Archive for June 14th, 2006

A Stab In The Dark

A friend of mine whom I wouldn’t have previously described as a boneheaded ignoramus started telling me the other day about The Lithuanians.

He: “There’s been stabbings and everything. It’s the knife culture they bring with them.”

I: “What, does Lithuania have a knife culture?”

-“Aye, sure they’ve been through wars and everything. There was a civil war, and lots of the ones over here now fought in it.”

“Civil war in Lithuania?”

-“Aye.”“When was that?”

-“Och, you remember, back there before the war in Iraq. With yer man. The one who died. What do you call him?”


-“Aye, that’s him.”

“Milosevic wasn’t Lithuanian.”

-“Aye, but he was at war with them, wasn’t he.”


The point is not that some of my friends have a poor grasp of international affairs, but that I fear his viewpoint is a reasonable indicator of those held by the wider community.

Ear Ear

I listened to all of Daniel Barenboim’s Reith Lectures the other day. They have had the strange effect of making my entire record collection sound cheap and nasty.

On muzak:

I have spent many very happy years here, but I have suffered tremendously.
In the hotel where I stay they think that it is very culturally minded to play
classical music in the elevator, or in the foyers of concert halls before the


And I have been on more than one occasion subject to having to hear,
because I cannot shut my ears, the Brahms violin concerto in the lift, having to
conduct it in the evening.


And I ask myself, why? This is not going to bring one more person into the
concert hall, and it is not only counter-productive but I think if we are
allowed an old term to speak of musical ethics, it is absolutely offensive. And
the most extraordinary example of offensive usage of music, because it
underlines some kind of association which I fail to recognise, was shown to me
one day when watching the television in Chicago and seeing a commercial of a
company called American Standard. And it showed a plumber running very very fast
in great agitation, opening the door to a toilet and showing why this company
actually cleans the toilet better than other companies. And you know what music
was played to that?


The Lachrymose from Mozart’s Requiem. Now ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry,
I’m probably immodest enough to think I have a sense of humour but I can’t laugh
at this.

Splendid stuff.

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June 2006
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