The Bull on the Roof

Yesterday was spent teaching History of Conservative Thought, painting a classroom floor, and rushing around the Pee Dee region teaching four music lessons, before finally heading out of town for a few days. Needless to say, there wasn’t any time to get a post ready for this morning.

The news has also been light. The first round of Democratic presidential primary debates is tonight, but who cares other than the candidates?

There was a bit of a diplomatic imbroglio with Iran last week, but did anyone really think war was going to break out? Trump handled it Trumpishly; that is effectively, letting the mullahs sweat it out a bit before giving them an out (and signalling to Iranians that he cares more about their lives than the Ayatollah).

That’s why I’ve been sticking to the history and culture posts lately. There just hasn’t been much to say on politics, because there’s so much good happening. Illegal immigration is still a major problem, but otherwise the only “bad” news is that the economy is still growing, just not as quickly as a year ago.

So, brace yourself for another self-indulgent post (this publication is a blog, after all). While driving last night, I hit a classic rock and talk radio dead zone, so I resorted to public radio. I was pleasantly surprised.

The program featured a concert recording of the Greenville (SC) Symphony performing French composer Darius Milhaud’s delightful “Le Bœf sur le toit,” or “The Bull on the Roof.”

Fans of Civilization VI who have played as Brazil will hear some similar themes and styles, as the composition quotes dozens of Brazilian folk songs. The tune is full of Latin-inspired motifs, and it is a charming, fun piece.

Milhaud wrote the piece in 1920 for a silent Charlie Chaplin film that was never made, though the ballet has apparently been staged. I particularly enjoy these kinds of jaunty, popular modern classical pieces (I adore Gustav Holsts’s The Planets because they are pleasing and interesting, but never pretentious). If I’m going to listen to something for nearly twenty minutes, don’t make it a Philip Glassian nightmare experiment in purposeful atonality.

If you have twenty minutes, I highly recommend listening to this piece. It will be a more enjoyable use of your time than watching the Democratic debates.

8 thoughts on “The Bull on the Roof

  1. […] “The Bull on the Roof” –  I wrote this piece on my phone while watching my nearly-four-year old niece play.  It was about a charming symphonic composition I heard while driving to visit family.  The titular work is from a French composer, but draws from popular Brazilian music of the early twentieth century. […]

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  2. […] “The Bull on the Roof” – I wrote this post on my phone—never an enjoyable endeavor—while watching my little niece and nephew one evening (they lived, so I guess I wasn’t too negligent).  It’s about a delightful little piece of classical music from 1920, before modern classical music turned into atonal trash and killed the genre.  I wish music composition schools were still churning out composers who could write stuff like this piece. […]

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  3. […] I’ve been pondering lately the ways in which culture gets created.  So much of our current political battles are really, at heart, spiritual.  They are also cultural.  In essence, some people are allowed to have culture; others—straight white Christian men, for example—are not.  Never mind that straight (and a few gay) white Christian men gave us the greatest works of classical music, notions of liberty and self-government, and all sorts of other wonderful cultural products. […]

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