Monday, June 29, 2015

Beatrayed by Dre? - Bloomberg Business

Beatrayed by Dre? - Bloomberg Business

A remarkably complex and truly operatic business story.  A must read for students of human behavior.

My favorite line from the feature as reading through it I felt this was coming all along:  'The legal provisions at issue aren’t terribly esoteric, and Monster might have a stronger case against its own contract lawyers than it does
against Beats/Apple."

Unfortunately, bad lawyering can be nearly as painful as bad doctoring.  Choose your support team wisely, would be a message here, and maintain active control vs. passive disinterest and "trust."

Stuff happens.  Oh yeah.

I remember my high school law teacher told us:  "if there's ever anything you don't like in a contract, just cross it out...."  If the principal in this story had thought ahead, and done just that, this suit wouldn't exist.

Who wins here?  I'm pretty sure the lawyers will do pretty well......

Friday, June 26, 2015

Master class from a master: Leon Fleischer

Last night in tennis, my opponent, 47, estimated my age at 55.  That was eight years to the complimentary side.  Was he flattering me?  I don't know him well enough to be sure.  But what matters for me is that the needle moved in the right direction.  For that moment I was "beating the system."  Then it was back to reality as he dusted me off 6-1, 6-2, so that would have to be a main consolation of the evening.  That, and the fact that I won three games.  He is a terrific player;  I was lucky to get three.

My little age bump was nothing compared to yesterday's ingenue who presented a master class at Ravinia (June 25, 2015):  Leon Fleisher, who had the look and bearing of a man of 70 or 75, when in fact, he clocks in at 85.  He noted casually his first appearance at Ravinia was some 70 years earlier, when he appeared with an up-and-coming conductor by the name of Leonard Bernstein (who was an old hand as he had already been there once before).

Attending master classes has been a "strange hobby" of mine for years.  It's been a year since I wrote about one when I panned an equally famous soloist for her "master class in how not to give a master class."

This had everything the former didn't:  passion, wisdom, wit, a warm and humane engagement with both the student and audience, weight, gravity, insight and real how-to technique (versus the cop-out 'play it more beautifully', or 'play a more beautiful line,' yes, last year's clinician actually said that.  You can't make this stuff up.)

Leon Fleischer, on the other hand, urged his (two, just two) students (Julia H├ímos, Sher Semmel) to find and express THE MEANING among the plethora of notes, here provided by Herr Schubert und Herr Beethoven.  He went further:  "when seeking maximum expression, don't be afraid to DISTORT time or dynamics."  Let the work breathe, listen to it!, make a statement, not just cascades of notes.

To get there, he gave myriad "inside piano" tips, e.g. pedal first here, create a different sound there, lighten the arms here, slide onto the key vs. attack there.  And so on and so on and so on it went.

From the micro to the macro, he discussed the meat of the piano repertory ("I am not a vegetarian"), i.e. French (sensual), Russian (subjective), and German (metaphysical).  (While we were developing the Obscure Composers Index™, we calculated 42% of all recorded music is German, in fact.)

The latter is music of contemplation, meditation, he said, militated against by our current absorption with smart phones.  ""Got your little thing here," as he went into a spot-on mime, touch, touch, swipe, swipe.  Knowing laughter ensued.  Guilty, your honor, the audience seemed to aver.

Most thought-provoking of all:  his explication of the philosophical underpinnings of the fugue of the Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31, Ab, Op. 110.  It begins with utter desolation, and somehow makes its way, on elbows and knees as it were, by sheer act of will, to a vision of what Fleischer called "the while light of heaven."

It does not appear that Fleischer is ready for any such fate just yet.  His passion for the music, for teaching, and for entertaining an adoring audience remains undimmed, as though he is preparing to embark on his next 70 years on the classical music circuit.  For him, the pursuit of artistic expression never ends, demands one's all, and in the case of the remarkable Leon Fleischer, keeps him perpetually youthful.

Postscript:  There are limits to these things after all.  After two intense hours of teaching, unbroken, he was given a microphone to take "questions and answers."  Growing ruminative, he demurred, instead saying he would leave the audience with three words from his recently (December 27, 2014) departed colleague "Klaus Frank," i.e., pianist Claude Frank.

"Procrastination saves time."

A bit of a Zen koan, as it were, for the audience to take with and solve on their own time.  What is a class, after all, even a master class, without "homework?"

John A. Sarkett is the author of Obscure Composers and Bach and Heaven:  The Promise of Afterlife in the Text of the Cantatas.