The SESSIONS Session

This is a follow-up to previous post, Why I Haven’t Been Posting Lately, wherein I lamented having to deal with 20th century composer Roger Sessions’ musical setting of Walt Whitman’s poetic elegy for Abraham Lincoln, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Sessions is a notoriously difficult composer of atonal music, and in my panic at making a presentation for class this past Monday, I appealed for help from blogging friends.

Well, friends — this is actually the triumphant conclusion, thanks to your help! Comments — from Tobias, from My Bright Life, from Rebekah — were able to jog me loose from my fears, and allow me to begin listening in a whole new way. I listened with new ears — and thanks to the insights generated by each of you. I heard amazing new things, and was able to convey them to fellow classmates. After the introduction you could have heard a pin drop during the playing of Sessions’ cantata, and the person most moved by its end, as it faded away into dimness and silence, was me.

A thousand thanks to you all! Another miracle of blogging —

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18 Responses to The SESSIONS Session

  1. tms says:

    I am so glad a couple of words – words! – could help. I almost always feel that once you leave the realm of musicology, words cannot be but a very poor attempt at expressing oneself … and congratulations for succeeding with the Sessions session, Judith!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I know many people for whom music is the sacred medium —
      I do enjoy music very much. But words — words! — are the sacred medium for me!
      In our French conversation group last week the topic was, What book would you bring along if you were to be stranded on a desert island.
      I chose the Merriam-Webster dictionary (with a magnifying glass). All the stories in the world are in it, the words just need to be put in the correct order.

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      • tms says:

        Judith, I really like the idea of bringing a dictionary (until I read your lines, I thought I’d bring Wolfram’s PARZIVAL because there are so many stories in there).
        By the way, music is not the sacred medium for me – just so different … incommensurable with language, as are pictures, I think. Trying to see the media in their own rights seems to make it all the more difficult to translate from one to another. Not that I think we should not try – but I, for my part, want to remember it’s some kind of compromise.
        That seems to be something blogging has taught me. But maybe I’ve yet got to learn more…

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          What a timely comment for me!
          Makes me realize that in the intense contrast of words and music engendered by my Music for Mourning class — I’ve forgot all about the third aspect, images!
          Which is actually, for me, the sacred medium in competition with words.
          For a long long time I had the ambition to marry language and pictures, to reconcile them in the way Japanese calligraphy does, where visual images literally are the words. But there was no way, given the nature of Western letters, that I even approached this. So I gave up.
          For me having two blogs, even though it doesn’t play out 100%, is to give text precedence in one, and images (photography) in the other. But the ideal would still be their wedding.

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  2. CMSmith says:

    I’m glad you got the help you needed. I, unfortunately would have been of absolutely no help to you on this topic.

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  3. ♪♫♪♪♫♪ With a little help from your friends ♪♫♪♪♫♪ …

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  4. I was waiting to hear how that turned out! What a wonderful unfolding of a story that includes so many interesting connections!

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  5. Patti Kuche says:

    So happy for you Judith, and your class, that you were able to transform this piece through the power of your words. What an accompaniment!

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  6. 2e0mca says:

    I pleased it went really well Judith 🙂 Just sorry I wasn’t able to help in time 😦 Who is next on your liszt? 😉

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