The television is a device that has involved rapidly in comparison with other devices in our home. There are dozens of modern products offered to customers each year; many products are well – known before noticed publicly on a large scale. Television audio has been under high stress to update their new products to the customer through times. Best Bluetooth earbuds or wireless headphones for TV are very different in quality and cost. This makes choosing a suitable headphone for TV is really a task of a challenge for customers to meet the TV audio demands. This list below will help you narrow the range of headphone products that are available on the market in order to find your own wireless headphones.

Best solution for TV headphones

Because of the busy life, most people in this society do not have much free time to go out, they just want to stay at home and enjoy some favorite shows on television. They are busy all day, and after a hard working day, they have very little spare time mostly during the night, the only option for entertainment for them is staying at home, go to their bed, turn on their TV and enjoy some programs. This happens very frequently for people having a full-time job in companies. Now, the only option left for you is to either sleep quietly or use a wireless headphone, so that you can enjoy your favorite show comfortably in your bed. So which are the best headphones in the market? No one can answer it correctly. Therefore, understand this situation, manufacturers offer to people the best wireless headphones for TV to meet the demands of the customers.

Why Go Wireless?

Wireless headphones were first produced with very terrible quality of sound. However, with quick development of technology, wireless headphones today have the ability of insolating external sound; this makes the sound outcome clearer and transmits through a larger space. You can feel free to use wireless headphone in anywhere and anytime to listen to music from an iPod or a smartphone or watch movies at night without disrupting other people from their sleeps.

You will need a device that plugs into the sound source. This device allows you hear audio output through your headphones. After activating the wireless headphones, the connection between your device and recorded source activated. You will be able to enjoy all favorite songs, audios and videos.

Wireless headphones for TV

Turning up the volume louder and enjoy TV shows or your favorite music concerts seems not to be a realistic idea, especially when you are living under the same roof with someone else such as your friends or your family. This may affect other members of the house and even your neighbors so that you cannot feel at ease to listen to what you like so loud. In this situation, you definitely need a pair of headphone for your own. The ideal headphone for television will be very necessary in this case, you will find it very simple to use it so as not to make people surrounding feel annoying.

There is a variety of headphones in different styles, qualities and prices. You will probably find it hard to decide what to buy on the electronic market. In this article, we will give you all information, particularly some explanations of some important features that we need to consider when buying a wireless headphone. This will help you have the most reasonable choices for your situation.

What to consider when buying A Wireless Headphone

Before looking into the various types of headphones, you must consider some of the important aspects that you might need. Evaluating before buying any product is the best method to make sure that you are investing your money in a right way. Therefore, we will give you a closer look about some features of wireless headphones before purchasing any of them for your own.

  1. Battery Life

The first thing in the list is battery life. As these headphones are wireless, they have to run on the batteries so that they can be smoothly operated. If the headphone is in high quality, it can easily give a battery backup of 30 hours or even more. After that amount of time, the batteries can be recharged easily. However, if the headphone is not good according to the price, you can just get the battery backup for around 20 to 25 hours.

  1. Sound Quality

If we are purchasing a set of wireless headphones, the sound quality is definitely the aspect you should put into consideration. In particularly, in some cases, if you do not pay attention when choosing the products, there are chances that you may experience the interference from other devices. It can coincidently improve the quality of sound outcome from your headphone thereby spoiling your listening experience.

wireless headphones

  1. Transmission Range

Another important feature that you must consider while buying the wireless headphones is transmission range. In case that your television might be located very far away from your sitting position, transmission range is an important factor to consider. For wireless technology, RF-wireless and infrared are popular techniques that electronic manufactures tend to use.

Some tips to choose music for studying

There are many different ways for studying which we need to find out. However, it is right when the studying result has the most effective. Many people choose to study in a quite condition without noise from the outside. But some people will become to concentrate more if they listen to the classical music. When they have this habit they are willing to invest the best record players. In fact, listening to music on the turntable with a high quality will get you more excited. At this time, you can focus on your lesson and remember better. That is the reason why selecting music for studying is very important which you should to know. Now, I will have a brief writing to introduce some tips to select music for studying. I hope you this is very useful information for those who love music and want to apply music in learning.

Tip 1: Choosing the Classical Music

Although there are many types of music for your choice the classical music is considered the best selection. In fact, many people realized the great influence when they listened to the songs of the classical music. Thus, you can choose some famous songs from the classical music. I am sure that you will not feel boring when you start your lesson. Even, you will remember more quickly.

 Tip 2: Trying to the Mozart Effect

According to the comments of many people who like to listen to music for studying, they often choose the songs of Mozart. He had a big contribution to the classical music of the world. No one does not know the works of Mozart. Many studies have shown some evidence that Mozart can improve the mental performance. They called this the Mozart Effect. Therefore, if you select music for studying you should not forget the Mozart Effect, right!

Tip 3: Listening to Natural Sounds

Besides, choosing some songs of the classical music during learning, you can listen to sounds of nature. There are the plenty of natural sounds such as rain, waves, and animals. Actually, all of these sounds are not the real music but they are the sounds for relaxing. So, you will feel like that you are in another world. At this time, your mind and your soul will become more comfortable and more concentration.

Tip 4: Noting the Volume

Selecting the moderate level when listening to music for studying

Many people think that it is not good to listen to music during studying because music often applies in entertainment only. Thus, you must pay attention to its volume. Here are some things to using the volume which you need to note:

  • You are studying not relaxing so you should choose the volume of the sound which it is at a moderate level. Even, it is better to have the lower as possible;
  • In addition, your purpose to use the music in this case is to study. Therefore, you have to keep your music in the background. When you complete the studying you can adjust it higher a little.

Tip 5: Having an Available Playlist

To save your time for your studying session, you should create an available playlist. Normally, they include all favorite songs. This is very convenient for you when you want to change new songs. Moreover, your studying still concentrates in the high level without moving another work.

Tip 6: Should Not Listen to Music on the Radio

If you are a fan to listen to music on the radio you should just listen to it when you have a free time. Its purpose is just for relaxing. You should not listen to music on the radio when you are studying an important problem. Because the dialogue of the presenter and ads will make you can not focus. It means that you can completely control your music during learning.

 Tip 7: Enjoying Music before Going to Bed

It is a good idea to listen to music before going to bed. Also, before an important exam, you must worry too much. You should choose the best favorite songs and listen to them. Surely, at this time, music can help you fall asleep easily. You will have a comfortable mind tomorrow.

Tip 8: How to Select the Songs

Although listening to music also brings a lot of benefits for your studying you should not spend a lot of hours for choosing the songs. You have to remember that your studying is extremely important. Thus, you must invest your time to focus on it. In the free time, you can spend your time to choose the songs and you should consider as your entertainment.

In short, nowadays many people become very excited to listen to music while they are studying. Its result is very surprising. So listening to music becomes the good habit of a lot of people. However, it is very important to listen in the right way and brings the high effect in studying. Through 8 tips above, I believe that you will know how to select music for your studying. On the other hands, I hope that this writing is the good information for your life.

headphones

You might have heard the concept of new headphone “burn – in” somewhere. You might wonder what it is and how can it possibly make your headphones better. Basically burn – in is an action we must do before using the headphone for any longer uses to optimize the sound quality of the product. In this article, we will focus on how to burn – in and ways to achieve the best results. This might sounds a little weird to you, but once you want to challenge yourself to be an audiophile, burn – in is one of the most basic techniques that every player needs. Even if you can buy the best workout headphones, it would not be perfect without burnt – in. That’s why you need to follow this article from the beginning till the last word. Let’s get started!

