Year of Wonder – August

Every day I open the Kindle app on my iPad, read the day's entry from Year of Wonder, listen to the music, and then sit back in awe over the richness and diversity of music history. That has been my routine since New Year's Day (yes, it was a resolution).

In
Year of Wonder, Clemency Burton-Hill describes one piece of music for each day of the year. Her descriptions generally take less than five minutes to read and the music takes less than ten minutes to hear. If you want to know more than what Burton-Hill describes, a quick online search can take you to other resources. If you want to hear more of the music, you will more than likely be able to find it through online streaming. (I recommend Spotify.)

A day-by-day devotion to
Year of Wonder exposes you to a tremendous diversity of composers and styles of music. In short, the world of classical music contains much more than the compositions of dead European males. I always knew this, but Burton-Hill’s book has allowed me to experience what this means in a way that I have absorbed the lesson well.

If I may, I'd like to make a suggestion. Take a break and listen to the music from
Year of Wonder. Rather than saying, "Stop and smell the roses," I prefer to say, "Stop and listen to the music.” Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder does a terrific job mixing well-known classical masterworks with lesser known, and sometimes obscure, works. All told, a trip through her book will provide many moments of pleasure and the type of inspiration that can only come from listening to music.

I have embedded a Spotify playlist for next month’s recommendations from Burton-Hill’s book. I have also embedded videos from this month to provide a sampling of what’s in Burton-Hill’s book.

Enjoy!

Spotify Playlist for AUGUST of the Year of Wonder


Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor, Fourth Movement
Performed by Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra


Scott Joplin,
Gladiolus Rag
Performed by Joshua Rifkin, piano


George Gershwin,
Porgy and Bess, “Bess, you is my woman now”
Performed by Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis


Emahoy Tsequé-Maryam Guèbrou,
The Homeless Wanderer
Performed by the composer


Maria Szymanowska,
Nocturne
Performed by Roberto Piana, pianoforte


Johann Sebastian Bach, “Chaconne” from
Partiat No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Performed by Jascha Heifetz, violin


Francisco Tárrega,
Gran Vals
Performed by Ankia Hutschreuther, guitar


Year of Wonder – July

And the journey continues! I have been reading Clemency Burton-Hill's Year of Wonder since January and listening to the one piece of music she describes for each day of the year.

I have embedded the playlist for July below, as well as videos for a few of my favorites from Burton-Hill's recommendations from June. If you would like to read what Burton-Hill has written about each of these pieces (and many more), I highly recommend purchasing a copy of her book.

Enjoy!

Spotify Playlist for JULY of the Year of Wonder


Bach/Gounod,
Ave Maria
Performed by Kathryn Scott (piano) and Yo-Yo Ma (cello)


Shankar/Menuhin,
Raga Piloo
Performed by Anoushka Shankar and Patricia Kopatchinskaja


Vaughan Williams,
The Lark Ascending
Performed by Hilary Hahn (violin)


Lang,
I Lie
Performed by the UCLA Early Music Ensemble


Abel,
27 Pieces for Viola da Gamba, Prelude
Performed by Petr Wagner


Richter,
Mercy
Performed by Hilary Hahn (violin) and Jessica Osborne (piano)


Mozart, Hell's Vengeance Boils in My Heart (1791)

For no particular reason other than it's always fun to hear, I have embedded two videos of Mozart's great Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute, "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen." (“Hell’s Vengeance Boils in My Heart”).

Animated Graphical Score by Music Animation Machine
 

Diana Damrau, soprano

Year of Wonder – June

Since January I have been posting a Spotify playlist each month for Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder. Burton-Hill's book has been great fun for me, and I look forward each day to reading about a piece of music and finding a variety of recordings for that piece on Spotify.

I have embedded the playlist for June below, as well as videos of a few of my favorites from Burton-Hill's recommendations from May.

Enjoy!

Spotify Playlist for JUNE of the Year of Wonder


Debussy, Children’s Corner, “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum”
Performed by Stephen Malinowski with the Music Animation Machine


Tavener,
Mother of God, “Here I Stand”
Recorded at Kulturtemplet, Göteborg, Sweden


Peter Maxwell,
The Yellow Cake Review, “Farewell to Stromness”
Performed by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet


Bernstein,
Overture to Candide
Performed by Leonard Bernstein conducting the London Symphony Orchestra


Year of Wonder – May

After four months I am still chipping away at Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder and listening to one piece of music every day for 2019. In previous months (January-April) I embedded pieces from the book on this blog that were either new—or relatively new—to my listening repertoire. This month I’ll take a different approach and embed videos of six pieces that are well-known in the world of classical music. I do this to make the point that Burton-Hill’s book will not only introduce you to new music, but also ask you to revisit the music that anyone who listens to classical music should know about.

I have also, as usual, embedded a Spotify playlist of Burton-Hill’s music for the next month.

Enjoy!

