Monday, April 13, 2009

Solidity and Transcendence


Tomorrow marks the 250th anniversary of Handel's death. To explain his appeal I really cannot do better than Beethoven's formulation about great effects by simple means.

However, by way of a tribute here is a superb anecdote about Fela Kuti:

In January 1984, when I first met Fela, at the Russell Hotel in Bloomsbury, central London, I asked him which musician he most respected. The answer was unexpected. 'Handel. George Frederick Handel.' I told him my father was a Handel freak and we discussed, amid the dope smoke, Dixit Dominus and the Concerto Grossi.

Thinking about it, I decided a comparison wasn't improbable. In Fela's music there is the same mix of solidity and transcendence, and I thought I could detect echoes of the composer in Fela's organ lines. He told me he thought he was writing 'African classical music'.

Quite. Let's have a bit of Dixit Dominus then. If you have a joint to hand, now's the time to light it; the version I've linked to is pure skunk.

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