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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Islands

The advice I am giving always to all my students is above all to study the music profoundly... music is like the ocean, and the instruments are little or bigger islands, very beautiful for the flowers and trees. 
Andres Segovia 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again. 
Dag Hammarskjold 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Expensive Ambition

Turning the cartoon series Spiderman into a musical has so enraptured the director, Julie Taymor, and the composers, Bono and the Edge, of U2, that they have built a $70 million  show around him, replete with perspective-skewing scenery and flying sequences that are unprecedented for Broadway. That's a high goal, but the creators want even more. Being artists who dream big they compare the show’s themes to great literature and philosophy. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones — the cost of feeling feelings, the desire for connections when you’re separate from others,” said Bono in an interview. “If the only wows you get from ‘Spider-Man’ are visual, special-effect, spectacular-type wows, and not wows from the soul or the heart, we will all think that we’ve failed.” Spider-Man, the musical, is scheduled to open on January 11th at the Foxwoods Theatre.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Favorite iPhone Apps



I've been asked which iPhone Apps I actually use. Well, for a start, here's my top ten:

1) WordBook. English Dictionary & Thesaurus. Excellent. As good as any printed dictionary.

2) Wikipanion. Shortest way to gather infos on the road.

3) Shazam. I hold this app up to a song on the radio, and Shazam gives me all the information I need and even shows me the CD cover.

4) DocsToGo. This app allows me to carry and read important pdf-docs on my iPhone.

5) BrainTuner. Great little app to avoid getting nervous while waiting for a belated train or plane.

6) RadioBox. Best internet radio receiver I know.

7) Gorillacam. This photography app has a lot of great functions; I only use its Self Timer, and this alone is worth much more than the zero bucks they charge.

8) YouTube. Works really everywhere. Gives me the chance to check back on songs and even shows I wish to refer to.

9) 7 Chords. Whenever a need to know how one of these unusual chords are played on the guitar, I just look it up.

10) Things. A great organizing tool. Helps me to remember my daily tasks.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Good Season For Babies

According to Harvard University researchers, Babies born in October and November have the longest life expectancy and best chance of good health. If you're born at this time of year you have a better chance than others to become a professional footballer or an Olympic athlete. Also, Babies born between December and February grow into taller, brighter and more successful adults than their summer counterparts. They are also less likely to need strong spectacles. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why-Musicals

Mary Rodgers defines the "Why-Musical" as a perfectly respectable show based on a perfectly respectable source, that has no reason for being. Why-Musicals usually come from successful novels, movies or plays. Their authors, blinded by the proven potential of the source material, never question the need to turn it into a musical. They never ask themselves what music and songs will do for the story that hasn't already been accomplished by the original work. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Responsibility

You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. 
Martin Luther 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Know What You Eat!

Sunday's New York Times reports that a slaughterhouse in Queens/New York committed to the idea that people should know where their food comes from. It lets customers select and kill animals of their choosing. They are allowed to witness the slaughter and even, for those so inclined, to wield the sharpened knife. Allegedly it’s all part of the broader cultural effort to escape the climate-controlled, linoleum-lined artificiality of supermarket shopping, in which meat magically appears all ready for your oven and animals are characters in children’s storybooks. Reading this I remembered a scene in a Woody Allan film the title of which I forgot. He sits in a restaurant and the waiter shows him various kinds of fresh fish to choose from. "Don't tell me their names," Woody says. "I don't care to be introduced to my dinner."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Only In New York

Last week at a New York department store. I took the elevator to the fifth floor. The car was packed. Among some twenty people in the car was a sturdy man in his fifties holding a big dog on a leash. Grumpily he demanded a young Asian woman to step back to allow his dog to sit. The Asian woman said, she couldn't possibly step further back because of the people standing behind her. This answer made the man hiss at her: "Why don't you go back to China!" Immediately all the other people in the car responded. "How dare you!" – "Racist!" – "Get out of here!" – "You ought to be ashamed!". The man with the dog had no choice but to leave the elevator at the next stop. And I thought, this is why I love New Yorkers. They take a stand.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toddlers Make Fair Judges

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany report that children as young as 3 are less likely to help a person after they have seen them harm someone else — in this case adult actors tearing up or breaking another adult’s drawing or clay bird. More intriguing is that the toddlers judged a person’s intention. When one person tried to harm someone else but did not succeed, the youngsters were less likely to help that person at a later time. But when they observed a person accidentally cause harm to another, they were more willing to help that person.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Careful With Wagner

I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.
Woody Allen

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Hit The Ball!

