Let Them Do the Bar Talk  

(published first on ionarts)

The Bartók Quartet, the umpteenth highlight of the National Gallery of Art's free concert series (2490th concert, March 21), looks like a string quartet should look. Four friendly, elder gentlemen—all in various combinations of sophistication and heftiness—entered the stage with their respective instruments. One of the instruments, in particular, is rather famous. In fact, it was almost daunting to sit within feet of one of the most famous violins—the "Hamma" Stradivarius from 1731, played by first violinist Péter Komlós. Its date of creation makes the violin, by a rough and cheeky estimate, almost as old as the four members of the quartet combined.

The program first featured Mozart's Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 458 ("The Hunt"). In Mozart you might expect a quartet from Budapest (formed in 1957, in the first six years playing as the Komlós Quartet) to play the quartet (itself 54 years younger than Mr. Komlós's violin) in a more European "Coffee House style"; that is, more Classically and less Romantically inclined than many American string quartets tend to play Haydn and Mozart. But, no, it was energetic, communicative, alive, almost driven; this was a very fine appearance, if perhaps a bit routine in a few moments of the Adagio. Of course, it helps that this quartet of Mozart's "Haydn Quartets" is one of the best Mozart ever wrote (next to the "Dissonance" quartet, K. 465, which was played by the Chilingirian Quartet at the Library of Congress; see Ionarts review on October 28). As always, the well-informed, well-written program notes by Elmer Booze were as helpful to me as they surely were to everyone else.
Added commentary by Charles Downey:

This concert was my introduction to the Dvořák waltzes, and I will soon be acquiring a score of the piano version of these pieces as a result. In the two pieces that the quartet played, there was an air of Viennese lightheartedness (as in the "call to the dance" of the first violin in the fourth waltz), but also a measure of modern sound, particularly in the chromatic coloration of the first waltz. As the first half of the program lasted only about 45 minutes (and the whole concert only an hour and a half, with intermission: the guards were shooing us from the building by 8:30 pm), the Bartók Quartet could have played the other six of these waltzes, if I had had my way.

The Stradivarius violin played in this concert, I agree, has a remarkably potent sound, especially in the high E string playing. This is at least partially responsible for the lush full sound for which the Bartók Quartet is often praised. The other members play what are described in the program as "the finest instruments of the eighteenth century," without any more detail. The extensive pizzicati played by Mr. Mezö on the cello part in the second movement (Andante con moto quasi allegretto) of the Beethoven were beautifully executed, too, graceful at times and raucously sforzando when needed. For me, this is the highlight of this quartet. Although it does not actually set any Russian folk melodies (like the first and second quartets in op. 59), this somber and almost gloomy Andante is an extraordinary look forward, in 1805 to 1806, to the enigmatic works of Beethoven's late period. Unfortunately, the blindingly fast contrapuntal final movement had a toe-tapping spectator in front of me furiously tapping like a metronome. At least he was listening to the music: his wife, seated next to him, read a magazine for the duration of the concert.

After Mozartian delight came jollity, courtesy of Dvořák. Two waltzes—Dvořák transcribed these two of eight solo piano pieces (op. 54) for string quartet—were the filler before the intermission. (The works stem from 1880 and—rough estimate again—are just about older than any one quartet member.) The Mozart had been so promising already, the Dvořák, too, made me miss the quartet's namesake's work on the musical menu. That Dvořák liked the two particular waltzes hardly surprises; they are much more than "just quaint" and suggest both a hint of Bohemian forest folksiness and Viennese salon spirit. Very enjoyable little filler, indeed. The Stradivarius, too, got to show the punch it packs without showing off. (Is it just my imagination or does it really soar more than other instruments?)

After intermission, it was the third of the "Rasumovsky" quartets (op. 59, no. 3, in C major) of Beethoven that promised much. It delivered. Indeed, it was astounding enough that it made me stop my usual scribbling and instead focus on the music. The first two movements (only the first long repeat was cut) took me in, especially. While the Beethoven quartets of op. 59 are not everyone's favorites, I have a big soft spot for them in my heart. (Probably because for years I carried the Végh Quartet's splendid recording of no. 2 and 3 on the Valois label around with me, while all the other Beethoven quartets languished in a box at home.) At any rate, the quartet, with a good number of similarities to op. 59, no. 2, was a tremendous joy. The Bartók Quartet played them with sophistication but involvement, with zest but dignity. Not so much "Heroic"—which is the other nickname for this quartet—but perhaps something akin to a 1920s "urban chic"? Mature versions, aged like good single malt, served straight up.

The audience rightly applauded with some enthusiasm the outstanding efforts of Messrs. Géza Hargitai (violin), Géza Németh (viola), László Mezö (cello), and, of course, Péter Komlós. Unfortunately, the audience stopped just shy of eliciting an encore from these gentlemen, which is a shame. Perhaps that would have, could have been the elusive Bartók? Even so, after the Takács Quartet's fabulous concert at the Freer Gallery, this was another cultural "home run" for Hungary, witnessed by Mme. Peják, the Hungarian Ambassador's wife. I am looking forward to more.♫

Recordings mentioned in this review available at Amazon:
Végh Quartet, Beethoven String Quartets, no. 8 and 9 (oop)
Bartók Quartet, Complete Beethoven String Quartets
Salomon String Quartet, The "Haydn" String Quartets
The Lindsay String Quartet, Dvořák Waltzes


An Unlikely Champion of Libertarianism 

(published first at IA-Forum.org, re-published on AFFbrainwash.com)

It’s not a good time for libertarians these days. The White House and GOP-controlled Congress are running deficits that would put “New Dealers” to shame. Democratic candidates, vying for their party’s nomination, outdo each other in bashing free-trade agreements and come up almost daily with new plans for more protectionism.

Amid this hoopla of highly un-libertarian ideas, an unlikely defender of libertarian ideals has emerged in an equally unlikely forum: The Nation.

The Nation’s stance on free trade is not exactly pro-free trade. Apart from domestic protectionism, readers of The Nation can also consume lamentations about the exploitation of third world countries by big corporations. Arundhati Roy, for instance, takes on “New Imperialism”, “New Genocide” and “New Racism” in her article The New American Century (2/9/04).

She sees in the international instruments of trade and finance an informal version of apartheid. This complex system of multilateral trade laws and financial agreements is designed to institutionalize inequity. Says Roy:

Why else would it be that the US taxes a garment made by a Bangladeshi manufacturer twenty times more than a garment made in Britain? Why else would it be that countries that grow cocoa beans, like the Ivory Coast and Ghana, are taxed out of the market if they try to turn it into chocolate? Why else would it be that countries that grow 90 percent of the world’s cocoa beans produce only 5 percent of the world’s chocolate? Why else would it be that rich countries spend over a billion dollars a day on subsidies to farmers demand that poor countries like India withdraw all agricultural subsidies, including subsidized electricity? Why else would it be that after having been plundered by colonizing regimes for more than half a century, former colonies are steeped in debt to those same regimes and repay them some $382 billion a year?

This excerpt might include some premises and conclusions that are not standard libertarian fare – but could a more eloquent case be made for an end to European and U.S. agricultural subsidies, for lower tariffs and truly free trade?

The answer to many of the problems she raises is indeed not an end to globalization but for true and more globalization. For free trade that deserves that name – unilateral on the part of the industrialized nations, if need be.

What Roy suggests, if unwittingly, is the libertarian answer. Domestic protectionism (apart from hurting the economy at home) is the single biggest obstacle to development in other countries and needs to be abolished. Other countries need to be given the chance to export their products to the U.S. or Europe without the punishment of prohibitively high taxes. Agricultural development, one of the few fields where Africa, for example, could more than compete with the developed world, is the necessary precondition for these nations to develop in the first place.

But it isn’t “New Imperialism” or a conspiring neoliberal project that keep Ghana out of the chocolate market. Rather, shortsighted domestic policies and poorly thought out international policies are the cause. Domestic protectionism and subsidies to uncompetitive industries cause more harm than good—and they satisfy important special interest groups. Countries relying on the WTO to lower tariffs and barriers rather than opening their markets at once, waste time and hurt their own economies while perpetuating the depravity of undeveloped countries. The alternative to the WTO, of course, would be unilateral free trade, not a move back to protectionism.

The neo-liberals, libertarians, classical liberals are not the specter that developing nations need to fear. The “project of corporate globalization” that Roy mentions is not the problem. It is far more poignant to blame lack of oversight, too much protectionism, and half-hearted commitments to free trade for keeping the third world in the global poor house.

The future of developing countries is indeed dependent on more unhampered competition, free and fair trade (the global kind – not the ‘buying a pound of coffee in the fair-trade corner store’ version.) Slashing farm subsidies is just the first but hugely important step to end the hypocrisy of keeping Africa, et al. out of the market while boasting about a few million dollars in foreign aid.

