Sunday, September 25, 2016

Glenn Gould: Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 (1962)

Glann Gould plays the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, opus 15, with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by  Leonard Bernstein on April 6, 1962.

If it seems in the opening comments, a rare event, to be sure, that Bernstein is distancing himself from Gould, in a sort of betrayal, it is not so Bernstein said, who considered Gould a close friend. In this excerpt from “Glenn Gould Variations–By Himself and His Friends” (1983), edited with an introduction by John McGreevy, Bernstein gives his explanation, which is also found on the Leonard Bernstein site (“The Truth About a Legend”):
So I went out, read these few notes, and said, “This is gonna be different, folks. And it's going to be very special. This is the Glenn Gould Brahms concerto.” Out he came, and indeed he played it exactly the way he had rehearsed it, and wonderfully too. The great miracle was that nobody left, because of course it had become such a thing to listen to. The house came down, although, if I remember correctly, it took well over an hour to play. It was very exciting. I never loved him more.
The result in the papers, especially the New York Times, was that I had betrayed my colleague. Little did they know—though I believe I did say so to the audience—that I had done this with Glenn's encouragement. They just assumed that I had sold him down the river by coming out first to disclaim his interpretation. It was, on the contrary, a way of educating the audience as part of Thursday night's procedure. All this was not only misunderstood, but repeated and repeated and multiplied exponentially by every other newspaper that wrote about it.

Then Harold Schonberg, the ex-chief critic of the Times who wrote the infamous review, wrote a Sunday piece in the form of a letter to “Dear Ossip”— Gabrilovitch, I assume. “Dear Ossip, you vill nyever guess vat last night in Carnyegie Hall hhappent!” sort of thing. The piece was based on this notion of betrayal. He has never let that notion die, and because it’s so juicy it has undergone a kind of propagation all over the world. However, the “juicy” part is what did not happen. (For me, the juicy part is what did happen.) Of course, a defense is very weak, once a legend is born. It’s rather like the Radical Chic Black Panther legend, which I can never seem to set straight. I have the feeling, even now, that trying to make this story about Glenn clear by telling the truth can’t really erase the now legendary, but false, version.
We can always try to set the record straight, never an easy task when legends of the mind take hold.

Vienna Philharmonic: Mahler Symphony No. 5 (1987)

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor is played magnificently by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Alte Oper, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany in a live performance in September 1987; Leonard Bernstein [1918–1990, born Lawrence, Massachusetts] is at the podium. This is a very emotional piece, full of feeling yet under control. This is Bernstein’s Mahler.

Mahler [1860–1911] composed the piece in 1901 and 1902 in Maiernigg, Austria, on the shores of the Wörthersee in the state of Carinthia. He conducted the first performance of the Fifth Symphony at Cologne, Germany, on October 18, 1904.

In this 1960 broadcast of the Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Leonard Bernstein, who did the most to make Gustav Mahler known to modern American audiences, gives an educational and entertaining exposition on Mahler. [This was broadcast on Sunday February 7, 1960, on the CBS-TV network; the program's full script, written by Bernstein himself, can be found here.]

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Microsoft Says It Will Reprogram Cancer Cells

Science Of Hope

Dr. Jasmin Fisher, senior researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge and an associate professor (dept. of biochemistry) at University of Cambridge, said: “If we are able to control and regulate cancer then it becomes like any chronic disease and then the problem is solved.”
Photo Credit: Dr. Fisher
Source: The Telegraph

Sarah Knapton of The Telegraph writes that Microsoft Research in Cambridge (England) views cancer as a programming issue and vows to reprogram cancer cells within 10 years, making cancer, at worst, another chronic disease that must be managed. While this is not the same as claiming a cure, it would be a breakthrough in cancer research and treatment.

In “Microsoft will ‘solve’ cancer within 10 years by ‘reprogramming’ diseased cells” (September 20, 2016), Knapton writes:
Dr Jasmin Fisher, senior researcher and an associate professor at Cambridge University, said: “If we are able to control and regulate cancer then it becomes like any chronic disease and then the problem is solved.”
“I think for some of the cancers five years, but definitely within a decade. Then we will probably have a century free of cancer."
There are issues related to quality of life if cancer patients have cancer as a chronic disease, but this is still better than the alternative. So, I consider this a wonderful medical initiative, and I wish the researchers the best of luck and encouragement. They are doing a wonderful thing for humanity.

For more, go to [The Telegraph]

Friday, September 23, 2016

Collecting Comic Books & Sports Cards

Memories & Nostalgia

Comic Books (1960s): Action Comics Vol 1: No, 321 (February 1965). This came out in the middle of what is called the Silver Age (1956–1972) of comic books. It is more than likely that I bought this issue for 12 cents, since in the 1960s, I bought comic books weekly at the corner kiosk not far from my house and Action Comics and Superman was always on top of my list. By the time I donated my sizable collection in 1982, I had close to 500 comic books. No one I knew then viewed comic books as collectibles potentially worth a lot more than we paid for them.
Image Credit & Source: DC-Wikia

Both superheroes and sports heroes (or athletes) had a prominent place in my life, particularly during my adolescent years, while growing up in the 1960s and ’70s. I have written previously on why superheroes are important for our society. In the article (“Why We Need Superheroes;” February 4, 2011), I then wrote: 
A Superhero is the Universal Man, not bound by nation or state, but by the universal principles, similar to those enshrined on the United Nations Charter. The Superhero is the Modern morality play, where Everyman is replaced by a unique individual who has special powers, super powers that are a testament to his virtues of good[ness], honesty and justice. He is often the caped crime-fighter, whose true identity is kept secret. His day job is far different than his evening crime-fighting duties, sometimes diametrically opposed (a la Clark Kent and Superman)
Like many, Superman was my favourite superhero, having all the virtues that one should have. My view on superheroes has remained the same, although I no longer collect comic books. 

