Friday, July 22, 2016

"Sights and Sounds" - Just Some Thoughts Swirling Around These Two Sources of Imagery...

This morning one of my pedagogical ventures came back to me; namely, a course I put together and taught at both high school and college levels. It was given the title " Sights and Sounds," which was an interdisciplinary venture  combining music and a number of  other subjects;  and spending, say, a week or so  in fusion form in order to enhance the total: for example, I might invite the head of the English department to spend two or  three sessions  on Shakespeare, after which I would offer Elizabethan music for the next sessions in order to bring into greater focus the 'flavor' of that period in history.
Other subjects, such as  physics,  or math, would  become involved in the same linear format. It turned out to be a quite popular way of  projecting added perspective to the object of examination.
Which  brought me to thinking about some documentaries produced over a half century ago, dealing with some aspects of World War II, and the music written for these productions.
One was a description of the conflict in Burma and India, and the intense struggle between the adversaries in  one of the world's most hostile and disease-ridden locations.And how tense and dark the music was, in order to complete a lurid picture of those times. And the composer? How many of us remember Elie Siegmeister, whose music was of a stature that attracted conductors like Toscanini and Stokowski  to perform some of his work. Some thought that he was the equal to Aaron Copland,, a far better known composer.
And other composers of stature, such as Darius Milhaud and George Auric, two gifted composers of the Post-Impressionist period, belonging to  the powerful 'Les Six?' They wrote for the same series, dealing with subjects such as Erwin Rommel, or the Danish Resistance fighters. Auric wrote the music for the acclaimed picture, "Moulin Rouge," the story of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec. And  the primary pop tune in the movie "Where Is  Your Heart" became  a long-standing  hit. Milhaud taught for a period on the West Coast, where he encountered a promising student named Dave Brubek.
I remember them well, as a young man - for all I know, they may well have influenced my thoughts enough about the  fusion of sight and sound,  in order to bring  that little class I taught into reality.

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