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G, G, NOT G sharp!

Edvard Grieg
June 15, 1843 – September 4, 1907

ONE OF MY FAVORITE PIANO CONCERTOS is by the Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. His individuality of style is by no means entirely due to his interest in Norwegian folk music, although some of his commonest mannerisms, such as a tendency to make his melodies gravitate about the ‘3rd degree’ of the scale, are obviously derived from that source.

My first public performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 was in Calcutta, India, on December 11, 1969 with the Calcutta Symphony Orchestra  under the baton of its long-time conductor, Gerald Neil Craig.
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The local music critic of the English edition of the Bengali newspaper, Amrita Bazar Patrika, wrote of my performance:
“A carefully thought out and always musicianly approach drawing out the more poetic aspects of the score.”
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I am aware of the fact that Grieg’s birth anniversary falls this month on the 15th, and indeed I began this blog a few days ago to celebrate the event on the due date, but sad to say I was unable to get all my ducks in a row until now – a day late!

To continue my narrative, in the spring of 1870, Grieg paid a visit to Franz Liszt in Rome, and wrote:
“In the very last bars where the first note of the theme, G-sharp is changed to G in the orchestra, he (Liszt) suddenly stopped short, rose to his full height, left the piano and. with a giant strides and one arm raised above his head, marched the whole length of the huge monastery hall, virtually roaring forth the theme. On reaching the above-mentioned G, he extended his arm in the imperious manner of a Caesar, and shouted: G, G, not G-sharp! Terrific! That is as genuine as Swedish punch!”

The music critic Cherbuliez wrote then:  The concerto is outstanding above all because of its melodious and rhythmic independence achieved by he use of Norwegian folk music especially in the last movement. It shows an imaginative quality arising from the abundance of secondary themes.”

Copyright © 2020 Azim Lewis Mayadas

En Route to Boston

At long last, Lolita and I are pleased to announce to our friends and relatives that our long-term plans  to spend our retirement years in Boston, MA, will gradually come to fruition next spring, as our middle daughter and her family, the Nortons, prepare to welcome us after our over three decades of residing in Englewood, NJ.

Indeed, Tanya and Charles have been working diligently against all odds including Covid 19-caused delays in construction to ensure the creature comfort of their octogenarian parents/in-laws.  Below is a photo Tanya has sent us today showing the majestic frontage of our  refurbished residence:

Copyright © 2020 Azim Lewis Mayadas

Fall is Here Redux


FALL IS HERE, Op. 12B – so goes my song below written on an early autumn day in the Northeast back in 1980 on a familial visit to Boston:

Fall is here,
Summer’s past:
No word yet
Of you dear,
Since the time
We last met.

Nature’s turning to autumn hues,
Soon all her trees will be bare:
Oh! Darling, lest you lose
Your golden years for e’er…..

Come and stay!
No more right,
No more wrong:
Till the day
Turns to night,
Wingèd song!

 

Xmas Season Celebration

CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON with a look back to the 1890’s and early 1900’s through the artistic and humorous eyes of my Greatuncle Samuel Atham, who’s pen was always ready to capture Xmas with often amusing results as shown below:

Uncle Sam, as he was called by family members, loved to travel abroad from his native India, and during his peregrinations was wont to put pen to postcard and mail back his accomplishments to his numerous nephews and nieces for their enjoyment.

Closer geographically is our American home, where my wife Lolita has just lit up our drawing room in Englewood, New Jersey, with our favorite miniature Christmas Tree – fondly referred to a our Tannenbaum – atop our Grand Piano in the drawing room to celebrate the Holiday Season, which is now upon us:

Wishing all our visitors online a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Copyright © 2019 Azim Lewis Mayadas

Summer Round Redux

 

SUMMER ARRIVES TODAY, FRIDAY JUNE THE 21st, and most of the Northeast of these United States will be wallowing this weekend in bright sunshine under cerulean skies after consecutive days  of spotty rain and threatening clouds – all to the enjoyment of its outdoor-loving citizenry!