WHAT IS BURN – IN AND WHY DOES IT IMPORTANT?

Burn – in refers to a technique that involves plugging in your brand new headphone to any source of music and let the headphone operate by continuingly play lists of music or specialized sounds only used for burn – in processes in an enough amount of time. This action gives the headphone a golden chance to quickly achieve the best working condition.

Unpacking for the first time, the ear pads of every headphone are still rough and hard so that the sound makes a rough and less smooth feeling in comparison to any other types of headphones that are used for an enough amount of time. Therefore “burn – in” is just like a kind of practice for new product in order to soften the ear pads, make them oscillate better and react quicker to sound files that give the owners better music listen experiences. You can understand this in a simple way like this: after buying a new headphone, if the product is not as satisfied as the trial model then a properly burn – in process will help you to improve the sound quality.

Till now no one has any evidences about improved sound quality of new buy headphones after burn – in and how does it do that. Somebody suppose that burn – in is the best and quickest way to allow the headphones to reach its best state that are designed by manufacturers while others claim that it’s such a waste of time doing the burn – in process. You just need to listen to music normally and don’t have to care about burning – in or not.

No matter how you burn – in your headphones or no need to do it, the final target is to optimize the sound productivity of your headphone and how to make it sound better to you. This is quite hard to find out because of many factors deciding it for example one’s sound sensing. Our advice for this is that if you have time and a little condition, you can try burning – in your headphone and taste the differences, or else if you can’t wait for it to be burnt – in because the process is quite long, you can totally pass it and use it right away according to your demands.

WAYS TO BURN – IN YOUR HEADPHONES

As mentioned above, burn – in process basically is the action of repeating works on an hourly basis for headphones by playing sound files over and over so as to achieve the desired results. There are 3 ways of burn – in new headphones and each method has its advantages and disadvantages, you can see all 3 of them and consider the best one:

  • Natural burn – in
  • Burn – in using specialized burn – in software
  • Burn – in using unique sound files.

Of course this is just a brief introduction about burn – in for new headphones. I’m sure that we still have lots of things to find out together in the future, especially when you are the one who has a deep passion on sound devices such as speakers, headphones… In the next article, I will show you more and exactly how to do each type of burn – in and explain to you how each process take effects on your headphones, so that you can consider pros and cons of each one.

In the technological life, there are a variety of models of technology, which were and are being utilized all around the world. In particular, it wants to mention to the best in-ear headphones. It can say that the consumers will have plenty of options when utilizing this type of headphones. They do only not spend for the youth.

The Advantages of Utilizing In-Ear Headphones

in-ear headphones

Benefits to Work

A large number of headphones are utilized by the youth for the purpose of listening to music on the MP3, iPad, or iPod. These headphones can bring to many benefits to students when they join online classes. Therefore, the concentration on the lessons will be more.

For business people, they utilize them in order to record the meetings, which were organized. The best in-ear headphones will be able to prevent the external sound. Like that, people may hear better that do not need to worry about the noise.

It is noticed that this type of headphones may also be discreet. The majority of people will not be easy to see your ear. Even, the wires come with the headphones can also be hidden. This one is great for those who are moving on the bus or other public transportation. On the other hand, you are able to use this pair of headphones at a variety of places. In fact, it does not limit the place that you utilize the headphones.

Beyond that, it is beneficial so as to enjoy the music that is not annoyed by the outside sound and people around. Frequently, most of the people want to be ensured that they will have a value headphones with the good sound quality, which comes with. This is considered as the essential factor.

With this model of headphones, you can plug in any devices, which have supported the headphone jack such as the computer, laptop, MP3 player, and so on. Consequently, people are allowed utilizing these headphones that do not disturb anyone.

Plenty of Options

Another thing is to have a great number of colors in order to be able to be selected. In addition, every brand is going to have various available colors in order that customers can select. As a whole, the majority of people often chooses the simple pairs like white or black.

in-ear headphones 2

Don’t mistake! Although these headphones only have the tiny speakers, it does not mean that their sound is a low quality. Even, in comparison with the on-ear type of headphones, the sound of the in-ear headphones are good or better anymore. Of course, the price will be different depending on the kind and the brand. Moreover, the price will be ranged based on the features. Every type of model has some ones that have owned the quality better than others. Everybody ought to choose the headphones with the outstanding features and the affordable price.

The Great Gift

If you are looking a gift for your relatives or friends, a pair of in-ear headphones will be a perfect choice. It is a common product that everyone can utilize it for the majority of technological devices. Besides, users can carry anywhere because of its portable.

With this set of headphones, you will have many selections. Therefore, to choose to present, you will be able to compare and select the best one. Really, there are countless options for everybody. Since there are a great number choices, you need to consider carefully before buying one. If you want to purchase the best in-ear headphones, the need, preference and work will be the factors in deciding to buy.

Most people enjoy listing to music with the high-quality sound. This one depends on either plugging into or the speakers that the headphones provide. In fact, the headphones are a great gift for both students and businessmen.

Conclusion

With the majority of people, the headphones can bring many benefits. In particular, it is mentioning for the best in-ear headphones. They are compact and portable when utilizing.

When anyone is finding the perfect sound to listen to music, the best headphones and others help them to get this one, which will be the top of finding. With some above benefits, you will not disappointed when choosing to buy one.

We all love music, that’s the undeniable truth. We love listening to all kind of music, depending or the characteristic and the mood; there would be some genres that follow you through times. To me, I love vintage style for everything including music. I love listening to jazz and blue from the record player and LPs. I have read many record player reviews and bought the best one for me, as well as other musical instruments and music player devices. Now if you have a music room like me, you might want to read my article below to see what we can do to make it the most enchanting room in your entire house. Let’s find out, shall we?

music room

  1. Decide the position of the room

The first thing you have to consider is the position to place your music room. The room must be the place where you can let go of your daily pressures and also all the things that make you stressful. Besides, when you get into music room, this would be just a heaven for music and relaxation. In fact, your room could be in 2 main positions:

If you want to play and listen to music on everyday morning, place it near the front of your house and make big windows. You can feel the music flowing inside you can the sunlight goes through you. That would be the best start for your day.

However, if you are a person that just wants to play music alone, then the music room next to the living room is not a bad idea at all. Sometimes when your guests come, you can show them your room and your collection as well. That would be such an honor to share the feeling with your friends and relative.

  1. What do you need and want for your music room?

I have heard many people say that music rooms are just for luxury houses and rich people. They just want to show off that they have much money and they can buy whatever they want, no matter how expensive and how useless the instruments are.

That’s not true at all. Anyone can have a music room in his/her house. And please remember this: the music room is not the show room for exhibitions. It’s the space that is used to relax and be one with the melodies. Therefore, the room should be built and decorated carefully that the owner and the guests can feel entertaining and want to listen to a song. Do not decorate it too much and place too much musical instruments on shelves. That would turn the room into an exhibition room.

The collections are one of the most essential parts of the music room. However, you don’t need to try too hard on collecting them. After all, it is just a hobby to help you feel relieved, so don’t worry if your treasures are not flawless, it’s how collections are.

  1. What should I need for music room?

Firstly, the style of the room must be decided. Do you like ballads? Are you an introvert person? Do you like any rock bands or some rock songs? Answering those questions could help you choose the best music room theme you want. To me, I like vintage style and old songs very much, so I decided to make my own retro music room.

music system

You need to focus not only on the music system but also the decoration and furniture inside your music room. The wallpaper is one of the parts you should take care of carefully from the color, patterns to the pictures. All of them have to be perfect so that you can feel yourself at your own heaven.

