GLORIOUS MUSIC: A POLITICAL POST

Mozart* - János Ferencsik, Hungarian State Orchestra, Hungarian Radio And  Television Chorus* - Requiem (1987, CD) | Discogs

As 2020 has been The Worst Year in my living memory [update: 2021 was even worse and 2022 …] — and I speak as a south Indian and not as a Kashmiri Muslim, Palestinian, Rohingya, Sri Lankan Tamil, Syrian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Yemeni or other ethnic/language/religious minorities (incl peoples who’d have been majorities if only their current colonisers vacated…) and in whose lifetimes others might have witnessed worse — I thought it needed to be seen off with a requiem (a solemn chant or dirge), my fave being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (those by Johannes Brahms, Guiseppe Verdi and Zbigniew Preisner also come to mind). 


While living briefly on a scholarship in Paris in 1984-85, I saw the film ‘Amadeus’ (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086879/) and fell head over h in love with no, not the film nor its weird American accented Mozart character and hatchet job on the composer Antonio Salieri, but with MOZART’s REQUIEM.
Oh, what a glorious work of music! 
Among THE most glorious ever!
In early ’85, I happened to travel to Budapest and stay briefly in a flat of friends of a fellow-participant in the journalists programme I was in. 
I still remember the wonderful couple’s names with gratitude but think it perhaps best to unmensh given that a proto-fascist named Orban now rules their land (and as proto-fascists and full-blown ones seem to be rather abundant around the globe) and found that they had a vinyl record of Mozart’s Requiem, featuring János Ferencsik conducting a Hungarian ensemble. 
Almost never left their flat except to interview some officials, soak in a bit of the official and non-official atmosphere and grab some food. Incidentally, I remember that my hosts had to register my presence at their flat in a police station, that being the rule in the then Stalinist set up. Also strictly enforced in China and Vietnam, as I was to learn later. 
Once, while travelling in a bus in Budapest, I got talking to an English speaking fellow commuter — who revealed that he was in the planning ministry — and when I put it to him rather sarcastically that the whole country seemed to be working up for a congress of the then ruling Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, HSWP (Stalinist and anything but socialist or pro-worker), protested: “Not the whole country”. Touché.  


It so happened that I was able to find a cassette featuring the same conductor and ensemble, which I got addicted to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-lMaypNwJk

While living in Beijing, (Aug 1988-Nov 1994) I once met a downstairs neighbour-couple and learned that — thanks to some huge water pipes next to which my radio-cassete-recorder contraption used to be parked, and programmed such that it shut up after playing whatever I’d fed it to play and woke me up 6ish with BBC news — they heard it all. 
A couple from one of the German-speaking countries.
Can only hope they did not resent my obsession with Mozart’s Requiem which used to play rather regularly on that contraption then.
In the late 1990s, living in Hong Kong, I acquired perhaps 20 or so CDs of different versions of Mozart’s R. 
If you’ve read thus far and wish to watch a recording of it being performed,among the best is this, IMO: Karl Böhm conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and chorus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1DsJ5YQr5s

Another compelling version: Vienna Staatsoper under the baton of Hermann Scherchen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HxusyeQJvw

A kind of bare-bones version featuring the conductor Josef Krips and the Vienna Phil:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9il-dnFPio&t=1718s
One of the more recent with better video-recording techniques:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp2SJN4UiE4
THE most liveliest of performances is this featuring a MULTI-RACIAL orchestra and chorus as well as perhaps one of the most passionate conductors of the work, Gregory Carreño with the Simon Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDHw70dZvpo

Ah, Venezuela, that Bête Noire of the US of A and much of the West, besides!
HALLELLUJAH! 

About walkerjay

The author, N. Jayaram, a journalist now based in Bangalore after more than 23 years in East Asia (mainly Hong Kong and Beijing) and 11 years in New Delhi, was with the Press Trust of India news agency for 15 years and Agence France-Presse for 11 years and is currently engaged in editing and translating for NGOs and academic institutions.
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