How about some French rock? (courtesy of the worst inflight entertainment system ever*)

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Move the plastic-wrapped blanket and headphones outta the way and settle into your barely-big-enough seat. The hiss and hum of the aircraft not yet ready for takeoff, the slamming shut of overhead luggage doors, various conversations in two or three different languages. And that omnipresent little screen positioned on the back of the seat in front of you, at the moment displaying ads for the airline and its latest features. That screen is gonna be one of your best friends during the ten-hour flight that lies ahead. So it better be friendly, or user-friendly as they still say some 25 years into the Internet age.

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The hum has grown to a dull roar, the flight attendants in their stylish outfits and candy-apple-red lipstick are parading down the aisles confirming everything is just-so. Now’s the time to play around with that screen and check out how to pass the next ten hours. Let’s see, how about “Information” first – where are we on the map, how fast are we traveling, how high in the sky are we climbing as the pressure wreaks havoc on your crackling, popping ears. Hello, anything there? Turn screen on? Turn screen off? Back arrow? This is touch-screen technology, no? Or does one need to use the remote control that’s embedded into the seat back underneath the screen? Well, that remote doesn’t even seem to be removable from its niche, so back to touching – pressing – pushing – pounding the screen – WTF!? Don’t get too crazy, though, or the passenger in front of you might turn around annoyed and angry and cause a complete Mr. Bean moment!

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Movies? Where are they, under “Entertainment” you assume? Right, but nothing’s happening! There’s a tiny, barely-visible cursor floating around on the screen, but it’s totally unresponsive to any logical fingertip movements. Your finger’s here…and that stupid little arrow is way over there! Pound on that icon for “Movies” again! Nothing! What about news? Alright somehow you’ve stumbled upon a BBC World News button – but guess what? It doesn’t work!

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Duh, what’s the difference? I bet old worked better…

Maybe music? Where are those headphones…open the package, untangle the cord (Mr. Bean moment number two in progress), plug ’em in…where? In the holes next to the screen? No, that’s to charge your phone. On the end of the armrest? Of course, so after a few tries they’re in (two prongs on the plug, three holes in the armrest – go figure). Now…maybe that remote is the answer. Ugh…ouch! There, you finally got it to snap out of its cocoon, but in the process you’ve inadvertently switched on the blinding reading light over your seat and summoned the flight attendant. Mr. Bean moment number three!

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Okay, music. Which is coming out of only one side of the headphones. Gotta wiggle that wire a bit…got it. The remote’s buttons seem to make sense, and it even has its own screen. There’s a “global” music choice, let’s see, how about England? They always churn out the best music…but really, “Come Together”? “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”? For the ten-millionth time? The ominous intro to Pink Floyd’s “Time” sounds a bit too dramatic right now…and no need to hear that for the ten-millionth time either. So France! French rock! Should be fun! Maybe even Mylène Farmer’ll show up on the playlist! Well, she didn’t…but here’s the best of what did. Presenting, in true Schizomusical fashion, some French music for a trip home from, uh, Greece:

Fréro Delavega – “Le chant des sirènes” (sounding like a French version of Donovan)
Jenifer – “Paradis secret” (featuring a killer funky guitar)
Calogero – “La Boîte à musique” (if you like Queen…)
Noir Désir – “Un jour en France” (now we’re talkin’ rock! – and they must also be big in Japan)
Johnny Hallyday – “Allumer le feu” (no, NOW we’re talkin’ Rock! and Roll!)
The Arcadian – “Folie arcadienne” (nice and bouncy!)
Michel Delpech – “Pour un flirt” (a French hit from 1971 – say no more!)
Olivia Ruiz – “Mon petit à petit” (back to the 21st century now, and get ready to rock again)
Vanessa Paradis – “Divine Idylle” (just a great song…and check out those teeth)
Zazie – “Rue de la Paix” (almost like Mylène…but what’s with those cops in her backing band)
Alain Souchon – “Foule sentimentale” (Bryan Ferry-ish guy born in Casablanca, Morocco)

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 *Disclaimer: Although their “ice” (information-communication-entertainment) system leaves a lot to be desired, Emirates is an otherwise fine airline.