There would be so much more to work with in order to create your music room, but once you finish, it would be worthy. Owning a music room in your house is one of the most wonderful things for you and your family. It can be the place for you to create some good music, or just relax moments after hard working hours. If you need anything to purchase, please check out our website, we will help you as much as possible. Your problem can be solved easily with us. Thank you for reading this post, see you next time!

Everyone dreams of the perfect kitchen. Cabinets made from the best materials, stainless steel appliances that take the breath away and enough space for the entire family to gather around while you prepare their favorite dishes and meals. Although many don’t realize it, small kitchen appliances can also make your kitchen more beautiful and, more importantly, more functional.

kitchen appliances

Small kitchen appliances make life in the kitchen a lot easier. Whether you live alone, in a couple or an entire family, these small appliances can complement your kitchen and cooking style. Even the best chefs in the world rely on slow cookers, microwaves, toasters and pressure cookers. They make life in the kitchen easier for everyone. You can prepare all kinds of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Head to the local shop or perform a quick research online looking for microwave, slow cooker, toaster or pressure cooker reviews.

Main Function of Small Kitchen Appliances

Depending on your needs and time available for preparing a meal there are all kinds of small kitchen appliances that can come to your rescue. Some of you lead busy lives which limits the time for cooking, while others have more time to dedicate to preparing the most delicious meals.

However, there is another side of the story. You may have already realized the importance of these kitchen accessories and have already ended up purchasing too many of them. This can lead to a storage issue, since no matter how tiny they are, they still take up some space. And having too many takes up a lot more storage space.

How to Decide Which Ones to Buy

That being said, it is crucial that you learn to compromise. You should be aware of your cooking needs in order to purchase only the most necessary appliances you require.

Furthermore, depending on the time of year and what sort of seasonal food you prepare, there are some small appliances more suitable for the given situation than others. Let’s take a look at the list of small appliances experts suggest you have by your side in the kitchen:

  • If you don’t want your food to be greasy, get an Air Fryer.
  • If your time in the kitchen is limited, you should look for a Slow Cooker. They do cook food really slowly, as the name itself implies, but what this means is that you can simply leave your meal to prepare with them while you do run other daily chores without having to stand over it all the time. When you are done with other obligations, the food in the slow cooker will be done.
  • If you prepare a lot of fried food, such as chips of chicken wings you need a Deep Fryer.
  • If you are more into grilled meat and can’t do it outside due to whatever reason, get an Electric Grill.
  • If you take pleasure in preparing customized sauces, dressings and salsa getting a Food Processor is absolutely essential.
  • If you like preparing healthy fruit or vegetable smoothies you will need a Blender or a Juicer.
  • If you often end up preparing extra food and rely on leftovers from the day before a Microwave is the ideal solution.
  • If you, again, are short on time, but you need a meal prepared quickly, getting a Pressure Cooker is a very good idea. Pressure cookers can prepare almost every sort of meals very fast, utilizing pressure and steam. They can be found in a stand-alone electric version as well.
  • If you take pleasure in preparing and eating rice or sushi, get a Rice Cooker. It does all the work itself.
  • If you or your kids like waffles (and who doesn’t, really) you best invest in a Waffle Iron.
  • If you depend on caffeine, or simply enjoy drinking coffee frequently, don’t forget the Espresso Machine. It can prepare the perfect espresso for you in a second.

Shopping provides a lot of fun for most people. Whether you choose to do it online or go to a local store yourself, buying appropriate small appliances for your kitchen will undoubtedly make your life easier. Look for quality materials and well-known brands that fit your budgets, and choose carefully. You don’t buy these every day.

As wig approach the year 2000, it becomes ever clearer that the number of twentieth-century musical masterpieces is remarkably small, compared either with the number of contemporary literary or artistic ones or with the number of musical masterpieces produced in the eighteenth or the nineteenth century. High on the list of these few masterpieces stands the opera Wozzeck, by the Viennese composer Alban Berg (1885-1935). Though it is mainly atonal, an avowedly avant-garde work in which no apparent concessions are made to popular taste, its 1925 Berlin premiere was an immediate popular (as well as critical) success, and was quickly followed by equally successful productions in Prague (1926) and Leningrad (1927). The American premiere, conducted by Leopold Stokowski and with sets by Robert Edmond Jones, took place in 1931. Wozzeck had had twenty-seven separate productions by the end of 1932, a month before the Nazis came to power and banned it and other “decadent” works; by the end of 1936, the total number of performances had risen to 166; in 1942, there was even a performance in Rome, over strong Nazi protest. Since the end of the war, Wozzeck has been performed in most major opera houses, and is now firmly established in the permanent repertoire.

musical

The pioneers of 1951

For a formidably difficult work, Wozzeck has been recorded fairly often. Moreover, all the recordings are well worth hearing. Dmitri Mitropoulos’s pioneering 1951 version (until recently, available on Odyssey set Y2 33126, but now, unfortunately, out of print) is the one that most successfully projects the work’s haunted, nightmarish atmosphere. The recorded sound lacks definition, and the orchestral playing is occasionally haphazard, but Mack Harrell and Eileen Farrell are superb as Wozzeck and his mistress, Marie, and Joseph Mordino’s Captain and Ralph Herbert’s Doctor are masterpieces of grotesque caricature, unsurpassed on later recordings. Karl Bohm’s 1965 version (Deutsche Grammophon 2707 023) is somewhat less exciting dramatically, but it has superb playing by the Berlin Philharmonic and two excellent principals in Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Evelyn Lear. Pierre Boulez’s 1966 Paris Opera performance (CBS M2 30852) has a less distinguished east, but Boulez renders Berg’s complex orchestral textures with unique clarity and transparency. (There is also a fine 1953 broadcast performance of three excerpts from Wozzeck, conducted by Erich Klieber, who conducted the opera’s premiere, on Fonit Cetra DOC 3; this important record, which also contains an equally fine 1945 broadcast performance of the Berg Violin Concerto by the Hungarian-born Joseph Szigeti, may be ordered from IBR Classics, 40-11 24th Street, Long Island City, New York 10111.)

Several Current Recording

Now there is a fourth recording, by Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Vienna Philharmonic, with Eberhard Waechter and Anja Silja in the principal roles (London LDR 72007). The flawless orchestral playing is captured with breathtaking fidelity by the new digital recording process, and the balance between singers and orchestra is better main tained than on any of the previous versions. But the performance is a little tame and careful, standing at the opposite end of the spectrum from the inspired madness of Mitropoulos’s reading.

Waechter sings well but is rather impersonal, not as tormented and desperate as Wozzeck ought to be. Silja, too, sings beautifully and accurately, but she rarely stops sounding like an opera singer long enough to become fully involved in her role and in the drama. In her scenes with Waechter, they often seem to be standing at arm’s length from each other, and at the end of Act I, when she first refuses and then allows herself to be seduced by the Drum-Major, there is none of the violent reversal of feeling so memorably projected by Farrell and Lear.