Spotify Playlist for MAY of the Year of Wonder


Beethoven,
Symphony No. 5, Fourth Movement (1804)
Performed by Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra


Paganini,
Caprice No. 24 (1817)
Performed by Hilary Hahn, violin


Wagner, Overture to
Tannhäser (1845)
Performed by Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic


Gershwin,
Walking the Dog (1937)
Performed by Sebastian Manz, clarinet, with Danish String Quartet, Martin Klett (piano), and Lars Olaf Schaper (double bass)


Copland,
Fanfare for the Common Man (1942)
Performed by Marin Alsop conducting the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra


Górecki,
Symphony No. 3, Second Movement (1976)
Performed by Zofia Kilanowicz, soprano, with Sir Gilbert Levine conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra


Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings (1880)

"I should have gone mad but for music. Music is indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven's gifts to humanity wandering in the darkness. Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls. It is not the straw to which the drowning man clings; but a true friend, refuge, and comforter, for whose sake life is worth living.” – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

This energetic version of Tchaikovsky’s
Serenade for Strings is played by the New Century Chamber Orchestra under the leadership of the great violinist, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. In 1999, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg received an honorary Master of Musical Arts degree from New Mexico State University, the first honorary degree ever awarded by NMSU (my alma mater, btw).

Enjoy!

Tchaikovsky, Serenade for Strings, First Movement
Performed by the New Century Chamber Orchestra

Billy the Kid Reading List

For everyone attending my Billy the Kid walking tour of Silver City, NM, here's a list or resources to get you started with understanding the Kid and his endlessly fascinating life. Although I could recommend many other books and resources, the items on this list should serve as a good place to begin.

About Billy the Kid – Website

Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride
by Michael Wallis (2007)


The West of Billy the Kid
by Frederick Nolan (1998)


Billy the Kid: A Graphic History
by Willard Ballow (1998)



The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid
by Bob Boze Bell (1996)

  


Antrim is My Stepfather's Name: The Boyhood of Billy the Kid
by Jerry Weddle (1993)



Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life
by Robert M. Utley (1989)




The Tragic Days of Billy the Kid
by Frazier Hunt (1956)

My favorite book on Billy the Kid, even though it contains more legend than history.
 

Catherine's Son
by James L. Smith (2013)

I hope I am forgiven for using this list to promote my own novel about Billy the Kid.


And let's not forget the music.
Aaron Copland composed young Billy's arrival in Silver City. Very cool!

Year of Wonder – April

In Year of Wonder, Clemency Burton-Hill provides descriptions of 366 pieces of music, one for each day of the year. I made a New Year's resolution to listen to every piece in the book, and I have not yet missed a day. What an adventure!

I have already posted playlists for
January, February, and March on this blog, and here's my playlist for April.

Spotify Playlist for APRIL of the Year of Wonder



Here's a few of the book's highlights from March.

Ravel,
Concerto in G major
Performed by Helene Grimaud, piano, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting


Piazolla,
Libertango
Performed by David Robert Coleman conducting the Berlin Philharmonic


Schubert,
Quartet in C major, Adagio
Performed by the Camerata Quartet


Year of Wonder – March

It’s official — I have never stayed with a New Year’s Resolution as long as the one I made for 2019 to listen to all the music in Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder. February supplied some great pieces, from Gregorio Allegri to Giacomo Puccini to John Williams. I will say, however, that I was generally familiar with the music on the February list and wasn’t introduced to as many new pieces as was true for January. I was nevertheless thrilled to wake up every morning and read about the music Burton-Hill had assigned for each day of the month.

Although I made my resolution at the beginning of January, I see no reason the Year of Wonder can’t begin any day of the year. I recommend followers of this blog purchase Burton-Hill's book and get to work reading about and listening to her terrific recommendations. I have posted a Spotify playlist for March for those who want to begin their own Year of Wonder.

I have also embedded pieces by Percy Grainger and Wolfgang Mozart that ranked as highlights for me in February.

Enjoy!


Spotify Playlist for MARCH of the Year of Wonder


Grainger,
Handel in the Strand
Performed by Richard Hickox (piano) and the BBC Philharmonic


Mozart, Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K. 448
Performed by Daniel Barenboim and Margaret Argerich


Year of Wonder – February

I have just finished my first month reading through Year of Wonder by Clemency Burton-Hill. The book provides descriptions of 366 pieces of music, one for each day of the year, and I have dutifully kept up with the mission of the book by reading about and listening to one piece of music every day. I have even given several of the pieces repeated listenings and have come to the end of January with an appreciation for many pieces I had never heard. No doubt, this project has turned into one of the better resolutions I have made for a new year, and I look forward to staying with this adventure for the next eleven months. Many thanks to Burton-Hill for her wonderful book.

If anyone would like to join me in this project, you can begin on any day of the year, and I have embedded a Spotify playlist for the music from February. I have also embedded two of the pieces from January that I had never heard and have cheerfully added to my listening repertoire. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


Spotify Playlist for FEBRUARY of the Year of Wonder


Elena Kats-Chernin, "Unsent Love Letters" (from
Meditations on Erik Satie)
Performed by Tamara-Anna Cislowska


Reynaldo Hahn, "L'heure exquise," excerpt from
Chansons grises No. 5
Performed by Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor) and Jérôme Ducros (piano)