Music for Rush Week

I have been listening to some of Schubert’s string quartets over the last few days – more cheap but high quality recordings from the lovely people at Naxos. In this case, the Kodály Quartet playing his String Quartet No. 15 (D887) and a different CD on which they perform D112, 18 and 46 (I love catalog numbers! I remember being very pleased as a young person finally figuring out what BWV stood for. Small triumphs, you know?).

I was listening to the first of these yesterday afternoon as I was leaving campus to get my ears lowered and I was just at the scherzo, which starts out sounding fairly serious – not grim, but serious, although it gets a little more meditative later on – when I realized that something slightly weird was going on. I was passing some sorority houses, and out front there were these crowds of identical looking young persons (I mean, really identical – all white, all with long straight hair, no pierced noses or mohawks or anything) in identical baggy t-shirts and track shorts, yelling things in unison. And these girls were not messing around. They were in formation, and they were loud. And then the yelling turned to squealing. Rush week! I think this is specifically an American thing, and it’s particularly a southern thing, although they’ve got them in other parts of the country too. But it’s particularly pronounced around here. Any old southern school worth its magnolia trees has also got fraternities and sororities. And which ones you rush, and whether you get in or not has (apparently) a huge determining factor on the kids’ non-classroom life. I’m from the west coast and I went to school in the northeast at a college that did not have any sororities and even if we’d had any I don’t think I would have tried to rush one or succeeded if I had tried. So, the experience is a little foreign to me, although I’m not about to dismiss it entirely. I had a friend in grad school, an engineer, who had been in a sorority at the University of Virginia and she utterly loved it. She also liked Beethoven, so clearly her judgment is sound.

However, as an old faculty crone of thirty-two, Sorority Row during Rush Week is not necessarily a place where I want to hang out. So, I continued on my way and went back to listening to the rest of the first of those two Schubert recordings, which went on from D887 to Schubert’s German Dances (D30) which are great fun. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mozart, Hadyn and Beethoven the past few weeks, and Schubert is a really pleasant change. Similar enough in some ways to the late eighteenth-century music that it’s not a jolt, but also distinctly different. (Yes: Today in News of the Vague and Obvious: Schubert is Distinctly Different From His Predecessors But In Some Ways Not So Different After All.)

11 thoughts on “Music for Rush Week

  1. As one who spends a lot of time vacillating between vague and obvious–though sometimes not so much, and maybe it really is more a case of being undecided, or worse, an unwillingness to commit one way or another–I appreciate your line of thinking.

    AND, I find that whenever you mention which chamber music you are listening to, I have a sudden and great urge to find the same. Though this morning I am doing the Mozar String Quintets (Arthur Grumiaux and friends), I think there may be some Schubert in my future this afternoon. On the other hand, I am thinking about going back to the Guth Messiah in order to put some actual thoughts on paper about it. Or maybe not.

    and FINALLY, Although I totally understand your inclination to FEEL old at 32 on a campus full of teenagers, being 32 hardly qualifies you for crone-hood yet!

    Happy Weekend!


    1. I’d be curious what you think of the Guth Messiah – I’ve watched it once, and I liked it.

      Re: your other comment: awesome! (except for the subtitles). I really enjoyed that Röschmann recital. Did you get the one with her and Bostridge and Quasthoff too?


      1. You created a monster when you gave me the link to Premiere Opera!!!

        That triple recital is on my “wish list”

        I actually downloaded the soundtrack of the Guth Messiah from YouTube a while back and have listened to it more than watched it. Pretty much first-class singing. This past week I waded through the latest Bayreuth Parsifal (subtitles german only, which at least beats no subtitles, or french subtitles!), After that experience, going back and watching this Messiah, I suddenly have a greater appreciation/tolerance/understanding of an opera telling more than one story at the same time. So I am approaching it from that viewpoint. I have watched bits at work, but I really need to sit and focus on it.

        So much music. So little time.


  2. I’m trying to figure out my reading/watching for the w/e. I have a Susan Graham recital disk. OK for an hour or so but then I have to decide whether I can force my way all the way through either Rameau’s “Zoroastre”; a French baroque opera of more than usual pointlessness, or Tan Dun’s “Marco Polo”; an incredibly pretentious English language libretto about space and time sung in the STYLE! ooooof the-uh PEEEEkn Op- RA!


    1. Which Susan Graham disc? There’s one of hers that’s relatively recent of French songs (or maybe it was recent five years ago and I put it on my mental list and forgot about it) that I’ve been meaning to hear, but that hasn’t happened yet.

      Rameau vs. Tan Dun – this is a tough one. French baroque opera can get pretty pointless. I guess it depends on whether you’re in the mood to surrender to pointlessness in French or pretentiousness in English? (I think I’d go with option one if it were up to me.)


      1. The Susan Graham disk is an oldish Warner Classics one with some Mozart, Gluck, Handel, Heggie and Rorem on it. I’ve just listened to “O malheureuse Iphigenie” which is bringing back memories of her singing that role at the FSC opposite Russell Braun last year in a fab Robert Carsen production.

        I ought to be up for the Rameau but I’m so bloody tired. I’ve been wrestling night and day with a really critical strategic problem enough to keep me awake at night. I think I had a breakthrough earlier in the week but in some ways that makes it harder. I’m very blessed to have a job that really matters at last but restful it isn’t.


        1. I’m having similar thoughts about work and getting any listening in – there’s a few things I intended to enjoy tonight or this weekend but between meetings and other tasks and grading all I want to do is crawl under something and sleep. And my students (in an upper-level course!) seem to be struggling with things like thesis statements and evidence. I’m in the middle of a stack of papers and I have never given this many D’s in my life.


          1. I’m slowly realising the scale of what I’m responsible for. The information programs that I run support prescribing for 750,000 chemotherapy visits per year and reimburse hospitals for something like $265 million worth of chemo drugs. It’s a bit daunting.


              1. It’s what I want. If I’m successful Ontario has safer, more efficient, more effective systemic treatment. My metrics ultimately are fewer deaths and fewer chemo patients admitted or in the ER.


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