Monday, February 25, 2008

Keeping the Music Alive

It's all in the Bible,

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matt. 16:25)

One of my big fears is the possiblity of losing the ability to love music. Like a person who begins by enjoying a song and ends up hating it (after listening to it repeatedly on the radio) I dread the same fate for concert music. (Specifically Rach's music).

But this is not so, and (Thanks ever so much to C.S. Lewis in "The Weight of Glory" and "The Four Loves" and "The Great Divorce")

When anything is yielded up to God, it becomes greater than anything we could have done with it.

If I realize that music (especially Rach's Piano Concerto no.2) is only (and here it is the good type of "only") a signpost pointing to the Divine Beauty, and if I appreciate it for what it is. Then it becomes all the more beautiful to me because I have placed it in proper relation towards God.

However, as soon as I begin 'worshipping' music and expecting more from it than what it was meant to be, then I have made it into a god thus turning it into a demon (paraphrase from Four Loves). Demons don't keep their promises.

So here's to appreciating music for a lifetime and loving it as a little window through which we recieve glimpses of God. =]

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Kingdom

A poem that perfectly expresses what I wish for and work towards.

My Kingdom

A little kingdom I posses,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell,
And very hard I find the task
Of governing it well.
For passion tempts and troubles me,
A wayward will misleads,
And selfishness it's shadow casts
On all my words and deeds.

How can I learn to rule myself,
To be the child I should,
Honest and brave, nor ever tire
Of trying to be good?
How can I keep a sunny soul
To shine along life's way?
How can I tune my little heart
To sweetly sing all day?

Dear Father, help me with the love
That casteth out my fear!
Teach me to lean on thee, and feel
That thou art very near;
That no temptation is unseen,
No childish grief too small,
Since thou, with patience infinite,
Doth sooth and comfort all.

I do not ask for any crown,
But that which all may win;
Nor seek to conquer any world
Except the one within.
Be thou my guide until I find,
Led by a tender hand,
Thy happy kingdom in myself,
And dare to take command.

~ Louisa May Alcott ~

Plutarch and Shakespeare

This is such an awesome coinkidink. =]

The Great Books series published by Britannica is a much better compilation of great Western classics than Harvard Classics. Not only are the choices better but the Great Books series is much more comprehensive. For example, for the Plutarch volume, the Great Books contains all his works (a total of about 900 words, plus its a bigger book than Harvard). On the other hand, Harvard Classics only has selections from his Morals. But all is well, because! (And please don't laugh at me for just realizing this) All the selections in the Harvard Classics cover the ones in which Shakespeare wrote plays for! YES! Specifically, Pericles, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra! (those are all plays by Shakespeare). So, all is well. After Anna K, I shall try my very best to read Plutarch's work on Pericles, read Shakespeare's play on Pericles, read Plutarch's work on Coriolanus, read Shakespeare's play on Coriolanus, etc. etc. =]

Friday, February 15, 2008


Have you ever had that feeling where everything excites you?
Just when you feel like you've gotten over the initial thrill of one thought, another one comes to your attention and boom!

Thoughts on my mind right now (In no particular order and probably not comprehensive):

The Syntopicon
A systematic catalogue of themes (i.e. Beauty, Goodness, Truth) in all the great western classics. Compiled by Mortimer J. Adler and his team over the course of about ten years. Yeah...Awesome! The only problem would be that you actually have to have the books to be able to use it...

The Iliad
Go read it. It's indescribablly fun. I haven't been this excited about an adventure since Lord of the Rings. =]

Anna Karenina
I pretty much melted when I got to part IV. I'm a sucker for happy engagments. =] Anna has definitely degenerated both morally and physically. sigh. Let's see how it goes.

Jesus Loves me and has shed His blood for me
This is most definitely the source of all my happiness. =]
If I do not give myself to God completely (or as much as I can) I am a much worse person. (Believe me!)

