Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Ned Rorem

In the interest of full disclosure I am compelled to say: I don't know much about opera, and I know even less about classical music, aside from the names of the great composers.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is not, I should add, out of a lack of interest; my profile sentiment is sincere: 'I am interested in everything, especially stuff I've never heard of'. Unfortunately, people who know a lot about opera and classical music love to sneer at people who don't know anything about the subject, and I can't abide being sneered at, so I've found it challenging to learn.

Most of what I know about Ned Rorem, then, composer of numerous operas, symphonies, and concerti - indeed, a man often described as America's greatest living composer - is of his private life.

When I made my first tentative steps out of the closet in 1988 (blowing the doors off it and making a crater on the west side of the house in the process) there weren't all these gay guys running around like there are now. Ned Rorem's 1969 Paris Diary instantly became one of my favourite books, as well as one which directed me to further discover my community. For that alone I am grateful enough to include him in this great running commentary I call a blog.

Yet I have still, after all these years, never heard any piece of Ned Rorem's music. And even if I had, I wouldn't know anything about it except whether or not I'd liked it. Maybe I'll go back and read Paris Diary again; it might inspire me to further explorations, and help to brighten one of the darker corners of my understanding.
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