Monday, March 12, 2018

Four Class Proposals

Shostakovich: The Music of the 20th Century

The story of the 20th century is impossible to understand without its soundtrack, and no musician provided more or more appropriate music for it than Dmitri Shostakovich. It is impossible to convey the horrors or the highpoints of such a time period, so extreme in its agonies and triumphs, in just words. Only music will suffice, and among musicians, no musician in any era, place, or genre, conveyed the intensity, the diversity, the horrors, the jubilations, the ironies, of the bewildering era we all remember than Dimitri Shostakovich.

Class 1 - 1900-17: The Aristocratic Years - Rachmaninov/Scriabin/Stravinsky/The Czars

Class 2 - 1917-25 The Revolutionary Years - Myakovsky/Prokofiev/Lenin/Shostakovich the Prodigy

Class 3 - 1925-1929 The Jazz and Cocktail Age - Joplin/Armstrong/Ellington/Tin Pan Alley/The Roaring 20's/Shostakovich in his 20's.

Class 4 - 1929-1936: The Years of Full Employment - The Great Depression/Communist Prosperity/Shostakovich's First and Early Peak 

Class 5 - 1936-39: The First Purge - Stalin/Shostakovich Becoming the Voice of An Entire World

Class 6 - 1939-45: The Great Patriotic War - The Soviets at War/The World at War/Shostakovich in Wartime

Class 7 - 1945-53: The Second Purge - Late Stalin/Showtrials/Iron Curtain/Shostakovich in Inner Exile

Class 9 - 1953-61: The Agonies of Joining the Party - Khrushchev/'The Thaw'/Shostakovich Joins the Communist Party

Class 10 - 1961-69: The Counterculture - The Young Generation of Soviets/High Modernism/Rock and Roll/The Aging Shostakovich

Class 11 - 1970-75: Mortality - Brezhnev/The Elderly Shostakovich/Britten and 'Delvig'

Class 12 - 1975- : The Fusion - Fall of the Soviet Union/Music Since Shostakovich/The Russian Resurgence
The Century that Never Was: Classical Music between 1900-15

The years around of the Turn of the Century, or the Fin de siĆ©cle as it's often termed, were so unique in so many ways that they almost comprise their own century. In their dreams and fears and achievements, they have less in common with the years immediately preceding them and immediately following them than they do with our own time. And in no field was this disparity more clear than in music. Composers stretched their imaginations to their fullest extents - completely uncontained by any practical consideration, knowing that however large the project, they'd find financial backing somewhere, and therefore creating the biggest, deepest, most diverse, and strangest music anyone had ever heard 

Class 1: Introduction and Elgar

Class 2: Richard Strauss and the German Inflation 

Class 3: Mahler - The Austro-Hungarian Farewell 

Class 4: Puccini - Italian Independence and the "End" of Opera

Class 5: Debussy - The Long French Peace 

Class 6: Scriabin and Rachmaninov - Russian Aspirations 

Class 7: Sibelius - Finnish Captivity

Class 8: Ives - American Freedom

Class 9: Debussy - The Long French Peace

Class 10: Schoenberg - The Long German War

Class 11: Ravel and Falla - The Masks of Decadence

Class 12: Scott Joplin - The New Direction

Movies in The 70's: The New Hollywood

For one brief, glorious era, The Movies were at wit's end to figure out how to make money against the invasion of TV. Nobody knew what to do about it, so producers did something they'd never thought of before: they asked directors what movies they would like to make. The result, for roughly fifteen years, was that Hollywood decided that investing in the best possible movie would be what makes the most money. From that came a marriage of Golden Age Hollywood entertainment to the artistic depth and integrity of the best foreign film. In a hundred years, most of the movies people will remember were made in the 70's. 

Class 1: Stanley Kubrick - Filmmaker of the Inhuman Era

Class 2: Bonnie and Clyde & Easy Rider - The New Generation's Values

Class 3: Altman and Bogdonavich - 'Real' America

Class 4: The Godfather Epic

Class 5: MASH, The Deer Hunter & Apocalypse Now - Why Are We in Vietnam?

Class 6: The New York Hellscape - Martin Scorsese and The French Connection

Class 7: Mel Brooks and Woody Allen - Jews in front and behind the camera

Class 8: Woody Allen and Roman Polanski: The Sexual Revolution 1.0

Class 9: Network, All the President's Men - Political Paranoia

Class 10: Harold and Maude and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice - Unconventional Love

Class 11: Spielberg and Lucas - Back to Big Money

Class 12: Raging Bull, My Dinner with Andre, The Right Stuff  - The 70s in the 80s

What's On TV: The "Golden Age" of TV

Let's face it, the shows on TV are better than they've ever been before, and people who say 'I don't watch TV' are missing out on the best art of our era. There are 300 channels for us all to watch, and that's not even counting Netflix, and all of them are threatened by our gradual decampment to the internet. Whether NBC or Fox or HBO or Netflix or Amazon Prime, if these networks want to hold our attention, they have to give us the best possible product. In this class, we'll trace from the 1980's to today, and exactly how TV got this good. 

Class 1: Cheers - Who We Really Are

Class 2: Seinfeld - Our Lives

Class 3: The Simpsons - Our Families

Class 4: The Sopranos - Our Neighbors

Class 5: The Wire - Our Fair City

Class 6: Deadwood, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica - How Our Frontiers Were Lost

Class 6: Arrested Development, Veep, Larry Sanders Show, The Office - Our Guys Running Things

Class 7: Mad Men - Our Past

Class 8: Breaking Bad - Our Options

Class 9: Game of Thrones, Westworld, Buffy, Lost - Our Fantasies

Class 10: Stranger Things, Freaks and Geeks, South Park - Our Kids

Class 11: 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Glow - The Women Who Deserve Better than Us

Class 12: Twin Peaks - Our Questions

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