Reading Abbey
Sumer Is Icumen In is a traditional English round, or a musical composition in which two or more voices sing exactly the same melody but nevertheless fit harmoniously together. It is possibly the oldest such example in existence of counterpoint, which is the relationship between two or more voices. The title might be translated as “Summer has come in” or “Summer has arrived”.
The song is composed in the Wessex dialect of Middle English. Although the composer’s identity is unknown today, it may have been W. de Wycombe.
Summer has arrived,
                        Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
                  The seed grows and the meadow blooms
                And the wood springs anew, Sing, Cuckoo!
        The ewe bleats after the lamb
     The cow lows after the calf.

    The bullock stirs, the stag farts,

Merrily sing, Cuckoo!

Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Don’t you ever stop now,
Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!
The round is sometimes known as the Reading Round because the manuscript comes from Reading Abbey, which was founded by Henry I in 1121 “for the salvation of my soul, and the souls of King William, my father, and of King William, my brother, and Queen Maud, my wife, and all my ancestors and successors.” The round may not have been written there, but it is the oldest piece of six-part polyphonic music, that is, music with two or more independent melodic voices. Its composer is anonymous, and it is estimated to date circa 1260. The manuscript – written in Middle English, extant between the late 11th and the late 15th century – is now at the British Library.
Reference: Diary of my ‘St. Paul’s Church: The Messenger July 2011’

 

 

The Summer Solstice Redux

FIVE YEARS AGO I POSTED A BLOG JUST BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY. I thought I’d share it with you anew as “The Summer Solstice Redux” and hope that you’ll enjoy its contents as you head out to enjoy the lovely long and sunny weekend forecast for May 25th through 27th.

the summer solstice
– and Kite Flying!

KiteflyingFoto by Ahlatlibel

HERE’S A QUIZ FOR YOU FOLKS! Just before the end of May, you probably spent quality time with the family at the beach, or in your own backyard with friends and kin presiding over a BBQ.

Select, then, either A or B of the following faux ancient couplets by yours truly and e-mail your response to me at azimmayadas3@gmail.com no later than May the 31st.

  1. Which Day, forsooth, hath Summer begun? ‘Twas on Memorial Day, I trow!
  2. Doth Thou, who welcometh Summer in June, Bethink it starteth two-thirds o’ the Way through?

PS: There are no prizes offered here, but the first two respondents with the correct answer will be duly recognized in my blog.

For those not in the know, at this time of year kite flying – starting with the advent of Spring in April and often right through mid-July – is a passion in many parts of the world. For starters, there is the Subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh) as well as Afghanistan. And then the countries in East Asia, notably Korea and Japan. Not to be outdone, children and adults in Australia and the USA are joining their ranks in increasing numbers.

As they all discover in due time, it’s not only fun to fly kites in wide open spaces and en plein air, but it’s also a highly competitive team and individual sport.

Of late, there has been a spate of literary interest in the subject due mainly, I think, to the Afghan writer, Khaled Hosseini, who has – among other gems – crafted a best-seller in “The Kite Runner.” It’s memorable ending runs with the breathless:

“I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn’t care. I ran with  the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips.

I ran.”

 Copyright © 2020 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

 

New Knee – Op Ordeal

AND SO IT CAME TO PASS that I journeyed to Boston a month ago to undergo a right-knee replacement as I was no longer able to enjoy my 40-minute morning walks – come rain or shine – in and around Englewood due to ‘structural’ limb problems that had to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Earlier visits starting last November to a couple of esteemed hospitals in Manhattan had only provided temporary relief that even excellent trainers at local gyms in Tenafly and Fort Lee were unable to help improve upon.

Finally, after a successful surgery in Massachusetts followed by intensive rehab lasting four weeks I was glad to get back home to New Jersey this weekend with arrangements in hand for professional in-house help to get me back on my own two feet literally in fairly short order.

Since I was unable to keep in touch with my friends, relatives and acquaintances since late March, I trust they will understand the reason for my extended silence.

