Friday, February 29, 2008


The twenty-ninth of February is a day to cherish; it's an extra 24 hours squeezed into the calendar at regular, but sufficiently distant, intervals, so that when it comes 'round again, it's always a bit of surprise, and I think we could generally do a better job of celebrating the surprise of this welcome surplus by treating it as a day of exemption from the routine, an excuse to break any regular rhythms one has fallen into, and to dare do something one would otherwise not.

Rossini, my secret favorite composer*, was born on a 29th of February, so today is also an opportunity to celebrate the 52nd birthday of a composer for whom the interior figures and accompaniment were often of more interest than the surface, a profligate composer who also knew how and when to be usefully lazy, a composer who retired publicly from music to better delights in his kitchen, leaving, however, some musical sins of his old age, remarkably forward looking pieces of music, assembled with wit and wisdom surely connected to the leisure of a man whose life, from birth, could be taken at one-quarter the tempo of the 99.931...% of us without leapday birthdays.

*Everyone needs a secret favorite composer, and may even reserve the right to have more than one.


aaron hynds said...

I completely agree with your notion of the "secret favorite composer". That's how I sometimes feel about my affinity for Morton Feldman and his music, as most of the people I deal with have no idea who he is, even if they know of some of his contemporaries. Every time I listen to "Rothko Chapel", it's like listening to my own little secret.

PWS said...

Who's your out in the open favorite composer?