Images courtesy,,,,,


Mike and Micky – Still Monkee-ing Around

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They were basically four actors, in a TV series about the wacky adventures of a pop/rock band a la the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. One of them, Michael Nesmith, was a musician who sang, played guitar, and wrote songs.  Another, Peter Tork, played guitar and some keyboards, but portrayed the group’s bassist.  Micky Dolenz, who played the drummer, was not a drummer at all – he even had difficulty miming playing the drums. And the fourth, singer-actor Davy Jones, was British, so they couldn’t be accurately called the American Beatles.  Two L.A. producers assembled them into a television “band” that debuted on NBC-TV in September 1966.

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Before long the name of their band was sailing up the music charts, with “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Daydream Believer” all hitting number one. After the TV show had run its course, from 1966 to 1968, the group continued to record and release music, though with less chart success.  Decades later, the remaining members (Jones passed in 2012 and Tork just recently, on February 21, 2019) still record and perform.  Hey, hey, they’re the Monkees.

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March 9 saw “The Monkees Present the Mike and Micky Show” pull into NYC’s Beacon Theatre with two sets of songs — both hits and non — led by Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and a nine-piece backing band including Mike’s son Christian, Micky’s sister Coco, and multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory.  After wishing Micky a happy birthday (the guy just turned 74), they hit the ground running with “Good Clean Fun” from 1969’s The Monkees Present. Other highlights were the Peter Tork composition “For Pete’s Sake” (used as the closing theme for the TV show), a handful from 1967’s Headquarters, “Birth of an Accidental Hipster” from the group’s 2016 album Good Times, two from 1968’s Head soundtrack (including the rocker “Circle Sky” complete with snippets from the movie), and the still-relevant pop masterpiece “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” As the stage darkened, Peter Tork appeared in a videoclip performing a song called “Till Then” – a touching tribute bringing set number one to a close.

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After a brief intermission (hey, these guys need to rest for a few minutes!), Mr. Nesmith emerged for an acoustic “Papa Gene’s Blues” from the first Monkees album. Mr. Dolenz joined him for the rowdy “Randy Scouse Git” (a Micky composition and a 1967 U.K. hit – under the alternate title “Alternate Title” as the original was considered too risqué for Brits), then the night’s only non-Monkees song, “Joanne,” a solo hit for Michael Nesmith & The First National Band (and a request by newsman and Monkees fan Brian Williams).

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The show wound down with another from Good Times, the beautiful “Me & Magdalena” (written by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard). In fact, it would have been nice to hear more from that album – there’s not one bad song on it! Finally, a one-two-three punch of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Daydream Believer” (with Micky leading the singing audience), and “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” Then as a bewildered Mike looked around and realized the rest of the band was gone, they all returned for 1969’s “Listen to the Band” and the ultimate Monkees hit, “I’m a Believer.”


The current U.S. tour is done…but those of you “down under” can catch ‘em in June – check out that tour schedule here!

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Beacon Theatre YouTube videos courtesy Paula Carabell and Otom Izot /; Peter Tork YouTube video courtesy Paste Magazine

Beacon Theatre photos by me

Other images courtesy,,,,,

DIY 101 – with R. Stevie Moore and the Alter Boys

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At age 16, Robert Steven Moore got a four-track reel-to-reel tape deck, started creating music in his parents’ suburban Tennessee basement…and eventually became R. Stevie Moore, “the great-grandfather of DIY lo-fi home recording,” releasing literally hundreds of albums, many on cassette tape. Schizomusica readers may remember his 2017 collaboration with Jason Falkner of Jellyfish, Make It Be (his, what, like 478th release), but otherwise nowadays the man pretty much keeps the good ol’ low profile.