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.
Arthur Ashe

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mean Prayer

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.
Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Change

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Method

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.
G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Getting Old

You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.
George Burns (1896 - 1996)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Humble

There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.
Gore Vidal

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ambitious Beginning

As a young aspiring actor Peter O'Toole was overjoyed to have landed a bit part as a Georgian peasant in a Chekhov play. Although the script simply called for him to come on stage, announce, "Dr. Ostroff, the horses are ready," and exit, the ambitious O'Toole conceived of the peasant as a boy of steel, the future Stalin.He perfected Stalin's minor limp, made himself up to look like him, and carefully rehearsed the line, imbuing it with a subtle nuance of proletarian resentment... On opening night, the excited audience was duly intrigued by the entry of the angry peasant - who, turning to Dr. Ostroff, suddenly announced: "Dr. Horsey, the Ostroffs are ready."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good For The Mind

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.
Christopher Morley

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Theater


In the theater, while you recognized that you were looking at a house, it was a house in quotation marks. On screen, the quotation marks tend to be blotted out by the camera. 
Arthur Miller 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deadly Vanity

The Weasels and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other, in which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the victors. The Mice thought that the cause of their frequent defeats was that they had no leaders set apart from the general army to command them, and that they were exposed to dangers from lack of discipline. They therefore chose as leaders Mice that were most renowned for their family descent, strength, and counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage in the fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array and formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly proclaimed war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen generals bound their heads with straws, that they might be more conspicuous to all their troops. Scarcely had the battle begun, when a great rout overwhelmed the Mice, who scampered off as fast as they could to their holes. The generals, not being able to get in on account of the ornaments on their heads, were all captured and eaten by the Weasels.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Challenge

“Maintaining our standard; that's our challenge day-in and day-out.”
 Tim Rice

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't Act, Dammit!

In the 50s and 60s, Ethel Merman was one of the greatest Broadway stars. After a performance of the 1966 revival of Annie Get Your Gun, she summoned Jerry Orbach, one of the supporting actors, to her dressing room. She was upset. "What were you doing during my speech in the boat scene," she demanded. "Nothing, Miss Merman," Jerry said, baffled. "Yes, you were; you were doing something," she insisted, "I saw it out of the corner of my eye."- "I was only reacting to your speech," he replied, "I acted."- "Look," she snapped, "you don't act when I talk. Don't you ever react to my lines, I don't react to yours, okay?"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hit or Flop

You write a hit the same way you write a flop. 
Alan Jay Lerner 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dramatic Themes

"The theatre is supremely fitted to say: 'Behold! These things are.' Yet most dramatists employ it to say: 'This moral truth can be learned from beholding this action.' "
Thornton Wilder 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hero's Hero

"DuBose Heyward has gone largely unrecognized as the author of the finest set of lyrics in the history of the American musical theater - namely, those of Porgy and Bess. There are two reasons for this, and they are connected. First, he was primarily a poet and novelist, and his only song lyrics were those that he wrote for Porgy. Second, some of them were written in collaboration with Ira Gershwin, a full-time lyricist, whose reputation in the musical theater was firmly established before the opera was written. But most of the lyrics in Porgy - and all of the distinguished ones - are by Heyward. I admire his theater songs for their deeply felt poetic style and their insight into character. It's a pity he didn't write any others. His work is sung, but he is unsung." 
Stephen Sondheim

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coffee To Rave About

I found an incredible coffee-to-go shop in London which deserves being recommended. There is a choice between coffee from the espresso machine and filter coffee. If you choose the latter - which I did - they grind coffee beans especially for you, pour the powder in a filter and brew the coffee as you wait. You see it drip directly into the paper cup. Not very economical, I admit, but obviously successful. Each time I go there to pick up my hourly dose, I have to stand in line. I don't mind though, the shop is filled with smells of warm pastry the likes you can only find in Vienna. Next time you're in London, go to Monmouth Street in the West End and spoil yourself. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Poetic Language

"A true poet does not say 'azur', a true poet says 'blue'."
Else Lasker-Schüler

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Story

There are many movies that inspired musicals, but it is a rare exception that one inspired two different shows. This exception is the American comedy Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968) which tells the story of a woman who is uncertain which of her lovers is the father of her daughter - and therefore regards all three responsible. In the 1970's Joseph Stein, Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane based their musical Carmelina upon the film. The Broadway production closed after only 17 performances in April 1979. Twenty years later the British playwright Catherine Johnson was luckier. Her version of the story, enhanced by the hits of Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus, has become one of the biggest musical hits of all times: Mamma Mia!