The Little Lost and Forgotten Canon That Could

During the drive in to work today I heard one of my favorite Baroque music pieces, albeit not in performed as originally written or arranged.  A piece of music history that lay forgotten for centuries and only a single original manuscript copy survives to this day.  Rediscovered in the early 20th century, it’s popularity remains undimmed nearly another century later.  I’m speaking of Pachelbel‘s Canon.

The version I heard this morning via KLOVE had been massaged by the Trans Siberian Orchestra and transformed into a ‘Christmas Canon Rock.’

I can’t explain my reaction to this music.  Just three notes into this song and my chest tightens, I have trouble breathing and my eyes tear up.  No wonder this piece is wildly popular at weddings.  And it doesn’t matter what form or genre morphs this music.  The original genius and simple beauty always shines through.

My tiny bit of research this morning yielded an entire site devoted to this piece of music and how often it shows up in modern music.  Admittedly, the chord progression contained in the Canon in D is very common (I -V-vi-iii-IV-I-ii-V).  A few of the modern songs that caught my eye were:

  • “Cryin” by Aerosmith
  • “Let It Be” by the Beatles
  • “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister
  • “With or Without You” by U2

And I’m glad I clicked on the videos link there or I would have never watched this comedian’s rant on his cross to bear in Pachelbel’s Canon in D:


While I enjoyed TSO’s ‘Christmas Canon Rock’ version, I think, at the end of the day, what really puts a smile on my face and a zing in my spring, would be the ‘Ultimate Canon Rock’ as seen here:


Rock On Johann!

Music to My Ears

I am thankful for my sense to hearing, and specifically music, which will be the focus of the fifteenth day of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness.’

At age five, I started taking piano lessons from a close neighbor (close being a relative term out in the wilds of northwestern Leavenworth County).  Reading music came to me just about as easily as reading words.  Oddly (because I love mathematics), my only long-standing issue is my (un)willingness to count out a song in my head so that I get the rhythm and tempo correct.  I didn’t spend much time in a band environment (only played flute for two years before middle school), so I rely heavily upon a percussionist if I play and/or sing in a praise band.  And my audio memory of how a song should sound.  Yes, I’m lazy.  Probably why I’m not a professional musician.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a hundred times, or more likely, a thousand times better musician than I will ever be.  He has impeccable timing and near perfect pitch.  He has the patience and technical skills to practice a piece to perfection.

Rachelle posing as a diva a couple of years ago

My daughter inherited most if not all of her musical ability and talent from him (I can still play piano better than her, but she knows more music theory than I’ll ever understand).

Rachelle started singing about the same time she learned to talk.  She surpassed my measly vocal abilities way back in early high school.  Along the way, she learned how to play violin, guitar, saxophone and piano.  However, her voice is her most finely honed instrument.  As she approaches her final semester as an under graduate at UNT’s College of Music, I look forward to attending her senior recital, which will include all of the following songs Rachelle recently recorded for her graduate school auditions (click on the song title link, then click on the play button):

The Nurse’s Song by Benjamin Britten
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Smanie implacabili from Cosi fan tutte by Mozart
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, piano

Ah scostati!
Paventa il tristo effeto
d’un disperato affeto!
Chiudi quelle finestre
Odio la luce, odio l’aria, che spiro

Odio me stessa!
Chi schernisce il mio duol,
Chi mi consola?
Deh fuggi, per pietà, fuggi,
Lasciami sola.

Smanie implacabili, che m’agitate
Dentro quest’anima più non cessate,
Finchè l’angoscia mi fa morir.
Esempio misero d’amor funesto,
Darò all’Eumenidi se viva resto
Col suno orrible de’ miei sospir.

English Translation:

Ah, move away!
Fear the sad effect
of a desperate affection!
Shut those windows,
I hate the light, I hate the air that I breathe

I hate myself!
Who mocks my pain,
Who will console me?
Oh, leave, for pity’s sake, leave,
Leave me alone.

Implacable restlessness, that disturbs me
Inside this soul, doesn’t cease,
Until it makes me die.
A miserable example of fateful love
I will give to the Furies, if I live,
With the horrible sound of my sighs.


Auf dem Kirchhofe by Johannes Brahms
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Auf dem Kirchhofe

Der Tag ging regenschwer und sturmbewegt,
Ich war an manch vergessenem Grab gewesen,
Verwittert Stein und Kreuz, die Kränze alt,
Die Namen überwachsen, kaum zu lesen.

Der Tag ging sturmbewegt und regenschwer,
Auf allen Gräbern fror das Wort: Gewesen.
Wie sturmestot die Särge schlummerten,
Auf allen Gräbern taute still: Genesen.

