Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21

Arnold Schoenberg (composer)

Tracks: 1—Mondestrunken; 2—Columbine; 3—Der Dandy; 4—Eine Blasse Wäscherin; 5—Valse de Chopin; 6—Madonna; 7—Der Tranke Mond; 8—Nacht; 9—Gebtet an Pierrot; 10—Raub; 11—Rote Messe; 12—Galgenleid; 13—Enthauptung; 14—Die Kruze; 15—Heimweh; 16—Gemeinehiet; 17—Parodie; 18—Der Mondfleck; 19—Serenade; 20—Heimfahrt; 21—O Alter Duft.

Tags: Atonal, Unlistenable

Composed: October 16, 1912

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Arnold Schoenberg selected and set to music 21 of the 50 poems in the lyric cycle of the same name, written and published in 1884 by Belgian poet Albert Giraud. The work comes from Schoenberg’s “atonal” period and features a vocal part accompanied by a five-person ensemble — flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The work is generally hailed as a masterwork of musical expressionism; Schoenberg stated that the greatest goal of the artist is “to express himself.” In the cycles, Pierrot — the archetypical white-faced clown known as “Punchinello” in Italian and “Punch” in English — is represented (in some fashion) by a seven-note motive most easily heard at the very beginning of the first selection, “Moondrunk.” The work is effectively subdivided into three seven-poem segments. In the first, Pierrot sings of love, sex, and religion; in the second, of violence, crime, and blasphemy; and in the third, of his return home, haunted by his past.

None of this explanation saves this work from sounding like crap. Continue reading “Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21”

Beyond the Boardwalk

By Rod McKuen
ISBN 13: 978-0-9103-9801-8

Publication Year: 1976

Tags: Poetry, Beat Poets, Lamentations

Rating: ★★★☆☆

My paperback copy of this book has McKuen’s autograph, from 1976, displayed in prominent Magic Marker (and dated) on the front cover. My friend, who was working for the now-defunct Waldenbooks chain, got the book and autograph for me when the poet toured; Russ knew that I’d been a fan since I first discovered McKuen’s work in 1968 (I was 10 at the time). I only recently re-discovered it – I had preserved it so carefully that it was lost in some of my older boxes.

This is the first of McKuen’s works (to my knowledge) to comment on his then-newfound fame in the Introduction. He observes, “If I sell five copies of a book, [critics] are unanimous in their praise. If I sell ten, I can expect one dissent. If the number grows to ten thousand, my reviewers will always be ‘mixed.’ At ten million, I have detractors of every persuasion, most notably those reviewers who read the statistics not the books. …I say again, the poem is me. I lived, or am living it. I accept no advice on how it could or should be lived.” (p.11 of this edition) Continue reading “Beyond the Boardwalk”