For some reason I listened to these two song and decided to post them together. The first is a classic by The Boss, who, I might add, is only two months older than I am. He’s one of those similar-aged public figures, like Meryl Streep, by whom I gauge how well I’m ageing. (I’m not doing badly vis-à-vis Springsteen, but way worse than Streep.)
“Hungry Heart” comes from Springsteen’s album “The River,” issued in 1980. It’s hard to find good live performances of the song because for years Springsteen’s let the audience alone sing the first verse.
The beginning verse, in which a man simply runs away from his family and life, reminds me of the beginning of Updike’s Rabbit, Run, but on YouTube a bunch of commenters, not knowing the difference between fact and art, chews out The Boss for writing about adultery. I often think of this song when I get dispirited with the academic life:
This may very well be my favorite piece of classical music: it’s the last (allegro) movement from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major (BWV 1051; 1721), performed here in my favorite version, by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. It’s very bouncy—like Tigger.
The absence of violins is unusual. Viola da braccio means the normal viola, and is used here to distinguish it from the “viola da gamba”. When the work was written in 1721, the viola da gamba was already an old-fashioned instrument: the strong supposition that one viola da gamba part was taken by his employer, Prince Leopold, also points to a likely reason for the concerto’s composition—Leopold wished to join his Kapellmeister playing music. Other theories speculate that, since the viola da braccio was typically played by a lower socioeconomic class (e.g., servants), the work sought to upend the musical status quo by giving an important role to a “lesser” instrument. This is supported by knowledge that Bach wished to end his tenure under Prince Leopold. By upsetting the balance of the musical roles, he would be released from his servitude as Kapellmeister and allowed to seek employ elsewhere.