It wouldn’t be southwestern New England in the summer without Tanglewood, now would it? Our record of getting up there is erratic at best, but nonetheless.

Last night was rather pleasant:

An opening concert of brass and woodwinds ranging from the Renaissance to Modern was followed by Weber’s Overture of ‘Der Freischutz’ (lovely work for the horns), Schubert’s ‘Symphony No. 4 in C minor’, and completed by Beethoven’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 5…the ‘Emperor’ elegantly, spectacularly played by Garrick Ohlsson.

Tanglewood is not, of course, simply the Boston Symphony’s summer home. It is also an expression of a cultural peak* that we spend far too much time either denigrating or taking for granted. The setting is glorious, a sister of the Lake Country at its best. And that alone tells us something. For the Lake Country is England, but England within and of the British Empire, world spanning confidence and a desire to paint a single tree in a single farmyard.

The architecture….function above all in the Shed; but Ozawa Hall represents a mature form of the idea for one can see at once elements of: the New England brick factory, the midwestern Arts and Crafts, older still the great halls of a thousand castles, set beneath the trees, the court of classical music. It is Yankee to the core.

For every negative thrown at the old Yankee culture:** pretentious, reserved, elite, arrogant, and worse….consider… this is what it has supported, can support, and will support: hundreds of people give their lives to music that is not given to the worship of any god, any nation, any creed, not to politics and not to the day’s would be lord. But simply to music. Thousands more come to listen in silent rapture to the glory that is man, speaking in a thousand tongues.

 

*There are many peaks, in many cultures. That I speak of one does not another lesser make.

** Which is not what votes at the state or federal levels these days, but that is politics. Neither Democrat nor Republican is Yankee as far as I am concerned.