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John Gibbons holds a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Chicago. He teaches music appreciation classes at the Universality of Chicago’s Graham School and at Newberry Library. He also offers private piano lessons in the Chicago area.

Bonnie Gibbons is a web site developer and SEO with a background in classical music. She might be persuaded to teach a few cello lessons in the Chicago area.

"Buzzards Gotta Eat, Same as Worms"-Some Listening Suggestions for Carneval Season

For those snobbishly inclined persons (you know who you are) who won’t watch a perfectly good Western, the title quote refers to a scene from “The Outlaw Josie Wales” in which the titular character mocks the notion of burying some villains whom he and his pard have just (quite rightly) sent on a Missoura boatride to eternity. Well, reckon I got to doin’ some of that there thinkin’ bout this here blog business, and I’ll be be-danged with a horseshoe if’n lions don’t gotta eat, same as humans. Which brings us to Respighi’s Feste Romane, which is the first of several…


1. For those lily-livered weak-kneed aesthetes who can’t stand jolly noise and mayhem (Go Lions!) Be my guest; give “Games in the Circus Maximus” a miss. The finale of Feste Romane features a full scale caneval bacchanalia complete with tarantella. 

2. Better yet, if you need to satiate the all-too-common malady of “Jonesing for Respighi”, why not try his masterpiece, the Trittico Bottecelliano? Carneval is at least partly about love, and Venus is the Goddess of love. “The Birth of Venus Rising from the Sea” is the best thing Respighi ever did. It’s the best thing Botticelli ever did. Get a load of the visage on that painted lady! Ooh-la-la!

3. Now that hopefully I’ve offended the snobs, the devout, and the Self-Appointed-Guardians For Defending-Respect-For-Great-Art, its time to offend somebody else. Let’s see. Carneval is derived from the word for “flesh”, non?  Who knows this topic better than the French!  This one’s for the gentlemen, although the gentleman who wrote the piece was guided by different  impulses.  Messieurs!  c’est tres  bon! Ici, Poulenc’s Mammelles de Tiresias, s’il vous plait!

4. Want some tasteless vulgarity? Give Bourbon street a pass, and try Orff’s inimitable Carmina Burana. It has gluttony, drunkeness, sex and appallingly bad music, the worst vice of all.

5. Yep, those Carneval overtures need to be mentioned. Go ahead and listen to Dvorak’s piece, it’s charming and vivacious; approximately as good as Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italian, although I’d rather have carpaccio Italian! As for Berlioz, cut out the middle man. Forget Roman Carneval overture and spend your time with the real McCoy, the wonderful opera Benvenuto Cellini.

6. Anything Venetian will do you just fine for Carneval, except Vivaldi. How many times do I have to keep telling you that! And as for you, you striped shirted, straw hatted gondoliers! Stop ferrying tourists to Vivaldi concerts! Nevertheless, Venice is the Carneval capital. Go ahead and listen to La Gioconda, see if I care. I Due Foscari? Getting warmer. Simon Boccanegra? That’s Genoa, you! Tales  of Hoffmann? Warmer still! Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Ete with its lagoon song? Bingo!

"Courage has grown so tired, and longing so great."

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