Lord Alfred Tennyson
I've read The Kraken and The Lady of Shalott so far. Both very good. =]

The Complete Works of Shakespeare in 38 hardcover volumes
Ahhhhhhh! They are sooo beautiful! Don't worry Shakespeare! I'll get to you! (After Anna K and Plutarch!)

Very Interesting Character Studies...more on that later.

T.S. Eliot
Was my first contact with poetry (of all the Poets, I had to hit one of the hardest!). Last Year.
Love him.

My Baby Cousin
This is how he says my name: Gaeeeeeebeeeoo OR Gabiogabiogabiogabio
So adorably cute. =]

Why it seems like Money is worth more when it's still in your hands
It's because of the potential it contains. As soon as it's converted, it loses potential. (unless you go and be a "red paper clip guy")

Wheatstone Academy
Just about the most awesome summer camp ever. =]

My left hand is like a lame duck on the piano compared to my right hand.
This is especially apparent when I try to play (note emphasis on Try) Rachmaninoff's Moment Musical no. 4 in e minor.

My (incomplete) set of the Harvard Classics
Raided it from the Library for $35. I think I have like 27/51 of the set. Some very good titles. It's an old edition though.

Two volume set of Major British Writers
Very good editorial essays in there.

I'm in debt.
From buying all these books

Yup, that's all for now!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Concert at Walt Disney Hall

Well...the building is quite beautifully curve-ful =]

The concert was hmmmm... not what I expected.

Firstly, they cancelled Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto in c minor because the pianist was sick.

Yeah, that was a huge bummer.

The Russian Easter Overture was delightful in it's celebration of (obviously) Easter. I was impressed with the oneness in the strings section, the violin section sounded like one instrument! But it wasn't piercingly beautiful. (For that we'd have to listen to Rach's Vespers)

Next was Tchaikovsky's Capriccio italien, which was enjoyable. (To be honest, when I listen to a piece for the first time, I don't remember any of it afterward. Like not one bit, so this post is going to be woefully inept as I was staking all my hopes on the Piano Concerto. I'm probably going to go by my impressions, which you should probably not trust.) During this piece I experienced something similar to what I felt during Brahm's First Symphony. This idea of roundness and an association with curves and flowing streams. Yeah, go read Edmund Burke. Ha-ha.

The Borodin Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor .......yeah. Nothing...nada. Didn't feel a thing. (sorry!)

Now the Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3. =] Oh boy, the first part, Elegie was sweet and lyrically pleasing, I felt one throb of lyrical ecstacy (albeit quite a tame one) during this part. (Lyricaly ecstacy meters usually go crazy during the second theme of Rach 2, darn, I really wanted to hear it live) The Valse melancolique was somber as the title implies. Ha, the Scherzo was funny because in the middle of it, the Dies Irae (if you don't know what I'm refering to, looking in my blog archive for Dies Irae) theme pops up kind of out of nowhere. =] It was a well orchestrated version.
Ooooh, and my favorite part of the concert, the Finale: Tema con variazioni! This part was quite exciting with some pretty virtuosic jamming on the part of the first violinist. Yes, I felt twice the tinge of Lyrical Ecstacy (again, quite tame compared to the Joyful Ecstacy in Rach 2).

Ha, I invented new terms. =]

Anyway, don't listen to me. Go listen to Rachmaninoff, Elgar, Tchaikovsky, etc. But choose wisely. There is such a thing as bad Classical Concert music.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Amazon just discounted their exclusive "Complete works of Shakespeare" set by a good $200 dollars!! The set is all hardcover too!!


Money may not buy happiness, but it sure can buy a high like no other!

The only problem is that to get the full benefit I'll have to read all of it. =]

God help me!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In Which I Remember I Forgot Something...

Then remember exactly what it was that I forgot. =]

I forgot that I had bought ...wait for it.....


*Heavenly choir sings*

Yes, this indescribably wonderful set contains every known recording that Rachmaninoff ever made. =] I am incredibly excited about it!

