Summer means baseball, and baseball has a long history of superstition, but before you decide to stop bathing after your next no-hitter, remember that the performing arts is far from immune to the allure of old wives’ tales. The most notable superstition in the repertoire may be that of theater professionals who refer to one of Shakespeare’s tragedies as “The Scottish Play” for fear that uttering its name inside a theater will mean certain doom.
So we are indeed lucky that generations of composers have resisted triskadekaphobia, or fear of the number thirteen, and took their chances using the cursed number to identify or even inspire their music. The Performing Arts Encyclopedia has more than thirteen such pieces, including the manuscript score of Johannes Brahms’ Begräbniss-Gesang: für Chor u. Blaseinstrumente, op. 13, Nicolò Paganini’s Quartetto 13, per violino, viola, chitarra, e violoncello, and a holograph, in ink, of the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s String quartet no. 13, op. 130.
Still, one wonders at the fate of the Rochester institution to which Marie E. Whiting dedicated her “Number 13 School Grand March, ” and one can only imagine the injuries sustained by those who dared to dance Carl Pieler’s “Polka de la Cour, Op. 13” or Oscar Schmidt’s “Schottish, Op. 13, no. 2.” The Library of Congress can not be held responsible for what might happen if you to listen to Thelonious Monk‘s great composition “Friday the Thirteenth,” from the album The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall, or the late Alex Chilton’s wistful paean to growing up, “Thirteen,” from Big Star’s classic debut album No. 1 Record.
But just to be safe – the horse shoe can’t hurt.
In the Muse would also like to remind you that additional batches of photographs from the William P. Gottlieb Collection will be uploaded to Flickr every other friday for the next several months. This week’s set includes portraits of Louis Armstrong, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Bechet, Mildred Bailey, and Cab Calloway.
And finally, a preview of the Music Division’s 2010-11 Concert Season, complete with ticket availability dates, is now available online. Watch this space for more about this exciting season.