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Back between 1984 and 1989, as French record label New Rose was issuing four of his albums on vinyl and the name R. Stevie Moore was rising to brief notoriety there (his cover of “Chantilly Lace” was a minor French hit), five scruffy young DIY lo-fi guys were trawling the grimy streets, dive bars, and cheap rehearsal studios of New York City, peddling a stew of songs – both originals and covers – that was equal parts 60s Stones, 70s trash-rock, and 80s post-punk. Under the moniker the Alter Boys (not to be confused with an Ohio band by the same name who surfaced around 2005), they self-released a single, signed to short-lived label Big Time Records and put out an album, churned out a handful of demo tapes, broke up, reunited in the early 90s long enough to make an indie CD, then vanished into the black hole of rock ‘n’ roll.

Lo and behold, now it’s 2019, and both these acts are more or less “back”: R. Stevie Moore with Afterlife, a polished collaboration with Irwin Chusid, Ariel Pink, Lane Steinberg, and (once again) Jason Falkner of some formerly not-so-polished tunes, and the Alter Boys with Get Lost, a limited-edition, vinyl-only compilation of unreleased demos plus that first 3-song single.

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Afterlife opens in fine guitar-pop fashion with “Irony,” a song originally from 1977, and continues with “Pop Music,” a ’74 composition appearing in its current state in 2011…and a gorgeous exercise in, uh, pop music, that at times sounds like George Harrison sitting in on Chicago’s “Just You ’n’ Me.” The sunny “Come My Way,” with its Kinks-meet-The-Association vibe, also originated in the early 70s. R. Stevie’s omnipresent humor rears its bearded head on “National Debate” (“You’re a rotten so and so,” he chants to…someone in 2010 – that’s when he wrote it apparently, well before the current state of the onion, I mean union). The XTC-ish “Another Day Slips Away,” one of the gems on Make It Be, is included here, in its older, weirder form. And Moore does more than just “channel” Brian Wilson on “Here Comes Summer Again” – he appears to have extracted some basic elements from Pet Sounds and assembled them into his own creation. The Beatles’ “Blackbird” is the inspiration for the delicate guitar backbone on “You Don’t Have to Worry About My Love,” and the album goes out on a Zappa-as-folkie note with “Back In Time.” Afterlife is out on Bar/None Records February 22.

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Meanwhile, Get Lost by the Alter Boys is available now! Here! It’s a super-limited run of 200 copies so I would not procrastinate. The album kicks off with “Piles,” the A-side of the band’s first single from 1986 and a perfect example of what might’ve happened if the Buzzcocks and the Velvet Underground were the same band. Garageland instrumental “Slum Surf” follows, then get dancin’ to “Love You,” get dancin’ faster to “Lady Speedstick” (do they still make that?), get Tom Verlaine’ed to “Can’t Change,” and get downright funky to “Beautiful World” (a different recording from the Andy Shernoff-produced one on Soul Desire, their 1987 Big Time release). And cuz this is a vinyl record, you gotta flip it over to hear the rest…like the obscure cover of an already obscure Velvets song, “Guess I’m Falling in Love”; the catchy, pre-“jangle”-rock of “Whatever Happened to You,” “Can’t Die For You,” and “40 Miles”; the other two tracks from the single, “Gimmie What I Want” and “Buk’s Song”; and the closer, the Turtles-esque “No More Anymore.” Featuring John Carruthers (lead vocals), JZ Barrell (guitar and vocals), Ed Bradin (guitar and vocals), Mark Scholl (bass), and Roger Rawlings (drums and vocals). So grab a slice…but first grab this slice of Ed-Koch-era, still-sleazy NYC before they’re all gone!

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R. Stevie Moore photos courtesy Wegard/N.Y. Times,
Alter Boys photos courtesy Tom Wear, John Carruthers, JZ Barrell

Alex Chilton sings “Chet Baker Sings”!