Sports heroes, on the other hand, are humans of exceptional athletic ability. We watch them, and marvel at their abilities. Those of us who have lesser abilities wish we were able to do the things they can do with a ball, a puck, a bat, a stick, a racquet, or with an arm or a leg or a head. 

In another post, I wrote about how sports fans still want sporting competitions to be fair. In the article (“The Good Sport;” December 10, 2010), I then said:
Mr. Lapham, the noted writer and former long-time editor of Harper's Magazine, explains in his poetic fashion why we delight in sport. The battle. The competition. The heroic efforts. All of this is taking place in a controlled fashion. But we also wants fairness and integrity. An unfair contest casts doubt on the validity of the results and destroys the illusion of innocence. This makes the playing field uneven and tarnishes the game.
Sports is now viewed as entertainment, and some of us old-timers can bemoan this fact, since money can corrupt athletes, as so many stories in the media report. Athletes are not superheroes, but, rather, humans with exceptional athletic abilities, and not necessarily having the moral or ethical standards to match. Yet, one of my sports heroes was Jean Beliveau [1931–2014], a professional hockey player (1950–71) with the Montreal Canadiens who was without a doubt up to the task. There were a number of such examples then in professional sports.

Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect athletes today to be viewed as role models. It might be that money has changed sports, destroying any and all illusions of innocence. In so many cases, the athletes are young and are untested and ungrounded in the area of moral decision-making; thus, they get caught up in the unbounded and unchecked excitement of the high life that money and fame can purchase. Yet the best of the athletes in all professional sports know how to play within the boundaries of legal competition. 

This can still be “magic.”

Trading Cards: Some of the hockey and baseball trading cards in my collection: from the late 1960s to the early 1970s still in my possession. None are in vintage condition, which would make them collectibles. No one I knew viewed them as anything other than trading cards. Cards came in packs of 10 and cost a dime per pack; it came with a flat rectangular piece of pink gum.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Late Summer September Day At Edwards Gardens (2016)

Urban Nature

Last Sunday, we went to Edwards Gardens, our last trip of the summer to the urban oasis in Toronto. It was a warm, pleasant day (25°C, or 78°F). During our sojourns to the gardens, we tend to meet people, other nature lovers; this time it was an Hasidic family from Monsey, NY, who were visiting our city for a family engagement party. We met at the pond, while we were admiring the ducks, including the blue-winged teal (Anas discors), pictured above.

We also saw a few chipmunks (Tamias) and squirrels (Sciuridae), a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) and a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), a more common occurrence than in the last few years. We admired the bee hotel and its inhabitants, a friend of humanity. So, summer ends, as it does every year. Today at 10:21 a.m. EDT, or 14:21 UTC begins the season of Autumn or Fall, as it is often called in North America. We can expect beautiful fall foliage and bright reds, golds and yellows to dominate the skyline for a brief period.

All Photos: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A 3D Printed Dress @ NY Fashion Week (2016): ‘Oscillations’

New Fashion Fabric

Oscillations:  A 3D printed dress made its debut at New York Fashion Week (2016); made by threeASFOUR, it is part of its Quantum Vibrations collection and is called “Oscillations.” Luke Dormehl of Digital Trends writes about it: “The dress itself was created in collaboration with regular threeASFOUR partner designer Travis Fitch, along with 3D-printing company Stratasys. It is composed of 30 separate multi-material, multi-color 3D-printed parts, assembled from 270 design files.”.
Photo Credit: Jan Klier

I do like the colour and the geometric patterns, which provide the dress a fractal feel. Along with the mathematical precision, both the blue colour and the shape are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This is really avant-garde fashion, in the truest sense of the word, and brings dress-making into another era, another realm, if you will. Nicely done. 

For now, such dresses as “Oscillations” are show-pieces, part of haute couture fashion shows and not hanging in people's closets. 3D-printed clothes will, however, eventually make its way to store shelves, but it will take a few years. A more interesting future is where 3D printers will complement or replace sewing machines, and where people will make their own 3D printed clothes at home. This, however, would require the printing of natural fibres like cotton, which currently is not possible with this technology

Below is another photo showing the dress in sharper and clearer detail.

Photo Credit: Tess

Monday, September 19, 2016

Designing A Beautiful Sleek Future

Photo Of The Week

Téléavia P111, a portable television set, 1963. This photo is from Roger Tallon’s [born in Paris, France; 1929–2011] archives. A retrospective of Roger Tallon is currently underway at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in Paris, which looks at the collected work (spanning six decades) of one of industry’s best designers. Tallon appreciated the attributes of form and function while incorporating the aesthetics of beauty—the opposite of, e.g., brutalist architecture that was also prevalent during, and in some cases dominated, this period. Aesthetica writesDesign in Motion is an explorative event that charts over six decades of acclaimed contributions to the world of design, and the intriguing imagination that fuelled them. With industry at the centre of his creations, Tallon created a legacy for himself with new and innovative ways to construct both functional and aesthetically-considered technology. For example, he is perhaps best known for the sleek silhouette of France’s high speed train, Train a Grand Vitesse.” Roger Tallon: Design in Motion runs until January 8, 2017. For more, go to [Musee des Arts Decoratifs].
Photo Credit: © ADAGP, Paris / photo: Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris