Classical music, part I

I’ve often posted some not very well known classical pieces/composers in my ‘Promoting the unknown‘-series (in some cases though, the music in those posts has been well known, however the specific interpretations have not). I’ve started thinking that since quite a few of my readers (as well as ‘googlers’) probably know very little (/about) classical music, it might also be a good idea to introduce you (them) to some of the more well-known ‘mainstream’ stuff, as what is ‘well-known’ stuff for a guy like me might not be for you guys. I’ve therefore decided to start a new series of posts that will try to deliver some of the really good stuff, whether it’s well known or not. This post would probably also be a great link to have at hand when you (again) meet people who openly state that they think that ‘classical music is a little bit boring, isn’t it‘?

This post, and presumably the posts that are to follow, are best read/watched/listened to when you have an hour or more to spare. If you don’t at the moment, you can either stop reading right now and come back to this post when you do, or (to those who haven’t stopped reading…) select a sample or two from the pieces below and let that suffice for now. This post contains 3-4 hours worth of wonderful music, so do come back if you can’t manage it all in one go and/or haven’t heard any of this stuff before.

If you listen to a piece with more than one part, it might be a good idea to let the next part of the piece buffer while you’re listening to what is soon to become the previous part, that way you avoid to have to stop listening for more than a few seconds at most when switching from part to part. As you might imagine, there’s a lot of ground to cover: I’ve decided that the first part in this series is to cover nothing but a few of the best (in some cases: excerpts from) piano concertos. I’ve tried to pick from a wide range of musicians, but of course a lot of composers (and a lot of pieces) didn’t make the ‘list’. When possible, I’ve posted ‘live videos’ where you can see the musicians play, however in some cases I decided that no such youtube recordings were good enough for me to post them here; in these cases I’ve posted ‘pure music videos’ without any visual aspects.

Any comments, both about the desirability of me undertaking this endeavour on this blog in the first place, as well as more general remarks, are of course most welcome; post in Danish if you wish.

Ok, here goes…

Chopin’s 1st piano concerto, 2. mvt.:

-ll- 2. piano concerto, 2. mvt. (yes, I like the 2. movements of his piano concertos, but the reason why I haven’t posted the first movement of this piece is solely because I’ve been unable to find a decent version of this piece on youtube. I own a wonderful version by Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Valery Gergiev, but I don’t find it worth the hassle/risk to put it up online):

Grieg’s Piano Concerto, op. 16 (I have to add here that Dinu Lipatti’s version of this piece – here are links to part 2, part 3, part 4 – is godly and far superior to this one. This is one of the cases of ‘choose the version with both audio and visual over the audio only version’. If you don’t care about the visual, don’t even bother with the interpretation below, just go right ahead and listen to Lipatti’s version, it’s by far the best interpretation of this piece I’ve ever heard, and it’s surely one of the reasons why he’s widely considered one of the finest pianists of the 20th century):

Rachmaninoff’s 2. piano concerto:

Beethoven, 5th piano concerto (Emperor concerto – I like Brendel better, but this is still very good and Brendel’s recording of this is not on youtube, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain):

The first half of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 (as is the case with all other embedded you-tube videos: If you want to hear ‘related stuff’, or in this case just the rest of the concerto, just (double?)click the youtube-icons below to go to youtube and follow the appropriate links. I find the first two movement to be far the ‘strongest’ re. this piece:

Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto:

Liszt’ 2. piano concerto:

Mozart’s piano concerto no. 21:

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Chopin, music | Leave a comment

How much is an average US politician worth?

If you’re talking about the guys from Washington (House and Senate): More than 6 millions!

Short version:

Longer version:

Net worth, both Democrats & Republicans from House or Senate:
25th percentile = $228,006
Median = $791,004
75th percentile = $2,962,519
Mean = $6,438,210

Razib gives you even more details at the link, you can find the data here. The numbers above are from the full sample, do notice the difference between the mean and the median: Some of the people in the top of the list has a lot of money. If you remove a few of the ‘outliers’, ie. the politicians with a net worth north of 50 mil $ and those with a negative net worth, which Razib has done in his post, it has a sizeable impact on the stats.

