Presto Classical, a website hosting Orchestral Music products and events based in the United Kingdom, has for a number of years now, perhaps 8-9, helped me to discover many new Classical composers I had not heard of before by offering samples from CDs to listen to and providing downloads from mp3@320kbps to Hi-Res CD Quality 24K Flac files for purchasing at very reasonable prices. On top of that, record labels frequently offer discount offers of 20-30% off advertised prices for a limited time. Presto Classical has been my absolute go-to for CDs and downloads since Amazon became an extremely overpriced market place with postage often doubling the cost of a CD alone. Postage to New Zealand is a nightmare of expensive costs, and with Bandcamp and Presto Classical giving the purchaser some control over what they buy and the quality of downloads (Bandcamp can offer mp3, flac, and wav. files, depending, I guess, on the artist's own preferences), these are currently the only two online services I can recommend and continue to purchase from. As far as I know, Amazon, Gooogle, iTunes, and other streaming services etc., do not provide anywhere near the same customer orientated quality.
Check out the full range of the Presto website: www.prestomusic.com/
Krommer is one such a composer who I discovered through the Presto Classical website. Born half a year after George Frideric Handel before the Baroque Period of music began waning and the new form of Classical music brought on by J.S. Bach's sons sought clearer musical textures with less "business", Krommer also died 4 years after Beethoven when the period of Romantic Music had caught the wind of change and was about to become a full blown course of musical exploration. Thus Krommer lived through the entire Classical Period in which he is associated with. Quite a feat when one considers that few people lived past 50 or 60 in those days: Bach and Handel both survived into their 70s as well, but Mozart passed at the early age of 35, Beethoven at 56, Schubert 31, Chopin 39, and many commoners did not have clean and healthy living environments that the wealthy could maintain to ward off disease.
Krommer has never been a composer as highly regarded as the previously mentioned, nor has he even been a composer worthy of noting by any publications - hence my never having heard of him before. But with J.S. Bach's sons leading the charge of the Classical Period, Haydn creating compositional masterclasses on how to compose in this new gallant style, Mozart capping it all off with his genius of prolific tune-making, orchestral colouring, and absolute mastery of every genre, and Beethoven pushing the Classical Period to breaking point and ushering in the heroic nature of the forthcoming Romantic Period, to be honest, any other composer of this period was hardly ever going to get a look-in. But while Krommer and his contemporaries, such as Franz Ignaz Beck, and Johann Baptist Vanhal, all live in the shadows of critical opinion, that does not mean they don't deserve to be listened to. Vanhal in particularly has many a tuneful sinfonia worth putting on your playlists.
What struck me about Krommer on first listening to his symphonies was how dramatic they were, how they seemed to evoke the same spirit of Beethoven without the suffering or heroism. On further listening I thought I even heard very similar Beethoven-type phrasing and I began wondering if this might have been a composer who Beethoven borrowed from. This remark seems sacrilegious, but it is well known that Beethoven took ideas from Mozart and reworked them considerably enough that they became completely his own:
Not only the 'Ode to Joy' tune can be found in a Mozart Sacred Work,
There is so much music out there going unheard, not just in the realm of orchestral music, but also in all forms of contemporary music, but if you find yourself becoming a little bit bored hearing the same Mozart and Beethoven works again and again, I can highly recommend Franz Krommer as an alternative: Not as charmingly tuneful as Mozart, and not as heroic or excessively weighty as Beethoven, the symphonies still manage to convey intensely dramatic episodes while also being tunefully appealing. I also listened to samples from his Oboe Concertos, and these few snippets were absolutely wonderful and went straight onto my wishlist for future purchasing.
Check out some samples on Presto Classical
Symphonies: Krommer - Symphony Nos 4, 5, & 7
Oboe Concertos: Mozart & Krommer - Oboe Concertos
Just hangin' at the flat listening to some Queens of the Stone Age. I'm not a big fan of Like Clockwork, but the song 'I Appear Missing' resonates a lot with me:
It felt contrived and somewhat "poor me", regardless of how true it feels so I didn't publish it on it's own. I feel better about contextualising it here as part of a larger post.
