Monday, September 26, 2016

Words And Music

A busy weekend kept me from acknowledging two significant birthdays in the world of the arts, that of the British composer, John Rutter, and the American writer, William Faulkner. John Rutter, celebrates his 71st birthday Saturday. He is deeply appreciated in the U.S. and Britain for his many choral and other compositions, for his work as a conductor and arranger. and as the founder of The Cambridge Singers. Some classical music critics, mostly in Great Britain, find his compositions to be a bit simple, repetitive, and stylistically confused. Others place him at the top among 20th century composers. I have to side with the latter appraisals. The melodies are generally simple, the harmonies beautiful, and the style affords a perfect balance of music and message. Furthermore, choirs of all sizes and skill levels perform his work to appreciative audiences everywhere. If popularity is any indicator, John Rutter's music will be enjoyed for a long, long time.

John Rutter

Here is the opening canticle, "O All Ye Works of the Lord," from his 2015 composition, The Gift of Life.

Sunday, September 25, marked the birthday (1897) of William Faulkner, the world-famous writer and favorite son of Oxford, Mississippi. He explored the character of the South in a string of novels and stories predominately over a twenty year period beginning around 1920. This work earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Later work was recognized with two Pulitzer Prizes. 

Carl Van Vechten - William Faulkner.jpg
William Faulkner in 1954
Faulkner has never been an easy read for this writer. His complexity and detail, along with the run on sentences and page long paragraphs, makes the experience as challenging as the analysis of his characters. Having lived four decades in the Deep South, I can appreciate in my own small way the 20th century Southern personality Faulkner captured. Folks here were different then. Now that regional character continues to change with a changing South. It is an interesting overlay.


Photos and Illustrations:

Faulkner photo, Carl Van Vecten Collection, United States Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


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