Wozzeck – The Talented Captain

Wozzeck

Similarly with the minor characters, in the opening scene, for example, the Captain, whom Wozzeck is shaving, keeps badgering him, telling him to go more slowly, to take life easy (“Langsam, Wozzeck, langsam!”). It is obvious, however, from what the Captain says and from the erratic, angular contours of his vocal line, that he himself is anything but easygoing. He is, in fact, fearful and obsessed with death, as we are later to see clearly in his long scene with the equally crazy Doctor. Yet Heinz Zednik’s Captain seems perfectly sane and not even especially cruel as he taunts Wozzeck and lectures him about having an illegitimate child. As the Doctor, Alexander Malta is powerful and full-voiced, but he, too, plays it straight, never sounding really possessed by thoughts of the immortality he imagines he will gain through the dietary experiments he is performing on Wozzeck.

Despite its comparative tameness, the performance has an unobtrusive, cumulative power that is very impressive. The large, panoramic scenes, especially the ones in the inn and the tavern, are more effective than the intimate, conversational ones. Yet this Wozzeck, its many virtues aside, fails to re-create the crazed world that Berg so perfectly imagined.

Why Was Wozzeck So Much More Immediately Intelligible To Audiences?

More than most avant-garde musical works of the 1920s, and why has it demonstrated so much more staying power than they have done? Avant-garde apologists, actually somewhat embarrassed by the opera’s popularity, have often chalked it up to the superficial “excitement” of the play Berg used, only slightly altered, as his text. And Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck is undeniably exciting. Moreover, though it was written in 1836 by the amazing Buchner, who died the following year at the age of twenty-three, it reads almost as if it might have been written eighty or ninety years later. The poor army barber Woyzeck-hounded and victimized by the Captain and the Doctor, betrayed by the pathetic, capricious Marie, subject to terrifying visions he can neither understand nor control–is not only an unforgettable character; he is also a character who fits perfectly into the world of 1920s expressionist drama. Equally unforgettable are the scenes that make up the final, inevitable catastrophe: Woyzeck’s murder of Marie, which he commits as though entranced by the blood-red moon rising in the sky; his guilty, compulsive return to the pond beside which he stabbed her and his drowning as he walks farther and farther out into the water, searching for the incriminating knife; and the chilling, poignant last scene, in which a group of slightly older children who have found Marie’s body try to make her child understand that his mother is dead, while he just keeps riding his hobby-horse, repeating “Hipp, hopp! Hipp, hopp!”

But Buchner’s drama was also set by another composer of the 1920s, Manfred Gurlitt. Given its premiere only a few months after Berg’s opera, Gurlitt’s had a brief success, but quickly sank without a trace. The inescapable conclusion is that the success of Wozzeck, like that of all great operas, is based primarily on its music.

Somethings Are Not the Same What People Know

No one who knows the opera can read the drama without recalling vividly the soft, slow, muted-trombone arpeggios that catch the image of the moon rising over the pond, or the slithering upward chromatic scales in winds and strings as Wozzeck drowns, or the eerie quiet of the very last bars. Moreover, it was Berg who decided to cut Buchner’s final lines, in which a policeman comments on the murder, and end with the child’s pathetic, uncomprehending words. More important, Berg inserted between the drowning and the final scene a powerful orchestral elegy for Wozzeck. Though often criticized, by Stravinsky among others, as too explicit and too traditional in its musical substance, the elegy is a dramatic masterstroke: it releases at last, without the intrusion of words, which would have been crudely explicit at this point, all the feelings of pity and despair built up by Wozzeck’s tragedy. The sustained invention and dramatic rightness of Berg’s music give body and depth to Buchner’s somewhat fragmentary play; Berg not only overcomes the difficulties of the atonal idiom in which the music is cast but wonderfully exploits them, rendering the twisted and distorted nature of Wozzeck and the characters who surround him more effectively than would have been possible in a more traditional idiom. Most listeners, even relatively inexperienced ones who dislike (or think they dislike) modern music, have no trouble becoming immediately engaged and following the course of the elaborate score from beginning to end.

The World of Ulysses or the Waste Land or Kafka’s Stories, the World of Picasso or Matisse

To enter the world of Wozzeck is one of the great, central twentieth century aesthetic experiences, fully comparable to entering to these worlds. For a three-act opera, Wozzeck is very short: almost exactly an hour and a half, or about the length of a single act of a Wagner opera. In fact, one often has trouble remembering how short it is–so much drama, so much intensity and variety of feeling, so much wit and grotesquerie, are packed into its ninety minutes. Extraordinarily grand and imposing, it is also as pitilessly concise and economical as a Bach fugue. One may say of it what D. F. Tovey said of Haydn–that almost everything is unexpected yet nothing is difficult to follow. How did Berg manage it?

  • Certainly no listener has ever been particularly troubled by this question. Anyone who knows the opera well can point out many telling details like the ones I mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Moreover, there are many recurring motifs–snatches of folk songs, the little march associated with the Drum-Major and with Marie’s betrayal of Wozzeck, the four-note phrase that embodies Wozzeck’s impassioned outburst “Wir arme Leut’!” (“We poor people!”)–that help the listener to organize the music as he listens.
  • Yet it is always very satisfying to have one’s appreciation of a piece of music complemented, explained, and extended by systematic analysis; and until recently, the analysts have been of remarkably little help with Wozzeck. There are two related reasons for this failure.
  1. Berg pointed out in several articles that in arranging the twenty-six scenes of Buchner’s drama into the fifteen of the opera; he had employed a number of traditional musical forms. Each of the three acts contains five scenes.

Those of Act I are what Berg called “character pieces”: Suite, Rhapsody, Military march and lullaby, Passacaglia, and Andante affetuoso (quasi Rondo). Those of Act II constitute a “symphony”: Sonata-form movement, Fantasia and fugue, Largo, Scherzo, and Rondo con introduzione. Those of Act III, together with the orchestral elegy inserted between Scenes 4 and 5, are a series of “inventions”: on a theme, a note, a rhythm, a hexachord, a tonality, and a regular eighth-note movement. While these forms were evidently of help to Berg in the act of composition, they have only occasional relevance to the lis tener, who remains largely unaware of their presence. Berg himself repeatedly stressed their lack of relevance, yet many critics, beginning with his first biographer, his friend and pupil Willi Reich, eagerly seized upon them and made them central to their analyses of Wozzeck. Reich even arranged them into a convenient chart, very much like the one of the episodes of Ulysses that Joyce communicated to his friend and early apologist Stuart Gilbert. Like Joyce’s chart, Reich’s has proven to be a red herring, of little use to listeners and a distraction to analysts.

  1. The second reason for the failure of most analyses of Wozzeck stems from the fact that Berg, as a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, played an important part in what was once thought to have been the crucial development in twentieth-century music–the evolution and employment of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone method.

Convinced that the resources of tonality had been utterly exhausted by the post-Wagnerian chromaticism of the late nineteenth century, Schoenberg, followed closely by his two most important pupils, Berg and Anton von Webern, set about effecting what was often spoken of as “the liberation of the dissonance,” the freeing of music from any dependence upon a tonal center. The twelve-tone method, which completed this process by supposedly rendering all twelve notes of the chromatic scale of absolutely equal value within a given work, was thought by its enthusiastic supporters to be an achievement not only natural and fruitful but also historically inevitable, ordained by an iron determinism governed by the “laws” of music. Rene Leibowitz’s assertion, in his 1947 book Schoenberg and His School, that the music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern is “the only genuine and inevitable expression of the musical art of our time” is characteristic of this view. Now, Wozzeck is not a twelve-tone work. It belongs, rather, to what is often called the period of “free atonality,” which just preceded and overlapped Schoenberg’s development of the twelve-tone method in the early 1920s. Because twelve-tone propagandists such as Leibowitz and Josef Rufer viewed the period of free atonality as merely a necessary transitional stage, a way station on the road to the twelve-tone promised land, for them the most significant feature of Wozzeck was its anticipation of twelve-tone techniques. But such techniques, even when they are exclusively employed, are usually no more audible to the listener as organizing forces in the music than are the traditional forms Berg employed in Wozzeck.