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The voice of the Box Tops in the 60s. The man behind Big Star in the 70s. Solo cult classic in the 80s.

And during the last fifteen years before his untimely death in 2010, Alex Chilton revisited and recorded a handful of jazz standards, leaning heavily on songs from Chet Baker Sings, an album that made a lasting impression on seven-year-old Alex as he listened to it in his family’s suburban Memphis home…on a street called Robin Hood Lane. Thus, Songs From Robin Hood Lane, a 12-track collection of previously-unreleased performances and out-of-print rarities.

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Leading off with a loungy, flute ‘n’ organ rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” (not the 1964 Gerry and the Pacemakers song, but a 1946 Louis Jordan tune also done by Ray Charles in 1959), and a stripped-down, acoustic-guitar-and-voice-only “My Baby Just Cares for Me” (a hit for Nina Simone in 1958), Songs From Robin Hood Lane visits no less than six numbers originally recorded by jazz trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker on Chet Baker Sings (1954) and Chet Baker Sings and Plays (1955). The similarities between Chilton’s and Baker’s romantic vocalizing become apparent as Alex and his backing musicians swing their way through “There Will Never Be Another You,” “That Old Feeling,” “Look for the Silver Lining,” “Time After Time,” and the classic “Let’s Get Lost.” Also on the bill are a guitar-ized version of Maynard Ferguson’s instrumental “Frame for the Blues,” and “All of You,” an amusing song popularized by Nick Apollo Forte as nightclub singer Lou Canova in Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose.

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The album is out February 8 on Bar/None Records along with From Memphis To New Orleans, a compilation of material from Chilton’s 1980’s period including the charming Chilton original “Paradise”; his response to the AIDS crisis at the time, “No Sex”; a rockin’ tribute to the Dalai Lama that borrows from the beginning of “Secret Agent Man”; and covers of Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y” and Ronny & The Daytonas’ car-rock staple “Little GTO.”

Unfortunately Alex won’t be touring behind these releases…let’s just say There Will Never Be Another Alex Chilton.

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Images courtesy,,,,

Artie Lamonica Changes Shirts

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Once upon a time in the mid-seventies, there was a New York new wave band called The Shirts, sporting a sound that welded the guitars of Television to the keyboards and vocals of Elvis Costello & The Attractions. Formed in Brooklyn by Robert Racioppo and Artie Lamonica along with singer Annie Golden, the band gigged frequently at CBGB’s, and featured on two of the lengthier songs on the seminal Live at CBGB’s album. Their 1978 single “Tell Me Your Plans,” while remaining in the new wave underground here, went top five in Europe. Alongside several disbandings and reformings of The Shirts, songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Artie Lamonica is alive and well with his band Rome 56. Taking cues from later Shirts albums (2006’s Only the Dead Know Brooklyn and 2010’s The Tiger Must Jump), Rome 56 comes bounding into 2019 with a 5-track EP and an upcoming album.

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Last summer the band toured the U.K. and the Netherlands, more recently finishing up a season-long residency at Sidewalk in NYC’s East Village on December 22. Performing an eclectic collection of stuff from their albums (spanning 1999’s Sacred Avenue through the present) along with a Shirts tune or two (the lively, trumpet-infused “Spanish Steps” from Only the Dead Know Brooklyn), plus the seasonal “Coming Home for Christmas,” Lamonica and company bedazzled the cozy group of fans with their cool, Costello-ish vibes. Speaking to Mr. Lamonica after the set, he wholeheartedly agreed with the EC comparisons.

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Which brings us to Stranger on a Train, the latest Rome 56 offering. The EP kicks off with the urgent, guitar-driven title track and continues with the ominous “Coffin Song,” the catchy swing of the Kinks-like “Dirty Money,” and the timely “Web of Lies” (more Kinks influence – “Til the End of the Day” with sort of a Dire Straits feel, and the best of the five songs here). The band finishes up on the quiet side with “It’s Raining in Paris” (featuring keyboardist Kathy Lamonica on appropriately Parisian accordion). And if you missed any of their 2018 Sidewalk gigs, Rome 56 will be appearing there again January 25 at 7 pm. Come and check ’em out!