I wonder what the Danish numbers look like. I’m pretty sure all relevant variables are significantly lower. I also wonder how the above numbers compare with those of the top civil servants. Do remember that the average age of Senators is 63 (House: 57); you’d expect most of them to have a sizeable net worth as they are on average pretty close to their retirement age (that’s not to say that these numbers aren’t completely insane…).

In the US, most of the ‘people’s representatives’ are millionaires close to their retirement age.

November 27, 2009 Posted by | data, USA | 8 Comments

Share of world GDP by region, 1969-2009

You can read more about these numbers at Mark Perry’s blog. The world’s real GDP has more than trippled during this period.

Update: A commenter at Carpe Diem has added a link to the graph below in the comments section, taking the population variable into consideration as well. The graph is quite big, so I’ve only added a small version – click to see it in a higher resolution. Do note that the variable ‘Asia’ is not the same as the one used in the graph above, as The Middle East is included in the latter but not the former, a region which incidentally has experienced substantial population growth during the period in question. Also note that the x-variable is not smooth but rather changes interval from left to right at 1950.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | data, demographics, economic history, economics | Leave a comment

How the internet has changed everything, example # 67785

Or is it: I live in the future!

Incidentally, I also thought about calling the post Stupid commentators looking like complete morons, chess edition… but decided against it.

Today, you have former World Champions commenting live on games taking place in Moscow while they are in Hungary (or Texas). You have former contestants to the chess crown debating the motives and ideas behind the moves being played with other grandmasters and strong players, while they are sitting in their homes in ie. Amsterdam. You can see the moves being played mere seconds after they have been played, and you can analyze them using computers stronger than any human alive as the moves are being played.

This was the best you could hope for 14 years ago:

The commentary makes me want to kill myself. Or them. Yeah, them, definitely them.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Chess, technology | 11 Comments

Market penetration rates, cannabis edition

A little bit of data:


Via Mark Perry. Do note that this is a bad measure of overall consumption today (if a guy smoked pot sometime in the sixties or seventies, he’s still included in this statistic).

November 15, 2009 Posted by | data | Leave a comment

Sesquipedalian loquaciousness

I’ve just been rewatching a few episodes of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. If you don’t understand the headline, here’s the link.

I’ll probably mention the series again at a later point in time, even if I’m pretty sure I’ve done it here on this blog at least once before. If I was only allowed to recommend one tv-show out of all the shows out there, this one would be somewhere on the absolute top of that list. Some wonderful quotes from the series:

Sir Humphrey: To put is simply, Prime Minister, certain informal discussions took place involving a full and frank exchange of views, out of which there rose a series of proposals, which on examination proved to indicate certain promising lines of inquiry, which when pursued lead to the realization that the alternative courses of action might in fact, in certain circumstances, be susceptible of discreet modification, leading to a reappraisal of the original areas of difference, and pointing a way to encouraging possibilities of compromise, and cooperation, which, if bilaterally implemented with appropriate give and take on both sides, might, if the climate were right, have a reasonable possibility at the end of the day of leading, rightly or wrongly, to a mutually satisfactory resolution.
Jim Hacker (after a long pause): What the hell are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey: We did a deal.

Sir Humphrey’s speech above (from the episode Power to the People) took 46 seconds from start to finish. Here are two other memorable Humphrey-quotes from the series (the first one is from the episode Man Overboard, the second is from the episode The Ministerial Broadcast):

Sir Humphrey: It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member’s recollection of them differs violently from every other member’s recollection, consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with an elegant inevitability that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decision which is not recorded in the minutes has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision had been officially reached, it would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and it isn’t so it wasn’t.

