The death of Prince seems to have affected me hard. I took a detour into building picnic tables. The joy of building something in wood is that you have something tangible at the end of your project. If it is straight and square and strong, everyone can see it. No one can take that away from you. It has been nice to have a tangible, physical representation of the effort you have put in building something. Some of the things I have built can be seen at Soulcraft Woodworking.
Ironically, another death of a great musician has motivated me to write about music again. Einojuhani Rautavaara died on 27 July, 2016. I had never heard of Mr. Rautavaara until I saw the announcement of his passing on the NPR app on my phone. Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I consider myself a person who listens to a lot of classical music, and a great deal of classical music from composers living in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I am just the sort of sorry bloke who would listen to the compositions of Mr. Rautavarra. It wasn’t until he died that I followed his name to Spotify and found his Symphony No. 7, named the Angel of Light.
From the NPR website I read:
Einojuhani Rautavaara, often hailed as Finland’s finest composer since Jean Sibelius, has died at age 87. The Associated Press reports that Rautavaara died Wednesday in Helsinki after complications from hip surgery.
The “Angel of Light” symphony was about angels, but Vänskä recalled the composer explaining, “We have to remember that there are not only white angels but there are black angels too,” and tacking on an evil little cackle. The symphony was commissioned by the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra and premiered in 1995. Four years later Rautavaara fulfilled another American commission, composing his Eighth Symphony for the centenary of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Here is the first movement of the Symphony No. 7, “Angel of Light”
I was simply blow away when I listened to the first movement of this symphony. I have completely missed the Rautavaara boat. I am ashamed that I haven’t heard his music before now. I am just the sort of person who would buy the recording of his music. My local hometown orchestra has released the complete Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Brahms symphonies in the last few years, but here I am wallowing in the fact that I had not even heard of Mr. Rautavaara until he died. I was prepared to be outraged, but it seems that the music of Mr. Rautavaara is pretty well recorded. Here is the link to a recording of all eight of his symphonies on Spotify.
I would love to offer a detailed introduction to the works of Einojuhani Rautavaara, but I have only just learned how to spell his name. If you are like me, and have never heard his music before, I implore you to search out his compositions and take a listen. I am immersing myself in the recordings I can find. As I understand at the moment, Symphony No. 7 and No. 8 are pretty popular as well as his Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61 subtitled Concerto for Birds and Orchestra.
I have quite a few ideas to write about Romantic era music, so stay tuned.