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Images courtesy,,,,,

Rome 56 band photos by me

Another year down the drain…


…which means it’s time for the Schizomusica Top 100 of 2018! Before New Year’s this time! With video links! (except two) and Spotify playlist link at the bottom! So Happy Holidaze!

  1. TIME SONG – The Kinks
  3. CATATONIC – The Essex Green
  4. WHISPER – Richard Lloyd
  5. TOXIC – The Surfrajettes
  6. WE’RE SO NICE – The Damned
  7. 25 LINES – Elk City
  8. SMALL VICTORIES – The Lemon Twigs
  9. DISAPPEARING MAN – Byron Isaacs
  10. YOU KNOW HOW IT IS – Kero Kero Bonito
  11. D.R.U.N.K. – Shooter Jennings
  12. ADVICE TO THE PRESIDENT – Chandler Travis Philharmonic
  13. SLOANE RANGER – The Essex Green
  14. HOLD THAT THOUGHT – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  15. WHAT’S DONE IS DONE – Jack White
  16. CONSEQUENCES – The Walk-A-Bout
  17. SONAR DECEIT – The Damned
  18. HEARTBREAKER – Rich Hope
  19. COOL LIKE YOU – Blossoms
  20. I WAS A FOOL – Sunflower Bean
  21. KIMI NO MIKATA – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
  22. DESOBEISSANCE – Mylène Farmer
  23. MAKE BELIEVE – Kero Kero Bonito
  24. SPARROW – Elk City
  25. ANGEL – Charles Lloyd & The Marvels with Lucinda Williams
  26. I’LL BE YOUR PILOT – Belle and Sebastian
  27. SINKING SANDS – Sunflower Bean
  29. THE 710 – The Essex Green
  30. TIEDUPRIGHTNOW – Parcels
  31. SKIN AND BONES – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  32. HIGH HORSE – Kacey Musgraves
  33. WONDERIN’ WAYS – The Lemon Twigs
  34. WARRANTY – Meat Puppets
  35. WHY WON’T HEAVEN HELP ME? – Elvis Costello & The Imposters
  36. PROCRASTINATION – The Damned
  37. VOTE ’EM OUT – Willie Nelson
  38. WHEN SHE’S LOST YOUR MIND – Steve Barton
  39. YOUR GHOST – The Decemberists
  40. BAD LUCK – Neko Case
  41. FLYWAY – Kero Kero Bonito
  42. DAILY LIAR – The Damned
  43. THE SECOND SHIFT – Virginia Wing
  44. THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT GOES – The Walk-A-Bout
  45. BURNT SUGAR IS SO BITTER – Elvis Costello & The Imposters
  46. I CAN TELL – Richard Lloyd
  47. RIDE THE SLIDE – Elk City
  48. NAMELESS, FACELESS – Courtney Barnett
  49. ANGELS FLY – Gin Blossoms
  50. BEST FRIEND – Belle and Sebastian
  51. TOO MUCH TOO SOON – Sunshine & The Rain
  52. SING ME A SONG – Cowboy Junkies
  53. DIP YOU IN HONEY – The Wombats
  54. TIR HA MOR – Gwenno
  55. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr
  56. THINGS ARE LOOKING UP – The Walk-A-Bout
  57. QUEEN OF MY SCHOOL – The Lemon Twigs
  58. LOIS LANE – Franz Ferdinand
  59. EVERYBODY KNOWS – The Jayhawks
  60. DUST – Charles Lloyd & The Marvels with Lucinda Williams
  61. COME THROUGH – The Regrettes
  63. THERE’S A LIGHT – Jonathan Wilson
  64. LITTLE RULE BREAKER – Steve Barton
  65. PUPPET STRINGS – Sunflower Bean
  67. DADDY’S FARM – Byron Isaacs
  68. PINK OCEAN – The Voidz
  69. ONLY IN THE DARK – Jesse Ainslie
  70. THUNDERCLOUDS – LSD (Labrinth, Sia & Diplo)
  71. NEVER KNOW – The Lemon Twigs
  72. TWENTYTWO – Sunflower Bean
  73. SPIN OUR WHEELS – Sloan
  74. FUTURE ME HATES ME – The Beths
  75. EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE FAMOUS – Superorganism
  76. I LOVE LA – Starcrawler
  77. DIRTY COMPUTER – Janelle Monáe (feat. Brian Wilson)
  78. DISAPPOINTMENT – Chandler Travis Three-O
  79. DARK SPRING – Beach House
  80. SUNSHINE ROCK – Bob Mould
  81. BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT – Melody’s Echo Chamber
  82. INVISIBLE FRIENDS – Justus Proffit & Jay Som
  83. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet
  84. YOUR DOG – Soccer Mommy
  85. MODERN RAIN – The Essex Green
  86. LA LUNE EST CROCHE – Michot’s Melody Makers
  87. SHADOW PEOPLE – The Limiñanas (feat. Emmanuelle Seigner)
  88. SUGAR & SPICE – Hatchie
  89. PSYCHIC LIPS – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  90. GOLDENACRE – Hamish Hawk & The New Outfit
  91. PARTY LINE – The Surfrajettes
  94. UP YOU – Rachel Taylor Brown
  95. HUMILITY – Gorillaz (feat. George Benson)
  97. MORE THAN THIS NIGHT – Chandler Travis Three-O
  98. LOVE’S GONE AGAIN – Starcrawler
  99. SNOW BOUND – The Chills
  100. IT COME ALIVE – Rich Hope