Sir Humphrey: You see, Party figures can be very unreliable, Prime Minister.
Jim Hacker: Evidently.
Sir Humphrey: May I suggest a compromise?
Jim Hacker: What?
Sir Humphrey: Well, it’s clear that the Committee has agreed that your new policy is really an excellent plan; but in view of the doubts being expressed, may I propose that I recall that after careful consideration, the considered view of the Committee was that, while they considered that the proposal met with broad approval in principle, that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle, and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice that in principle it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to submit the proposal for more detailed consideration, laying stress on the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles, the principal of the principal arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds for their approval … In principle.
Jim Hacker: What?
Sir Humphrey: Don’t refer to your Grand Design in your television broadcast on Friday.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | politics, quotes, random stuff | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

I had almost the exact same experience in April of 1989. I drove across from the crossing near Hannover, and was struck by the nastiness of the border procedures (even though I’d expected them). Then I was deeply disturbed by my first sight of the Wall, even though I knew its history well. I got to it near midnight, which didn’t help, but still, I was struck by how furious and disgusted I was at the sight of the thing – and the accompanying searchlights, razor wire, guard towers, and so on. How anyone could look at it and not immediately think “horrible high security prison camp”, I couldn’t say.

And I crossed on foot through Checkpoint Charlie the next day, was similarly robbed of 30 West-marks, and couldn’t spend them, either. I had a foul bratwurst for lunch, and thought that on that evidence alone there must be something seriously off when the Germans were unable to produce a decent sausage. I saw the goose-stepping guards at the Unknown Soldier tomb (in the company of some appalled Brits who swore under their breath), and at the Friedrichstrasse U-bahn platform (an island inside an island) I watched in shock as the booted, armed, long-coated guard went strolling along the catwalk above us, watching the crowd. “I’ve seen this movie”, I kept thinking.

I ended up buying a book in the Volksbuchhandlung as a souvenir, after similar being yelled at by the cashier woman for trying to shop without a hand basket, the way the sign said I had to. I dropped a copy of “Amnesty International: A Biography of Lies” into it, and the handle fell off.

And at the end of the day, the guard back at the checkpoint informed me that I could not leave with any DDR currency. “Was soll Ich denn tun?” I asked him, and he replied flatly in thickly accented English: “Enchoy a ress-taurant”. I walked out a couple of blocks away and gave my currency to the first East German couple pushing a baby carriage I saw.

I, too, thought that I’d definitely seen evil right in front of me. I’ve never had reason to think differently.

Derek Lowe’s comment to this post. Read the original post as well.

I’m too young to remember the fall of the Wall, I was 4 years old at that point in time, and it didn’t stick even if in retrospect I’d have liked it to (and even if I do remember personal events that took place before that, which I do), however I did spend a little time, not much; a couple of days at most, in Berlin sometime at the beginning of the 90’es. I don’t remember the exact year, but it was almost certainly less than 5 years after the Wall had fallen. My family went to Poland that year – in car – and on the way I saw both the remains of the Berlin Wall and Auschwitz. I have never been to Berlin since then, but what I took with me from that trip could probably be boiled down to the thought that Berlin was just an ugly, battered big city – probably due to the fact that we spent most (/all?) our time in the Eastern parts of the city. A lot of the inefficiencies and quirks of ‘the old system’ was still in place in Eastern Europe at that time: For instance, it took us more than four hours to cross the (German-)Polish border, and my dad twice had to bribe (‘pay a fine to…’) policemen from the traffic police with cash in order to avoid ‘spending the night in jail’ – the last time it happened was very close to the (…again German-Polish-) border on our way home, and my dad had a pretty good idea how those policemen made most of their income. He was furious; they demanded a lot of money. One other thing I remember from that trip is the fact that the roads in Eastern Europe at that time were in a horrible shape: one road in particular stood out because it was made of concrete, not asfalt. Every 100 yards or so there would be this ‘thunk’ sound, as the tires passed from one ‘chunk’ of road to the next. The road was probably first established during Hitler’s major infrastructure projects, and it didn’t look like much had happened since the war. And anyway, how and why would you even try to make a trip in a car like this one ‘convenient’ – most people driving that kind of car would probably be (almost) happy if it didn’t break down altogether while they were driving…

The situation has changed a lot since then. Now’s as good a time as any to remember that, and be grateful for that. Even if you’ve never lived on the wrong side of the barbed wire.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | communism | Leave a comment

Promoting the unknown

As always, if you want to listen to the pieces, do give them a short while to buffer first, so that they don’t ‘cough’ while playing. You do not want music like this to ‘cough’.