The Man and His Music

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The First Book to move toward a more just and accurate analysis of the ways in which the music of Wozzeck actually creates its effects was Hans Redlich’s 1957 Alban Berg: The Man and His Music. Taking to task such “proselytizing apologists” as Leibowitz and Rufer for treating the three Viennese composers as “an artistic unity, with an indivisible community of aims and tendencies,” Redlich tried to view Berg’s music on its own terms rather than as part of a lockstep movement. Though Redlich, too, stressed twelve-tone anticipations in Wozzeck, he also called attention to Bergs use of Wagnerian leitmotifs and of quasi-tonal harmony, neither of which had been of much interest to the apologists.

In a 1975 biography, Alban Berg: The Man and the Work, Mosco Carner paid still closer attention to harmony in Wozzeck, and stated clearly that “Bergs great merit in Wozzeck was to have been the first to write a full-length opera in the atonal style, a style characterized by an extreme lability and randomness, but in which certain recurring melodic, harmonic and rhythmic configurations act as points of reference or as landmarks in the music.” To point out the “lability and randomness” to which atonal music is liable–a far cry from the old talk about “the liberation of the dissonance”!–and the resulting need for “points of reference” and “landmarks” that will do the work of those formerly supplied by tonality is to put the stress where it belongs: on the fact that our ways of hearing are still basically tonal, and that if a composer chooses to deprive his music (and his listener) of traditional tonal means of organization, he must somehow compensate for the loss so incurred–not by supplying the analyst with fancy schemes that make sense only on paper but by finding new ways to help the listener organize the music as he hears it. For the main problem with atonal music is not, as is so often charged, that it is “ugly”: much of it is, but so is much of Wagner and Mahler, and even some of late Beethoven. The main problem is precisely the absence from most atonal music of audible “points of reference” and “landmarks.” And the main job of the analyst of an atonal work is to locate these, if they exist, and to show how they function in their dramatic context.

Two books that perform this job quite satisfactorily for Wozzeck

George Perle’s the Operas of Alban Berg: Volume One / “Wozzeck” (1980) and Douglas Jarman’s the Music of Alban Berg (1979). Though both writers occasionally go over the mark into the inaudible, pointing out hexachords and intervallic cells that most listeners do not and cannot hear, both unearth and systematize a great deal that is audible and therefore illuminating. Moreover, both quite rightly (and very refreshingly) view the period of free atonality not as a mere transitional stage but rather as a time of unique opportunity and fruitful experimentation.

Perle gives an exhaustive catalogue of the leitmotifs in Wozzeck, and sensitively describes their use. Also, he very interestingly shows how Berg often gives a particular note–C-sharp/D-flat in the opening scene of the opera, for example–the priority and organizing force that establish it as a “tone center” without involving it in the elaborate hierarchical relations required to make it a true tonic or key note in the traditional sense. Finally, Perle discusses Berg’s use of characteristic scale fragments–for example, a five-note segment of the whole-tone scale with one added “odd” note–in many of the most important recurring themes of the opera.

Jarman is less interested than Perle in leitmotifs, but he accepts and complements Perle’s analysis of “tone centers” in Wozzeck. Jarman also illuminates Berg’s relation to the twelve-tone method. Berg, as Jarman shows, had a lifelong fondness for ciphers and numerological schemes, and his works are full of hidden, secret meanings and patterns. It was recently discovered, for example, that The Lyric Suite, his 1925-1926 work for string quartet, contains a sort of coded account of a long-forgotten love affair. What emerges from Jarman’s analysis is that Berg was drawn to the method not primarily by an apocalyptic recognition that tonality had to be supplanted (indeed, his later, twelve-tone works make greater use of tonal modes of organization than do those from the period of free atonality) but by the same emotional need that produced his virtually obsessive interest in other private, abstract schemes and systems.

The Private Organizing Device for Composers

In fact, the method itself, viewed at this comfortable distance from the fierce (and often foolish) polemics of 19201950. Schoenberg admitted this in later life, but earlier it was often claimed that the twelve-tone method was precisely on a par with tonality, and Berg himself compared the role played by Schoenberg in the transition from tonal to twelve-tone music to that played by Bach in the transition from modal to tonal music. But the analogy does not hold. Tonality organizes music not only privately for the composer but also publicly, because audibly, for the listener. “I have made a discovery which will ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years,” Schoenberg boasted to Ruler in 1921. But, of course, he had done no such thing. His and his followers’ apocalyptic statements about historical inevitability and the laws of music now sound as silly and dated as the very similar political statements of their Marxist contemporaries. With very few exceptions (almost none of them works by Schoenberg), twelve-tone music has not proved acceptable, even to a thoughtful and openminded public, because most of it is organized only by means that are, and remain, private, secret, inaudible. The success and importance of composers as diverse as Stravinsky (who turned to twelve-tone music only in his old age, when he was already a master), Bartok, Prokofiev, Ives, Janecek, Britten, and Elliott Carter make nonsense of all the twelve-tone propaganda. The resources of tonality, it turns out, were and are far from exhausted. Surely, the splendid and enduring achievement of Wozzeck is best viewed, and most successfully analyzed, not in relation to the twelve-tone method but in terms of Berg’s remarkable exploitation and extension of tonal ways of thinking and hearing.

It is also useful to view Wozzeck in relation to the works that Berg wrote just preceding it, especially the Altenberg Lieder, Op. 4, of 1912 and the Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6, of 19141915. (Both works are excellently performed by Boulez on CBS MS 7179 and by Claudio Abbado on Deutsche Grammophon 2543 804.)

  • The Altenberg Lieder, not performed in their entirety until 1952, are a dazzling achievement. Though the mass and variety of orchestral sonority sometimes threatens to overwhelm the rather slight texts, the sheer mastery of the writing makes it all but impossible to believe that this was Berg’s first work for orchestra.
  • The Three Pieces for Orchestra, though better known, are less successful. Compared with Webern’s Six Orchestral Pieces, Op. 6 (1909) and Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 10 (1911-1913), which Berg obviously used as models, they seem long and garrulous.
  • The vocabulary and syntax of Wozzeck are there, but the music sounds musclebound, trapped in itself, lost in its search for a fitting subject. Berg found that subject–as well as the greater scope that he was reaching toward in the Altenberg Lieder–when he saw Buchner’s play in May of 1914, while he was at work on the Three Pieces for Orchestra. He knew it at once, and resolved that Woyzeck would provide him with the text of the opera he had wanted to write.

Berg died at fifty, and he was a slow and careful worker. Hence, he did not write a great deal of music. Though none of his other works is either so immediately compelling or so perfectly formed as Wozzeck, all of them are well worth hearing and studying, especially the Piano Sonata, the Altenberg Lieder, The Lyric Suite, the Violin Concerto, and his -second opera, Lulu, left unfinished at his death but recently completed from his sketches. For it is Berg, along with Stravinsky, who best helps us understand the problematical relations between twentieth-century music and the tradition through his strikingly original and creative use of the great music of the past.

