the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: classical music

Rock Me, Franz Schubert


I enjoy Beethoven, Mozart, and Bartok, but there is some classical music that knocks me out faster than a twelve pack of codeine. Like Schubert. I wasn’t pleased to go the Philharmonic this weekend and see his infamous name in the program: Mr. Sandman himself, Franz Peter Schubert.

“Well, no problem,” I said to myself as we entered the symphony hall. “Since I’m such a cheapskate, I got tickets in Row X of the orchestra, so no one will even notice when I’m snoring and drooling all over the button-down shirt Sophia bought me at Ross Dress-for-Less.”

Unfortunately, Sophia had plans of her own. Yes, I’ve mentioned this several hundred times on this very blog: Sophia does not like sitting in the crappy seats I buy.

“It’s going to be half empty,” she said. “Let’s wait in the back until five minutes before the performance, and then take some empty seats near the front.”

“But it’s Schubert!” I protested. Why didn’t you tell me they were playing Schubert?!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll kick you in the shin if you snore.”

We had ten minutes to kill before the concert. An attractive blond stood next to us in the back of the auditorium. She had the same idea as we did — to wait for better seats. Sophia struck up a conversation with her, seeing that they were soulmates. The woman turned out to be the newly-married wife of one of the symphony’s cellists, and her seat was at the end of row S, giving her a mere glimpse of her beloved husband’s back.  She wanted to see the expression on his face as he played.  How romantic.

When Sophia noticed the ushers closing the doors, we picked out two center seats with our eyes, then grabbed them greedily.  Finders Keepers.  I’m much better at switching seats than I was when I first met Sophia. I used to be terribly anxious about doing this, fearful that the real ticket-holders will come in late and make an angry scene, the performance would end abruptly, the conductor would walk out in protest, a spotlight would shine on me, and then the disgusted mob would belt me with opera glasses.  However, after ten years of the “real” ticket-holders NEVER showing up, I’ve grown into a hardened criminal.  I’m only anxious for the first five minutes of our stealing the seats, rather than the rest of the week.

Today my anxiety was not about the seats.  It would come from another source.  You see, there wasn’t just two open seats in this row. There were THREE.  As I settled in my seat, the cellist’s wife slid right next to me. The cellist’s wife!

“Oh no,” I thought. “How can I fall asleep during Schubert when one of the orchestra member’s WIVES was sitting next to me.  It would be as if I’m insulting his musical talent!”

“This is his first performance with the orchestra,” she told Sophia.

Ugh.  Sophia kicked me… and I wasn’t even sleeping yet.

I don’t remember who the first piece was by, but it was sufficiently bombastic to keep me awake.  I never have problems with musical pieces about cannon fire, like the 1812 Overture.

Then, there was a hush over the land.  The condutor lifted his baton, and the orchestra started to play Schubert, the early 18th Century’s equivalent of John Tesh.  I could feel my eyes start to close.

(sidenote – I promised myself that I wasn’t going to write about sex this week, since I went a little overboard last week, but I’m going to break that promise.  You’ll see where I’m going in a second)

Men, remember when you were first starting have sex? And just seeing a bra strap was enough to send you over the edge, and the girl would be all disappointed because you lasted about three seconds? And your friend who knew everything from reading his father’s Penthouse magazines told you to think about something boring, like Geometry, while you were with a girl, so then you can last three hours, like the guys do in those sex movies that you used to try to watch, even though they were scrambled on your parents’ cable?

I thought about the good ol’ days while I was sitting there listening to Schubert. It was so boring and my eyes were closing. I just didn’t want to hurt this woman’s feeling.  Disappointing a woman in sex is one thing, but to make her feel bad about her husband’s cello playing — that’s just cruel.  I would distract myself like I had done so many times before, not to keep the love going, but to keep myself awake!  I tried to remember some Geometry.  I stepped on my own foot.  I tried writing a blog post in my head.  I pushed my thumbnail into my arm.  I bit my tongue.  I even thought of poking myself in the eyes. When the Schubert was over, I patted myself on the back, proud of my restraint and accomplishment.

