Sunday, September 23, 2007

Check Your Expectations at the Door

A lifetime ago, SwingDaddy and I treated ourselves to season tickets at the San Francisco Symphony. We really enjoyed the experience, especially the pre-concert lectures that explained the hows and whys of the composers. We sat in our comfy box seats among the splendor of Davies Hall, and with two exceptions, the music was gorgeous.

The exceptions are always the interesting part, so here they are:

1) We saw the premiere of an Antarctic Symphony, complete with introduction by the composer/conductor. He had spent five days on an icebreaker ship on location to gather inspiration, and apparently there wasn't much of it to find. Most of the "music" was the bass instruments imitating the engine sound of the icebreaker and the rest was a box of gravel that was periodically rattled.

2) The Antarctic Symphony was unfortunate, but even worse were our shaken expectations for a suite titled Kindertotenlieder. Those of you who speak German, please hold your laughter to the end.

We didn't have time to read the program notes in advance, but it sounded fun. "Kinder" = children, and we knew that "lieder" means song, from all the liebeslieder (love songs) to which we'd performed dances. A cheerful evening of children's songs!

Well, the key missing word? "Toten" means dead. Yeah. Dead children's songs. Songs of mourning for dead children. Not so uplifting and fun. But I'll never forget what Kindertotenlieder means.

8 comments:

Jenny said...

I feel really bad about laughing at anything involving dead children but I just can't help it.

I was *not* expecting that.

Damsel said...

Ouch. It would be bad enough just to listen to those types of songs, but to go there with such a different expectation makes it way worse!

Bob said...

I guess that's why they did not include the English title in the ad. or program.

Mamacita Tina said...

Oh my, no kidding. First one, horrible. Second one, sigh. I bet the rest of the concerts more than made up for the other two. I haven't been to a Symphony concert in ages. I played flute in our Junior and Senior High school symphony. I miss that stuff.

Lady M said...

It was definitely the difference from our expectations that made it so tough!

SassyBelle said...

I TOO feel really bad to laugh at anything involving dead kids, but wow. Oh, lord. why would anyone think that would be a fantastic program to fob off on people? man.

kittenpie said...

Once Misterpie and I went to hear Beethoven's 9th, my fave, and it was opened by this rather odd modern Finnish composition that was a bit fun, but very off the wall. Misterpie was livid, because as he pointed out, people going to hear something fromt he classical canon are not the same people who want to hear "new music." Point taken, but still, he could have been a bit more open-minded!

ewe are here said...

An evening listening to songs about dead children? No wonder they didn't provide a translation in the advertisement; no tickets would have sold!