Saturday, December 12, 2015

Refugees, Hope, and a Cello

My friend Webb sent me this photo he came across the other day, taken by Robert Capa in 1939. This is a member of the Barcelona Philharmonic who fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War, The place is Bram, France. The caption of the photo from the news source reads "Former member of the Barcelona Philharmonic at an internment camp for Spanish refugees."
It's an exceptionally powerful photograph. The eyes are vacant. He looks exhausted...hungry....lost. He clutches the one thing that probably gave him hope and comfort.....his cello. I don't know anything about this person, and no other details were provided. I did read that many such refugees were killed in these camps. A year after this, France fell to the Germans who instituted their own horrific treatment of refugees and lost souls who found themselves displaced or labeled as "undesirable."
And what about his cello? What jumped out to me was that it is not in a case. He, and the others in this picture, are wearing heavy coats. Fine instruments don't do well in cold weather, exposed to the elements. Perhaps he was playing it when this picture was taken. What was he playing, I wonder? Perhaps a Bach Cello Suite?
Given the events in our world today, this 76 year old picture seems like it could have been taken yesterday. If he was playing it at the time of the photo, I imagine the sweet, rich sounds only a cello can make gave him, and those around him, a brief sense of peace and comfort.
To that end, let's listen to some beautiful cello music.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Mozart for Infiniti

Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute, premiered on September 30, 1791. And now, 224 years later, the music from his classic opera is being used to market the 2015 Infiniti QX60 SUV. The commercial is called "Be Ready to Winter". Here's a description from

Somewhere in the snowcapped mountains, a gray flag reading "Be Ready to Winter" waves in the wind. A 2015 Infiniti QX60 glides by in slow motion to the overture of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Inside, a family eats popcorn with smiles on their faces. A man in an Infiniti Q70 drives down a ski slope, weaving through the flags, while a woman reverses her Infiniti QX50 through a cone-marked path. Soon, the cars come together against a backdrop of snow and clouds.

Some of you may not like classical music being used to market products of any kind. I disagree completely. Any exposure classical music gets in popular media where it reaches a wide audience, is a good thing. I understand that most people won't know what they are hearing....but that's where I come in....and you. We can learn what it is, and talk about it...and listen to The Magic Flute on Youtube or Spotify etc.....and explore it further.

Here is the commercial: