Saturday, March 3, 2007

Setting the Stage

The other night, I watched the Academy Awards. I'm not really a big fan of them due to their political nature, but there wasn't much else on. What did I have to lose? Besides, I was curious to see what Ellen would do as host.

One of the first awards I saw was for costumes. As each movie and its costumes were shown, music from the movie was played. I don't remember the name of the person who won, but I do remember the award went to the designer of Marie Antoinette costumes. The costumes were sumptuous. (How could they be otherwise?) The music was, um, the wrong period. LOL The piece they played was by Vivaldi, a Baroque composer most famous for his Four Seasons. Matter of fact, I think the music played at the Oscars was from Four Seasons. Um, if I remember correctly, Marie Antoinette was born after the Baroque period ended (1750). And trust me, one of the most famous Baroque composers of this time, Bach, wasn't known by the general public, including the courts, until the mid 19th c. At which point, he was "rediscovered" due to Fanny Mendelssohn and her brother, Felix, and their performance of his "St. Matthew's Passion". Bach's fame was secured at this point, for obvious reasons.

Now, I know this is nitpicky, but, honestly, there were many well-known composers of the time that appeal to current audiences. A few I can name off the top of my head: Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, although he was much later than the first three and more of an early Romantic period composer...

Okay, am I losing you yet? LOL Yeah, I tend to get too technical when I start talking about music.

I do believe their choice came from the structure of Vivaldi's music more than the timeliness of it. In Hollywood's mind, they equated Louis XVI's court with the rigidity of Baroque music. Classical period also had a great deal of structure, but the Classical composers used the Baroque masters as their springboard for innovation in music, testing, and breaking, the rules set by the church, society, etc. However, the director's choice of music does make sense when you look at the dances, the manners, and expectations of one another of this time period.

My point is this: They had plenty of famous contemporary composer to choose from and they picked someone who had died more than a decade before Marie Antoinette was born. I have nothing against Vivaldi's music. It's glorious, full of tension and resolution, but the likelihood of the court listening to something from 30 years in the past would have been slim to none. People were moving forward, looking to the future, not concerned so much with the past. And while Vivaldi influenced many composers, like Mozart, his burial was modest.

On another note: My dau, who is 31 months old, is brilliant. LOL Not that I am biased, or anything. LOL Why do I say this? Well, because she is constantly surprising me. For instance, today I wrote down her name. I know she can read her name, so I asked her what it said. Predictably, she told me. Then, I spelled out "mommy" and asked her what it said. She glanced at the word and said, "Mommy." I did the same with "daddy", "cat", and "dog". Now, we have worked with her on all of these, but it's been a month or more since we did anything. However, that she can recognize these words is pretty amazing. Of course, I have nothing to compare this with, so I could be completely wrong. LOL

It's a beautiful day here, so those of you in miserable weather, I wish you sunshine and warmth.


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