In 1969

The year the drums of the rock counterculture beat their wildest tattoos, Frank Sinatra turned fifty-four. Pop music‘s “chairman of the board,” whose rightward-tending politics and friendship with the youth-baiting Vice President Spiro Agnew made him a symbol of establishment cynicism to the Woodstock generation, enjoyed his last Top-40 hit for the next eleven years that spring, when “My Way,” a surly roar of self-satisfaction, reached number 27 in Billboard’s Hot 100. In 1980, Sinatra returned to the Top 40 with the equally feisty “Theme from New York, New York,” from Trilogy, his monumental three-disc album.

Pop music

It was with Trilogy that Frank Sinatra began to gain the attention of the previously disdainful rock press. Rolling Stone ran a review of a Sinatra concert soon after the release of the album which offered the ultimate in reck-critic flattery, comparing Sinatra’s singing to that of John Lydon, the Sex Pistols’ screaming punk moralist. Instead of being viewed as an enemy of sixties radical-liberal communalism, Sinatra began to be viewed as a kind of proto-punk rocker, spitting at the world with pugnacious arrogance.

Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra Sessions

More than three years after Trilogy, Sinatra’s reputation as a pop artist for all cultures–post-counter and post-punk as well as old-guard–has continued to build. In 1982, RCA Records released the complete the sessions in three double-album sets. This month, Twyla Tharp will mount a dance piece called Nine Sinatra Songs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Linda Ronstadt made a hit album of torch songs, what’s New, with Nelson Riddle, Sinatra’s most gifted arranger-conductor. It included three songs that Sinatra and Riddle had recorded together twenty-five years earlier, on the album Only the Lonely.

Sinatra

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, the Southern California company that in 1982 released a fourteen-disc, $325 Beatles collection, with the discs mastered at half-speed and pressed in Japan, followed it up last fall with a $350 boxed set called Sinatra. The collection includes sixteen albums that Frank Sinatra recorded for Capitol Records from 1953 to 1962, when he was at the peak of his artistry. Each record comes with the original Capitol artwork and detailed information about musical personnel and recording dates. Cuts that had been deleted when Capitol reissued the records have been restored, and the set’s aural quality is excellent. Beautifully clear and balanced monaural sound on the earlier discs gives way to crisp, deep stereo on the later ones, which, like many stereo albums of the fifties, widely separated the orchestral voices.

“This Is Sinatra and This Is Sinatra”

Sinatra isn’t as complete as the advertising for it implies. Left out are Capitol’s first two collections of Sinatra’s singles–, Volume 2–which contain such crucial hits as “Young-At-Heart,” “Learnin’ the Blues,” and “Hey! Jealous Lover.” And the three later collections of singles that are included–All the Way, Look to Your Heart, and Sinatra Sings … of Love and Things/–are cluttered with junky novelties and second-rate movie songs that no singer could redeem. Another omitted album is one of Sinatra’s last for Capitol, Point of No Return, on which he teamed up again with his regular arranger-conductor from the forties, Axel Stordahl. Also left out are a Christmas album and soundtracks from Sinatra’s movies.

pop music 2

The thirteen core albums, however, constitute a body of pop music conceived for the LP record which, in its scope and consistency, has been matched only by the work of the Beatles. Oddly, the music on Sinatra is in some ways more pertinent than that of the Beatles–at least at the moment. Sinatra has, after all, outlasted many of the formidable pop phenomena that were supposed to depose him. Elvis Presley is dead, and his biggest posthumous hit, ironically, is an eerily nervous and out-of-breath rendition of “My Way.” The Beatles died with John Lennon. Bob Dylan resurfaces periodically, an erratic bohemian voice in the wilderness, out of phase with Reagan-era realities.

Frank Sinatra is in phase–socially, as a Reagan family friend, and artistically, as a hardy individualist. At sixty-eight, he still gives concerts and makes records the old-fashioned way–with a live orchestra, eschewing rock rhythms and fancy overdubs. And his ubiquitous new signature song, “Theme from New York, New York,” unabashedly glorifies worldly success. In today’s trend-crazed world of pop music, Frank Sinatra is not simply the ultimate survivor but the ultimate victor.

In 1953

It was in 1953 that Sinatra, who had .spent the previous decade at Columbia Records, moved to Capitol. He was thirty-seven, an age at which all but the most enduring rock acts have lost their followings. Sinatra was not a big star when he made the move–in fact, some considered him a washed-up crooner. But in winning an Oscar that year for his portrayal of Maggio in From Here to Eternity, Sinatra made one of the most dramatic comebacks in Hollywood history. The following year, his recording career was rejuvenated as well, as the single “Young-At-Heart” became his first top-five hit in eight years.

Young-At-Heart

The aura of cocky serf-assurance in Sinatra’s Capitol albums suggests someone who has arrived safely at adulthood having just barely survived an irresponsible and foolishly romantic youth. This posture hasn’t changed significantly since, even as the voice has coarsened and darkened with age. The mature Sinatra is a lapsed romantic. While capable of great tenderness, compassion, and joy, beneath the surface he is always reflecting on his loss of faith in the quasi-religious romantic ethos that engulfed movies and pop music in the forties and early fifties. In that ethos, ineffable sexual ecstasy inside marriage was supposed to be everybody’s reward for sexual postponement; “true love” was the happy ending everyone was coaxed into anticipating. And, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, it was supposed to last “forever.”

Sinatra’s voice had embodied this dream in the forties with a fervent intensity that no other singer has matched. With his rounded baritone, suggestive of the trombone at its most purringly lyrical, he conjured a fantasy world of tender rapture, at once virile and delicate. Sinatra’s bel-canto phrasing turned the most flowery lyrics into plainspoken, believable outpourings of emotion. Faith in romantic love as a possible and permanent salvation seemed built into his voice, which lent a compelling spiritual conviction to the love songs that he recorded in the forties–“The Girl That I Marry,” “How Deep Is the Ocean,” and “I Concentrate on You,” for example. If Bing Crosby, Sinatra’s great forerunner, projected a comforting hominess, in which eroticism had its cherished but modest place, Sinatra exalted the erotic with a dedication that made it a world unto itself. Axel Stordahl exquisitely orchestrated Sinatra’s best Columbia singles like aural valentines, trimmed with lacy violins and tinkling bells.

It wasn’t until the Beatles’ psychedelia, exemplified by “All You Need Is Love,” that a vision of love was again so thoroughly and successfully captured in pop music. But the love the Beatles conjured was a communal and polymorphously exploratory utopia of peace, cuddly sex, and eternal youth; Sinatra’s love had been a yearning daydream. Both visions were rooted in carefully distilled concepts of musical beauty that had been established in late-Romantic European music.

Frank Sinatra and His Remarkable Versions

Frank Sinatra

But beauty has a way of evaporating, and he arrived at Capitol at just the moment when his voice had begun to lose its spellbinding loveliness. The lapsed romantic had to rebuild his world from inside himself instead of trusting to magic and looking to heaven. In defining his adult self, Sinatra made the first real “concept” albums, in the rock sense. One after another, Sinatra’s records explored different styles of adult love and alternatives to love, as the singer tried out different roles: flippant roue (Swing Easy), warmly reflective companion (In the Wee Small Hours), optimistic, fun-loving hedonist (Songs for Swingin’ Lovers), happy globe-trotter (Come Fly with Me), mysterious loner (Where Are You?), and jaded sensation-seeker (Come Swing with Me).