There was a BBQ happening at the flat, but it wasn't suggested as a flat activity, it was just something that my flatmate said: "I might have a BBQ tonight." I read that as "I might have a BBQ tonight" and by the time I realised I was expected to be a part of it with my other flatmate, I was already down the rabbit hole of anxiety and confusion, my brain flipping out about my own stupidity and feeling like an outsider again.
I didn't want to move into a flat with other people, but I am financially unable to live on my own so felt forced into this position. That, I don't hate, nor regret, but there has been a feeling of being uncomfortable around my flatmates, maybe because they are younger than me, maybe because there are things that haven't been said, or that one of them is not expressing, therefore causing me to feel like I have to tip-toe around that particular subject matter because it hasn't been put out in the open. I don't necessarily begrudge the flatmate for not being more communicative on this subject, as I feel it is their right to either talk about it or not, but it has also made me feel like ... I don't belong / am not trusted. This, I don't blame myself or them for, since it is a reflection of the society we live in, but I do feel somewhat out of place nevertheless.
When I first went looking for flats, I found a house with an upstairs that was self-contained, but with house-kitchen downstairs where there were three more rooms and an orchard worker already renting one of the rooms. Upstairs was being rented for about $240 /wk and I was ready to jump on it since I had full-time work, and even on minimum wage I was willing to make sacrifices just to have that personal space to myself. Unfortunately, the house was sold within the week. This flat came along and I snatched it up after a really positive look-in, and although the flatmates are still positive people who I like, I can't help feeling I have little in common with people who do a lot of kayaking, trail biking, snowboarding, and are both skippers during the summer tourist months. And they love watching Rugby (audible groan).
And I like books.
I left music. I wanted no part in chasing something that gave nothing back. I gave everything I had to it, every emotion I felt, every spare piece of time to scrape and sculpt songs out of, but ultimately, I had no way of presenting these songs to the world. At least not without the support of others. That support seemed to come and go but never stuck around to help out in the long run. I just ended up feeling like I was at square one all over again, every time. Most musicians make steps that move their goals forward, but every step I took ended me up right back at the start like I was restarting a race I had already run many times and got nowhere with.
Most of my adult life I've asked myself when do I get to sit down and write my novels? Dirteater of which has been in existence since 1997/8, but has only had notes and an occasional scene written for it, but of which the entire structure, characters, themes and narrative are all worked out; Welcome Home 1998; Deiaul 2001. In 2014 when I had no work but was given the chance to apply for a teaching job I had previously enquired about but hadn't manifested until now, I had begun moving into writing mode with Dim Day and I made a decision to pull my job application knowing I'd never be able to continue writing while teaching full-time (I know what my writing habits are like!). I was told by a family member that I was making a big mistake and would regret not going for the job choosing to work on my next novel instead. I don't regret it at all. I wrote more than I'd ever be able to write working full-time in a job where I had to care about other people's needs over my own. This is the frustrating reality I faced when I did finally take a teaching job in Canterbury during 2015 after my writing had slowed down (at this point I had already moved onto expanding 'The Future Unfolds' into Auralye on a Harp). In 2016 after the new year had started, work had become a minefield of bad communication from management and inadequate support for a Provisionally Registered Teacher who had travelled from job to job with inconsistent evidence of teaching being gathered.
I love the classroom, I love the students, and I love being there for them and encouraging their talents no matter how big or small; but a part of me was dying from not being able to fully express itself, and I couldn't stand seeing Dirteater drift further and further into the distance as the years went by. Do I have to be an old man in retirement before I can sit down and write the novel I planned when I was just 21?
I made a decision. It was the right decision. Whatever poverty I face now is a result of that. I have no more music to give anyway; what exists just needs to be recorded and anyone can do that - it certainly doesn't need to be me!
The isolation isn't a problem. If I could have that, I would take it; it's the non-isolation that financial strain causes that is a problem and having to work around the issues in my head as they converge, conflict, and crash into situations I misunderstand and am misinformed about. It's almost ironic that the orchard work I have been involved in has allowed me to exercise responsibility through confidence in knowing what I'm doing and what is expected of me, and being unafraid to ask questions. But orchard work is coming to an end, and I aim to have time on my hands to write. Even if I'm stuck in this house with these flatmates I don't really relate to, I have to work to make that time to be alone to write.
To write the days and nights away.
Especially the Dim Days.
Some updates to keep me updated.