It was then when Sophia woke me up, shaking her head in embarrassment, telling me that it was time for intermission. I  noticed that the cellist’s wife had just darted off, not saying good-bye.  Apparently, my head was bobbing up and down during the whole piece, the snoring only beginning during the cello solos.

The cellist’s wife sat elsewhere for the rest of the concert.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: “If I Did It,” by John Wilkes Booth

Play it Again, Samantha


As a pimply-faced teenager, I dreamt of being a rock star, because even the ugliest musician had a beautiful model at his side. It is almost a cliche to have the scrawny dog-faced male singer arm in arm with America’s newest Top Female Model. Here’s a little secret that most women don’t know — this phenomenon works for men also.

Last night, I went to a chamber concert with Sophia. The soloist was a a stunning young violinist. She was beautiful. She had perfect features and her hair was tied back in a bow like a French movie star. Her arms were as slender and tan as the violin she cradled in her arms. Her posture was like of a ballerina or a royal princess, even in her expensive high heeled shoes. The audience was swooning over her.

She was accompanied by a female pianist. The pianist was not pretty. She was dressed rather frumpish in a shapeless black dress.

But I have a particular fancy for female pianists. The piano is very sexy. I can’t really explain it other than go back to early childhood favorites — Elton John, Billy Joel, George Gershwin, and my all time favorite — Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

While everyone was mesmerized by the violinist, my eyes were glued on the pianist. Her fingers would slide over the keys and she hunched over, totally into the Mozart, not giving a care to how she looked to the audience. When she would get to a dramatic musical section, she would move up and down on the piano bench, up and down — sometimes violently, as if she was straddling the piano and giving herself an orgasm as her playing became more intense.

At the end of the concert, the audience gave a standing ovation for the violinist. My penis and I stood for the frumpy, average-looking pianist with the fast fingers. In a bar, I might totally ignore her, but at the concert, she was a Goddess.

MUSICAL NOTE: Christmas-Hanukkah is coming up. I had this idea while driving home last night, but I’m not sure if it would work — a Blogger’s Holiday Concert. I know some of you are actually talented musicians (Scarlet, Psychotoddler, Fictional Rockstar) or singers (Lizardek, others). What if you each made a recording of some holiday song and we’ll post it here next month like one of those Holiday Concerts they have around the country? Would anyone do this?

I promise: I WON’T SING!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Staying Jiggy With It

The Amadeus of Redondo Beach


A new barista has been working at the coffee house a block from my house during the afternoon shift.   He is a music student, maybe twenty years old, and an extremely talented violinist.  The coffee house is usually empty during the late afternoon.  Today, I went in for a cup of coffee.  As I drank my coffee, the barista played his violin behind the counter.  He stood in front of a music stand, playing from a book titled “Music by Bach.” 

The barista’s playing was amazing.  He had a masterful control of his instrument and  produced rich, romantic tones.  He also had that “X-factor” they talk about on shows like “American Idol.”  He was young, intense, good-looking, with long brown hair. 

After he finished his piece, I complimented him on his talent.  I walked over, eager to relate to him as an “informed” classical music lover.  After all, you don’t meet too many “sophisticated” people in Redondo Beach, which is mostly well-known for having good fish tacos.

“Excellent,” I said.  “That’s Bach, right?”  I asked innocently, faking that I didn’t already know the answer since he was playing from a book titled “Bach Concertos.” 

“Huh?  Who?”  he asked in return.

“Bach.  You were playing Bach, right?”

“Uh, I dunno.  They gave us this book in school.” 

He looked at the front of his music book, apparently for the first time.

“Hey, you’re right.” he announced.  ” Bach.  Cool.  I’m bringing the sexy Bach!”

I suddenly occurred to me that this talented violinist who just blew me away with his soulful and melancholy music was a complete imbecile.

I sat down and finished my coffee, feeling much like Salieri. 

Later that day, I saw him skateboarding in the street with these two surfer dudes WHILE carrying his violin case under his arm.

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