A live performance of the score from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” accompanies a showing of the film at Radio City Music Hall in 2010. Photo by Flickr user workinpana
Word on the street is that classical music is dying out. Sales for classical recordings are plunging, attendance at many concerts is on the decline, and it is getting harder for new graduates from art and music schools to find a decent job. The reasons for this downward trend have been much debated. As you might expect when dealing with the subjective world of art, everyone seems to see the problem a little bit differently.
“The root of the problem, musicians tell me, is a plague of pirated Internet downloads and a spreading anti-intellectual climate in the U.S. music world, especially among the young,” read one article by the American Spectator’s Michael Johnson back in 2011. “Further pressure, as if any were needed, comes from the current economic squeeze.” Continue reading
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia user Eymery
While at the movies this past weekend, I saw a trailer for the new film Austenland, which apparently features Kerri Russell going to some sort of Jane Austen-themed resort in England where guests dress in period costume, attend nightly balls, and engage in flirtations with the opposite sex. The film will apparently show how a dose of Jane helps the heroine to overcome her fears and give in to love, or something like that. All I could think was, “Another one of these movies? Really?”
Don’t get me wrong: I love Jane Austen, as do most women who are at least moderately clever and can appreciate men who know how to dress and dance properly. I’ve seen pretty much every adaptation of an Austen novel made in the past twenty years. There are probably too many of them, but at least they tend to stay true to the source material. There are worse things I could spend my time watching. Continue reading
First page of the first edition of William Shakespeare’s play “Richard III”
England’s King Richard III has been experiencing a bit of renaissance lately after his remains were discovered underneath a carpark (a.k.a. parking lot) in Leicester, UK last year. Of particular interest has been the debate over whether or not Shakespeare’s portrayal of the late king in his famous play Richard III is historically accurate. Scholars had suspected for some time that the villainous, deformed version of Richard that appears in the Bard’s script could have been a clever form of Tudor-era propaganda – the Tudors being the English royal dynasty that unseated Richard III and would have been keen to emphasize his illegitimacy as king.
The discovery of Richard III’s skeleton has now proved that at least two details in Shakespeare’s play were incorrect: the king did not have a withered hand, and while he did suffer from scoliosis (side-to-side curvature of the spine), descriptions of a hideous hunchback were exaggerated. As for the many crimes that Shakespeare alleges – murdering his two nephews and a brother while manipulating his way to the throne – the Richard III Society offers a spirited defense for him.
In addition, a mock trial at Indiana University’s law school in 1996, presided over by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist and other legal experts, found Richard III not guilty of murdering the two princes. Taking all of this into consideration, and remembering that the play was written more than a century after Richard’s death, it seems quite likely that at least part of Shakespeare’s tale was invention. Continue reading