Mahler symphonies on 4-hand piano; Rosenfels and polarity (and gender); NPR essay hits the "stochastic" problem of today's Internet "freedom of reach"

I wanted to shared a couple of piano four-hands transcriptions of two middle Mahler Symphonies offered on YouTube by Wellesz Theater.

One of these is the Symphony #6 in A Minor, the “Tragic”, as transcribed by Alexander Zemlinsky, performed by Piano duo Silvia Zenker & Evelinde Trenkner. I do have a Leinsdorf recording somewhere.

When I was in the Army stationed at Fort Eustis in 1969, one of the other men, a Berkeley masters graduate in chemistry who called himself 'Rado Suhl', liked certain classical items and this work was one of his favorites.  The previously lesser performed Mahler works (Bruno Walter used to perform just 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9 and 'Das Lied von der Erde') became better known in the 1960s with the support of Leonard Bernstein.  They had been previously viewed as 'weak'.  The Sixth is interesting in that the slow movement (usually played as the third movement) is in E-flat, a tritone away from the home key (that is the relative pitches are multiplied by the square root of 2 in equal temperament, an irrational number so it sounds dissonant to the ear).

Here is the Symphony #7, listed as B Minor sometimes, performed with four hands, translation pianoforte with four hands (1909/1910) by Alfredo Casella. I got a conventional set on Westminster in late 1961 (after returning from William and Mary) and it was the first record I played on my Voice of Music stereo in the fall of 1962 the first time I had stereo. The slow introduction is in B Minor, but the main sonata allegro is in E Minor, with a rather Wagnerian slow development section. The end of the first movement is quite spirited. There follow three movements of “night music” (a term later popularized by Bartok), the first of which (in C Major) has found itself in more than one Hollywood background score before the public became familiar with Mahler. The finale is a spirited Rondo in C, with a lot of wild noise and dissonance throughout, especially at the end. In August 2014, as I recall, I pulled into the parking lot behind the Westover Market in Arlington VA with the end if the first movement playing on the car radio (on PBS). I walked over to see an outdoor event 'Be brave and shave', a cancer fundraiser (the shaving referring to the effects of chemotherapy). Although I am bald om the pate myself, I don’t like these kinds of public presentations of symbolic, substitutive or proxy self-sacrifice.

I wanted to take up a couple other topics.

One refers to the Aug. 17 post on my being a cis male (as a youngster). In 1973, as I was undergoing “my second coming” I discovered a resource called the Ninth Street Center in the East Village in New York City, run by a therapist Paul Rosenfels and companion Dean Hannotte. I had reviewed his main book 'Homosexuality: the Psychology of the Creative Process' (1972) at this restored link. What was at issue was the polarity theory . At the time, there was relatively very little attention to the possibility of transgenderism (although a few well-known persons had attracted attention and often ridicule). In Paul’s world, there was nothing illogical about being a 'psychologically feminine' man, or 'masculine' woman and still being viewed as biologically cisgendered. With his polarity system, there was no need (as now) to separate “sex” from “gender identity”. The feminine personality (with unbalanced would be “subjective feminine”) got more satisfaction of discovering, and sometimes publicly promulgating, “truth”, as opposed to having direct power over others, which might translate to a disinterest in recruiting others to join a partisan political conflict (an aversion to tribalism).

You can look at the site. Some portions of my first book (Chapter 3) used to be there, but I don’t see a link there now.

I also wanted reference an NPR article by Shannon Bond about what the writer says is the targeting of children’s hospitals for “anti-LGBTQ harassment”. The term is misleading, as if to imply opposition to changing the bodies of or interfering with biological puberty and development of minors was 'anti-LGBTQ', touching on other past issues (such as privacy in consenting adult sexual conduct, marriage, or even military service) controversial in previous decades. Or to perhaps the idea that all LGBTQ is somehow “non-binary” and that standards or notions of sexual attractiveness by biological gender (or “sex”) should not exit because they generate oppression. Toward the end Bond hits on an important point, that generally accounts like 'Libs of Tik Tok' or Matt Walsh don’t cross a line of encouraging harassment, but the social context of their activity somehow winds up doing so anyway. This is a rather scary idea. It would imply that the total context of a particular person's output encourages oppression (or even violence – that is 'stochastic terrorism) because of a long standing context, and this leads to . We started seeing this kind of problem in 2019 with Stephen Crowder and Sargon of Akkad. That would imply an individual needs to 'earn' the right to be heard publicly, an idea that I called the privilege of being listened to in my third book or previous essays (such as this 2005 essay). That could lead to ideas like developing social credit scores of speakers (following China), or not allowing individual speech outside of accepted activist organizations, for example with some specific 'Leftist' grievances requiring a public commitment to anti-racism or even anti-ableism (which is a real problem) first.

Bond links to her NPR article on 'grooming' which right now is just too unsettled as a topic to get into right now, for me at least.

(Posted on Saturday August 27, 2022 by John W. Boushka)