head to wake. He had slept! When had he fallen asleep? He was supposed to stay awake and alert but his body had let him down. Let him fall into the trap of sleep. He could have been killed in the night or worse.

Well he’d show them today. There had to be a way.

‘Come on Preacher Boy read us a little something.’ Clyde sniggered. ‘Words’ll make you a good breakfast.’

‘Mock not the Lord.’ John opened his Bible at random.

‘Let the kid alone. Taint his fault he got sense Clyde.’

There was some hard tack and weak coffee for the start of their day. It trail wrapped around the rolling hills like a stream. The cool of fall had begun the change in the leaves and the red and yellows sprung up like small fires around them.

‘Good air here.’ Frank nodded to a rise ahead of them. ‘Last hill before the Valley.’

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HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

November 1-30

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