While at Capitol, Sinatra favored three arranger-conductors: Nelson Riddle (nine albums), Billy May (three albums), and Gordon Jenkins (two albums). With Gordon Jenkins, who used heavy strings and French horns arranged into a tortured Wagnerian chromaticism, Sinatra made the introspective albums Where Are You? (His first stereo release) and No One Cares. In Where Are You? The singer summons the ghosts of old flames with a formal, almost operatic intensity enhanced by a bleating twenty-two-piece string section. In No One Cares, made two years later with the same orchestration, Sinatra’s voice is frayed and his phrasing hesitant; he “acts” songs like “Stormy Weather” and “I Can’t Get Started” as a dark night of the soul.

With May, Sinatra made his toughest, hardest-swinging records. Their third collaboration, Come Swing with Me, is a musical fistfight in which two enlarged brass sections throw punches at each other while Sinatra socks out angry, anti-romantic remakes of ballads he recorded in the forties, like “Day By Day” and “That Old Black Magic.” This swing has to it almost a rock harshness. Billy May also arranged and conducted one of Sinatra’s more mellow albums, Come Fly with Me, a spirited travelogue that blends ballads with the swinging numbers.

Nelson Riddle and Sinatra

Song for Young Lovers

It was with the struck for his most consistent balance between toughness and angst. Songs for Young Lovers (1954), Close to You (recorded in 1956, with a string quartet), and especially In the Wee Small Hours, which may contain Sinatra’s warmest ballad performances, sustain a mood of quiet intimacy and reminiscence. In Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (1956), the quintessential Sinatra-Riddle medium-tempo album, Riddle expanded the orchestra to thirty-five pieces to achieve the optimum hybrid of swing band and Hollywood studio orchestra. “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” which Sinatra and Riddle jauntily syncopated against a light, finger-snapping beat, becomes not the sophisticated yet abject confession of love that Cole Porter’s lyrics imply but the fond tribute of one sensualist to another. In the song’s climax, Sinatra admits that for the moment he’s a smitten fool, and this exhilarating expression of a perfect balance between intoxication and wry knowingness may be the apex of all his “swinging” music. As Fred Astaire’s graceful courtliness transformed Cole Porter’s musical sophistication into a dancing style that seems to be the purest kind of pleasure, Sinatra’s artfully casual readings of Porter embody a comparably enviable ideal of grown-up fun.

Sinatra and Riddle

They achieved another peak in Only the Lonely (1958), a reflective album that avoids the sepulchral gloom of the Gordon Jenkins records by putting Sinatra musically in the world instead of in a room by himself at 3 A.M.; the cautious bounce of jazz-inflected rhythms and the impressionistic foliage of brass and woodwind choirs in Riddle’s forty-six-piece ensemble prompted performances from Sinatra less solemn than those with Jenkins’s ghostly strings and horns. For Nice ‘N’ Easy (1960), their last great collaboration, Riddle pared the orchestra back to thirty pieces. All but one of the twelve songs are standards that Sinatra had recorded between 1940 and 1950. Riddle’s smoothest arrangements for Sinatra enhance his cool mastery of ballad phrasing. Sinatra stopped acting songs; the album is above all a demonstration of technique.

Sinatra’s Capitol years ended when Warner Bros., then a nascent corporate giant, offered Sinatra his own label, Reprise, in 1961. Unwilling and probably unable to come to terms with rock’s technology, he continued to sort through his past, as he had on Nice ‘N’ Easy. While Sinatra’s Reprise catalogue is rich, it’s spottier than his Capitol output, and the explorations of mature aspirations are frozen into patterns. Sinatra the symbol rose above Sinatra the interpreter.

In The Sixties

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When the rock-and-roll culture wrested the airwaves from pop traditionalists and made the rock LP album the musical art form of a generation, Sinatra seemed to have no place in the revolution, which in the end turned out to be more technological than cultural. Today, as we look back, very little of the billions of dollars’ worth of corporate merchandise marketed as artistically worthy rock seems to have any enduring value.

In 1969, the turmoil’s and victories of people reaching middle age were of no concern to a generation so contemptuous of its elders that it cherished Pete Townshend’s sneer “Hope I die before I get old.” But to those of us who are still alive, the “chairman of the board” no longer looms as a disapproving surrogate parent; he has become an adult role model for how to make it to the top and stay there.

If “true love”–epitomized by Sinatra crooning “All or Nothing at All” or “Nancy” or “Dream”–was a false salvation for the parents of the Woodstock generation, the sexual revolution has proven just as false an ideal. The rock generation may have won the opportunity to prolong adolescent pleasure-seeking for as long as it liked, but it didn’t anticipate the complexity of middle-age desires. What, then, is there to pursue? The albums explore every avenue of possibility except religion: knowledge, reflection, and friendship, travel, “swinging” in most of its manifestations, and, finally, accomplishment and power.

One wouldn’t ordinarily expect a singer to communicate so much lived experience. But Sinatra’s greatness is his ability to lay bare the emotional facts. These albums are about continuing, and not only continuing but trying to get better in spite of the realities of aging. They are heroic feats of self-generation, of finding more with less and gaining in the struggle a reason for going on.

You could tell that Balanchine was in the theater, or so the saying went, if the boy tossed the girl into the air in Symphony in C. Because that moment was so perilous, the dancers could always be counted on to resort to the safer, alternative version when Balanchine wasn’t there. But usually he was-stationed in the downstage right wing, surveying the dancers he had trained as they executed the ballets he had choreographed, missing nothing.

ballets

The Applause of Audients for Great Ballet Performances

New York City Ballet dancers have always performed more for Balanchine’s approval than for the audience’s applause. For years, it was he who taught company class every morning, who made new ballets, who east the repertory. Other ballet companies turn loose a variety of styles and methods of training on stage and hope for the best, rather than sanctioning any one at the expense of the rest. They east by committee and hire freelance choreographers. These companies, attempting to make a virtue of eclecticism, are run along the lines of a democracy. The New York City Ballet is a monarchy, founded on one man’s vision, didactic but consistent.

For several years now, City Ballet regulars-not a handful of fanatics but several hundred highly opinionated, fixedly loyal people who live at the company’s performances–have been speculating on what would happen to the company when Balanchine was no longer in command. Was there a young choreographer qualified to succeed him? Balanchine had made classical ballet a modern art, but who would take it from there? What none of us figured, in our efforts to prepare ourselves for the inevitable by fretting about it, was that more than the future of ballet choreography would be at stake–that without Balanchine, the dancers, who had always looked to him, would have to find some new motivation for their work from day to day.

Last October, Balanchine was hospitalized. Though rumors about his condition varied widely from one day and one source to the next, it soon began to seem unlikely that he would ever return to running the company. This realization slowly settled in over the dancers and the audience. But instead of the lassitude one might have expected to settle in along with it, there was a redoubled energy in most performances, almost as if the company were dancing for dear life. For many young dancers, last season was a breakthrough. There were debuts in new roles every week. The company was keeping busy.

Some Changes for Better Results

At the same time, the regulars in the audience were busy re-examining their motives for returning every night. A good many City Ballet fans are devoted to Balanchine’s work but not to dance itself. Balanchine’s work has been so extensive that his followers can almost get away with thinking that it is all anyone needs to know about dance. The full measure of that work has just been demonstrated in Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works, a big fat book published by the Eakins Press Foundation, in a limited edition of 2,000. Compiled by researchers in thirteen countries, and edited by Harvey Simmonds, it lists 425 ballets, operas, Broadway musicals, movies, and what have you.

ballets2

The total is deceptive, because several works are entered twice–once for their world premieres, if they were made originally for a company other than the one Balanchine directed at the time, and once for their first production by his own company. Even so, the body of his work is staggering. One’s first reaction is that no single lifetime could be long enough to encompass all this choreography. No one year could be time enough to make five ballets, eighteen opera ballets, and one dance number for a “comedy with music,” which is what Balanchine did in 1932.

