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Rounding out their month-long celebration of Beethoven’s birthday, the local classickal station has been running pairings this week of his symphonies with piano transcriptions of them done by Franz Liszt.

I may say that it is an interesting exercise, but I find that I am not greatly moved by the keyboard versions.  And it occurs to me off-handedly that this kind of transposition probably is more effective going the other way, that is, arrangements of original keyboard works for orchestra.  (Here I’m thinking of Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorski’s “Pictures At An Exhibition” or Berlioz’s version of Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance”.  There are exceptions to this, I suppose, such as Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral murder of Bach’s keyboard musick, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody.)

I can only think of a few other piano transcriptions of orchestral musick, mostly in the context of variations based on themes from Mozart’s operas and the like, but there again, I usually don’t much care for them.  If there are better examples of the craft that I don’t know about, I’d be interested to learn.

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers! I hope that your Christmas continues to be joyful.  A word about those four calling birds that arrived today, though: Keep a close eye on them if you don’t want a heart attack with your next phone bill.


Speaking of such things, it seems scientists have discovered that setting up a bird feeder in your back yard transforms the local avian population from hard-working, go-getting singers and procreators into fat, lazy, ennui-ridden lumps:

Scientists have discovered that the growing trend of providing wild birds with food such as sunflower seeds and fat balls is changing their behaviour.

As well as causing songbirds to delay the dawn chorus by 20 minutes, or skip it altogether, the extra food could have a major impact on male mating chances.

“Dawn singing is used to show off to females and keep away competitors, so delaying or skipping song at dawn may have detrimental effects on male chances of paternity,” says Dr Valentin Amrhein of the Zoological Institute at the University of Basel, Switzerland, who led the study.

“Our advice is to keep feeding birds in gardens during the winter when it can save lives, but stop feeding by the end of March to avoid the breeding season.”

So come this March, I guess I’m going to have to hang a sign on my feeder that says, “Get a job!”



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December 2010