Years ago I had a client in my law practice whose eighty-year-old father was watching me try a case on behalf of his grandson. During a recess, the gentleman came over to me, raised his index finger for emphasis and said “I admire you.” He made a point of emphasizing that word “admire” and it set me thinking about what that word meant. I had never thought about it before that. Listening to him, I realized that in reflecting on his eighty years, he thought he was seeing something special and admirable.
Admiring someone means recognizing a quality that we lack, either categorically or in degree. Usually it challenges us to emulate that quality. I have always been more mindful of things that I could admire in others since that moment with my former client’s father.
- Sarah Greenough, ed., My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz: Volume I: 1915-1933(Yale University Press, 2011): though O’Keeffe and Stieglitz were passionate about each other, they “seemed to experience their most genuine tenderness when they were apart”; their intimacy, which appears to have been based on an intellectual compatibility, obviously reached deeply into their emotional lives.
- Joyce Johnson, Minor Characters: A Young Woman’s Coming-of-Age in the Beat Orbit of Jack Kerouac (Houghton Mifflin, 1983): “ . . . a glowing introduction to the Beats. There are shrewd portraits of not just Kerouac and Ginsberg but people like Robert Frank and Hettie Jones.”
- Doug Bock Clark, The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life (Little, Brown & Company, 2019): “It’s about the flood of modernity, in the form of outboard motors and cellphones and televised soap operas, as seen from the perspective of a curious but wary society that fears losing itself in the deluge.”
From the dark side:
- Anna Della Subin, Accidental Gods: On Men Untwittingly Turned Divine (Metropolitan Books, 2021): “This roving and ambitious book is focused on the making of modern gods instead of ancient ones — on the way that Western thought in the modern age was supposed to reflect a progressive disenchantment, a rejection of irrational impulses, but was nevertheless ‘built upon two altars, of Greco-Roman classicism and Christian creed,’ Subin writes, ‘both of which had men-becoming-gods at their centers.’ Belief, in other words, was at the core of modernity, even if that belief was (hypocritically) denied.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 7 in E Major, WAB 107 (1883): “It was a hearing of Wagner’s opera Tannhauser in Linz in 1863 at the age of 39 that initiated Bruckner’s inward path to self-discovery. Wagner, the master of harmonic innovation, was the key to artistic freedom. . . . The Symphony No. 7 was Bruckner’s memorial monument to Wagner.” “For Bruckner, Wagner was a second deity. His expansive thinking, vision, and colorful, gigantic musical structures were deeply influential, if not controlling models.” “In the context of history, Bruckner, the slightly eccentric Austrian symphonist and organist (at the monastic church of Sankt Florian near Linz), links the worlds of Schubert and Mahler. Each of his nine mature symphonies represents a persistent attempt to pick up where Beethoven’s monumental and enigmatic Ninth Symphony left off . . .” Excellent performances are conducted by Fried in 1924, Furtwängler in 1949, Beinum in 1953, Jochum in 1965, Karajan in 1989, Wand in 1992, Sinopoli in 1993, Tintner in 1999, and Blomstedt.
“I would like to be like that” is a statement of admiration. Franz Liszt expressed his admiration for fellow composers by transcribing their works for the piano, his instrument of choice. He transcribed symphonies.
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 1, in C major, Op. 21
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
He transcribed selections from operas.
- Verdi transcriptions
- “Rigoletto” paraphrase
- Fantasie on Themes from Bellini’s opera “Norma”
- Rossini’s William Tell Overture
- Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture
- Opera transcriptions played by Thibaudet
- Complete Wagner and Verdi transcriptions performed by Campanella
- Opera fantasies performed by Viner
He transcribed concertos.
- Charles Koechlin: The Seven Stars' Symphony, Op. 132 (1933): “Having been rather disdainful of silent film, Koechlin realised the potency of the talkies in 1932 when he saw Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel, and quickly became so enthralled by the new art form that the following year he composed the symphony, making each of its seven movements a portrait of a movie star.”
- Foss, Elegy for Anne Frank (1989)
- Barnson, Vanitas (2018): a cycle for cello and marimba drawn from the works of 17th-century composer Marin Marais
- Ghedini, Contrappunti (Counterpoints) (1960-1961)
- Huber, Enigma, Op. 23: a musical tribute to the mathematician Alfred Turing, who broke the Nazi “Enigma” code, and is a father of computer science: 1. Allegro; 2. Adagio; 3. Spiritoso.
- Stevenson, transcriptions
- Casteluovo-Tedesco, Capriccio diabolico, Op. 85, (Homage to Paganini) (1935)
- Jocelyn Morlock, Half-light, Somnolent Rains (2006), in memory of composer Nikolai Korndorf, on the fifth anniversary of his death.
- Paul Bley, “Annette”, with Franz Koglmann and Gary Peacock
- Jane Ira Bloom, “Early Americans”
- Ben Aylon, “Xalam”, was inspired by Aylon’s admiration for several African musicians.
- Emre Gültekin, “In Tribute to Talip Özkan”
- Somi Kakoma, “Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba”: “‘This album,’ she writes in the liner notes, ‘is my attempt to honor the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my own journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.'”
- Kurt Rosenwinkel & Jean-Paul Brodbeck, “The Chopin Project” (2022), “is clearly a canvas of musical conversation that takes place within the quartet; a kind of story crafted from selected Chopin works. One could say that Chopin’s melodies, slightly improvised the first time round serve as a compass point for each musician to unravel their own personal dialogue with Chopin.”
- Lakecia Benjamin, “Phoenix” (2023) (70’), teams with black female artists.
Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man, / Self-called George Sand! whose soul, amid the lions / Of thy tumultuous senses, moans defiance / And answers roar for roar, as spirits can: / I would some mild miraculous thunder ran / Above the applauded circus, in appliance / Of thine own nobler nature’s strength and science, / Drawing two pinions, white as wings of swan, / From thy strong shoulders, to amaze the place / With holier light! that thou to woman’s claim / And man’s, mightst join beside the angel’s grace / Of a pure genius sanctified from blame / Till child and maiden pressed to thine embrace / To kiss upon thy lips a stainless fame.
[Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “To George Sand: A Desire”]