Still more astonishing is the range of his work. Balanchine was apparently willing to do anything, and for anybody. For example:

  • In honor of the treaty resuming Anglo-Soviet trade relations, in 1921, he staged a foxtrot for a party in Petrograd.
  • In 1953, he choreographed a promenade for some 500 couples, with two dancers from his own company in the lead, for the Negro Debutante Ball at the 369th Armory, in Harlem.
  • In 1942, for fifty girls and fifty elephants in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he choreographed a ballet to an original score he commissioned from Stravinsky.

The catalogue includes five films, twenty-one musical comedies and revues, six stagings for choral works, and ten plays for which Balanchine arranged movement sequences. From these repeated forays into other territories, Balanchine always returned to classical ballet and his own company. The classical tradition is the closest any art comes to a science, in which one discovery can lead to another, in which one man’s work makes the next man’s possible. By working within that tradition in ballet, Balanchine could build on the past. And by going to work outside that tradition–learning other ways of moving and their effects, other problems and their solutions-he could acquire the means to make classical ballet more topical.

Significant Classical Ballets

Balanchine understood that a ballet has no life of its own, apart from its performance. Where other choreographers would set out to make dances that would be innovative or long-lived or fashionable, Balanchine seems to have set out to make dances that were, above all, appropriate to the dancers at hand. In the course of one year, 1947, he staged Symphonie Concertante for his own company (he had choreographed it two years earlier on students) and choreographed Le Palais de Cristal (now called Symphony in C) for the Paris Opera and Theme and Variations for Ballet Theatre–three ballets in the classical idiom. Another choreographer, having finished any one of these, would probably have gone on to make the next ballet as different as possible-romantic, maybe, or jazzy–as a way of keeping himself interested and of proving to the world how versatile he could be. But Balanchine must have felt that a classical ballet, exacting in its precision, was what each of these three companies needed at the time. More interesting finally than three ballets in three determinedly different styles are these, which are markedly different within the same style. There is no sign in any of them of Balanchine running out of new ideas and reverting to formulas; in his hands, the style seems inexhaustible.

Ballets3

Not only did Balanchine have enough interest in dance and all its possibilities to sustain the works listed here but he seems never to have lost interest in a ballet as long as it was still being performed. The revisions listed in this catalogue, if not always extensive, are certainly numerous. Balanchine persisted in improving on a ballet years after its premiere, and would willingly re-choreograph an old role to suit a new dancer’s capabilities. On occasion, he returned to a piece of music he had already choreographed and made something entirely different out of it. There was no such thing as the definitive interpretation of a piece of music, inevitable as the choreography might seem to everyone else.

About the ballets we know well, the catalogue can teach us little. In some cases, the production credits for ballets that have been lost tell us just enough to make us curious: it would be interesting to know what Balanchine did with Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy (the score for Errante), Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, or Mozart’s Violin Concerto in A major. In other cases, the catalogue’s brief descriptions of ballets we have never seen defy our imaginations. For instance, while still a young choreographer in Petrograd, Balanchine devised movement set to poems, which were chanted aloud by a chorus of fifty voices. In 1926, under Diaghilev’s supervision, he choreographed an entr’acte, without music, for Bronislava Nijinska’s Romeo and Juliet: “A drop-curtain was lowered to within a foot or two of the ground so that only the dancers’ legs and feet were visible.” For Sir Oswald Stoll’s Variety Shows in London, in 1931, Balanchine used the Coliseum’s revolving stage as a giant phonograph record, with a small dog in the center listening to “His Master’s Voice,” and the dancers as phonograph needles.

But the biggest surprise this book holds for anyone already familiar with Balanchine’s ballets is the number of operas he choreographed–sixty-nine. It is hard to believe that he agreed to stage the ballet sequences in La Gioconda, not once but twice, because he was so inspired by the music for “The Dance of the Hours,” an old chestnut (made even more familiar as “Hello mudda. Hello fadda. Here I am at Camp Granada”). He choreographed the ballet sequences in Carmen four times. Some of these commissions, especially during the years his company doubled as the resident ballet company for the Metropolitan Opera, can only have been the means to keep his dancers working year-round. Yet Balanchine’s dedication to opera throughout his career is obvious, and it is sad that his impact on it has not been more lasting. Opera and ballet, two traditions closely allied at the start of this century, have gone their separate ways, and left the ballet divertissements far behind. Few choreographers today would be willing to take on “The Dance of the Hours” in the context of someone else’s production of La Gioconda, whereas Balanchine, in his work for films, theater, and opera, was always willing to stage part of the whole–and not the most important part, at that.

Balanchine – A Remarkable Milestone in History

One is struck repeatedly by Balanchine’s selflessness. His detractors point to the empire he built and accuse him of egomania. But an egomaniac would have done less work and made more of it. He would have seen to it, as Balanchine did not, that his choreography for an acclaimed ballet like Caracole would be recorded (it was forgotten, but never mind–Balanchine took the same score and made it into Divertimento No. 15, one of his greatest works). An egomaniac would have been more preoccupied with his own place in history. Balanchine doesn’t seem to have given a damn.

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He was, however, a monomaniac, obsessed by dancing and all its possibilities, and a hustler, capable of scaring up more commissions than most choreographers could handle, at a time when there were far fewer ballet companies and thus far fewer chances for employment. He was a soft touch, too, unfailingly generous with his ballets: in the United States alone, eighty-eight companies other than Balanchine’s have had his works in their repertories, and the list of companies in other countries is even longer, from Alberta, Canada, to Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

The New York City Ballet is today made up of 105 dancers who perform Balanchine’s works better and more clearly than any other company in the world. Their dancing is practically transparent–they show us the choreography. Those full-cast finales, with rows of dancers advancing on the audience, jumping and turning in unison; those instances when, two by two, girls come bolting from the wings and crisscross one another’s paths in flying pas de chat, and for a moment the entire stage is airborne; that terrifying forward surge of a crowd of women, at the end of Walpurgisnacht, toward one man, who holds his ground; the image of a sleepwalker carrying a poet in her arms, or of a man who walks, guided from behind by a woman and blindfolded by her hand–no other choreographer has so consistently captured the ambiguity, excitement, and energy that reside in music, and released it in dancing.

There are moments in Balanchine’s ballets when the dance gives voice to the music, and the dance and the music combined become almost more than the audience can bear. When, at the close of Theme and Variations, the men and women pair off and make a tour of the stage in a grand polonaise set to the music’s final proclamation, the ceremony strikes us as exactly right; then the men continue walking and the women chaine turn alongside them, turning on the spiraling melody in the music–and this is almost too much. The sensation is one of pain brought on by something so perfect that you must look but want to turn away. These moments, in dance or in music, come over us, and our instinct is to try and hold on to them; there is no holding on to them.

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The New York City Ballet board of directors announced the appointment of Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins as ballet masters-in-chief, with Martins responsible for the company’s day-to-day artistic decisions and Robbins as adviser.

The doomsayers who seem convinced that classical ballet ended with Balanchine’s last work (an inconsequential solo made last year for Suzanne Farrell) are missing the point. Balanchine put himself at the service of a tradition larger than any individual. His work and history teach us that other choreographers can take up that tradition and further it.