Countdown-style playlist (songs reversed) on Spotify:

Image up top courtesy

Happy 248th, Mr. Beethoven!

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What were you doing on December 16, 1770? If you’re that old, you might recall a guy named Ludwig van Beethoven was born that day in Bonn, Germany. A little later on in 1824, the younger folks (!) certainly remember one of Mr. B’s works was performed for the first time in Vienna. He called it “Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125” (a.k.a. the “Choral Symphony”). Being a 20th century boy though, I only heard of Beethoven around 1967 from this dude:

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So back to the 9th…ominous stuff, that beginning movement, Allegro ma non troppo. Dark ’n’ stormy, to borrow the name of one of my favorite cocktails. The second movement, Molto vivace, is all vigorous, unstoppable rhythm and ghostly string echoes that make the music sound like it’s bouncing back and forth off massive mountains, in and out of vast valleys. Not even the liveliest of Mozart can rival it. Movement number three, Adagio molto e cantabile, the slow one, is indeed slow, but you can’t have the whole symphony without it. And it’s got an appropriately Beethoven-ish loud, pompous fanfare in the middle.

Finally, the famous last movement. Three minutes in, the familiar melody, nicknamed “Ode to Joy” after Friedrich Schiller’s poem, which makes up most of the “choral” text, creeps along as played by low, mysterious cellos and basses. The opera-esque choral portion is the centerpiece, followed by some real German beer-stein-swinging, and then, twenty-five minutes after the opening notes, the end. WOW. The ultimate piece of music. A symphony within a symphony, it’s been called.

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The colossal work was most recently performed by an equally colossal ensemble of some 300 musicians and vocalists called Distinguished Concerts International, at Carnegie Hall on December 3, 2018. Under the baton of Jonathan Griffith, the DCI orchestra and singers filled the venerable concert hall with so much intensity and jubilance that the hour-plus-long symphony seemed to pass by in a matter of minutes. And…to think Beethoven was deaf when he composed the whole thing. Amazing!

Happy 248th, Mr. B!

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Images courtesy,,,