Last night on Bachstraße

As the title indicates, tonight is the last night my wife, dog, and I will be spending in our apartment on Bachstraße (Bach Street, that is), named, of course, for Mr. J.S. himself.  Tomorrow, we are moving to a lovely single family house owned by a director at the opera house who is moving on to bigger and better things. This house has plenty of space, a garden, a patio, a grill, and – most importantly – a washing machine and a dishwasher, sweet baby Jesus.

While on Bachstraße for the last eleven months, I read through the first 190-some-odd chorales out of the Bach 371 (the namesake of this blog). I also completed  a 15-minute work and a four minute prelude for solo piano, a choral work on a commission for my wife’s home church in Mississippi, reworked an old choral piece, wrote a saxophone quartet, a theme and variations for Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano plus percussion), and have completed about 60 minutes of what will eventually be a 90 reworking of my Edgar Allen Poe opera.

It was our landing point in Germany, from where we spring into our next few adventures.  But first, we’ll finish up the move tomorrow, and then will take a trip back to the states for serious family time, and hopefully some relaxation.



because it’s a freakin metaphor


Sometimes you start with a dominant.

Because the dominant – unless you are Poulenc, and let’s face it, none of us are –   makes you do things, much in the subliminal-messages-on-my-ACDC-album-played-backwards, or the Doctor-Freud-would-be-so-proud kind of way. Don’t tell the PMRC, if there still is such a thing.

Maybe it’s the voice leading, or its cultural adaptations or both (or neither), but, when used, a well-executed dominant can make you go into uncharted waters before you realize that you aren’t in a safe harbor anymore.  It doesn’t always bring you home; sometimes it dumps you on the doorstep of a new home. Sometimes it pivots in an unsuspecting way to a completely new and foreign tonal language.

And you can’t return to the dominant to find your way back from whence you came because, beside that being incredibly boring, disingenuous, unadventurous, and  simply in bad taste, you don’t usually have the time or the skills to do such a thing.  And, anyway, everyone would know what you were up to, and that just sucks.

But, the unspoken lesson of the dominant is complete, expansive and unrelenting freedom. The dominant has the audacity and skill to make everyone and everything look sexy, simply by proximity. It’s a little bit cheeky, and rightly so, but everyone secretly wants to be that cool, if vicariously, and however terrifying it may seem.

So move in, and then find a squirmy way to nest like this:


Guten Hunger

Somewhere, at some point in time, someone, or a team of someones, must have designed what a typical grocery store should look like, and then deemed that this design must be replicated all over the planet.  Even for someone (me), whose knowledge of the German language is rudimentary at BEST, it is possible to find one’s way around a German grocery store and generally know where to find whatever.

This is incredibly beneficial when coupled with the fact that very little makes me more ill at ease than the first time in a strange grocery store, especially if that grocery store is in a new town, ESPECIALLY if everything is in a language that I don’t yet understand.

The importance of food in my life can be gleaned simply by glancing at the vowel that ends my last name. Cooking and eating are two of my many passions and within them are the combined forces of home, guests, family, and hearth – not in that particular order.  Unfortunately, I am also rather competitive when it comes to cooking (and I’m  a sore loser…but, that’s for another blog).

German grocery 101: a) Globalization means kettle chips, quinoa, and Oreos; b) Germans love ketchup; c) the Käse (cheese) counter will make you want to smack your momma; d) the Fleisch (meat) counter will make you want to make yer momma smack HER damn momma.  There are also “American” sections, which yield off-brand peanut butter, Crisco, and hot dog buns “…in the American style.”  Favorite lost in translations:



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~ insert off-color comment here ~

When all was said and done, my adventure to der Supermarkt allowed me to craft a beautiful poached cod with a sauce made from a reduction of the poaching liquid, served with  mushrooms, yellow peppers and cucumbers that were sautéed then poached with the fish, sautéed beans and roasted potatoes. (thanks and apologies to Julia Child).

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