A few samples from Liapunov‘s etudes:

Annie Fischer playing Brahms:

November 8, 2009 Posted by | music | Leave a comment

Danskere og IT – nogle tal

1) 86 pct. af danske familier har computer i deres hjem.

2) 83 pct. -ll- har internet – 76 pct. har bredbånd. 98 pct. af alle par med børn har adgang til pc i hjemmet.

3) 3/4 af alle danskere anvender internet dagligt eller næsten dagligt. Fire ud af fem bruger internet mindst en
gang om ugen.

4) To ud af tre danskere handler på nettet.

5) 9 pct. af befolkningen (ca. 360.000 personer i alderen 16-74 år) har aldrig brugt en pc. 72 pct. af dem er mellem 60 og 74 år.

6) Næsten hver anden kvinde (49 %) har aldrig brugt et regneark til udregninger, og 28 % har aldrig flyttet/kopieret en mappe eller fil.

7) 33 procent af de danskere, der bruger internettet, læser blogs, mens andelen af danskere, der blogger, er 18 procent. De tilsvarende tal for sidste år var 22 og 9 procent.

8 ) I 2009 var andelen af danskerne, der inden for de sidste tre måneder havde benyttet nettet til at søge ‘helbredsmæssig information’, 46 procent.

9) 39 pct. af internetbrugerne (ca. 1,4 millioner danskere) spiller eller downloader spil, musik, film, tv-serier eller billeder fra nettet.

10) Hver anden internetbruger er tilknyttet en social netværkstjeneste. 95 procent af de danskere, der er tilknyttet en netværkstjeneste, er tilknyttet Facebook.

11) 95 % af alle danskere har en mobiltelefon. 87 pct. af alle over 60 år har en mobiltelefon.

Fra denne nye dst-publikation om Befolkningens brug af internet – 2009

November 7, 2009 Posted by | data | Leave a comment

Quotes of the day

An ignorant person is one who doesn’t know what you have just found out.

The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best.

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

Will Rogers

November 5, 2009 Posted by | politics, quotes | Leave a comment

Policy lags

Each recession, however minor, sends a shudder through politically sensitive legislators and administrators with their ever present fear that perhaps it is the harbinger of another 1929-33. They hasten to enact federal spending programs of one kind or another. Many of the programs do not in fact come into effect until after the recession has passed. Hence, insofar as they do affect total expenditures, on which I shall have more to say later, they tend to exacerbate the succeeding expansion rather than to mitigate the recession.

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, side 76. Men sådan er det jo ikke i virkeligheden, vel? Den slags indvendinger er jo mest bare teoretiske, de har ikke rigtigt noget på sig. Vel?

Fra dagens udgave af Jyllandsposten:

De vækstpakker, der skulle hjælpe murere, tømrere og elektrikere i Århus gennem finanskrisen, samler tilsyneladende støv.

På et møde i går blev håndværksfagene orienteret om, hvordan det går med at få brugt pengene i Vækstpakke I og II, der tilsammen indeholder 1,75 mia. kr.

»De fleste magistratsafdelinger havde slet ikke noget, mens Børn og Unge og Sociale Forhold havde skrevet lidt sammen i et notat,« fortæller Michael Ancher, formand for Dansk Byggeri Østjylland.

Mindre projekter

I notatet står, at Børn og Unge hovedsageligt holder sig til mindre projekter, mens social-magistraten har fremrykket projekter til 9,3 mio. Det svarer til, at der reelt er kommet gang i 0,5 pct. af milliardpuljen.

»Alle snakker, men der sker ikke noget,« siger Michael Ancher, som bakkes op af Aarhus Haandværkerforening og Tekniq, installatørernes forening.

»Det ender jo med, at projekterne først begynder at blive realiseret i løbet af 2010 og 2011.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | økonomi | Leave a comment