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Day: August 1, 2016

Why did Nixon and Kissinger undermine the Secretary of State?

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Posted in categories: Countries

Kissinger undermined Rogers at every opportunity because he was profoundly insecure. Kissinger would yell at anyone available (quite often Haldeman) for hours about slights, real and imaginary. The story of Kissinger’s time as National Security Adviser was a story of constant tussling with Rogers, and making sure Rogers was kept in the dark. Nixon initially […]

What is your favorite Mahler movement, and why?

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Posted in categories: Music

It’s an awful question to pose, to pick just one (or even several). I’m forcing myself to limit myself to five: The 2nd movement of the Ninth: a dialectic of nostalgia and dissolution, of wistfulness and nihilism. The 1st movement of the Ninth: an astonishing accomplishment both formally (everything is in the first two bars) […]

What is it about Mahler’s first two symphonies that keeps making me hit the repeat button over and over again along with breaking down and weeping?

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Posted in categories: Music

The first four Mahler symphonies are called Wunderhorn symphonies for good reason: they all draw inspiration from songs in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn collection, including quotations or rearrangements of song settings that Mahler had done. That correlates with the structure of the Wunderhorn symphonies, contrasted with his later work: more songlike, more scene-painting, more focus […]

What are your favorite movies and why?

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Posted in categories: Culture

Oliver Stone’s Nixon. It may be an eccentric choice. It may be the choice of someone who does not understand film at all. But it’s my favourite movie. Grand Shakespearean tragedy, operatic, intense, cinematic tour-de-force, encompassing the world like a Mahler symphony. And not that this matters anywhere near as much to me, but historically […]

How do you improvise on violin with your eyes closed?

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Posted in categories: Music

Dexterity in playing a musical instrument is all about muscle memory, not looking at the fingerboard. After all, you’re meant to play the violin while reading a score. And the fingerboard is in a rather awkward position to be staring at all the time anyway. So, if there is no score around to be read, […]

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