English Translation:

In the churchyard

The day was heavy with rain and disturbed by storms;
I was walking among many forgotten graves,
with weathered stones and crosses, the wreaths old,
the names washed away, hardly to be read.

The day was disturbed by storms and heavy with rain;
on every grave froze the words “we were.”
The coffins slumbered calmly like the eye of a storm,
and on every grave melted quietly the words: “we were healed.”

Les Berceaux by Gabriel Faure
Rachelle Moss, Mezzo Soprano
Violetta Zharkova, Piano

Les berceaux

Le long du Quai, les grands vaisseaux,
Que la houle incline en silence,
Ne prennent pas garde aux berceaux,
Que la main des femmes balance.

Mais viendra le jour des adieux,
Car il faut que les femmes pleurent,
Et que les hommes curieux
Tentent les horizons qui leurrent!

Et ce jour-là les grands vaisseaux,
Fuyant le port qui diminue,
Sentent leur masse retenue
Par l’âme des lointains berceaux.

English Translation:


Along the quay, the great ships,
that ride the swell in silence,
take no notice of the cradles.
that the hands of the women rock.

But the day of farewells will come,
when the women must weep,
and curious men are tempted
towards the horizons that lure them!

And that day the great ships,
sailing away from the diminishing port,
feel their bulk held back
by the spirits of the distant cradles.

Singing, Snowing, Zinging, Knowing

My least favorite forecast includes ‘wintry mix’ concatenated with ‘winter storm warning’ culminating in excruciating commute times.  My vanpool dodged that bullet (barely) on the return trip home last night, for which I am very grateful.  It allowed me to watch and listen to my daughter’s first concert of the year, as a member of the Chamber Choir at the UNT College of Music.   While she is also a member of the Collegium Singers, she enjoys the challenge of increasing her repertoire in those two choirs and in her vocal performance studies individually as well.  Musicology is her primary focus as an undergraduate for the next year or so.   Living eight or ten hours north (by automobile) from her concerts would be torture if it weren’t for the appeasement offered by the College’s live streaming of most of the concerts.

Even though the concert only lasted thirty minutes, Terry and I enjoyed hearing Rachelle’s voice across the aether of cyberspace.

Immediately prior to the concert, while I shook off the last dregs of the work day, Terry tried a new recipe for stuffed tomatoes, which we barely got in the oven before the singing started.  Twenty minutes later we sampled his latest savory culinary comeuppance.  Delicious!

We opened the front door to near white out conditions.  We couldn’t see across our court to the houses on the opposite side.  Thick snow blanketed the steps and driveway, even though just ninety minutes prior there had been less than a half inch of icy, slushy, sleety mess.  We promptly closed the door and return to our regularly scheduled DVR programming.

Snow Accumulation in just 90 minutes Thursday evening
Snow Accumulation in just 90 minutes Thursday evening

Due to some systems maintenance performed overnight, I overslept by thirty minutes, awaking at 5:30 a.m.  Barely stopping to slap on some socks, I jammed on my boots, grabbed my coat and gloves and opened the garage door to an even thicker blanket of snow.  And while it looked fluffy and airy, it proved to be heavy and wet.  I began to doubt my ability to shovel just half the driveway to the street in the thirty minutes before I needed to dress for work.  My white knight came to my rescue and helped vanquish the snow dragon.   He even volunteered to do the steps while I finished my morning ablutions.

Terry drove me the two miles north to the Hallmark plant in Leavenworth so I could catch my ride to work.  As we were passing by the IHOP in Lansing, I commented that we should have had breakfast when I was awake between two and four o’clock earlier this morning.  Being such a considerate husband, he drove in a circle around the van chanting ‘na na’ at me because he planned to stop at said restaurant for breakfast on the return trip home.  True to his taunting, we saw him parked front and center at the IHOP as we headed south on K-7/US-73 (aka as Main Street in Lansing).

Our commute to Kansas City’s Midtown and Plaza regions remained uneventful, if a bit slow.  We observed several cars languishing in the medians and ditches, but we deigned to join them.  And for once, I made it to work when some of my team members decided to turn around a go home due to the icy road conditions in their part of the metro area.

Finally, and in closing, in perusing the blogs I follow as part of my morning tea sipping ritual, Modesitt posted a rebuttal to his previous blog (from earlier this week).  The earlier post, entitled ‘The Problem of Truth/Proof” generated several comments (a couple of which were mine), which then spurred Mr. Modesitt’s posting this morning, entitled “True” Knowledge is Not an Enemy of Faith.  I will monitor this blog throughout the day to follow the next wave of comments, but will probably refrain from commenting myself.

May you all have a restful and peaceful weekend!