Roy said it best. Now we need to listen—and act. צ


What's the Beef With The Passion? 

(published on AFFbrainwash.com, the on-line journal of the America's Future Foundation)

The Atheists’ defense

Collected Reactions

A film has managed to spark thought – or gut reactions, at any rate – among Americans of all ilk like few before. Everyone in the media and intelligentsia, movie reviewer or not, feels obliged to give us his or her impressions.
And the impressions they got! Fascistic, sadist, virulently anti-Semitic, a sickening death-trip, pornographic, soul-deadening, relentless savagery et al. are the labels attached. What sounds like the unholy lovechild of Jud Süß and The Silence of the Lambs is of course Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.
By now everyone is talking about this “religious splatter art film” (Richard Corliss, Time), “the Gospel according to Marquise de Sade” (David Ansen, Newsweek), this “repulsive masochistic fantasy, a sacred snuff film.” (Leon Wieseltier, New Republic) The attack comes from every imaginable angle – and by the time you get done reading all the reviews about it, you may even understand Mel Gibson’s oddly paranoid behavior when talking about the film, seeing conspiracies everywhere.

When I finally saw the film, after over a year of Hoopla surrounding it, its director and the director’s father, I found it to be a wholly unremarkable film. It is a, albeit very graphic, depiction of the 14 Stations of the Cross and the seven last words of Christ on the cross. Why the outrage?


The most obvious accusation leveled against The Passion is that of anti-Semitism. Christopher Hitchens finds The Passion to be anti-Semitic in intention and its director even anti-Semitic by nature! Leaving aside little details such as the difference between anti-Semitism – a rather modern concept – and the ‘more traditional’ anti-Judaism that has been the scourge of the Jewish people for millennia – this points to one of the biggest problems of The Passion... Mel Gibson.
Mel Gibson, characterized by Hitchens as a coward, bully, bigmouth and queer-basher, is probably the cause of much of this ire. Had the same film been made by Bernado Bertolucci (not to say that it’s Bertolucci’s style to make such films), the reaction might have been one of surprise and perhaps a tad concern... but hardly this kind of vitriolic lashing out that started even before the New York Times magazine ran a lengthy article on Mel Gibson’s highly controversial father a year ago.

As a German atheist, I find the idea of salvation by the cross to be one of the most pervasive lies and/or misunderstandings of the history of modern man. To anti-Semitism and Holocaust-deniers I react no less sensitively than Abe Foxman. But what has Mel Gibson’s disturbing father got do with The Passion? Or, for that matter, must we see this film through the mind of Mel Gibson’s rather orthodox Catholicism that includes the rejection of Vatican II – one of the few things that I find positive about the Catholic Church?
I came away with a very different picture of The Passion than Hitchens, Krauthammer, Sullivan and Co. The depiction of the Passion has some inherent difficulties, Gibson or not, and even the Gospel itself can be a divisive issue. But is this really what springs to mind when seeing the film? I find it hard to believe that people would leave the theater any more anti-Semitic than they had or had not been before seeing this film. As Christopher Hitchens points out in his article (“Schlock, Yes; Awe , No; Fascism, Probably”, Slate), an inscription of the Lovingway United Pentecostal Church in Denver that read “Jews Killed the Lord Jesus” was posted before the movie even opened. Such despicable attitudes are present in the murky waters of some unfortunate peoples’ brains. But The Passion does not cause them. And if the film were to elicit such a public show of disgrace, the reaction of the public should rein it in. We do not need attribute the word Fascism to the film to that end.

The polarizing figure of Gibson aside, the fact that Gibson would not allow critics to see the film ahead of its opening caused the ire of many journalists who were consequently hurt in their professional egos (The Nation’s Stuart Klawans all but admits so much). Beyond that: is the actual film anti-Semitic? I don’t think it is. While it would be disingenuous and stupid to claim that the film can’t be anti-Semitic because Jesus and his followers were Jews themselves, the film does not visibly go out of its ways to portray Jews per se as particularly malevolent. There are characters that are portrayed with all of Hollywood’s skills available as evil and vengeful and many of then happen to be Jews – but that alone does not make this picture anti-Semitic.

