Juliana Madrone

Musicologist | Professor | Cellist | Writer


I’ve been thinking about spring a lot lately; it’s impossible not to really, when the tulips are bursting forth with such force and the birds outside my window so thoroughly drown out the usual morning stirrings. Even the apple blossoms are valiantly hanging on against the last violent breaths of winter. How incongruous these images are with the crashing force of the season in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring! (You can hear a very polished version here,  especially the bit starting at about 3 ½ minutes.) Its thunderous earth-stomping suggests a radically different and altogether more wild vision of this season of growth. And then again, in the hands of Pablo Neruda spring embodies sexuality, as in his poem “Gardening Girl.”

Is spring the only season capable of containing such opposing characteristics – to be at once fragile, violent, and inherently sexy?

Musical Spaces

Photo from mierswa-kluska.de

Anyone who plays an instrument usually appreciates its beauty as a physical object, but this amazing photo takes us inside the incredible craftsmanship of a string instrument – literally to the place where all the magic happens. I’ve been revisiting the Thomas Tallis Lamentations; something about this awkward place between the end of bleak winter and the start of spring’s ridiculous optimism always sends me to the peace of some Renaissance singing.

And maybe it’s just because it has been on my mind, but I can’t help imagining the Lamentations reverberating around the inside of this wooden instrument, like some stolen sacred space, so far from reality. Maybe it’s the way the light shines down in the photo that suggests all things miraculous. Either way, take the pill, go down the rabbit hole with Alice, and check out some more of these amazing pictures here.  And thanks to the Berlin Philharmonic for an ad campaign with style.

Spring Classical Music Preview (L.A. Times)

from latimes.com

The Los Angeles Times does a great job with their Spring classical music preview: John Cage, John Adams anniversaries.  Really wish I was on the West Coast for the “Don Giovanni” with Frank Gehry designed sets.

Lomax Collection Goes Digital

NY times.com/Alan Lomax/Association for Cultural Equity

Great news for my friends in the ethno field, (and all of who care about great American music history): “The folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax was a prodigious collector of traditional music from all over the world and a tireless missionary for that cause. Long before the Internet existed, he envisioned a “global jukebox” to disseminate and analyze the material he had gathered during decades of fieldwork.” from the NY Times.  Read the whole article here