Copyright © 2019 Azim Lewis Mayadas

From Walla Walla to Wagga Wagga

I WOULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED THAT THERE WERE PLACES LIKE WALLA WALLA AND WAGGA WAGGA in this wide and wondrous world of ours until 1985 when as Membership Director of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (NGCSA) then based in Englewood, New Jersey, USA, I started receiving back the results of my aggressive drive to expand the Guild’s membership by way of arts institutions in the Western states and, overseas, across the Pacific Ocean and down to the Southern Hemisphere.

Thus it came to pass that I stumbled across the captivating names of Walla Walla

Walla Walla University, WA
and

Wagga Wagga, NSW
(aerial view below)
They are literally poles apart –  the former in the great state of Washington,
the latter in New South Wales, Australia.

Soon thereafter, In a state of euphoria, I informed my colleagues at the Guild that ere long its membership would span the globe – from Walla Walla to Wagga Wagga! To set the ball rolling, I proudly announced that the latter city Down Under was the first Overseas Member represented by one Roland Bannister, whose application I’d received out of the blue on February 27, 1985.

In Retrospect
In many ways, 1985 was a banner year for the Guild summarized by its Chairman, Monroe Levin, in a memo to the Board: “First, the achievement of a 150-school membership at the close of my first two-year term (hard to believe it reached 100 only two years ago) is the best sign of good Guild health. May the Powers Above and Azim grant that we reach 200 within the next two years.

In passing, about the same time, there was much news from England about the plausibility of an immigrant to Australia from England who was a butcher making a living in Wagga Wagga by the name of Arthur Norton: he claimed to be a baronet, but in the law courts back in London lost out and ended up –  after the most lengthy lawsuit in its history – having to serve a long prison sentence.
Arthur Orton
– Butcher or Baronet?

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 in just over 3 years ago back in February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me, if you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2019 Azim Lewis Mayadas

Felix Mendelssohn – Felicitous Musikant

FELIX MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY[February 3, 1809 - November 4, 1847]

NO WORDS OF MINE can fully express my gratitude to the felicitous German composer, Felix Mendelssohn (pictured above) for all the pleasure his many piano compositions have given me during my musical career that allowed me to perform them in India, Europe, Australia and the Americas.  Today, February the 3rd, is Felix’s birth anniversary and I’m happy to say that two of his brilliantly conceived piano pieces have been my favorites – Variations sérieuses and Rondo capriccioso – and which I have programmed regularly.

It so happens that the former was performed by Jeremy Denk at Carnegie Hall just yesterday to an appreciative audience, including me (I was happy to be squired by a couple, who are longtime friends from Englewood, NJ.) But for the soloist’s facial tics during his playing that – for me at least – caused me to squirm somewhat in my parquet seat and at one point shut my eyes at his non-verbal “here’s lookin’ at me, kiddo!” in order to enjoy his otherwise virtuoso performance. By turns lyrical, dramatic, tragic, and whimsical, Denk deftly captured the rapidly changing moods of the 18 variations.

Afterword:
I’ve always been a fan of the late Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, and have therefore selected his 1965 performance of the Variations, which you are welcome to access here: Variations.

Dear Readers,
You number over 70,000 since 4 years back in February 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me, if you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2019 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

Looking Back on Lucknovian Family

[So many fond memories! So many lost members of the family enshrined in the annals of  that center of culture in North India – the one and only Lucknow!!]

Tehrim (Gypsie) Dass (1933-2015)

Proud Resident Peacock in Front Garden
of the Dass’s Family Home in Lucknow

For the record, Lucknow has always been known as a multicultural city that flourished as a  cultural and artistic hub, and the seat of power of Nawabs in the 18th and 19th centuries. It continues to be an important center of governance, administration, education, commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, music and poetry. Hindi is the main language of the city and Urdu is also widely spoken.

Lucknow is the center of SHIA ISLAM in India with the highest Shia population in India.

L to R: Ranjit, Monika, Shanti Varma, Amrita, Sunita & Kavita
Dass Family Gathering in 6 Faizabad Road Drawing Room
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India (2016)

Lolita and I were regular visitors from Englewood, NJ, USA until illness took its toll each of the past three years forcing us to to cancel our air tickets for seeing our close family members during the lovely Lucknow spring season.

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in nearly three years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year in 2019, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2018 Azim Lewis Mayadas