In “Mel Gibson’s blood libel” Charles Krauthammer is right to point out the history of interpretation of the Passion; that it is one including utmost horror and thus cannot be considered in splendid isolation. For many Christians and non-Christians, Vatican II is the ‘disclaimer’ of sorts for the story of the Passion. Mel Gibson’s rejection of the Vatican II (for whichever reasons; there might be other ones involved than his desire to attribute the death of Jesus to the Jews for all eternity) is unfortunate in this light, but the Passion itself does not come with a disclaimer one way or the other. The context we give the Passion is that which we provide ourselves. That is the reason why it is important to know history and the bible well when seeing this movie. Everyone who doesn’t, will fail to understand the film altogether.

Gibson’s “singular act of interreligious aggression” can’t be whitewashed with the “Leni Riefenstahl defense” (all Krauthammer) of having had other intensions? Oh Boy... The crux is that Krauthammer thinks it is impossible to have an artistic vision and not impose personal interpretation at the same time. This is a problem that many, Christian and non-Christian, viewers or non-viewers alike have mentioned to me: “We don’t want Mel Gibson’s version of the Passion stuck in our head.”
To the degree that the four Gospels, told as one, lend themselves to interpretation, one of the single most positive surprises to me was the fact that in telling the story Gibson succeeds remarkably in making it a very matter-of-factly account of the 14 Stations. Why 10 minutes of sadistic flogging and not “zero, as in Luke?” I suppose that’s the focus on the suffering, more of which later. But it is hardly to drill home the point about what bastards the Jews were – or the Romans, who do all the flogging.

Retelling or Propaganda?

When I mentioned that I found the film rather unremarkable, I meant mostly that as a European the story of the Passion is not particularly new to me. From Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passions to Grünewald’s altar piece to the sullied history of the Oberammergau Passion-play to more harmless little Passion plays and school, I have been surrounded with this story often enough. I don’t know the exact effects of the Oberammergau staging and its contribution to the Holocaust – but growing up long after World War II, the last thing I took away from these depictions was a particular hatred for anyone. Indeed, Gibson’s account, save for the graphic nature of it, corresponded surprisingly much with the naïvely-benign picture I had about the Passion from childhood on. German though as I am, I would object to the claim that I must have grown up amidst rabid Jew-haters and that I was nurtured with propaganda fostering “interreligious aggression”.

Mel Gibson did either not try or not succeed in making this his story; it is the story of Christ. Whatever his personal believes, untimely as they are to me, I believe he tried to make a depiction of the Passion as close as he could, being a religious man – and as good a movie as he could, being an artist. That’s what he does. Movies. Tricky as this may be, I believe he succeeded. This is not The Lord of the Rings or Erin Brokovich where a director imposes his view of a book or story unto a subsequent film. It is not The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. This is a director making moving pictures out of a moving account of Jesus with the means that he knows from his trade.
But Chris Lehmann writing for The Revealer makes the point writes that it is precisely not “a faithful, realistic account of the [...] the greatest story ever told, [but] Gibson’s loudest command ever barked.” Am I one of the unthinking victims to his insidious Leni Riefenstahl propaganda flick? Sorry, I don’t get it. Am I naturally inoculated against the message or too ignorant to discern it? Sure, there were a few moments in which I thought that Gibson the director had taken over from Gibson the ‘faithful’ storyteller. Especially when the cloth, which Veronica holds after cleaning Jesus’ face with it, looks suspiciously much like the Holy Shroud of Turin. Or when Jesus gets thrown over the cliff only to dangle in front of Judas. Where was that again in the Bible? But neither that nor the italicized Latin nor all the beautiful tall people nor Satan’s four cameos really justify the claim that the film is trying to “bend it”, “stretch it” whenever “it comes to the Jews” (Krauthammer) or to whatever else. The link that Krauthammer draws between Satan and the Jews among which he (Satan, not Krauthammer) moves in two of those four appearances – concluding cynically with “a perfect match: Satan’s own people” – is pugnacious or at least silly.

All Suffering, No love?

Another frightfully ill perceived criticism comes up surprisingly often. Somehow, the claim is that The Passion of the Christ is too much about the suffering and not enough about “the message” of Christ. Kenneth Turan from the LA Times complains that the film “fosters a one-dimensional view of Jesus, reducing his entire life and world-transforming teachings to his sufferings, to the notion that he was exclusively someone who was willing to absorb unspeakable punishment for our sins.”
Smarty-pants David Denby from the New Yorker, too, finds that “Gibson is so thoroughly fixated on the scourging and crushing of Christ, and so meagerly involved in the spiritual meanings of the final hours, that he falls in danger of altering Jesus’ message of love into one of hate.”

