There is something to be said for a winter celebration. When the atmosphere is forbidding, we who have to live in it like to find ways to make it more bearable. That's what many of our holidays are really about. Winter carnival season fits perfectly into the month that I like the least. That may not be exactly why it's there, but it works for me.
Lent began on Wednesday for most of the Christian world. Somewhere in the distant past, the church decided to have a period of fasting and self-examination to prepare for Easter, a little fast before the feast, which is an important part of each year's psychic sculpting. We can't feast all the time, and having to do without for a while should make it all the sweeter when the feast finally arrives. That theory works for some people, but not for the party-all-the-time crowd, who, however, lacked the discipline necessary to get themselves into power and thus effect the rules very much. But probably due to their overwhelming numbers, they were still able to make some impression. When Lent was introduced, many people's first reactions must have been: oh dear, this sounds like it calls for too much self-discipline. When exactly does it start? Because up to the last possible minute before it takes effect I want to party my brains out! And thus Fat Tuesday was born. And people created pancakes so they would have something to eat on said festival day. Doesn't my little history sound authoritative?
I can understand the need to make things a bit more cheery during these cold and dark winter months. I have need of it myself. This year I found a couple of fun musical selections to take my mind off the month. Last week I shared with you some variations on Yankee Doodle. This week, I thought it would be interesting to take one of Antonin Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, originally written for piano duet and then orchestrated, and translate it again for organ. I was planning to play it as a duet by utilizing the playback system, but then I decided to just try my own on-the-fly arrangement of both parts, which mostly meant having the secondo part in front of me and playing the upper part from what I could remember.
It's my musical version of a winter carnival. Took my mind off the immediate circumstances. Had nothing at all to do with what music needed to be prepared for anything. A little boisterous for all that, actually. I'll be playing some nice, restrained Bach for church this weekend. But in the meantime, here I am having some fun with an ad-hoc organ transcription. Enjoy!
Dvorak: Slavonic Dance in g minor, op. 46 no. 8
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