From the liner notes:

"Rachmaninoff was a pianist after my fancy. He was the most fascinating pianist since Busoni. He knew the secret of the golden vivid tone, the inimitable tone coming from the heart. In my strong opinion he was a greater pianist than a composer."

-Arthur Rubenstein, My Many Years

If that wasn't from Rubenstein I'd find that hard to believe! He does have a point though, (as I've said before) Rachmaninoff seems to have bursts of beautiful ecstatic genius rather than a flatline of quality (Mozart for example).

I also bought C.S. Lewis' Four Loves and Pilgrims Regress.

G.K. Chesterton's Everlasting Man, St. Francis of Assissi, and St. Thomas Aquinas

The Illiad and the Odyssey! The Aeneid as well. =]

Oh and I found a wonderful wonderful blessing in hand copying the letter of Philipians, my hand is a bit sore, but truly, truly, I have been blessed. No better way of conveying what it was like except to say: Go do it! (When you can find time of course, preferably on the weekend).

Further up and Further in!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just Some Questions...

What does it mean to "know thyself"?

And why is it so important?

What does Righteousness by Faith mean?

How can one Man/God take away the sins of the world?

Why is God Love?

What is Love?

How did Enoch "walk with God"?

What does it mean to seek God's face?

How do we "see" God?

On almost finishing Part II of Anna K

Some questions:

MKR: "In regards to Anna K the lady herself, can you separate her from her sin? Is there a point where Anna and her choices determine who she is?"

Um, hmmm. That's hard. I'm pretty sure that the choices we make have either negative or positive effects upon our soul. Either bringing us closer to Heaven or Hell, but although I want to say that eventually her sin defines her, my own experience does not seem to corroborate this.
For example, (As C.S. Lewis puts it) there has always been one person with whom we seperate the sin from the sinner. Namely, ourselves. When we sin, do we identify ourselves with our sin? No! Dengenerate as we are, we still abhor our own sin and feel shame and hope furiously to be able to overcome it. (Thank God that we have been saved through Christ!) We sin, but it feels so very alien to us.
Now in the case of Lady Anna, she also feels this horror and shame at her sin, but it seems to me that she doesn't wish to repent either. When she looks at her husband during her affair with Vronsky, it's almost as if she wants to find faults in him so as to justify herself. Tolstoy is so good! With each further step away from grace, we feel are hearts wrenched at such beauty (Lady Anna) perverting itself (Vronsky...did I mention how much I dislike him?). So in sum, I don't know yet if there is a point where Lady Anna's sin becomes her...I'll just have to finish the book then. =]

Blarney: "how much sin does it take before one cannot be separated from their sins? Is there a "Point of No Return" in regards to sin/sinning?"

Thank you for the vote, but I think MK would probably be a better candidate, =] It is her favorite!

As to the question, I would think that there is always a chance for redemption as long as there is life. The only "unforgivable sin" would be to reject the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I'm still debating whether Anna has crossed this line yet. She actually begins to loath her husband. At this point it seems that only the love she has for her son can save her.

Why does Stiva feel no shame in Adultery except when he's caught when Anna is tortured by it?

Why is society so lenient towards him?

How could Anna fall for such a horribly wicked person like Vronsky?

How did Tolstoy become so good at writing? (Especially when he compares Adultery to Murder, Oh my Goodness! Soooooo Good.)

When can the story get back to Levin??!!!!

And me is really really really terribly sorry for sort of kind of um.... findingoutwhathappenedattheendofstory. Ahhhh!!! Don't hurt me...

Friday, February 1, 2008

On Reaching Part II of Anna Karenina

Stupid Vronsky. I harbor an intense dislike for his innards. Translate: hate his guts.

And I feel as if I should hate Anna, but Tolstoy is such an absolute genious!!! I am almost as attached to Anna as I am to Levin. Tolstoy has made me love the sinner and hate the sin(!)

Each of the characters are so real. I seriously felt like crying when Anna decided not to reject Vronsky. =[

Which brings me back to the theme of this post: I hate Vronsky.

Maybe we could start a club....