Now I am only a non-believer, but isn’t the suffering precisely the point? The quibble that there is no focus on the message and doing of Christ – say, a juicy quote from the Sermon on the Mount – but only this assemblage of carnage misses the point spectacularly! If you are looking for Hippy-Jesus with a smile and a bumper-sticker quality quote on love and peace on his lips you might want to try your corner bookstores’ esoteric section. Don’t look for it in catholic thought, though – and don’t look for it in this film.

The very message of Jesus was his suffering, was his sacrifice. Every doing and saying of Jesus makes sense only in light of his crucifixion, his willingness to die for our sins. It may sound pretty stupid to Krauthammer and me, but that’s the belief. And if and only if you understand that can you look beyond the film as Gibson’s “personal obsessions” and “a sickening death trip” (Denby). Focusing on a part and making it the whole is, perhaps singularly, appropriate when it comes to the Passion.
That’s why people unfamiliar with the story should not see this movie – and by ‘not unfamiliar’ I mean ‘very familiar’! Not because there is something to hide from anyone else, but simply because it won’t make sense otherwise. It would then indeed be nothing but an oddly spiritual gore-fest. But if understood rightly, it ought to be the feel-good movie of the year.


Unfortunately the apparent inappropriateness of expressing strong, “outdated”, and politically incorrect faith in public rubs many people the wrong way. Take that, Mel Gibson’s personality, the hurt-ego of journalists, the hype and the incredible ignorance that many reviewers brought to the subject matter and apparently you get the loathing response that is still being poured out over this venture. I don’t suppose that the criticism is any more anti-Catholic than the film is anti-Semitic but it’s surprising and pathetic in both of the meanings of the word.

All the more interesting it becomes what professional movie critics have to say. Calm and no-nonsense comes from Roger Ebert (“Ebert & Roeper”) and Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun Times): “It’s the only religious film I’ve seen with the exception of ‘The Gospel according to Matthew’ by Pasolini, that really seems to deal directly with what happened instead of with [...] cleaned up, postcard versions of it” says the former. The latter concludes: “Mel Gibson’s [Passion] does not preach that anyone – past, present and future – must bear sole responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. [...] It is not a work of hate. It is a powerful and important film, helmed by someone with a sincere heart and a warrior’s sense of justice. It is [...] ultimately a message of redemption and hope.”

Ultimately it is not a film for thumbs up or down. I don’t give the Bible the thumb up or down... But many the overblown attacks on this film deserve a big thumb down. Try again, this time perhaps with more love, less hate. ►►


This Man Should Have Known Suffering? 

(published first on ionarts)

click to order this recording from Amazon This is a short reflection on Franz Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, as recorded on Bruckner, Symphony No. 4 and Schubert, Symphony No. 5, with Günter Wand and the NDR Symphony Orchestra, a two-CD set from RCA, with a half-hour interview with Maestro Wand.

"My God, what delightful music!" So much will immediately cross your mind upon hearing the first 30 seconds of Schubert's Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major. Joyously Mozartian one may say; a youthful drive that dances along sun-flooded streets of a town in gay summertime; or, if one should chose a slightly more drab set of ears, the perversely beautiful day of a warm fall around harvest time. It makes the birds seem to sing along, whether they want to or not, and if you are not outside already you could be forced to open the windows for a fresh and sun-warmed breeze yourself.

Your entering wife's or mother's steps must seem more graceful to the Allegro; and, granted the volume is adequately set, you may even be able to interpret her mouthed words as sweetest prose, when in fact she admonishes you to turn down the volume. The house pets—you would not be surprised at all if they did—may dance in line, one after the other, through the living room, in Zauberflötian fashion as if mobilized by Papageno's Glockenspiel. Clearly exhausted from such internal dancing and frolicking, you will certainly appreciate the calming contentness of the Andante's rest, provided in the warm air of the late afternoon well spent on a bench, undoubtedly underneath a well-aged chestnut tree. Your heart still pounding with ecstasy, you recollect and gather yourself: exhale.

But just enough to lift up, heavily still, for the Menuetto. At first as though you had preferred to stay put, you soon are too enchanted to resist. You walk with an increasing spring in your step to the location at which you think a dear girl should be waiting for a dance. Presuming the dance not to have been without merit, I shall leave it up to your kind imagination how the Finale: Allegro vivace is to be envisioned: suffice it to say that it is most pleasant and climaxes with delight. All of this is brought to you courtesy of Günter Wand and the NDR Symphony Orchestra in his last recording.

