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Category: Music Life

Vladimir, Ya tebya lyublyu

In men, the physical type I’m most attracted to is what they call a Kerl in German. Not too pretty, not too tall; tough and stoic, but emotionally explosive underneath. Harvey Keitel in The Piano; Gabriel Byrne in Miller’s Crossing; Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West. I’ve never actually been involved with this type of man in real life—personality wise, I doubt we’d be compatible—but in movies they still make me weak in the knees. The hottest of the silver screen Kerls? Hands down, the Russian actor and singer Vladimir Vysotsky. Check out this video from 1974, the…

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What I’m listening to today

  These days I have work coming out of my ears, though most of it isn’t particularly interesting. But that’s what I love about being freelance: these crazy rushes where I put in ten hour days, my brain at the end a nearly liquified mass and later weeks of not much else to do other than twiddle my thumbs. Unfortunately this work rush is keeping me from doing the writing I actually want to do, but at least I can freely choose my soundtrack. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve listening to today to get me through what I gotta…

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The Class of Classical

No lie: The first time I really fell in love with a piece of classical music was on an episode of The Twilight Zone. The story had something to do with a couple in 19th century dress living in a doll house and someone watching them from outside—I don’t remember the exact details. But I do remember the music. At the beginning and end of the episode, the woman in the dollhouse sat at the piano and played the song in the video above—Mozart’s sonata KV331, though I didn’t know it at the time—accompanied by Rod Serling’s voiceover. The music…

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What I’m Listening To Today

These days Berlin is proving once again that summer is an optional season: gray skies, wind and rain that won’t let up. I hope summer’s back by the time we head to the Baltic Sea at the end of the week. In the meantime, I have to finish the world’s most boring translation. Here’s what I’m listening to while I concentrate on wooden, academic sentences:

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The Genius of Georg Kreisler

If things had worked out differently, Georg Kreisler might have written the bulk of his satricial songs in English. An Austrian Jew, Kreisler fled Vienna in 1938. He became a US citizen in 1943 and worked on movies with Charlie Chaplin after the war. But he couldn’t find his audience. In 1947, he was rejected by the record labels, his songs  dubbed “un-American.” Listen to this example and you’ll see why his songs might have been a little over the top on the black humor side for a 1940s American audience: In 1955, Kreisler returned to Europe where he spent…

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Music And What It Means To Me: Words

When I’m speaking German, sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly I’m lost in the fog. Words disappear, adjectives smash into nouns. When this happens, I’m sure my Gegenüber assumes it’s because I’m not a native speaker. Little do they know the same thing sometimes happens to me in English. It’s like my mind is an ocean and words are fish; sometimes they jump eagerly into the nets. Other times they refuse to come to the surface. When I insist, they thrash about, causing me trouble. That why I love music: it never has to go to…

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