==>> Continue reading this review.


Beethoven Boyled Down 

(published first on ionarts)

On Monday, January 26th, an ambitious program of music was to be presented at the German Embassy as part of the Monday concert series of the Beethoven Society of America. A blizzard blew the concert into March and onto one of the nicest days of the year so far, March 1. A mild evening invited being put to good use. I can't imagine much better a use than to attend the concert that Emil Chudnovsky (violin) and Michael Sheppard (piano) gave that night. I was a bit worried after my last concert experience at the German Embassy had been sub-par on every level and contrasted painfully with the lovingly arranged and excellent events at the Austrian Embassy. But the program looked promising. Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata in A Major, op. 47—a gargantuan work—was to be followed by the shorter but significant Brahms Sonata in D Minor. The program announced Sonata op. 109, but I have the nagging suspicion it might just have been op. 108. It would not be the only typo on the extraordinarily flimsy program. After the intermission there were the Kreutzer Concert Variations by some contemporary composer and a slew of entertaining warhorses, among them Ravel's Tzigane and Pable de Sarasate's Gypsy Airs.

The concert was about to start when the dapper-looking chap with plateau shoes and coke-bottle glasses whom I had seen smoking outside, program in hand, turned out to be Emil Chudnovsky. It doesn't go to show anything, really, but I feel like that should have taught me some lesson. Ludwig van Beethoven's "Kreutzer" began. Michael Sheppard, whom I would have liked to talk about a bit in detail (alas, the promised bio was not forthcoming), got to work on the piano. From the very first chord on, his playing came across as muscular and uninhibited. Short, dry, and with a no-nonsense approach he played so as to let the violin seem to make itself heard: "we care not." Emil Chudnovsky procured a determined and lyrical quality in those opening bars, which sound like Beethoven but feel like Bach. It established the tone right away as enthralling Beethoven, both unfailingly exciting and unabashedly energetic. Some repeats were apparently omitted, but had they not been, the first half of the program alone would have gone on for well over an hour. During the second movement, Andante con variazioni, I would have wished for a bit more sensuality in Michael Sheppard's playing. I wonder if he was himself entirely convinced of the movement, but the result was at any rate better than any sappy and winsomely flat approach which is all too often the alternative.

The power of performance has a simplistic but easy measure: if the violinist's bow does not suffer (it certainly did with Mr. Chudnovsky), the performance was likely lacking. The Beethoven here was everything but. It ended easily as exciting as it started and was most warmly welcomed by the audience in the auditorium of the German Embassy. While the auditorium has the charm of a 1960s gym, the acoustics are actually quite good. (It is at any such performance worth reminding yourself of the fact that this piece, or any other, was likely never performed as well during Beethoven's lifetime. Short of individuals like Franz Liszt and Joseph Joachim—and even that's anyone's guess—performers simply didn't have the technical prowess that most conservatory graduates possess these days.)

==>> Continue reading this review.


...it's a start 

A little late to jump on the train of blogging, is it not? Whimsy at 12:12pm, Wednesday February 2004 the cause; Sharing the odd mix of Politics & Art the goal.

What you can expect:

On Arts, in particular classical music, I get rid of my messianic zeal - which is why I have none left for Politics.

The idea that any one idea in politics is right absolutely and its opposite false entirely is absurd. Not that this means there can't be a better or worse way to go about things, but those can often be determined by close examination of the goals, facts and results of a given action. Needless to say, ideology is much more convenient. J.S. Bach is clearly better than R. Keiser - and if I should think that G.W. Bush was better than J. Kerry, at least I know that this isn't intrisically so. Bush could be better because he promised to bring fiscal conservatism and a humble foreign policy to Washington. Given the upcoming elections in which I shan't participate (as a German) I might want to look at the record and see how "W." has done so far. Perhaps it's necessary to give someone else a chance to break his promises?

Classical Music Reviews

I will rehash articles and reviews I wrote for Ionarts, the premier Washington Culture Blog devotedly run by Charles T. Downey.


The occasional editorial may find its way here - most likely from the International Affairs Forum, the on-line journal of the Center for International Relations, a non-profit organization devoted to the dissemination of information on international affairs from the entire political spectrum in one convenient location.

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